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Clipped Wings by Helena Hunting: Review, Author Interview, and Audiobook Giveaway

In the world of Twilight fanfiction, there are stories that are known as “biggies.” Clipped Wings & Inked Armor is definitely one of them. So when it was announced that it was going to be published, Kitt and I were excited for the author and for the chance to watch her mainstream career take flight. (See what we did there?) Helena is also one of those authors who is very appreciative of her fans and approachable on Twitter. You’re going to love her and her words if you don’t already. Speaking of her words…

AUTHOR INTERVIEW

F2F: First of all, thank you for agreeing to this Q&A and for giving us the opportunity to do an audiobook giveaway of Clipped Wings. We’re thrilled to be a small part of this next step in your journey.

HH: It really is a pleasure! Thank you for inviting me to chat!

F2F: When you wrote the original Clipped Wings & Inked Armor as Twilight fanfiction, was it just something you did for fun or had you always wanted to be a writer?

HH: When I started Clipped Wings & Inked Armor back in 2009, I was taking a break from another piece I was writing. I inadvertently stumbled across fanfic (I’m not sure there’s any other way for that to happen). After reading several stories, I thought it would be interesting to write one of my own. I just wanted to see if I could write something people would want to read. I’ve always written, however, the vast majority of my stories are packed away in boxes in my basement. Until CW&IA, I’d kept my writing very private. That story changed things. (A/N: We’re so glad it did!)

F2F: Do you have any advice for aspiring writers hoping to get published?

HH: Edit. Edit. Edit. And outline. I had a very loose working outline for CW&IA when I started writing it way back when. I was about six chapters into the rewrite when my very patient, kind, reasonable friend Alex put the brakes on and encouraged me to flesh out an outline. It took about a month. I sucked at it. But eventually I got to the point where I had a very tight outline for both Clipped Wings and Inked Armor. After that, the writing process was much smoother.

I encourage writers to find crit partners and to set aside the fear of cutting scenes or chapters if they disrupt the flow of the story. In the case of CW&IA, I cut out about half the book. I was extraordinarily fortunate to have a group of women from The Writers’ Collective (here) work with me on three manuscripts. By the time we got to IA, we were all very comfortable with the process. A first draft is just that…a first draft. The hard work comes after.

F2F: Speaking of getting published, how did you celebrate once you got the acceptance news?

With tears of joy and some wine. My agent Brooks and I spent nearly a year on submission and in that time I’d rewritten the entire story. There were definitely some moments when I questioned whether it would ever happen. I took the story from 430k down to roughly 225k. It was challenging, but being able to hold the book in my hands makes it worth it.

F2F: Transitioning from fanfic gave you the freedom to pick new character names. Is there any significance in choosing Hayden and Tenley?

I picked the name Hayden Stryker long before I started the rewrite. It just fit his character. Stryker always makes me think of lightning, which is reflective of Hayden. He’s electric, severe, intense. I wanted his name to reveal that about him.

Tenley’s name is unusual, and so are her circumstances. Tenley is a unique individual – her trauma, her experiences, who she becomes during the story. I wanted her name to embody that about her. And I thought it was quirky and cool, so I ran with it.

F2F: Hayden and Tenley have deeply personal issues to overcome, issues that both help and get in the way of their growing relationship. You write their struggle so beautifully. How did their story come to you? Which character was in your head first?

HH: Their story developed as a result of events that occurred which stuck with me. A groom and groomsmen were in a limo on their way to the wedding. A tractor trailer jackknifed and everyone died, leaving a devastated bride at the altar. That kind of trauma would leave deep scars. It made me question how someone could move on from such deep emotional wounds.

I suppose that indirectly answers the next question. Tenley’s trauma was the inception, but Hayden was the one I developed first. With his own traumatic past and his poor coping skills, he was the one person who could understand and relate to Tenley in a way others might not. She was the catalyst for a change that had been coming long before her arrival in his life. The body modification acted as the vehicle for connection and healing, within and between them.

F2F: What made you decide to write the prequel novella Cupcakes and Ink as opposed to a sequel? Or can fans also look forward to a sequel novella? (hint, hint)

HH: Cupcakes and Ink was an opportunity to explore Tenley and Hayden’s frame of mind just prior to meeting. Tenley is running from a past she can’t escape and she’s in such a dark, lonely place. Hayden is on the cusp of change. Neither one of them knows what’s coming until it hits them.

If you’re referring to Cracks in the Armor, it’s about secondary characters in CW & IA 🙂 I don’t have a sequel planned for Hayden and Tenley after Inked Armor, but I’d love to write Chris and Sarah’s story.

F2F: We really love the unique covers. Did you have any input into designing them?

HH: I sure did! I had lots of ideas for the covers, and I passed them over to the art team at S&S. They did such a fabulous job turning those initial ideas into gorgeous artwork. I love the juxtaposition between the covers for Clipped Wings and Inked Armor. It’s such a reflection of the light and dark.

F2F: We’re thrilled that Clipped Wings is also available as an audiobook! How involved were you in the process?

HH: My involvement was limited, but I adore Jason Carpenter’s and Elizabeth Louise’s voices for Hayden and Tenley. Hayden’s voice is so deadpan, and it makes me smile every time I hear it. (A/N: I read the ARC, but as a self-professed audiobook addict, I will definitely be doing a “reread” by listening to the audiobook! -Lisa)

F2F: If your fics were to one day be turned into flicks, who do you envision in the lead roles?

HH: This is a question I’ve pondered at length. Midian from SMIBooks brought my attention to a tatted up model named Stephen James who is absolutely gorgeous. If he was an actor, I’d put him in the role in a heartbeat. As for Tenley, Imogen Poots is gorgeous and well suited for the role.

Hayden (Stephen James) and TK

Imogen Poots

Tenley (Imogen Poots)

F2F: Are you working on any other projects you can share with us? We know the Twilight fandom will want to know if The Misapprehension of Bella Swan will ever be published, for example.

HH: That is a project I’d love to work on! I’m hoping it’s one of the next I get to tackle. I already have names for those characters and they make me giggle. I have another completed manuscript ready to roll and I’m very much hoping I get to write Chris and Sarah’s story, because I love those characters. So yes, I have a few potential projects! (A/N: Very exciting news!)

F2F: Do you have any book signings/appearances coming up so fans can get out to meet you?

HH: I’ll be at RT in NOLA in May, LoveNVegas in October as well as the  DC Author Event in March 2015. I’ll be sure to post any signings and events on my website as they arise.

F2F: Congrats on the debut of Clipped Wings, and we wish you nothing but continued success as you find new readers!

HH: Thank you so much for making this a stop on the blog tour!

ClippedWings (2)

SYNOPSIS

Their body art is hot. Their chemistry is even hotter.

From her dark hair sweeping below her waist to her soft, sexy curves, Tenley Page intrigues tattoo artist Hayden Stryker in a way no one else ever has…especially when she asks him to ink a gorgeous, intricate design on her back. Yet for all her beauty, there is something darkly tragic and damaged about Tenley that Hayden is everything.

Covered in ink and steel, Hayden is everything Tenley has never dared to want, awakening a desire to explore more than the art adorning his stunning body. Trapped by a past that leaves her screaming from nightmares, Tenley sees Hayden as the perfect escape. Although he has secrets too, if they both keep themselves guarded perhaps their intense physical connection will remain only that.

But nothing, not even passion, can keep them safe from their pasts…

SPOILER-FREE REVIEW

Thanks to Gallery Books, we were fortunate enough to get an ARC of Clipped Wings to read in exchange for an honest review. But honestly? We already knew we were going to love it 🙂

For those of you who love your book boyfriend to be a tatted up bad boy with a big heart, you’re going to freaking love Hayden. For those of you who don’t think you would love your book boyfriend to be a tatted up bad boy with a big heart, you’re going to freaking love Hayden. And you’re going to love the way he helps Tenley tear down the wall she built to protect her heart and, in so doing, tears down his own.

With alternating POVs, Helena Hunting takes you on an emotional journey with these characters, and you will never look at tattoos (or cupcakes!) the same way again. The way she understands how deeply personal the art of ink is, and how that understanding creates so much intimacy between Hayden and Tenley, will take your breath away. These two have a long way to go to reconcile their hearts with their minds, but their souls have already started to fill in the outline.

LINKS TO PURCHASE

Amazon Cupcakes & Ink
Amazon Clipped Wings
Amazon Inked Armor
Amazon Cracks in the Armor

BN Cupcakes & Ink
BN Clipped Wings
BN Inked Armor
BN Cracks in the Armor

Kobo Cupcakes & Ink
Kobo Clipped Wings
Kobo Inked Armor
Kobo Cracks in the Armor (not listed yet)

iBooks Cupcakes & Ink
iBooks Clipped Wings
iBooks Inked Armor
iBooks Cracks in the Armor

AUDIOBOOK GIVEAWAY

Thanks to the generosity of Helena Hunting, publicist extraordinaire Enn Bocci, and Simon & Schuster, we are giving away a Clipped Wings audiobook to one lucky winner!

Excerpt, Clip 1:

Excerpt, Clip 2 (racy): You might want to use headphones to listen to this sexy clip 🙂

 

Click here to enter —> a Rafflecopter giveaway

The giveaway ends 3/14/14 at 12:00 am EST.
The winner will need to provide an email address for
instructions on how to access the free audiobook.
Good luck!

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Helena Hunting lives on the outskirts of Toronto with her incredibly tolerant family and two moderately intolerant cats. She’s putting her degree in English Lit to good use by writing contemporary erotic romance.

 SOCIAL MEDIA LINKS FOR HELENA HUNTING

WebsiteTwitter Facebook | Goodreads

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Interview with “Animate Me” Author Ruth Clampett

Are you ready for the Woo?

When Chick Lisa met Ruth Clampett at the TFMU in Chicago last month, we already knew we wanted to interview her for the blog. We also knew from a previous discussion with Ruth about her Animate Me cover for our interview with Jada D’Lee (here) that she is an author whose answers are very thoughtful, which is why we wanted to give her the chance to take her time with our zany questions and respond via email. We know we made the right decision after reading her answers. We hope you enjoy this fun and insightful interview as much as we did!

F2F: kitt always wants to know… How did you celebrate when you got the news that Animate Me would be published?

RC: First I’d like to say thanks so much for giving Animate Me love on your blog. You guys have been a terrific support throughout my publishing journey, and I’m so appreciative.

With that said, I think my most exciting moment in publishing was when I held the first printed sample of the book. The whole intense process finally felt real to me. We broke out a bottle of champagne and got a little crazy.

F2F: Did you always know you could write, or was writing a brand new adventure? Did a moment hit when you just knew you had a story to tell, or was it something you had thought about over the years?

RC: I’ve always loved writing, but in my younger years, I wrote poetry and short stories. Although I was a design and photography major, I took courses in college and after I graduated was accepted into a serious writing workshop with a noted L.A. author. Soon after, however, I met my husband who at the time was getting his Masters in Creative Writing at USC. My world soon shifted where I was around a lot of literary and working writers and screenwriters. Honestly, it was intimidating, and it took the fuel out of my writing fire.

It wasn’t until years later that I stumbled across fan fiction and realized that it was a safe place to write and find readers. There’s such a cross section of themes, content and finesse in the work, and it provides a freedom I would’ve never had before. Fan fiction really opened the world of writing back up for me, and I’ll forever be grateful. (A/N: We appreciate you continuing to embrace your fanfic roots!)

F2F: Writing fan fiction offers writers a certain amount of anonymity, as well as the chance to build a support group/comfort zone. How has the transition been for you publishing under your real name?

RC: I would never have considered writing under my real name when I was younger for fear of being embarrassed about the sex scenes in my stories. But at this point in my life, I’m more comfortable in my own skin and figure that I am who I am. I don’t feel the need to keep it a secret. Honestly, some of my gallery clients have been excited for me over Animate Me — very supportive and sweet about it. So I have no regrets.

F2F: As the title and cover suggest, Animate Me is set in the world of animation, which is something we know is very near and dear to your heart. Did you also put some of yourself into the characters? If so, who do you think you’re most like — Nathan or Brooke?

RC: At first I was going to reply that I share no traits with Nathan, but that’s not really true. I get Starbucks every afternoon and enjoy listening to positive affirmation tapes. I’m fundamentally a positive person, like Nathan, and want other people to be happy too.

But in the big picture, I’m definitely more like Brooke. My career is built around working with artists and championing their work. I’m good dealing with the business people, but it’s the artists that keep me in the art and animation business. And like Brooke, I am very confident with my work but have my insecurities too. Like many women, I struggle with body issues. Although some readers were irritated with her insecure side, more appreciated that it made her feel more real to them.

F2F: Lisa always wants to know… Is there any significance to the names you chose for your main characters?

RC: Picking names is very hard but one thing I knew for sure is that my male lead couldn’t have a cool or trendy name. I had worked for years with a Nathan who was one of the best people I’ve ever known, and we became very close. He was like a brother to me. So whenever I think of that name I smile, which made it the perfect choice for Animate Me’s Nathan.

For the female, I already had B-Girl firmly in my head so I really struggled finding a ‘B’ name that fit my female lead. I chose Brooke because it felt like a strong name to me, unique but not too unusual. One of my favorite of the other names is Arnauld because I love the idea of him trying to sound sophisticated but once Nathan finds out his real name is Arnold, that’s how he refers to him the rest of the story. I love that.

F2F: Do you think Nathan is on track to be the next Lloyd Dobbler?

RC: I love your Lloyd Dobbler comparison as I adored the movie Say Anything. Animate Me’s geeky and lovestruck Nathan seems to have the ability to win over even the most skeptical readers. So if given the opportunity for a broader exposure and audience, I so think he could be a romantic hero like Lloyd was.

F2F: Juan Ortiz’s charming artwork and Jada D’Lee’s graphic design are a winning combination, making Animate Me one of our favorite covers. How involved were you with the creative process of the cover and the artwork featured inside the book?

RC: Actually I began picturing what I wanted on the book cover while I was writing the story early on. Since I’m an art director and visual person, I tend to do that with all my books. So although I had the picture in my head of what I wanted, it doesn’t mean anything unless you have the people who can help you bring it to life. First Juan and I went through a process to get the characters looking right in drawing form. But once he had it, the rest of the drawings in the book came together really easily since we work so well together. The photography of the cup and hands process came next. Finally, for the last step when Jada got involved, it became a challenge not to make the cover look like an advertisement. None of my ideas worked in that regard, but Jada kept working with it and the moment she nailed it, I cried I was so happy. She is super talented.

Illustration by Juan Ortiz / Cover Design by Jada D’Lee Designs

F2F: Have you received any interest in Animate Me being made into a movie? (A/N: We think it would be the perfect first rom-com for a certain British actor btw.) And if it did become a movie *fingers crossed*, would you and/or your drawings make a cameo in it?

RC: I would LOVE to see Animate Me made into a movie! I think it would make a really fun romantic comedy and since Robert Pattinson’s character in The Bad Mother’s Handbook provided a lot of inspiration for my Nathan character, I’d love to see him play the role. As long as we’re dreaming, sure I’ll do a cameo and be involved in the animation that’s worked into the film. I’ve always been a big dreamer…and this is a good one!

F2F: What are a few of your favorite cartoons (we figure with your background, it would be unfair to ask you to name just one!)?

RC: Well naturally I love the cartoons my dad worked on, Looney Tunes and Beany and Cecil, but there are many others I adore. It’s a wide range, everything from Spongebob Squarepants, Gumby, Power Puff Girls, Tom and Jerry, Fosters Home for Imaginary Friends, Teen Titans, the list goes on…

For features, my all time favorite is The Iron Giant. But I love all the Peanuts specials, many Pixar films: Toy Story, Up, The Incredibles, Ratatouille. Disney films such as Beauty and the Beast, The Lion King, and Tarzan. I also loved Despicable Me.

F2F: What does the future hold for Ruth Clampett, the author? More stories inspired by working in animation? A sequel and/or spinoff to Animate Me? Publish your other wildly popular fanfic Dodge and Burn? New writing projects?

RC: I’m working on a story called Mr. 365 that takes place in the television world, and I’m having a lot of fun with it. I hope to finish it in the next few months. As for Animate Me, I have a sequel fairly well written so that’s something I may eventually publish. And thank you for asking about Dodge and Burn. It’s another story very close to my heart, and I’d love to see it published one day. So many people can relate to the struggle that the characters go through, and it’s meaningful to me that it’s a love story with a couple facing a new stage in their life. So I’m hope to pursue publishing Dodge and Burn soon. (A/N: We are beyond stoked about all of this!)

Thank you so much for your support for Animate Me and my work. Us indie writers would be nowhere without the support of readers and blogs like yours. You’re awesome!

Social Media Links for Ruth Clampett

WebsiteFacebook Twitter Goodreads Amazon | Clampett Studio Collections

Ruth stated above “My career is built around working with artists and championing their work.” We originally wanted to interview Ruth because we knew she was an author with a unique background and experiences in the animation business that were weaved into a genuinely funny and romantic love story. We’ve since realized that she’s a career woman to be admired and a positive role model for her industry and within the communities of her more recent ventures. Thank you, Ruth, for allowing us the opportunity to give back to you by championing your work!

We think Animate Me could potentially go all the way — from well-received fan fiction, to a mainstream published story with one of our favorite book covers, to Nathan being given the opportunity to woo and win over the heart of Brooke (and movie-goers) on the big screen, which would make it a true fic 2 flick for us!

Are you ready for more of the Woo? Join us on Friday for a chance to win an autographed copy of Animate Me!

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