We’re back in the Writer’s Studio this week with none other than Emlyn Chand, the brains and muscle behind Novel Publicity. I’ve learned a lot from Emlyn in the past year of serving as a blog tour host. She was the first person to do an evaluation of my website and recommend adding photos (which I have done for every post since) as well as give me access to a wide range of books and authors I would have had exposure to otherwise.
Emlyn has always loved to hear and tell stories, having emerged from the womb with a fountain pen grasped firmly in her left hand (true story). When she’s not writing, she runs a large book club in Ann Arbor and is the president of the author PR firm, Novel Publicity. She loves to connect with readers and is available throughout the social media interweb. This week I’m hosting Emlyn because she has done the incredible feat of not only running her own business for writers but published her own book as well. As wordsmiths living in the real world, we all probably wish this was the case but sometimes the demands of juggling the laundry, keeping the lights on and our characters leaves most of us losing the plot.
We’ll have our interview and then an excerpt from Emlym’s hot new paranormal novel, Farsighted (released on 10/24). Before diving in, here’s what you need to know: Alex Kosmitoras may be blind, but he can still “see” things others can’t. When his unwanted visions of the future begin to suggest that the girl he likes could be in danger, he has no choice but to take on destiny and demand it reconsider.
Emlyn shares with us not only how she does it, but why. I know you’ll be as inspired as I am.
1. How did you get started as a writer?
As a child, I always had a story to tell. I also loved illustrating my own books and comics. I first became a writer writer when I began doing a book review column for the local paper. That taught me the importance of deadlines and letting the words flow out even when I had no idea what direction they’d take me in.
2. What was the hardest part of writing Farsighted ?
The hardest part was getting started! I spent about three months trying to talk myself out of writing Farsighted. It’s too ambitious, my inner critic pointed out. You’ll never get it done, not in the way it deserves to be done, it pressed. But there was another part of me that couldn’t resist; I knew I had to at least try before giving up. So glad I decided to be an optimist for a change!
3. Was there an easy part (or any part) of writing the book that surprised you?
Getting into the first person point-of-view of a blind narrator wasn’t as hard as I initially assumed it would be. Sure, it was a challenge, and it took practice to get right. But it was not impossible. Not in the least bit. My characters also provided surprises of their own, Alex’s dad and Shapri were not meant to be major characters, but they asserted themselves and so now they are. One of the best parts of writing is getting to know your characters. When they become real to the author, they become real to the reader.
4. What advice would you give aspiring or first time novelists?
My advice is this: Have fun with your writing. Don’t put pressure on yourself or your story and don’t try to fit either into some type of mold. Not every work HAS to be published, but every work will teach you something, and it will make you a better writer. Find the joy in writing, and you won’t go wrong.
5. What advice do you have for other aspiring writers with demanding day jobs?
Something’s gotta give. If writing is important, you’ll move around other aspects of your life to get it done. You have to. Writing is not something you can do with just a little bit of effort. To get through the first draft, editing, what-have-you, you’ll have to work hard! Yes, you could space it out over several years, but if you want to finish anytime this year, you’re going to have to make sacrifices. For me, this was less time with friends and family, less television, and less attention to my health (eating right and exercising).
6. How do you get it all in over 24 hours?
I can’t add hours to the day, but I can take them out. Who needs TV, leisure, sleep? I work anywhere from 13 to 17 hours per day. Every day. This does not leave time for social interactions, family, taking care of my health, or any sort of leisure activity. Didn’t somebody important say, “far and away the best prize that life has to offer is the chance to work hard at work worth doing?” I don’t mind having to give-up the other parts of my life to pursue my work, because I love it. I know I’ll eventually need to achieve a better balance, but for now, I’m content to push the pedal to the metal.
7. What’s a typical day like for you? How much of it do you spend writing? Business?
My day is simple. Wake up (usually anywhere from 2 AM to 6 AM depending on how much I need to get done). Work until 7 PM. Eat dinner with my husband. Either watch television or read a book until I fall asleep. Repeat on loop. When I’m actively writing (as opposed to editing or marketing my work), I like to write at least 1 1/2 hours first thing in the morning. I go to Biggby or Panera to get it done. The rest is devoted to my burgeoning business, Novel Publicity.
8. Do you recommend daily or weekly writing goals? Why or why not?
Yes, structure is crucial. I’d recommend a time goal over a word count goal. Word count goals put too much pressure on the writer. You may be going slowly… but writing truly wonderful bits. When I hit a snag in Farsighted about midway through, I found that holding myself “writing hostage” at Panera was a great way to break through the block. I went there when they opened at 6 AM and stayed from 8 hours at a stretch. I did this every day for about 3 weeks until draft 1# was done and my self-editing was complete.
9. Anything else you want to tell readers?
I hope you’ll enjoy reading Farsighted. My main goal was to tell an interesting story that people will be glad they spent the time to read. I also wanted to infuse contemporary Young Adult fiction with a bit more diversity and teach readers about the beauty of other cultures and other ways of life.
“Fight”: an excerpt from Farsighted, chapter 3
I sulk into school the next day, irritated about the way my brain’s been malfunctioning lately and embarrassed by how I’ve been around Simmi. The last thing I need is more problems. I head into first period attempting to disappear. No such luck.
“You better watch yourself, Kosmitoras,” Brady Evans growls. I wasn’t even aware he had entered the class, but now here he is, uncomfortably close to my desk.
I don’t say anything. I don’t want to encourage him. Even the slightest word taken out of context might set him off. The bell rings, but the teacher hasn’t come in yet. The other students are milling about, whispering excitedly.
“You’re lucky you’re a cripple, freak, or I’d—” Brady says. Why is he still here? I didn’t do anything to make him angry. Some of the students start taunting Brady, telling him to throw a punch at me. Brady laughs; clearly he loves the attention.
After a moment, the whispering stops. Brady’s moved away from my desk so fast I hardly even realized it. I decide to let the whole thing go, but then footsteps come toward me again, carrying with them the scents of Axe deodorant spray and dried sweat. Brady seems intent on a confrontation. Well, I wouldn’t want to disappoint him.
Slyly, I nudge the end of my cane across my seat and into the aisle. Not sticking out far enough to be noticed but still far enough to get in the way.
Thud! Brady trips and falls headlong down the aisle.
Ha, always wanted to do that. Sometimes blindness comes in handy. No one would ever guess this wasn’t an accident.
“You better watch yourself, Kosmitoras,” Brady growls, back on his feet now.
“You better watch yourself, Evans,” I hiss back, drawing out the S at the end of Evans. I’m a venomous cobra, ready to spring at the slightest hint of danger.
The bell rings. Wait didn’t the bell already ring? Haven’t I been here before?
The other students in the class are milling about, whispering excitedly.
“You’re lucky you’re a cripple, freak, or I’d—” Brady says.
“Or what?” I challenge, rising to my feet while wrapping my knuckles around the handle of my cane and solidifying my grip. I’ve had enough, and besides, what have I got to lose by standing up to him? If anything, a fight with Brady could improve my social standing.
The whispering grows louder. Some of the students start taunting Brady, telling him to throw a punch at me.
Brady laughs arrogantly, “or I’d make you sorry.” He cracks his knuckles as if his words weren’t clear enough.
“I’m not a cripple, but I am going to make you sorry,” I shout, bringing the end of my cane down hard on Brady’s toes.
I can tell it hurt, but Brady doesn’t make any noise to indicate it. He’s too much of a tough guy. Instead, he punches me in the stomach.
I don’t feel anything except a pulsing pain in my middle. And anger, a lot of anger. I raise my cane again and thwack Brady higher up—his face, his neck, I don’t care as long as it hurts.
This time he cries out in pain.
Now, I’m laughing. This is what he deserves, since he just couldn’t leave me alone.
The teacher comes into the classroom. The other students grow quiet, waiting to find out what she’ll do.
Brady punches me in the nose. There’s a crack as he makes contact with the bone. Blood spurts out from my nostrils and flows into my mouth—guess I’ve gotten my daily dose of iron now. I almost throw up, but before I can, the teacher is pulling me and Brady out of the classroom by the collars of our shirts and walking us down the hall toward the principal’s office.
Blog Tour Notes
The Book: Get your copy today by visiting Amazon.com’s Kindle store or the eBook retailer of your choice. The paperback edition will be available on November 24 (for the author’s birthday).
CASH PRIZES: Guess what? You could win a $100 Amazon gift card as part of this special blog tour. That’s right! Just leave a comment below saying something about the post you just read, and you’ll be entered into the raffle.
GIVEAWAYS: Win 1 of 10 autographed copies of Farsighted before its paperback release by entering the giveaway on GoodReads. Perhaps you’d like an autographed postcard from the author; you can request one on her site.
MORE FUN: There’s more fun below. Watch the live action Farsighted book trailer and take the quiz to find out which character is most like you!