#OWSCyCon2019 Author Spotlight
As part of the build-up to OWSCyCon2019, I want to introduce you to some of the amazing volunteers and authors taking part in the event. If it wasn’t for the volunteers, there could be no CyCon, and I’m grateful to every single one of them for giving up their time to make this happen. But by the same token, without the authors taking part in the event, we wouldn’t be able to bring you the amazing events that we have planned. So without further delay…
Meet Kristin Ward
Kristin Ward has loved writing since middle school but took thirty years to do something serious about it. The result is her Best Indie Book Award-winning novel, After the Green Withered, followed by the sequel, Burden of Truth. She lives in a small town in Connecticut with her husband, three sons, and many furry and feathered friends. A SciFi geek to the core, she is fueled by dark chocolate and coffee and can be heard quoting eighties movies on a regular basis.
What Genres Do You Write In?
Why Don't You Start By Sharing A Little About Yourself
I’ve been writing since middle school. My seventh grade English teacher was my conduit to the world of poetry and narratives. It was in her class that I truly began to appreciate the written word and writing craft. One assignment was the true catalyst to any internal belief I had regarding an inherent writing ability. I had composed an essay based upon the theme of a narrative we were studying. The feedback I received compared my writing to the author of the story and that was it! My teacher had engendered a positive self-fulfilling prophecy and I ran with it. From that point on, I truly began to think deeply about my writing.
As an adult, I spent many years dabbling in writing, but early on these were more curricular. My first published piece of writing was actually curriculum for a zoo exhibit. Throughout that venture, I completed a great deal of research on the animals and ecosystems within the exhibit itself. As an animal lover, this was right up my alley!
I was inspired to write After the Green Withered and the sequel, Burden of Truth, while completing research for a graduate course I wrote in environmental education. As I studied and composed the course, an idea began to germinate:
What if there was a global drought due to the impact humans have had on the planet?
Could you tell us a bit about your latest book?
The premise of my debut novel, After the Green Withered, came about while I was conducting research for a graduate course I wrote in environmental education. As I researched earth’s history, the seedling of an idea took root. I wondered what the world would look like if drought encompassed the planet and water became the global currency. How would mankind adapt to the myriad of changes that disaster would perpetuate? What would it mean for the face of our country? What would life look like for a generation born in the aftermath?
The story of Enora begins following the prologue, an essential part of the book as it lays the foundation for the society my main character lives in. She is a young woman on the cusp of adulthood, wrestling with the limited choices available in her rigidly managed community. When Enora is thrust into a role within the entity that controls everything, from water credits to borders, Enora is faced with startling realities that force her to confront who she is and what she ultimately stands for.
Who is your intended readership?
I have a wide-ranging readership due to the nature of lovers of young adult fiction. While the genre implies a younger reader, many lovers of YA are 20-40 years in age. So, I write for a broad audience of people who enjoy dystopian fiction.
When did you realize you wanted to be a writer?
When my 7th grade English teacher likened my writing to Saki, the author of The Interlopers, I was hooked. That defining moment began my foray into mad scribblings of terrible poetry and story starters galore. From that point onward, writing has been a passion though not a profession.
Do you have a favorite author, or writing inspiration?
Aside from my wonderful English teacher who inspired me many, many years ago, I am heavily influenced by what I read.
Dystopian books that inspired me:
It all began when I read The Giver. The world Lois Lowry created had a lot of elements that are reflective of a society under intense control where our very nature as human beings is suppressed. The book reached so many emotional levels. I really enjoyed The Handmaid’s Tale which I reread recently as I had every intention of watching the miniseries. I have yet to watch it but it’s on my list. I also enjoyed The Hunger Games books and feel that Suzanne Collins touched on some powerful societal issues.
What advice would you give beginning writers?
It’s tough to narrow my advice down to one thing, so I’m going to offer two suggestions: Editor and Social Media.
Before you self-publish your book(if that is the route you’re taking)
Hire an editor! Everyone needs one. I love my editor, David Taylor of thEditors.com. He’s helped me develop my first drafts into something wonderful through his expertise and understanding of the story I want to tell.
Whether you’re indie or not, get on multiple social media platforms to connect with readers and establish yourself as an author. Create a website and begin blogging. This was actually my first step. I started my blog and worked to establish a reader base for my blog and newsletter. It’s a great way to connect with readers and is a good platform to practice your writing chops! Get on social media, especially Facebook and Twitter! Twitter is a huge platform for authors, agents, and publishers. On Facebook, you’ll find author groups that will enable you to connect and support each other. This will also help with marketing.
Do you have any amusing writing stories or anecdotes to share?
To truly understand the author behind the book, I encourage readers to visit my blog. Let me just say that my website is writingandmythreesons.com for a reason. I have three boys. Yep, ‘nough said.
Here’s a a bog that reflects my life behind the pages…
Wait…Why did I walk into this room?
I entered the kitchen this morning with a purpose. My stride was sure and posture was good. It was deliberate. There was intent. But, for the life of me, I couldn’t recall why I was there. Standing in the middle of the kitchen, I spun in a slow circle, desperately hoping that something my eye fell upon would rekindle my suddenly failing memory.
Five minutes later…I’ve got nothing.
Did I need more coffee? No. Well, yes. I mean another cup is always a good decision. And yet, as I poured it, I felt that this was most decidedly NOT the reason I came into the kitchen.
Was I hungry? *Shrug* Meh.
Could there have been some dinner plan I was going to prep and put in the slow cooker? LOL…that’s funny!
I was completely bumfuzzled! (Yes, that’s a legit term. Seriously. Look it up. It’s a real word)
Eventually I left the kitchen, none the wiser as to why I had entered it.
I would like to report that this morning’s phenomenon is a rare experience. Sadly, I would be lying if I said that, not that you would know the difference. But I do try to be honest, expect when I don’t feel like it. Or when I pull something out of my ass* at a moment’s notice that may or may be based in reality but sounds like I really know what I’m blathering about (for more on that subject, see my blog on the Art of B.S.). *Not literally because…ew.
It seems that as I get older, these moments of premature senility are increasing. Or maybe it’s just that my multitasking ninja skills are in a decline. Did you know that research shows women are better at multitasking than men? It’s true. There’s an article. I swear. I’m just clearly not one of the best examples.
Anyway, I have found that the best way to deal with the ‘why did I walk into this room?’ syndrome is to follow these guidelines:
There are other individuals in the room, or in the vicinity, who may or may not be watching you.
Complete an unobtrusive scan of the room to try to jog your memory (yeah, good luck with that) and then go into the fridge as though that was your destination in the first place. *Be sure to select something that you can easily eat or drink that won’t result in the begging of younglings or the need to cook.
You are alone in the house. I know. The likelihood of this scenario is so miniscule that it’s laughable.
Scan the room while walking through it to attempt the memory jog – this is more successful when muttering. Go over what you were just doing aloud. Chastise yourself for forgetting. Ask the dogs why the hell you walked in here. Ask the bird, too. When you’ve wasted all the time you’re willing to give, stalk to the pantry and grab a cookie or piece of chocolate (Research shows that baked goods and chocolate aid in the memory functions of your brain. Yes, that’s true. Yes, I’m lying. However, it’ll make you feel better so grab a second helping).
If you follow these suggestions, you probably won’t recall why you walked into the room. But at least you won’t A) look like you’re having a senior moment and B) you’ll have a cookie to console you.
And, no. I never recalled why I entered the kitchen. It’s going to remain an enigma. Maybe it could be the basis of an Unsolved Mysteries episode. Wait, do they still make those?
EDITORS NOTE: In my house we call this ‘Hereafter Syndrome’, as in “I know I came in here for something, but what was I here after?”
What do you like to do when you're not writing? Any hobbies?
I’m a bit of a movie nut and I quote movies. A lot. My favorite movie to quotes come from The Princess Bride. If you were to come to my house and utter the phrase, “No more rhyming now, I mean it!” There would be a chorus of, “Anybody want a peanut?” Yep, from The Breakfast Club to The Karate Kid, my movie favorites come out in numerous quotes and references.
I also enjoy knitting, though my talent is incredibly juvenile! Walks in the woods are a favorite pastime, especially if my family is on a trip to our favorite destination in Vermont.
What’s your next project? Any upcoming book secrets you care to reveal?
There are many stories swirling around in the miasma of my brain. But I am focused on one of those ideas for my next book. I am currently writing a YA scifi-fantasy titled Rise of Gaia. Interestingly, this book had gone through a series of iterations in its initial inception as I developed the story concepts. I recently revealed the cover. This was an intense process with a designer who worked incredibly hard to bring my vision to fruition. Rise of Gaia is coming out this year!
Here’s a blurb to get you acquainted with the premise:
Beneath rock and soil, trees and oceans, she lies.
Under concrete jungles and poisoned rivers, she slumbers.
She is Mother Earth.
And mankind has turned its back on its mother.
The visions begin on Terran’s seventeenth birthday. Horrifying images pummel her brain, while a voice commands her to see beyond the world she thought she knew and into the heart of it. Gaia has awakened, brought to consciousness by the greed of a species that has tainted every aspect of her being in a tide of indifference. With this awareness, comes rage. Gaia calls upon her children to unleash her fury, wreaking vengeance on humanity.
Terran will emerge in a world on the brink of collapse, to face a being whose wrath is beyond imagining.
After the Green Withered
The face of the country changed forever when the rain stopped falling and the green withered. Now water is the global currency and one power controls it all.
Enora Byrnes lives in the aftermath. Her life is dominated by regulations and duty to family and society. After transitioning from student to working member of the community, she becomes part of an entity that controls everything from water credits to borders. But experience is a great teacher, and it becomes clear that not all is as it seems. As Enora delves deeper into the outside world, she will be faced with startling truths and frightening realities. In the end, she must decide how far she will go to retain her humanity.