Advice & Giveaway with Holly Schindler

Please welcome guest blogger Holly Schindler today! 

What is your best advice for fellow writers?

For writers just starting out, I’d suggest you write every day. I know not all professional writers do. Some actually feel stymied by the pressure of putting something down on paper every single day, or meeting specific word count goals. But when you’re starting out, you don’t really know for sure what works for you. And because you’re also still trying to figure out who you are as a writer, the more time you get with your computer (or spiral notebook, etc.), the better off you are. Writing is like playing a sport or an instrument—the more you do it, the better you get at it. It takes practice.

For those who have gotten their toe in the door of the industry, my advice is the same I’m trying to heed myself right now: stay true to yourself. It’s pretty easy to do when you haven’t sold anything and it’s just you and your pages. But then you sell some work, and you get all these industry pros telling you who you are (and aren’t)…It gets hard to weed out the productive voices from those who are leading you down a path you shouldn’t necessarily take.  Remember who you are. Stick to it. Don’t let anyone else convince you otherwise.

What popular writing advice do you never follow?
“Write what you know.” Bah! If I only wrote about the places and things I was an expert in, those would be seriously dull books. I’d write about the same things over and over again…
Over the last few years, I’ve also noticed these sort of panicky rumors floating online among would-be published authors. Most of them are reasons why your work isn’t getting accepted: you’re adding two spaces at the end of your periods instead of one; you’re saving your work as a .docx file instead of .doc file. It’s just silly. If an agent or editor has trouble opening a file, they’ll ask you to resend. They don’t immediately reject it while laughing maniacally. 

Be you. Write good stuff. YOUR stuff. Your work will find the appropriate home.

Where do you do most of your writing?
I really love to work outside—either with my laptop on my back deck, or under a tree with my Alphasmart and my dog. But I live in Missouri, so this is really a weather-permitting kind of thing.  Through the hot and cold seasons, I spend quite a bit of time in my office. But staring at the same four walls can get really tiresome, so I also wind up moving throughout the house for a change of scenery.  Sometimes I find I can write to the TV, but often, it’s just too distracting. Most times, my dog Jake and I are working in some corner without any outside noise to bug us.

What’s the best book you’ve read lately on the craft of writing?
WIRED FOR STORY by Lisa Cron. Loved it so much I wrote a thank-you letter to the author. 

What’s the best book you’ve read for fun?
Usually it’s the last book I read. I got in the habit, when I was starting out, of picking out the one good thing I thought each author had to offer. Maybe it was good dialogue, or great scenic writing, or poetic phrases. And I’d think about how I could implement some of those things in my own work, in my own way. I still find myself doing that. Each book I read then becomes a way for me to become a better writer. And that always adds a new dimension of fun to reading…

FERAL jacket copy:

The Lovely Bones meets Black Swan in this haunting psychological thriller with twists and turns that will make you question everything you think you know.

It’s too late for you. You’re dead. Those words continue to haunt Claire Cain months after she barely survived a brutal beating in Chicago. So when her father is offered a job in another state, Claire is hopeful that getting out will offer her a way to start anew.

But when she arrives in Peculiar, Missouri, Claire feels an overwhelming sense of danger, and her fears are confirmed when she discovers the body of a popular high school student in the icy woods behind the school, surrounded by the town’s feral cats. While everyone is quick to say it was an accident, Claire knows there’s more to it, and vows to learn the truth about what happened.

But the closer she gets to uncovering the mystery, the closer she also gets to realizing a frightening reality about herself and the damage she truly sustained in that Chicago alley….

Holly Schindler’s gripping story is filled with heart-stopping twists and turns that will keep readers guessing until the very last page.

FERAL falls squarely into the realm of the classic psychological thriller.  While the book features mystery, horror, and paranormal elements, the emphasis is on the “psychological” rather than thriller / action.  The novel features a Hitchcockian pace and focus on character development (here, we’re exploring the inner workings of the main character, Claire Cain). 
Essentially, every aspect of FERAL is used to explore Claire’s inner workings—that even includes the wintry Ozarks setting.  The water metaphor is employed frequently in psychological thrillers to represent the subconscious, and in this instance is incorporated in the form of a brutal ice storm (that represents Claire’s “frozen” inner state).  The attempt to untangle what is real from what is unreal (another frequently-used aspect of the psychological thriller) also begins to highlight the extent to which Claire was hurt in that Chicago alley.  Even the explanation of the odd occurrences in the town of Peculiar offers an exploration into and portrait of Claire’s psyche. 
Ultimately, FERAL is a book about recovering from violence—that’s not just a lengthy or hard process; it’s a terrifying process, too.  The classic psychological thriller allowed me to explore that frightening process in detail. 
Holly Schindler Bio:
Holly Schindler is the author of the critically acclaimed A BLUE SO DARK (Booklist starred review, ForeWord Reviews Book of the Year silver medal recipient, IPPY Awards gold medal recipient) as well as PLAYING HURT (both YAs). 
Her debut MG, THE JUNCTION OF SUNSHINE AND LUCKY, also released in ’14, and became a favorite of teachers and librarians, who used the book as a read-aloud.  Kirkus Reviews called THE JUNCTION “…a heartwarming and uplifting story…[that] shines…with vibrant themes of community, self-empowerment and artistic vision delivered with a satisfying verve.” 
FERAL is Schindler’s third YA and first psychological thriller.  Publishers Weekly gave FERAL a starred review, stating, “Opening with back-to-back scenes of exquisitely imagined yet very real horror, Schindler’s third YA novel hearkens to the uncompromising demands of her debut, A BLUE SO DARK…This time, the focus is on women’s voices and the consequences they suffer for speaking…This is a story about reclaiming and healing, a process that is scary, imperfect, and carries no guarantees.”
Schindler encourages readers to get in touch.  Booksellers, librarians, and teachers can also contact her directly regarding Skype visits.  She can be reached at hollyschindlerbooks (at) gmail (dot) com, and can also be found at,, @holly_schindler,, and

Please leave a comment to win a copy of Feral by Holly Schindler! Anywhere in the world!!!

Advice & Giveaway with Kristina Springer

It’s here, it’s here! I’ve been waiting for Kristina Springer’s My Fake Boyfriend Is Better Than Yours for a long time. I’m sure you’d like it too. Leave a comment & you might win a copy! 

What’s your best advice for fellow writers?
Don’t get discouraged and don’t quit. If you’re persistent and always believe in yourself you’ll eventually get there.
What popular writing advice do you never follow?
Write every day, write anything it doesn’t matter just as long as you’re writing. I have 4 kids with busy schedules so any time I have to write I’m working on a book. I don’t just “write anything.”
Where do you do most of your writing? 
Home or coffee shops.

What’s the best book you’ve read lately on the craft of writing? 

I just started Save the Cat by Blake Snyder. It’s been recommended to me so many times as THE best book for plotting so I had to get it.

Find out more about Kristina Springer at  Adorable website, by the way.

To win a copy of My Fake Boyfriend Is Better Than Yours leave a comment!