A Chat with Cookie O’Gorman

 

Cookie O'Gorman

I was introduced to Cookie O’Gorman years ago when I worked as a reviewer and I was enchanted by her debut novel, Adorkable, which had a sort of magic I had rarely seen in YA romance, though it was one of my favorite genres. I picked up her next book, Ninja Girl the moment it came out in ARC review. This one surprised me even more, and from that point on I was a fan for life. I found Cookie again on Instagram last year and was delighted to become reacquainted.

On her website (http://cookieogorman.com), Cookie has a brand of humor and heart, and she describes her stories as “Tales of Happily Ever After” and “Cookies for the Soul” (with her newsletter even called “The Cookie Jar”, an apt name since there is an addictive quality to her universes). With her fifth book recently released, and her debut novel featured in Target, I’m honored to introduce you to an author who is sure to leave you smiling, even if you don’t normally read YA.

Interviewer: Joanna Celeste

*******

Q: You went from self-published to indie/hybrid publishing. Can you share with us the pros and cons of each type?

A. All five of my books have been self-published, however, my debut YA romance Adorkable was later picked up by a publisher.

The pros to self-publishing are the freedom and input that you have in your own work. Everything from the cover to the plot, characters and scenes, to the editing and marketing, is all up to you! I think along with this pro comes the con of having all the responsibility rest on your shoulders. Whether anything succeeds or fails, it’s on you. Another pro from a business standpoint is that any profits you make from your books are yours; but again, the con is that any and all of the expenses for your books are yours, as well.

When you are indie/hybrid published, the responsibility is shared and you have a team working with you to help get your book out there and give it opportunities (like getting in stores, marketing, selling foreign rights etc.). That’s a definite pro of being indie/hybrid, the knowledge, expertise and connections they have within the publishing world. The con, of course, is less control over your book. Another con from a business standpoint is that you do not keep all of the profits from your books and earn a smaller royalty; however the pro is the indie publisher may be able to get your book in front of more readers as well as in stores and pays for marketing (but they have the power there and may decide how much or how little to promote your books).

In other words, both self-publishing and indie/hybrid publishing have their drawbacks and are awesome in their own ways.

Q: Your works were recently published internationally! What was the process of translation and publication in other markets like?

A. Three of my books (Adorkable, Ninja Girl, and The Good Girl’s Guide To Being Bad) have been published in Hungarian! My experience has been wonderful! Basically, the publisher approached me; I sold the Hungarian foreign rights to them, and they translated the books (sending me questions if they needed any clarification). They also are wonderful about sending me the Hungarian covers and letting me know how the books are doing.

Q. What advice would you give to new writers?

A: My advice to new writers would be: don’t give up. Finish your book. Learn as much as you can about writing and publishing, make your book the best that it can be, and then decide how you’d like to proceed (traditional or self-publishing). Also, just remember you have the power to validate yourself. You don’t need anyone’s permission to write. Some people will love your books and some won’t, but it’s the ones who do that you should focus on. A lot of writers complete and publish their books, and you can do it, too.

Q: Please share some of the common misconceptions about YA romance you have encountered.

A. Hmm…this is a tough one. I think people sometimes think of YA romance as fluff and, therefore, less important. There’s a stigma attached to romance, in general, but I think YA is even more discounted because it features teens and their experiences. This mindset is absolutely not true! The world has far too many tragedies. We need more happy endings, and that is one of the reasons I write romance. Another misconception is that YA romance can only be enjoyed by young adults, which is just crazy. YA romance is for anyone and everyone who enjoys love stories and happily ever after.

Q. What are some of the best elements of YA romance?

A: I love how YA romance allows you to get inside the character’s head and examine their emotions. YA romance often explores firsts (first love, first kiss, first heartbreak, etc.), and I love writing those. The fun banter, the friendships, the swoon-worthy and hilarious moments, those are all things I love about YA romance.

Q. You wrote four YA novels and just published your fifth, as a New Adult novel. What was different in your process, writing for the New Adult market?

A: My New Adult sports romance, The Best Mistake, just came out.  It features the O’Brien Brothers, and I love, love, love it.

The process for writing NA versus YA was a bit different because:

1) NA is set in college, so the characters are older.

2) I knew my characters would no longer be living at home, so they’d have more freedom/autonomy than in YA. I also wanted to get the living situations right, so I researched that.

3) The New Adult market’s readers are also a bit older; NA romance is written for adults 18+, so I knew the books included more mature romantic interactions. My YA romance has always been PG-13, and none of my characters were ready to do more than kiss (though there were some swoon-worthy, steamy kisses).  But my NA romance features older characters, and I knew I wanted to allow them to go as far as they wanted to go.

4) I had to make sure my characters for my NA read like mature college kids (my two main characters were seniors in college). They couldn’t sound too young, so their thoughts, views and experiences of the world, had to be right.

5) My New Adult romance features the O’Brien brothers, and I knew that I wanted it to be a series, to write stories for each of them—which I had never done before. So my approach to The Best Mistake, knowing I wanted it to be book one of a series, was definitely different.

Q: How do you define New Adult? (In case readers are unfamiliar with the genre and associate it with a totally different “adult”).

A: There are probably better definitions out there, but I define New Adult as books that feature characters who are college-aged, dealing with the transition between being a teen and becoming an adult and all of the experiences that may come during that time (such as: leaving home, living away from parents for the first time, having more autonomy, being more financially responsible, internships, jobs, college parties, clubs, drinking, having sex, falling in love that leads to engagement or marriage).

Q. You manage to write, keep up your blog and post regularly on social media. How do you juggle it all?

A: Very badly. I don’t think I’m very good at juggling everything, but I try my best.

Q. After signing on with Entangled Teen you had your Adorakable novel in Target for the first time. What was that process like?

A: It was amazing. I don’t think I could’ve ever done that on my own. Getting Adorkable into Target and Barnes & Noble was all Entangled Teen’s doing, and I’m so thankful. Seeing Adorkable on actual store shelves, it was truly a dream come true.

Q. Please share your best practices when requesting reviews and setting up book blog tours.

A. For each book I write, I try to book at blog tour. That is where the bulk of my early reviews come from. The hard part (for me anyway) is getting the timing right. Book blog tours are usually scheduled far in advance, at least a month or two, and you need to have your cover and blurb already completed (as well as your properly formatted book, of course). I would say plan ahead; get your cover done and manuscript properly edited and formatted; and contact blog tour sites as early as you can.

Q. Any other marketing tools you recommend?

A. Not really. I’m not the best at marketing, still learning. I know a lot of people don’t recommend them, but I like having a cover reveal and blog tour for my books. If you can, get a featured deal on BookBub™, I definitely recommend that. I had one for Adorkable, and it was very successful.

Q. How do you deal with writer’s block?

A: I cry in a corner, convinced I’m not a real writer/author. But seriously, I just try to get back into it. If writing comes naturally to you, that is awesome. I have to make the decision and then force myself to sit down and write. Then I just keep doing that until I reach the end (usually with a lot of writer’s block in there). But the point is to keep going.

Thank you for your time with us today, Cookie.

Connect with Cookie:

Twitter: @CookieOwrites

Instagram: @cookieogorman

Facebook: @cookieogorman

ENJOY A TASTE OF HAPPILY-EVER-AFTER!

https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/14924267.Cookie_O_Gorman

https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/14924267.Cookie_O_Gorman

 

Surviving The Fog

morris

While most of us looked forward to sleep-away summer camps as exciting, what would we do if upon arrival, frightening things began happening and the expected world of wondrous fun turned into a deadly nightmare? If you plan a stay in this cryptic version of camp in the Sierra Nevada Mountains, author Stan Morris warns you to be prepared to survive much more than wild animals and sunburns.

Interviewer: Christy Campbell

**********

Tell us about Surviving the Fog. Is it part of a series?

It is part of a series, and there are currently two books available in the series.  The first is Surviving the Fog, and the second is Surviving the Fog-Kathy’s Recollections.  I am currently working on Surviving the Fog-Douglas Lives, and I have written snippets for Surviving the Fog-Sasha and Kim and Surviving the Fog-Howard the Red.

Is this series more post apocalypse or is it science fiction?

Definitely more post apocalypse.  The science fiction aspects are only present in the prologue to Surviving the Fog.  It describes the Earth moving through a region of space containing the Fog.  The book centers on the efforts of the teenage campers to survive.  They must obtain food and shelter, and perhaps more importantly, they have to decide what kind of community they will create.

How was the idea conceived, and what influenced the conception?

There are two books that influenced Surviving the Fog.  The first is Lord of the Flies by William Golding, and the second is Tunnel in the Sky by Robert Heinlein.  I disagree vehemently with Golding’s suggestion that a group of boys would degenerate to that extent.  I think it is much more likely that a group would create a community similar to Heinlein’s.  The reason for my belief is the archeological record.  In almost every case humans have formed stable communities.  It’s in our DNA.  Bees create hives, ants create mounds, and primates create communities.

You have both male and female characters as leads. Is one more of a focus than the other?

In Surviving the Fog the focus is clearly on the boys with a few notable exceptions.  But Surviving the Fog-Kathy’s Recollections is from the point of view of a fourteen year old girl, and most of the focus in on the girls.  After Surviving the Fog was published, I received numerous requests for a sequel.  I resisted this for a time, for I felt that I had nothing more to say about these kids.  But a few years after the book was published, I was engaged in a conversation with a woman at Goodreads.  She was complaining about how I had neglected the girls.  This was not the first time I had heard this complaint, but this conversation led me to consider how Kathy, one of the characters, might have viewed her situation and how she might have viewed the events that occurred in Surviving the Fog.  I began writing her story, and I became absolutely obsessed with it.  I usually write about 100,000 words for my novels, but in this case I decided to keep writing until I was satisfied with the story.  I finished Surviving the Fog-Kathy’s Recollections with over 200,000 words.

The New Adult category has taken off for writers who like to put a more mature spin on things. Is your book along the lines of YA or NA?

It depends on the definition of YA.  I’ve seen some definitions of YA that go as low as twelve years old.  Having raised two boys, I can say that describing a twelve year old as a “Young Adult” is flat out irresponsible.  Young teenagers should never be labeled “adult,” because doing so robs them of the right to linger in their childhood.  I define YA as sixteen to twenty-one, and my books meet that definition.  At the beginning of the book, the youngest camper is twelve and the oldest is seventeen.  The teenagers age as the story progresses.  I think this book skirts the line between YA and NA.  There are sexual situations but nothing graphic.

You’ve got us stranded at a mysterious camp in your novel. Where did you come up with the setting?

The camp is set in the southern Sierra Nevada Mountains.  When I was a kid I attended camp in the Sierra’s almost every year, so it was a natural setting for my camp.  The purpose of the camp is to preach sexual abstinence and to teach the various methods of birth control.  Some people have objected to the premise, but I wanted to challenge the notion that abstinence and birth control education are not compatible.  These ideas are not only compatible, it is irresponsible not to encourage both.   There is an irony here, because once their society and culture is destroyed, and the adults have mostly disappeared from the scene, the kids don’t have any rules to follow except for those they create, and as in all communities, rules about sex are created.

Did you do any specific research while writing the book?

Wild Plants of the Sierra Nevada by Ray S. Vizgirdas and Edna M. Rey-Vizgirdas was very helpful and like most writers these days, Wikipedia is my best friend.  I did a lot of research on subjects like soap making, edible plants, temperatures, and the animals of the Sierra Nevada.

What kinds of details were more important than others as you wrote the book?

One of the most compelling aspects of Tolkien’s writing was how he described the countryside as the Hobbits moved about.  Many times I was forced to use a dictionary (pre-internet) to learn the kind of plant life he was referring to.  When I write, I try to remember to add details to the scene like the flora, fauna, and the weather.  The kids build a “lodge” in the book, and I had to describe the construction in a way that made sense.

Are there any sequels waiting in the wings?

I have written about 10,000 words for Surviving the Fog-Douglas Lives and about 2,000 words for Surviving the Fog-Sasha and Kim.

What book genres do you enjoy reading?

Science fiction, romance, and history books make up the bulk of my reading.  I branch out occasionally into fantasy and anthropology.

Where can we learn more about you?

My Website: https://sites.google.com/site/stanandrene/home

Amazon Author Page: http://www.amazon.com/Stan-Morris/e/B004KB2HG0/ref=ntt_athr_dp_pel_1

Barnes and Noble Author Page: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/c/stan-morris

iTunes Author Page: https://itunes.apple.com/us/artist/stan-morris/id366779015?mt=11

Goodreads Author Page: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/2884264.Stan_Morris

Smashwords Author Page: https://www.smashwords.com/profile/view/morriss003

 

 

Unsettled

Unsettled

Sometimes the heart sees what is invisible to the eye ~ H. Jackson Browne, Jr.

We lose ourselves and find ourselves at the same time when it comes to heartbreak and love. When we least expect it, the cure to this complicated malady appears at just the right time. And it, er, he may just be gorgeous, successful and harboring his own inner secrets. In author S.C. Ellington’s debut new adult novel Unsettled, she weaves a sensual tale of faith long lost, and the two people who lead each other on a tempestuous journey of self-discovery, with a stop for unexpected romance along the way.

 Interviewer: Christy Campbell

**********

Have you always wanted to be a writer?

Yes and no. I always enjoyed using my creative propensity. I fund pleasure in writing short poems and things of that nature. For a while I considered medical school, then law school, but for me, those professions were more of a means to earn a substantial living. My father always told me to choose a profession that I didn’t feel like would be “work.” I ended up doing the opposite and pursued my Masters degree in Public Policy and Administration. From that point I acquired a position within the government. Over the course of the last few years, I found myself yearning for me.

I would say that the day my husband brought me the Kindle was the day that my life and outlook changed. I started thinking back on my father’s words and what I found joy in. I’ve always been an avid reader, and many close friends always told me that they thought I wrote well. About a year ago, a tiny light bulb went off, propelling me to pursue my creative passion for writing. Had it not been for the ever evolving world of self-publishing, I am not sure that I would have ever seriously pursued my dreams of becoming a published author.

What inspired you to write Unsettled?

I decided to write Unsettled as a way to express some of my internal thoughts. In life we all go through trying experiences and sometimes they are hard to move past. In Brooklyn and Logan’s case, they are both plagued by secrets. Every person has to be willing to take chances, and make changes. If you can’t do that, then what do you have? You’re just left Unsettled

Which is more challenging—writing from a male or female character point of view?

It is most definitely harder for me to write male characters. As a woman it is so much easier for me to tune into what most women desire, complain about, or fear. Thankfully, my husband has been supportive and allows me to pick his brain to get male points of view.

If you could see the world through the eyes of one of your characters, which one would it be and why?

I would have to say I would like to experience the world through Logan’s eyes. Logan has had to deal with some hard blows. While everyone deals with adversity at some point, it would be nice to experience how he strives to move past it on a daily basis.

Have you ever suffered from ‘writer’s block’ Tell us what you do to get past that oh so common hurdle when it comes to writing.

I had a few cases of this dreadful disease! I found that by leaving my work alone for a few days, ideas were able to flourish when I didn’t put myself under pressure to spit out words.

When concocting the recipe for a new book, how do you determine if your work is a short story or a novel in the making?

On some level, the characters speak to you. I find if they have a lot to say, then I continue to write. If they have, yelled, screamed, and made up in twenty pages, then I know they were only meant to be around for a season or two.

If you could bring one of your characters to life, who would you choose and why?

I would choose Brooklyn. Like Logan, Brooklyn has also dealt with tumultuous ups and downs in her life. Brooklyn has a fire about her, and I enjoy that. To see some of her crazy comments played out in real life would be comical.

Today’s latest genre, New Adult, involves a more mature audience. What scenes were the hardest for you to write in order to keep this age group engaged?

Oddly enough, as a new adult romance author, the hardest scenes for me to pull together are the actual love scenes. I struggle with the syntax of my word choice, where to stage the characters, and above all, keeping the scenes fiery.

Do fans of this genre have any impact on your writing?

Certainly! As a budding author, you’re eager to hear what readers think of characters and the overall story line. What they liked and didn’t like and so forth. Since Unsettled is the first novel of a series, I would embrace things that my readers had to say, to keep the thrill of the story going.

Best advice for anyone starting out writing?

Well as a budding author myself, I can’t stress enough the importance of networking. When I first approached the idea of writing a novel, I was mortified by the idea of social networking and meeting people face to face. Luckily I was able to meet a few great people early on who showed me the ropes of the author world. I think my exposure to them has made my author experience richer.

If you had the chance to go on a date with one of your characters, what one would it be?

I would love to hang out with Damon for a couple hours. Get some insight into what he was thinking! I don’t think I could be his Mystic though!

What’s next for S.C. Ellington?

I am working on publicizing Unsettled: A Novel. My novel is set to release on December 10, 2013. I am also gearing up to write the second installment of the Unsettled Series.

Learn more about Ms. Ellington and her debut novel Unsettled at the following links:
Website: www.scellington.com
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/pages/SC-Ellington/1392923607602579
Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/18485102-unsettled?ac=1
Instagramhttp://instagram.com/authorscellington
Pinterest:  http://www.pinterest.com/authorscelling/boards/
Twitter: https://twitter.com/ScEllington