Amanda Zieba — Author Spotlight

This week we’re going to change things up a bit and share the author/book spotlight today, and a writing-related blog on Saturday. Please join me in welcoming author Amanda Zieba! Read all the way through for the chance to win an free book!

Champion Chocolatier is two things I never thought I’d write.

First of all, it’s a book for adults. All of my books up until this point had been for kids. Picture books, chapter books, workbooks and novels. I spend the majority of my day surrounded by kids – both students and my own. I rarely even get the chance to read adult books anymore. So when the opportunity to write for an adult audience came up, I hesitated.

Maybe I could convince kids that I was a good writer… but adults? I wasn’t so sure.

Maybe part of it is that I don’t always feel like an adult. I am short. I eat PopTarts and Diet Pepsi for breakfast every day. Yes, every day. I do not like sea food and am only starting, in my 33rd year of life, to drink wine. I like to wear jeans and hoodies and am almost certain that all of the “sophisticated genes” skipped me entirely and pooled instead to form the lovely conglomeration of elegance that is my younger sister. Sure, I have a full-time job and pay my mortgage (on time!), but I hate coffee and have never been to Europe…

Writing for grown ups… could I do it?

I am so glad I tried. Let me tell you why.

When I wrote Champion Chocolatier I didn’t spend a lot of time thinking about appropriateness. Plot elements, character motivations, word choice… I had free reign! No looking at grade level word lists. No chopping my languid sentences into shorter easily digestible lengths. Want to start with a dependent clause? Go for it! Eloquent. Rambunctious. Incendiary. All were available for my choosing. Anything was acceptable… and possible. And this made writing incredibly fun.

Another amazing thing about writing for adults was that the people who bought my book actually read it. In the past, people who bought my books were adults, purchasing for children. Sure, the occasional customer bought it and read it before gifting it. Maybe a teacher read it to see if it was appropriate for her classroom use. Of course my family read it (because they love me and the feeling is mutual!)… but on the whole… I’d have to say many, bought, gifted… and never read.

With Champion Chocolatier I experienced something dramatically different. About a month after its release I began getting emails, Facebook messages, social media posts and verbal compliments. “I loved your book!” “It was the perfect stress reliever for the holiday season!” “So fun! Please write more books for adults!” In two months I’ve received more positive comments on one book, than I had in the previous seven books and three years. This was fun.

The other thing I never thought I’d write was realistic fiction. Being the true word nerd that I am, I love epic fantasy quests… “Camelot crap” my husband lovingly calls it when I request we go see the latest movie featuring a Robin Hood/King Arthur/Fairy Tale retelling. Mythical creatures, magic wands, kings and curses… bring ‘em on!

Ordinary life is all around me. Even on TV! Reality TV and sitcoms… No thank you. I’d much prefer a healthy dose of make-believe. Take me away. Entertain me. Give me a break from my everyday life.

So, if I didn’t prefer to read realistic fiction, then why would I write it? But when indie publisher Teresa Ives Lilly approached me with an invitation to join a Christmas collection and gave me the three story parameters (a Christmas story in a Northern State and something to do with hot chocolate), an idea instantly presented itself. I decided to give it a try.

As I started to write, I was pleasantly surprised. I placed the story in a city I had visited many times. I found pictures of human beings and described their characteristics. I linked daily events to create scenes and chapters and eventually an entire manuscript. I don’t want to say it was easy, because it still required that certain amount of “stick-to-it-tive-ness” that it requires to finish any project… but… it was easier than any of the other stories I had written.

No world building. No new species creation. Minimal research. And what research did have to be done was quick, as in: What is the restaurant attached to the Le Meridien Hotel called? How do you make chocolate meringue?

Overall the writing process for this book was much like the final product. Fun and light with a few surprises along the way. Fortunately for me, all of my surprises were good. I’m sorry my main character Emmy can’t say the same.

What is your favorite genre to read or write? Comment below to win a free audiobook copy of Champion Chocolatier!

About Amanda: Amanda Zieba is a full-time teacher, a wife and mother always, and a writer any moment she can squeeze in. She is the author of seven (soon to be eight!) books for children and young adults and one adult novella. Amanda also uses her experience as a teacher/writer to create and sell teaching materials in the online marketplace Teachers Pay Teachers as well as facilitate young writer’s workshops across the great state of Wisconsin. She lists Diet Pepsi, Cherry PopTarts and gel manicures as her vices and has no plans for giving any of them up in the near future.

About Champion Chocolatier: Emmy is a thirty year old stuck in a dead end job she hates, but life takes a pleasantly unexpected turn when she wins a Facebook contest to own and operate a chocolate shop in northern Minnesota. When she leaves the big city for a fresh start (despite knowing nothing about business or candy making) fun, romance and little mystery follow. Will her new business succeed before the December thirty first deadline? Will the cute guy from the store-next-door add to her sweet rewards or will he only be a disaster-level distraction? Two tablespoons of big dreams, a dash of chocolatey goodness, and a pinch of love. Step inside Sweet Shores Chocolate Store and enjoy this winning story recipe.

 Amazon book link: https://www.amazon.com/Champion-Chocolatier-Cocoa-Christmas-Amanda/dp/1539727149/ref=cm_cr_arp_d_product_top?ie=UTF8

Amanda’s website: www.amandazieba.com

Amanda’s author Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/amandazieba/

Teachers Pay Teachers Store: https://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Store/The-Word-Nerd-2433

 

 

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