Author Interviews, Blog, Sci-Fi Fantasy Blog

Author Interview: Angela Amberden, YA Fantasy

   Hiya!  My name is Angela Amberden and I am currently knee deep in the editing mud of my first novel.  It is a story about two young women, separated by time but connected by so much more that discover that learning where you’re from, who you are and where you’re going can be magical.

From Planning to Published

When did you start writing and why?

I started this novel, which is the first in a series of three, in June of 2019.  I felt like there was this great story I had within me that i needed to tell for all the young women out there who think they’re ordinary or that their life can never be special.  I wanted it to be filled strong relationships and exciting adventure, but most importantly, authentic characters that readers, especially young girls could connect with and see themselves in. 

How long did it take you to finish your first book?

I challenged myself to write everyday for 100 straight days and shortly there after I completed the ~58K work manuscript.  So less than 6 months for the first draft.  I have been actively editing about 5 months and hope to finish and begin querying late this year.

How did you determine your target audience?

My target audience is pre-teen and teenaged girls.  I chose this audience as I feel like I wanted to bring a story that isn’t either repressively innocent nor scandalously mature to young women. I wanted to share an authentic adventure that any young woman could see herself in.

How do you define success as an author?

Success as an author is typically defined as a published work, and while I completely expect that to be the natural progress my book will take, I also have a certain amount of pride in just completing an entire book. 

About Your Work

What type of content do you write and why? Fiction Novels? Poems? Songs? Screenplays? Short Stories? Epic?

While I have been working on this book, I have also found it valuable to create other types of content.  I have written essays, poems, and in college I wrote an editorial advice column under a pseudonym.  I am also a contributing editor to a monthly online food magazine. I also have  a treatment for a comedic episodic rattling around in here…waiting for an opportunity to come out.   

What was your first goal when you started your journey to becoming an author? Has that changed?

When I began, my first goal was just to write a book, specifically I was writing a collection of essays, working full circle from being a daughter, all the way to being a mother with the specific focus on being a mother without a Mom.  It was too emotional and raw but as I was writing the idea for my novel came to me.  After completing this work I may retrace my steps to those essays, but we’ll have to see.  The goal is the same though…write and publish.

What do you want your readers to get out of your works?

For myself, the greatest achievement as an author would be for my readers to see themselves in my books.  To connect with the characters on the page.  That is what I strive for.

Do you recommend any programs, courses, or websites?

I don’t have any particular programs I use all the time, but I would suggest that any writer attend a writers conference.  I was lucky to participate in one before Covid and it supported, refreshed and taught me so many amazing lessons.  Things that I call back to time and time again when editing.    

Fun Stuff

Where do you write your stories? A tiny office? A loft? The kitchen table? In the bushes while you secretly people-watch like a total creeper? Or a warm café with mocha in hand and feet up on an ottoman?

Prior to covid I had two cafes that I frequented.  I felt a certain legitimization in writing outside of my house.  I don’t know if it just “kept me honest” since there were no distractions of home.  Now that we are in lockdown, and nothing is open, I have a home office, which is organized and quiet where I have the luxury of writing in my robe.

What book are you reading at the moment?

I just finished The Vanishing Half by Brit Bennet which I loved immensely.  I am going to try to mimic her pacing, as it was urgent without being frantic.  I just started A Promised Land by Barack Obama two days ago, and since i’m on page 26 of 760-something, I’m sure it’ll be with me for awhile.

Do you have a writing companion?

I have a black and white tuxedo cat, Ferdinand, who I’ve had to give his own space adjacent to my desk so that he can curl up and be at the ready.  He is a cat that senses stress or anxiety and won’t leave you alone until you calm down via petting him.  I usually know it’s been a rough writing day based on how often he’s interrupted me.

What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever been given?

If you want to be a successful and even prolific writer, there are two things you have to do.  Write…A LOT and Read…A LOT.

You can find Angela Amberden on Twitter at:

@AuthorAngelaA

Author Interviews, Blog, Sci-Fi Fantasy Blog

Author Interview: Nicholas P. Adams, Sci-fi, Fantasy

In writing circles, I go by Nicholas P. Adams. I typically write SciFi, but I dabble in high fantasy. My most recent published work is an anthology I co-edited with my critique group and my current WIP is a futuristic SciFi Thriller/Mystery.

From Planning to Published

When did you start writing and why?

Author:      I caught the writing bug in 2013 when I came across a quote, I believe by Toni Morrison. “When you can’t find the book you want to read, you must write it.” I’d had a story idea (favorite world for daydreaming) in my head for over ten years, so I decided to chase the lightning. That quest became The Angels’ Secret, my first self-published novel.

How long did it take you to finish your first book?

Author:      I wrote the first 80K word draft in a month (I knew nothing about NaNoWriMo at the time) and spent the next year revising and adding content until It became the 147K behemoth it is today.

If you’ve published, how long did your first book take?

Author:      See the previous answer.

(If applicable) Has your publishing timeframe improved at all since your first publication?

Author:      Not really. After writing my first novel, I got into submitting short stories to the Writers of the Future contest. Partially, it was to get practice writing, but mostly it was to trying to get discovered.

Are you indie, traditional, hybrid, or vanity, and why?

Author:      I’m an indie-publisher still hoping to get recognized by a big house, but I’m also looking at smaller and hybrid publishers for a high fantasy novel I finished last year. I started the indie route because I wanted to see my author name on a cover, so I suppose it was more for vanity’s sake, but since then, I’ve enjoyed the process of exploring some of the issues we face in our modern world in a way that engages a readers imagination and sense of wonder.

How did you determine your target audience?

Author:      I don’t. I write for me. If my stories resonate with individuals, that’s wonderful. If somehow I can cast a wider net and reach a larger audience, that’s all gravy.

What is your publishing process?

Author:    It’s progressed over the years. I started out as a pure pantser, but I’ve learned how plotting first strengthens the ideas I start with.  I tend to write my first drafts in chronological order, and I edit as I go. I then put it through Grammarly to help me with punctuation, repeated words, unclear sentences, tenses, etc. Then I share each chapter with my critique group to get feedback. After I incorporate their suggestions, I consider it final. If I decide to self-publish a story, I’ll hire a cover designer directly and get feedback from the writing community on each iteration until I select the final design.

What platforms do you use to publish your works?

Author:     Only Kindle Directly Publishing so far. But my anthology is published through a small house that manages it on all the other platforms as well.

How do you get critiques, betas, feedback, and edits?

Author:      I get alpha critiques from my writer’s group. I enlist fellow writers from social media for beta feedback. I’ve also hired independent editors on small projects. It’s hard to afford professional editing services when you have a small writing budget. However, I would say that hiring a developmental coach to help me plot my WIP was the best money I’ve ever spent. I feel like I can do my own chapter by chapter editing after she helped me nail down the plot points and structure.

Marketing

Do you have a platform? What does it consist of?

Author:      To be honest, I don’t have one, not officially anyway. I do have a website and accounts on Goodreads, Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram, as well as my Author page on Amazon.

What is your launch plan for your works?

Author:      In the past, I’ve used Goodreads giveaways and promoting myself on social media. For my fantasy novel, I’m hoping to get picked up by a literary agent or small press and work with them on promotions, setting up a local launch party, giveaways, etc.

How do you get reviews for your books?

Author:      I used to use Goodreads giveaways until they started charging, but when I had a limited writing budget I had to forgo that avenue. But my co-publishers and I will be doing a giveaway on Goodreads for our anthology early in 2021. And I’ll be investing in them for all my future works.

How do you promote your content?

Author:      Mostly on social media. I like to participate in daily writing prompts on Twitter and post snippets from several stories in hopes of building up a fan base.

What do you think is the most critical marketing component or tactic for becoming successful?

Author:      Unless you’re a newly discovered rising star: Time. It’s hard to break in without a fanbase, and it’s hard to get a fanbase when you’re an unknown, and it takes time to build up a fanbase without heavy promotion through representation and ads.

How do you define success as an author?

Author:      I feel like I’ve been successful when someone says I wrote something that resonated with them. But, also being able to write full-time and make enough to keep a roof over my family’s head and food in their bellies would be fantastic.

About Your Work

What type of content do you write and why? Fiction Novels? Poems? Songs? Screenplays? Short Stories? Epic?

Author:      I like to write epic SciFi because I’m a geeky nerd at heart. I grew up on Star Wars and Star Trek, and I love books with fantastic worlds and cultures. But, I also learned I like high fantasy because it allows me to explore human issues with non-human characters. I dabble in poetry, and I wrote a screenplay once (just for the experience) and I spent the last five years writing short stories for the WofF contest. I’ve found that writing short stories is good practice for writing chapters in a novel, and a good novel is a series of short stories with an overarching plot.

What genres and subgenres do you write in?

Author:      I like to write speculative fiction, which I consider SciFi/Fantasy crossovers. But I would say my subgenres are mystery and adventure.

What is your author brand (genre, mood, image, theme, message, etc)? How did you decide on it?

Author:      I consider my brand is embodied in my author photo. I hide my face because I want to be known for my writing. I decided on it when I started because I want to retain a degree of anonymity. What if I become really famous? Anonymity. What if my writing really sucks? Anonymity.

How many works have you published?

Author:      I self-published one SciFi novel and two short stories. One of my short stories was published in a small-press anthology, and I co-published an anthology of short stories, all of which were honored by Writers of the Future.

(If applicable) Can you tell us a bit about your most recent publication?

Author:      Cresting the Sun is my awarding winning anthology, recently won the 2020 Gold Quill from the League of Utah Writers for Published Collections. All 12 stories are award winners from Writers of the Future. It’s available on Amazon and other platforms, and we’ll be starting a giveaway on Goodreads in early 2021.

Name some common elements in your writing: villains, magic, red-herring twists, the unfortunate ensign, mysterious phenomena, asyndeton, sentence fragments etc.

Author:      This is a difficult question to answer because I’ve experimented with so many elements over the years. I think the best stories are good vs evil, but I like my villains to be sympathetic. I want the reader to see both sides of the issue, and understand the reasoning of both the protagonist and the antagonist. And I love a good twist. I love a story that seems to be going one way, and then after you get hit with the twist, the clues were there all along so it’s not out of the blue.

What was your first goal when you started your journey to becoming an author? Has that changed?

Author:      My first goal was to become famous and independently wealthy. Has it changed? Yes, and no. I still want to be independent enough to write full-time, but I want to be known for writing good, thought-provoking stories that emotionally resonate with people and give them a glimpse of a hopeful future, not the dismal one I see so often these days.

Do you have other supporting services like a podcast, blog, webinars, courses, video channel?

Author:      I have a blog where I promote fellow authors and write reviews of the books I read.

What do you want your readers to get out of your works?

Author:      I want to whisk them away to another world and help them see from someone else’s perspective for a time and realize we’re not that different after all.

What part of the author process are you working on or studying most now?

Author:      Finding representation.

What has been your favorite part of the writing and querying or publishing process?

Author:      Getting messages on social media or through my website that someone was deeply moved by something I wrote.

Do you recommend any programs, courses, or websites?

Author:      David Farland has a wonderful newsletter with tips on all things writing. I’ve also learned quite a bit from K.M. Weiland

Have you always read in the genre you wanted to write in? Do you think that’s made it easier or harder to create new stories?

Author:      I usually read SciFi, but I’ve also branched out into other genres when fellow authors ask me to review their work. It may not resonate with me as a reader, but I do get ideas on how to improve my writing as an author.

What is your writing process, from idea to polished work? Pantster? Plotter? How long does that typically take you?

Author:      As I said earlier, I started out as a pantser. Then I started plotting my short stories using the 7-Point Plot Outline (which is based on the Star Trek RPG Guide)  as presented by Dan Wells at LTUE years ago. Then, for my WIP, I hired a developmental editor to help me outline my novel after I’d spent months tinkering with ideas and trying to outline it myself. Sometimes, we’re too close to it that we need someone else to help us see and map out the big picture.

Where do you network most with other writers, authors, and creative types? LinkedIn? Wattpad? Twitter? Facebook? Somewhere else?

Author:      I mostly connect with my fellow authors on Twitter, and then on Instagram.

Do you sprint-write like a starving cheetah, or are you a totally chill turtle writer? Somewhere in between?

Author:      Having a regular 9-5 day job, I have to pace myself to a little time each day. On rare occasions, like when my family is gone for the weekend, I can spend a Saturday writing uninterrupted.

Struggles

What has been the hardest thing to overcome on your journey to authorship?

Author:      Patience. I suppose I had unrealistic expectations as to my meteoric rise to fame and fortune. After all, it’s ever been easier to get published. On the other hand, it’s never been more difficult to get read. I’ve heard KDP has over 1,000 new books published every day, so getting someone to choose your book over the (literally) millions of others makes getting noticed harder each day.

How has the writing and querying or publishing process affected you emotionally? Do you have any tips for budding writers?

Author:      I’ve yet to find success with queries. Agents, like all people, have subjective tastes and it comes down to the laws of supply and demand. Agents and publishers are looking for stories that will sell. I hear that getting a deal with the big 5 publishers is still the best road to fame and fortune, but it’s a hurdle I’ve not figured out how to surpass. My advice to budding writers: learn all you can about the writing craft (structure, grammar, editing, etc) and write the stories that make your fingertips tingle on the keyboard.

Do you have any tips or recommendations for those who want to go the final step and become authors?

Author:      Attend local or virtual writing conferences. Listen and learn from those who are further along the path. Sign up for newsletters and, like Stephen King said, read, read, read. You can learn as much about what NOT TO DO from a poorly written book as what TO DO from a well-written one.

If you could do it all over again, what would you change?

Author:      I wouldn’t have started by pantsing a novel. I would have started with short stories and developed my voice before taking on a novel-sized project.

Are you a driven & self-advocating author, a gun-shy promoter, or a total marketing procrastinator?

Author:      A little bit of all three. I’m shameless about sharing snippets of my work on social media, tentative when it comes to promoting my works available for purchase, and (unfortunately) wait until after publication to announce a new work for sale.

How do you keep yourself motivated?

Author:      For me, writing is like moving. If I don’t do it for a couple of days, I start to feel restless. Even if it’s just a 280-character off-the-cuff piece on Twitter, I need to exercise my creative muscles on a regular basis. Most days, I can only go for a short jog. On others, I can do a marathon.

How do you combat writer’s block?

Author:      I don’t force it. Step away from a project. Go for a walk. Set it aside for a couple of days. Do something physical. It’s amazing how much inspiration comes when I’m exerting physical energy that my mental back-burner is simmering and fresh ideas bubble to the surface.

Also, I pray. I pray every day for inspiration that will touch the minds and hearts of the people who will read my stories. I want them to feel encouraged and hopeful, even if my stories are riddled with bleak moments. In the end, I want them to find hope for the future.

What literary/writer-based term did you not know when you started that has become important and relevant to you?

Author:      Investment. I never knew how much blood, sweat, time, and tears authors invested to get where they are today.

How did your family and friends react to your writing? Was it what you expected from them?

Author:      My family and friends were, and remain, ardently supportive. My parents especially (perhaps so much that I doubted their objectivity). But, for the most part, my writing has been well-received from family and friends (old and new).

What assumptions about writers and authors do you think are myths?

Author:     

1) We’re all coffee addicts. I’ve never drunk it in my life. I get my caffeine from soda.

2) We’re all book junkies. I enjoy a good book, but I also like stories in visual formats (theater, TV, and films)

3) We’re all introverts. Well, that one is more true than not. I know one author I’d classify as extroverted.

Fun Stuff

What do you listen to while you write?

Author:      Nothing. I’m easily distracted. I actually write best in absolute silence.

Is there a fun word or group of terms you like to put into your writing?

Author:      Not especially. I do enjoy taking a cliche and revising it to fit the theme or world I’m building. It was fun to do in my high fantasy because the characters are hybrids of avian, primate, and marsupial species.

Where do you write your stories? A tiny office? A loft? The kitchen table? In the bushes while you secretly people-watch like a total creeper? Or a warm café with mocha in hand and feet up on an ottoman?

Author:      I have a home office, from where I’ve worked my day job(s) for the last three years. I love not commuting, and I can use the extra 90 minutes per day I’m not driving a car to write.

What book are you reading at the moment?

Author:      I just finished Icarus by Rron Knave, an indie-author, but I haven’t picked up a new book yet. I’m also reading the Fablehaven series to my kids at bedtime, so I guess that counts.

What is your favorite literary trope?

Author:      I love a good villain who’s convinced they’re the hero.

How do you try to “break the mold” and be unique?

Author:     I like genre crossovers and retelling of an old story in a different genre. Fractured Fairy tales appeal to me. I also think that the characters all need an internal conflict, as well as an external one, that drives their decisions. If their decisions don’t fit their personality, the plot becomes formulaic and trope-driven and not conflict-driven.

What have you learned about yourself from the writing and/or authorship process?

Author:      I love writing more than reading. If I have to choose to spend an hour between writing a paragraph or reading a chapter, without hesitation I’d rather write.

What is your favorite writing snack and drink?

Author:      Coke Zero with shots of lime and raspberry.

Do you have a writing companion?

Author:      I’m not a pet person. Does God count? Yes. Yes, He does.

What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever been given?

Author:      Write what you love, because your passion will come across from the page and it’ll excite the reader.

Author Interviews, Blog

Author Interview: Joshua Loveday, Literary, Contemporary, & Poetry

My name’s Joshua Loveday. I write literary and upmarket contemporary novels and short stories, as well as the occasional poem. I’m in the beta-reading stage of a character-driven upmarket contemporary novel in which an alcoholic wife must choose between finding sobriety and dealing with her husband’s Alzheimer’s or continuing to drink and miss out on reconnecting with him before he no longer recognizes her. I’m also querying a plot-driven literary novel that explores the personal narratives we tell ourselves, how heroes are not what they seem and how there are no true villains. My short story THE BEACH was a finalist for the 42nd Flash Fiction Contest by New Millennium Writings, and my story IN THIS LIFE appeared in Grit Magazine.

When did you start writing and why?

Author:     The first chapter book I ever read was TRUMPET OF THE SWAN by E.B. White. I think I was eight or nine. It fascinated me how I lost myself in a world that existed only in my mind. I used to imagine stories all the time, but to discover that I could write them down for others to enjoy motivated me. I’ve been writing ever since.

How long did it take you to finish your first book?

Author:      My first novel took about four years. It was short and crappy. One of my college professors had told me the first book you wrote was only practice. After you finish, put it on a shelf in your closet and write a good one. He was right. I’ve written five novels now, each one easier and better than the last.

How do you get critiques, betas, feedback, and edits?

Author:      My first critique comes from my spouse, usually in bed at the end of the day as I read aloud what I wrote that day. My local writers’ group–and if you don’t have one, find one or start one–gives great feedback. Then I send the completed book out to beta readers and critique partners. Twitter is a great way to find other writers willing to help you hone your craft. There are certain websites I use, as well: CritiqueMatch and BetaReader. The more feedback you receive, the better the finished product.

What do you want your readers to get out of your works?

Author:      If I can make the reader laugh and cry, I feel I’ve done my job. I love seeing the emotions I wrote into my work manifest themselves in the reader.    

Have you always read in the genre you wanted to write in? Do you think that’s made it easier or harder to create new stories?

Author:      I love reading literary and contemporary novels with elegant and flowing prose that leave me breathless. A writer who doesn’t read isn’t much of a writer. Reading is essential to becoming a better writer. It’s how you learn the craft. That being said, I do indulge in a good sci-fi or fantasy novel on occasion.

What is your writing process, from idea to polished work? Pantster? Plotter? How long does that typically take you?

Author:      I used to be a pantser, then I discovered the Snowflake Method, and after trying it out, I was hooked. I’m a firm plotter now, laying out everything in the story before writing the actual prose. If you google it, you’ll find a link explaining what it is. I’m not going to lie. It’s hard work. It takes a good three weeks of intensive plotting and character development, but when you’re ready to put words on paper, you’ve already done the work, and all you need to do is write the scenes. I’ve found I can write better novels in less time by using this method.

Do you sprint-write like a starving cheetah, or are you a totally chill turtle writer? Somewhere in between?

Author:      I write in the morning, usually until my spouse drags me away for lunch. I usually become so absorbed with my work that I forget to eat, then wonder why it’s dark out and I’m light-headed and dizzy.

How has the writing and querying or publishing process affected you emotionally? Do you have any tips for budding writers?

Author:      Writers must have a thick skin and unwavering determination and belief in themselves and their work. They find this out when they get their first critiques and feel attacked or grow defensive. But after some self-reflection, they realize that no matter how harsh the critique, the advice is invaluable, and they learn to welcome it. It is the same with querying agents or submitting stories or poems to magazines for publication. You will get rejected.  A lot. Usually with a form email. Then one day you’ll receive an email that is personalized. It’s still a rejection, but you garnered some attention. Then you’ll receive an email asking to look at your work or accepting it for publication, and you’ll forget all about those countless rejections. I look forward to rejections now. It means I’m putting my work out there. When I submit a story or query an agent, I simply assume it will be rejected and line up the next submission, so that when the rejection arrives, I can send it right back out somewhere else.

Do you have any tips or recommendations for those who want to go the final step and become authors?

Author:      I have one very big and essential piece of advice: FINISH YOUR BOOK. So many new writers get caught up in editing their work over and over in a self-defeating cycle. Stop editing and write till the end. If you never finish your book, you’ll never write more than one.

If you could do it all over again, what would you change?

Author:      When I was young, I had this skewed romantic notion that writers were somehow different or disturbed, that other people didn’t understand them, that they were somehow gifted. That’s crap. Talent is common, but writing takes hard work. You must sit down every day and write. If I could go back and do it all over again, I would make the commitment to write every day. Plus, I used to drink a lot of alcohol. It’s hard to write when you’re drunk or at the bar or hungover. When I quit drinking, my writing became prolific and improved exponentially. You have to ask yourself, how bad do you want it? How important is writing to you? What are you willing to give up to sit down for hours every day and write?

What is your favorite writing snack and drink?

Author:      Coffee, coffee, coffee.

You can follow me on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook. You can also visit and subscribe to my blog at Joshua Loveday

Author Interviews, Blog

Author Interview: Laura A. Barton, Fiction & Nonfiction

My name is Laura A. Barton, and I write a mix of fiction and non-fiction. I used to consider myself strictly a fantasy author, and, while the novel that has taken up the bulk of my life is fantasy, I wouldn’t consider myself exclusively a fantasy writer anymore. At this point, I like telling stories. Toni Morrison is quoted as saying, “If there’s a book you want to read, but it hasn’t been written yet, then you must write it.” This resonates with me and is at the core of what I do.

Recent Fiction WIPs: Killing Secrets (High Fantasy) and The Assistant (Romance) Recent Non-fiction Publication: Project Dermatillomania: The Stories Behind Our Scars and Project Dermatillomania: Written On Our Skin (Second editions, 2020)

From Planning to Published

When did you start writing and why?

Author:     

        I started really getting into writing when I was 9 years old. I had all these stories floating around in my head, and I felt the need to tell them. Reading has always been a big part of my life, and the stories I read or even the ones I saw on TV inspired my earliest works and drive to write fiction.

How long did it take you to finish your first book?

Author:     

        I wrote many “books” starting from that young age, but the first one I really had ambitions of publishing took me 4 months to write the first draft. I don’t think I had a computer yet, and I was writing everything out by hand. I kept all the pages in a special binder and dated my progress each day so I could keep track of how I was doing. I was absorbed by that story and wrote almost every day. I was super proud of that book, and the story and characters still mean a lot to me, but I don’t think I’ll ever publish it.

If you’ve published, how long did your first book take?

Author:

        I don’t have any fiction books published, which is not for lack of trying. I’ve written, and revised, and queried Killing Secrets since 2005, but it’s just not there, yet. Hopefully, it will be in print someday in the near future.

        I do have two non-fiction books published though. The first of those, Project Dermatillomania: The Stories Behind Our Scars, began as an idea in 2012 and is an anthology of works from people who live with excoriation (skin-picking) disorder (also called dermatillomania). Between receiving submissions, editing, and then formatting, it took a couple of years before the first edition was published in 2014.

(If applicable) Has your publishing timeframe improved at all since your first publication?

Author:

        I would say my publishing timeframe has improved since that first publication. I put out the call for submissions for the second non-fiction book I published, Project Dermatillomania: Written On Our Skin, in February 2016, and then it was published in March 2017. Again, it was a matter of working with the submissions, editing, and formatting, but I at least had a sense of what I was doing this time around.    

Are you indie, traditional, hybrid, or vanity, and why?

Author:     

        I’ve always had dreams of traditional publishing. Part of that was because when I was younger, self-publishing and vanity publishing were both still very much seen as being the lesser option. The idea was that anyone could self-publish, but only those with true talent got publishing deals. I definitely know how flawed that thinking is now.

While I’d still love to be traditionally published, I have also been considering the indie publishing route. There are so many authors that I love and look up to these days that have gone that path and are doing great. I know it’s a lot of work, which is daunting, but I can see it now as a possibility.

        For my non-fiction books, I self-published them. My target audience—others with excoriation disorder, their support systems, or people just wanting to learn more—is niche, and I didn’t think a traditional publisher would pick up the books. Additionally, I wanted full control over them. I wanted to be able to say what the books looked and felt like. I’m confident I made the right decision for them.

How did you determine your target audience?

Author:     

        Target audience is an interesting one for me, and in some regards, I think I’m kind of all over the map. Looking at my oldest WIP, Killing Secrets, to my more recent WIPs and publications, things feel vastly different to me.

Part of the problem with Killing Secrets is that I started writing it when I was 15. I wasn’t quite aware of audience when I started and didn’t really take that sort of thing into consideration. It was just a story I wanted to write, so I did. As a result, however, it’s complicated matters this late in the game. In university, I majored in English Language and Literature, which gave me a more acute sense of audience and readership. Now with each revision or rewrite, I’m almost having to reshape to consider not only age range, but, to some extent, the area of interest. While I believe in writing what you’d like to, audience still plays an important role in the end product.

        As much as I’ve always loved learning literature and writing, I think some part of me felt that learning the craft wasn’t really necessary when it came to being a writer. Realistically, though, it’s so key and has helped me vastly improve how I approach both my fiction and non-fiction writing, in particular with audience. With what I know now, other fiction works I’ve done, like my other WIP, The Assistant, have come more easily because I see how much being aware of these things can shape the story.

What is your publishing process?

Author:   

        For my fiction novels, the publishing process has been a long journey of writing, revising, getting feedback, more revising, and so on. Since I haven’t gotten to publishing those yet, I’m not sure what the end of this process is going to look like, but I can’t wait to find out.

        As for my non-fiction books, being anthologies, the process was pretty much idea, call for submissions, edit submissions, organize submissions, formatting, then publication.

What platforms do you use to publish your works?

Author:    

        I’m a fan of Amazon’s Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP), although in the past, I’ve also used Blurb. Both are good platforms and have their benefits. I feel KDP better fits my needs, however, and will be sticking with that for any indie publishing I do.

How do you get critiques, betas, feedback, and edits?

Author:     

        Input for my books has come from a number of sources: family, friends, beta readers, critique partners, and others involved in the book’s process (for my non-fiction books). I also used to post online to websites like Fictionpress and deviantART, but I steer away from those these days because of some of the strictness with traditional publishing requirements. The first beta readers I ever worked with, I connected with via a beta reader group on Facebook. The first critique partners I worked with, I connected with on Twitter. Social media can be a great asset for these situations and provides the opportunity to connect with a wider range of people instead of just those in your circle. Don’t get me wrong, I love my friends and family, but it helps to get wider perspective.

My most recent publication was actually a dual publication. In December 2020, I published second editions of Project Dermatillomania: The Stories Behind Our Scars and Project Dermatillomania: Written On Our Skin. The reason I wanted to do that was to clean up spelling, grammar, and formatting issues that were missed the first time around, as well as have both books formatted for both print and ebook. Both books were originally released when I was still mostly learning how to navigate putting a book together, let alone publishing anything. I’m grateful for all the help I received for those books and don’t mean to take away any of the work others put in. What I did with the second editions was more of a polish job than any significant changes.

Marketing

Do you have a platform? What does it consist of?

Author:     

        My primary platform for marketing my work is social media. Again, this is a powerful tool, especially for indie authors. I can’t say I’ve mastered it, but I’m doing what I can.

What is your launch plan for your works?

Author:     

        When thinking about launch plans, I think about what I like to see and what draws me in. With others launching their books, I like teasers and visual marketing material. The teasers don’t even have to be chapter previews. A good chunk of the books I’ve read lately drew me in because of teaser artwork, aesthetic content, or even an attention-grabbing quote from the story. At its basics, I hope to adopt that sort of launch plan.

How do you get reviews for your books?

Author:     

        Reviews are not something I’ve mastered in the slightest. Basically, right now, I just ask people who’ve read my books to leave reviews, but I know that moving forward, I should amp that up. My plans with my fiction novels in particular are to have ARC copies to bring in some reviews, which will hopefully encourage others to read and review as well.

How do you promote your content?

Author:     

        Promoting my content is something that I always thought was simple. Put it out there, mention it, and you’re good to go. With social media as my main platforms, however, the sophistication of the algorithms makes that a challenge. So while I do still create visual content for my social media accounts, I’m also reading into other ways to promote books, such as through ads and so forth. In the past, I’ve also done giveaways, author interviews, and things like that, which are also effective.

How do you define success as an author?

Author:     

         I think success will look different for everyone. For me, having a finished novel, bound in a physical book, is success. I love physical books, so it’s extra special when I can hold my own work in my hands.

About Your Work

What type of content do you write and why? Fiction Novels? Poems? Songs? Screenplays? Short Stories? Epic?

Author:     

        I write fiction and non-fiction. My fiction work is currently focused in on novels. I used to voraciously write short stories and poetry as well, but haven’t really written anything new in those areas in many years. My non-fiction work, so far, consists of two books and online content like blogs, web copy, and so forth.

What genres and subgenres do you write in?

Author:     

        Fiction-wise, I mainly write high fantasy and romance novels. For non-fiction, my main subject matter is mental health.

How many works have you published?

Author:     

        I’ve published two non-fiction books and a fairly large body of mostly non-fiction work across the internet. I was also published three times in Brock University Creative Writer’s Club anthologies while I attended for post-secondary studies. Those were the first time I really saw my work in print.

        Being both a fiction and non-fiction writer, I find my brand as an author is both interesting and a challenge to balance. I feel like people think of author brands as whatever their main genre of writing is, but with the way I dip into both the fiction and non-fiction world, it can be difficult. Do I want my brand to be as a fiction author or as a mental health writer? Can I have both? Ultimately, I think I can. I think of authors like Matt Haig, who writes both fiction and non-fiction works and is known for his mental health advocacy. I hope to be able to achieve that sort of balance as well.

I also aim to be personable and approachable. One of the coolest things to me in this day and age is being able to connect with authors and interact with them. When I was younger, I would have loved the opportunity to be able to do that with my favourite authors, but, instead, they were these faraway figures that I only had a connection with via their works. With the advent of social media, it’s possible to connect with authors in an entirely new way, and I love it. I’d love having that chance to connect with my readers.

Name some common elements in your writing: villains, magic, red-herring twists, the unfortunate ensign, mysterious phenomena, asyndeton, sentence fragments etc.

Author:     

        One of the things I strive for when I write, and perhaps my most common element, is realness. For my non-fiction work, that comes out with candor. I’m honest about my experiences and share them without shame. For fiction, it’s an effort to create believable worlds that have rules and consequences. My characters will never find themselves in a situation where things can be miraculously solved by magic or a challenging situation is just readily accepted and swept under the rug because it’s convenient. It needs to make sense. Yes, fiction is about the suspension of belief, but the stories that resonate the most with me are those that have an edge of veracity to them.

What was your first goal when you started your journey to becoming an author? Has that changed?

Author:     

        I mentioned previously that a reason I got into writing was because I had stories to share, but I’ll be honest, when I was a kid, I also had dreams of being a famous author. On my first “novels” that I wrote when I was 9, I even drew trophies to declare the works as award-winning books. In some regard, I would still like to be a well-known author and to use this craft to support myself financially, but that isn’t the ultimate goal anymore. Now, it really is just about the storytelling and sharing these worlds and characters that accompany me wherever I go and that I love.

What do you want your readers to get out of your works?

Author:     

        For this question, it depends what they’re reading. Fiction-wise, I want readers to first and foremost enjoy the story, but I’d also love if they found a little nugget of something to take with them. Maybe it’s a nugget of wisdom, maybe it’s a lasting impression of the story, or a connection to the characters. My favourite novels are those that have a lasting impact beyond how much I enjoyed the story.

For my non-fiction writing, I want readers to feel seen and heard. The reason I write mental health works is because I could have benefited from having those resources when I was younger and deeply struggling. For those who aren’t approaching those works from experiences of mental health struggles, I hope it helps them have a better understanding of how people live, struggle, and cope with various mental health conditions.

What part of the author process are you working on or studying most now?

Author:     

        What I’m studying the most right now is marketing my work and myself as a writer. This is useful as a writer in general, but since I’m contemplating the indie route of publication, I know that’ll bear some extra weight. I feel like I have things like writing, beta readers, critique partners, and formatting a book pretty well down pat. The marketing of the work, however, is still fairly alien to me.

What has been your favorite part of the writing and querying or publishing process?

Author:     

        My favourite part of writing overall is discovering the story and the characters and getting to know them. I love the magic there is in that, even for books that don’t have magical elements. Getting lost in a narrative is just an incredible experience.

        My favourite part about querying is finding an agent that I feel really fits what I’m looking for and then reaching out. Although there is the aspect of waiting and maybe not hearing back, I don’t get discouraged about these things. I know it’s all part of the process.

        As for publishing, in terms of the self-publishing I’ve done, I love when everything is falling into place, lining up in previewing tools, and being able to hit the submit button. Such a great feeling.

Have you always read in the genre you wanted to write in? Do you think that’s made it easier or harder to create new stories?

Author:     

        I’ve always loved fantasy novels, urban fantasy and high fantasy in particular. When I was younger, I also heavily read horror novels, which definitely influenced my writing for a long time. The scarier or gorier I could make my work, the better. Killing Secrets’ first draft was largely built on the idea of writing a fantasy-gore novel, although it’s since steered far from that. I’m not a super fan of that kind of thing anymore.

        I do read in my current genres though: one because I enjoy the stories, and two, because I know how important it is to be familiar with your genre. It helps with seeing what’s popular in the genre, which I can then play into either to add a new twist or give people fan favourite aspects of the genres. In addition to those genres, however, I also really enjoy dystopian fiction, which I don’t write. As much as I love the genre, there’s just a certain finesse to it that I don’t think I have the talent for.

What is your writing process, from idea to polished work? Pantster? Plotter? How long does that typically take you?

Author:     

        I am a pantser 99% of the time. Pretty much all of my novels start based on a single idea or a single scene from my head, and then I open up a Word doc and run with it from there. The Assistant is one of the first novels where I’ve really sat down to plan after that initial idea. The idea came from a dream, which I wrote down as a note, but then I later opened up a Word doc and started fleshing it out. I wrote character profiles, did research, wrote out a beat sheet (something I’d literally never done), and then started in on the novel itself.

                Whether I’m pantsing or planning, however, from idea to polished work is a process. I write out the first draft, then when that’s done, I duplicate the document to work on that for the second draft, and so forth with each significant change. I like having a record of the progress because it’s fun looking back to see how things have changed and because it’s useful to have those original ideas in such an accessible way in case I change my mind and want to reincorporate something.

                As is evident with Killing Secrets, it can take me years to get to the polished work, but at the same time, there have been many polished versions of that novel along the way. I think that’s one thing to keep in mind: there may be several versions of the story that you feel are polished, and it’s okay if you end up needing to go back over them to polish some more.

Where do you network most with other writers, authors, and creative types? LinkedIn? Wattpad? Twitter? Facebook? Somewhere else?

Author:     

        Twitter and Instagram have become my go-tos for connecting with other writers. I particularly love Instagram for the ways authors share about their stories visually. I do also use Facebook to some degree, and while I have a LinkedIn account, I don’t really connect with other writers there more than just accepting them as connections.

Do you sprint-write like a starving cheetah, or are you a totally chill turtle writer? Somewhere in between?

Author:     

        Definitely somewhere in between. There are days where I can barely get a sentence out, and then there are other times when I can hammer out 10,000 words in a day like it’s nothing (that’s not an exaggeration). I very much enjoy those days because that’s when I feel most connected to the stories and immersed with my characters or whatever I happen to be working on.

Struggles

What has been the hardest thing to overcome on your journey to authorship?

Author:     

        Time has been one of my biggest struggles. I used to have this idea that if I wasn’t published by age X, then I was failing as an author. It’s been a learning process to see that an author’s success isn’t weighted on how young they are or how quickly they get their book out. You can be older and still have success as an author.

How long I’ve been working on Killing Secrets does weigh on me, mostly because I want to be able to share this story with people, but I also know that it’s not ready yet. Handling that idea is a struggle, too.

How has the writing and querying or publishing process affected you emotionally? Do you have any tips for budding writers?

Author:     

        My tip for budding authors is that the querying and even the feedback process don’t have to be scary. Not everyone is going to like your work, and some people will be super rude about it. It ultimately says more about them than it does about you as a person or about your work. If you come across someone that doesn’t like your work, definitely process those emotions, but also look for ways that you may be able to benefit from the experience. Maybe you’ll find something useful, but even if you don’t, it’s perfectly okay to set that person’s opinion aside and then get back to it.

If you could do it all over again, what would you change?

Author:     

        If I had to do it all over again, I don’t think I’d change anything. Everything can act as a learning experience and each part of my journey has helped me grow as a writer and storyteller. Was everything perfect? No, but I see value in that imperfection.

Are you a driven & self-advocating author, a gun-shy promoter, or a total marketing procrastinator?

Author:     

        I’d say I’m a driven, self-advocating author, even if I don’t quite have the solid strides to do that yet. I feel like it’s just about learning the methods, but otherwise, I have no problem sharing about my work. There are many areas in my life that I’m meek, anxious, and insecure. Writing, incredibly, has never been one of those areas.

How do you keep yourself motivated?

Author:     

        I’m not going to lie; sometimes motivation is nowhere to be seen. What keeps me motivated is honestly seeing other authors thrive and reading fantastic stories by others. It pushes me and reminds me why I love doing what I do as a writer, even if I can’t get my butt in gear at that exact moment.

How do you combat writer’s block?

Author:     

        I try not to fight it. Sometimes, the brain just needs a break or I get stuck. I’m okay with letting this percolate for a bit, and I’ll find a new book to read or even a new show or movie to watch. Although there are other times where it’s helpful to push through whatever scene I’m stuck on and just worry about cleaning up whatever that mess is later.

How did your family and friends react to your writing? Was it what you expected from them?

Author:     

        This is a mixed bag. I have people in my life that support me fully as a writer. They’re eager to read my work, they think I have what it takes to publish, and they cheer me on. One of the things that’s stuck with me the most, however, is being told when I was a child that I needed a “bread and butter job.” It used to bother me, but reflecting back, I get it. Writing is a precarious and competitive field, and the family member who’d say that to me just wanted to make sure I could grow up with a career that would pay the bills. Still, I can’t seem to get that out of my head, and, on some level, it still does feel like someone not believing in me. I’ve had to learn to be okay with that.

Fun Stuff

What do you listen to while you write?

Author:     

        A lot of the time, I listen to whatever I’m obsessed with listening to at the moment. I’m the kind of person that gets hooked on songs or a band, and then I’ll listen to it on repeat for hours on end. I’ve also, in the past, created playlists for my novels, which can help with motivation and setting the mood. I love when I find songs that speak to the narrative of the story or the characters individually. I’m just a big fan of music in general, though.

Is there a fun word or group of terms you like to put into your writing?

Author:     

Where do you write your stories? A tiny office? A loft? The kitchen table? In the bushes while you secretly people-watch like a total creeper? Or a warm café with mocha in hand and feet up on an ottoman?

Author:     

        I write wherever I can. With moving to a work-from-home setting, I’ll write at where I’ve set up my work station when I get free moments during the day, but I also write while sitting on the couch or the bed. I’ve also been known to write scenes or notes on my phone wherever I happen to be if an idea suddenly strikes me.

How do you try to “break the mold” and be unique?

Author:     

        I love to encourage critical thinking. This stems directly from my time studying literature in university and doing literary analyses of the books I read there. I’m fascinated by the various ways that novels can be interpreted and by making arguments for those interpretations. Nothing is ever black and white, and that’s something I try to push with my creative writing in particular.

Twitter and Instagram: @laura_barton
Facebook: facebook.com/LauraBartonWriter

Author Interviews, Blog

Author Interview: Erynn Crittenden, Poetry

My name is Erynn Crittenden, and my main genre is poetry that explores the darker sides of our nature, though I also dabble in flash fiction, short stories, and professional articles.

My poetry collection, By the Bones, is full of monsters and madness. It was recently released and is available on Lulu, Amazon, and Barnes and Noble!

From Planning to Published

When did you start writing and why?

Author: I started writing poems in middle school, and I used them as an outlet for my imagination, emotions, and to process the things that were happening in my life.

How long did it take you to finish your first book?

Author:  My poetry collection took over a year. It began as the capstone for my Creative writing degree and blossomed from there!

If you’ve published, how long did your first book take?

Author: Again, over a year. Once my book was complete, I sent it to a few beta readers, who gave me some valuable insights on the overall collection. Then, I published it!

(If applicable) Has your publishing timeframe improved at all since your first publication?

Author:   Now that I have a small idea of what to expect, I look forward to publishing more works in the future!    

Are you indie, traditional, hybrid, or vanity, and why?

Author: I self-published through Lulu.com because, unfortunately, it can be a challenge to publish poetry traditionally.

How did you determine your target audience?

Author: I want everyone to enjoy my writings, but I understand that some of my topics are more suited to the teen/adult range, so I base my audience on that.  

What is your publishing process?

Author: Write the book. Format the book. Have someone else read the book. Perfect the formatting and layout. Create the cover. Write the blurb. Publish!

The process looks different to everyone, but this is how I got By the Bones out into the world.     .    

What platforms do you use to publish your works?

Author: I published By the Bones through Lulu.com, but I also publish other poems and writings on my website, Facebook, Twitter, and Vocal.media.  

How do you get critiques, betas, feedback, and edits?

Author: I asked around on social media. Most of my betas were friends and family, but there were a few other authors in there as well.

Marketing

Do you have a platform? What does it consist of?

Author: I run a website that holds my poetry, flash fiction, articles, and a few short stories. I also share these posts on Facebook and Twitter.    

What is your launch plan for your works?

Author: I try to get people excited about the finished project before the release date. Then, I share, share, share!

How do you get reviews for your books?

Author:  Good question! I haven’t gotten any reviews yet, but I’m planning to ask around social media for some.

How do you promote your content?

Author: Facebook groups and Twitter hashtags, mostly, but I am looking to expand it.

What do you think is the most critical marketing component or tactic for becoming successful?

Author:  Word of Mouth. You can’t beat the advertising potential of someone telling their friends about your product, and that is what will make or break your sales.

How do you define success as an author?

Author: Well, I try not to base it off my sales, but that’s what we think of when we hear “success.” However, publishing my book was a huge success for me, not to mention a dream come true, so it depends on how you look at it.  

By the Bones is a graveyard of poems about monsters, madness, and the inevitable darkness that comes for us all.

Within these pages, you’ll find a lost bride, a coven of witches, a failed necromancer, a Wendigo, and more bones than you can count. You’ll also explore real places, such as Japan’s “Suicide Forest,” the Body Farm of Tennessee, and the famous catacombs of Paris.

By the Bones is a Graveyard, but readers beware- You may not want to visit alone…

Find out more at: By the Bones – The Writings of Erynn Crittenden (ladyerynn.com)

About Your Work

What type of content do you write and why? Fiction Novels? Poems? Songs? Screenplays? Short Stories? Epic?

Author: Poetry is my specialty, but I also enjoy writing flash fiction, short stories, and informative articles.

What genres and subgenres do you write in?

Author:  Horror, fantasy, twisted romance, realism, and humor.

What is your author brand (genre, mood, image, theme, message, etc)? How did you decide on it?

Author:  I based my brand on my love of everything dark and macabre, and I chose it because my writings often explore those hidden realms.

How many works have you published?

Author: By the Bones is my only published collection, but I have made contributions to at least five published anthologies- not to mention the 90 or so posts I have on my website.  

(If applicable) Can you tell us a bit about your most recent publication?

Author:   My most recent publication is titled “Snow,” and it’s a short collection of poems to celebrate the first snow day of the year. It’s currently on my website.

Name some common elements in your writing: villains, magic, red-herring twists, the unfortunate ensign, mysterious phenomena, asyndeton, sentence fragments etc.

Author: I enjoy writing about bones, death, religions, the unknown, and how we cope with daily life.  I also like to add a dark twist to my stories- be it a death, a compromise, or an aspect of reality that often goes unnoticed. Those bring out the best emotions from my readers.    

What was your first goal when you started your journey to becoming an author? Has that changed?

Author: My goal was to become a published author, and I’ve done that! Now, my goal is to finish a full-length novel and have it traditionally published within the next few years.   

Do you have other supporting services like a podcast, blog, webinars, courses, video channel?

Author:   I have a website, and I plan to make video updates and a podcast in the future.    

What do you want your readers to get out of your works?

Author: I want my readers to think. To experience different viewpoints, open their minds, and explore places that they’ve never been before.     

What part of the author process are you working on or studying most now?

Author: I’m learning about different genres and how to expand my writing from flash fiction and poetry to full-blown novels. It’s…different…but I’m excited about the challenge!

What has been your favorite part of the writing and querying or publishing process?

Author: I’m not great at querying or publishing, so I’m going to say that writing is my favorite part!      

Do you recommend any programs, courses, or websites?

Author: If possible, I recommend taking some college English/writing courses. When I returned for my degree in Creative Writing, I learned more about the craft than I ever expected! It helped me grow stronger as an author, and I believe it can help other writers do the same.

If college isn’t an option, there are more affordable classes through Udemy, and you can find numerous writing websites to help you in your journey. Personally, I like Grammarly to check my work, Submittable for open submissions, and Atlas Obscura for topics and unique writing ideas.

Which authors write similar books to yours? How did you find them?

Author: I’m not sure what other authors are out there that are similar, but I do know that my works are inspired by Neil Gaiman, Stephen King, Edgar Allen Poe, and others like them.  

Have you always read in the genre you wanted to write in? Do you think that’s made it easier or harder to create new stories?

Author:  I read everything, not just the genre I like to write, and that helps me mix different genres and elements into my writings. If you stick to reading one genre, you’ll only write one genre, and I want to write whatever captures my fancy. Therefore, I read them all!

What is your writing process, from idea to polished work? Pantster? Plotter? How long does that typically take you?

Author:  Oh, I’m 100% a pantser. When I get an idea, I like to let the story and characters tell me what to write. Poetry takes a couple of hours; flash fiction takes a day or so, short stories take a few weeks, and I’m still working on my novel idea, which has taken about a month to get where I am now.

It all depends on the idea I have and the form I plan to use.     

Where do you network most with other writers, authors, and creative types? LinkedIn? Wattpad? Twitter? Facebook? Somewhere else?

Author:  Twitter is the best for networking with other authors, but I also use Facebook and Instagram on occasion.     

Do you sprint-write like a starving cheetah, or are you a totally chill turtle writer? Somewhere in between?

Author: I’m somewhere in between. For longer works, I have periods of obsession where I can sprint write for days, then I’ll grow bored and let it sit for a few days before becoming obsessed again. For shorter works, I can usually churn it out in a day or so.

Struggles

What has been the hardest thing to overcome on your journey to authorship?

Author: The impostor syndrome!! Who am I to count myself among the great authors of the world? I’m nobody! And yet, here I am, with a full-blown poetry collection. It’s unreal!

How has the writing and querying or publishing process affected you emotionally? Do you have any tips for budding writers?

Author:  It will wear you out. Just remember that the rejections you get, and you will get rejections, are not necessarily a reflection on your writing. Take a moment to grieve, then submit again!   

Do you have any tips or recommendations for those who want to go the final step and become authors?

Author: The publication game is fierce. There are hundreds of books being queried and published every day, and it can be discouraging. My advice is to look at self-publishing.

Self-published authors have such a stigma around them, but some of the best books I’ve read have come from self-published authors. It’s not a bad option.    

If you could do it all over again, what would you change?

Author: I’d start marketing By the Bones long before it was released. Otherwise, I’m happy with what I’ve done.      

Are you a driven & self-advocating author, a gun-shy promoter, or a total marketing procrastinator?

Author: I’ll admit that marketing isn’t my strong suit, but I’m by no means shy about it. I just need to learn how to do it more effectively.

How do you keep yourself motivated?

Author: Coffee. I drink a lot of coffee.

In all seriousness, I try to write one story or poem a week so I can post something new on my website every Sunday. I also write for work, which includes about two articles a week, so motivation isn’t usually hard for me to find.      

How do you combat writer’s block?

Author: I take a walk, read, watch tv, play video games, and play with my daughter. Sometimes, doing anything other than writing is how you get the muses to sing again.  

What literary/writer-based term did you not know when you started that has become important and relevant to you?

Author: Oh gosh, I have learned so much over the years that it’s hard to choose just one. Maybe Syllabic Poetry. 90% of my poems are syllabic in nature, but I didn’t know that until last year.

How did your family and friends react to your writing? Was it what you expected from them?

Author: They enjoy it! Well, most of them. My mom is a little hesitant on the darker stuff, but they’ve always supported me and given me feedback when I’ve asked for it.      

What assumptions about writers and authors do you think are myths?

Author:  That writing is easy. It’s not. It takes work, dedication, creativity, and research to make a story come together, and not everyone can create a good piece of poetry or a good story. But we writers are dedicated to the craft, and that makes all the difference.

Fun Stuff

What do you listen to while you write?

Author: Spotify. I have a wide variety of music that I bounce between, but my recent favorites have been Nox Arcana, Heilung, and a playlist I created of female-led bands with witchy or magical vibes. 

Is there a fun word or group of terms you like to put into your writing?

Author:  I like finding obscure words to add to my poetry, like “pell,” “apace,” and “Ululations.”

Where do you write your stories? A tiny office? A loft? The kitchen table? In the bushes while you secretly people-watch like a total creeper? Or a warm café with mocha in hand and feet up on an ottoman?

Author: Mostly at my desk, but I will occasionally venture out into the world and write in a coffee shop or while waiting at the doctor’s office. My desk is where I am the most comfortable, though.     

What book are you reading at the moment?

Author:  The Slight Edge by Jeff Olson. As my brother says, “It’s the self-help book that makes the other self-help books work!”

What is your favorite literary trope?

Author:  The enemies-become-friends-become-lovers trope. It gets me every time!   

How do you try to “break the mold” and be unique?

Author: I like to think that I give a unique twist to old tropes and situations. In reality, I’m not sure what makes me unique- I just know that I write what the muses tell me to.

What have you learned about yourself from the writing and/or authorship process?

Author:  I’ve learned that I’m not a bad writer! My words have merit, and I have every right to share them with the world.       

What is your favorite writing snack and drink?

Author: Coffee and carbs make the world go ‘round!      

Do you have a writing companion?

Author:  My dog will usually sit with me when I’m at my desk, but otherwise, I’m on my own.         

What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever been given?

Author: My late grandfather’s last words to me were: “Erynn, always remember PYOA- Protect Your Own Ass- because no one’s gonna do it for you.”

That advice had stayed with me, and it has saved me from more than one questionable situation.

I’m everywhere!

I’m always happy to connect with new people, so drop a line to say Hi!       

Blog

Reblog: Author Interview by The Pulp & Mystery Shelf

You can find the original post here:

https://mysteryshelf.com/friday-sf-fantasy-stellar-fusion/

Interview with the Author

What initially got you interested in writing?

Since I was a kid, I spent free time coming up with new stories, playing out different scenarios with the people and events going on around me. I never really took a serious interest in it until my husband and I started traveling for his job to some pretty remote areas where there was little to do outside within reasonable driving distance. There’s only so much time a housewife can spend on Pinterest before her vision blurs. So I decided to try out that crazy writer dream. When I realized how many self-publishing services were available and the popularity of indie publishing (no longer feeding the stigma of “artists can’t make money”), I was thrilled. But I’m the type that sees an open door and wants to peek inside.

What genres do you write in?

I primarily write science fiction, fantasy, romance (holiday and suspense), and one children’s book (planning a few more). I should add that most of my books have a military subgenre or at least a character connected to the military in some way.

What drew you to writing these specific genres?

I’m a sucker for anything space-related. I love Star Trek and Star Wars and reading scifi novels. So that choice came about naturally. I enjoy romance novels that feature imperfect people struggling to better themselves in a judgmental world. Sometimes, I have to write what I only wish I could find to read. I also have a few fantasy novels in the works for publication in the next few years. Those are mostly a fun way to experiment with character stories that don’t fit the typical profiles.

How did you break into the field?

Stellar Fusion is my first book. I started with science fiction because I had the strongest, most-developed idea in that genre. I stumbled my way through a few different versions while learning the self-pub landscape. But soon after I published the first version, I had a five star review from a customer. So I thought, “Okay, maybe my writing doesn’t suck.” I’m now three books into that series with one romance and one children’s book published, and three more books coming this year, possibly four if I can manage it. I don’t think readers know how much they motivate us with their reviews.

What do you want readers to take away from reading your works?

There are countless messages in my books, so it would be hard to list them all here. It’s not so much that I’m imposing ideas, merely presenting them for consideration. I want readers to enjoy the action scenes and quieter loving moments, but I also hope they think about the conflicts. I have tons of symbols in my books, though I won’t define them outright.

A few messages in my works:

Family doesn’t have to be blood.

Love and understanding can mend most things.

We build more when we let go of our differences.

No one’s life is perfect, even if it looks that way.

Scars are beautiful symbols of strength.

Invisible illnesses hurt too.

What do you find most rewarding about writing?

When someone reviews one of my books and points out something that really stuck with them, it confirms that what I’m writing has meaning, that I made their life for the better if only for a moment. I write stories that I love, but I publish them for my readers. Knowing what makes readers happy, within my work, helps me (constructively) fine-tune the next books.

What do you find most challenging about writing?

Developmental self-editing is hard. It’s difficult to know how others will perceive certain events or bits of dialogue. This is why critique partners are so important. Getting multiple perspectives can make a huge difference. What is normal to me may not be normal for others. The most difficult part is finding CPs that will finish the whole book and give quality feedback. Without them, the manuscript can’t move on for further editing. I’m patient with most things. But when it comes to getting my books published, I’m a kid in a candy store, already hyped-up on Twinkies and caramel macchiatos.

What advice would you give to people wanting to enter the field?

It’s not hard if you set up a plan and stick to it.

Write your book, and then take a class on editing/writing craft. Edit your book. Do this a few times before your search for CPs. And CP before you hire an editor. It will help you cut out unnecessary chunks so you don’t have to pay an editor to tell you the same thing.

Have a website and a marketing plan. Readers today want to see you in at least three places online to know you’re legit: Amazon, Goodreads, and a personal website for your books—at a minimum. If you can be on a few social media platforms like Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram, Facebook, do that.

Set up a blog.

Build an email subscriber list so you can send Advanced Review Copies of your books as a thank you for being loyal.

Set up a pre-order.

Run ads before, during, and after launch.

Do book review campaigns.

The list seems endless. It kind of is. Just try a few things and figure out what works for you. Most of us can’t afford to do everything, so be deliberate in what you choose to put your money toward. Look at reviews for the services and try to aim for your best ROI.

I will say this: no marketing platform = no one will know your book even exists. If you’re not getting sales, that’s likely the reason.

What type of books do you enjoy reading?

I love fast-paced scifi and fantasy that blend science and magic. Cyberpunk, biopunk. and space exploration/battle themes are my favorite. Action, crazy tech, galactic empires, aliens, robots, and comedic characters are some of my most enjoyed elements.

I’m also a fan of holiday romance for its cozy and uplifting mood and romantic suspense for the tense mystery and the ever-beating question of whether the lovers will make it together or not.

Is there anything else besides writing you think people would find interesting about you?

I actually don’t like sitting inside at my computer. I’d much rather be outside hiking, camping, riding ATVs, working on the car, gardening, bodybuilding at the gym, etc. I’m not your typical book lover. I am not librarian material. But I write from my experiences, from places we’ve traveled in our RV, and from the people that I’ve met. I want my stories to feel as real as they can, so I often write from experience.

What are the best ways to connect with you, or find out more about your work?

You can find more info on my books at: http://atomic-temporary-109968461.wpcomstaging.com or on my Amazon Author Page: amazon.com/author/elysiastrife

I’m also on social media:

Goodreads

Twitter

Pinterest

Facebook

Thanks for having me!

Best wishes!

Writer's Blog

Reblog: Author Interview on My Book Launch

You can find the original post here:

https://mybooklaunchforauthors.blogspot.com/2020/01/book-launch-q-el-strife-author-stllar.html

After your book was released, what was the first thing you did when getting ready for your book launch?

I actually never “launched” my first book, Stellar Fusion. I did with my others but was too nervous to call attention to myself with the first. I wanted to figure out the publishing system, learn how everything worked before I started running ads and setting up an email list.

Now, my launch starts firing up long before publication. I send out Advanced Review Copies of the book to my subscribers. A few weeks later, I set up an ARC giveaway on Prolific Works (for all stand-alone books). This seems to work well. I give out several hundred copies for free and usually get a few reviews. It would likely be more effective if I was a little more patient! I get too excited to put my book out there and start working on the next!

After that, what was your next step?

I usually run a couple of ads and utilize my KDP Select free days sometime soon after the release to get the book attention on Amazon. If I can, I try to figure out who posts reviews and thank them via email. I also send out a thank you to my subscribers who picked up the ARC and a reminder that they can post their reviews. (This one is hard for me because I feel bad asking. I remind myself that they got a copy of my very hard work for free. Clicking on stars isn’t torture. It’s okay to ask.)

Did you do anything different to spice up your website in lieu of your upcoming book release?

I always add links to images of the book, usually including a quote, something (hopefully) enticing. I also add them to my book rotator gif, which I post on social media. Moving pictures/gifs are more eye-catching and definitely draw more attention.

Did you ever consider using a PR agency to help you promote your book or did you prefer the DIY route?

I took a PR class, because DIY is how I do basically everything. I could set up press releases, but don’t because I can’t remember the last time I encountered an announcement about someone’s book that wasn’t posted on social media or on a talk show. And (let’s be realistic) heaven knows I’ll never be on a talk show.

Was finding reviews a top priority for you and, if yes, how did you approach that?

Absolutely, and ARC copies are the best way I’ve found to get reviews, specifically through people I have one on one contact with whether digital or in person. I love Prolific Works for handing out mass amounts of copies. Those reviews usually show up on Goodreads. I’ve tried other social media giveaway programs, even with paperbacks and they just don’t work as well as a site for free ebooks. Those visiting Prolific Works know they want books to read, so it’s just a matter of being appealing and getting into some of the group giveaways for related genres.

What are your views on social media for marketing your book?

It’s great for getting likes, meeting fans, connecting with other writers, and for personal validation, but not for sales. I might get one or two sales from a paid ad, but usually end up giving away an ARC to someone that messages me. It’s not really cost effective to run SM ads in my mind. But having a presence in multiple places is important for people to know you’re legit and to find out more about you. So in a different way it’s useful.

What social media has worked best for you?

Twitter is best for meeting other writers and connecting with critique partners and beta readers. Goodreads is essential for getting your books in front of the eyes of readers. Facebook has lots of groups you can get involved in, but sales are limited. Instagram is great for likes of book covers and for doing visual research, like Pinterest. So I guess I can’t say any of them are the best, just that each has its perks. I am most active on Twitter, Pinterest, and Goodreads.

Did you revamp your author’s page at Amazon in any way to prepare for the launch?

I always make sure my pre-order books are listed and that my info is up to date so when readers check out my page they can see everything I have and everything coming up.

http://amazon.com/author/elysiastrife

Did you have other books you offered for free in order to help sell your present book?

I set up free book giveaways in related categories. So say I’m running an ad for free copies of my first book: Stellar Fusion, I’ll also make the other scifi books free (permitting my Select enrollments line up). That way, readers can get all the good stuff they’re interested in at once.

Did you set up book signings and, if so, how did that work for you?

I didn’t set up book signings because I heard they weren’t a great use of time or money (due to traveling). I did, however, do a holiday arts and crafts show and signed a few copies there and afterward. Sold out of one of my books! So I suppose it’s the crowd that makes the difference.

Did you create a book trailer?

I didn’t, but Dorothy from Pump Up Your Book did! You can view it here:

https://youtu.be/fYU9cyjvjB8

Did you time your book launch around a certain holiday?

I like to publish romance in the spring, scifi in October, and Christmas/childrens in fall/winter. But, to me, a book is a living thing that sometimes demands something else. It’s ready when it’s ready.

What was the best money you ever spent on your book launch?

Pump Up Your Book and Written Word Media have been the best investments by far. Great for blog exposure and ads with ROI, respectively.

Any tips for those authors wanting to set up a successful book launch?

  1. Give yourself a few months between when the book is finished and when you plan to publish so you can use that time to set up Advanced Review Copies, ads, book tours, etc. I know it’s hard to wait, but it will serve you better in the long run to kick off your launch with reviews and a plan.
  1. Get an email list started and a website. The more people willing to support you when you publish means more network chatter and therefore more exposure.
  1. Good book covers and blurbs are crucial. Sell your customers in 2-3 seconds or lose them forever.
  1. Don’t give up on your book if you don’t get sales day one. Marketing is an ongoing thing. Hang in there!

Thanks for reading!

Blog

Reblog: Author Interview with Lori’s Reading Corner

You can find the original post here:

http://www.lorisreadingcorner.com/2020/01/interview-virtual-tour-stellar-fusion-by-e-l-strife.html

Is there anything in your book you’d go back and change?

Since I first published Stellar Fusion, I have changed the beginning of the book. Originally, I was told to avoid prologues. But after publication, the book just felt like it was missing something, a hint of context for where the series falls in the Universal War Novels—which will be three series in total when it’s finished. I went in and added a single page and tweaked the first few paragraphs of chapter 1. It reads better and sets the scene the way I want it to now.

What inspired your book?

I am a lucid dreamer that regularly gets migraines, so I was trying out dream journaling to help me sleep calmer. After awhile I noticed they were getting interesting and I was having fun writing them down. As a child, I used to lie in bed on Saturday mornings (my only free time) and just make up stories in my mind. I had no idea what they looked like on paper until I tried out this therapy tactic of dream journaling. One night I had a particularly interesting dream and it sparked the idea of Stellar Fusion.

Do you write as you go, or do you have the book all planned out from page 1?

A book usually starts with an idea of a character’s struggle, a twist, or an emotion I want to capture. I usually make a rough outline of what has to happen where and when. Then I just free write. Often I start out with a concept but have to change it a few times before the end of the book to make all of the pieces fit together just right.

How long did it take you to write your book?

Stellar Fusion took me about five years. It was on and off writing in the beginning, whenever ideas (and time) came into my life. I also struggled a lot with the notion I was falling into the “crazy writer with unrealistic dreams” category so doubt came in to play. But when we were isolated in North Dakota for a winter, I had plenty of time and little else better to do. I finished the novel, and here it is!

Who are your favorite authors of all time?

Top favorite author, hands down, has to be Pierce Brown. But I also love Kerry Nietz’s work, Lois Lowry, and J. R. R. Tolkien.

What’s the best advice anyone has ever given you?

Someone once told me to remember, every time I encounter someone impatient, rude, mean, or otherwise negative, that I do not know what is going on in their life. A car passing me on the shoulder might startle me, but I remind myself now that they might have someone in the car that’s hurt. Or someone’s in the hospital and they just got the call. I don’t know for sure. But this little piece of advice has made me much more patient and understanding as well as helped open a portal in my mind to the possibilities of what is going on in other people’s lives. It’s much easier to write now because I’m always studying people.

How do you react to a bad review? 

Readers are entitled to their opinions. I read the review and search for anything that could be a legitimate concern. I want to ensure my books are enjoyable for my readers, so I care about what my fans think. But at the same time, I know it’s important to let most of the negativity go. Unless someone has something factually incorrect, I don’t really want to dwell too long. I’m too busy working on new books!

Which authors have influenced you most – how? 

J. R. R. Tolkien definitely got me interested in creating languages. Pierce Brown has some amazing description and such complexity to his stories that a reader’s brain really has a lot to chew on. Kerry Nietz plays with cyberpunk/biopunk concepts and works them into character development with ease. Lois Lowry has a gentleness to her voice even through tense moments that I wish I could emulate.

What is your favorite scene in your book?

I loved writing all of them, and each is essential. But there’s one scene where Atana, the female lead, connects with a child named Kios, and it changes her. It’s essential foreshadowing for the future of the Infinite Spark Series but is also a tender moment that eases the main mood of the book, slows it down, and reminds us as readers that even the broken can be beautiful.

What books do you love that don’t get a lot of hype?  

I really enjoy biopunk and speculative fiction. When I found Kerry Nietz’s A Star Curiously Singing, it didn’t have a lot of reviews, but it sounded interesting. I ended up reading it in one sitting then rereading it like a week later.

What makes your novel stand out from the crowd?

Stellar Fusion has a balance of everything: blood-quests and finding family, magic and science, and extreme order and power versus the powerless. It features a unified government (Universal Protectors) for a futuristic Earth where there are no countries, no separate militaries, and everyone is registered in one system like Social Security, what I called Human Cataloging. I also introduce alien languages that I build heavily upon in later books.

Do your characters really talk to you? 

No, my characters don’t talk to me. I’m usually hanging out around them in their environments like a reporter, jotting down notes as they chat and interact. Sometimes I put myself in the position of a particular character so I can attempt to understand the best reaction or move for them or their counterpart. I have, oddly though, dreamt one of them was looking at me, and it was clear it was me as the writer, not me as a character. But I think it was just my mind subconsciously working on the character’s appearance. Most of my good ideas come to me at night. I keep a notepad handy.

Thank you for having me!

This was fun!

Blog

Reblog: Author Interview at Sybrina’s Book Blog

You can view the original post here:

https://sybrina-publishing.blogspot.com/2020/01/pump-up-your-book-blog-tour-stellar.html

  1. Can you tell us a few things about yourself?

I’d love to! I’m a self-published author of (currently) four novels. I’m not stopping there! But I actually prefer to be outside, rain or shine. I enjoy bodybuilding, snowboarding, hiking, four-wheeling, camping, gardening, and working on cars. I’m a hands-on sort of person. I have two Bachelor’s Degrees and am a USAFR veteran of six years.

I’ve been traveling the country with my husband for five years for his job, living out of an RV. We’ve lived in seven states and seen some beautiful country that I think often goes unnoticed. While snowed in, in the North Dakota plains for a winter, with nothing else to do, I decided to make the dream of self-publishing a reality. I’m also a lucid dreamer who loves anything fluffy, struggles with migraines, and is addicted to Twinkies and caramel macchiatos.

  1. Describe the types of books you write without using genre headings e.g. you’re not allowed to just say I write fantasy!

I’m definitely a cross-genre writer. My first book series blends magic with science, is set in the future, and involves alien invasions and military themes. I include cyberpunk and biopunk elements in a lot of my writing. While battle scenes can make a story intense, motivations of characters and their relationships are just as important.

I also enjoy writing love stories: true, forbidden, holiday, triangles, military, you name it. Experimenting with concepts of family plays an important part as well.

  1. Describe your why. Tell me what motivates you to write.

I write for so many reasons that it’s hard to pick the most important ones. I think a big part of writing for me is to open up and expose the struggles everyone faces beneath the masks we put on to show others “we’re okay” and we’re doing what others/society expects. I want to crush the stigmas of invisible illnesses. I want people to understand that being adopted or growing up with different concepts of guardians than the traditional doesn’t mean you’re broken.

I want scars to be beauty marks of strength.

I don’t write for the mass consumer. I write for the few, the in-between, the different, the loners, the forsaken, the ones who feel like everyone ignores them. There are good people in this world that go unnoticed because they aren’t represented in pop culture. They are still important. Everyone is.

  1. Fancasting – Did you have particular actors/actresses in mind for the starring roles in your story?

I can’t say I do, mostly because I don’t really see characters, similar to those I create, in the media. Most of my inspiration comes from everyday people.

  1. Writing can be an emotionally draining and stressful pursuit. Any tips for aspiring writers?

I honestly believe there is no such thing as a bad writer, only a writer who can improve. So if you’re discouraged by lack of support or bad reviews or no sales, don’t worry. Don’t give up. It takes time and dedication to build your empire, yes—the craft classes, marketing set-up, networking etc. But you absolutely can get your stories out there and make money from them. You can build a fan base. Be patient.

Write because it means something to you. If you always keep in mind your purpose in starting this journey, you will never be disappointed. As long as you are still writing, you’re making progress.

Be realistic about your goals. Not everyone will like your work, and that’s okay. Find your audience and write your story to them.

Read popular work similar to what you’re creating. Don’t worry about accidentally plagiarizing. (It’s highly unlikely, unless you’re name-dropping.) Focus on their techniques, and experiment with your writing. You’ll be surprised by what you learn.

Your marketing platform will be the life or death of your stories. Keep in mind how many millions of books are available for download and how many thousands you’re up against in your genre/subgenre. To be seen, you have to get your book and yourself out there. Be on at least three websites/social media platforms. Data shows that people are more likely to consider you a serious writer (and real) if you’re accessible through multiple channels.

  1. Did you learn anything from writing this book and what was it?

Stellar Fusion was my crash course in writing, self-publishing, and authorship. My biggest mistake was not having a marketing platform before I published. I was too shy, too nervous what others thought of my work, and too afraid to invest more money. I couldn’t afford trial and error with ads. I had imposter syndrome because it was my first book, my degrees are in research, and I was fighting against stigmas associated with self-publishing.

But I pushed through it and got involved in some writing groups, watched a ton of webinars, and took classes to improve my editing and self-publishing processes. Staying focused on the goal kept my doubts at bay. And with each new thing I tackled, I added to my skills toolbox until I realized I’d published a couple novels and people were buying them. Having a great product is necessary. But if people don’t know why they need your product, they won’t buy it.

  1. Which writer’s work do you believe most resembles your work?

I admit I’ve studied Kerry Nietz and Pierce Brown, mostly for the futuristic, cyberpunk, and intensity elements of their writing. They give readers a lot to chew on. I believe it’s good to have ideals to work toward as long as we never lose sight of writing our story the best way we can.

Thank you so much for having me!