Are Ya Looking For the Next Summer Read? Introducing Debut Novelist Teshelle Combs!!!

Tessie, Tess, Tessa, T . . . no matter what you call her, Teshelle Combs is just one huge batch of awesomesauce! She’s a UCF graduate like me (except she wasn’t afraid to take a chance and actually majored in English/Creative Writing), a soul singer with goosebump inducing abilities, a brutally honest Beta reader, a super nanny, and frequent volunteer for all things at our local church.

Now she can add published author at the ripe old age of 24! Add having a baby to the midst of all this, and well, you can see why I named one of my new characters in 18 Truths after her! Not even sure if she knows this, since it’s after page 100 where she left off in Beta reading. She might totally be creeped out now while reading this, but too late! I already got my interview *shakes fist in the air* Haha, sucker! Oh, and you can stalk her too at her new official FB author page!

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Thanks for joining us today, T! Help me introduce you to my 5 fans (heehee, inside joke from last week’s blog). Give us 3 words to describe your personality

T: Happy. Loving. Kind. –I actually just cheated and asked my husband for the answer for this one. Apparently, he likes me or something.

*mutters*Not as much as I like you!

T: What’s that Jaim-O?

Oh, nothing! Nothing at all *coughs* Can you give us a sneak peek into what it’s like to be a debut novelist? Any insights about self-publishing?

T: I am very, very new at authorship. My debut novel, Core, was just released on June 1st. So far, my favorite part is being able to hold it in my hands. That tied with my very first sale. I did my crazyhappy dance for about ten minutes, which is pretty impressive at 7 months pregnant.

Self-publishing –or indie publishing, which is what I call it because it makes feel all cool –is a lot of fun and a lot of work. The fun part is designing everything, choosing exactly what I want to say, setting my own royalty prices, and involving a team of people I love to help me. The hard work part is the marketing, the ordering of three proof copies because you can’t figure out how to set the margins just right, the hiccups that you have to figure out to fix everything all on your own.

I was afraid I wouldn’t feel like a “real” author if I indie published, but honestly, I was wrong. I feel accomplished, like I worked hard for what I have.

You should! The world of publishing is constantly changing, and wise is the author who changes with it!  Tell us about what you write.

T: I write contemporary YA fantasy and sci-fi. Core falls into the fantasy genre. The story is about an emotionally calloused boxer, Ava, who is catapulted into the world of dragons, sirens (nightfolk and werefolk), and danger. She’s chosen to be the rider of an honest, caring red dragon, and life-wrecking mayhem ensues.

Besides boxing, there are a slew of combat scenes, utilizing dragon abilities and swordplay, which makes for action-packed reading. (I like to run these scenes by my brother, who’s great at all things action).

I love bad guys, so I have quite a few villains in my novel, and–rather disturbingly–they are some of my favorite characters. The more twisted, the better.

What else? I also like to travel to places (even if it’s through research and imagination), so my characters start out in Miami, and get to visit Peru and Ireland in this story.

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Oh, I’ve been to Ireland! One of my top 5 moments on my life list! *Shameless plug: If you like life lists, you should check out my debut novel too, 18 Things* Speaking of books, what’s your favorite craft book? Favorite fiction book?

T: My favorite craft book is probably Research in Writing. I love to include interesting facts in my work and before I wrote Core, I probably typed up about 30 pages of research on dragons, Chimbote, Peru, Ireland, sirens, and some other secret little tidbits.

My favorite fiction book? If we’re going fancy-pancy literary, it’d be Beloved by Toni Morrison. But if I’m thinking all-time favorite, changed-my-literary-life, pee-my-pants-it’s-so-good? THE HUNGER GAMES. I love kick-butt female protagonists, I love dystopias, and I love the dryness of it all, the reality woven through the make believe.

I also have a problem peeing my pants while reading books. Started 13 years ago . . . well, you’ll see after you give childbirth! Oh, I see you’re doing the potty dance yourself, so I’ll just ask one closing questions. Tell us anything FUN about yourself, related or unrelated to writing.

T: I have these special powers: my toes can swell to remarkable sizes in just a few minutes. I can smell anything unpleasant, even if it’s miles away. I can go to the bathroom 15 times a day. I can use my belly as a portable reading desk. I’ve evolved past the need to remember anything, even details that would be significant to other people, like what the current month or where we parked the car.

Jealous yet? Well go incubate your own baby! This one’s mine!

Hahaha! You’re a hoot, T! I love you . . . in a completely sisterly way, I promise! *watches T bolt from the room and shrugs*

Well now that it’s just the eight of us (last week proved I have at least 7 fans!), I want to thank you all for your encouraging comments after sharing my pity party publicly. If you missed the blog, you can find it here. My family cheered me up by taking me to Disney. We hit Hollywood Studios the first half of the day for Star Wars weekend, then moved on to Magic Kingdom!

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Also, thanks for giving me some easy questions! Cheryl wanted to know what kind of coffee she should drink. I’m still scratching my head at the fact she’s never drank a cup! If you invest in a Keurig machine,

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which you should because it’ll allow to try hundreds of flavors any time of the day whenever you want within seconds with just the press of a button . . . even though it may cause you to be all hyper and write really long-winded sentences, you could also drink tea and hot chocolate if you end up not liking coffee, but I think you will love it. I have a sweet tooth, so I love the Cape Escapes, especially the caramel. So sweet you don’t even need cream and sugar! When I’m not using the Keurig, I’m slightly less squirrely and like Barnie’s Santa’s White Christmas with some Baileys coffee creamer. But I’m a coffee snob and Barnie’s can be damn hard to find, so Dunkin’ Donuts French Vanilla will also do the trick. I do love Starbucks, but their coffee is rather bold, so you may need to ease yourself into it.

Now for Marisa’s question . . . what movie should she rent? This is sooo easy since Oz the Great and Powerful just released today on DVD! Saw this one in the theatre and it quickly became a family favorite 🙂

What about you guys? Any good picks for coffee virgins? Any other movies we should rent from that big red box? Interested in reading Core? Hope you’ll all join me next Wednesday for the tale of one amazing squirrel–it’s gonna be nuts!!!

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IWSG–Royalty Reports

Buccaneer Blogfest and IWSG

Writing is work. It’s work I’ve happened to greatly enjoy over the past 3 1/2 years, but it’s still work. If writing is work, publishing a book is hard work. Since January, I’ve come to know how much time, energy, blood, sweat, tears, attention, heart, and soul goes into publishing a book.  I’ve had my own limits tested with the publishing of 18 Things, my debut novel.

Since my release, it feels like 90% of my writing career is researching, marketing, promoting, socializing, facebooking, blogging, tweeting, speaking, drinking coffee, ect . . . and about 10% actually writing. So when I got my royalty statement at the beginning of May that stated I’d only sold 16 copies in April, and I actually owed my publisher money (AFTER all that work?!), I’ll admit I felt like throwing in the towel.

So I took a break. You might’ve noticed I haven’t blogged since the last IWSG (or maybe you didn’t, since it seems like I only have like 5 fans, lol). But I didn’t just take a huge break from social media, I took a step away from the shiny object, A.K.A. 18 Truths, my WIP, and debated if I should even finish the trilogy.

I broke the cardinal rule: Write every day. When you’re passionate about writing, following that rule isn’t really an issue. But life can place a lot of demands on us for our time and attention . . . with the end of another school year coming to a close (I’m a teacher by day) and all the culminating activities for my two kids, I’d just lost that loving feeling for all things related to writing this past month.

Now, don’t get me wrong. I didn’t become a writer to make tons of money, just like I didn’t go into teaching with that in mind. I wasn’t wearing any rose-colored lenses, expecting my debut novel to land on the New York Times Best Sellers List. But I did expect to get paid something.

So why even continue doing this? If it’s money I want, I can easily get a part-time job this summer waiting tables and probably make more money in a week than I have in my last four months as a published author (just FYI, the reason I owe my publisher money is because I bought 4 boxes of books from them). While I pondered this choice, I joined a book club with some of my fellow teachers and we choose to read The Power of a Positive Mom. It’s funny how God knows just what we need. Not surprisingly, my last three chapters have been about the power of a positive attitude. Chapter 9: The Ladies’ Pity Party (Don’t Accept the Invitation). Chapter 10: Attitude of Gratitude (Creating a Thankful Environment). Chapter 11: The Challenges of Life (Learning to Grow through Difficult Circumstances).

After my attitude adjustment, I’ve started writing again.  I’ve had to take the profit motive off the table to get myself back in the saddle. Because of the talents God has given me, I’m looking at my book as a gift to the world to empower people and see where God leads me. And it’s the belief I had all along . . . I just forgot about it for a little while.

It’s been 12 days since school ended, and every morning I wake up, brew my coffee, head to my writer’s table, and kneel in prayer to ask for God’s guidance. 90/10 still seems like a relative percentage, because I’m convinced that life is ten percent what happens to me and ninety percent how I react to it. Author and teacher Chuck Swindoll said that, and I wholeheartedly agree with him!

Another lesson I’ve come away with from all this? Write what’s in your heart. I know you’ve all heard, “The story of your heart won’t be published. It’s only for you.” I disagree. I think things get put on our hearts for a reason, and we should listen to those promptings from the universe. With 18 Things there were times I didn’t listen to my heart, and I regret it now. I won’t make that same mistake twice. And I guess that’s the silver lining of not being a bestseller yet (notice I said yet, I’m still holding onto hope!). I don’t have anyone beating me over the head demanding that I write a certain thing or in a certain way.

So what about you? Throw yourself any pity parties lately? Join Alex Cavanaugh and his ninja army once a month for the Insecure Writer’s Support Group . . . maybe we can help turn things around into a positive party 🙂

Oh, and if you are one of my five fans out there, maybe you’d be interested in this video I posted in response to Kimberly Gabriel’s middle schoolers asking me some questions about my book!