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Today, Amber Skye Forbes joins me to talk about fanfiction, debuting, and the authors she loves. Enjoy!

48669471. When did you start writing?

I’m just going to say second grade, but, frankly, writing at that age wasn’t as exciting as it is now. Oh, sure, I started with some horrible fanfiction mash-up of Spyro and The Magic Treehouse, and it was fun then and did have passion behind it, but even then I knew I had to continually improve my craft if I wanted to be where I am now.

So, I’m just going to say I began my serious foray into writing when I was fourteen, where I began to really research publishing: query letters, synopses, agents, editors, publishers, ect., ect., ect. I joined writing forums, and began to seek critique for what I was writing. It was really bad then, but everyone on AbsoluteWrite did try to help me with the best of their ability, even though my writing wasn’t even ready for critique. It just made me aware that criticism wasn’t something to be feared. I’m actually in love with criticism. I’ll probably retreat back to AW when I want to write a query letter and synopses for All Shattered Ones, a book I want my current publisher to publish before the final book in The Stars Trilogy. I don’t want to shortchange them by just sending the book directly to them. I want them to really know the book before taking the project on, because it will be so totally different from anything I’ve ever written before.

But it’s taken me years to hone my craft. At age 21, I didn’t realize I had finally reached the point where my writing craft itself was publishable. Of course, my story-crafting skills weren’t, but I did have a short story published at 19, so it was a stepping stone. Now at 23, I have my first book out, and am currently awaiting edits for the second book in The Stars Trilogy.
2. Are you a pantser or a planner?

I used to be a punster, but I have to plan, and I have to hardcore plan. I know many writers who do outlines and start with bullet points. Me, I go full out and write entire summaries of each chapter; however, this doesn’t restrict my ability to go beyond the outline, because I do. It simply keeps me on track so that the plot does not de-rail, which is what happened with the second book in The Stars Trilogy.

I don’t want that to happen ever again because it took me such a long time for me to take that simple piece of criticism and understand what it meant.

Georgia McBride had been doing a structural edit of my book for free in exchange for my internship services. She got about halfway through, and then the only thing she could say was that the plot had de-railed, meaning part of the book couldn’t be saved. I was devastated, and I had no idea what to do or what that had even meant, until she told me this one, simple thing: outline.

It has made a world of difference for me. So I got that plot back on track, sent it to Megan Curd, her former intern, and she edited about half of it. She enjoyed it, and of course there was criticism, but I had put the plot back on its tracks.
3. Can you give us an idea of your writing process? extracto-sorteo-when-stars-die-L-uQB1E9

There isn’t really anything to my writing process. I just outline, then sit down and write. I don’t have any rituals, or snacks I have to have, or drinks I must have with me. It doesn’t even matter where I write. In fact, I wrote in geography class at my former university because that class was the dullest class I’ve ever taken in my life, so if I wasn’t doing something else besides paying attention to the lecture, I would have stabbed my eye out with a pencil.
4. Which authors have influenced your work?

John Green, Libba Bray, Cassandra Clare, Carrie Ryan, and Mary Gray.
5. What are you plans/future projects/new releases that we should be aware of?

Well, my current plan is to finish this novel called All Shattered Ones, about a teenage boy who commits suicide because of a haunting voice, and dies into a beautiful place called Silvaria. There, a Lightveil takes him under his care to help him accept the difficult life he lived before, in order for him to become a Lightveil himself to help others. However, the voice that haunted him in his life turns out to be real, and it is actively pursuing him in Silvaria.

My future project will be the third book in The Stars Trilogy. I haven’t started outlining it yet, because I want All Shattered Ones to be the next book that comes out after the second book in The Stars Trilogy.

Also, I am currently awaiting edits for The Stars Are Infinite, the sequel to When Stars Die. I hope that comes out by the end of this year, or at least early 2015.

And, last, I do have my first release, When Stars Die. Here is a new blurb of it I’ve done that I think effectively captures the essence of the book better: Witches are worse than murderers in Amelia’s world. When she finds out her brother is one, they have to flee–or die.

6. Any tips for new writers?

Once you become published, don’t expect to race out the door as a bestseller. If you decide to publish with an indie press because you know your book is outside of the mainstream books usually published, don’t be upset if you don’t run out the door selling hundreds, or even thousands, of books. With a medium-size indie press, this could be possible, but you’ll probably be waiting just as long as with a legacy press. HOWEVER, you don’t need a literary agent, so submit your book widely, look at the contract, and decide from there where you want to go.

7. Any tips for old writers?

I feel like I have no right to give tips for old writers, unless you mean those who are unpublished. Well, let me start with the unpublished ones: Age has nothing to do with creating a good book. I had an editorial client—unpublished—throw my age in my face, basically telling me he had more writing experience, when, clearly, he didn’t. So when interacting with a younger writer, don’t be condescending. That younger writer can, in fact, have more experience than you. Or it may be vice versa. But it doesn’t matter.

For those who are published, realize the publishing landscape is changing. What was once not acceptable before, has now become acceptable because of the rise in popularity of self-publishing, and the rise of indie houses that fill in the gaps for those who can neither afford to self-publish nor have a book that could fit with mainstream tastes. There are many a story where agents have taken on an amazing book, but could never find a house for that book, so the client went on to self-publish that book. So don’t act like the book could never find a house because it wasn’t ready. That book may not have found a house because the market for that book is waning, or that book may not fit with mainstream tastes.

It happened to a current book I’m reading titled The Only Boy by Jordan Locke, and I am blessed he chose to self-publish it because he is not depriving voracious readers of an amazing story. It might not be selling in mainstream numbers, but it certainly deserves to be out in the world, and I am enjoying it.

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1. When did you start writing?

I’m just going to say second grade, but, frankly, writing at that age wasn’t as exciting as it is now. Oh, sure, I started with some horrible fanfiction mash-up of Spyro and The Magic Treehouse, and it was fun then and did have passion behind it, but even then I knew I had to continually improve my craft if I wanted to be where I am now.

So, I’m just going to say I began my serious foray into writing when I was fourteen, where I began to really research publishing: query letters, synopses, agents, editors, publishers, ect., ect., ect. I joined writing forums, and began to seek critique for what I was writing. It was really bad then, but everyone on AbsoluteWrite did try to help me with the best of their ability, even though my writing wasn’t even ready for critique. It just made me aware that criticism wasn’t something to be feared. I’m actually in love with criticism. I’ll probably retreat back to AW when I want to write a query letter and synopses for All Shattered Ones, a book I want my current publisher to publish before the final book in The Stars Trilogy. I don’t want to shortchange them by just sending the book directly to them. I want them to really know the book before taking the project on, because it will be so totally different from anything I’ve ever written before.

But it’s taken me years to hone my craft. At age 21, I didn’t realize I had finally reached the point where my writing craft itself was publishable. Of course, my story-crafting skills weren’t, but I did have a short story published at 19, so it was a stepping stone. Now at 23, I have my first book out, and am currently awaiting edits for the second book in The Stars Trilogy.

 

2. Are you a pantser or a planner?

I used to be a punster, but I have to plan, and I have to hardcore plan. I know many writers who do outlines and start with bullet points. Me, I go full out and write entire summaries of each chapter; however, this doesn’t restrict my ability to go beyond the outline, because I do. It simply keeps me on track so that the plot does not de-rail, which is what happened with the second book in The Stars Trilogy.

I don’t want that to happen ever again because it took me such a long time for me to take that simple piece of criticism and understand what it meant.

Georgia McBride had been doing a structural edit of my book for free in exchange for my internship services. She got about halfway through, and then the only thing she could say was that the plot had de-railed, meaning part of the book couldn’t be saved. I was devastated, and I had no idea what to do or what that had even meant, until she told me this one, simple thing: outline.

It has made a world of difference for me. So I got that plot back on track, sent it to Megan Curd, her former intern, and she edited about half of it. She enjoyed it, and of course there was criticism, but I had put the plot back on its tracks.

3. Can you give us an idea of your writing process?

There isn’t really anything to my writing process. I just outline, then sit down and write. I don’t have any rituals, or snacks I have to have, or drinks I must have with me. It doesn’t even matter where I write. In fact, I wrote in geography class at my former university because that class was the dullest class I’ve ever taken in my life, so if I wasn’t doing something else besides paying attention to the lecture, I would have stabbed my eye out with a pencil.

4. Which authors have influenced your work?

John Green, Libba Bray, Cassandra Clare, Carrie Ryan, and Mary Gray.

5. What are you plans/future projects/new releases that we should be aware of?

Well, my current plan is to finish this novel called All Shattered Ones, about a teenage boy who commits suicide because of a haunting voice, and dies into a beautiful place called Silvaria. There, a Lightveil takes him under his care to help him accept the difficult life he lived before, in order for him to become a Lightveil himself to help others. However, the voice that haunted him in his life turns out to be real, and it is actively pursuing him in Silvaria.

My future project will be the third book in The Stars Trilogy. I haven’t started outlining it yet, because I want All Shattered Ones to be the next book that comes out after the second book in The Stars Trilogy.

Also, I am currently awaiting edits for The Stars Are Infinite, the sequel to When Stars Die. I hope that comes out by the end of this year, or at least early 2015.

And, last, I do have my first release, When Stars Die. Here is a new blurb of it I’ve done that I think effectively captures the essence of the book better: Witches are worse than murderers in Amelia’s world. When she finds out her brother is one, they have to flee–or die.

6. Any tips for new writers?

Once you become published, don’t expect to race out the door as a bestseller. If you decide to publish with an indie press because you know your book is outside of the mainstream books usually published, don’t be upset if you don’t run out the door selling hundreds, or even thousands, of books. With a medium-size indie press, this could be possible, but you’ll probably be waiting just as long as with a legacy press. HOWEVER, you don’t need a literary agent, so submit your book widely, look at the contract, and decide from there where you want to go.

7. Any tips for old writers?

I feel like I have no right to give tips for old writers, unless you mean those who are unpublished. Well, let me start with the unpublished ones: Age has nothing to do with creating a good book. I had an editorial client—unpublished—throw my age in my face, basically telling me he had more writing experience, when, clearly, he didn’t. So when interacting with a younger writer, don’t be condescending. That younger writer can, in fact, have more experience than you. Or it may be vice versa. But it doesn’t matter.

For those who are published, realize the publishing landscape is changing. What was once not acceptable before, has now become acceptable because of the rise in popularity of self-publishing, and the rise of indie houses that fill in the gaps for those who can neither afford to self-publish nor have a book that could fit with mainstream tastes. There are many a story where agents have taken on an amazing book, but could never find a house for that book, so the client went on to self-publish that book. So don’t act like the book could never find a house because it wasn’t ready. That book may not have found a house because the market for that book is waning, or that book may not fit with mainstream tastes.

It happened to a current book I’m reading titled The Only Boy by Jordan Locke, and I am blessed he chose to self-publish it because he is not depriving voracious readers of an amazing story. It might not be selling in mainstream numbers, but it certainly deserves to be out in the world, and I am enjoying it.

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