Interview with Christine Amsden, author of Madison's Song

Title: Madison's Song
Author: Christine Amsden
Publisher: Twilight Times Books
Pages: 275
Genre: Paranormal Fiction
Format: Kindle

Her voice is enchanting; his soul is black...

Madison Carter has been terrified of Scott Lee since the night he saved her from an evil sorcerer – then melted into a man-eating monster before her eyes. The werewolf is a slave to the moon, but Madison's nightmares are not.

Despite her fears, when Madison's brother, Clinton, is bitten by a werewolf, she knows there is only one man who can help. A man who frightens her all the more because even in her nightmares, he also thrills her.

Together for the first time since that terrible night, Scott and Madison drive to Clinton's home only to discover that he's vanished! Frantic now, Madison must overcome her fears and uncover hidden strengths if she hopes to save him. And she's not the only one fighting inner demons. Scott's are literal, and they have him convinced that he will never deserve the woman he loves.

Praise for Cassie Scot: ParaNormal Detective "In this entertaining series opener, Amsden (The Immortality Virus) introduces readers to the eponymous Cassie, a decidedly mundane member of a magical family. ...Readers will enjoy Cassie's fish-out-of-water struggles as she fights magical threats with little more than experience and bravado." ~ Publishers Weekly

  Madison's Song is available for order at  
  amazon BN


The Interview

Q: Welcome to The Writer's Life, Christine. Can you tell us a little bit about yourself and how long you’ve been writing?

A: I have been writing for 30 years … and I'm only 38! I wrote my first short story, about Cabbage Patch Dolls going to Mars, when my mom found an old manual typewriter in her parents' basement. There have been ups and downs since then, but I truly haven't stopped writing for more than a year or so since then.

I recently found a stack of my oldest stories (sadly, not the Cabbage Patch one) and showed them to my 9-year-old son, who has stopped drawing because he isn't perfect. “Look at these,” I told him. “I wrote these when I was your age and they're terrible! Do you think I was born knowing how to write?”  Well, out of loyalty or stubbornness (or both), he said they were great, but I know how hard I've worked to get where I am today. Creativity is a part of the soul that needs to be nurtured and educated; encouraging creativity is something I strive for as a writer, a parent, and as a writing coach.

Q: Can you please tell us about your book and why you wrote it?

A: Madison's Song is the tale of an unlikely heroine – shy, overweight Madison Carter – who overcomes fear for the sake of loyalty to the people she loves.

Another unlikely heroine, Cassie Scot, inspired me to write about her friend, Madison. Cassie, the only ungifted daughter of powerful sorcerers, got a four-book urban fantasy series after she barged into my brain back in 2009. Madison came to me inauspiciously as I wrote an early chapter … “Okay, Cassie needs some friends. Let's see … my mom kept hinting that I should name my daughter Madison. I pretended not to notice, but it's a nice name for a character. Madison it is!”

It didn't take long for both Madison and another random friend, Kaitlin, to become bigger than their initial walk-on roles. By book two, each had a significant subplot and lots of backstory that never made it into the original series. At first, I thought Cassie would solve their problems alongside her own, but by book four she and I both learned an important lesson – you can't solve someone else's problems for them, you can only be there to lend comfort and support.

Madison has lots of problems. During the Cassie Scot series she almost had her soul stolen, was kidnapped twice, and was betrayed by her own father. In Madison's Song, she gets to deal with all that and become the heroine of her own story!

Q: What were some of the biggest challenges you faced writing it?

A: Though it's a spin-off, I wanted Madison's Song to stand alone as a way to draw more readers into the series. This was tough, because so much had happened to her during the Cassie Scot series! I rewrote Chapter 1 at least six times from the ground up because I kept wanting to shove all that backstory and Madison's rich character into the beginning. Finally, I let go and trusted that Madison would develop organically if I got to the heart of the story and showed her in action – the exact same advice I would give to any writer. (Do as I say, not as I do!)

Another challenge I faced, possibly related to the first, is that Madison is more like me than any other character I've written. If Cassie is the person I wish I was, then Madison is far more like the person I am – shy and overweight. I even chew my bottom lip and bite my nails! I needed to find a degree of emotional separation before I could successfully tell Madison's story.

I did this by reaching for something that used to be a big part of me, but is no longer – catholicism. In fact, I finally and completely came to turns with my Catholic upbringing, and the fact that though I've set it aside, I don't resent it. The main character, Madison, is devoutly Catholic and it was my joy to make her belief something beautiful for her. Her faith is personal and powerful, but doesn't require the validation of others. Neither does mine.

Q: Do you have a press kit and what do you include in it?  Does this press kit appear online and, if so, can you provide a link to where we can see it?

A: Yes, I put together a media kit for each new book that includes cover art, book blurb, buy links (or release dates), author photo, biography, and social media links. For Madison's Song, I also included buy links to all four books in the original Cassie Scot Series. If I have a tour and a giveaway going on, you'll find a banner and rafflecopter link as well. You can find the media kit here:

Q: Have you either spoken to groups of people about your book or appeared on radio or TV?  What are your upcoming plans for doing so?

A: I have been on the radio to promote Madison's Song. Linda Mooney's show, Other Worlds of Romance, provides the opportunity for me to read an excerpt from my book and answer a few questions – she's had me back for every book since Cassie Scot: ParaNormal Detective and it's a terrific show. You can listen to an archived version here:

I also have plans to be at the 39th annual Archon just outside St. Louis this October. I won't be speaking about my book, specifically, but about writing in general.

Q: Do you have an agent and, if so, would you mind sharing who he/she is? If not, have you ever had an agent or do you even feel it’s necessary to have one?

A: I do not have an agent, and don't feel like I need one right now. There was a time, back when I was promoting one of my earlier books, when an agent might have been useful (or at least felt useful), but now … I have a wonderful working relationship with Lida Quillen from Twilight Times Books, a small traditional press that has helped me sell about eight thousand copies of my Cassie Scot Series. An agent might have helped me get signed on with a bigger press, but I have little confidence that they could have helped me sell more books as a midlist author. Meanwhile, Lida offers one of the most generous contracts in the business and is forward-thinking enough to sell ebooks at a reasonable price. The vast majority of my sales have come from ebook purchases (not to mnetion the vast majority of my royalties), an unlikely outcome when working with a big publisher.

Sometimes I still consider contacting an agent regarding future books, just to test the differences between being agented/working with a big press and being unagented/working with a small press. The trouble is, at this point I've already achieved modest success on my own and I think part of me would resent an agent coming in and taking advantage of my hard work to earn an almost guaranteed profit. Three years ago, I offered Cassie Scot to a few agents. They didn't take a chance. And I get it, they're in the business of making money; Cassie Scot is quirky.  Still … if I ever get an agent, I'll have high expectations. I'll need more than someone who will negotiate a contract for me; I'll expect a solid two-way relationship that includes career and marketing advice that could take me from a modest success to a bestseller.

Q: Did you, your agent or publisher prepare a media blitz before the book came out and would you like to tell us about it?

A: Yes, I did! I like to do a lot of promotion online because my inner shy girl feels less threatened that way. So on July 15, I had reviews, guest posts, interviews, and features go up on over a hundred blogs. I work with several different virtual book tours companies to maximize exposure, and I will continue to appear on hundreds of blogs between now and October. I also have a solid reviewer following who were eager to get their hands on my latest book – some of them have already shared their reviews, some of them will be featuring my book in the coming months. My publisher also helps out by sending copies of my book to major reviewers such as Publisher's Weekly and Library Journal.

Q: Do you plan subsequent books?

A: Of course! Writing is in my soul; I don't think I could stop. Kaitlin's Tale is the final planned spin-off to the Cassie Scot Series, and it will be available in 2016. After that, I'm not sure what's going to come next, I only know there will be something. I'm taking a hiatus to reconnect with my muse. Last time it took me three months; this time, I have a bit more stress in my life but I still feel confident that I'll get excited about a new project soon.

Q: Thank you for your interview, Christine.  Would you like to tell my readers where they can find you on the web and how everyone can buy your book?

A: Thank you so much for having me here. You can find Madison's Song in ebook format at Amazon and Barnes and Noble. It will be coming to print on October 15, 2015, so save the date! It will also be recorded as an audiobook, available at Audible, but I'm afraid I don't know exactly when. If you sign up for my mailing list, I will be sure to let you know as soon as I do. Meanwhile, the Cassie Scot Series is already available in all three formats.

Christine Amsden has been writing fantasy and science fiction for as long as she can remember. She loves to write and it is her dream that others will be inspired by this love and by her stories. Speculative fiction is fun, magical, and imaginative but great speculative fiction is about real people defining themselves through extraordinary situations. Christine writes primarily about people and relationships, and it is in this way that she strives to make science fiction and fantasy meaningful for everyone.

At the age of 16, Christine was diagnosed with Stargardt’s Disease, a condition that effects the retina and causes a loss of central vision. She is now legally blind, but has not let this slow her down or get in the way of her dreams. In addition to writing, Christine teaches workshops on writing at Savvy Authors. She also does some freelance editing work. Christine currently lives in the Kansas City area with her husband, Austin, who has been her biggest fan and the key to her success. They have two beautiful children.

Visit Christine's website.
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