19. Who is your favourite sidekick (secondary character) in a book/movie/show of your favourite genres? (You are welcome to choose more than one ;).
I adore sidekicks. They’re some of my favorite parts of a book or movie. Current favorite sidekicks include Higgins from North and South movie (his friendship with John Thornton is the best), Lord M from Victoria (yes, partly because I imagine him as Jaeryn) and Samwise Gamgee from Lord of the Rings. I also love the Captain in Cinderella. J
20. As you wrote War of Loyalties, were there aspects of the story that took you by surprise?
Well, Jaeryn kind of took me by surprise. He started out as someone entirely different. There was no mystery or thirst for power in the first draft—I mean, he was always a bit controlling, but not nearly the same as he was in the latest draft. He was a wonderful surprise, though.
21. How have you grown as a writer through attending writer’s conferences and taking writing courses/using how-to creative writing resources? What have been some of your observations of this creative field over the past few years?
I’ve grown incredibly. Writer’s conferences gave me the opportunity to be around people who spoke the same “writing language”, so to speak. It’s always encouraging to be around people who practice the same craft, and having the opportunity to meet authors and agents face to face was invaluable for getting to know the publishing world. It taught me a lot about how to create a proposal, which is a really detailed document, and I think that was a good test for me. Detailed documents aren’t my first love, and I needed that experience for the small business skills I’m using now.
22. On a festive note, hands down, what’s your all time favourite holiday food and sweet treat?
This is SO hard. Especially because I can’t think of anything traditional…one of my favorite savory things to see every holiday is my great aunt’s cheese ball, which is a mix of cheeses and spices that you can use as a cracker spread. And for sweet, I love the eggnog shakes at McDonald’s! J
23. How do you think the main characters of War of Loyalties would react if he or she were introduced to you?
I think they’d look at me with kind of squinty, confused, slightly-troubled eyes and say “I had no idea you were the reason all of this is happening in my life.” XD
24. In one of your blog-posts, I believe you once pitched your novel for lovers of Dickens, the ITV Victoria series and those who love the olden style of storytelling! Can you share why the combination of those things are so special and stand out as reasons for why readers may want pick up War of Loyalties?
Yes! Well, first of all, War of Loyalties is so big, I try to pair it with Dickens because it’s one of those winding stories that’s designed to be enjoyed over a long amount of time. Also, while love is part of the story, there are lots of other little plots and dramas going on like Dickens. And thirdly, content-wise I know if people like Dickens they’ll approve of War of Loyalties because, sans language (which Dickens includes) War of Loyalties is directed to about the same age level. I also thought if people liked Dickens and Victoria, they would love historical fiction, too!
25. I know editing & pitching your work has been a long process for you over the past few years. Can you share what this journey has been like & what role your beta-readers, street team, family and close friends played in bringing this work to life?
Yes! I had attended a couple of writer’s conferences by the time I finished the second draft of War of Loyalties (our local writers’ conferences are phenomenal, so I’m lucky!). However, I realized it needed some work, so I put it through one more draft before starting to pitch it to traditional editors. Even though the traditional publishing route didn’t work out for this book (it probably still could have, had I not wanted it published in time for the centennial of the story), I was honoured to talk to so many agents and editors, and I have a high respect for them in the industry.
26. Please tell us a little bit about the journey that brought you to publishing War of Loyalties, particularly your launching the Kickstarter campaign and how that was like!
Yes! I really, really wanted War of Loyalties to be published in 2017, 100 years after the story took place, and I knew to do that, it would have to be self-publishing due to the timeframe we were working with. I always knew pretty much which editor and which cover designer I wanted to use for my book. But for the budget I was working with, I could only think of two options: earn the money on my own, or look at crowdfunding. We'd supported a couple of Kickstarter projects before, so we were familiar with it and decided to give it a try. And God gave so graciously, and people gave so graciously. It really was incredible.
27. Is there a particular song or film that makes you cry every time you watch/listen to it? What is your type of comfort story?
I have many comfort stories, and that’s why I love collecting DVDs. Once I love a story, I want it near me. Two that come to mind are Amazing Grace and The Young Victoria. I used to tear up when I watched them, and the stories of perseverance and love inspire me so deeply on a heart level with my own drive to pursue passions and yearning for close friendship.
28. What have been some of the benefits you’ve experienced with self-publishing so far, and what have been its special pains?
I love this story so much that self-publishing has truly been a joy in being able to be involved in every part of the process. From the cover design to the editing, even to formatting it into a paperback, it really has been a joy. I get to help it all the way through until it launches (with tons of other people whose help has been phenomenal). The pains have been navigating formatting and font licensing. J
29. Can you share with us about the amazing cover-design of your novel, and how it came into being (designer, process, choices, etc.)? It’s stunning, and perfectly captures your novel’s essence to a T, honestly!
I would love to! The folks at Damonza did an incredible job. I picked Damonza because they do K.M. Weiland’s novels, and I thought they were so beautiful and professional. Initially Damonza sent me several covers to choose from, and while all of them were stunning, it was easy to narrow down this one. It captured the spirit of the novel so well, and I loved it best. That night was so special, opening the email, and showing it to my family. After I told them which cover and sent them a couple of small tweaks I wanted, they emailed back the changes, and the process repeated a couple of times until I was happy with the tiniest details. There weren’t any major changes, though. The folks at Damonza were so gracious, professional, and had a fast turnaround! I definitely want to work with them again.
30. Which character in literature do you think is most like you, or maybe you identify with the most? If someone made a movie of your life, what actress would you cast to play you, and what would be the soundtrack of your life-story?
Oh, wow, this is a great question. For actress, someone once said Emily Blunt (I’ve only seen her in The Young Victoria) and I’ve always liked that choice. I think she could pull off the side of my personality that is always thinking, sometimes insecure, and loves close friends. I don’t know who I would pick to do the soundtrack, but Patrick Doyle would be cool, and I love Alexandre Desplat’s The Light Between Oceans soundtrack.
31. Have you done anything while writing for the sake of this novel that has pushed you out of your comfort zone or taken you personally to unexpected (though not necessarily unpleasant!) places you’d never have gone through/done otherwise?
Yes. Truly, the biggest thing I’ve done outside my comfort zone was returning to my mistakes to fix them after people looked at various drafts of War of Loyalties. It can feel incredibly crippling sometimes to return to a document with feedback about mistakes, even though they were so kindly given and so necessary. It’s a personal piece of you, and you have to figure out how to keep on going when that personal work isn’t just yours anymore. But I had to face the discomfort, which sometimes felt like it was freezing up my ability to move forward and edit the next thing. Each time I have faced the discomfort, my emotional strength has grown, God’s grace has been sufficient, and the book has turned out so much better. I’m grateful for that.
32. What’s your favourite thing about the online writing community (on twitter, instagram and through blogs) that you’ve been part of & what impact have they had on War of Loyalties and on you personally?
I love how people are so encouraging to one another. My circles are small, but people are always giving encouraging words and virtual snacks and cheering each other on. Writing community is so, so important for me because I hate writing alone without being able to talk about my project, so the fellowship is really appreciated! While I already had major drafting done on War of Loyalties before I talked about it online, the Twitter/blogger community received the characters with open arms as I posted blog posts, and their encouraging comments always gave me joy!
33. Now that War of Loyalties is published, what have you been working on lately? Can you tell us a bit more about your current writing projects? (Also a few snippets from your work would be a treat!)
Yes! I’d love to! I’m currently returning to my initial old love and trying to write a Sherlock Holmes novella of my own. That’s going to take some drafting before it’s satisfactory, though (I’m having a traditional Watson POV, and a POV from the main female character). I’m also looking next year at working on the second draft of War of Honor, and I’m outlining a modern-day book with Dickensian vibes, OCD, and female butlers.
Here’s a snippet from the Sherlock Holmes novella, which I’ve currently entitled Schuylock (see what I did there….)
“You were always an odd little woman, Victoria.” Wine splashed against the edge of a crystal glass, and she pressed her lips to it, letting the liquid barely touch. It was strange to think of the last of the London Hathaways holding a glass of wine as if it was a normal thing. The black and white chess pieces stood in battle array. Glancing at the board, she let a small, wolfish smile cross her face. Then she picked up the pawn piece on polished wooden board. “I believe it is checkmate, darling.” Then a flash, a crash, a fall, and checkmate turned into the last one she would ever have to give.
34. And finally, if there was one thing you wished to say to other young writers going through this journey, what would it be?
It’s a beautiful journey. It’s going to take a lot of time, but time as an apprentice to writing is time well spent. Settle into the journey, befriend people who are a step ahead of you, and take the time to find the heartbeat of your story. You will doubt yourself, there will be times when you think you can’t take this story any further, but if the heartbeat is there, then keep on going. Keep on going. Don’t give up. Let us cheer for you.
First Prize Winner:
-Paperback copy of War of Loyalties
-“Jaeryn’s Vow” 8x10 poster
-Custom War of Loyalties mug
Second Prize Winner:
-Ebook of War of Loyalties
-Real vintage Folkestone postcard (this is a postcard that has actually been posted in 1917.)
Third Prize Winner: (open to international winners)
-Ebook of War of Loyalties
US residents only for 1st and 2nd prizes. Accounts created solely for giveaways not eligible.