Author Interview with Lora Palmer
Why did you become a writer…was it a dream of yours since you were younger or did the desire to write happen later in your life?
I was writing little stories—even in crayon—from the time I learned to read. As a child, I would write little stories here and there, but for some odd reason, I never really thought about writing as a career back then. During college and beyond, I kind of got away from writing until I discovered online role play. I loved writing role play because it was fun creating stories with a partner, but then I finally decided to get back to writing original stuff of my own. I knew from the beginning of writing MIRRORMASTERS that I wanted to become a writer as a second career, and though what came out was much different than the original story, I absolutely loved the whole process of writing and editing!
What was the inspiration for your latest work of fiction?
It started with this story idea I’d had as a child and would act out with my friends from the neighborhood. Originally, it was a time travel story about two girls who discovered a mirror in an attic, and it took them into the past. Then, as I set down to re-work what I’d first written, what came out was much different than the original story. Now, the main character, Leah, had the gift of controlling mirrors to view, and even travel to, other places. Then, everything else, like the cataclysms her birth sister triggered on their homeworld, fell into place around that.
How do you go from an idea for a book to the birth of the story? Is the process the same for every book you write? How long does it take you to write a book?
Well, I’ve only written two books, the second one being at the rough draft stage, so I’m still trying things out and finding what works for me. I made an outline to plot MIRRORMASTERS, and it took me a few years to write and another few years to edit. When I wrote my second book, BENEATH THE RED SAND, I just “pantsed” it. After completing about a quarter of the story in a year or so, I wrote the rest during NaNoWriMo 2014. When I say writing, I did quite a bit of dictation, so I’m still sporadically working on basic edits like formatting and correcting word spellings, things like that, as I work through the story and polish the prose. I will say I’ve been working on it more consistently and am determined to get this story edited this year if possible.
Are you currently working on any new book projects?
I am! So, my main focus right now is editing BENEATH THE RED SAND, a YA Sci Fi about a teen with a bright career ahead of her as a prima ballerina — until her family is tapped to join the first settlement on Mars. Oh, and I’ve also begun work on a MIRRORMASTERS sequel and am about 20,000 words in.
Here’s the query I’ve been working on for RED SAND:
Sixteen-year-old Kassi reluctantly follows her family to join the first Mars colony, leaving behind her dreams of landing the role of Clara in this year’s production of The Nutcracker and eventually studying at Julliard. Stuck in a sterile wasteland with no outdoor air and no dance academy, Kassi channels her drive to excel into a new ambition. She applies for an apprenticeship under an elite archaeologist. From her first excavation, she’s hooked on the thrill of hunting treasure—fossils of ancient marine life or signs of a long-ago civilization.
She and her excavation partner, Noah, unearth the first prehistoric cave drawings and pottery buried beneath layers of dirt. Not long after, the habitat’s hull breaches during a freak sandstorm. Then the oxygen circulation system fails. Each disaster site is emblazoned with the same symbol as the cave art, leading Kassi to suspect these aren’t random accidents.
Determined to discover who — or what — is sabotaging her new home, Kassi teams up with Noah to unravel the mystery of the symbol. What they find leads them to one inescapable conclusion: an ancient force has awakened that doesn’t want humans on the red planet and will kill to shut down Mars Colony 1. With the disasters escalating, Kassi and Noah must somehow vanquish this guardian spirit before it wipes out the entire community.
Do you have any advice for beginning writers on how to write a book? Do you have any advice for them regarding promoting that book once published?
There’s a ton of advice out there about the mechanics of writing, and it’s wonderful to learn and apply it to your writing. It also helps to research the publishing industry and practice writing the query — and workshop it with fellow writers. I workshopped mine on the AgentQueryConnect website, as well as on WriteOnCon (an online conference for writers of middle grade to new adult fiction). But when you’re writing your first draft, it’s most important to get the ideas and story down, and some planning and notes can help with that. Your characters and story take on a life of their own, so trust that process and allow for flexibility when things don’t go quite according to plan as you’re writing. It’s fun, exhilarating, and sheer joy to breathe life into characters and worlds through your words, so focus on that process and just keep writing without getting too bogged down in rules or how to say what you’re trying to say. It can be hard to turn off your inner editor while writing, but any changes that need to be made can be done during editing, whether you edit as you go after a writing session or once you get the draft done.
Promotion is a fun challenge, and I’m still trying to figure out what works as a new author. I’ve done a lot of things, from creating my blog and website, to offering my book for review, to giveaways on Amazon and Goodreads, to participating in blog tours and author spotlights like this one, to joining Facebook events hosted by other writers to connect with potential readers.
The great thing about Amazon giveaways is that you can have entrants follow you as a requirement for entry, so that lets them stay informed when you have a new book release. Now that my book is available in print, I ran a GoodReads giveaway and had over two hundred people adding MIRRORMASTERS to their to-read lists, which is fantastic for increasing visibility. Currently, I have a giveaway running on GoodReads through July 16 for a signed copy of my book.
In addition to running periodic giveaways, I also try to stay active on social media. On Twitter, I retweet to support fellow writers, reply to posts, and share articles I like via Crowdfire. On certain days, there are hashtags like #2bittues that have a weekly theme, and fellow writers share a line from their books or works in progress based on the theme.
What’s your writing schedule like? When do you find time to write?
Because I work full time, it’s a bit of a challenge to make time to write. I do most of my writing and promoting in the morning before work and whenever there’s an opportunity on my days off.
How did you find your publisher? What was your journey to publication like?
I first came across my publisher, Clean Reads, as part of a pitch event on the Savvy Authors website during my early stages of querying. Back then, the company was called Astraea Press. It didn’t work out at the time, and I was so bummed about it because I wholeheartedly believe in the mission to offer reads free of cursing, graphic violence, or sexual content that goes beyond sweet romance. Plus, they have AMAZING cover designers and the most gorgeous book covers!
Well, two years after that pitch event, I was still querying and revising. I think I sent out about 70 queries to agents and a handful of requests to small publishers based on requests from twitter pitch parties like #pitmad and #pit2pub. All along, I kept querying, kept revising, and didn’t give up. Then in July of 2015, I participated in #pit2pub again. I was completely thrilled to get favorites on two of my pitches from Stephanie, the owner of Clean Reads (which I recognized as formerly Astraea Press). Right away, I re-submitted, and noted that I’d made significant revisions to the book since my first submission two years prior, then prayed a lot. A few weeks later, I woke up to a lovely email offering a contract!
That's an awesome story of persevering and continuing to follow your dreams to write! How have your friends and family received your career as an author? Are they supportive?
They have all been super supportive and excited for me, so I've been truly blessed!
What’s the most challenging aspect of writing for you? ~ POV issues; using too much passive voice and not enough active voice; trouble creating active and engaging dialogue; using too many similar words in starting sentences; or something else?
So, all of those issues are a challenge and things I watch for when editing. Especially with MIRRORMASTERS, I started with 3rd person POV and initially did a bit of head-hopping. Then I transitioned to first person, so that was super time-consuming. That said, I think what’s most challenging is to get the emotions just right, and getting feedback in the editing process has been invaluable for helping me get there.
I had an issue with head-hopping when I first started writing. I agree that feedback from editors is so helpful! Thanks so much for chatting with me today. I loved hearing about your writing journey.
About The MirrorMasters
My book is a YA fantasy adventure, The MirrorMasters.
Leah Ellis never knew why she was found abandoned on the beach at two years old. Content with her adoptive family and small town life, she hadn't thought much about it over the years. That is, until her life takes a bizarre turn when she begins seeing images in mirrors she can’t explain--cloaked figures using powers that manifest like lightning bolts, or flash-frozen beaches on another world beneath a purple sky.
She practices mirror-gazing, driven to understand these images and their possible connection to her forgotten past, and discovers that it’s kind of addictive with its wild, boundless power coursing through her veins. Soon, she learns to control what the mirror shows her.
When new neighbors move in, Leah is shocked that they're dead ringers for the people in her visions. According to Brian, with the gorgeous ice-blue eyes, and his father, she is a MirrorMaster--an alien with a gift that lets her travel through mirrors, even to worlds light years away. Her birth parents sent them to take her from Earth back to her homeworld of Jantyr, a planet she doesn’t remember. They’ve searched for her ever since she disappeared.
But Leah’s long-lost birth sister, a sorceress, activated an ancient device to trigger a cataclysm on Jantyr as a bid to consolidate her own power. Leah must return to Jantyr, master her newfound ability in order to locate and wield crystals that will disable the device, and thwart her sister’s plans. Otherwise, the destruction will consume the entire galaxy, including Earth and everyone she loves.
Want more of THE MIRRORMASTERS? Here’s where you can get a copy:
About the Author
Lora Palmer writes science fiction and fantasy for young adults. Bucks County, Pennsylvania is her home, where she resides with her wonderful husband and their mischievous cat. She has earned a graduate degree in Psychology and works at a local residential facility serving autistic children and teens. In her spare time, she also sings in a praise band, Chalice Sounds. THE MIRRORMASTERS, her debut novel, is published by Clean Reads. Her short story, "First Wife"--a YA retelling of the biblical story of Leah, Jacob, and Rachel, is now published in Month9Books' IN THE BEGINNING charity anthology.
Connect with Lora Online
A special thank you to Lora Palmer for guesting today at Pandora's Box Gazette.
She is hosting a giveaway for THE MIRRORMASTERS eBook here at Pandora's Box Gazette. Comment below and include your email to enter to win the giveaway.
Lora is also hosting a GoodReads giveaway for a signed print copy that all of you can enter here.
Congratulations to Paula Thomas, winner of Lora's book!