Jo: Welcome to the blog, K. C. It’s so amazing to have a veteran utopYAn with me I can barely breathe. Are you ready to get going?
K. C.: Haha, you make me feel like such a celebrity. : ) Yes, let’s dive in!
Jo: That's because you are! Perfect. Let's do it. I read somewhere that you meditate every day. What got you started, and what do you feel it’s done for you over the long-term?
K. C.: I was going through a challenging time, and I really needed a tool to help me process things emotionally. I stumbled on iRest Yoga Nidra online and asked on Facebook if any of my friends had done this type of meditation before. A couple of people replied and basically said it was amazing, so I decided to give it a try. That was nearly two years ago, and I haven’t stopped since. I attend a weekly class and also practice on my own, and it has changed my life. iRest is really hard to explain, and it’s also kind of difficult to describe what it does for me. The best way I can put it is that it helps me process the ups and downs of life in a way that gives me so much more peace than I had before.
Jo: I'm a huge advocate of yoga and taking the time to center yourself and just friggin' relax for a little while each day. I understand exactly what it does for you. Tell me, how long have you been with StoneHouse Ink, how did you get in, and what are the three best things about them?
K. C.: StoneHouse published my first book, Pyxis (YA fantasy), back in 2011, and the sequel, Arise, in 2013. I became friends with the owner of StoneHouse and that’s how that happened. Up to that point, I’d been planning to self-publish. Three great things about StoneHouse: large royalties, author input into all stages of the publishing process, and the best thing of all – I left my corporate job three years ago to become the Publishing Director at StoneHouse. It’s a great job, and I absolutely LOVE the flexibility and working from home!
Jo: I totally feel you about the ability to work from home. Congrats on landing the job. That's amazing! I found out you’re a NaNoWriMoer. Such a wonderful thing to have so many words produced in a month by people around the world, huh? How many years have you participated, and what novel(s) have you written? What was the most difficult thing about writing a novel in a month?
K. C.: It is quite the event! During the most recent NaNo, think I worked on a couple of things at once and the total added up to enough words to “win.” It probably seems strange that I can’t remember for sure what I was working on—it was only four months ago!—but I’ve been writing like a maniac since last spring and things run together in my mind! I’ve actually completed a few of my own private NaNos (written 50,000 words in a month) I guess you could say, but they happened to occur during months other than November, which is the official NaNo month.
In general, I’d say the most difficult thing about writing that many words in a month is developing the writing habit in the first place. Actually, the writing habit is going to be the topic of my UtopYA 2015 Idea Exchange talk. I went from writing a book every two years to writing five books in one year (and that’s around a full-time job). I want to share how I did this because it’s NOT about “having enough time,” like we often think. It’s all about mindset, and every writer has the power to change her own mindset. The right mindset leads to the right habit. Then you can optimize your writing habit, and watch your word counts take off! But like so many things in life, it starts with what’s going on in your head.
Jo: *high fives* YES! Developing the writing habit is number ONE! I can't wait to hear your talk. How exciting! So, you’re a utopYA Con veteran—there in 2012—and saw the launch of the amazingness. What was that first year like, and what’s changed about your experience(s) since then?
K. C.: That first year was one of the best experiences of my life. Before the first UtopYA I knew a lot of the attending authors online, but had never met any of them in person. It was like meeting a bunch of famous people! It was a profound experience. My roomies that year—Angeline Kace, Heather Hildenbrand, and Chelsea Fine—remain some of my favorite people and greatest friends. Most of us at the conference were fairly new authors, and it was just so wonderful to connect with everyone. That first year was really kind of intimate. It was a small enough group that we could really get to know each other. That’s probably the thing I miss most—though I’m totally THRILLED that UtopYA has flourished, don’t get me wrong!—last year I didn’t know many of the attending authors.
Jo: I was so scared about going, I developed this interview process to get to know people. *grin* It's worked wonders. I met Ms. Fine last year (she's sweet as pie!), and I'm excited to know more faces this year. Because of my
K. C.: OMG I do have a serious obsession! I have Post-It pads in pretty much every room of the house. And probably at least two dozen colored pens. I’ve always liked to make lists and to color-code things, so I think that’s how the Post-It and pen obsession came about. But as far back as I can remember I’ve always loved binders, folders, index cards, pens, pencils . . . there’s nothing like the feel of a fresh notebook in my hands! I know, weird, right? But I figure there are much worse obsessions to have, haha.
Jo: Birds of a feather... Yeah, I totally don't have a billion office supplies *hides hundreds of journals and grins* Rapid fire questions! Chocolate or caramel?
K. C.: Caramel, mmm!
Jo: Computers or paper notebooks?
K. C.: Notebooks—of course!
Jo: Popcorn or peanuts?
K. C.: POPCORN POPCORN POPCOOORN (one of my other obsessions lol).
Jo: I knew that, too. Just wanted to see how many times you'd type it! haha! *wink* Let’s move on to the time travel question. Since you’re such a lover of science fiction, this one should be right up your alley. *grin* If you went to the future, what turn do you see books and publishing taking, and what one thing would you bring back to the modern day with you?
K. C.: I really wish I knew where books and publishing were going! I think as the younger generations—kids who have never known life without iPads and smartphones—grow into adults, paper books will become novelties. And I think books (eBooks) will start to overlap with other media and become more interactive.
I’d probably want to bring back whatever the hot gadget of the moment is.
Jo: Yup. Gadgets will make you billions. haha! Your novel, Helia’s Shadow Part One, has amazing reviews. Kudos to you! What was your favorite part of writing it, and which character do you identify with most? Why?
K. C.: Thank you! The middle part of Helia’s story, where she’s imprisoned on the moon with cannibal prison guards, was actually the first part that I wrote originally, and probably my favorite part. And actually, that’s the first half of Helia’s Shadow Part Two, the sequel. I love writing about aliens and futuristic technology, and imaging life on an earth that’s been destroyed by war and waste. And in general, I just absolutely love writing in the world of this series (The Starlight Age Series). It was a world that developed in over several years, and it’s extremely vivid and rich in my mind. There are SO many stories I could tell in this world. I have about half a dozen ideas for more prequel novellas.
I probably identify with Helia the most, in that she’s analytical and into science and technology. My background is in science (I have degrees in Chemistry and Health Science Research). I love female characters with real smarts, and I’m really proud of Helia as a character!
Jo: You're the second science fiend I've had on the blog in as many weeks! I love you ladies! I'm such a total nerd over science. *blushes* Seems I've found a couple of like-minded people. Since we just talked about part one of your series, let’s discuss your new release! How long did it take you to write Helia’s Shadow Part Two, and how many more novels will be in the series?
K. C.: I actually wrote the entire story—Parts One and Two—before I published the first book. The first draft of the entire story probably took a few months. Then it went through a major, major rewrite—like 90% of it was rewritten. And after beta feedback I probably rewrote about 20% of it yet again. It was quite a process! In addition to the two novels (Helia’s Shadow Part One and Helia’s Shadow Part Two), I’ve also finished a prequel novella called Arrival Day. I consider the series “complete” at this point, but probably will write more stories in this world—I’m not sure I’ll ever be fully ready to leave the world of this series behind. Like I mentioned before, there are tons of fun possibilities for prequel stories. Some of my beta and ARC readers have actually given me some great ideas for alternate point of view stories and prequels!
Jo: I'm so picking this novel up. Die hard reader over here. I adore an excellent sci-fi story, and I love a clean read! Well, I’ve taken up a ton of your time. Is there anything else you’d like to share with my readers that I didn’t ask?
K. C.: Thanks so much for interviewing me, Jo! I’m so looking forward to seeing you at UtopYA!!
Jo: I’m stoked to meet you in June, too, K. C.! EEP! Thanks so much for giving us some of your time.
Now, it’s time to tell you all about the featured book of the week!
Title: Helia’s Shadow Part One
Author: K.C. Neal
Genre: Young Adult Science Fiction
Length (print): 300 pages
Buy links: Amazon Kindle $2.99 ~ Google Play FREE ~ iBooks FREE ~ B&N FREE ~ Kobo FREE
Sixteen-year-old Helia wants two things in life: to step out of her over-protective mother's shadow and become an engineer, and to stop hiding her relationship with alien boy Kalo. But the world definitely isn't ready for a human-alien romance. And worse, the human-alien partnership is crumbling. Humans are arrested without explanation. Some of them are never seen again.
When the alien leader imprisons her mother on a false charge, Helia discovers the aliens never intended to help humans at all. Now, she must join forces with alien rebels. If she succeeds, humans have a chance at survival and she has a chance at love. If she fails, the dwindling human race dies out in slavery.
When the aliens arrived, they were hailed as the saviors of a dying Earth and dwindling human race. But the aliens didn't come to help. Now, one human girl's ingenious invention and one alien boy's awakened heart are humanity's last hope...
While your fingers are in the clicking mode, why not give K. C. a follow on every social media platform I could think of when writing up the template for these interviews (plus some)?
Blog: K. C. Neal's Blog
Facebook: K.C. Neal Fan Page
Goodreads: K. C. Neal
Website: Author K. C. Neal
Amazon Author Page: K. C. Neal
Tsu: K. C. Neal
If you have any questions, pop them into the comments below. My lovely guest will be around to answer and/or respond!
Well, that’s all for today, folks! Until next time, WRITE ON!