Monday, January 25, 2010

Food for Thought

I had a really interesting conversation with my husband yesterday. I was comparing my two interviews--one for the newspaper and one for my publisher's blog--and how much easier it is for me to write my answers to questions than to answer them verbally on the fly, and especially how challenging it is for me to answer questions about myself. Somehow we came around to my being able to teach about writing just fine. I hardly ever get nervous when I teach and really enjoy the process, but start asking me about me and my brain freezes up.

He asked me why I thought that was and I said, "Well, I think it's because I'm passionate about my subject, so it's easy to talk about."

He then asked me one of the most profound questions I've heard in a long time. He said, "Well, aren't you passionate about yourself?"

It's been over 24 hours since he asked me that and I can't get it out of my head. Am I not passionate about myself? And if not, shouldn't I be? I am the only me that exists in this world, the only ME God created, so shouldn't I take joy in sharing the uniqueness that is me?

Perhaps. But even knowing that it's not easy to open up and let the world peek inside at who I am. I'm not sure how to change that. How DOES one become passionate about ones self without becoming self obsessed? How does one remain humble, yet open up in this way?

I don't have the answers to that. If any of you have thoughts, I'd love to hear them.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Introducing . . . ME!

Valor Publishing is selecting one of their March authors per week and spotlighting them with an interview on the Valor Blog, and for some strange reason they decided to interview me first. I asked Candace if I could copy that interview here, and she said yes, so here it is!

Introducing Karen E. Hoover

I'm pleased to introduce you to author, Karen E. Hoover.

You will want to remember the name “Karen E. Hoover”. She is among a select group of up and coming authors causing a stir in the young adult fantasy world. Her first offering The Sapphire Flute, Book 1 of the Wolfchild Saga will ignite your passion to escape the mundane routine of daily life by finding yourself in a place created through dream worlds, gasping plots, twists, and action-packed adventure.

Karen took the gift of words given her by her father and ran with it. Since then, she's written two novels and reams of poetry. Her head is popping with brilliant ideas for stories and ways to inspire and uplift those who read her work. Karen's desire to provide enjoyment to her readers has given her motivation to continue writing throughout the remainder of her life.

Inspiration is found everywhere, but Karen's heart is fueled by her husband and two sons, the Rocky Mountains, her chronic addiction to pens and paper, and the smell of her laser printer in the morning.

Today, we are going to chat with her and learn a little bit about what makes her tick!

Valor: Karen, The Sapphire Flute is your first book, and the first book in the Wolfchild Saga. Where was the idea for the books born and how many books are in the series?

Karen: The roots of The Sapphire Flute go back to the summer of 1992. I have always been a daydreamer and frequently get completely lost in worlds and situations that don’t exist, much to the exasperation of my many teachers, I’m sure. The first “vision” I had of this story was of a girl standing outside of her crude tent in the dark, playing a glowing blue flute under the full moon when a white wolf crossed the river and watched her play. After a while he joined her song with his own and that was it—the total extent of the dream, but it haunted me for years, and after I was married I began to play with it. That one character split into two different people and The Sapphire Flute was born.

Valor: Have you always wanted to be a writer and why? When did you first know you could write?

Karen: I remember writing little books in first grade and giving them to my mom, so yes, I’ve always wanted to be a writer, but the dream really took flight when I was in 7th grade and read a book by Gordon Korman, This Can’t Be Happening at McDonald Hall, I believe, and as a twelve year old, reading a book written by a twelve year old, I finally realized my dream was a real possibility. If he could publish, why couldn’t I? That’s where the dream really first began.

Writing always came easy for me. I grew up writing poems and little stories, cards and letters, and spent many, many hours playing “Space” with my brother, so I knew I had a good imagination. It wasn’t until I was a teenager and my brother and I started writing stories together that I truly realized I could write. He was wonderful with descriptions and world building, and still is to this day, whereas dialogue came very naturally to me. I always thought we made the perfect team, but since he won’t write with me anymore, I had to learn how to be good with description too. It’s been a long journey, but one I’ve loved and would do again in an instant.

Valor: Your books are fantasy, what is it about the genre that you like so much?

Karen: As mentioned above, I’ve always had a vivid imagination and loved acting it out either in play or on the page, and fantasy allows me to do that better than any other genre. Absolutely anything is possible in fantasy. Gorillas falling from the sky? Great. I woke up in somebody else’s body? Wouldn’t that be interesting. The sky turned purple? Sure, why not?

My love of fantasy can really be traced back to my sixth grade teacher, Mrs. McKinny. She handed out a random selection of books. Different genres, styles, authors and such. Enough for every kid in the class and then she set a timer and told us to read and when the timer went up we passed the book on to the people around us. I was introduce to C.S. Lewis’ Chronicles of Narnia and Madeline L’lengle’s A Wrinkle in Time during that class and I was hooked. In that same class our reading group continued the Wrinkle in Time series and I discovered the joy of following a character I loved from book to book and my passion for the series was born. From there I fell in love with Anne McCaffrey’s Dragonriders of Pern and David Eddings Belgariad and Mallorean series. I love the possibilities that fantasy creates.

Valor: Your publisher calls you the next J.K. Rowling. How does that make you feel?

Karen: To be honest, it is a little overwhelming but a huge honor. The first time my publisher called me that I literally stopped breathing. J.K. Rowling is a fantastic storyteller and creates characters people love. She created characters I love and can read about again and again. For me, the books I love the most are the ones whose characters come to life, the ones I cheer for, cry with, laugh and ache with, and that is what I strive for more than anything with my own books. Valor couldn’t have given me a greater compliment.

Valor: Tell us a little about yourself.

Karen: I love wolves and dragons, books and music, color and light. My favorite seasons are spring and autumn. I love to be outside, whether camping, writing, or just driving through the mountains. I’m addicted to Pepsi and even wrote a poem about it. It’s called Ode to Pepsi. Yes, I am strange like that.

I’m married, have two boys that I adopted when they were young, love animals, ice cream, and Mexican food. I have played the flute for 28 years, used it to get a music scholarship to college, though I did not get to finish due to illness. I’m a licensed massage therapist, love to build, and really love power tools. I do not like cruelty, rudeness, or gossip, but I love kindness, literacy, and people who try to make a difference.

Valor: What advice do you have for young writers?

Karen: One of my favorite quotes came from an author I know by the name of Ginny Smith. She said, “God has plans for your writing, and they are better than any plans you have for yourself. Let him be in charge and let Him delight you with what He has in store.” Realize that there is something bigger than just yourself out there helping you to create, and when you open yourself to “The Great Creator” You will write better than you ever can on your own. It’s a wonderful lesson I learned from Julia Cameron’s book “The Artist’s Way,” and has influence my writing more than any other. Believe in yourself and never give up.

Valor: What advice do you have for young readers?

Karen: Keep reading! Books allow you to be transported to other worlds and live the lives of other people—people who are fascinating and can do things you’ll never have the chance to do in your life. None of us can be everything, but through reading you can experience anything and everything. You can be an astronaut, a spy, a shapechanging wolf, or a literate dragon.

Give books a chance and let them open your world to the possible.

Pre-order Karen's The Sapphire Flute.

Copyright 2009. All rights reserved by Valor Publishing Group, LLC.

Friday, January 22, 2010

So Much Joy and Pain

I've been a little reluctant to write a new blog lately, if you haven't noticed. I love looking at that box of books, ARCs or not, though life has been full of many adventures the past four weeks.

First, the pain: Think back to three days before Christmas. The snow had just started to fall and the air was brisk, the feel of Christmas in the air. I had made plans to take my kids to visit my friend Elizabeth a couple of hours north of me. The car was packed and warming up when the neighbor stopped by looking for something I was going to loan her. I walked very carefully down the steps (I'd already fallen once that morning), commented to my neighbor about how careful I was being, then when I hit the flat part of the walk my feet started to slide. I tried to lock them in place so I wouldn't fall, but my legs scissored and I went down, my ankle and foot popping twice.

As I lay there crying in pain, my neighbor ran to get my husband and the two of them got me into the house. At that point I realized this was serious and asked them to get me back out to the car. I needed to go to Urgent Care. After much maneuvering and sending my sweet boys over to my friend Shari's house to see if she could watch them while I went in for x-rays, we were on the way.

To make a long story short. Well . . . shorter, they x-rayed my ankle and pronounced it a really bad sprain, basically saying that the pops I felt were my ankle dislocating, then popping back into place. They gave me a brace and sent me home, my plans for the day dashed to pieces.

I wore that brace for 3 weeks and was still in pain. I felt things moving that shouldn't be and went back in to Urgent Care and asked them to re-examine my foot. This time around they actually x-rayed my foot as well as my ankle, gave me a new brace (since I'd broken the last one twice), and told me they would have the radiologist look at it and call me if there was anything wrong.

So, off I went on Thursday night for Author Training with Valor Publishing Group, spending the night at my friend's house. The training was phenomenal. We even got to go on a tour of the printer who does their ARCs and small softbound print runs. It was fascinating. Well, that afternoon, I got a call from Urgent Care telling me my foot was fractured and I needed to come in to have it splinted. My kind friend Candace and her husband drove me and my car the 60 miles home, dropped off the car, went to Urgent Care, had a different splint put on, then drove me back to their place for the next day's author training. This time Urgent Care said not to put ANY pressure on my foot. After three weeks of walking around with crutches and a splint, but WALKING, they tell me not to use it at all? That particular bandage hurt BAD. Didn't like it at all.

Monday morning I call a podiatrist and get in the next day. They say, yes, I had a fracture, but it's healing perfectly. The main thing I had was a "really GREAT sprained ankle." So they put me in a big, black boot, which I adore and have already broken one of the straps. What can I say. I like it tight. I'm healing. The nurse said by the time my tour comes around I should be running, but just to be sure, my husband is insisting on physical therapy as soon as possible.

Second, the Joys: Author training was two of the most amazing days I've had in a long time. I have a much greater understanding of the publishing industry and how to be the best author I can be. I can't go into details, as it's proprietary information, but it was fantastic. Any author who publishes with Valor is very, very blessed. My fellow classmates were awesome. There was Tristi Pinkston, Valor's Editor, who helped teach. Candace Salima, of course, president of Valor. BJ Rowley, who handles the typesetting and knows just about everything under the sun. Other members of Valor's staff as well, and my fellow writers. Michelle Ashman Bell, Abel Keough, Daron Fraley, and Jenni James. Wow, it was awesome. Hope I didn't forget anyone.

I am getting some good reviews as well, which is nice. I was interviewed for an article in the local newspaper. That was an experience. Very exciting, but I'm seeing that I need to work on my interviewing skills. lol If you want to read it, go HERE.

My book became available for pre-order on January 15th, so put your order in early! Go HERE to reserve your copy.

I'll continue the joys tomorrow. Life has been full of ups and downs for a few months now and it finally feels like it's coming together.

Monday, January 11, 2010

ARC Pictures At Last!!!

Here you go, guys. Finally got the camera figured out, with the help of my darling husband, so here are the pictures!

Friday, January 8, 2010

Catching Up . . . AGAIN

Well, 2009 has come and gone, and now we're on to 2010 and lots of exciting things coming up for me. Things seem to be on track for the release of The Sapphire Flute on March 16th. My blog tour has been arranged and that will be posted on the sidebar here shortly so you can keep track of what people are saying. The response I've gotten thus far has been very positive.

On Tuesday the 5th I had something really neat happen. I'm not sure if I've mentioned it much recently, but I volunteer and co-teach a writing class/club for one of the local junior high schools after school with my friend Shanna, who is a REAL teacher. ;) Well, on Tuesday I was honored at the board meeting as Volunteer of the Month, got a certificate and gift card to the local book store, and they talked about me and my book in front of the school board and the superintendent. It was really neat and such an honor. I love these kids and love being able to teach them something I so desperately wanted to know when I was their age. We've got some great writers in the class too. I am rewarded every week just by being able to go and be with them. The award was a nice bonus, but it's the kids that make it so wonderful.

As if that wasn't enough to make my week amazingly wonderful, yesterday I was able to drive to Provo to pick up the Advance Reader Copies of my book (ARCs)! It was the very first time I've seen my book in print in anything but what comes off of my printer. It's a REAL BOOK, with a cover, and amazing art work, and words that I wrote! It is strange looking at those words in book form though. Like they aren't mine. Like somebody else wrote them. It's totally surreal. But I love it! I sat at my editor's house last night visiting for a couple of hours and my book never left contact with me nearly the whole time. I couldn't stop touching it and holding it and looking at it. It blows my mind that after all these years of hard work my dream is finally happening.

Then, the last little bit of coolness came in delivering copies of my ARC to my hat sister, Shari, and letting her see that she was in the acknowledgements, and seeing her eyes light up when she handled my book. Then I ran Shanna's copy over to her and she wanted me to sign it. I'd never signed a book before and I spent five minutes giggling, absolutely giddy about it. I autographed my first book! I have to practice now so I don't giggle every time I sign a book at a signing. That would NOT be professional. lol

I took some pictures of my ARCs last night and was going to post them with this blog, but unfortunately I can't figure out how to upload the pictures from my new camera. As soon as I get it working, I promise to post them.

So life has been crazy, but things are looking good!

Quote of the Day: There are so many different kinds of writing and so many ways to work that the only rule is this: do what works. Almost everything has been tried and found to succeed for somebody. The methods, even the ideas of successful writers contradict each other in a most heartening way, and the only element I find common to all successful writers is persistence-an overwhelming determination to succeed.
Sophy Burnham