Title: Hickville Crossroads
Author: Mary Karlik
Series: Hickville High Series #4
Publication Date: May 4th, 2020
Genre: YA Contemporary Romance
Frasier Anderson is one of the hottest teenage actors in the UK, but he’s virtually unknown in the US. Now he’s landed the leading role in a big-budget Hollywood film that could make him an international star.
So how do you prepare a Scot for a role as a Texas high school student? Give him a fake name, a fake accent, and embed him in a Texas high school. He only has to follow three rules:
No drama. No girls. And no telling who he really is.
Jenna Wiley is smart, funny, and has a few no-drama, no-dating rules of her own. Her friendship with new kid Ethan Smith is perfect and might even lead to something more. Except for a few things that don’t add up. Like his mom being afraid to have company. Or their house, which is more staged than lived in. Or his sister, whom nobody talks about.
It all comes to a boil when Frasier’s biggest secrets hit the tabloids and the paparazzi swarm Hillside with Jenna in their sights.
Can Frasier convince Jenna that shy, goofy Ethan Smith is closer to real than the image the tabloids have created?
And can she ever forgive him for breaking the most important rule of all? Because for Jenna, when it comes to love and science, the truth is all that matters.
1. What does your writing process look like? Do you know the whole story when you start? Or do you just start writing and go with it (seat of the pants writing)? If you plan it out, how do you do that? Outline, notecards, post-it-notes, etc.?
Thank you for having me.
My writing process could probably be described as chaotic. I love the idea of plotting, of knowing the whole story before I write, but that’s not my process. For me part of the fun of writing is the story discovery. That said, I do have an idea of where my book is going. I know my characters, internal and external wounds, goals, and conflicts. I typically have a couple of turning points nailed down.
I make a lot of notes while I write. If I get stuck, I do a decision tree of possibilities. (Probably years of being a nurse coming through.) I work out what’s going to happen next then move on. My first draft is messy and usually pretty bad. But it’s such a fun way to write. I get to break all the rules during the first draft. I get to really know my characters and meet new unexpected ones. I let my characters pretty much have free reign in the first draft. I write fast without much thought about punctuation, grammar, or spelling. When I hit a turning point, I pull out my “Hero’s Journey” plot sheet and see if I’m on track, then move on.
2. Do you edit as you go, or wait till you’re finished before you edit? How many times would you say you go over it yourself before having another set of eyes look it over?
Definitely, wait until I’ve finished the first draft. And, I love editing. To be honest, the reason I write messy fast first drafts is because I have an intense fear that I’ll run out of words. I know once I get that first draft down, I can make it better.
During the first read through, I pick up on the big in your face issues. After that I get down to the nitty gritty. When I have the plot solid, I start working on the sparkle. I’ve taken Margie Lawson’s Deep Editing Immersion class three times. I love it. I use her technique to add the sparkle. It’s usually the 3rd or 4th draft before I send it to my son-in-law for a beta read. He’s not afraid to tell me what sucks. And he’s great at helping me figure out a fix.
3. Are you part of a writer’s group that gets together and helps each other with their writing?
Sort of. I don’t have a formal critique group anymore. I have a small circle of really close writer friends—my son-in-law is included in that group btw. When any of us need plot help or a quick read over a section we’re always there for each other. I start writing around 4:30 in the morning. My brain just works better early. I have a friend who writes early as well, and we do a lot of writing sprints. We’re both competitive so it’s fun to see who gets the most words written in 15 minutes or 30 or whatever.
4. How do you come up with your ideas for your stories?
For this book? A close friend’s husband is a movie producer. He told me the story about Tom Holland going undercover in a NYC high school when he was preparing for the part as Spiderman. He wasn’t known in the US back then. I knew I had to write my version of that story.
But for most stories, I get my ideas from music. I’m a runner and I listen to a lot of Scottish traditional music when I run. Much of it is instrumental and often as I listen, a scene plays in my mind and I just go with it until I have an idea. Both country music and Scot’s trad music tell stories. Often just a line in a song will spark an idea.
5. What tips do you have for aspiring writers?
The first tip is to write. You can’t be successful if you’re not writing. Everybody has their own process and no one way is the “correct” way. That said there are elements that make a good story.
Read craft books. Find what speaks to you. I have a friend who loves the Save the Cat book. She uses Blake Snyder’s beat sheet to plot every book. I love Chris Vogler’s The Writer’s Journey. I make sure the elements of the journey are in my books. Both methods have the same basic elements it’s just what process speaks to a person.
Join a writer’s group. I would not be published had I not joined Romance Writers of America. I have lifelong friends from that group. And I learned how to write through their workshops.
6. What are your favorite:
I love Romance. Romantic comedies. Fantasy—especially with fairies or magic
My favorite authors, off the top of my head, in no particular order are: Kristen Higgins, Sophia Kinsella, Melinda Mullet, Alyssa Cole, Jillian Dodd, Alley Carter—I fangirled her once, Eoin Colfer, Sonali Dev, Aileen Erin, Helen Hoang, Jenny Han. J.K. Rowling,
For a spy thriller, Don Bentley. I’ve read everything Robert Louis Stevenson has written at least twice. And of course, the queen of romance, Emily Bronte
My favorite movies: The Decoy Bride. It’s a cheesy romantic comedy starring David Tennent set in Scotland. The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society, The Borne movies.
Favorite TV shows: The Voice, Schitt’s Creek, The Crown, Victoria and Albert, Derry Girls
Music: Traditional Music (both Scot’s Gaelic and English). Capercaillie, Session A9, Mànran, Runrig are my favorite groups. For American music, I love country.
Food: Mexican. But when I’m in Scotland I eat my weight in seafood. Salmon, Cod, lobster, mussels.
Writing Snack: I know I’m odd, but I don’t snack when I write. But my favorite snack food is homemade chex party mix. It’s my crack. If I make it, I’ll eat it, so I don’t. LOL My biggest weakness is homemade chocolate chip cookies. I have the best recipe and I’m hopelessly addicted. I can’t stop making them. I make a batch and freeze the dough. I only bake 3 -4 at a time or I’ll eat them until I’m sick.
About the Author:
Mary Karlik has always been a dreamer. When she was a teen, she read The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe, and then sat in every wardrobe in her Nanna’s home, trying to open the door to Narnia. She didn’t find it, but she did discover her voice as an author: one filled with her young adult self, and grounded in her roots as a Texan and her Scottish heritage, nourished by obscure Scottish folklore.
You can find her Texas roots in her indie published, YA contemporary romance Hickville series , which has been described as “100% solid storytelling,” and begins with Welcome to Hickville High, a “lovely story about growing up.”
She digs deep into her Scottish roots – there is magic there, she just knows it – for her YA epic fantasy Fairy Trafficking series published by Ink Monster Publishing LLC. Her first book, Magic Harvest, debuted in September of 2018. It reached #1 in 3 categories of YA Fantasy on Amazon. Magic Heist, the second in the series has been described as “a fun twisty read which will never let you guess what will happen next.”
Mary recently moved from the beautiful Sangre de Cristo mountains of Northern New Mexico where she was a certified professional ski instructor to Texas. She loves visiting Scotland where she is currently earning a degree in Gaelic Language Studies at Sabhal Mòr Ostaig in Skye—part of the University of Highlands and Islands system. Mary also earned her MFA in Writing Popular Fiction from Seton Hill University, has a B.S. degree from Texas A&M University, and is a Registered Nurse.
Mary is an active member of Romance Writers of America and serves on a national committee of RWA. She formerly served on the board of the Young Adult Romance Writers of America. She is an active member of the Dallas Area Romance Authors and looks forward to raising a glass or two of gin and tonic with her fellow writers every year at RWA’s national convention.
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