Name that Dragon BannerAs the 8th stop in the Name That Dragon Blog Hunt, this post contains the answer to the last post. It is your job, as the reader, to find it. Please remember your answer to this puzzle, as well as any past and future ones within this tour. You will need to know ALL the answers to enter for the chance to win the Grand Prize of a sterling silver Celtic triquetra on a 16in chain and a pre-order code.


Melissa A. Petreshock_ photographer Candy Ailstock_ smaller file

Melissa A. Petreshock Bio:

Melissa lives on a small farm in rural Kentucky with her genius husband, exceptional children, and their feline overlords. When not inhaling or exhaling words, she subsists on unnatural doses of coffee, sarcasm, and music. To date, no dragons have been found in the woods surrounding her house, but she continues
to hold out hope.

 

 

Gabfest & Gossip with Melissa A. Petreshock:

You’re upcoming book Fire of Stars and Dragons is due to release in April from Swoon Publishing. This is your first published novel. How do you feel about the process of having a your book handled through a publisher? What has your experience been with publicists, PR assistants and managers assisting you along the way?

I actually worried when I started querying about all the things that could go wrong with “letting go” to a certain degree when you sign a contract with a publisher. Thankfully, I’ve been hugely fortunate to have Georgia McBride and Swoon Romance as my publisher. From my first conversation with Georgia, her excitement for Fire of Stars and Dragons matched mine, and I knew she’d be the publisher I could trust with my “baby”. The Swoon Romance team is terrific, very supportive and not pushy about how things are done. As an author, I feel included in decisions rather than pushed around. It’s far different than what I think I expected or feared. They help keep the excitement level higher. Plus, Georgia McBride Media Group has a family feel to it. All the authors support each other, and that is worlds different than I imagined a publishing house, even an indie press, being like.

You established yourself first as a writer of fan fiction before you wrote your self published title Awakening of a Guardian. What was that transition of writing someone else’s characters to writing your own? Was it ever a problem to develop depth or identities for your own characters after writing stories based on personas of characters that were already constructed for you?

I started with fan fiction as a means of practice and a proving grounds after not writing for several years while my kids were younger. It gave a great opportunity for me to write while only needing to focus seriously on developing the identities of original characters I added into the mix. As I grew bolder and more practiced, my stories did too then I started working on Awakening of a Guardian. I’ll admit it was never my best work, but I wrote it, finished it, had help in editing it, and chose to self-publish it finally as my way of “conquering” that personal mountain, I suppose. My problem was never the creative part, the development of characters or worlds, just the need for building self-confidence after years away from what I loved doing. I needed to see the reviews on my fan fiction stories and all those hits and followers, things proving I hadn’t lost what my teachers always said I had. Fan fiction writing continued on for me until I had the “right” story of my own I wanted to focus on next, which happened to be a screenplay that may never see the light of day, though I’m considering translating it into a novel if possible.

Was it ever an interest for you to “graduate” from a fan fiction website to something more designed for original works like Wattpad?

No. I kept my fan fiction as a public fun thing and my original work more private until I was ready to go “full on” with it. For the longest time, I kept my fan fiction work and original work as totally separate lives almost in the writing world. I had nothing on my fanfic profile saying anything about my original writing and made no indication in my original writing sites or social media that I’d ever written fan fiction. Now I don’t really care. Someone would eventually dig it up anyway.

After writing your own novels has your desire to write fan fiction left you? Do you ever get the urge to pen something every now and then?

Left me? Hell, no. I love toying with the characters I enjoy from other worlds, especially when they disappoint me. If I wasn’t buried in my own plot bunnies, I’d probably still be writing fan fiction. The list of possibilities are endless.

On your bio on the fan fiction website it says that your story “The Blood That Binds” that was published there had to be taken down due to contractual conflicts. Can you discuss in a completely general way how you came up with the concept of The Stars & Souls Trilogy? Or even what the platform of fan fiction offered you in developing the early ideas for the series?

The concept for the trilogy originated in the birth of the Dracopraesi dragon mythology, a wild idea I had which refused to let go. How it tied into that particular fan fiction story was simply my use of the story as a means to “test run” the concept of the dragons on an audience. I hadn’t yet figured out where I wanted to take the characters and mythology in the way of a book or a series, but I was curious if readers would love the dragons as much as I did. They LOVED them. The response was overwhelmingly positive when I mixed them in as original characters with a True Blood fan fic I had been writing already. Since I “test ran” four of the Pendragon brothers (Theo, Oliver, Liam, and Clifford) I used directly in the trilogy, though they were vastly further developed by that time, it posed contractual conflicts and required the deletion of the story.

Were there any other original ideas or story concepts that you were working on or developing in your fan fiction works other than the Dracopraesi that might have been pushed to the back burner as you went ahead with this?

I toyed with the idea of spinning off my original character heroine from the NCIS “Gems for Jethro” fan fiction series I wrote into a kind of crime fiction series with a potential romantic entanglement here or there that would have predated where she came into contact with the NCIS characters by several years. However, her character had a lot of entanglement with 9/11 and painful places for me emotionally, so it wasn’t something I felt ready to explore in writing yet, not to say it won’t ever happen in some form some day.

I know from the synopsis that there are three heroes and that Caitriona is the keystone figure between them. Many readers are driven crazy by love triangles and you are introducing a love quadrangle. Can you say how this lovers mix is different or offers something more rewarding to readers than the frustrating: Should she? Could she? Will she? Why did she? That so many other novels fall into?

I know from the synopsis that there are three heroes and that Caitriona is the keystone figure between them. Many readers are driven crazy by love triangles and you are introducing a love quadrangle. Can you say how this lovers mix is different or offers something more rewarding to readers than the frustrating: Should she? Could she? Will she? Why did she? That so many other novels fall into?

When the concept of the trilogy was forming in your mind was it always based on Caitriona being pulled into three different directions by three different men?

The trilogy isn’t about Cait’s struggle alone. It’s for all of them in the whole arc, decisions they have to make, circumstances they find themselves in, and how they forge their own path through to a destiny they can’t avoid. It’s about finding parts of yourself you didn’t believe could exist, real romance, family bonds, and loving so hard the line between sacrifice and selfishness blurs. To me, for all that this is strongly romantic, it will always be a fantasy story first and foremost. I think that will also alleviate the frustration of readers who don’t want an entire trilogy where the whole arc is a love triangle, or as you pointed out in this case, a love quadrangle. One of the best compliments I’ve received from a male beta reader of mine was how this isn’t a romance set in a fantasy, it’s a fantasy with a romantic plot. I hope readers can appreciate the depth in that.

How has the fact that you’ve had to remain so “hush, hush” about Fire of Stars and Dragons felt for you? Do you ever have the urge to break the silence and tell someone just to get it off your chest?

I feed that need by talking my head off about it with my amazing beta team, the All-Stars. Seriously. They probably wish I’d STFU. Thankfully, my husband beta read for me, as did the couple we’re best friends with, so the four of us can share in it. Also, my 18yo daughter, my sister, and my mother beta read it too. Beyond that, I have several more team members who are not family or almost-family. My team is quite sizable. I wanted to be sure this was read, revised, edited, and PERFECTED in every way I possibly could write it before handing it over to readers. It’s been beta read by men and women, ages 16 to almost 60, and is reader approved. AND WE TALK/TEXT/EMAIL/GOOGLE CHAT ABOUT IT ALL THE TIME!!! We all can’t wait to share it with the whole world, so we talk to each other to keep our sanity in the meantime.

I don’t mean to be a genre-ist but what do you think that this novel should be shelved under?

Primarily: New Adult Fantasy Romance. I’d also say it falls into Paranormal Romance and is a bit Dystopian. There are also strong elements of mythology and what some may consider magic. Though I must say despite labeling it “New Adult”, I have a number of 40+ beta readers who all loved it, so it caters as easily to the Adult Fantasy Romance readers as it does older YA and NA. (By “older YA”, I mean mature 16+ due to some very racy scenes.) My 18yo read it and blushed at few of the scenes, and despite my 12yo reading a ton of YA, I’d NEVER let her read this at her age.

If I asked you to describe your writing methods in five words what would they be?

Freakishly disorganized bipolar yet OCD.

Do you develop a story arc and outline for your entire trilogy or do you work on each book at a time and surprise yourself as to what happens in each novel?

I’m a “planner pantser”. I know the overall arc and major plot points for both the entire trilogy and each individual book, yet I leave room for my characters to lead the way. They take on lives of their own and do amazing things I wouldn’t have thought of myself. However, I focus 95% on one book at a time with 3% looking forward toward the big picture, and 2% keeping an eye on hindsight. My All-Stars are great for helping keep continuity in check too. I HATE series with continuity issues and don’t want to be one of those authors if I can help it.

Are you a note taker and maker about the inner story play? Do you have a dialogue book that you carry around incase you hear your imaginary friends talking when you aren’t writing?

At home, I’m known to scribble notes down a lot for myself. Out places, I tend to email myself notes from my iPhone. (I’m a bit of a tech addict.) I also have a habit of talking to myself when driving alone and have often used voice notes to track me “thinking aloud” as I drive. Mostly, I avoid making too many handwritten notes if I don’t think I’ll use them SOON because I have atrocious writing, and within a few days, I won’t be able to read what I wrote anymore. I keep as many things as possible transferred from the handwritten notes I make into Word files as possible then back everything up on multiple sources. You know… because I’m not at all OCD or anything…

Do you do individual profiles for each characters that you develop prior to writing them so you know their voice and personas? Do you pre-plan the world they live in and time table of events within your book or create your novels glossary prior to writing the actual novel? What is the pre-game plan that you work with?

I keep pages of OCD-level notes as my characters develop. They grow as I write them, and I learn more about each of them than I expected, so I have to keep track of it all. Once I figured out the story I wanted to tell, I always knew the when and where it would happen. Certain details of mythology I always had in my head from the beginning, others come along, some I have to hash out as they come into importance. Several years ago, I lived in Boston, and I loved the history of the city, especially the strong Irish/Celtic influence. That led to the setting. So, you see, some of it just existed out of pieces from my life turned into fantasy, others required more planning. EVERYTHING is noted somewhere and tracked, though in a way, the characters feel like multiple personalities in my head. I know them as well as I know myself and find myself talking about them as if they’re real people. The specific glossary of Penfaeryn, the Fae language I’ve been developing, that is something I build as I go. When I write something and decide the dragons will be speaking in Penfaeryn at that time, I write it in English then go through and make the translation since it’s time consuming. I hadn’t originally planned to go “full Tolkein” with the language. Now it’s a little out of control how far I’ve taken it. I did an entire Blog Talk Radio show on how to speak Penfaeryn… Not that I geek out on fantasy or anything. Never.

When you were writing Fire of Stars and Dragons did you have “office hours” each day? What was a typical day for you while working on your novel?

My office hours were, and still are, 24/7. Whenever the mood strikes and the words flow, I write or am working on writing-related stuff such as keeping up my website, social media, and doing interviews like this. I’m married and have three kids (10, 12, and 18), but I also have Obsessive Compulsive Personality Disorder, so I literally cannot stop once I get into something. There are days/nights when I’ve been up all night writing and times when I can’t focus at all because I also have an anxiety disorder. I self-medicate my disorders with writing, but my disorders also control my writing habits greatly. I have no “typical” days since I’m home full-time, now write full-time, and my life is atypical. Being a full-time mom and writer is one thing, but not everyone is also balancing bipolar disorder, generalized anxiety disorder, and OCD too. Normal doesn’t exist in my life. Dragons do!

I think you and I should clearly not join forces or the world could quite possibly not survive the outcome. Do you feel that being bipolar helps with your creativity? How do you manage the ups and downs that come with it while trying to maintain deadlines and productivity?

I think you’re right. The world would not survive. 😉 There is an element of all my creativity which I believe comes from my mind simply not working the way other people’s do. I’m not sure I’d think of the things I do and write the stories I write if I weren’t bipolar. I stick carefully to my regimented medication and therapy and talk openly with my psychiatrist and therapist about everything related to my writing from the difficulty focusing to the stress of deadlines to the over-excitement of events. Everything affects me, and if they don’t know what’s happening, we can’t work together to manage it. I also have a strong support system with my husband, our best friends, and my sister, people I can turn to when I feel that edginess that warns me things need to be done differently than how I’m currently handling them. Mostly, I have to go with the flow of it. There’s only so much you can control about being bipolar. The rest is simply coping with the fact you are, and that won’t ever change, only your attitude toward it can change.

When you hit that final punctuation point what was that feeling? What did you do right after you finished the first draft of Fire of Stars and Dragons?

There was definitely a sense of accomplishment, but also a huge sense of fear. I send my work out to be team chapter-by-chapter, so I knew they LOVED everything up to that point. Sending the email with the final chapter was angst-ridden for me. What if they hated it? What if I totally effed up the ending? Surely, my team would lynch me. I knew it. Sending the last chapter of Fire of Stars and Dragons and sending the first chapter of its sequel Blood of Stars and Gods were the hardest waits for me with my team. I watched my inbox and my phone, dying to see emails or text messages or ANYTHING telling me I didn’t blow it. Aside from freaking out over what the team would say, I probably gave my husband a near heart attack by getting a little over-excited I had finished it finally. Lol. He most likely thought I was having a seizure or something at first because I get really weird when I’m wound up about stuff. We did go out with the kids to our favorite Chinese restaurant to celebrate though.

If you had to review yourself (without actually giving anything away) what would you have to say positively or negatively about your first Stars & Souls Trilogy book? What would you change, leave out or improve upon anything in the story in hindsight?

Wow. Don’t ask hard questions or anything… Honestly, I love my book like I’ve never loved a book and not because it’s mine. I can read it and laugh and cry and fall in love with it each time I do because it’s all the things I wanted in a fantasy romance book. On the flip side, as a reader, there are little things I want to know and look forward to finding out over the course of the trilogy. Not everything is front-loaded into the first book, so there’s a lot to learn still. As the author, I’ll tell you, don’t expect the first book is tied up in the pretty package of first glimpses. What would I change? The things I thought later about that I wanted to change or wished I’d improved upon actually came up in the editorial phase with Swoon. Erica Rose, my amazing editor, and Georgia McBride, helped me to bring out the fuller depths of areas that were weaker and make FOSAD shine brilliantly! Although I don’t expect this to be the case with every book I write, I’m going into publication with this one not regretting anything… yet. There’s always post-release. Lol.

I understand that it’s not unusual for an editor or publisher to tell an author to alter their story to fit a market. What would have been your reaction if you had been told to change the ending of the book or to favor one male character more so than another? 

I discussed those matters of changes to the story with Georgia before accepting her offer. She made it clear she had no intention of making substantive changes in any way. That would have been a deal-breaker for me. Part of what I like about Georgia is that she’s not afraid to think outside the box and try new things. I had larger publishers who were interested but made it clear they intended to make serious changes to the story. Georgia not only had the excitement for FOSAD from the beginning, but she has the bold willingness to put something fresh on the market rather than force a great idea to conform to what’s already out there. She’s an awesome indie publisher to work with. I seriously admire her.

How do you feel the second novel Blood of Gods and Stars is coming together? Is this novel easier to write than the first one? Do you feel that there is more of a challenge in writing the second novel of the trilogy since you are trying to continue a story arc yet establish a second phase of the story?

Blood of Stars and Gods is coming together quite well, though it’s more difficult to write than the first. The challenge lies in keeping things fresh yet not losing the heart of the characters. It begins roughly 3 weeks after the ending of Fire of Stars and Dragons, and circumstances bring new characters into the mix with some of the secondary/tertiary characters from the first book stepping forward a bit more. You see a new POV spring up in the writing mix, one of my All-Star team’s “fan favorites”, to offer a fresh perspective on a difficult situation. Each book has certain elements that make its story stand alone in a way, yet they all tie in strongly, and the trilogy doesn’t make sense completely without all three books. Fire of Stars and Dragons has a terrific stand alone story, but there are many things readers will want answers to and won’t get without the other two books. It is VERY challenging to keep it all cohesive but give each book its own place to stand too. Still, the All-Stars love BOSAG, and so far, so do I. 

Is it at all hard to be writing in a “vacuum” since you are writing the second story before you are getting feedback via reviews on the first?

Well, I always have my team for feedback, but in a way, I like this better. There’s not outside influence to disturb my plans (or my characters’ plans) for the book. I don’t have fans saying I should do this or that in the next book or whatever. To me, that’s what will make writing the third book (Eternity of Stars and Crowns) much more difficult. I think I’ll feel like there’s more pressure to live up to something when there’s a fan base with expectations of what’s next, assuming I have a fan base developed. 🙂 

Where would you like to go beyond the Stars & Souls Trilogy? After you’ve completed this, will you stay in this genre and this sort of world?

Most recently, I finished a short story related to FOSAD, a bit of a prequel for an anthology which should be coming out this fall. “Fallen Son, Darkest Night” is set about 3000 years before the trilogy begins and holds answers to a few things readers may be curious about by the time they’re done reading the first book. After reading it, my team was all like, “I was dying to know that! OMG!” So, there’s some satisfaction for readers in it.

As of right now, I have very basic notes scratched out to plan writing a spin-off trilogy from Stars & Souls and at least four stand alone novels with secondary characters from the books. I also want to publish an anthology or two of short stories/novellas compiled from many ideas expanding on the characters I believe readers will love yet don’t fit into full novels or aren’t backstory I want to burden any of the planned novels with unnecessarily just to get the cool side-story told. Really, the world is so rich and the characters are developed, it’s impossible not to stay in this world for quite a while. However, my team has a “prime directive” so-to-speak. If I ever overdo it or get to the point where they think I’m driving it into the ground- STOP ME. Don’t let me write this world and these characters longer than I should.

In other genres, I have a YA Contemporary Fiction (not a romance) I’ve worked on but put on hold to focus on the S&ST. There are also notes for an Adult Contemporary Romance and a younger YA Fantasy, plus one of my fellow Swoon Romance authors and I have talked about doing a collaborative novel project. It’s a YA Paranormal Romance with a dark comedy twist. We have the basic skeletal concept and some details hashed out, but we are both working on other things and doing that as a total side project, so it won’t be a priority.

I certainly don’t foresee running out of things to write about anytime soon.

Thanks for taking the time to talk to me!

Melissa A. Petreshock’s Web Tracks:

Website | Facebook | Twitter | Tumbler | Goodreads | Pinterest

 

Melissa A. Petreshock’s Book:

Fire of Stars and Dragons by Melissa A Petreshock is centered around  heroine Caitriona Hayden, a woman who will play a key role in a future that she could never have dreamed. This upcoming Paranormal/Fantasy Romance promises three alpha male hotties with plans to make our heroine their very own. “In one scene, Clifford proudly announces “his latest accomplishment in technological security measures.”

Fire of Stars and Dragons 1600x2400Fire of Stars and Dragons Synopsis:

Following the death of her vampire uncle, twenty-one-year-old CAITRIONA HAYDEN finds herself in the midst of a trio of quintessential alpha male suitors in 22nd century sovereign America where human females should be seen and not heard.

Theo Pendragon claims her as his ward, ordained to guard her through to a long-awaited destiny unbeknownst to Cait, but finds more than he expected when passion ignites within the dragon for the first time. Always drawn to the pursuit of knowledge rather than the heat of desire, powerful demigod Dante cannot deny everything his future holds in Caitriona. America’s monarch, ancient vampire Corrin, has no interest in the frivolity of love, yet marrying Cait could be the answer to his continued survival.

Soon, Cait goes from studying for college exams to choosing a husband in seven days, knowing the consequences are eternal, the love undying, and the bond timeless.

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Melissa A. Petreshock on All The Things Inbetween:

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Reader, writer, gamer, nerd, and kpop lover; Ms. Ali Cat lives deep in her own imagination within the grand city limits of San Diego, CA. A proponent of afternoon naps, kitten cuddles, and hashtags, she will be voting: #COFFEFFORPOSITIVECHANGE in the next presidential election.
He Said, She Said – Gabfest & Gossip: Melissa A. Petreshock

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