Thursday, September 5, 2013

Indie Author Month: Welcome Lena Goldfinch

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Welcome to another exciting interview for Indie Month hosted by Never Too Old for Y.A. & N.A. Books group on Goodreads!
Today we welcome author Lena Goldfinch
 photo 17844546_zpsf0cd4018.jpg Annalisia is a seer, a princess with a courageous spirit—and a soft spot for Legends.
Jovanni is a Legend, a commoner with no patience for pampered royals.
Principessa Annalisia is stunned and conscience-stricken when an unknown enemy mistakenly abducts her maidservant. Determined to find the girl, Annalisia disguises herself as plain Anna and slips away from the palace. She tracks down Jovanni, her maidservant's daring older brother, and they soon begin to search together. As they uncover clues, Anna also discovers a kindred spirit in Jovanni. But would he be so free with her if he knew who she really was? Doubtful. Even so, she reveals her secret gift of visions to him, and in so doing disobeys the orders of her beloved grandmother, the queen.
With Jovanni, Anna can almost imagine she’s like any other seventeen year old girl, free to pursue the longings of her heart. When she learns that he also has a secret—he's a sentinel, an ancient shapeshifter who can take the form of a falcon—it seems as if they were destined to be together, as in the legends of il Sentiro. Though Anna is tempted to wish otherwise, she can’t forget that she’s a princess and it's her duty to marry another. Meanwhile, their hunt leads Anna ever closer to danger, for she herself is being hunted.
A princess and a commoner. 
They never should have fallen in love...but they did.
AIRE is a lush, romantic fantasy, inspired by ancient Italy and Turkey.



Now let's hear what Lena has to say!
Welcome Lena!

Did you always know you wanted to be a writer or did you want to be something else? 
I knew pretty early on that I wanted to be a writer, but I took a detour and majored in Math/Computer Science and became a software engineer. I returned to writing eventually though (and never completely stopped because I journaled a lot).
How long does it take you to write a book from start to finish?
The easy answer is “about a year.” But it’s hard to answer that because some books are shorter, some take longer. A lot of times a new idea will come while I’m in the middle of another project. I’ll capture a seed of that new idea with a few chapters and notes, and then set it aside until I finish my current project. The important thing to me, if it’s a really good story, is to finish it, no matter what the time span.
How do you come up with themes for your stories?
I never set out to write in a certain theme. It happens more organically than that. I’m sometimes not aware of the theme until I’m well into the book. That said, I think I have some core themes. For instance, I’m fascinated by characters who transform over the course of a story, who have to find their place in the world, who are faced with decisions which split their loyalties or they have to take chances they normally wouldn’t, stretching out of their comfort zones. I’m also interested in culture & language and the issues that can come up between people when trying to communicate.
And, of course, I love the theme of the transformative power of love. (I’m a sucker for a sweet romance.)
Do you have a schedule of when you write? 
I typically write when my kids are in school, but now that they’re older (both in high school), I’m free to work longer, which often includes research, planning, cover design, revisions, book formatting,  promotional efforts, and all sorts of other writing-related tasks. I also do book design freelance work (mostly book covers and print edition layout & formatting), so my world revolves around books these days, which is something I love.
How are you able to balance other aspects of your life with your writing?
That’s tricky! When I’m deep in a story, I can forget to plan for dinner, just as a for instance. ;) I find though that there’s an ebb and flow to my projects, where I’m busier at times and more flexible at others. In those down times, I tend to schedule more activities with friends, plan family activities, etc...
Mostly, you just do what you have to do, even when you’re hot on a story. Little breaks can be good anyway, so you can go grocery shopping and pick up prescriptions, or whatever, and while you’re driving around, you can think about your story. ;)
What elements do you think make a great story line? 
A character who is faced with a life crisis or a challenging problem to solve. She is forced to step out of her comfort zone and changes over the course of a story, emerging as a stronger person, more aware of her place in the world. Add in a worthy love interest and possibly a little mystery or intrigue and I’m happy.
What was the hardest thing about writing a book?
For a novel, I think it’s making sure everything comes together in a fluid cohesive way--and in an engaging way too. There’s a lot to juggle. You’re also writing over long stretches of time and producing several hundred pages, so it’s a matter of keeping track of all the characters and plot threads. Add to that the discouragement that comes when you feel stuck or when troubles—those things in life we all face at times—become heavy. At those times, it can be a challenge to feel creative and to stay focused and motivated for upwards of a year, or longer.
How many books have you written so far? Do you have a favorite? 
I have three published works and am hard at work on the forth. I also have many “practice” novels, shall we say.
Do you have a favorite character?
I can’t say there’s just one—I love Solena and Rundan (The Language of Souls), I love Kita and Pono (Songstone), and I love Anna & Jovanni (Aire)—but, honestly, I especially love Pono. Please don’t tell the others!
Where do you write?  
I write in my home office mostly. If the weather’s nice, I’ll write out back on my patio. I also like to get away and write in other locations. I find this can shake things up if I’m stuck. I like going to a coffee shop at times because you’re not actively engaging in conversation (so you’re able to work), but you’re surrounded by people. You need to spend a lot of time alone to write a novel, and you have to have a personality that can withstand those times of isolation. I happen to thrive on that. I find I really need time alone, but I also like being around people.
(Side note: I’m fascinated by people who are opposite and need time with people—they thrive on it in fact—but like being alone at times. It’s all in how you personally recharge your batteries, I think. I do know a handful of writers who are extroverts, like this second group, and that’s so fascinating to me. How can they withstand long periods of time alone to write? But I digress... ;-))
When deciding on how to publish, what directed you to the route you took? 
I had published The Language of Souls with a small press in 2010. Around the time my contract was coming up for renewal, I was becoming interested in self-publishing. Many of my writer friends were having success with it and it also looked fun. I love to design covers and with my background in software engineering, I’m comfortable with book formatting, uploading, and that stuff, so I felt fairly confident in the skills I had in my toolbox. Although self-publishing still seemed sort of scary, it was also exciting. So I got my rights back, rewrote the story as YA (where before it was slightly older, but YA-friendly), and published it myself in ebook and paperback.
During this time, my YA fantasy novel (Aire) was under consideration with a publisher. After two years of waiting (yes, two years!), the editor (a truly lovely person) gave me the final news that she wasn’t able to get full support from her company to make an offer. This had the potential to be devastating, but she also said she felt “teens would be swept up in this story of seers and sentinels” and encouraged me to keep trying. So, instead of sending me into a slow death spiral (*grin*), a light bulb went off over my head: I could publish this book too! Why go through the horrendous wait times of sending it out to yet more publishers? I wasn’t getting any younger (ha!), and to be honest I’d caught the self-publishing bug. I thought: I can produce this book. I’d had good success with The Language of Souls, so why not? Why not indeed. :)
I love the path I’ve taken.
Have you gotten feedback from family about your book(s)? What do they think?
My family has been super supportive through this whole thing. My kids enjoy telling people I’m a writer. They like showing off my books too, which makes me feel good. My husband has always supported me in my writing and tolerates the long hours I put in, sometimes at the expense of a good meal. Thank goodness he’s also a great cook. ;) One of my biggest fans is my mom (not surprising, right? Moms are awesome.) She chats up my books with her friends—and anyone who will stop long enough to listen. ;)
What kinds of things do you like to do outside of writing?
I love to read. I also love to spend time with my family, going on walks by the lake near our house, watching movies, boating, traveling, visiting art museums...
What kinds of advice would you give to someone who wants to start writing? 
Read a lot of fiction if you want to write novels. Dream. Write a lot. Read a lot about writing (i.e. craft books). Finish things. :) If you can, find a supportive local writer’s group/partner or an online writing pal. Mostly, enjoy yourself. Enjoy the thrill of being able to make up a new world with characters that come to life as you write them. Have fun. Work hard.
What is your favorite book? favorite author? Do you have an author that inspired/inspires you to write? 
I’m not going to call out any one book, but I love to read historical mystery/romance. I love Deanna Raybourn’s Lady Gray mystery series, for instance. One of my all-time favorite writers is Lynn Kurland who writes funny time-travel Scottish romance/fantasy.
Every book I’ve ever read and every writer inspires me in some way to create a story world I can get lost in, and hopefully readers will too. Even books I don’t really care for can help me see more clearly the book I want to write (i.e. that story I’m inwardly searching for but haven’t read yet).
Do you have any go to people when writing a book that help you with your story lines as well as editing, beta reading and such? 
Absolutely! I have marvelous critique partner who lives in New Mexico, Jennifer Cervantes, who’s an award winning YA author herself. She’s got such a great eye for story. We encourage each other through the hard times and cheer each other’s successes. I have a bunch of lovely beta readers too (thanks, Kim, Allison, Rebekah, Annie, Toni, and so many other readers I’ve met through the Goodreads forums!). Finally, I work with two gifted freelance editors, Amber Stokes and Thyra Root, who help me with the mechanics and making sure everything is cohesive and professional-looking.
Are you working on anything now?
Yes! I’m working on getting Haunting Joy: a Ghostly Little Story ready for publication. It’s a light contemporary paranormal about a girl (Joy) and a haunted thrift-store dress. Her quest is to find out what the dress wants (that it wants something is obvious) and to solve the mystery of what really happened to Beth Light. And maybe also to get to know Nick better, Joy’s longtime crush.
Haunting Joy is sort of my own little break from writing longer, more complex historical fantasy that requires more research and world-building. While I adore world-building and creating large casts of characters with conflicting loyalties (really really love!), it’s also fun to work on something that’s set in New England (where I live) and takes place today. :)
I envision this as the first in a string of Haunting books and already have a start on book 2: Haunting Melody (about a haunted ipod, of course  ;)).


Thanks so much for stopping by today, Lena! It's been great having you with us! Keep us posted on your new book!

 photo 4412038_zps2fdfd9bc.jpgI live in a scenic small town in Massachusetts with my husband, two kids, and a very spoiled Black Lab. In my not-so-murky past, I've worked as a software engineer and a web designer, and now love writing fiction. I also love horses, Xbox Dance Central DC, and Tai Chi, a relaxing but challenging form of exercise/martial art (which is way harder than it looks! ;)).

For reading, I'm a sucker for a good old-fashioned romance, whether it be a traditional Regency, historical romance/mystery, or, naturally, young adult fantasy. I love watching movies with my family and going for walks around a nearby lake, with my very spoiled Black Lab, of course. 

Besides wanting to be a writer, I always wanted to be an artist. Although I ended up enjoying a wonderfully fulfilling career in software engineering and web design, I still absolutely LOVE design. Nowadays, I employ both my computer and artistic skills designing my website and also book interiors & covers.

1 comment:

  1. I love this cover! Sounds like an awesome read. :)

    ReplyDelete

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