Blog Archive

Tuesday, May 3, 2016

Making Your Fantasy Real: Author Interview with Amy C. Blake

Amy C. Blake has written short stories and articles for various publications, including Focus on the Family, Mature Years, Significant Living, Encounter, and Vista. I’ve contributed to Barbour’s Book Lovers’ Devotional, Every Good and Perfect Gift, and Heavenly XOXO for Women. 

Her juvenile fantasy series, Levi Prince, follows thirteen-year-old Levi through his adventures in Terracaelum, a haven for mythical creatures.

Her new adult suspense series, On the Brink, follows the journeys of three homeschooled friends as they step out on the brink of adulthood…and danger.



What made you decide to write fiction with a YA theme and a fantasy twist?
I believe writers should write what they enjoy reading. I love reading YA fantasy, which made creating my Levi Prince YA Christian fantasy series so much fun. The Trojan Horse Traitor, the first book in that series, was released in 2015. 

My other favorite genre to read is mystery/suspense, which led me to write my On the Brink Christian suspense series. Since I homeschool my four kids, I’ve created homeschooled main characters for all of my novels (so far).

How long did it take you to write the first book? How many rewrites did you do on it?
Well, my earliest manuscripts likely will never see the light of day. Those are the ones I learned on, and I wouldn’t subject anyone to them. As for my published books, I started The Trojan Horse Traitor eight years ago. I did countless rewrites and revisions on it before publication. Through that book, I honed my writing skills and learned how the publishing world works.

I began Whitewashed about four years ago and did many rewrites on it as well; it is my debut publication. Colorblind took around two years to write and also went through many revisions.

Who helped you with the editing?
 My husband and children always help with my edits. I also get help from critique partners and beta readers.

Did you attend conferences or seminars prior to publishing your book?
Yes, I attended probably a dozen conferences, read many books on the writing craft, and joined critique circles beforehand. I also submitted my writing to several contests.

How many publishers did you pitch before getting accepted? Did you pitch any agents? How did you learn about your current publisher?
 I pitched to at least six agents and editors at conferences and via email before meeting my agent at a small conference in Pennsylvania. After I signed with my agent, he began pitching my proposals to publishers. It took about a year to find my publisher for the On the Brink series, and a couple months longer to find my Levi Prince publisher.

How do you write? Did you do an outline first? Did you do individual character development before doing the full plot?
I spend much of my pre-writing time just thinking about my main character. I decide on his/her backstory, motivations, personality, appearance, etc. Then I begin daydreaming the plot and setting. Once I have a good idea of the main character and basic plot line, I start writing. I might sketch a rough outline, but not always. I do jot down information about my characters first so I don’t lose track of their attributes during the writing process. I also research my setting carefully beforehand.

What type of publicity do you do to promote your book? What has worked best for you in generating sales?
I promote via social media, and I maintain a website. I also do book signings and events through my local library. I’ve done giveaways through Goodreads and Homeschool.com. Recently, I teamed up with two other homeschool moms who are also published authors to form The Writing Family. Together, we speak at homeschool conventions and have a booth to sell our books. Our speaking has worked well in that people who attended our workshop often bought books. Teaming up with other like-minded authors has been encouraging to me personally and professionally, and it has helped us all by allowing us to divide the expense of purchasing booths, etc.

What did you learn from writing your first book that helped you in the second one?
I learned that my writing can always get better and that I should graciously accept critiques from others, not dismiss them because they sting my pride. That means I’ve had to grow a little rhino hide, but it’s worth it when my writing improves as a result.

What do you know about writing/publishing now that you wished you had known sooner?
I wish I’d realized that having books release within a couple of months of each other is actually not as wonderful as it sounds. The Trojan Horse Traitor released in late November, 2015, with Colorblind due out in early February, 2016. I found myself doing final edits with my publisher for Colorblind while doing all the promo work for The Trojan Horse Traitor, and that just didn’t work well, especially during the holiday season. Though I postponed the release of Colorblind a few weeks, I still put myself and my family through a lot of stress I could’ve avoided if I’d scheduled the releases at least six months apart. Ah, well…lesson learned.

What surprised you the most in becoming published?
I was surprised to find out how much of the marketing portion of writing/publishing falls to the author. No longer can we simply write good books and leave it to our publishers to promote them. As authors, we have to take the primary role in advertising or our books won’t sell.

What other books or works do you have in the process?
My second Levi Prince YA fantasy book, The Fall of Thor’s Hammer, is due out next year. I’ve completed a pretty good draft of book three in that series, The Sorcerer’s Apprentice, but it’ll need a number of revisions before publication. 

I’m also in the middle of writing a women’s fiction entitled Gabriel’s Gift, and I really need to get started on the third and final book in the On the Brink series. At this point, I’m still daydreaming about Nat, my main character, and what she’ll face in my story.

What is the best advice you’ve been given about writing or that you’ve learned that you would like to pass along?
Read voraciously in the genre you want to write. Then just write, write, and write some more. 

Any last words you’d like to add?
Pursuing publication isn’t an easy path. After a decade of hard work on novel-writing, I’d pretty much given up on my dream when I met my agent and, a year later, signed my first book contract. It takes a huge amount of effort, a willingness to learn, and a great deal of perseverance to become a published novelist. If you really want it, don’t give up.

That's it for today's interview. You can connect with Amy through: Facebook Goodreads Twitter
Go to amycblake.com for tips on homeschooling, advice for the rookie pastor's wife, and helps for the Christian life.

Her website also includes more details about her novels: Whitewashed, Colorblind, and The Trojan Horse Traitor