Good morning, Lovers.
It’s time once again for another round of 20 Questions! Today’s guest is fellow Carolina Girl Melissa Turner Lee, author of YA paranormal romance The Earth Painter. For you southern chickies out there, if you’ve been in upstate South Carolina lately, you’ll recognize the setting!
Come on in, check out the book, and see what Melissa has to say! Oh, and don’t forget click on the gift basket picture to register for her big giveaway!
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Melissa Turner Lee holds a BA in Communications with a concentration in Journalism from the University of South Carolina. She has studied fiction writing since 2008, attending various writing conferences and workshops, along with guidance from professional writing coaches. She resides in Spartanburg, SC with her husband and 3 sons.
20 Questions with Melissa Turner Lee
SK: Tell us a bit about yourself:
MTL: I am a wife to my high school sweetheart and soul mate. I’m also a mother of 3 boys ages 9, 7, and 5. They are wonderful individually. Together they become something loud and destructive. I’ve been making up stories for as long as I can remember.
SK: How long have you been writing?
MTL: I started in 2008.
SK: What made you want to write?
MTL: I know a lot of people hate the books, but Twilight is what got me writing. I was sleep deprived and worn out with 2 preschoolers and a new baby. My husband took the kids for the day and sent me off for alone time. I tried to think of what I liked to do alone and remembered that I used to read. I went to Barnes and Nobles, got a tall frozen coffee (It was summer and I was sleep deprived) and I started reading Twilight. I suddenly remembered that I used to be 17 noticing that boy, wondering if he was noticing me. I remembered falling in love and having dreams. I remembered that I used to want to be a writer. The biggest thing I remembered that day was me. I wasn’t just a wife and a mom, I was still that girl and I needed to be cared for too. It was a magical discovery. Then I found out Stephenie Meyer was a mom of 3 little boys too and I knew I could still follow my dreams.
SK: Favorite author?
MTL: Too many.
SK: Favorite book?
MTL: Gone With The Wind
SK: Favorite movie?
MTL: A&E version of Pride and Prejudice with Colin Firth.
SK: Favorite song?
MTL: Iris by the Goo Goo Dolls
SK: Best daydream ever?
MTL: I was putting away clothes in my boys’ room when I suddenly had a vision of a girl meeting a strange boy in the high school auditorium. She discovers there is a battle between good and evil and she suddenly becomes a part of it. That was the start of my book The Earth Painter.
SK: What’s worse for you: a bad amazon review, or a bad review from a fellow author?
MTL: I can’t say that I like getting either, but I try to take both in stride. Authors read like writers and you can tell when a writer reviews your book because it is full of writer jargon and a list of the rules you broke. Readers, it’s more about did they like it or connect. And that doesn’t happen with every book a person reads. So, my writing may not be for them. I do try to learn from both.
SK: When choosing reading material, what factors are important to you?
MTL: I’m a character driven writer and reader so if it is a book I will want to re-read, the characters have to be deep and interesting. If it is a plot heavy book, I will probably only read it once. I can get into both, but a book with great characters and not a straight line plot, I can still love it.
SK: Tell us about your most recent work and where we can get it:
MTL: Armored Hearts is a book I wrote with Pauline Creeden. It is a little more plot driven and fun than my other stories. Nothing too deep but I think it will be a great beach read for the summer. I is a fantasy steampunk about a man named Gareth, a future lord with a disability and a secret ability. I sorta consider it a, what if Mr. Darcy was in a steampunk fairy tale?
SK: Of your backlist/coming soon agenda, what’s your favorite story? Why?
MTL: I’m writing a book called Forever Layla I hope to have out this summer. It is set in the 90s and is like Nicholas Sparks meets fantasy minus the depressing ending. It is more romantic and less plot driven than Armored Hearts so it will appeal to a different set of readers.
SK: How many genres do you write in?
MTL: 2 Paranormal Romance and Christian Paranormal Romance
SK: Which is your favorite?
MTL: I love them both. One market is a bit more welcoming than the other when it comes to Paranormal Romance.
SK: Are you self-published or do you use a publishing house?
MTL: I was self and that was hard.
SK: Which ones?
MTL: I’m now with AltWit Press and love it.
SK: Any advantage/disadvantages of either you’d like to tell us about?
MTL: I have better covers, editing and beta readers to help step up my game. I love Pauline Creeden who owns AltWit and co-wrote Armored Hearts with me.
SK: Your inspiration – is it from your imagination or from personal experience?
SK: If given the opportunity to meet one of your characters in real life, which would it be and why?
MTL: Khai-Ree-Hloa-Theo. He was just so much fun to write.
SK: Give us your opinion: Editors – are they friends or enemies?
MTL: A good one who gets you and wants to preserve your voice, friend. A bad one with an agenda in what they want to get across, enemy.
SK: Plotter of Pantser? Is there an advantage to either?
MTL: I used to say I was a Pantser and that is true but I am also a Plotter, only I do it in my head and not on paper. I think about the start of the book, the end and major plot points along the way and when I have those, I sit down to write. Then the Pantser part starts and I discover new things as I actually write it.
SK: How do you go about researching your stories?
MTL: Internet searches mostly. I had to look up how titles and such worked in England for Armored Hearts. The only lord we have in America is the Good Lord.
SK: What comes first, the plot, the characters, or the setting?
MTL: Usually the characters and they tell me about themselves and what is going on.
SK: Who is in control when you write, you or your characters?
MTL: The characters but I can put my foot down when needed.
SK: When you write, is it with or without visual/audio stimulation (tv, music, etc.)?
MTL: I often listen to music before but I have to write in quiet.
SK: If you were told you could never write again, what would you do to fill your time?
MTL: I would cry and eat chocolate and then cry some more.
SK: Best monster ever: vampire, werewolf, or zombie?
MTL: Vampires. They are usually hot, rich and have super powers. Werewolves wouldn’t work for me. I’m not a dog person and zombies, well if I don’t want to deal with fur falling all over the house I certainly don’t want to deal with rotting flesh on the sofa.
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About The Earth Painter
When a self-conscious young woman discovers the boy in drama class is actually the immortal who painted the world into being, she becomes the target of another painter who hates humanity.
The Earth Painter is a Young Adult Supernatural Romance set in the small mill town of Chesnee, SC. It revolves around Holly Scruggs, whose family has just moved back to Chesnee after her dad lost his job along with pretty much everything they owned. Her image conscious parents correct her to the point of brokenness until she meets Theo. He is the artist responsible for all the beauty of the land and he thinks Holly is beautiful, too. Together they will fight against Fritz, the water painter, who hates humans and is hiding a secret under the high school.