Thursday, February 13, 2020

YELLOWSTONE YONDERINGS - Kristen Joy Wilks - One Free Eook

Welcome, Kristen. Tell us how much of yourself you write into your characters.
I choose a distinct personality type for each character first. For Yellowstone Yondering, I made my heroine a 7 on the enneagram, an adventurer. I made my hero a 1, a perfectionist, because I wanted them to clash wildly. I know writers who use the Myers-Briggs personality test for their characters, but I can never keep track of that many types. There is another personality system that has just four types of people but that feels too simple. The Enneagram has nine types and that is perfect for my head to get around. Well, once I have chosen a personality type, I place myself into the shoes of my character and dig down and find the moments when I was like her/him. I am not a 7 or a 1, but I have certainly had 7ish and 1ish moments and I pull those out, brush them off, and live in them as I write that character’s scene. I put as much of myself as I can into each character, imagining that I am in their shoes with their personality and concerns. It really is a strange process.

What is the quirkiest thing you have ever done?
Ha, there are several moments that come to mind. But considering that this book features a heroine being wildly reckless around some pretty dangerous wildlife and geological features, I know what story to tell you. I grew up riding horses with the neighbor girls on a mountain meadow that was surrounded by forest. At that time, we had a herd of over 200 elk that lived there for the summer. I was a tomboy, but shy. My neighbor was undeniably fierce. One day, as we were riding, we looked out across the meadow and saw that all 200 elk were milling about cropping grass. Now, elk are not like deer. They are quite large and one should never mess around with them. You leave them alone, and they leave you alone and all goes well. But if you are stupid around elk, you just might get trampled and since a large bull can top 1,000 lbs, they are able to get all the trampling done that they consider necessary. Well, my neighbor just happened to be riding with a lasso. I know, a lasso? I attempted to talk her out of it, but despite my reasoniong, she cantered directly into the herd with the goal of lassoing an elk calf. What she would have done with a calf, I do not know, but lasso she did. Fool that I was, I kicked my horse Sundance into a run and we rode right into the center of the milling elk, splitting the herd. Now, my friend did lasso a calf, but his mother sternly warned her back and thankfully when faced with several hundred pounds of maternal fury, my neighbor’s senses returned to her and we fled as fast as our enthusiastic horses could go. So yes, I have ridden directly into a herd of elk. No, it was not a good idea. Don’t do this at home, kids!

When did you first discover that you were a writer?
When I was seven, one child from each grade was chosen to attend a young writer’s conference where Steven Kellogg was keynoting. I had never even considered myself capable of writing, but that first grade teacher saw something in me and it was a soft, soaking rain and warm sunlight on the soil of my heart. Maybe I could be a writer! So I wrote a terrifying story of danger and daring. The book was shaped like a giant guinea pig and was based on the time that our Scottish terrier mix (Inky) attempted to murder my brother’s guinea pig. Fluffy (the guinea pig) was a smart little critter though and thwarted his efforts by hiding under the smashed lid of her cage when he attacked. Yes, it was smashed when he jumped directly on top of the cage! Incidentally, the way too bold for his own good dog Ainsley in Yellowstone Yondering is also based upon Inky. Inky had about nine lives and was known to attack big dogs on a whim. This made us very popular on walks as you can imagine!

Tell us the range of the kinds of books you enjoy reading.
My favorite genres are young adult and middle grade, but I love so many different kinds of stories. I adore picture books, romantic comedy, fantasy, mystery, coming of age stories, cozy mysteries, and funny books. I also like historical fiction, Sci-fi, and graphic novels. I am not a huge fan of women’s fiction or literary novels, although my best friend and I will force each other to read a book that is out of our genre as a birthday gift each year. She always picks a literary novel for me (A Gentleman in Moscow, To Kill a Mockingbird, Catcher in the Rye) and I will pick fantasy or sci-fi for her (Inkheart, Artemis Fowl, Cinder) and then we get to tell each other how we barely survived! Actually, I love getting pushed out of my rut every year to read something that she loved. It’s good for me!

Sounds like a wonderful friendship. How do you keep your sanity in our run, run, run world?
Who says I’m sane? But I do try to get to bed by 9:00 and then I wake up at 4:00AM to write before my family awakens. That way I can get something done in the quiet hours, before the rush of life takes over.

How do you choose your characters’ names?
I go to the U.S. Social Security website and plug in the year that my character was born. I then pull up the top 100 names for that year and choose a name I like. This is the selection of names I chose from for Kayla and Alexander.  I scan the list and gather several names that I like and that fit the personality of each character. Then I might try them out and see if they work in the story. Eventually, I settle on who they are and make a final decision.

What is the accomplishment that you are most proud of?
I once had a well-known leader in our writing community tell me that my story was exactly what she needed on the day that she read it for a contest. Yes, it was such a thrill to win the contest. But when she pulled me aside and explained how much my crazy humor encouraged her on a hard day, that truly filled me with joy!

If you were an animal, which one would you be, and why?
Oh, probably a horse that is easily spooked or a big princess dog like our Newfoundland, Princess Leia Freyja. I had a horse who loved to be scared. He wasn’t actually terrified at all; you could ride him right up to a tree with a bear in it! But he pretended to be, just so that your ride was exciting! He would snort and prance and dance around when we rode by a scary-looking bush. It was hilarious to ride him. I imagine myself like that, only I’m actually scared, ha! Or a big fluffy dog who likes to know that she is special. Our girl Leia wants her drink of water fresh from the sink and in a mug, not her bowl. As a mom who is busy with running a family, it is nice when someone makes you feel special by paying close attention to what you love. She takes it a bit far, but I understand the heart behind it. She loves a bit of TLC … well in her case, perhaps more than just a bit!

What is your favorite food?
I am quite fond of pastries, pizza, homemade bread, and an amazing African peanut soup that our former camp cook taught me to make. I included one of my favorite foods in Yellowstone Yondering though. A fair-trade dark chocolate bar with bits of candied ginger. Yum!

What is the problem with writing that was your greatest roadblock, and how did you overcome it?
I have a hard time rushing through the sequel (or the rest and introspection) that comes after an exciting scene to get to the next exciting scene. After hearing from critique partners to slow down and allow my characters to react to events that just happened, I learned not to speed on to the next action without allowing the characters to learn and grow as well.

Tell us about the featured book.
The story spark came when we took our three boys to visit Yellowstone National Park. The park is visited by many tourists for whom English is a second language. Therefore, they try to make the warnings clear to one and all through the use of terrifying drawings. My sons were amazed by the drawing of a young boy being tossed in the air by a raging bison, waving a bag of marshmallows as a grizzly charged toward his sugary snack, and succumbing to the boiling waters of a thermal zone as he cracked through the thin crust to his doom! The same hapless child was featured on all the signs and so my husband named the poor lad, Jimmy. As we toured the beautiful park and remarked upon Jimmy’s many perils, I got to thinking … . Writers are always trying to menace their characters with dangerous situations. What better place to menace a heroine than Yellowstone National Park? But she would have to break all of those perfectly reasonable rules. What could I do to cause such a rash of foolish behavior in an otherwise sane adult? Put her pup in peril, of course! I once saw my grandmother dart in front of a moving car to scoop up her little Shih Tzu. We read Death in Yellowstone by Lee H. Whittlesey aloud as a family while vacationing (remember, I have 3 sons) and discovered that a parkgoer once dove into a boiling pool after his dog. People love their dogs and tend to throw caution to the wind when a beloved pet’s life is endangered. I had my motivation!
When a free-spirited wildlife photographer loses her Scottish terrier in a herd of bison, she sets out to rescue her furbaby before he is devoured. But will she succeed when Yellowstone National Park is chock full of boiling, bubbling, and rampaging hazards (both mammalian and geographical) -- not to mention a rule-obsessed park ranger whose many rescues thwart her efforts to find her poor pup?

They say opposites attract, and when it comes to Kayla Dineen and Ranger Alexander Brandt, no two people have ever been more opposed...or attractive. Old Faithful isn't the only thing making noise at Yellowstone this season.

Please give us the first page of the book.
So Many Rules, So Little Time

Kayla slowed her motorcycle to a crawl, tapping out an impatient beat on the hand grips. The traffic bunched into four long lines as they approached the west entrance to Yellowstone National Park. A mournful whine drifted from the travel carrier strapped behind her. Kayla turned to address her furry passenger. “I know, you want to feel the wind in your ears, boy. At least they don’t make you wear a helmet.” She pulled off the hated head protection and shook out a tumble of long brown hair. The dry August wind made her scalp prickle as the sweat of the ride evaporated.

The whine turned into a fierce barrage of barking. A Great Dane out for a potty break flinched away from her bike, nearly toppling his master. The massive beast held his ears at a lopsided, concerned-looking angle and peered from behind his owner’s legs.

“Hush, Ainsley.” Kayla tried to be stern but knew Ainsley could hear the smile in her voice. The little black dog hushed for all of two seconds before he spotted something even more sinister. Now this was too good to pass up. Kayla unzipped Ainsley’s carrier just enough for his head to poke out and then dug in the saddle bags for her camera. Her bike wobbled as she leaned way back to get a shot of Ainsley’s perky ears in the foreground with a large sign in the background.
“That’s not even a real bison, boy.”

How can readers find you on the Internet?
Instagram: kristenjoywilksauthor

Thank you, Kristen, for sharing this book with my blog readers and me. It sounds hilarious.

Readers, here’s a link to the book.
Yellowstone Yondering Kindle - Audio

Leave a comment for a chance to win a free copy of the ebook. You must follow these instructions to be in the drawing. Please tell us where you live, at least the state or territory or country if outside North America. (Comments containing links may be subject to removal by blog owner.)

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Anonymous said...

Enter me to win.

Kristen said...

Hi, thanks so much for stopping by the blog!

Barbara M. Britton said...

Hi Kristen,

I loved "Yellowstone Yonderings." I went to Yellowstone last summer and your book took me right back to the park. Congrats on your latest release.
Don't enter me in the giveaway as I already have the book.

Pam said...

This sounds like a very fun book. Love our National Parks!

Pam G in Ohio

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