Thursday, May 23, 2013

Special Interview and Giveaway with Debut Author Serena Chase! (You Don't Want to Miss This!)

I’m excited to host Serena Chase—DEBUT author on my blog today! Welcome to Writing for Christ, Serena.

Thanks for having me, Casey!

How did you get interested in writing?

I can’t really remember a time that I wasn’t making up stories in my head. It wasn’t all that much of a stretch to start writing them down. The hard part is not the writing, it’s the refining—to get these stories I love to the point that someone else might want to read them!

Why YA fantasy?

From my first step through C.S. Lewis’s magical wardrobe, fantasy has always been my favorite genre to read. I love the scope of it, the sheer possibility of imagination, and the openness of the audience. I like
all sorts of fantasy, but I often have content issues (garbage in, garbage out, as they say) with some mainstream, adult-aimed fantasy fiction. I am much more comfortable reading YA for content reasons.

Beyond that, I really believe that some of the best writing out there happens in YA. There’s a certain attention-span that is assumed by YA authors, so the story keeps a steady pace and few veer off into the overlong and often overdone (yawn)  world-descriptive paragraphs that can lose some readers of the “older audience” books. Almost every “favorite” book on my shelf is YA—and 4 out of 5 faves that aren’t YA are fantasy.  So… I guess I write what I love to read, but I also love the audience.

Most of us want to believe we can change the world, or at least be an influence in our small sphere, but the majority of teens out there still possess the spark within that belief that makes it seem not only possible, but probable! Most have not yet been jaded by the fear of risk and the weight of responsibility that so limits us as adults. Teens have an energy and an honesty about them that draws you into their dreams if you let it. So often, however, their ideas are written off by adults as “idealistic” and their energy is seen as “immature”, but I think we, as adults, can learn from their example—if we can get over ourselves long enough to appreciate what they have to offer! I think adults who read YA fantasy (and there are many) have a bit of that spark within them, too. (Or at least we still remember what it felt like!)

I’ve heard from your co-blogger Joy, that The Ryn is an allegorical tale, how long did you work to craft this novel?

The first draft was finished in five months. That was seven years ago. So… a long, long time. I did take breaks every now and then, of course, to write other things, but The Ryn was never far from my mind. I wouldn’t call The Ryn  a straight allegory, but it certainly has allegorical elements. In all honesty, I never intended for the book to have a spiritual aspect at all, I simply wanted re-write a fairy tale. Believe me, I was surprised—and awed—when God showed up and breathed his presence into the tale.

The cover is gorgeous! One of the very best I’ve seen for a self published book, care to share why you chose to self publish?

Thank you for the compliment! The cover model, as well as the photographer who took her picture, are both teenagers, which I think is a really cool thing on a YA novel! (Plus, I got to “direct” the photo shoot, which is really cool for me, because I am a total control freak! ) But it was the genius talent of Jodie Gerling of JG
Designs in Manhattan, Kansas who took Lincoln’s wonderful pictures, mixed them up with my crazy ideas, constant tweaks, and numerous neuroses to turn them into such a lovely representation of the story, so I will definitely send your compliments to her! But beyond me being a total control freak, there are many reasons I chose to self-publish rather than take the traditional route.

The publishing industry has evolved very quickly over the past couple of years due to both technological advancements and economic challenges. On the economic side, there have been a lot of layoffs in the industry. Publishers have been fairly dependent on proven authors as “brands” for their revenue and haven’t been as willing to take financial risks by adding unknown names to their lists—which makes it hard for the newbie to even get a foot in the proverbial door. Even for “branded” authors, however, it seems advances on royalties (from publishers) are shrinking—or coming with crazy sales-or-deadline-based clauses that could make them forfeit part or all of that advance back to the publisher if their book does not earn out. So, authors are getting paid LESS, yet many publishers are expecting their authors to DO MORE. Many contracted authors are now having shoulder the expense of (and forfeit the writing time to attend to) a good portion of their book’s marketing —services publishers used to provide, contractually. I thought long and hard on it, did a lot of research, and talked to several authors who have published both traditionally and on their own before making my decision. And then the real work began!

To make these books the best they could be, I spent a small fortune on multiple rounds of developmental and copy editing before having a product with which I was satisfied. Are there times when I wish I had a wee little advance to help pay for those services? You bet! But I’m not sure I’m ready for the tradeoff. Self-publishing allows me to control the quality, the cost of book production, and the timeline, and to track my return on investment. It will likely be years before I break even on what I’ve put into building The Ryn and The Remedy (Eyes of E’veria book two), but in the words of Frank Sinatra, “I did it myyyyyy way!” And... I’m pleased with the result. Does that mean I won’t consider traditional publishing down the road? Of course I would. This is an incredibly difficult, time-consuming business! To hand even a little bit of it off (or at least receive an advance to help pay for it!) would most likely be an amazing relief. But for where I am right now . . . this was the right choice for me. And for The Ryn.

You run an incredibly successful blog between Edgy Inspirational and USA Today’s HEA site, getting quite a name for yourself! Do you ever find yourself overwhelmed by all the good book choices out there?

I don’t really “run” anything! But thanks for thinking I’m that awesome. Joy Tamsin David is the brains behind EIR, I’m just riding her very comfortable coattails! And as for HEA, I’m just a contributor there – the real props go to curator Joyce Lamb who organizes everything and, when I’m slow in sending in a review, emails to make sure I’m not dead. (Yes, that actually happened once!) The industry is all “Build your platform, build your platform!” But I count myself as incredibly blessed. Not only did Joy and Joyce build the platforms, they gave me a hand up to stand on them. Joy and Joyce encourage me and advise me and give me lots of virtual hugs when I start to freak out (which is more often than I would like to admit.) I am about the most disorganized person in the world and easily overwhelmed, but I hope to be like those two wonderful ladies when I grow up!

Switching gears here for just a minute…you write incredibly fun reviews, got any tips for the rest of us to make ours as enjoyable?

You’re doing just fine, Casey! But if I must give advice, I’ll speak to newbie reviewers out there: if you truly love a book, don’t be afraid to get giddy about it. *laughs* I get giddy about books I love and . . . I’m not afraid to sound like a goofball most of the time. So maybe my advice is… be a goofball? I don’t know! But a better tip would be this: if you don’t love a book, that needs to come through honestly… but nicely. In my early days of reviewing I didn’t always follow that advice. I was honest, but I wasn’t as nice as I should have been, considering this was someone’s baby that I was talking about. There are a couple of authors that I fear meeting someday because of how awkward it might be, due to my past “honesty” considering a certain something they wrote. I could have avoided that by reserving my snark and sarcasm for good times. Use your power for good.

Congratulations on the birth of your debut novel! It’s been great to learn more about The Ryn and you! Before you leave, give us a couple places readers can connect with you.

I update my official author page on Facebook several times per week and share all giveaways, contests, and such there. I would love it if your readers would “like” me! 

Readers can also connect by visiting my website and by following me on Twitter @Serena_Chase

Thanks for being here, Serena!

It was fun! Thanks for inviting me, Casey!

Okay readers! Check out a FUN giveaway going on here today!

One reader will win: Serena's debut novel The Ryn and the sequel The Remedy, a series themed t-shirt, a charm bracelet and of course, writers (and reader's fuel) chocolate!

ENTER HERE: ------> a Rafflecopter giveaway


  1. In reading the post, the book looks interesting to me (love Narnia, if I read my set another time it will fall apart literally). I'm also thinking of my daughter as I entered the giveaway as she is of an age where YA is mostly what she reads.

  2. Great interview ladies! Of course you know Serena that I loved both The Ryn and The Remedy! I particularly liked your answer today to the question about advice for bloggers. I whole-heartedly agree to "be nice" I too have written some of those reviews where I kind of cringe when I go back and read them. Live and Learn as they say. I have learned that being nice goes a lot farther than being brutally honest and offensive. Everyone needs encouragement, even the author of a novel that you think stinks ;)

    Anyway, always a pleasure to read an interview with Serena in it and always a pleasure to visit your blog Casey!

    Julie@My Favorite Pastime

  3. I haven't read much YA but this sounds good. I really liked the Harry Potter movies so I guess you could say I do the whole YA thing. When I'm finished my 2 great nieces can take their turn. LOL Thank you for having this giveaway!

    Wanda Barefoot

  4. Congratulations, Serena!!! Seeing self published Debut authors really gives me hope for my own writing future.

  5. Thanks for the chance to win Serena's book. Best of luck to you, Serena, on your debut novel!

  6. I've read your blog, Serena, for a while now...looking forward to reading your novels!

  7. Thanks for the awesome giveaway. I would love to read Serena's book.

  8. Hey, CASE, great interview, as always, and SERENA -- SUPER CONGRATS on your YA books and "doing it your way"!! More and more authors are choosing that route today, as have I with one of my books, so you go, girl!!

    LOVED what you said here: "But a better tip would be this: if you don’t love a book, that needs to come through honestly… but nicely. In my early days of reviewing I didn’t always follow that advice. I was honest, but I wasn’t as nice as I should have been, considering this was someone’s baby that I was talking about ... use your power for good."

    Oh, PREACH IT, girl, because as an edgy inspirational writer, I have been on the receiving end of the wrath of Christian reviewers more times than I can count, calling my work "smut," and "scum reading," and even questioning my faith AND my marriage. Of course, reviewers like this give me the opportunity to exercise my faith by praying for them (smile), but the sting is still there for a while, which is a real shame in a genre that's supposed to honor Christ. So I am SO glad to see a blogger/reviewer of your caliber giving such excellent advice. Now ... if some blogger/reviewers would just heed it, there would be a LOT less hurtful feelings all around. :)

    Serena, Joy Tamsin David is one of my favorite reader friends from the past, but I haven't heard from her for a long time and I even tried to contact her once or twice, so can you tell me how she is doing?

    God bless you and your books, my friend, and may they fly off the shelves, cyber or otherwise!


  9. Casey and Serena,
    GREAT interview, ladies. Serena, congratulations! I'm really looking forward to reading this series from your heart and I love the story behind the cover. We need to embrace the younger generation by tapping into their up and coming talent - lovely cover. (Did you see the Google Doodle story today? Love.)

    Thanks for sharing,

  10. Awesome interview Serena! I like what you said about the industry changing, interesting insights.

    Julie Lessman!!! I really have fallen off the face of the earth. I'm so sorry! I am just now starting to climb out of a reading rut as deep as the Grand Canyon and twice as long. Hopefully I'll be around more often. Hope you are well my friend! :)

    And I'm waving to Casey! Thanks for having Serena over here!

  11. Do you think your books will ever be published in print? I only ask because it is easier to share them with family and friends!!! LOVE LOVE this series :)


Thank you so much for stopping by, I love to hear from those who traffic my blog! Have a wonderful day. :)

FTC Rules

According to new FTC rules I must let you, the reader know, that all views shared on this blog are strictly my own. Books to review are either provided for me by the author, publisher or ones I have purchased and I am under no obligation whatsoever to present anything, but my true opinion on any product. I receive no monetary compensation for anything written on this blog. Any giveaways on this blog are provided by the author/ publisher and I am not responsible for any views they express in their work or on this site. Giveaways are void were prohibited and chances of winnng are based on the number of applicants. A random winner is draw when a book is given away.

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