Inked Blog Tour + Giveaway: Eric Smith’s Out-of-the-Box Research

Posted January 22, 2015 by Debby in Giveaways, Guest Posts

Hi everyone! I’m so excited to be a part of the INKED Blog Tour today! If you don’t already know, this is the very amazing Eric Smith (@ericsmithrocks)’s YA debut, and for this fun post, he’s here to tell us a bit about his quirky out-of-the-box research. But first off – what is this book that should definitely be on your radar?

InkedInked by Eric Smith
Published January 20th, 2015 by Bloomsbury Spark
Buy via Amazon or Barnes & Noble
Tattoos once were an act of rebellion.

Now they decide your destiny the moment the magical Ink settles under your skin.

And in a world where Ink controls your fate, Caenum can’t escape soon enough. He is ready to run from his family, and his best friend Dreya, and the home he has known, just to have a chance at a choice.

But when he upsets the very Scribe scheduled to give him his Ink on his eighteenth birthday, he unwittingly sets in motion a series of events that sends the corrupt, magic-fearing government, The Citadel, after him and those he loves.

Now Caenum, Dreya, and their reluctant companion Kenzi must find their way to the Sanctuary, a secret town where those with the gift of magic are safe. Along the way, they learn the truth behind Ink, its dark origins, and why they are the only ones who can stop the Citadel.

Eric Smith takes you on a high-octane fantasy adventure, perfect for anyone who has dreamed of being different… only to discover that fate is more than skin deep.
Take it away, Eric!

What To Do When You Just Can’t: Researching Outside the Box

All writers should try their best to be aware of what they aren’t all that great at, and know that it’s okay. You don’t have to be a master of every little thing in your writing. There are ways to do research, to explore what you don’t know and make it something you do know. Or at least, know a little better.

As someone who is trying to be something of a writer, I totally know what those things are. My biggest struggles when it came to writing INKED, a YA fantasy novel, had to do with penning battle scenes, explaining how magic works, and making the romance feel… well, romantic. I tried my best at all of that, and a big part of that effort came from working to experience it all first hand.

Epic Battle Scenes & Paintballing

I don’t get into a lot of fights, you guys. I’m pretty non-confrontational. When it came to junior high and high school, the only fights I got into were fights that I basically lost. And as much as I’ve loved watching adventure films and reading fantasy novels with awesome battles… writing them, without experiencing any of the thrill or anxiety that comes from being in something relatable… it was a bit hard. It didn’t feel real enough.

So, I went paintballing.

Thanks to the joys of Living Social, I picked up a paintballing trip for a bunch of friends, several of whom are writers. We took off to a local range, and shot paint at each other for a full day. Hiding behind cover, holing up in ramshackle buildings, plotting points of attack and defense… I couldn’t believe how much it helped me with writing actual fight scenes in the book.

The parts of INKED where there are big battles going down? I wrote those while thinking of paintballing.


Casting Magic Spells & Playing Magic the Gathering

What about casting spells? I mean, I can’t do that. I can imagine it, but characters should be thinking with strategy in mind. There should be a purpose, not just blasting out fireballs or lightning bolts for no good reason.

I’ve played Magic the Gathering since I was a kid, but it made an epic return when I started fussing over writing fantasy novels. When you’re playing that game, casting spells and summoning creatures to defeat your opponent, you have to think tactically.

This is how grown-ups play Magic. Whiskey, pomegranates, cheeses, Magic.
This is how grown-ups play Magic. Whiskey, pomegranates, cheeses, Magic.

Revisiting the game gave me some fun insights about casting magic spells, and the experience of two people with those powers, dueling it out. Countering spells, blocking them, coming up with clever work-around tactics.

As far as I’m concerned, every expansion pack I bought these past two years, counted as research. I hope my accountant agrees.

Romance & Romantic Reads

Okay, okay. I’m not saying I’m bad at romance. If I was, my fiancée wouldn’t be marrying me this summer. But I’m not that great at writing it. My favorite notes from my awesome editor Meredith Rich were always lines like “make this sexier” in bubbles in the margins of my manuscript. I’d joke and type things like “they made-out and stuff” and for some reason, Meredith kept working with me.

So the best way to write a little more romantically, even when you are romantic and just struggle with describing it, is to read a bit more.

I picked up a handful of YA reads that were all about the swoon. The Selection series helped a bit, and Tahereh Mafi’s Shatter Me series was another awesome resource. There’s a quote somewhere about how if you want to be a better writer, you need to read, read, read. Well, that’s what I did, and hopefully it worked? I tried to explore what other YA writers did.

While on a writing retreat in Providence, one of my friends caught this photo of me and my fiancée while I was reading. (D: SO ADORBS OMG)
While on a writing retreat in Providence, one of my friends caught this photo of me and my fiancée while I was reading. (D: SO ADORBS OMG)

So that’s that! When you find you just can’t, try to do a little research out-of-the-box. It’ll help, and chances are, you’ll have a lot of fun while you’re doing it.

Eric Smith
About Eric Smith

Eric Smith is an author, blogger, gamer, and publishing geek living and writing in Philadelphia. His latest book, The Geek’s Guide to Dating, was published by Quirk Books in December 2013, and was an Amazon 2013 Best Book of the Year selection in Humor. He still can’t believe that happened.

His first Young Adult novel, Inked, will debut with Bloomsbury Spark in January of 2015.


Are you super excited about Inked yet? Well, Eric’s graciously offering up an e-copy in your choice of format, so be sure to enter the giveaway below!!


  • You must fill in the Rafflecopter below to enter.
  • This giveaway is INTERNATIONAL!
  • You must be 18 years of age or older to enter, or 13+ years old with parental permission.
  • Any entrants who are found to be gaming the system will be disqualified.
  • The giveaway runs until February 4th, at 11:59 p.m. EST.
  • When the contest ends, the winner will be announced here and emailed. The winner will have 72 hours to respond, before another winner is picked.
a Rafflecopter giveaway

Follow the blog tour!

1/20: The Book Smugglers
The Premiere of the Theme Song to INKED by (Surprise!)

1/21: Cuddlebuggery
On Editing, Revising, & Learning to Leave Things Out

1/22: Snuggly Oranges
What To Do When You Just Can’t: Researching Outside the Box

1/23: The Perpetual Page Turner
A Roundup (And Giveaway) of YA Novels That Inspired INKED

1/26: Good Books & Good Wine
Music & Inked: The Soundtrack to a Young Adult Novel

1/27: Not Yet Read
How Video Games Can Make You a Better Author

1/28: My Bookish Ways
The Best Pieces of Advice I’ve Ever Gotten From Other Writers

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2 responses to “Inked Blog Tour + Giveaway: Eric Smith’s Out-of-the-Box Research

  1. I guess I won’t brow-beat my 23 year old son so much about still playing Magic. As long as he is giving his brain a workout, I’m all for it. I just wish it was helping him with his Chemistry, and not Alchemy. Ha! The book looks interesting. Thanks for the review.