Interview with Anissa from FairyLoot

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I am fairly new to bookish subscription boxes but one that has always stood out to me was FairyLoot. Not only are the contents gorgeous each month (including items such as: bookmarks, candles, jewelry, and a hardcover book) the logo and name are perfect.

I am thrilled to have the owner and creator, Anissa, here on my blog today…

What inspired you to start FairyLoot and how long has it been going?
Firstly, thank you so much for featuring me on your blog! It’s such an honour! When I started FairyLoot there weren’t any fantasy focused book boxes in the UK and I actually was looking for one to subscribe to. So, I thought to myself why not make one? I had seen amazing some book boxes in the US that were so inspiring so I just took the plunge! We started creating FairyLoot in February and launched it in March 2016 – we worked nonstop to pull it together and haven’t looking back since!

Each month you pick a theme and surprise your subscribers with a new release and goodies based around it- Do you have a favorite box or theme you’ve done so far?
This is such a hard question because I love them all so much! If I really had to pick I think my favourite boxes so far are Royals & Rogues and Sci-Fi Adventure. I have some really exciting things planned for 2017 that I can’t wait to reveal, and those themes are some of my favourites too!

Rogues and Royals

What about a book makes it a good contender to be included in a FairyLoot box?
I read a lot of proofs every month to choose the best book, and when a book clicks with me I just know it’s going to be perfect for FairyLoot. My favourite type of fantasy is high fantasy, but I like mixing up different types of fantasy books that have different types of protagonists.

FairyLoot tends to focus on the fantasy genre- was there a book that made you a fantasy fan? If so, what was it?
I grew up reading Harry Potter and being totally obsessed with Lord of the Rings. Fantasy was everything to me – I just loved it. It has always been my go-to genre for books, movies, TV series, computer games – anything, really! I used to only read adult fantasy books and then I read The Mortal Instruments and fell in love with Young Adult and haven’t looked back!

And the question I have to ask– is there anything you can hint about the next boxes?
All I’m going to say is we’re going to be featuring some pretty highly anticipated books in 2017, and we’ve got some AMAZING themes planned, along with some very unique items that I’ve never included before in our boxes. Needless to say I’m beyond excited!

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Did you see February’s theme? I’m so excited about this box and you can order it RIGHT NOW. Hurry though because these boxes always sell out quickly. And if you are on bookstagram you should consider entering FairyLoot’s latest rep search.

Tell me- have you ever ordered a FairyLoot box? And, what books releasing in 2017 would you love to see featured?

Bookish Shops and Subscription Boxes- Interview with Alexis from Nerdy Post

Recently, I’ve fallen in love with Instagram and since I became more active there I have come to find out about so many amazing Bookish Shops and Subscription Boxes. This is the start to a new series of interviews I’m doing with my absolute favorite bookish folks. I hope to introduce you to new bookish obsessions and highlight shops you might already be a fan of.

Note: some of these are companies I help represent on Instagram and some I don’t.

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Up first, Alexis who owns Nerdy Post. I happened upon this sub box early on because of my bestie, Crystal (bookiemoji) gifted me the Doctor Who box. I immediately fell head over heels and became a fan. Each box is full of beautifully hand lettered items with quotes and the like all related to that month’s theme. I love that Nerdy Post covers all fandoms (not just bookish ones). Upcoming for January? STAR WARS. How exciting is that. I can’t wait to see what she has in store for us.

This beautiful picture is from Nerdy Post's Instagram. Click image to see more

This beautiful picture is from Nerdy Post’s Instagram. Click image to see more

Interview

What inspired you to start your subscription box for fandoms, Nerdy Post?

I started getting subscription box obsessed a few months into my bookstagram experience, and was simultaneously trying to build my own brand, hoping to find a way to make enough money to quit my 9-5 design job and stay home with my freshly baked baby girl. She had just gone into daycare because my maternity leave was over and I hated it. She was too young and I wasn’t ready. So the idea crossed my mind that maybe the way to get my art to a bunch of people would be to get involved with the boxes. At first I was just hoping to get featured in one, as I figured the logistics and coordination with companies and behind the scenes aspects of running my own box would be a nightmare. But then we did the bookmarks for The Bookish Box and my husband suggested we keep everything in-house and paper goods and suddenly it was a real possibility. Obviously my obsession with fandoms and my need to push everyone I ever meet into becoming obsessed with just one show or book or movie I am obsessed with meant that this is what I would base my box on. My goal is really just to convert new fans every month! I’m only 5% kidding.

Do you have a favorite box you’ve done? If so, which?

My favorite box so far is the Classic Novels one. I have never worked so hard for so many hours in all my life but it was totally worth it because every item is my favorite.

Have you found one box to be the most popular or a group to be the most enthusiastic?

img_0640It’s hard sometimes to tell what’s most popular because we are growing steadily bigger each month but that has more to do with our reach growing than each month doing a more popular theme than the one before. But I would say the Doctor Who, Harry Potter and Outlander ones have been the most enthusiastic. Outlander actually surprised me. It was our biggest growth month and one I was just hoping not to dip too low with subscribers, so that was nice!

What would you say has been the hardest part of getting Nerdy Post up and running?

The hardest part is keeping up with customer service aspects. I’m an artist with ADD and sometimes my brain just doesn’t want to compute with replying to a billion emails and I’m constantly worried customer issues will slip through the cracks with my busy self-employed-mom-of-a-toddler lifestyle and heavy work load. But I also just can’t get to stuff on a normal time schedule and thus slips happen. Luckily I’m a nice person and genuinely want my customers to be happy, so I haven’t angered anyone that I know of, and am able to make right any issue that come up. But customer service is still hard. It’s just not my forte.
The other thing is budgeting. I would literally be broke if not for my husband keeping me in check. He’s the numbers guy. So you can blame him for not getting 15 items every month because “we really ought to try and make a little money this month, Alexis, or we won’t be able to buy any items next month at all.” Haha

Can you give us any hints to what you have upcoming?

The next few months are going to be so much fun. We have several extremely popular fandoms ranging genres from SciFi to Animation and everything in between! Something to keep in mind if you really want hints is that I do try and coordinate with releases of new seasons or sequels or movies when I can.

Questions about Lettering…

In each box you include the most beautiful prints, bookmarks and hand -lettered goodies*. You create all of these images- how long have you been hand-lettering?

I have really been lettering all my life. I always liked to “write pretty” and experiment with the styles of the letters I wrote. But I didn’t consciously understand that what I was doing was lettering until about 8 years ago. I just always chose to use my own “fonts” when I couldn’t get the actual fonts do behave the way I wanted them to in my artwork.

fullsizerenderDo you have any tips for anyone wanting to start lettering?

The biggest thing, and probably the most disappointing for a lot of people, that I recommend is to practice. Haha But I am dead serious. When I started Nerdy Post and was lettering every single day I started to see a rapid improvement on my skill and style variations as well as how quickly I could complete a design. {I’m still super slow, but that just means I was scary slow before}. Practicing every day is now a must. Also, find styles you like and emulate them. Copy everything until you can reproduce each style without looking at it, then be sure to use it often so you don’t lose it, but rather it becomes a staple in your bag of tricks. Another aspect to that is to challenge yourself by picking different words than whatever you are copying, so you are forced to try and recreate the style in letters you can’t see and still make them cohesive. That’s probably the step between straight up copying to finding your own style.

*Be sure to check out Alexis’ account on Instagram for videos of her lettering. She makes it look easy and I’m certain she’s magical.

Thank you Alexis for your time!

Before this interview had you heard of NerdyPost? If so, have you ever gotten a box?

If not, it’s really easy to subscribe- Head to the site and create an account and hit subscribe. you can choose to get a month here and there or get it monthly. I am honored to help represent NerdyPost on Instagram so, if you are interested, I invite you to use my promo code to save 10% just enter FICTIONFRIENDS

Interview with Mary Pearson Author of The Remnant Chronicles + Giveaway

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I’m so excited to be hosting The Remnant Chronicles Read Along with these amazing bloggers- Bridget from Dark Faerie Tales, Christina from The Book Hook Up, Stacee from Adventures of a Book Junkie, and Jamie from Two Chicks on Books.

Interview

The Kiss of Deception stands out from your other books since it is set in a different world than our own. Can you describe some of the difficulties or advantages writing outside of our reality?
This is a tricky question to answer, because even though the Remnant world doesn’t look like our world, it is based very much on our world, really, in the same way so much of fantasy is. Often fantasy worlds are metaphors for our own, and let us see our reality in a new light.

In Remnant’s case, it was like our world in a very real sense too, because it grew out of the ashes of our present one, along with whatever snips of memory and tradition the few survivors of the “Devastation” had to pass on, and with the scrabbling to survive for generations, much was lost—except story. But in the Remnant world, as in our own, the story changed as it was passed along, or sometimes it was purposely twisted to serve another purpose, and what started as a hazy memory told in story, became the history and belief system of many nations.

As with our own histories, trying to parse out the truth thousands of years later can be an impossible task. Until we can master the trick of time travel, some truths are lost forever. (Ah, time travel! Maybe that will be the next story . . .)

So yes, the Remnant world looked and operated differently in so many ways and writing that part was a fun challenge, but in so many other ways—especially in the ways in which we love and hate each other—it was still very much the same. Some things are timeless.

This August the last of The Remnant Chronicles, The Beauty of Darkness, releases. How does it feel to be saying goodbye to this series (*sniff*)?
It is hard to say goodbye.  I’m still not sure I have.  A few characters keep whirling in my head, voices, snips of dialogue, story beginnings.  Just because you write “the end” it doesn’t mean that a world vanishes overnight or the gears in your brain stop turning.

On the other hand, it is enormously satisfying to see the stories come to completion, the full arc realized. Even when you think you know how a story will end, you are never entirely certain it is all going to come together how you hoped, not so much from a plot standpoint but from an emotional point of view. And of course I was juggling three main characters arcs—not just one. It was a challenge but I was happy with the outcome for each of the characters. It felt true and complete, and typing “The End” was satisfying, even if it was bittersweet to say goodbye.

Did the story and characters go as you had planned or did they surprise you as you wrote?
Oh, there were always surprises. Secondary characters came on the scene who threw me curve balls. In the last book, both the Komizar and Aster grew into much more full-bodied characters than I expected. Aster hadn’t even been planned. She first appeared in my head when she dropped boots off at Lia’s doorstep. I had no idea she would steal my heart. That is what I love about writing. If I had every detail planned it would feel robotic. The world and the characters have to inject their own life into the story, and I follow their leads.

In The Beauty of Darkness there were some surprises too—a character who appeared in the first book, Natiya, returned, and I saw a young Lia in the making. It was interesting for me to see Natiya’s transformation. Her experiences had made her stubborn and fierce which we got a glimpse of in the first book. It exasperated Lia to deal with someone so much like herself.

Also, the demise of a certain character, and the way this character died had not been planned, but it almost fell into my lap as the most perfect way for this person to die. (Yes, I revel in certain deaths. Scary, huh?)

And finally, in The Heart of Betrayal, Aster stole a book from the piles in the caverns. In The Beauty of Darkness, I had to find a “description” for this book and I brainstormed tons of them with both my editor and agent and it seemed nothing was quite right and finally one came to mind that was not only perfect for the story, but perfect for Aster too.

So some surprises are always part of the writing process, even when you think you know the direction you are going and how everything will play out.

What do you have coming next?
Ideas are simmering. A few have taken hold. I’m waiting to see which one rises to the top and wins my undying attention.

Are you as excited as I am about The Beauty of Darkness? It releases NEXT MONTH. I can’t wait.

Check out these other posts I’ve done about this series

Giveaway

To enter to win these two prizes you just need to join the read along and fill out the rafflecopter from below! (FYI, these won’t be the only prizes we’ll be giving away. There will be great prizes up for grabs during the twitter chats and for the Instagram challenges, so make sure to participate in those to get a chance to win some other goodies!)

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Meet the Newbies- S. Jae-Jones Author of Wintersong

Meet the Newbies

Meet the Newbies is hosted by Rachel from A Perfection Called Books and is a way to get to know the latest debut authors and get a glimpse of their books. Check out all the authors and blog on the tour here.

From the moment I heard about Wintersong my heart skipped a beat and I knew I must, MUST, read this book as soon as humanely possible. It pulls from so much I love (Labyrinth, David Bowie as inspiration? SOLD). Sometimes, we run across a book summary it is so ‘us’ we feel completely connected having never read a word. That’s me and this book. I was HONORED when asked if I wanted to host the author, S Jae-Jones.

Author Most Likely to do a Dance, Magic, Dance
Nickname: The Great Miss JJ
First Day of School: February 7, 2017
Homeroom: Thomas Dunne
Grade: Gothic Fairytale
Extracurricular Activities: Piano, visual arts, fencing, jumping out of perfectly good airplanes, dressing up for movie premieres, obsessing over fictional characters
Favorite Class: English
Favorite Quote/Motto: “Luminous beings are we, not this crude matter.” -Yoda, The Empire Strikes Back

About the Author

13414088S. Jae-Jones, called JJ, is a voracious and indiscriminate reader, an avid traveller, and something of an adrenaline junkie.

Born and raised in sunny Los Angeles, she lived in New York City for ten years before relocating down to Dixie, where she is comfortably growing fat on grits and barbecue. When not writing, she can be found rock-climbing, skydiving, taking photographs, drawing pictures, and dragging her dog on ridiculously long hikes.

Social Media Links: Website | Blog | Twitter | Instagram | Pinterest | GR

About the Book

24763621Beware the goblin men and the wares they sell.

All her life, nineteen-year-old Liesl has heard tales of the beautiful, mysterious Goblin King. He is the Lord of Mischief, the Ruler Underground, and the muse around which her music is composed. Yet, as Liesl helps shoulder the burden of running her family’s inn, her dreams of composition and childish fancies about the Goblin King must be set aside in favor of more practical concerns.

But when her sister Käthe is taken by the goblins, Liesl journeys to their realm to rescue her sister and return her to the world above. The Goblin King agrees to let Käthe go—for a price. The life of a maiden must be given to the land, in accordance with the old laws. A life for a life, he says. Without sacrifice, nothing good can grow. Without death, there can be no rebirth. In exchange for her sister’s freedom, Liesl offers her hand in marriage to the Goblin King. He accepts.

Down in the Underground, Liesl discovers that the Goblin King still inspires her—musically, physically, emotionally. Yet even as her talent blossoms, Liesl’s life is slowly fading away, the price she paid for becoming the Goblin King’s bride. As the two of them grow closer, they must learn just what it is they are each willing to sacrifice: her life, her music, or the end of the world.

Book Buy Links: Amazon | B&N | Goodreads

Interview

The most obvious question and thus I must ask it, why the Goblin King? How much of the movie Labyrinth can we expect?
Why not the Goblin King? :) To be honest, I don’t really have an answer for that, or at least not a straight one. Labyrinth obviously had a huge effect on me as a little girl (my name is Sarah, after all), but when I watch it as an adult, some of its storytelling flaws come through. Part of me wanted to fix some of the thematic dissonance and logic problems of the movie, but writing WINTERSONG wasn’t as conscious as that. I like Underworld stories, I love the trope Death and the Maiden, I love Franz Schubert’s Der Erlkoenig, I love David Bowie, glitter, and goth things and all of that came together in this book.
As for how much of the movie you can expect to find in the book, well, my editor did make me scrub out a lot of the direct references. :) (And she was right for doing so; we want the book to stand on its own, after all.) However, there are two direct homages to the movie I couldn’t bear to remove. Easter eggs for my readers! Oh, and my Goblin King has mismatched eyes. Just like David Bowie.
I’ve read that your novel was first geared to an adult crowd but has been altered for a younger audience. Can you tell us how that changed the book?
The biggest (and only) change is the editing of the sex scenes. Yes, there are sex scenes. They are still in the book. They are still on the page. (When I was drafting WINTERSONG, my joke title was 50 Shades of Labyrinth.) But YA and adult sex scenes are treated differently and my editor and I worked to edit them to make them appropriate for a teen audience. Other than that, there has been no actual substantive change. In fact, I initially queried WINTERSONG as YA, but yanno, adult content. :)
From the summary and your website I can see that Mozart has a large influence on your work. Are you a musician? What about him and his music captivate you?
I am a musician insofar as I’ve been trained in music since I was very little. I do love music of all kinds: classical, pop, rock, country, hip-hop, etc. One of my earliest memories is sitting at my family’s old Yamaha upright piano, my feet dangling off the bench, picking out how to play Yankee Doodle by ear with just the black keys. I asked my parents for piano lessons when I was three; they told me to wait until I was four. I am a musician insofar as I am someone who can play a vast array of instruments competently (many self-taught), but without any true genius. In other words, I am just musical enough to love it fiercely, but not enough to be anything but passable.
As for Mozart…why does anyone connect to a musician? Why do I love Mozart? Why do I love David Bowie or Marc Bolan or Lady Gaga or Yeezy or the Dixie Chicks? My exposure to Mozart did come at a young, impressionable age; my mother loves his work, so I grew up listening to him the way other children grow up listening to Bob Dylan. But if you were to ask me what I connect to in Mozart’s SOUND, that ineffable quality that is uniquely his, I suppose you could say his transcendence. There’s a clarity and sprightliness to his voice (even in his unfinished Requiem) that’s almost magical.
On a personal level, I find him as a historical person very interesting. He was a child prodigy who grew up to be an adult genius, only to have that genius cut tragically short at the age of 35. But I also love that he was a genius who also liked to make fart jokes and write ditties for his friends called “Lick me in the ass.” (Yes, it’s true!)
As a reader I always hope to deeply connect to one or more characters while reading- as a writer did you find yourself connecting deeper to one of your characters? If so, which and why?
This is tricky for me to answer because all my characters are in some part me. I suppose it’s almost easier to answer which character I aspire to be. Well, maybe aspire isn’t the best word, but there’s a goblin in my book named Thistle, and her contrary, spiteful, spiky personality was really fun to write.
With your book being scheduled to release in early 2017 what part of this journey has been the most surprising?
To be honest, it’s hard to surprise me, mostly because my previous career was as a YA editor in a Big 5 publishing house. I’ve more or less seen it all. :)
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Giveaway

1 Pre-Order or Finished Copy of Any Debut Novel Featured on Meet the Newbies
International (as long as The Book Depository ships to your country)
a Rafflecopter giveaway

Meet the Newbies- Heidi Heilig Author of The Girl From Everywhere+ Giveaway

Meet the Newbies

Meet the Newbies is hosted by Rachel from A Perfection Called Books and is a way to get to know the latest debut authors and get a glimpse of their books. Check out all the authors and blog on the tour here.

Today I’m featuring the wonderfully talented and kind Heidi Heilig. I was blown away with her original take on time travel and how beautifully she wove mythology into her story.

Author Most Likely to Lose Her Voice/Mind at a Book Conference

Nickname: Maddog (this is true.)

First Day of School: February 16, 2016

Homeroom: Greenwillow/HarperCollins

Grade: Historical Fantasy

Extracurricular Activities: Cheerleader for The Sweet Sixteens, Captain of the Internet Debate Team

Favorite Class: Alternate History

Favorite Quote/Motto: The world will be better for this/That one man, scorned and covered with scars/Still strove, with his last ounce of courage/To reach the unreachable stars.

About the Author

8167946Heidi grew up in Hawaii where she rode horses and raised peacocks, and then she moved to New York City and grew up even more, as one tends to do. Her favorite thing, outside of writing, is travel, and she has haggled for rugs in Morocco, hiked the trails of the Ko’olau Valley, and huddled in a tent in Africa while lions roared in the dark.

She holds an MFA from New York University in Musical Theatre Writing, of all things, and she’s written books and lyrics for shows including The Time Travelers Convention, Under Construction, and The Hole. She lives in Brooklyn with her husband and their pet snake, whose wings will likely grow in any day now.

Social Media Links: Website | Blog | Twitter | FB | Instagram | Pinterest | GR

The  Book

21979832Nix has spent her entire life aboard her father’s ship, sailing across the centuries, across the world, across myth and imagination.

As long as her father has a map for it, he can sail to any time, any place, real or imagined: nineteenth-century China, the land from One Thousand and One Nights, a mythic version of Africa. Along the way they have found crewmates and friends, and even a disarming thief who could come to mean much more to Nix.

But the end to it all looms closer every day.

Her father is obsessed with obtaining the one map, 1868 Honolulu, that could take him back to his lost love, Nix’s mother. Even though getting it—and going there—could erase Nix’s very existence.

For the first time, Nix is entering unknown waters.

She could find herself, find her family, find her own fantastical ability, her own epic love.

Or she could disappear.

Book Buy Links: Amazon | B&N | iBooks | Goodreads

The Interview

Your debut novel, The Girl From Everywhere, was beautifully executed, written and so original. It was obvious to me while reading that you dedicated a good amount of time researching mythological creatures, settings, and time periods. What were some of your favorite things you stumbled upon while gaining knowledge for this book?
Research is truly one of my favorite things, and as is always the case, so much of what I learned didn’t make it into the final draft. I spent a lot of time actually setting up hypothetical trade routes between eras and maps–things like going to Lerna to collect hydra’s blood, which is a deadly poison, as well as the blood of Pontus ducks which is a mythical antidote to poison, and selling both in 17th century France where there was a rash of political poisonings.

Something else I got to really dive into was sailor and pirate lore, especially surrounding women. I loved learning that while women were sometimes considered bad luck aboard, they were also often thought of as being the greatest navigators. And I got to read a lot about famous female pirates like Ching Shih and Grace O’Malley.

I’ve read my fair share of novels that included time travel but never have I read one with a similar method as you’ve created. How did the idea of your travelers only being able to use original maps to venture through time (and only once) come to you?
I’ve always loved old maps, both because the edges are populated with sea monsters, and because I’m obsessed with the idea that an incautious sailor could go too far and sail off the edge of the world. That was what prompted the idea of travel via map–the idea that the world ended at the neatlines. The limitation of only being able to use a map once both prevents potential paradoxes and also imposes an additional challenge on the characters, which makes for better drama.

Obvious question but I have to ask- if you could-where and when would you time travel?
Oh there are so many placed I’d go! My answer changes almost every time i’m asked, but recently I’ve become fascinated by the colonial era China, with the high stakes political and social issues of the opium wars. Plus I love old photographs of Chinese people in Victorian era outfits.

I really felt that one of the strongest features in this book was the character relationships especially between Nix and her father. When writing do you tend to have a favorite character yourself? If so, does it make that character harder or easier to write?
The relationship between Nix and her father, Slate, was definitely the most familiar relationship to me, because it’s reminiscent of my own internal struggle with regrets and bipolar and self-destruction. The fact that it was so close to heart did make it tougher to write. By contrast, Kashmir is my absolute favorite character, and he came fairly easily to the page.

Can you give us any hints as to what’s coming in the follow-up and conclusion to the series?
The second (and final) book of this duology is currently in my editor’s hands, and while I don’t want to spoil anything, I can tell you that it concerns a dire fortune for Nix, an infamous liar from history, and a mythical kingdom doomed to sink into the sea.

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Giveaway

1 Pre-Order or Finished Copy of Any Debut Novel Featured on Meet the Newbies
International (as long as The Book Depository ships to your country)
a Rafflecopter giveaway