Interview with Colorado Author Amy Kathleen Ryan!

Colorado is for writersWelcome back to the Colorado is for Writers interview series! Every other Tuesday, I talk to different Colorado-based authors about their work and their connections to this beautiful state. Last time, we kicked things off with Jeannie Mobley, and today I’m thrilled to welcome Amy Kathleen Ryan to the blog!

Amy is the author of several young adult novels, including  ZEN AND XANDER UNDONEVIBES, and the Sky Chasers Trilogy (more on that series in a bit). Her books have received multiple starred reviews and appeared on more than one best-of list. Let’s get to know Amy!

Amy Kathleen RyanFirst things first: Colorado native or transplant?

Transplant, from Wyoming via New York City. I grew up in Jackson Hole, just south of Yellowstone National Park, and it was the perfect place to be a kid, but the town started to feel very small to me, and I decided I wanted to see other parts of the country. After college, I lived in Vermont for six years where I went to graduate school for an MA in English Literature, then I went on for an MFA in creative writing in New York City. I met all kinds of different people in New York, and I met my husband there too. He’s a born and bred New Yorker, but I somehow convinced him to come out west with me. I wanted to be near my family again, and Colorado seemed the right mix for us, with the mountains nearby, but lots of technical jobs for him. It’s been a great choice for us.

Book One in the Sky Chasers Trilogy

Book One in the Sky Chasers Trilogy

Please tell us a bit about your book(s), published and/or in progress!

My next book coming out is called FLAME, and it’s the third in my space saga, the Sky Chasers Trilogy. I’m terrible at describing my own books, so here’s the copy my publisher is putting in the catalog:

Waverly and the other members of the Empyrean have been scattered. Their mission to rescue their parents didn’t go quite as planned, and now they’re at an even greater disadvantage: trapped with their enemies on the New Horizon, trying to find a way to survive. Kieran has been pulled under Anne Mather’s wing, but is she actually trying to make peace, or just using Kieran to build her own power? Meanwhile, Waverly is taken in by one of the adults who wants to work with her to bring Anne Mather down—but the more Waverly cooperates with him, the more dangerous her position is, and the more at odds with Kieran she becomes.After setting out from the Empyrean on his own, with only a vague strategy to guide him, Seth is a fugitive aboard the New Horizon. He’s doing what he can to challenge the power of Anne Mather, but is badly hurt, and getting sicker. And all the while, unknown to him, the terrorist Jacob is making plans of his own…

Will Seth ever be able to see Waverly again? Will his health hold out long enough to help her topple their enemy? And will Waverly find a way to unite her friends before they fall? Nothing is sure and every moment is a risk in this explosive finale of the Sky Chasers series.

I wish I had a cover for FLAME to show you, but it hasn’t been finalized yet.

Book Two in the Sky Chasers Trilogy

Book Two in the Sky Chasers Trilogy

What’s the view like from your favorite writing space?

Since I had children, I can’t work at home. It’s too loud and there’s too much to do! So instead I go to various coffee shops where I’m surrounded by people and noise. Somehow all the chaos around me helps me focus inward, and I can get a lot done in the short amount of time I have. I don’t have a favorite place; rather I enjoy the variety of going to different settings, especially now that I’m moonlighting as a housewife, and I don’t get out much otherwise!

What’s the best thing about being a writer in Colorado?

The other writers in Colorado! I was sad when I left New York City, which has such a vibrant literary community. There were always wonderful readings I could go to, but even better, I had made lots of very talented and wonderful friends in New York, and I thought I’d go back to being an isolated writer again when I moved out west again.  I had no idea how many writers there would be in Colorado! I’ve met some absolutely lovely people, and have cultivated some nice friendships with them.

The people here are really great. Thank you so much, Amy! A New York writer transplanting to Colorado and writing in coffee shops–I heartily approve. 🙂

Readers: Have you ever relocated and found yourself to be less isolated in your new community than you expected? Please share your story in the comments!

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And the winner of KATERINA’S WISH is…

PENNY KLOSTERMANN!

Congrats, Penny, and thanks to everyone who commented on last week’s interview of Colorado Book Award-winner Jeannie Mobley. If you haven’t already read Katerina’s Wish, you may want to add it to your to-read list right now. 🙂

The Colorado is for Writers series will be continuing every other Tuesday right here. Make sure to join us next week, when Amy Kathleen Ryan stops by!

Colorado is for writers

Interview with Colorado author Jeannie Mobley!

Colorado is for writersWelcome to the inaugural interview in my new series, Colorado is for Writers! Every other Tuesday, I’ll be talking to different Colorado-based authors about their work and their connections to this beautiful state. And this week we have a giveaway, too! See the end of the post for details.

Now, who better to kick things off than (spoiler alert!) Colorado native—and newly-minted winner of the prestigious Colorado Book AwardJeannie Mobley? Welcome, Jeannie!Author Jeannie Mobley

First things first: Colorado native or transplant?

Native, born and bred. In fact, my mother was also born in Colorado, as were both of her parents, in 1910 and 1912 respectively, so our family has some pretty deep roots here. That doesn’t mean, however, that we are a bunch of homebodies that never get out. We’ve explored pretty much every inch of the state in our summer camping and hiking adventures over the years, as well as traveling around much of the West. It was all that daydreaming in the car, on the trail, or at night under the stars that honed my writer’s imagination as a kid. That’s why Colorado/Western history features prominently in much of my writing.

Katerina's Wish by Jeannie MobleyPlease tell us a bit about your book(s), published and/or in progress!

My first book, KATERINA’S WISH, was published in fall of 2012, and just won the 2013 Colorado Book Award for juvenile fiction! (Which I hope means books for juveniles, rather than being a reflection on my own personality.) It is the story of an immigrant family in the coal mining communities of southern Colorado at the beginning of the 20th century. Trina’s family came to America for a farm, but end up barely scraping by in the coal mines. Then Trina sees a fish that reminds her of a folk tale about a fish that grants wishes. She wishes for her family’s dream of a farm, and lucky things begin to happen. But is it magic, or is something else behind their success? It is the story of one family’s American dream, and the risks they must take to make a dream come true.

Jeannie's teenage grandmother and her friends at the family cabin in Silverplume, Colorado, during prohibition (which, you can see, they weren't exactly in accordance with)

Jeannie’s teenage grandmother and her friends at the family cabin in Silverplume, Colorado, during prohibition (which, you can see, they weren’t exactly in accordance with)

My second book, SEARCHING FOR SILVERHEELS, will be published in fall 2014. It is the story of 13-year-old Pearl Rose Barnell, a romantic girl who waits tables in the Silverheels Café and delights in telling tourists a local legend of the dancehall girl Silverheels. But, as the summer of 1917 heats up, so too does the First World War, along with accusations of un-American behavior and the outrageous fanaticism of a local suffragist, with whom Pearl has taken a potentially dangerous bet.

Beyond those, I have a variety of other projects in the works, ranging from contemporary humor to historical fiction. I seem to get new ideas for stories much faster than I can turn them into books.

What’s the view like from your favorite writing space?

I like to write either outside or where I can see the outside. When the weather is conducive, I write at my picnic table on the back patio. When it is either too hot or too cold for that, I work in the sunroom on the back of my house that looks out onto our back yard. It’s not a big back yard, but the trees and bushes make it feel peaceful and somewhat secluded (even though it really isn’t). And even though my room is called a “sunroom” I love working out here in the winter when the snow is falling outside the windows. Very peaceful.

Jeannie's family setting off on a camp trip, circa 1978. (That's Jeannie and her malamute in the backseat.)

Jeannie’s family setting off on a camping trip, circa 1978 (that’s Jeannie and her malamute in the backseat)

What’s the best thing about being a writer in Colorado?

I love Colorado because of the scenery, the outdoor lifestyle, and because my family and my memories are here. I used to love it for the weather, too, although this year I’m not so sure. I could be a writer anywhere, but at heart, I am a mountain person. Mountains feed my soul better than any other kind of landscape. I listen to the mountains—there are stories in the silences of the high elevations and the old ghost towns. There are places where stopping and doing nothing is very productive. Where the stillness, the vastness, the timelessness bring my senses to hyper-awareness. The Colorado Rockies* awaken a sense of wonder in me that I try to keep at the heart of my writing life. I could work in another environment, but why would I want to?

*This refers to the mountains, not the baseball team. Although the MLB Colorado Rockies also awaken a sense of wonder—as in, I wonder why they can’t ever get a decent bullpen???

Thank you so much, Jeannie! 

Giveaway: Would you like to win a signed copy of KATERINA’S WISH (complete with a shiny gold “Colorado Book Award Winner” sticker on the cover)? Just leave a comment that answers this question: What kind of landscape leaves you with a sense of wonder? The winner will be announced next Tuesday, July 23.

A new interview series: Colorado is for writers!

Ever since I moved here a year and a half ago, I’ve been wondering what, exactly, it is that makes Colorado such a wonderful place to be a writer.Could it be the near-constant sunshine? Is there something in the (mountain-spring-fresh) water or the (clean, not-humid) air? Or is it perhaps the mountain scenery all around that makes me feel like I’m living in a writers’ retreat?

I’m still not sure what the answer is, so I’ve turned to my fellow Colorado writers to help me figure it out.

Coming soon–as in, tomorrow!–I’m starting a new interview series on this blog that highlights the amazing community of kidlit writers we have here in my adopted home state and asks them about their connections to Colorado. I’ve even put my questionable Microsoft Paint skills to use to create a snazzy logo for it. 🙂

Colorado is for writersWe’ll be kicking things off tomorrow with Jeannie Mobley, whose debut novel Katerina’s Wish just won the Colorado Book Award (hooray!). Then the series will continue with a new interview every other Tuesday.

I hope that you’ll stop by!

Advice for writerly types

Hello, friends! It seems to be time for my monthly blog update.

First of all, I have a new post up today at EMU’s Debuts called “Wisdom from the 2013 EMLA Retreat.” The title pretty much says it all: It’s filled with great bits of advice that I picked up from other writers at the recent retreat for clients of Erin Murphy Literary Agency in Montana.

Also, on my Facebook page yesterday, I shared a few tips that have been helping me speed up my drafting. I’m planning to expand this into a blog post soon (I swear!), but if you want to check them out now, you can find them in the comments here.

In ALL FOUR STARS news, I’ve seen a preliminary sketch of the cover, and it’s amazing. I cannot wait until I have the final art to share with you! I’ve also been working on writing acknowledgements and even taking a stab at jacket copy (the summary of the book that goes on the inside flap or back cover), which has been only slightly nerve-wracking.

I’ll leave you now with a few pictures from the EMLA retreat, which was definitely one of the more fun and informative weekends of my writing career.

Lovely ladies of Colorado!Here I am with my Colorado-dwelling buddies Jeannie Mobley and Cindy Strandvold on Ugly Sweater Night. None of us won an ugliest sweater prize (mine was deemed “too cute” by one of the judges–bah!), but Cindy was a finalist for ugliest ensemble!

The EMUs!I finally got to meet a bunch of my fellow bloggers from EMU’s Debuts in person! From the top left, we have Christine Hayes, Kevan Atteberry, Pat Zietlow Miller, Laurie Ann Thompson, and Joshua McCune, then in the front row are Carol Brendler and me.

Tara at the waterfallSome of us took a hike to a local waterfall near Big Sky. I am sporting my new EMLA T-shirt, which I won for having been to the most countries. That round-the-world honeymoon just keeps paying off. 🙂

Hope your July is going well!