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Triple A Book Blog Interviews Amanda Marsico

19 Mar

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(Interview originally published on Triple A Book Blog in two parts and republished here with permission. https://www.facebook.com/plugins/post.php?href=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.facebook.com%2FTripleABookBlog%2Fposts%2F1361588037321439&width=500)

Shay: Amanda, thank you for being with us today. I know you met Corry and Lia at Authors Invade Columbia. So it’s been a few months and I know you’ve been busy; especially with the newest kids book you’re getting ready to release soon. We are so excited you were able stop in on the blog today.

Amanda: I’m glad to be here. It was nice to meet your team and they kindly invited me to stop in. I can’t wait to have your readers learn more.

TA: So we met you at an author event…logically we can start with: what was the first thing you say you wrote as an author?

AM: I was prolific as a child and teen. I was always a writer, and it would be hard to say which piece was my first. But the first time I wrote something that made me feel like an author, like a professional, was the publication of my first novel Humans In My House, which started out as my master’s thesis. This book wasn’t my first work published. There were freelance editorials, poetry, and short stories in web journals here and there. But, there was a distinct feeling of legitimacy that came with a book–something I might see on a store shelf that was mine from cover to cover.

TA: I read your Humans In My House to a third grade class and they asked the book. It may have been their favorite read I’ve done this year….Who are some of your favorite books and authors? Both now and for youthful readers.

AM: This isn’t an easy one to answer but I’d have to say that when it comes to adult and literary fiction, I’d have to say:
°River of Stars by Guy Gavriel Kay
°The Beekeeper’s Apprentice by Laurie R. King
°Wide Sargasso Sea by Jean Rhys
°The Elegance of the Hedgehog by Muriel Bradbury
°Black Dagger Brotherhood by J.R. Ward

I occasionally enjoy true stories so for Non-fiction, Bio, or Memoir, it’d be:
°The Astronaut Wives Club: A True Story by Lily Koppel
°Dearie: The Remarkable Life of Julia Child by Bob Spitz

Young/New Adult:
°The Mortal Instruments by Cassandra Clare (and her other series)
°The Fallen series by Lauren Kate
And for children or the young at heart, my children’s and Middle-Grade picks are:
°Corduroy by Don Freeman
°This Is Not My Hat; I Want My Hat Back by Jon Klassen
°One by Kathryn Otoshi
°The Geronimo Stilton series by Thea Stilton and released Scholastic Books
°The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett

TA: Wow, you are really well read. I know many use reading to escape from work (or chores) Was there another field of work you saw yourself doing, other than writing?

AM: More like there were many fields of work I distinctly saw myself not doing. Writing was it. It was my sole purpose in the educational choices I made and how I spent my creative free time. I dabbled with ideas like international relations and translation as options that would incorporate language and writing with other interests, and I have varied subjects of interest outside of writing, but they were never viable career considerations. So, when I’m not writing, and to finance the novels, I teach composition at the college level, and I own Red Ink Enthusiast, a writing services company. Whether it’s my own text or someone else’s, it’s all writing all the time.

TA: That kind of determination and love is inspiring. Who is your biggest inspiration?

AM: The indie and self-published community as a whole inspires me to keep plugging away at my dream. To see authors like me become best sellers, some even multiple times, to see them get movie adaptations of their books, win awards, etc. is proof that there is just as much legitimacy in non-traditional publishing routes as any American Classic or traditionally published new release has.

[Come back at the half hour for part two of our chance to sit down with Amanda Marsico]

[Welcome back to our interview, where we’ll get to know more of Amanda]

TA: After that quick break to stretch our legs and grab fresh bottled water, let’s get back into this. Let’s start this part with getting to know more about you as a person…What is your favorite food and beverage?
AM: I love sushi and will never turn down an opportunity to have it. I drink mostly water, and tea and coffee (decaf only, sue me) if I want something with flavor.

TA: Shay is a big tea drinker. She says one of her favorite guilty pleasures is hot tea, Danish butter cookies and a good book to end her day. What guilty pleasure or quirky ritual do you have to have while you are writing?

AM: I guess I’m boring in this respect. I don’t do anything special or odd. At least, it’s not odd to me. I will write anytime, anywhere if there is something I need to get accomplished. I’m great at tuning out the world around me, so I don’t have a writing soundtrack or anything like that. Typically, it’s me, a laptop or notebook, and a cat or five on the couch around me. Netflix is usually on in the background, but I don’t pay it much mind. Coffee, tea, and chocolate seem too typical a guilty pleasure to consider as quirky and, well, I don’t feel guilty about those treats at all.

TA: You mentioned sitting on the sofa with the cats. What is your favorite place and time to write?

AM: I prefer to start writing first thing after waking up and to go straight through until my goal for the day is met. Typically, this happens on the couch. However, I found during a recent trip to San Diego that I am especially productive in airports and on planes, writing by hand because a notebook is much easier to travel with than a laptop. When writing by hand, there’s no constant word count reminder. It feels like I don’t write as quickly as I could in type, so I keep writing. By the end, I’ve written more in one sitting than I would have on a computer. Any instance where I’m unexpectedly productive is a favorite.

TA: I hear you on how great it feels to be more productive than expected. I noticed that when I’m busy doing stuff is when i get some of my brightest ideas but by the time i get to paper, they’re gone. What is the oddest place or time that a book idea has come to you and you just had to stop and write it down?

AM: Most ideas come as I’m trying to go to bed, but I think that’s pretty normal for creatives. I use a memo app to keep track of ideas that come while I’m out and about. I’ll stop in the middle of the grocery store or during a hike if I have to.

TA: Hiking? That’s an interesting activity, i know some do it for fitness while others like the quiet communion with nature that’s possible during a hike. What do you like to do to relax?
AM: Hiking might not sound relaxing to some, though it sounds like you understand. I do love a physical challenge and enjoy routes that require mountain scrambling. I feel most at ease in the middle of the woods with a pack on my back. And, of course, if I’m just going to sit around, I like to read.

[Speaking of reading; next up is Shay’s reviews of Amanda’s two middle grade books, followed by the conclusion to our interview]

(Find the review of Humans In My House here and Humans In My House and the Stars Above It here.)

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Official Cover Reveal for Nova June: Inventor

14 Mar

Red Ink Enthusiast™

This beauty is finally ready!

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Nova June: Inventor will release in April on Amazon in kindle and paperback.

Come see me at an event for a signed copy and a special bonus item for the first 12 people who purchase in person

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Pro-Tip: Censorship

21 Sep

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I’m all for the whole “time and place” argument against foul language, inappropriate content, and professional/academic versus casual approaches. It’s valid. There are certain things you’re just not going to say to your boss or professor or child.

HOWEVER, these concerns are often hindrances to a first draft. They’re often hindrances to any draft.

Because we are forced to fit our writing into scenarios that are often beyond our control–workplace style guides, teachers’ requests, audience’s age, etc.–the concern about how much of ourselves we let shine in a piece is often at the forefront of a writer’s process. And, just as often, we tone ourselves down to fit into those expectations.

I’m not here to tell writers to break rules that could break a career or a grade (like if you’re writing for children, or a business presentation, or a strict teacher). Part of life is fitting into those boxes, however annoying.

But if you are trying to make waves, start splashing. Write for yourself first, in exactly the way you want, often. Write as if no one is going to see it and as if those who might see it won’t judge. Worry about audience perception during the beta-reader/revision phase. If you hold off from the start, you’ll never know how your true message is received. Push the notion of acceptability. Embarrass yourself with your truthfulness and boldness.

Arthur Miller said, “The writer must be in it; he can’t be to one side of it, ever. He has to be endangered by it. His own attitudes have to be tested in it. The best work that anybody ever writes is the work that is on the verge of embarrassing him, always.”

He’s right. All of the fiction and poetry that has ever been deemed a classic is called such because it pushed the boundaries of its time and told truths people weren’t ready to hear. Some of this work has been banned in libraries and schools. What an honor. (This is not sarcasm.)

Whether journaling for personal gain or writing fiction for a crowd, push the limits. Push YOUR limits. Say what you need to say without concern for what your grandma might think, what Amazon reviewers might comment, what assumptions strangers might make about you personally–they DO NOT KNOW YOU.

While there IS a time and a place for certain approaches, art tends to ignore the schedule.

AVAILABLE NOW: Humans In My House and the Stars Above It

12 Sep

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Available now in paperback and Kindle.

Meet me and get a signed copy at Authors Invade Columbia

Pacific Northwest

15 Jun

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I just got back from a two-week hiking trip in the Olympic Peninsula. It was an amazing experience. The sheer size of the wilderness–I’d never seen anything like it. You grow up on the east coast thinking our mountains are high… what a joke that turns out to be.

I’m not going to bore you with a day-by-day recount of each and every little thing we did (although let me know if you’re interested in that because I’ve considered starting a dedicated blog for our adventures), but I will say that I went out there as a writer expecting to be inspired for Humans In My House 3 and Acephalous 3 (and I was), but I came back feeling like I should be a painter instead. Words don’t so often fail me as they did there. It’s just one of those places you have to SEE.

Regardless, if you’re interested in seeing a little bit of what I experienced, follow me on instagram @KeperSeesTheWorld. I photograph my little clay Kepler in new places as a way to document and market Humans In My House (Kepler is the main character, if you didn’t know). Some of the places he ends up will make it into future installments of the books series.

**Side note: @We_Go_Hiking is my rarely used adventure insta, which I will take up using again if I do create a travel-based blog here. My Pacific Northwest trip is not shown there because I primarily focused on Kepler,  but I may double post in the future.

Pro-Tip: What Makes Strong Writing?

10 Mar

Across all genres and purposes, writers want to know the one thing they can do in order to ensure readers consider their writing “good writing.”

My first piece of advice is to get rid of the notion of “good writing.” Pitting yourself against other writers in order to determine if your creative vision is “good” will get you nowhere. Writing, even in the academic and professional fields where creativity might sometimes be limited by style sheets and strict requirements, is a deeply personal endeavor. It’s not just the final product that author’s judge, but their journey to get that product. Trying to put worth on an experience is like saying your dream vacation is only worth as much as the airfare costs. It discounts everything you get out of travel on an intellectual, spiritual, and physical level. Writing a text is a trip–maybe not always a vacation–but a trip nonetheless.

So, why would you try to qualify your path against someone else? And why would you settle on the achievement of “good writing” when that’s based on how similar your process and product is to someone else you consider “good?” Isn’t that just good mimicry? You want to be “good,” or rather strong, at what YOU do and how YOU do it.

Strive, instead, for strong writing, writing that holds it’s own regardless of how similar (or not) it is to the work of others you admire. Yes, we first learn by mimicking, in speech as babies, and as authors. But, at some point, you start to sound like YOU, and if you go around trying to decide if your writing, and therefore if YOU, are good enough, you’re likely to have moments of doubt. You might feel like you don’t measure up, like an imposter, like someone who isn’t REALLY an author because you haven’t done x, y, or z thing that some other person who uses the title of author has done.

Strong writing is original, written with pride (but not necessarily confidence because you can be proud of your effort and still worried about its outcome. Confidence takes time), and organizationally sound. Above all of the basic prescriptive grammar and mechanics rules, the tenets that say writing SHOULD be done a certain way, is organization. If you’ve got a solid structure that readers can follow, if it’s logically arranged, if it’s thoroughly explained and balances detail without crossing into the condescending, then everything else you do after that will fall into place. Proper grammar and following the rules (which you can purposefully break once you know them) is only useful if your thoughts are linked together in a coherent way. Every sentence could be perfectly constructed according to the textbook way to use punctuation marks, point of view, and tense, but a text still won’t make sense if the overall structure doesn’t carry your thoughts clearly.

What I’m getting at is this: You want strong writing, not “good” writing because strong writing is not a matter of opinion. A text either makes sense or it doesn’t. A text is either organized or frenetic. (Don’t confuse the organized or frenetic nature of a text with the same qualities of a character. Even pieces with chaotic characters are still organized as a whole, although let’s not get into the unreliable narrator discussion. It’s often an exception). “Good” writing will be different to every author and reader. Stop comparing yourself to other authors, and start holding your writing up to your past work. Are you improving?

Convention Schedule 2018

17 Feb

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Want a signed copy of Humans In My House or Acephalous? Want to talk writing? Want to adopt a #pocketkitty and join in #Kepler’s fun? Come see me at my upcoming appearances. Check here for updates or join my mailing list!

2018

FEBRUARY

  • February 24, 2018: Multi-Author Book Signing @ Sugar Island, 206 N Topsail Dr, Surf City, NC 28445
    • 12:30pm, free event

MARCH

  • March 10, 2018: Surfside Beach BBQ Festival, Town of Surfside Beach, SC
  • March 17, 2018: Adoptapalooza 2018, Palmetto Ace Home Center, 8317 Ocean Hwy,
    Pawleys Island, South Carolina 29585-8438

    • This is a pet adoption event held yearly to help clear the shelters. All adoption fees have been sponsored by the businesses participating. Come get a furry family member!
    • Event details here

APRIL

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  • April 7, 2018: Roanoke Author Invasion 2018, Holiday Inn Tanglewood-Roanoke
  • April 28, 2018: The Crate Escape Adoption Event, PetSmart 1391 S Commons Dr., Myrtle Beach, South Carolina 29588
    • This is a clear the shelters pet adoption event. I’ll be there selling Humans In My House (cat books) and others, plus other handmade cat merch!
    • FREE event, info here

JULY

Raleigh Supercon

  • July 27-29, 2018: Raleigh SuperCon, Raleigh Convention Center

 

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