Friday, August 9, 2013

Feature Friday: Michelle Pickett

I've been an avid reader since a young child, writing soon followed. I began writing for personal enjoyment in college, where I graduated Summa Cum Laude with a degree in accounting—why I chose a degree field that frowns on creativity remains a mystery—but I’m lucky enough to write full-time.

My debut young adult novel, “PODs,” was published by Spencer Hill Press June 4th, 2013. The second book in the PODs Series, “The Infected,” will release in November 2014.

 The first book in the Milayna Trilogy, “Milayna,” will release March 11, 2014. The second book, “Milayna’s Angel,” will release September 2014 and the final book, “The Innocent,” will release April 2015.

I was born and raised in Michigan.  I now reside in a small community outside Houston, Texas with my incredibly supportive husband, three amazing school-aged children, a 125-pound dog who thinks he’s a lap dog and a very snooty cat.

I write young adult Sci/Fi, urban fantasy, paranormal and dystopian romances (as long as I have a supply of Reese’s Peanut butter cups).

I LOVE to hear from readers. If you have a comment, question, suggestion or just want to say hi,     email me!

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What piece of advice would you give to a budding author?

Read, write, read, write, and repeat. Reading is important. It’s like going to school. It’s a way to study different writing methods and genres. And you can’t be a writer without writing, so you should write something everyday. If I can’t find inspiration for the book I’m working on, I write in my journal. But I always write something everyday. Finally, don’t give up. My dad told me if it’s worth having, it’s worth working for. So, don’t give up. Work for your dream. Write and then write some more.

What's your favorite book and why?

My favorite book is “Where the Red Fern Grows” by Wilson Rawls. It’s the first book that really took me out of myself and put me in the book with the characters. I still remember the first time I read it—on my bed crying at the ending. I still read the book even now. And I still cry.

My favorite book as an adult is “Olivia and Jai” by Rebecca Ryman, which is somewhat odd because it is a historical romance set in India. It isn’t a genre I write or normally read. I don’t even remember why I decided to read the book, but I fell in love with the characters. It is another book that moved me. I also reread it often.

Where did you get the idea for PODS?

I’d love to tell you some great story about getting the idea from a dream or something similar, but I can’t. I’m not really sure where the idea came from. I think the seed was planted in my brain when my husband and I were talking about the “super viruses” doctors are warning us about and how antibiotics are ineffective on them. Around that time my mother contracted a very aggressive strain of MRSA and the doctors were having trouble finding a combination of medication to treat it. I’d also talked to my doctor about the over use of penicillin and antibacterial soaps and cleaners.

I think these conversations and events rolled around in my head and I started playing the “What If” game, which is how all my books start.  What if this happened? And then this? And then that? And so forth.

Did you hit any snags while writing PODS?  What were they and how did you fix them?

PODs was actually a very fun book to write. It came very easily. When my editor read it she had some things she wanted to change and I agreed with her ideas. I thought they made sense and made the book stronger, but they were a little harder to write. I think because they weren’t “my” ideas. To fix them I used my editor as a sounding board. I asked a lot of questions about how I should approach the changes (The hardest was the addition of a new character). She gave me a lot of ideas. I also used my husband and son. Usually I do a  lot of talking and they just listen and let me talk! LOL! But it helps me work through some of the bumps I come across. And, to be honest, my husband has come up with some really great ideas for me.

Which one of the characters in PODS is your favorite and why?

Well, it’s a given that Eva and David are two of my favorites so I’ll skip them. Roy is my favorite character. He is a secondary character and he doesn’t have many scenes in the book. I’m not sure what it is about Roy that makes me love him so much, but he just draws me to him. He’s around a lot more in the sequel to PODs, “The Infected,” which releases November 2014.

I also love Devlin. You can see his caring side in the way he treats his half sister. He comes off as gruff, but he has a lot more depth. And we’ll learn a lot more about him in the sequel.

Can you tell us a little bit about your journey as an author?

I actually have a really fairy tale story. I almost don’t like telling it because I don’t want people who are trying to get published to  think my story is the way it happens. (and I don’t want those talented writers who are still trying to find an agent or publisher to hate me! ha-ha)

When I wrote PODs, I queried a few agents and none were interested. I gave up after querying about twenty (that’s an insanely small number). I came across Spencer Hill Press by accident. They were accepting unagented submissions so I submitted. The next day I got a request for my full manuscript and three days later I had an offer. Spencer Hill was the first publisher I sent PODs to. That isn’t they way it normally happens. I was INCREDIBLY blessed. I’m still overwhelmed by how truly blessed I am.

What are you working on now?  Sequel?  Something new?

I have a few things in the works right now. I’m currently in editing the sequel (and last book in the series) to PODs called: “The Infected.” It will release in November 2014

I have a paranormal romance trilogy coming out called: “The Milayna Series” The first book: “Milayna” releases March 2014. The second book: “Milayna’s Angel” releases September 2014 and the final book: “The Innocent” releases April 2015.

I’m getting ready to submit a young adult urban fantasy. I’m just polishing up the edits. I’m working on a New Adult contemporary romance and another dystopian.

What makes PODS unique in comparison to other dystopian “monster” books?

I don’t think there’s anything that features a “POD” living habitat on the market today. Also, the monsters in the books aren’t really monsters, but people infected by the mutated virus. So I like to say they’re the new generation of zombies—living zombies.  Living because they don’t actually “die” like a true zombie does.

If you were stranded on a tropical island, what’s the one thing you would want to have with you?

Other than my family, a box of matches. I’m assuming I wouldn’t have electricity for my Kindle so that’s out. So I’ll take matches to build a fire. (boring answer, I know)

What’s your favorite cooking show?  Likewise, what’s your favorite hoodie?

Oh, that’s not a fair question! I can’t name just one! I love them, even though I hate to cook. I like Chopped, but I love Hell’s Kitchen. My dad passed away in January—his is by far my favorite hoodie. :)

Thank you so much for hosting me! I had fun answering your questions. I love hearing from readers and other authors, so please drop me a note and say “Hi!”

The Giveaway:
Michelle has offered a copy of PODS as well as a MILAYNA notebook!

PODS:  Seventeen-year-old Eva is a chosen one. Chosen to live, while others meet a swift and painful death from an incurable virus so lethal, a person is dead within days of symptoms emerging. In the POD system, a series of underground habitats built by the government, she waits with the other chosen for the deadly virus to claim those above. Separated from family and friends, it's in the PODs she meets David. And while true love might not conquer all, it's a balm for the broken soul.

After a year, scientists believe the population has died, and without living hosts, so has the virus. That's the theory, anyway. But when the PODs are opened, survivors find the surface holds a vicious secret. The virus mutated, infecting those left top-side and creating... monsters.

Eva and David hide from the infected in the abandoned PODs. Together they try to build a life--a new beginning. But the infected follow and are relentless in their attacks. Leaving Eva and David to fight for survival, and pray for a cure.

Read Goodreads review.
Read Amanda's review.
Buy on Barnes and Noble.
Buy on Amazon.

How to Enter:
Enter the giveaway using Rafflecopter. Hit the arrow buttons, follow the prompts, and hit the enter buttons when you're done. (You may have to log in using Facebook to do this). There will be one winner (selected by Rafflecopter). I will contact the winner via email. This contest is open to national entrants. 

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