Monday, October 03, 2016

Celebrating Debutantes 2016: The Rampart Guards by Wendy Terrien (Author Interview + Giveaway)

Hi guys! #CelebratingDebutantes2016 is coming to an end. We still have a lot of giveaways ongoing so don't miss out! Today I'm interviewing Wendy about her debut, The Rampart Guards. Stick around for the giveaway!


Could you tell us about the fantastical creatures in the book? What was the process and guidelines for selecting them?
W: I love talking about cryptids — creatures that may or may not exist, like Bigfoot and the Loch Ness Monster. Everyone’s heard of those two. But when I heard the word “chupacabra” on a television show (Bones), I didn’t know what that was and I had to investigate. With the power of Google I learned about the chupacabra, and the world of cryptids — and there are tons of creatures out there that qualify as cryptids. I loved the whole “what if they do exist” idea, and my story was born from there.

I wanted to use cryptids in my novel that were different than those we’re familiar with, so I dug deeper into my research. I searched websites, read summaries and personal accounts by people who’d experienced sightings, and I read books by cryptid experts, or cryptozoologists. I studied the characters of different cryptids, and I looked for particular qualities that I wanted for the roles they’d play in the book. Plus I wanted fun, and for me Skyfish are a lot of fun. Skyfish experts tell us they are flying around us all the time, even through us. They aren’t usually seen by the human eye, but can be caught on film, and you can see videos online of what are claimed to Skyfish. And hey — maybe they really do exist? The giant squid used to be classified as a cryptid, as did the mountain gorilla…

In a review, it was mentioned that you brought the world of cryptozoology into your novel. What kind of research did you do for your novel, up to what extent?
W: In addition to the research I mentioned above, I spent time reading about some of the leading cryptozoologists and reviewed their work. I wanted to understand how they approached their investigations, what kinds of tools they used or skills they needed, and how they were viewed by the rest of the scientific world. I also asked a friend of mine to beta read my novel. He’s a writer, an entomologist, and a cryptozoologist, so I knew he’d be able to give me both a fresh and authentic perspective on the story.

How did you find the balance between adventure, mystery and fantasy?
W: Honestly, I didn’t think about that piece too much. The story is character-driven, and I focused on that aspect. I think the adventure, mystery, and fantasy pieces naturally fell into place around it.

What was the most difficult part or scene to write? Why?
W: The first chapter. I mean, it’s the first chapter and that alone brings the challenge of grabbing your reader from the start and keeping them interested. Add on the fact that you’re introducing fantasy elements and having to do some world building without it getting too lecture-y, and the challenge is amplified. I discarded numerous “chapter ones” before the actual chapter one showed up for me. And even after I did get it in place, I rewrote that chapter more than any other part of the book. Which is saying something because I revised and revised and revised.

Did you encounter any difficulties with writing Middle Grade? How did you deal with it?
W: I was uncertain about what you can have characters say and do in Middle Grade. There’s plenty of guidance out there, with lists like “things you should never do in MG novels,” but you can also find articles and information that counter most of that “never” advice. It was frustrating. I finally decided on this as my guiding mantra: If kids do it in real life, I’m putting it in the book. Using swear words is an example of that. Kids use swear words. They might not say them in front of adults, but many kids do say them. Kids around the age of my protagonist and his friends (14) tend to use more of the “PG-rated” swear words, so I stayed within those boundaries.

The other challenge I had was how to qualify The Rampart Guards. Yes, if you follow some of those rules about what makes a book Middle Grade, like the age of the protagonist, my book qualifies as Middle Grade (he’s 13 when the book starts, turns 14 shortly thereafter). But there are some elements of the book that are a bit tougher, maybe a bit darker than would otherwise be in a Middle Grade novel. Because of that, I say The Rampart Guards is recommended for upper Middle Grade, and I officially categorized it Young Adult. It sits right on that line between the two.

Thank you for sharing, Wendy!

About the Author:

Wendy Terrien received her first library card at age two, and a few years later started writing her own stories. Her debut novel The Rampart Guards (February 2016) is a #1 regional best seller and was a Kirkus Indie Book of the Month in April 2016. The novel is the first in her intriguing urban fantasy series.

Inspired by an episode of Bones that suspected a killer to be a fabled chupacabra, Wendy was fascinated and dove into research about cryptozoology--the study of animals that may or may not exist, or cryptids. Pouring over stories, videos and photographs of creatures others had seen all over the world, Wendy developed her own story to share with middle grade, young adult and grown-up readers.

Wendy graduated from the University of Utah and transplanted to Colorado where she completed her MBA at the University of Denver. Having applied her marketing expertise to the financial and network security industries, it wasn’t until a career coach stepped in that she fully immersed herself in her passion for writing. Wendy began attending writers conferences, workshops and retreats.

She regularly participates in two critique groups, and is the Secretary of Rocky Mountain Fiction Writers, and a member of Pikes Peak Writers. In 2014, she was a finalist in the San Francisco Writer’s Contest, and is a founding member of Wicked Ink Books. Wendy released a novella in the award-winning Wicked Ink Books anthology, Tick Tock: Seven Tales of Time.

Wendy lives in Colorado with her husband, Kevin, and their three dogs: Maggie, Shea, and Boon. All three of her dogs are rescues, and Wendy is passionate about promoting shelter adoptions. If you’re in Colorado, you may even be able to spot her by her “Adopt a Shelter Pet” license plates.

Find Wendy: Twitter | Goodreads | Website | Facebook

Book Description:

Hardcover, 270 pages
Published February 29th 2016 by Camashea Press

After his mom disappears, Jason Lex and his family move to a small town where he has no friends, no fun, no life. Things get worse when he’s chased by weird flying creatures that only he can see---Jason thinks he’s losing it.

But when Jason discovers new information about his family, he’s stunned to learn that creatures like Skyfish, Kappa, and the Mongolian Death Worm aren’t just stories on the Internet---they’re real and they live unseen alongside the human race. Many of these creatures naturally emit energy capable of incinerating humans. An invisible shield keeps these creatures hidden and protects the human race from their threatening force, but someone, or some thing, is trying to destroy it.

Unsure who he can trust, Jason is drawn into the fight to save the people closest to him, and he finds help in surprising places. Confronted with loss, uncertainty, and a devastating betrayal, Jason must make a gut-wrenching decision:

Who lives, and who dies.


What's up for grabs: Copy of The Rampart Guards
Scope: US and CA

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Treat yourself to a complete #CelebratingDebutantes2016 experience. Click the image below for the full schedule and links to the posts!

Sunday, October 02, 2016

Celebrating Debutantes 2016: Timekeeper by Tara Sim (Author Interview + Giveaway)

Hi guys! #CelebratingDebutantes2016 is coming to an end. We still have a lot of giveaways ongoing so don't miss out! Today I'm interviewing Tara about her steampunk debut, Timekeeper. Stick around for the international giveaway!


Could you explain the concept behind the clock towers controlling the flow of time? I was looking for a new story idea when I got inspired by clock towers; specifically, my Big Ben keychain. I love magic and fantasy, so I wondered how I could make something like clock towers magical. Naturally, time magic came from that. I then had to figure out how that time magic would work, and realized that every city, town, and village would need its own clock tower in order to run. Each tower controls a certain amount of land, and if something ever happens to the tower, something would then happen to the time connected to it—and the land it controls. That’s why there are clock mechanics around to keep these towers, and therefore time, functional.

What was your process for the world building? It was a surprisingly long process, actually. When I wrote the first draft, I only had a kernel of the world. Then, over multiple drafts, I added more and more layers from various sources. I had my Victorian layers (the historical aspect) and the fantasy/steampunk layers (the clock towers/Mechanics Union), as well as mythology for the time magic origins. I figured out more and more with every draft, so it was like slowly unwrapping something and finding the finished product underneath.

What was your favorite scene from the book? My favorite scene is kind of a spoiler, oops. But I will say it’s the scene where Danny finds out something surprising regarding his new, strange apprentice.

The book seems to be studded with quotable quotes that are beautiful and poetic. Could you tell us about your writing style? Thank you! When I first wrote Timekeeper, I actually had quite a different style than what I have now—which makes sense, considering this was three years ago. So in the later drafts, I tried to incorporate more of my current style into the words. People usually describe books as being either “commercial” or “literary,” and while Timekeeper is definitely more commercial, I try to hit that middle spot between the two. Just enough pretty description to balance out the action.

Was the story steampunk right from the start? What are the differences between the original and final version of the story? The story was steampunk from the start, since I knew the clock towers and Victorian era created a certain aesthetic that matched steampunk quite well. I would argue, though, that it’s more fantasy than it is steampunk, but I did purposefully use that aesthetic in Timekeeper and built the world around it. The differences between the original and final version are...well, just about everything, to be honest! The only things that have really stayed the same are the original concept of the towers, the setting, and the ending. Everything else has been molded and tempered and shaped in new ways.

Thank you for sharing, Tara!

About the Author:

Tara Sim is the author of Timekeeper (Sky Pony Press, November 2016) and can typically be found wandering the wilds of the Bay Area, California. When she’s not chasing cats or lurking in bookstores, she writes books about magic, clocks, and explosives. Follow her on Twitter at @EachStarAWorld, and check out her website at

Find Tara: Twitter | Goodreads | Website | Pinterest | Facebook

Book Description:

Hardcover, 368 pages
Expected publication: November 1st 2016 by Sky Pony Press

Two o’clock was missing.

In an alternate Victorian world controlled by clock towers, a damaged clock can fracture time—and a destroyed one can stop it completely.

It’s a truth that seventeen-year-old clock mechanic Danny Hart knows all too well; his father has been trapped in a Stopped town east of London for three years. Though Danny is a prodigy who can repair not only clockwork, but the very fabric of time, his fixation with staging a rescue is quickly becoming a concern to his superiors.

And so they assign him to Enfield, a town where the tower seems to be forever plagued with problems. Danny’s new apprentice both annoys and intrigues him, and though the boy is eager to work, he maintains a secretive distance. Danny soon discovers why: he is the tower’s clock spirit, a mythical being that oversees Enfield’s time. Though the boys are drawn together by their loneliness, Danny knows falling in love with a clock spirit is forbidden, and means risking everything he’s fought to achieve.

But when a series of bombings at nearby towers threaten to Stop more cities, Danny must race to prevent Enfield from becoming the next target or he’ll not only lose his father, but the boy he loves, forever.

The stunning first novel in a new trilogy by debut author Tara Sim, Timekeeper is perfect for fans of Cassandra Clare and Victoria Schwab.


What's up for grabs: Pre-order of Timekeeper
Scope: International!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Treat yourself to a complete #CelebratingDebutantes2016 experience. Click the image below for the full schedule and links to the posts!