Category Archives: Author Spotlights

Samantha Downing: Writing for Publication

In this post, Downing shares how the process of writing her second novel (He Started It) differed from her first (My Lovely Wife), her one piece of advice for writers, and more!

Samantha Downing is the USA Today and Sunday Times bestselling author of My Lovely Wife, which has been nominated for an Edgar award. Her next book, He Started It, was recently released. She currently lives and works in New Orleans. Learn more at www.samanthadowning.com.

Samantha Downing

(Breaking In: An Interview With Such a Fun Age Author Kiley Reid.)

In this post, Downing shares how the process of writing her second novel (He Started It) differed from her first (My Lovely Wife), her one piece of advice for writers, and more!

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Dive into the world of writing and learn all 12 steps needed to complete a first draft. In this writing workshop you will tackle the steps to writing a book, learn effective writing techniques along the way, and of course, begin writing your first draft.

Click to continue.

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Name: Samantha Downing
Literary agent: Barbara Poelle at Irene Goodman Literary Agency
Book title: He Started It
Publisher: Berkley/PRH
Release date: July 21, 2020
Genre: Psychological Thriller
Previous title: My Lovely Wife

Elevator pitch for the book: Three siblings, and their spouses, have to go on a road trip to secure an inheritance from their grandfather. Along the way, they have to navigate through old grudges, rivalries, and buried family secrets.

What prompted you to write this book?

I love road trips—not only in real life, but in fiction. Road trips open up so many possibilities. Plus the idea of being confined in a car with the same people for long periods of time…it's a thriller waiting to happen!

How long did it take to go from idea to publication?

I wrote the first draft of this book in three months and then went through about six months of revisions with my editor. At that point, we were about nine months from publication. It still had to go through copyedits, sending out advance copies, early reviews…but the writing part was done.

The original story never changed, though some details and storylines did. As any writer knows, books are a long process no matter how many you've written!

Were there any surprises or learning moments in the publishing process for this title?

This is my second book and it was a much different process than my first. My Lovely Wife was written before I had an agent, much less a book contract, so I had a lot more time to write and revise it. For the second book, I had a deadline and a schedule to keep. 

(6 things writing a second novel taught me.)

Transitioning from writing as a hobby to writing for publication has been a journey! Mostly it's been a change in my mental process and how I think about it.

Were there any surprises in the writing process for this book?

No surprises other than having a shorter amount of time to write it!

What do you hope readers will get out of your book?

I love reading a book that is so engaging I can't put it down, and I have to know what happens next. This is the kind of book I try to write, and I hope this is the kind of experience I can give a reader.

If you could share one piece of advice with other authors, what would it be?

Keep writing! Concentrate on your craft, and do it because you love it.

Tiffany Rosenhan: Writing Her Character’s Story

In this post, Tiffany Rosenhan shares what inspired her debut novel Girl From Nowhere, what surprised her about the publishing process, and more.

Tiffany Rosenhan is a mother to four young daughters and the granddaughter of Oscar-winning actress and author Mary Astor. She has a degree in political science and often travels the world with her family and husband, who is a critical care physician. She lives in Millcreek, Utah. Girl From Nowhere is her debut novel.

Tiffany Rosenhan

Learn more at tiffanyrosenhan.com.

In this post, Rosenhan shares what inspired her debut novel Girl From Nowhere, what surprised her about the publishing process, and more!

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Dive into the world of writing and learn all 12 steps needed to complete a first draft. In this writing workshop you will tackle the steps to writing a book, learn effective writing techniques along the way, and of course, begin writing your first draft.

Click to continue.

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Name: Tiffany Rosenhan
Literary agent: Webster Stone
Book title: Girl From Nowhere
Publisher: Bloomsbury
Release date: July 21, 2020
Genre: Young Adult Fiction

Elevator pitch for the book: A modern spy thriller/romance!

What prompted you to write this book?

My protagonist, Sophia, has been in my head a long time. I was 19 years old and living in Taipei, Taiwan for the summer. My identical twin sister and I had gone to the night market for dinner and at some point we became separated. Suddenly I found myself alone, on a dark street, in the middle of a heavy rainstorm, unsure of where I was or how to get home. 

As I began running back in the direction I'd come, searching for my sister, Sophia emerged. I began to wonder: What if I was running from someone? Who would be chasing me? Why? What skills would I have to avoid being caught? Sophia's story evolved from there. 

(21 authors share one piece of advice for writers.)

Two years later, I had graduated with a BA in Political Science from the University of Utah and chose to stay home raising our oldest daughter while my husband began his medical residency in Kentucky. I write often, for fun, and over the years, and as I had more daughters, Sophia became clearer. So, eventually, I wrote her story! 

It was so therapeutic—I couldn't make my four daughters do every single thing I say, but I could make my characters! Ha.

Additionally, I've been fascinated by linguistics, tradecraft, diplomacy, geography and travel since I was a little girl! Each of these interests influenced the book.

How long did it take to go from idea to publication?

As the story has been circulating in my head for so many years, it's hard to say! I love writing, this story and others, but for a long time, my sole focus was on mothering. 

Publishing was never really on my radar until suddenly it was. Fortuitously, I received my offer from Bloomsbury in September 2018, the week my youngest began attending school all day!

And yes, the idea evolved . . . and evolved . . . and evolved! I'd never written fiction before, so I had to learn "how to write" at the same time I was trying to understand what it was I was trying to say. It was both exciting and exhausting. Many books (both fiction and nonfiction) provided inspiration and structure.

Were there any surprises or learning moments in the publishing process for this title?

Yes! Writing is easy. Editing is hard. 

I was unfamiliar with a publisher's editorial process. It is thorough, disciplined, and designed to enable authors to tell their story in the most clean, effective way. It truly takes an entire team to make a great book. My editor is brilliant, of course. 

(63 grammar rules for writers.)

Hopefully, next time I'm a little faster!

Were there any surprises in the writing process for this book?

Daily! Apparently, I have a habit of writing myself into messes I can't untangle. Then I have to circle back and start over. Sometimes this proves creatively beneficial, other times it adds unnecessary complications! 

The biggest surprise was learning that even if I am free-writing, maintaining structure and order are imperative!

What do you hope readers will get out of your book?

I hope they feel exhausted! I hope they feel adrenaline, excitement, and a greater interest in languages, cultures, and locations around the world. Ideally, young girls see a little bit of themselves in Sophia.

If you could share one piece of advice with other authors, what would it be?

READ EVERY SINGLE DAY. And read everything! Except what you don't like. Nobody has time for that. 

Abbi Waxman: Writing Not Any Easier

Abbi Waxman, author of The Garden of Small Beginnings and The Bookish Life of Nina Hill, shares what inspired her most recent novel, I Was Told It Would Get Easier, how her promotion plans changed with the pandemic, and more.

Abbi Waxman, the USA Today bestselling author of The Bookish Life of Nina Hill, Other People’s Houses, and The Garden of Small Beginnings, is a chocolate-loving, dog-loving woman who lives in Los Angeles and lies down as much as possible. She worked in advertising for many years, which is how she learned to write fiction. She has three daughters, three dogs, three cats, and one very patient husband.

Abbi Waxman (Credit: Creel Studio 2015)

You can find out more at abbiwaxman.com.

In this post, Waxman shares what inspired I Was Told It Would Get Easier, how her promotion plans changed with the pandemic, her best piece of advice for authors, and more.

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Dive into the world of writing and learn all 12 steps needed to complete a first draft. In this writing workshop you will tackle the steps to writing a book, learn effective writing techniques along the way, and of course, begin writing your first draft.

Click to continue.

*****

Name: Abbi Waxman
Literary agent: Alexandra Machinist at ICM
Book title: I Was Told It Would Get Easier
Publisher: Berkley
Release date: June 16, 2020
Genre: Fiction
Previous titles: The Garden of Small Beginnings; Other People's Houses; The Bookish Life of Nina Hill

Elevator pitch for the book: Mother and teenage daughter take a college tour and rediscover themselves and each other on the way.

What prompted you to write this book? 

I'd already spent the advance, and it seemed churlish not to deliver the book. Also, I was experiencing the joys of having three teenage daughters, and wanted to get it off my chest.

How long did it take to go from idea to publication? 

It took around a year, and the idea stayed pretty consistent. There was the usual panicking and despair that I'd never finish it, but we got there in the end.

Were there any surprises or learning moments in the publishing process for this title?

Well, the pandemic happened just as we were gearing up for the launch of the book, so we had to cancel all the in-person events and go online for a lot of it. My editor and the rest of the team at Berkley made it all easy though, because they're awesome.

Were there any surprises in the writing process for this book?

No surprises, just the usual ups and downs. It's not easy, writing a book, and I was hoping it would get easier the more I did, but that has not been the case.

What do you hope readers will get out of your book?

I hope they will be reminded of how much love exists in families, and how being a parent (and a child) changes so much over time. And I hope it makes them laugh.

If you could share one piece of advice with other authors, what would it be?

Wear layers and stretch frequently, it's a highly sedentary job, and it's easy to get cold when you're in the groove.