Monday, April 20, 2015

Interview with Author Krysten Hagar by Jacqueline Seewald

The latest YA novel I’ve written is THE DEVIL AND DANNA WEBSTER, published by Astraea/Clean Reads Press. As a parent, teacher and high school librarian, I have over the years maintained a strong interest in YA fiction.

Today I have the pleasure of interviewing Krysten Lindsay Hager, author of the Landry’s True Colors Series. She writes about friendship, self-esteem, fitting in at middle school and high school, frenemies, modeling, crushes, values, and self-image in her novels.

True Colors became an Amazon international bestseller and Best Friends…Forever? was named both as #1 on Amazon’s Hot New Releases in Children's Books on Values as well #2 on the Hot New Releases in Teen & Young Adult Values & Virtues Fiction bestsellers list. Krysten has worked as a journalist and writes middle grade, YA, humor essays, and adult fiction. She is originally from Michigan and has lived in Portugal, South Dakota, and currently resides in Southern Ohio where you can find her reading and writing when she’s not catching up on her favorite shows. She received her master’s degree from the University of Michigan-Flint. You can follow her writing journey at:

Question: What is the title and genre of your current novel?  Why did you select them?

Answer:  The title is, Best Friends..Forever? (Landry’s True Colors Series Book 2). It’s an upper middle grade/young adult novel. I loved these genres growing up and those books inspired me to want to become a writer myself. I picked the title because it references those feelings you have when you’re a teen when someone is your best friend one moment and then next, you question if they are on your side at all.

Question:   What especially inspired this particular novel? How did it come about?

Answer: This is the second novel in the Landry’s True Colors series and I wanted to show Landry growing up a bit and starting to stand up for herself with those “frenemy” types who act like they are her friend one minute and then make those passive aggressive comments the next. I also wanted to show her in a tough situation where she has to make the call to tell her friend Devon the truth about seeing Devon’s best friend with the guy she (Devon) likes and how that ends up making Landry the bad guy. The reviews of the last book all remarked how realistic and relatable Landry was, so I wanted to continue on with her being true to herself and the values she was raised with as she views life with her sense of humor.

You can view the book trailer here:

Question:  Could you tell us a little bit more about the heroine and/or hero of your novel?

Answer:  Landry is a fourteen year old who is a loyal friend (with a great sense of humor). She’s a bit introverted and finds herself having to step out of her comfort zone to make new friends in the first book after her best friends drop her due to her being the only one of the three who is chosen to move on in a modeling competition that they all tried out for. Even though she was picked to compete in this teen modeling reality show, she still deals with insecurities and self-esteem issues and trying to find where she fits in with new friends at school. She learns what being a true friend is all about and that you shouldn’t have to change who you are inside to fit in with a crowd. As the series continues, we’ll see her come more into her own as she deals with friends, frenemies, and family life.

Question:   Can you tell us about some of your other published novels or work?

Answer:  I have also written the first book in the Landry’s True Colors series, True Colors, as well as several essays and short stories in anthologies. This past fall, I had a young adult Halloween humor short story published called, “Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner?” about a modern day teen girl dealing with her friend’s dad becoming a vampire. It was in the Autumn Magic anthology.

Question:   What are you working on now?

Answer:  I’m currently working on book three in the Landry’s True Colors series. It’s called, Landry in Like and it’s been a lot of fun to write as I go back and relive my own middle school and high school memories! I also am working on another teen novel and an adult humor novel.

Question:   What made you start writing?

Answer: I’ve been creating stories since childhood and it was really all I ever wanted to do. As a kid, I had no idea this would ever be a career for me—I thought everyone made up stories for fun. I remember in my senior year my mom and I had a discussion about me wanting to pursue writing and she signed me up for a writing conference. I went and was a kid in a sea of adults and it was terrifying, but it was the best thing she could have done because it made me realize how much I wanted to pursue it if I was willing to go through all the difficulties that went along with it.

Question:   What advice would you offer to those who are currently writing novels?

Answer: Take a literature class to learn from the masters and go to as many conferences and read as many books as possible.

Question:  Where and when will readers be able to obtain your novel?

Answer: Best Friends…Forever? is just released and it is available on all the online book retailers.

Amazon international:

“Landry, it’s gotta be so awkward for you to be going to Vladi’s school next year,” Tori said. “I mean, what if you run into him during the tour?"

"It’s a huge place,ʺ Ashanti said. “People break up all the time. It’s not a big deal.ʺ

Tori raised her eyebrows as if to say, “Yeah, right,” and went back to her sandwich. Meanwhile my delicious homemade soup was no longer sitting well. It never occurred to me Vladi might be around during the first prefreshman tour. I would be mortified if I ran into him and he was with a girl. Or worse yet, running into him, and he was with Yasmin. Plus, I hadn’t told my mom about the breakup, so if she saw him, she’d probably go over to talk to him. I could already imagine it: “Landry, Vladi’s here! Hon? Why are you hiding behind the garbage can? Your boyfriend, Vladi, is here. Come say, ‘hello.’ Stop trying to run away. Why is everyone laughing and pointing at you and calling you a ‘loser dumpee?’ What does that mean?”

Well, maybe the world would end and I wouldn’t have to deal with high school or Vladi and my mother running into each other.
Sadly, the world did not end, and on Thursday, we all had to go to the high school for a freshman information night from 6 to 9 p.m.

Comments and/or questions for Krysten are welcome here!

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Writer’s Spring: Hope Springs Eternal by Jacqueline Seewald

During the long, dreary winter months, I continued writing. I also did a bit of amateur painting. My last watercolor represents my love of spring gardens painted in an impressionistic Monet style during a snowstorm white-out.

T.S. Eliot wrote in "The Waste Land" that April is “the cruelest month”. I’m not certain whether last April was one of my best months or one of my worst.

April 2014 saw the publication of three of my novels. The first was THE BAD WIFE, my 4th Kim Reynolds mystery, published both in print and as an e-book by Perfect Crime Books. I consider this mystery thriller a very special book, the most significant novel in the series.

The second novel published last April was an e-book version of my novel TEA LEAVES AND TAROT CARDS. This paranormal Regency romance was originally published in hardcover by Five Star/Gale/Cengage and in large print hardcover by Thorndike Press. Jayne Ann Krentz/Amanda Quick provided an excellent cover blurb. Unfortunately, the ebook publisher recently went out of business. And so the ebook version of this novel had a disappointingly short run.

The third novel, which was published at the end of last April, is a YA entitled THE DEVIL AND DANNA WEBSTER. Astraea Press, now known as Clean Reads, published this book. It is still available in all ebook formats and a variety of sites such as: iTunes, Kobo, Barnes and Noble Online and of course Amazon:

This novel, thanks to word of mouth, has sold well and continues to do so at the present time. I just read an interesting statistic which claims 65% of teen novels are purchased by adults. This doesn’t surprise me. THE DEVIL AND DANNA WEBSTER is the kind of novel that can well be read, shared and discussed by mothers and teenage daughters.

I didn’t plan to have three of my novels published in the same month. I found myself spread rather thin. I love each of these novels, am proud of them, and wanted to support them to the best of my ability and so I made a concerted effort to reach out and build a readership for each book.

This April is a much less hectic one and truthfully I prefer it that way. Luminosity will publish my gothic romance DARK MOON RISING in July, both in print and digitally. After that, my next hardcover
Five Star/Cengage novel THE KILLING LAND won’t be published until February 2016. And so I will have time to address short story writing, poetry writing, plays and amateur landscape painting. Long walks outdoors are also indicated as weather permits.

Spring is symbolically and literally the season of rebirth. I am hopeful for new work to come into fruition for me this spring. The orchid plant which my husband gifted me on Mother’s Day last year and which had been totally dormant all winter long is once again in bloom. I take this as a significant, positive sign.

What does spring mean to you? Are you reading or writing something that reaffirms your life?

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

April Fool’s Day

As a child, I remember my father playing some small joke on my mother during April Fool’s Day, the first day of April. It was always silly, something that amused them both, and they would share a laugh together afterwards, which I found endearing.

But where did this tradition originate? Apparently, no one knows for certain. However, here’s the most popular theory: In 1582, Pope Gregory XIII issued a papal bull decreeing a new standard calendar for Christian Europe. Before that time Europe’s nations and city states used the Julian calendar. The Gregorian calendar moved the date of the new year from April 1 to January 1. In the Middle Ages, Lady Day or the Feast of the Annunciation on March 25th, was considered the first day of the new year. Some Europeans continued to celebrate the new year on March 25th through April 1st. April fools were those who still celebrated the holiday then, and were the subject of pranks or ridicule by those who now observed the new year several months before. Popular since the 19th century, the day is well known in Canada, Europe, Australia, Brazil and the United States as a day when people play practical jokes on others.

Foolish behavior isn’t related to just one day, of course. It often shows up in literature and music for instance.  As Shakespeare writes in A Midsummer Nights Dream: “Lord, what fools these mortals be.”  And to quote a question posed by a popular 20th century song title: Why Do Fools Fall in Love?

People in love often do behave foolishly or recklessly and that is a common theme in literature. Human beings are flawed and imperfect. Behaving foolishly is just one manifestation of this. It can be humorous or tragic. In my mystery novel THE BAD WIFE, for example, police lieutenant Mike Gardener uses poor judgment in declaring publicly to Kim Reynolds, the reluctant sleuth of the series, that he might have to kill his wife so they can be married. When he confides what he’s done to fellow officer and friend, Bert St. Croix, she berates his foolishness as has Kim. Thus begins a mystery thriller with many twists and surprises.

Have you ever pulled a prank on someone? Was it on April Fool’s Day? Does foolish behavior on the part of anyone either  in real life or in fiction annoy or amuse you? Comments welcome.