Thursday, June 13, 2013

Christina Mercer Interview and Giveaway!

The Indie/Self-Published Author Event, hosted by the lovely ladies over at Say It with Books, is a month-long blog event that features all independently and self-published authors and their brilliant, but under-recognized works. Follow us throughout June to discover your next favorite book!

I'm delighted to be able to feature Christina Mercer today. Stick around til the end to enter to win one of two fabulous prize packs, each including copies of Arrow of the Mist!

Welcome to Books à la Mode, Christina! Let's get this interview started.

Will you please share a brief bio with us?

Christina Mercer writes fiction for children and young adults. She earned a degree in Accounting from California State University at Sacramento and a Certificate in Herbal Studies from Clayton College of Natural Health. She took Writer’s Best in Show at the 2012 SCBWI CA North/Central Regional Conference and was a semi-finalist in the 2010 Amazon Breakout Novel Award Contest. Christina resides in Northern California enjoying life with her husband, two sons, four dogs, and about 100,000 honeybees.

Tell us a bit more about your debut novel.

"Ancient magic and herbal lore mark this engaging, fast-moving fantasy with a botanical bent. Lia, 15, is a winning heroine, discovering and wielding her magical gifts. Well developed characters, elegant dialogue, trickster creatures, exciting scenes of mystic battle and intriguing riddles stir up a powerful potion that will charm readers."

Terror strikes the Celtic inspired kingdom of Nemetona when barbed roots breach the veil of a forbidden land and poison woodsmen, including 15-year-old Lia’s beloved father. Lia and three others embark on a quest to the forbidden land of Brume to gather ingredients for the cure. But after her elder kinsman is attacked and poisoned, she and her cousin, Wynn, are forced to finish the quest on their own.

Lia relies on her powerful herbal wisdom and the memorized pages of her late grandmother’s Grimoire for guidance through a land of soul-hungry shades, trickster creatures, and uncovered truths about the origin of Brume and her family’s unexpected ties to it. The deeper they trek into the land, the stronger Lia’s untapped gift as a tree mage unfolds. When she discovers the enchanted root’s maker, it forces her to question everything about who she is and what is her destiny. Ultimately she must make a terrible choice: keep fighting to save her father and the people of the lands or join with the power behind the deadly roots to help nature start anew.
Describe Arrow of the Mist in six words.

Tween/Teen Celtic Fantasy Heroine’s Quest

How did you arrive at writing fantasy and YA?

Since childhood, my imagination drew me to a love of all things Fantasy, and I can’t imagine writing something without at least one element of magic. My writing also tends to veer naturally toward a younger audience.

What was the inspiration for Arrow of the Mist?

A lifelong love for all things fantasy, my formal studies in herbal healing, and my informal studies in mythology inspired the world and facets of magic woven throughout the story.

Readers, click "Read more" to learn about Christina's journey in self-publishing, her best advice for aspiring authors, and the great giveaway at the end!

Tell us about your self-publishing process, including the awesome benefits, unexpected challenges, and anything you learned or picked up along the way.

I was a skeptic of self-publishing for many years, believing every rejection from an agent or editor meant my story was unworthy of being on anyone's shelf. In 2010 my book placed in the semi-finals (top 50 of 5,000) of the Amazon Breakout Novel Contest. It gave me the validation I needed. During this time, I also witnessed author friends going "indie" with great success. I joined with a multi-talented group of writers at Indie Visible where I found just the right push and collaborative support to get my book out to the world.

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Some randomness...

Favorite kind of chocolate? Dark, milk, white, coffee-flavored, the kind with nuts or berries inside?? Milk or dark with nuts. Yum.

*Drool* What kind of kid were you in high school? In a word: SHY.

All-time favorite quote? By my great great uncle Frank Capra, "A hunch is creativity trying to tell you something."

Go-to comfort food? I drink tea laden with milk and honey by the gallons. A little chocolate or coconut ice cream works, too.

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Give aspiring writers a piece of advice you wish you had known before getting published. 

Be ready to work your little tushy off! But every struggle, every success, every tear, and every moment of joy is worth achieving your dreams.

Are there any occupational hazards to being a writer?

Absolutely. Once you are published, you are EXPOSED to the world in a much bigger way. You also have to work hard at balancing your time between the creative process of writing and running an official business. It’s like bouncing from one side of your brain to the other. Being ambidextrous helps!

What’s the most interesting comment you have ever received about your books?

I was thrilled when Publisher’s Weekly said, "Well developed characters, elegant dialogue, trickster creatures, exciting scenes of mystic battle and intriguing riddles stir up a powerful potion that will charm readers." 

I was equally excited to receive a review on Amazon from a teen who said, "I am sixteen and I absolutely loved this book. It's a very refreshing change from some of the other young adult books out there and it had me captivated by the first page."

That's amazing! Such great feedback to hear :) What are your goals as a writer?

To keep writing! Honor the muse and fend off self-doubt.

What's next for you?

I’m hoping to release the sequel to Arrow of the Mist titled Arms of Anu by the end of this year. I’m also hoping to release a YA Magical Realism titled Honey Queen, which took Writer’s Best in Show at an SCBWI Conference. In addition, I’m working on a children’s chapter book.

Sounds like a bright, busy future ahead! Where can you be found on the web?

Thank you so much for joining us today, Christina! It was a blast getting to know your book and your writing habits. Best of luck in your future endeavors.


Books à la Mode is giving away two Arrow of the Mist prize packs each consisting of a copy of the book, an autographed bookmark, and an autographed postcard—yay!! One will include a print copy (US only) and the other will have an eBook (international). To enter, fill out the Rafflecopter form below.

Here's a comment prompt from Christina for extra entries:
What is your favorite thing about the fantasy genre and has that thing changed as you’ve gotten older?
Please say something meaningful—comments only consisting of one-worded responses or "Thanks for the giveaway!" will not be awarded additional entries!!! Christina and I really want to hear you guys' thoughts! :)
Rules and disclosure:
Sponsored wholly by the author—thank you so much, Christina!
Giveaway ends 28 June 2013 at 11.59 PM (your time).
Open internationally! Woohoo! However, only US residents are eligible for the print prize pack.
Winners have 48 hours to claim their prize once they are chosen, or else their prizes will be forfeited.
Although I do select winners, I am in no way responsible for prizes, nor for shipping and handling.
As a reminder, you do not have to follow my blog to enter, though it is always very much appreciated ❤ Plus you get extra entries! ;)
Good luck!