A Dragonbird in the Fern by Laura Rueckert
As a special treat, please also see tomorrow's post about this incredible author and book!
1- A quick search on the OA blog shows you have a long history with us. You've won our flash fiction contest -- twice!-- won the mystery agent contest (now PassOrPages), and received a critique from former team member Kara. Did Operation Awesome give you tools to help you succeed in publishing this book and would you suggest us to other authors?
I had so much fun with those flash fiction pieces! It's been a while since I did one - I miss them! I definitely think doing flash fiction and getting critiques, whether it's with Operation Awesome or elsewhere, is really helpful for a writer!
2- Would you please, in 160 characters or less, give a #WriteTip ?
Feedback is important. Critique partners are great because you not only learn from their comments, you learn from analyzing their work & writing down your opinions.
3- What most motivates you to read a new book?
An interesting premise. I'm less swayed by the cover, but if the back cover copy is interesting, then I'm in.
4- What kind of political scheming might readers find in A DRAGONBIRD IN THE FERN?
Hmm, let's just say that different people have different ideas about the best way to run things on the continent, and not everyone is honest about their intentions.
5- Would you share a picture with us of your book out in nature, perhaps in a fern or with your fluffy dog?
As you wish! To be honest, my author copies are still in transit. So I had to photoshop it in.
6- Other than reading and writing, how can dyslexia affect people?
There's more than I could describe here, but some negative impacts could be difficulty expressing themselves or self-esteem issues, both of which Jiara has to deal with. But there are also some strengths people with dyslexia tend to have compared to those who don't have dyslexia: strong ability to see the big picture and patterns, good spatial knowledge, thinking in pictures, thinking outside the box.
7- What's your Twitter handle, and do you have two or three writer friends on there to shout-out to for #WriterWednesday ?
I'm @LauraRueckert . I far too many writer friends to fit them here, but here's a quick shoutout to @MaykenAlanna , @JLAustin13 , @alechiawrites
8- Do you have a favorite #bookstagram image or account/ profile?
I love @tomesandtextiles. Not only does she create imaginative and vibrant pictures, but she's a strong promoter of diverse lit!
I love @jfkillsdarlings ! She's an author who also designs and sews gorgeous dresses to match book covers - then works with authors to give away the dress and a copy of the book. Here's the beautiful example for A Dragonbird in the Fern (sorry, giveway has already ended): https://instagram.com/p/CQqrqL-rJiI/
9- Are you a Plotter, Pantser, or Plantser, and how did you adopt that style?
I started out as a pantser, but realized that I had major plot problems that way. I studied books like Story Engineering, Story Genius, and Save the Cat Writes a Novel. Now I'm a Plantser. I write a simple beat sheet to get the major plot points correct, but that only gets me so far. I figure out a lot as I go.
10- What does your basic writing schedule look like, and how often do you write?
I don't really have a set schedule. I have a day job and a family that take most of my time, but I try to write in the afternoons or evenings. To be honest, I tend to work best during days off and vacations where I can block off bigger chunks of time, especially if I can write my my kids are sleeping in.
11- What is your favorite book by someone else, what's the author's Twitter handle, and what do you love most about that book? #FridayReads book recommendation time!
No, no, no, no - you can't make me choose only one favorite book. I will however choose one to tell you about.
Author name: Amparo Ortiz @amparo_ortiz
Title: Blazewrath Games
Love because: The dragons and adventures were obviously fun, but the thing I liked best was seeing Lana’s struggle with feeling Puerto Rican “enough.” As an immigrant who has now lived longer in her second country than her home country, I could really felt along with her.
12- What emotions do you hope your book will evoke for the reader?
Jiara has undiagnosed dyslexia, and she's heard comments that made her doubt herself her whole life, even from her otherwise loving family. Whatever the reason, I think many of us know what it's like to struggle with self-confidence, so I'd like readers to embrace the feeling that they are capable of more than they think.
13- What kind of impact do you hope your book will have?
I'd love it if readers had the feeling they've been able to escape our world for a little bit. Between everyday stress and the pandemic, we sure could use a break. Beyond that - and I realize this is a lofty hope - it would be great if it sparked some thought in schools about the need to support dyslexic students.
14- What is your favorite creative non-writing activity to do?
First, I like playing around with Picsart, making pictures into something other than they originally were (see question 5 for an example). Beyond that, cooking, since a recipe is just a starting point for me.
15- In what ways are the main characters in your book diverse? diversebooks.org #WeNeedDiverseBooks
A Dragonbird in the Fern's cast includes a character with undiagnosed dyslexia, characters of color, queer characters and transgender characters.
16- What method do you feel is the best way to get book reviews?
Since I'm a debut author, I don't have very much experience with this. I think offering free copies and asking people nicely to review probably helps!
17- What was the deciding factor in your publication route?
I've never wanted to be an author who has to do everything myself, so I wasn't interested in self-publishing (but never say never, right?). My former agent submitted a previous version of my book with some major differences compared to today's version to several publishers. That didn't work out, and eventually, my agent and I parted ways. I still really believed in A Dragonbird in the Fern though, so I made massive revisions and submitted to some smaller, well-respected publishers. I was thrilled when Flux offered!
18- What's the biggest writing goal you hope to accomplish in your lifetime?
I'll be honest with you - just knowing I have a book being published, seeing people review it positively, is huge for me. It's also been selected for a subscripti on box, which is cool. I've seen fan art - amazing! I've even seen readers comment that they're looking forward to my next book. So my next goal would be to sell another book!
19- Would you please ask our audience a question to answer in the comments?
What are your favorite books you've read in the past 12 months?
20- Anything else you would care to share about your book and yourself?
About A Dragonbird in the Fern:
When an assassin kills Princess Jiara's older sister Scilla, her vengeful ghost torments their loved ones, and the violence won’t stop until the killer is brought to justice. For political reasons, a young, foreign king requests that Jiara take her sister's place as his betrothed. Jiara’s terrified: due to dyslexia and years of scholarly struggles, she believes her chances of learning a new language are slim. But then she discovers evidence that her sister's assassin came from the king's country. Marrying him would allow Jiara to hunt the murderer and save her family from Scilla's bloodthirsty spirit. But it will also make Jiara the killer’s next target.
Laura Rueckert is a card-carrying bookworm who manages projects by day. At night, fueled by European chocolate, she transforms into a writer of young adult science fiction and fantasy novels. Laura grew up in Michigan, USA, but a whirlwind romance after college brought her to Europe. Today, she lives in Germany with her husband, two kids, and one fluffy dog.
To find Laura:
Please also see tomorrow's post to learn more about this book!
A Dragonbird in the Fern by Laura Rueckert