Something inside of me just said, “I’ve worked too dang hard on that book, and I’m not going to let my daughter see me give up on my dream. Ever.” What kind of a mom would I be if I did?
Erika Kathryn – 4 February 2013
The Back Flap
Audie, a seemingly typical twelve-year-old girl, is summoned from her middle school one day. She travels through a windmill farm and brought to an island where she’s told that she is actually an Angel and, more importantly, that she is of Phoenix descent. She is the pivotal and final member of an assembly of others her age, called The Angel Army. The army includes Luce—the dangerously handsome dark Angel predestined to fall from Heaven—and Cave—a stowaway from Earth who is crushing on her hard—as well as eight Angels with magical talents, a feisty Fairy, and a nimble gnome. Audie’s ordinary life becomes drastically different as she transforms; she sprouts gold wings, receives a halo passed on from the mother she never met, and her fellow Angels teach her to use her hand-me-down Phoenix powers. However, before she even learns to fly she is told of the real reason she is needed: an evil Elder Angel has discovered a way to dominate Heaven. Haunted by dreams of her past Phoenix life, puzzled by her feelings for both the charming Luce and her human friend Cave, Audie has to conquer her newfound powers quickly because the future of Heaven rests on her wings. Can she fight against flying Dare Demons, the Marsh Master, the Frost Fairy, and Evil Souls to save Heaven? Can Audie change destiny and save Luce from falling to his fate?
Audie the Angel and the Angel Army is the first of three volumes in a Middle Grade to Young Adult fantasy adventure series that make up The Angel Archives. Hang onto your Halos, because this story is filled with wild winged adventure!
About the book
What is the book about?
It’s about a young girl who thinks she is just like all of her classmates until she finds out one day that she is an Angel and the only one of her Phoenix kind. She joins forces with other Angels her age to create an Angel Army and save Heaven from an Evil Elder Angel—among other dangers. For the first time in her life, she meets her mother who died when she was born and grows feelings for both a Human and a bad-boy dark Angel. Throughout her adventure, she learns that she is stronger than she ever expected but that above all else her new friendships and teamwork are more powerful than any other force imaginable. It’s a fun, fast-paced, wholesome quest that will hopefully make you anxious to read Volume 2!
When did you start writing the book?
Hard to believe but it was almost a decade ago! I remember coming home at the end of a long day and setting up my laptop on a tray-table every night to stay on a healthy writing schedule. I never gave myself a break!
How long did it take you to write it?
A couple of years and I STILL don’t feel that it’s fully done. I’m not sure I will ever feel that way with it. I’m a perfectionist so most of those years were just going back and editing, adding characters, taking scenes out, making the characters older, then younger again, I just couldn’t stop changing it. About two years ago, right before my daughter was born, I did a complete re-write of it. She was truly my inspiration to pick it back up and keep going with it.
Where did you get the idea from?
I got the idea after reading Harry Potter, which re-introduced me to reading again. I remember wondering what would a school like Hogwarts be like for Angels instead of wizards. And what would that world look like in Heaven?
Were there any parts of the book where you struggled?
Oh for sure! It wasn’t until my complete re-write where I added the narrator, Cave, into the mix. I really wanted to have a crush-triangle for Audie to be able to choose between two boys. I also toyed with the Phoenix concept a lot and the first version was mostly based in a Summer School for Angels called “Wing Camp.” I changed Luce’s name in the second version to make the concept a little more middle-grade friendly. And in the first version Gabby was Audie’s BFF as opposed to the final version where it is really more Cave and Luce that she confides in.
What came easily?
I think Audie’s character came the easiest. She is sweet-natured with a splash of sassiness in her and I just loved having her progress from the teacher’s pet at her school to the end where she was standing up to Metatron so fiercely. Also, the main action in the plot is always the easiest for me when writing.
Are your characters entirely fictitious or have you borrowed from real world people you know?
Mine are all fictitious in this story. However, every time I write I envision actors or friends in the characters and base a lot of their personality traits on my perception of them.
We all know how important it is for writers to read. Are there any particular authors that have influenced how you write and, if so, how have they influenced you?
There are actually many but for sure JK Rowling, Nia Vardalos, and most recently EL James.
Do you have a target reader?
This is a great book for middle graders to young adults. It could be read by ages 6+ and a great book for a parent to read with their child. There is so much out there right now for the Young Adult genre and I feel there is such a need for the middle grade group, not only in books but also educational toys as well.
Do you have a writing process? If so can you please describe it?
I always start with writing a chapter outline to develop the bones of the book. I don’t always have all of the bones lined up perfectly at first, but that is the most exciting part of creating the story to me. Once the bones are on paper—and I print a hardcopy so I can take notes on it as I go—from there I just start to write! I have always felt that writing is the easy part; it comes really naturally to me. It’s the editing, redrafting, creating a query, submission tracking, marketing, etc that gets difficult.
Do you outline? If so, do you do so extensively or just chapter headings and a couple of sentences?
I absolutely live on outlines! I am also fanatical about bullets, so my chapter outlines usually start with the name or theme of the chapter and then lists of bulleted items of what will happen in that chapter. With an outline I can see which chapters need a little something-something added to them and which ones have way too much going on they are liable to make people’s heads spin. Outlines are a way for me to ensure there is purpose to each chapter and something to keep the reader intrigued.
Do you edit as you go or wait until you’ve finished?
I try to edit at the very end of my writing however if I set it down for the night, the next day when I pick it up I usually go back over the last chapter. That way I don’t disrupt how quickly I get through it or my train of thought once I get into it.
Did you hire a professional editor?
I did not. I spent so many years working on this book and going over it probably three thousand times that I didn’t feel I needed to. For my newest project that I wrote much quicker and haven’t edited myself enough I will probably get an editor if I self-publish.
Do you listen to music while you write? If yes, what gets the fingers tapping?
Music is something I don’t take lightly, it really affects my mood, so yes I love to listen while I write, but it has to be the right tunes. I also listen to my sixteen-month-old running around and hyperventilating about Tinkerbell when I’m trying to write, so I have an adept talent for tuning things out around me when needed.
Did you submit your work to Agents?
Heck yes! I sent it to 29 publishers/agents the first go-round and then 19 publishers and 8 agents after the re-write. I received 18 total rejections and 1 request for a full, which gave me hope at first and then heartbreak when it didn’t pan out. I re-wrote my query letter about 9 times and purchased every book on how to get published written by mankind. Trust me when I say—I have been in the slush piles for years! That is probably the reason when the idea of self-publishing popped in my head I didn’t want to wait even one moment longer to do it!
What made you decide to go Indie, whether self-publishing or with an indie publisher? Was it a particular event or a gradual process?
It was for sure the event of me having my daughter. Something inside of me just said, “I’ve worked too dang hard on that book, and I’m not going to let my daughter see me give up on my dream. Ever.” What kind of a mom would I be if I did?
Did you get your book cover professionally done or did it you do it yourself?
I was blessed enough to meet the sweetest, kindest, family friend a girl could ask for that has a deep talent for art, named Bobby Hammer. He created the cover for me within three weeks’ time. I wish you could see it in-person because the copy of it does NOT do it justice!!! Bobby is the extraordinary, genuine article and I can’t believe how lucky I was to have met him. I believe all people come into your life for a reason and I am grateful for him!
Do you have a marketing plan for the book or are you just winging it?
I did create a marketing plan for it but I have not gotten through the entire list yet. Plus, I have learned a lot from this experience and realized some things to take off of that list and other things to add so it’s a work in-progress. I also don’t have much patience, so I did a lot right away and now I am trying to slow my roll, and wait on some of the fruits of that labor.
Any advice that you would like to give to other newbies considering becoming Indie authors?
DO IT. Just DO IT. There is so much support out there and you meet so many good people who really want to see you succeed by doing this, it is unbelievable. If you have a project collecting dust on your shelf, or if you want to start writing, or if you are weighing out the pros and cons…anyway you look at it, just DO IT. You will be glad you did!
Where did you grow up?
I was raised in Chapel Hill, NC. It was the best place to grow up and it will always be “home” to me!
Where do you live now?
Now I live in Crete, IL—it’s a suburb about 40 miles from downtown Chicago. I love that I get the quieter life of the suburbs and still can go to the city anytime I want.
What would you like readers to know about you?
- Every tooth I own is a sweet tooth—and like many women—I crave chocolate. When I was growing up I ate a bowl of ice cream every single night before bed.
- I am obsessed with sushi and that was the hardest part of being pregnant for me.
- I am a zombie and vampire LOVER. I could watch anything that is about the supernatural and for some odd reason I love the horror genre but I scare myself too much to write it.
- Favorite TV show: The Walking Dead—hands down! True Blood and Vampire Diaries are of course at the top of the list as well as Shark Tank.
- Favorite Movie: I have about 500 DVD’s and I am not exaggerating. I can watch movies back-to-back and be at my happiest. I have many favs, but I would have to say The Last Unicorn is probably my all-time favorite and Willow is a close second.
What are you working on now?
I just finished a Chick Lit Young Adult book that I am now sending out to agents. I am currently working on Audie the Angel: Volume 2! Personally, I think it will be better than the first installment. It starts off right where the 1st Volume left off; it is very fast paced. In the book, there is a plague that gets spread by Dare Demons and it essentially creates Zombies on Earth. Audie and the Angel Army have to find a way to stop the infected. This book will dive into more of the relationship with Audie’s mother and also bring to light the crush-triangle between Audie, Cave, and Luce. It should be juicy!
End of Interview: