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Interview - Crystal Collier

Hey everyone!  I've come out of blog-seclusion today for a very special treat because Crystal Collier is in the house talking about the release of her new book MOONLESS!  

Welcome to my humble digital-abode, Crystal.  First off, let me put on my charming host hat ...can I offer you some coffee, a croissant, a piece of cheese?

Thanks so much for having me! (And like I’m going to say no to cheese!) 

Who can…right?  Let’s get right to it shall we? And you needn’t worry about responding while you’re chewing, I’ll edit that out in the post process.


A lot of aspiring writers find it interesting to peek behind the curtain and see what other writers processes are like.  For instance...are you a pantser or plotter?  Laptop or Desktop?  Prefer AM or PM writing sessions? 

I eat cheese, dream strange dreams, then write. Kidding! Well, partially anyway. My writing originates from “story dreams,” complete with characters, plot and setting. But like a good movie, you can only cram so much into a couple hours.

Unless you’re Peter Jackson, then it might go on forever.  How many different revisions did MOONLESS go through before you felt it was ready?

Wow. Um, we’re talking in the ballpark of two hundred?

In 2002, MOONLESS bloomed as a novella. It wrote itself in a matter of days. But then, (as with all first drafts,) it went straight into the folder labeled “never to see the light of day.” Still, I loved it, and it kept demanding attention.

In 2006 I sent out a couple queries, just for fun, and the response was awesome. Agents loved my concept. The writing? Not so much. A very kind agent friend gave me some pointers and set me free.

Fast forward several years. I hosted a major beta reading (30+ readers) and people actually liked my writing! They liked the story! They wanted me to publish it!


Welcome back to querying, and the revisions of madness.

You also operate a pretty successful blog.  Do you find it a help or hindrance after publication? 

I might be (AM) addicted to blogging. 60% of what I know about writing came from the blogosphere—so while I won’t call it a hindrance, I do struggle to find the balance between writing, revisions, hanging with my bloggies, and other promotions.

What would you say was your biggest setback along this path to publication?  How did you overcome it?

Kids. And I wouldn’t change a thing.
What's on the horizon for you?

MOONLESS is the first book in a tri-series. That’s right, TRI-series. (Major plotting here.) With ten books (and three separate protagonists) in varying stages of completion, the real question is, how quickly should I publish them?

I want to thank Crystal for taking the time to drop by and answer a few questions for us.  Below is a listing of the remaining stops on Crystal's blog tour, as well as an all-important Rafflecopter.  Above all else, check out won't be sorry!

November 14
            Libby Heily: Author Interview & Excerpt #3
            Cathrina Constantine: Excerpt #4
            T.W. Fendley: Author Interview About my Current Work
            DL Hammons: Author Interview
November 15
            Ashley Chappell: Top Ten Fantasy Novels that Inspired Crystal
            Laura Clipson: Character Interview with Kiren
Words of Wisdom
            Kimberly @ Meetings with my Muse: Top Ten Ways to Send a Boy Running
            Robyn Campbell: Review & Author Interview
November 18
            Laurel Garver: How Crystal develops Characters
Gwen Gardner: Truth or Lie
Carrie Butler: Truth or Lie
Natalie Aguirre: Author Interview & Giveaway
November 19
            Christine Rains: Excerpt #4
Mary Waibel: Character Interview with Kiren
Bethany Kaczmarek: Character Interview with Miles
November 20
Scribbleweed: Showing VS Telling 
            Ellie Garratt: Character Interview with Kiren
            Aldrea Alien: Top Ten Reasons to Eat Cheese
November 21
            Meradeth Houston: Character Interview with Kiren
Mary Pax: Guest Post
C. Lee McKenzie: Truth or Lie
Ashley Nixon: Excerpt #6
November 22
Elizabeth Seckman: Truth or Lie
Melanie Crouse: Review
Medeia Sharif: Excerpt #5
Nicole Zoltack: Truth or Lie
November 23
            Jessie Harrell: Excerpt #6
Hart Johnson: The Naked Cheese
November 24
TC Mckee: Review
November 25
Michelle Wallace: Excerpt #2
Clare Dugmore: Excerpt #7 & Truth or Lie
November 26
Elise Fallson: Excerpt #7
Larissa Hardesty: Top Ten—You Know You Live in Florida When
November 27
            Julie Musil: Author Interview
November 28
            Suzanne Furness: Excerpt #8
Sharon Johnston: Review
November 29
            Julie Flanders: Excerpt #5
Misha Gericke: Where Moonless Came From
November 30
            Sherry Auger: Review
            Chrys Fey: Excerpt #8

a Rafflecopter giveaway

WRiTE CLUB 2013 – Wrap Up

I’d love to report that the third year of WRiTE CLUB was another rousing success, but that would be only partially true.  Although I believe everyone agrees that the level of competition was definitely higher this year, the number of people who participated didn’t reflect that.  There were a number of changes to the contest that could have influenced involvement, combined with the fact that I was unable to spend as much time promoting the contest on Twitter and Facebook, but it is what it is.  Here are some numbers:

Average number of votes during the preliminary rounds over the last three years:

2011 = 32.75
2012 = 63.75
2013 = 46.12

The number of people voting can be deceiving, so I looked into site hits during comparable times and those were down 15% in 2013 as well. 

Obviously my plan to offer a random draw gift certificate to anyone who voted didn’t do much to drive up participation, but you’ll never know success unless you experiment every now and then.  During the preliminary rounds we had 98 different people cast at least one vote.  Round one of the play-offs saw that number cut in half to 49.  Round two dropped even further to 38, and then the quarterfinals and semi-finals came in at 37 and 35 respectively.  Unfortunately, 36 voters failed to sign up on the Linky List, rendering them null & void.  Overall, there were 1178 name/vote combinations thrown into the proverbial hat for the gift certificate drawing.

*Note – Because they were celebrity judges I excluded Tiana Smith and Alex J. Cavanaugh from the contest.  Sorry guys.

The random number generator spit out the number 735, which it turns out was associated with the name R.T.Freeman.  Congratulations on winning the $75 Amazon gift card!

As I close things out this year, I must let you know that the future of WRiTE CLUB is tenuous.  Most of you are aware that I’m shutting down my blog to concentrate on writing and publishing pursuits and my return date is open-ended based upon the outcome of those efforts.  There is a chance I won’t be around when WRiTE CLUB is due to return in 2014…but I remain optimistic.  Keep your fingers crossed!

Hope to see you again next year! 

WRiTE CLUB 2013 - A Champion Crowned

The judges have made their decision and I honestly can say I'm not surprised by their choice.  Months ago, when I first announced the 32 contestants that were going to battle it out for this crown, I mentioned that there was only one of them that had received a vote from all ten of the admission judges.  I had a notion then, and it has played out before us all during the contest.  The 2013 WRiTE CLUB Champion, by a UNANIMOUS vote, is.......


I want to thank our celebrity judges for a job well done, and here is a sampling of the comments they offered for our two finalist.  First Philangelus:

This entry doesn't really fail anywhere in the writing. I really liked the subtlety of the situation that creates the tension here. (A lot of writers seem to think an overload of drama will make get them the vote.) That said, I feel it perhaps wasn't the strongest scene to put up for the finals.  I think this entry could have used a little more choice original descriptions and unique gestures or habits on the part of the characters to make them feel more real. Unfortunately, these details and gestures and thoughts characters have--the ones that seem too unique to be thought up--these are what impress me most in a book and they just seemed to be missing a bit here, leaving the scene a feeling a bit thin. There is no question that Philangelus has real writing chops...Philangelus is a very confident writer indeed - Mark Hough (WRiTE CLUB winner 2012).

An interesting conundrum, with clever turns of phrase. Barley salad. Excellent writing, perhaps 500 words was just a bit too short to see into this story. - Kendare Blake (Author Anna Dressed in Blood)

Philangelus also took a risk writing in first person present tense. Though it’s ever gaining in popularity among YA and NA writers, it’s a difficult style to pull off. In this case I think it was the wrong choice. First person narratives are driven by the personality of the narrator. With no personality to flavor them, statements like ‘I fight nausea’ and ‘Max stalks over’ become choppy and bland. The narrator’s personality failed to shine through, so the present tense felt more like stage direction than a story. If your first person narrator doesn’t explode off the page like Gayle Forman’s Mia (If I Stay, Where She Went) or Suzanne Collins’s Katniss (Hunger Games trilogy), then you’re better off writing in third person. The story is a good one and the writing is technically solid, but the narrator just wasn’t interesting enough to draw me in. While the author has an excellent grasp of the technical aspect, s/he needs to work on characterization. - Diane Dalton (former editor Rhemalda Publishing)

These first 500 words do give a us a quick window into the type of person the main character is, but it’s not the most evocative opener in terms of physical action or character interaction. The scene ends with presumably the narrator’s firing, but her dismissal doesn’t create a real urgency to keep reading since she doesn’t seem to care about her job – what would raise the stakes? The narrator’s voice also didn’t grab me yet, and I had a harder time placing it in the marketplace as a result – women’s fiction is a vast genre, and you want to give your reader a quick preview of what type of women’s fiction story we’re in for through voice and story questions. Perhaps drawing the details and suspense out further would be more successful. - Katie Grimm - (Agent w/Don Congdon Associates, Inc.)
With Philangelus's piece, I got confused at the repeated "It's not my job" bit, since I wasn't following that train of thought. On the whole though, both of them were great and I'd read more of either of them. - Tiana Smith (WRiTE CLUB 2011 winner) 

Has a solid idea for a story and a moral dilemma. However, there wasn’t a lot of personality in the main character. As part of a larger piece, the straightforward style would work, but on its own, it lacked zing.- Alex J. Cavanaugh - (Author of the Cassa Series)

Philangelus' entry is also funny, but I don't have such a strong sense of who the narrator is. - Alice Speilburg (Speilburg Literary Agency).

And here some of the remarks regarding our winner's - Muleshoe's piece:

Originality in voice is probably the most important quality I look for in writing and humor that's original, surprising, and well-timed is very hard to get right, so this entry definitely felt like Muleshoe was aiming high...and overall I think it worked.  I always love it when an author can describe a situation or scene from an angle that isn't the most obvious and Muleshoe does that very well here. The details Muleshoe chose as well were wonderfully unique and made the scene feel quite real. Definitely a confident writer who has a gift for the Storyteller's voice. The only critique I'd give is that this heavy level of character in the voice might be hard to sustain throughout a novel and sometimes it keeps the narrative plot line from progressing in a timely manner. The fact that Muleshoe can write a voice this thick is terribly impressive... and if it were toned down just a tick or two I'd have a hard time picturing an agent not jumping on it.
Mark Hough (WRiTE CLUB winner 2012).
Fantastic voice. Nailed it. And lovely use of imagery also, particularly the yellow quartz tumors. It was only a short passage, but I want to know more about this beastie and his marmalade girl, and what on earth has become of Pete. Way to establish character in a short amount of time. - Kendare Blake (Author Anna Dressed in Blood) 

Muleshoe took quite a risk in choosing rural fantasy for a piece so short. Fantasy thrives on world-building, and 500 words doesn’t leave a whole lot of room for that. Though details are sparse, the clever use of language gives the story a distinctly Western flavor. The reader is given no description of the narrator or Pete, but it doesn’t matter. As soon as I got into the rhythm of the narrative, which was almost immediately, my imagination supplied a stock image of a weathered cowboy on an equally weathered horse (once I understood that Pete was a mode of transportation and not bipedal) framed by a backdrop straight out of a dozen cowboy movies—even though I had no real reason to assume Pete is, in fact, equine or that the narrator is even human. The narrator positively oozes personality, and I could see him sitting on his bedroll by the fire telling the story. The writing, however, was a little problematic. Phrasing was sometimes awkward, giving the impression the author was trying a little too hard to sound conversational. Flow and clarity suffered as a consequence. While the author has characterization down pat, s/he would benefit from sharpening his/her technical skills.  - Diane Dalton (former editor Rhemalda Publishing)

The first 500 words do a great job of establishing voice, tone, and character – while giving us a hint to what (and what isn’t) normal in this world. These first pages also had a strong opening image and left the reader with a clear story question and reason to keep reading. I did stumble over the first few sentences though (it wasn’t the “brightest thing” it wasn’t “anyplace special”) and had a to re-read the a few times – it could be due to the narrator’s style, but be sure to hold the reader’s hand just a bit more than usual in the few pages. Remember that many readers (from the query pile to the bookstores) often skim the first lines (pages?) of a book to decide if they’re going to pick it up. - Katie Grimm - (Agent w/Don Congdon Associates, Inc.)

The voice was strong and unique, the setting was vivid and I was really looking forward to seeing where it was going. I really think both pieces were written well, and these were both strong. With Philangelus's piece directly contrasted to Muleshoe's, the latter just seemed more attention-grabbing and fun. - Tiana Smith (WRiTE CLUB 2011 winner)

Had a lot of personality. I got a clear sense of the narrator and his sense of humor. His accent/slang was almost too much at times, but he stayed in character. This one was the strongest, with a solid voice, good storyline, and humor. - Alex J. Cavanaugh - (Author of the Cassa Series)

The voice here is so clear, and I love how the protagonist seems somewhat reluctant and forced into doing the right thing -- shooting the giant -- which then turns out to be the wrong thing to do. Very clever - Alice Speilburg (Speilburg Literary Agency).
I want to congratulate both writers for providing us all for hard fought contest.

Now for the real moment of truth.  Who are these talented writers? Well Philangelus is none other than Jane Lebak!  And our champion, Muleshoe, is the talented "Tex" Thompson!  I encourage any of our 32 contestants who feel up to it to announce their true identities in the comments below.  Each and every one of you should hold your heads up high!

Tex now joins Tiana Smith and Mark Hough as former WRiTE CLUB champs, as well as becoming a judge for next years finals (if there is one).

Thank you once again to everyone who made WRiTE CLUB such a success again this year!  I'll be back later in the week for a final wrap up and to announce the winner of the $75 gift certificate.

Cover Reveal - Butterman (Time) Travel, Inc.


Another one of my long-time blogging buddies, PK Hrezo, has a book coming out in November that looks amazing and I get to help her reveal her lovely cover today.   The book is BUTTERMAN (TIME) TRAVEL, INC. and its scheduled for release on 11-12-13.  Here's a brief promotional pitch for it.

Welcome to Butterman Travel, Incorporated

We are a full service agency designed to meet all your exclusive time travel needs. Family-owned and operated, we offer clients one hundred years of time travel experience. A place where you can rest assured, safety and reliability always come first.

Anxious to attend a special event from the past? Or for a glimpse of what the future holds?

You’ve come to the right place. We’re a fully accredited operation, offering an array of services; including, but not limited to: customized travel plans, professionally piloted operations, and personal trip guides. *Terms and conditions do apply

Conference us directly from our Website. Our frontline reservation specialist, Bianca Butterman, will handle all your inquiries in a professional and efficient manner, offering a tentative itinerary and free fare quote, so you can make the most of your time trip.

We look forward to serving you at Butterman Travel, Inc., where time is always in your hands.  
Sounds so enticing, doesn't it.  Want to know more about PK? She's a native Floridian whose life could easily be a Jimmy Buffet song. She shares her home with her firefighter husband and their two children. When not creating characters and their worlds, PK can be found at her other job of rearranging passenger’s itineraries for a major international airline. The only hobbies she loves more than traveling, are reading, writing, and music, and when the four are combined she exists in total bliss.   

She blogs regularly at PK HREZO: Fearless Fiction

Twitter:  @pkhrezo

Here's wishing the best of luck to PK!  :)


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