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Author Highlight: Savannah J. Goins

Meet Savannah J. Goins -- author, speaker, dragon wrangler! I met Savannah through a Critique Partner finder event in the Plotter Life Writers Community group on Facebook (created by AuthorTuber Brittany Wang!), and I could not be more thankful! Savannah has a great eye for details, which I very happily got to see on my own manuscript. My book is even better thanks to her valuable input.  

Savannah's first book, "The Gwythienian," is a YA portal fantasy and the first of her Odan Terridor Trilogy, which introduces readers to a world existing right alongside to our own, but unbeknownst to us! 

How did you come up with the story concept for “The Gwythienian”? When I was fourteen I went to Georgia with my family to visit my grandparents for Christmas. On the way down, as we drove through Tennessee, I was stunned by how huge the icicles growing down the sides of the interstates were. I thought it would be really cool if there were some species of animal who could see through the icicles into other places, and if there were some special thing that could enable humans to do the same. The story grew a lot from that point, but this was its igniting spark. 

What do you love about writing YA Fantasy books? The age of the YA protagonist is a time in life when so many wonderful things happen. But also a time when a lot of hard things happen as you become old enough to understand things you may have been previously sheltered from. It's often a time of confusion and new feelings that are difficult to sort out. I write stories that will hopefully help teens deal with some of those difficult things and realize that this isn't the end of the world and things will get better. 

When it comes to world-building do you have any particular tricks or techniques? A big part of world-building, besides the magic system and the aesthetics, is the language. I don't write whole languages for my worlds like Tolkein did, but I do frequently create names for characters and places by mixing certain languages. For The Gwythienian, I mixed bits of Romanian, Welsh, and Latin. I don't know how I ever found that combination, but it works well for me. The trick is using google translate to take English words that describe that character and put them into those other three languages. Then I mix and match syllables until I find something I like the sound of. 

What was the most difficult part of the publishing process for you? One of the most difficult parts was putting in so much effort to do everything right, and then finding out that the copy editor I paid hundreds of dollars to missed a ton of things, and the formatter who came so highly recommended formatted one of the sides incorrectly. I stopped at a copy edit, not realizing how important a roof reader really was. The Gwythienian was published with those copy editing errors and the formatting error and once I found out about them, I rushed an emergency proofread, spending more money and losing sales and confidence in the process. The Gwythienian is in great shape now, but it was disappointing to have to deal with all those errors after putting so much money and effort into avoiding them in the first place.

What does your writing space look like? I just got a new office on New Year's Day, actually! I have a desk surrounded by bookshelves and my snake's giant cage. My theme colors are black, white, grey, and red. I love working in there with coffee and a candle, but I also write a lot at several local coffee shops in the area. 

What inspired you to become a professional dragon wrangler? I've wanted to be a veterinarian since I was three. I have a very clear memory of making that decision. Except for a brief fascination with insects, during which I wanted to be an entomologist, I've wanted to be a vet ever since. After my first year of college, it became clear to me that I could be a vet and have nothing else I wanted in life, or compromise and go with being a vet tech and getting everything else that I wanted to have. I didn't know at the time that I would become an author, but I had several artistic pursuits that I would have to give up in order to commit to the intensive education to acquire a doctorate of veterinary medicine, and then go on to specialize in exotics. So I became a vet tech and went to work at an amazing exotic animal clinic where I got to work with everything from beta fish and axolotls to eagles and tigers. It was an amazing experience, and I was able to pursue my writing career on the side the whole time, so it was a win-win for me. 

What are your tricks for juggling writing with a full-time job, husband, life, etc.? A huge help is getting up at 5 and writing before work. I am not naturally a morning person, but after nearly two years of consistently rising early, I can say it's been a huge help. I also make good use of google calendar and schedule EVERYTHING. All things business and writing, and all things friends and family, in order to avoid double-booking and the resulting hurt feelings or lost business opportunities or writing goals. I schedule time to sleep and meet my mom for coffee and clean my house and write and answer emails. Everything goes on the calendar so nothing gets missed and things rarely come up unexpectedly. 

What is the best book you’ve read recently? I've been listening to the audiobooks of the Lunar Chronicles by Marissa Meyer, and they are fantastic. I also recently read Ashes Swept, a retelling by Julia J. Simpson, and absolutely loved it. It might be my first ever 5 star indie book. I totally recommend it for fairytale retelling fans!

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