Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Blog Tour and Giveway: Taste of Darkness by Maria V. Snyder

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 photo TasteofDarknesscover_zpsd6134497.jpgTitle: TASTE OF DARKNESS

Author: Maria V. Snyder
Pub. Date: December 31, 2013
Publisher: Harlequin MIRA
Pages: 464

She's fought death and won. But how can she fight her fears?

Avry knows hardship and trouble. She fought the plague and survived. She took on King Tohon and defeated him. But now her heart-mate, Kerrick, is missing, and Avry fears he's gone forever.

But there's a more immediate threat. The Skeleton King plots to claim the Fifteen Realms for his own. With armies in disarray and the dead not staying down, Avry's healing powers are needed now more than ever.Torn between love and loyalty, Avry must choose her path carefully. For the future of her world depends on her decision.



Welcome Maria! So great to have you here to answer our questions!


Did you always know you wanted to be a writer or did you want to be something else?
A: I wanted to be a meteorologist and chase tornados (way before that Storm Chasers show on TV!). I even earned a BS degree in meteorology from Penn State University and worked as an environmental meteorologist for ten years (doing air pollution studies).  Writing was something I did when bored at work.  And when I was home with my young kids, writing kept my sanity—something I could control!  I liked it so much, I continued to write and eventually transitioned into a writer.

How long does it take you to write a book from start to finish?
A: A first draft can take me anywhere from five to seven months to write, and then I need a month off before I work on revisions (and by that time, my editor, agent and family have given me lots of feedback on the story).  When the revisions are done, there are always additional tweaks and line edits before the book is done.  It takes about nine months total.
How do you come up with themes for your stories?
A: I start with a character in a dire situation.  For example, a healer on the run, or a woman on death row.  And then I figure out what they want the most (to stop running and to live), and then I determine who or what stands in their way to getting what they most desire.  As for themes, they appear as I’m writing the story.  I don’t set out thinking, “I’m going to write a book about hope or persistence.”  I focus on the characters and it’s their choices and decisions and how they treat others that create the theme.  Yelena just doesn’t give up – it’s her actions that show how valuable persistence is.  I don’t even see these until the story is finished and I read back through it – or someone mentions it to me.
Do you have a schedule of when you write? 
A: I write every night from 10 p.m. to 3 a.m. except for Friday and Saturday nights unless I’m closing in on a deadline.  Then I’ll write Friday and Saturday and in the early evenings as well.  I set a word count goal of 1000 words.  I can’t go to bed until I’ve met that goal.
How are you able to balance other aspects of your life with your writing?
A: When I have it balanced, I’ll let you know! J  For me, it’s family first, writing second, and everything else third.  When I’m near a deadline then I ignore my family and write (they understand as long as I show for soccer games and orchestra concerts).  I’ve sacrificed my social life and I couldn’t tell you the hot new shows on TV or what’s the big blockbuster movie.  It’s getting better now that my kids are getting older.
What elements do you think make a great story line? 
A: I’m all about the characters. If you don’t have a sympathetic character that readers care about, then you don’t have a good story.  I also like to keep the action moving by putting my characters in trouble and keeping them there.  Other elements are having proactive characters who solve the puzzle vs. those who are given the answers.
What was the hardest thing about writing a book?
A: The middle!  Beginnings are exciting and endings are satisfying, but it’s that middle part that is hard.  It’s where I develop characters, show background, advance the plot, lay in clues, and add in subplots.  It’s the bread and butter and if I’m having trouble writing, it’s always in the middle.
How many books have you written so far? Do you have a favorite? 
A: Taste of Darkness is my twelfth published novel, and I’m just finishing up number thirteen (due out next year). I have to say Poison Study is my favorite.  It’s my first book and I spent over five years writing and revising and sending it to publishers and agents.  I experienced lots of emotion as rejections came back and then finally an acceptance.  We’ve been through a lot together J.

Do you have a favorite character?
A: This is always a hard question to answer as I’ve many favorites, but for very different reasons.  Valek will always be one of my favorites – he’s calm, capable, and deadly, but he’s also passionate and loyal.  Janco is my favorite character to write.  He’s so much fun – I was just writing a scene between him and Yelena and I was laughing so hard, tears were running down my face!  Devlen’s another favorite because he is the most complex and has shown that people can change.
Where do you write?  
A: I write in an office in my house. It’s a lovely place—my husband built the furniture and bookcases for me. I have a collection of toys on my desk to fidget with when I’m thinking (or procrastinating), and I have weapons hidden in various places. When I write an action scene, I want to make it as realistic as possible.  So I’ll grab my switchblade and “block out” the actions in the scene to make sure it’s doable. I also have my reference books nearby. 
When deciding on how to publish, what directed you to the route you took? 
A: Back when I finished Poison Study, there weren’t as many options as today. There were only the traditional publishers or self-publishing.  At that time, self-publishing was not as well regarded as it is now so I decided to try to find a publisher.  I wrote a synopsis and a query letter and I first queried literary agents to represent me. After 40 rejections from agents, I decided to approach publishers directly (again, at that time, a number still accepted unagented submissions). I had a list of 20 publishers and sent out my manuscript.  17 rejections and two years later, I finally received an acceptance.
Have you gotten feedback from family about your book(s)? What do they think?
A: My family has been very supportive.  My husband and daughter also give me feedback on how to improve my stories.  And my sister, parents, aunts, uncles, and cousins have all been my own personal street team. I had this huge book launch party when Poison Study was published and invited everyone.  They all bought books and celebrated with me.  The funny thing is about two weeks later I started getting emails from them – basically they said how much they loved the book, but the tone was the funny part – the emails tone was one of surprise that they enjoyed the book.  When they purchase my book, they didn’t care if it was good or bad and I think some of them expected it to be bad!
What kinds of things do you like to do outside of writing?
A: I enjoy playing volleyball, reading, and photography. I also love to travel and plan to visit as many places as I can!
What kinds of advice would you give to someone who wants to start writing? 
A: I like to quote Stephen King when I get asked this question.  In his book, On Writing, he wrote, “If you want to be a writer, you must do two things above all others: read a lot and write a lot.”  I agree with this. If you want to write a mystery, then you should be reading as many mysteries as possible and you should write as much as possible.  I have a word count goal each night of 1000 words and if I meet my goal, in 100 nights I’ll finish my novel. Setting small goals is a great way to stay motivated.
Also don’t worry about your writing having to be perfect right away – that’s the beauty of revision!  Write junk, clich├ęs, and sappy scenes – just get it on the page.  No one has to read it.  And keep writing. Do not be lured into the never ending loop of revisions.  Some writers get about three chapters in and then keep going back to revise those three chapters, believing it should be perfect before they could write any more.  Wrong!  Those three chapters will mostly likely change (or be cut) once you finished the book.
What is your favorite book? favorite author? Do you have an author that inspired/inspires you to write? 
A: It’s impossible for me to name one book or author.  But I will tell you some of my favorite books: Ender’s Game, by Orson Scott Card, The Gate to Women’s Country, by Sheri S. Tepper, Jaran, by Kate Elliott, The Time of the Dark series by Barbara Hambly, the Morganville Vampire series by Rachel Caine, and On the Edge, by Illona Andrews.

As for an author who has inspired me.  That’s a bit easier.  Many of the authors above have inspired me. Barbara Hambly, Kate Elliott, and Marion Zimmer Bradley have shown me how to write strong female protagonists.  But I must credit Dick Francis, the mystery writer for introducing me to first person POV and teaching me how to end the chapter on a mini-cliffhanger so my readers can’t stop reading and go to sleep (from the emails I’ve received at 4 and 5 am, I think I’m succeeding in this ;).

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? 

A: My agent is very good at proving feedback when I’m in the middle of a book and convinced it’s crap (he’s the voice of reason).  My husband and daughter also provide critiques after I finish a first draft.  I don’t like to show it to too many people while I’m working because the story will change. My editor also sees the first draft.  I’ll also bounce ideas off my friend Judi.
Are you working on anything now? 

A: I am just finishing the first draft of a new Study book with Yelena and Valek and the gang.  This book has chapters from Valek’s POV and I do multiple flashbacks to how he became an assassin and how he met the Commander. The events start soon after Spy Glass.  The book is tentatively set for a January 2015 release and I’ll be writing two more in that set so book 2 will come out 9 months later.


Thanks so much for stopping by today, Maria! So great to have you here!
 photo Maria_zpsfd20c42e.jpgMaria V. Snyder changed from being a meteorologist to a novelist in 1995, when she began writing to keep her sanity while raising two children. Since then, she has published numerous freelance articles in magazines and newspapers, and teaches fiction-writing classes at the local college and area libraries. The classes give her the wonderful opportunity to encourage fellow writers, and to keep improving her craft.


Born and raised in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, Maria always had a fascination with big storms. Dreaming of chasing tornados, Maria earned a bachelors of science degree in meteorology at Penn State University. But she discovered, much to her chagrin, that forecasting the weather wasn't one of her skills. In order to chase tornados you had to predict where they might form. Creating fantasy worlds where she has complete control of the weather was more agreeable to her.

Maria's research on food-tasting methods with an expert chocolate taster, her husband, turned out to be a delicious bonus while writing Poison Study.

Maria has a brown belt in Isshinryu Karate, and enjoys playing volleyball and the cello. Traveling in general and via cruise ship in particular are her biggest distractions from writing. Maria has traveled to Belize, Canada, China, Costa Rica, Europe, Mexico, the Caribbean and through the Panama Canal.

Maria lives with her husband, son, daughter and yellow lab, Hazelnut, in Pennsylvania where she is at work on more LUNA novels. She is also pursuing a master's degree in writing popular fiction from Seton Hill University.

Readers are welcome to contact Maria at the following email address: maria@mariavsnyder.com.
Where you can find Maria:
Website/Blog/Facebook/Goodreads a Rafflecopter giveaway
Tour Schedule:
Week One:

12/30/2013- Read Now Sleep Later- Interview
12/31/2013- Tynga's Reviews- Guest Post
1/1/2014- Fiktshun- Guest Post
1/2/2014- Bibliophilia, Please- Interview
1/3/2014- Snowdrop Dreams of Books- Review

Week Two:

1/6/2014- http://www.parajunkee.com/         Parajunkee- Guest Post
1/7/2014- Moonlight Gleam Reviews- Review
1/8/2014- The Cover Contessa- Interview
1/9/2014- Two Chicks on Books- Guest Post

1/10/2014- Mundie Moms- Interview

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12 comments:

  1. I have not yet started this series but it is one I have had my eye on. It sounds like one I would greatly enjoy!

    Thanks so much!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks for stopping by! Enjoy it when you start it!

      Delete
  2. I really need to check this series out. So much to read, so little time.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Oh yes, way too many books to read. Thanks for stopping by!

      Delete
  3. I was hooked on Maria V Snyder from the minute I read the first line of Poison Study. Wonderful stuff!

    ReplyDelete
  4. I LOVE the Study series! Though Inside Out was the first of Maria Snyder's books that I read. I still have a few I need to read, but so far I've enjoyed them all.

    ReplyDelete
  5. I haven't read this series but I'd love to! :D Thanks for the chance!!!!!!!!!

    ReplyDelete
  6. A good set of questions. Looking forward to more from Maria.

    ReplyDelete

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