I had a great time and am grateful for being included in their ezine!
You can find the original interview here:
Today’s guest is scifi fantasy author E.L. Strife. Her new book is Stellar Fusion (Infinite )Spark Book 1 and she is on a virtual book tour this month with Pump Up Your Book! We’re very glad to have her here today to talk about her book, writing and what surprised her about getting her book published.
Welcome to The Writer’s Life! Now that your book has been published, we’d love to find out more about the process. Can we begin by having you take us at the beginning? When did you come up with the idea to write your book?
I appreciate you having me today!
Stellar Fusion, my first novel, is a blend of science fiction and fantasy with militaristic and agricultural elements. I have fond memories of watching Star Trek with my father and spending time on my mother’s family farm. I combined those experiences with my military and adoption background into this futuristic story of Earth with, of course, a magical twist.
Stellar Fusion originally started as a dream-journal entry in the summer of 2012. I’d just been married, and my husband was sick with a mysterious, chronic illness. We had no money. It was just nice to have something that felt powerful when our lives seemed like a constant struggle to make ends meet. I started writing because I didn’t want to lose that spark of hope.
It took about two years to develop the story into a full manuscript. It was my first time tackling the idea of writing a book. I had a full-time job, so I wrote in the evenings and on the weekends.
In the three years that followed, I studied writing craft and revised my book before sending it off to a freelance editor for professional feedback. It might as well have come back on red paper! But I learned a lot and built on my knowledge with local classes and seminars. Now the Infinite Spark series has three books with a fourth in progress!
Who is your publisher and how did you find them or did you self-publish?
I self-published Stellar Fusion for the first time in 2017. Back then, I was an easily-embarrassed and shy writer. Self-publishing was a way for me to experience the entire process while studying the market from a safe distance. I have since fine-tuned my writing, publication, and marketing strategies, but I am glad for the bumps and bruises along the way. I love learning new things, and self-publishing comes with a hefty workload.
Is there anything that surprised you about getting your first book published?
I was terrified the first time I hit publish. Then nothing happened. I had mixed feelings of fear that I’d screwed something up during the publication process and disappointment that my work wasn’t interesting enough to entice readers to buy. I didn’t know how critical having a marketing platform and street team was to the launch of a book.
Do you believe a book cover plays an important role in the selling process?
The cover image, in my mind, is the most important piece in advertising a book. It displays the genre of the story when it’s not always readily listed, particularly online. If you want to catch the attention of readers of a specific genre, you want to ensure the cover reflects the trends of that genre. A great cover will hint at the main predicament or plot as well as create tension before readers even start the book.
The packaging of a book needs to represent what’s inside. It’s frustrating when the main character featured on the front doesn’t look like the character described in the book. It makes me wonder who I’m looking at. Even more, the quality of the cover images and arrangement is critical. I won’t talk about titles. But if your images are pixellated, not blended well, or the arrangement isn’t balanced, then the cover won’t catch the readers’ eyes. It needs to grab their attention to make them stop. If they don’t stop, then your title, blurb, and content won’t matter.
Just remember, the cover is a symbol of your book. If it’s shoddy work, readers will expect the same inside. Conversely, don’t have an expensive cover then skimp on edits. Do your hard work justice with great packaging.
How hard was it to write a book like this and do you have any tips that you could pass on which would make the journey easier for other writers?
I chose a heck of a book to start with. Stellar Fusion features multiple alien cultures and languages, a villainous galactic empire, planetary invasions, an organization of soldiers with hard-and-fast rules, a dying Earth, and a main character who can’t remember the first fifteen years of her life. I had to manage all of that while learning about editing, formatting, cover design, publication, and marketing. It was far more difficult than I anticipated.
I have noticed certain genres are easier to write than others. A lot of it depends on the complexity of the story. But, in general, I find writing romance and women’s fiction far easier than science fiction and fantasy. It’s mostly due to the technical detail and explanations of things that must occur in the latter genres. I’ve written a romance in a month, whereas a science fiction novel might take four to six.
Tips for other writers (from my experience):
Twitter is a great place to connect with other writers, whether through critique swaps, writing prompts, querying events, or the general community.
Join a writers’ organization where you can take online classes or go to interactive sessions and network with others. The more you can educate yourself on the processes of writing and publishing, the better. And having a friend who understands the stress of the process is important. We all need a shoulder to cry on sometimes.
Build a website before you publish your books. You can link social media accounts and email subscriptions to one place and begin to build your launch team/street team. This way, you can share your big news with tons of followers on publication day and start with a bang!
Give away Advanced Review Copies of your book, so when you publish, you can get a few ratings posted early-on. This will encourage more people to buy when they visit your book’s page.
But I think the most important thing is to get comfortable with critiques and critical feedback from authors and editors. Don’t let the suggestions or edits get under your skin. Fix what needs fixing and move forward. It’s not worth getting upset over. You’re going to need that energy for plenty of other tasks.
What other books are you working on and when will they be published?
I just completed and published Shadows of the Son, the third book in the Infinite Spark series. Redshift, book four, is under construction and will publish sometime in 2020. A Promise in Ash, a stand-alone romantic suspense novel, is keeping me busy with final edits. Wildfire, book two of the holiday romance series Embers on Ice, is next in line.
What’s one fact about your book that would surprise people?
I didn’t want to write it.
I swore off creative writing and dream-journaling after a few bad experiences as a child. My entire life, I’ve been a lucid dreamer. I didn’t want to write my dream down. But I’ve never felt such a compulsion to do anything in my life. I pushed aside my fears to hang on to that spark of hope.
I find dreams intriguing, and you’ll see that it’s a large focus in the series. The characters often experience different stages of consciousness and even dip into a separate realm I named Ether.
As I caved and studied more of the writing craft, I began to control the dream-child better, hone it into a story instead of a compilation of nocturnal delusions. The process took time, but I finished it and moved on to book two, Requiem, and now, Shadows of the Son.
Finally, what message are you trying to get across with your book?
Stellar Fusion carries two main messages:
First, we all have common vulnerabilities: pain (physical/mental/emotional) and mortality. When we remember these, no matter who we are or what we believe, we can always find common ground.
Second, family does not have to be defined by blood. It can be built with trust and time together.
The messages in Stellar Fusion are channeled through members of the Universal Protectors. They are orphans from the Three Hundred Year War on Earth. They serve and protect the remaining people of Earth regardless of race, religion, gender, orientation, age, capability, species, or zone of residence. They judge only based on actions that threaten our common vulnerabilities.
Thank you again for this interview! Do you have any final words?
Thank you for taking the time to read about my experiences as a writer and a self-published author. I hope you’ll check out my books! I’m always happy to network with anyone interested, even if you only have a question about the process. If you subscribe to my email list, you’ll always get free access to my new releases before they publish! (I only email about the free stuff. I’m swamped with messages too.) You can find me at elstrife.com and primarily on Twitter @ ElysiaLStrife.
Meet the Author
Adopted by two educators, Strife developed a deep love for learning new things. In 2012, she graduated from Oregon State University with two Bachelor’s Degrees in Public Health and Human Sciences: Interior Design and Exercise Sport Science. Her past wears fatigues, suits, and fitness gear, sprinkled with mascara and lace.
“I like to question everything, figure out how things work, and do tasks myself. Experiencing new things is fun but also helps with writing raw and genuine stories. And I’m always trying to push my comfort zones.”
Strife likes the rumble of her project car’s 350-ci V8. She enjoys the rush of snowboarding and riding ATVs on the dunes. But nothing brings her more solace than camping in the mountains where the stars are their brightest.
Strife enjoys connecting with readers and welcomes all feedback and questions.