Author Interviews, Blog

Author Interview: Susan Wingate, Literary Fiction/ Suspenseful Women’s Fiction

My name is Susan Wingate. I’ve been bouncing in and out of the mystery genre for years and have now settled into several mashups of genres—literary fiction, suspenseful women’s fiction, and coming-of-age mixed with touches of magical realism.

I had three novels released in 2022. They are: Gag Me (4/2022, Roberts Press), When You Leave Me (6/2022, Down & Out Books), and upcoming Hotter than Helen (Book 2 of the Bobby’s Diner mystery series, 11/16/2022, The Wild Rose Press)

From Planning to Published

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

Author: My first book took eight years to write, two years to edit, and then after, to be published. It is possibly the worst book ever written. The title is Of the Law and I recommend against getting a copy! LOL.

Has your publishing timeframe improved at all since your first publication?

Author: It depends on what kind of publishing program you’re speaking of. If I self-publish, the process goes fairly fast. After the book is written, I go through a couple of months of an extensive editing process, then I hire an interior designer and cover artist.
If we’re talking traditionally published books, well, those books go through the same extensive editing but are submitted to publishing companies which have their own timeframe for new books submitted to them for accepting or rejecting a book. For accepted work, some publishers are very quick to go from contract to release date while others are not.

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

Author: I’m a hybrid author. Roberts Press is the publisher I self-publish under. But I amtraditionally published as well through Down & Out Books and The Wild Rose Press.

How did you determine your target audience?

Author: Mostly genre dictate who the target audience is. After that, the story’s main character. If the story’s main character is a man or woman, and then if the main character is adult or younger. But I look at genre first. There are many women who enjoy male protagonists and men who enjoy female protagonists. But we have to land somewhere so these are the ways I determine target readership.

What is your publishing process?

Author: Write, edit, edit, edit, submit, then publish. If I haven’t gotten a traditional contract within a matter of six months, I usually self-publish.

What platforms do you use to publish your works?

Author: For digital and print books: KDP for Amazon, (Nook) Press for Barnes & Noble. For audio books ACX for Audible.

Marketing

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

Author: Interaction with readers. I think, by far, this is the most critical function of having a successful career. It didn’t before but it does now in this social atmosphere. In the 1900’s, authors were like demigods. Now, we mustn’t ever strive to be above the so-called fray we must interact one-on-one with readers, give them books, let them chat us up if they like our work; and post and be viable and accessible on social media. But mostly we must write a good story that is free from errors.

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

Author: My author brand is: Small Town, Big Trouble. I typically write stories about the place where I live.

How many works have you published?

Author: I have sixteen published works. Mostly fiction with one memoir about my mother’s journey with Alzheimer’s disease, and one chapbook of poetry. I guess that makes fourteen novels.

Can you tell us a bit about your most recent publication?

Author: Hotter than Helen is the second book in the Bobby’s Diner mystery series. I consider this second story more suspenseful women’s fiction bordering on thriller. This is the blurb: When Georgette’s old friend, Helen comes back to Sunnydale, the town begins to sizzle. Is Helen attracted to Hawthorne Biggs, Georgette’s new beau or Georgette’s imagining things? However, when Helen goes missing, all seems lost. Will they find Helen dead? Does Hawthorne truly have Georgette’s best interests at heart? HOTTER THAN HELEN is a psychological women’s suspense that reads like the sharp edge of a dagger.

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

Author: For readers, I hope they get a sense that truth and justice will prevail. That good will win out and that the bad guys, in the end, will get their just desserts.

Do you recommend any programs, courses, or websites?

Author: As a graduate of Lindenwood’s Masters of Fine Arts in Creative Writing, I definitely recommend them. For shorter classes, Coursera.org has some amazing writing programs through pretty prestigious other colleges. They offer an inexpensive avenue for certificated courses as well as audited courses—whatever suits your time constraints. I also took Jerry Jenkins writing program. It’s expensive but very good. I’m a big proponent of continuing education.

Author Interviews, Blog, Sweet Romance Blog

Author Interview: Sheila Roberts, Romance/ Women’s Fiction/ Devotionals/ Non-fiction

Hi! I’m Sheila Roberts, and I write women’s fiction. My most recent publication, The Road to Christmas, is out right now.

From Planning to Published

When did you start writing and why?

Author:     

I have been writing since I was a child. Hard to answer the why. I jus felt the urge. I love telling stories, and to be able to do that for a living is a blessing.

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

Author:     

You know, it was so long ago, I can’t remember. But I do remember writing it all in long hand and then typing it on my little electric typewriter. A typewriter! That should give you a clue how long ago it was that I wrote my first published book.

Has your publishing timeframe improved at all since your first publication?

Author:     

These days I am expected to deliver two books a year to my publisher, so I don’t have the luxury of unlimited time.

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

Author:     

I’m traditionally published. Back when I started that was the only option I knew about.

How did you determine your target audience?

Author:     

I didn’t begin looking for a target audience. I started writing Regency Romances – something I enjoyed reading. I think that’s key. Write the type of book you love to read and you will find your audience.

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

Author:     

I was in a critique group for years – all published authors – and the input I got from my fellow authors was invaluable. We eventually all got too busy to meet on a regular basis and now just meet occasionally to visit and brainstorm book ideas, so my main input comes from my editor. I do have a good friend who loves to read my messes in progress and serves as a beta reader sometimes, and it’s always good to get that extra input.

Marketing

What is your launch plan for your works?

Author:     

I always have a virtual book birthday party on my Facebook like page. Then there are blog tours where I get to meet bloggers and readers, and Instagram, which I really like. Then of course there are email and eblasts. In addition to that I do both virtual and in person events. I am a people person and I love to party, so getting out and talking about a new book is always fun.

How do you get reviews for your books?

Author:     

This is handled by my publisher and my publicist. I have been around a loooong time and have built up a great network of reviewers over the years. Building a readership, getting your name out there takes time and persistence.

How do you promote your content?

Author:     

Social media is the key these days.

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

Author:     

I honestly think there comes a time in a writer’s life when she has to consider hiring help. A publicist is one of the best investments you can make.

How do you define success as an author?

Author:     

Seeing my books available in a variety of outlets, and, of course, making best-seller lists. And making a good living, of course. But, having said that, what warms my heart most is when I hear from a reader how much she enjoyed my book. Sometimes a reader will even find a particular story encouraging. Knowing you’ve touched someone’s heart is priceless.

About Your Work

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

Author:     

I love fiction, love taking a character or cast of characters and spinning out a life for them, taking them from challenging times that build their character and make them strong all the way to that well-deserved happy ending.

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

Author:     

I would say upbeat – a few tears, a good dose of humor and a happy ending. Life’s hard enough and I don’t want to add to anyone’s misery by writing a depressing tale. I don’t know if this type of thing is a conscious decision. Sometimes the stories we write end up reflecting our own life philosophy. The things we believe are important can’t help but creep into our work. In most of my stories you will find women working together to build a better life.

How many works have you published?

Author:     

I’ve written over fifty books – everything from non-fiction and devotionals to romance.

Can you tell us a bit about your most recent publication?

Author:     

And in my new release, The Road to Christmas, I like to think I’ve given readers a fun holiday romance … as well as inspiration to let go of those negative feelings that can hold us back. The story follows three different journeys as various members of a family all make their way to their holiday gathering. Lots of mishaps and misadventures, some tears and, most important, love and new beginnings.

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

Author:     

Humor, inspiration, problems to overcome… and food. There’s always mention of food, and there are often recipes.

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

Author:     

When I first started I just wanted to find an agent and get a book published. But, as with any career, there are always new goals, new career mountains to climb, like making best seller lists. Sometimes it’s easy to get greedy and want more and more success. I temper that by reminding myself how lucky I am to be able to earn a living doing something I love. I get to sit around and make up stuff – what a great career!

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

Author:     

Just my website: http://www.sheilasplace.com

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

Author:     

Inspiration and happiness.

Do you recommend any programs, courses, or websites?

Author:     

Your local library! Most libraries have shelves of books on writing. Check out everyone and read it. That is a course anyone can afford.

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

Author:     

Debbie Macomber, Susan Wiggs, Nancy Naigle, RaeAnn Thayne, Marie Boswick. These women are wonderful writers and friends.

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 have read in my genre and I’ve also read outside of it. I think it’s important to read a variety of books by a variety of writers. It helps you expand as a writer.

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

Author:     

I am big on planning out where my story is going to go. That’s not to say I won’t make changes along the way, but it does give me a base to build on, a skeleton, so to speak, on which I can flesh out my characters’ journeys.

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

Author:     

Somewhere in between, I supposed. I’m a pretty fast writer, but I think more important than the pace you write at is the consistency with which you write. It’s an art and a craft, but it’s also a job, and you have to show up regularly for work.

Struggles

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

Author:     

Keep writing, keep learning. The ones who “don’t make it” are the ones who give up.

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

Author:     

Not a thing!

How do you keep yourself motivated?

Author:     

Deadlines are a powerful motivator. I have to turn in a book by a certain time. I can’t afford to be a diva. For someone starting out and struggling with motivation, try imposing some deadlines on yourself – with a fine if you don’t make that deadline and a reward if you do. It might help.

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

Author:     

Happily for me, my family has been very supportive – my husband especially!

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

Author:     

That we lead glamorous lives.

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 awarm café with mocha in hand and feet up on an ottoman?

Author:     

Sitting in my living room, working on my laptop. I have a beautiful water view from there.

What book are you reading at the moment?

Author:     

I am reading Mornings on Horseback, by David McCullough, which is a biography of Teddy Roosevelt. If you want to get inspired, read the biography of a successful person.

What is your favorite writing snack and drink?

Author:     

Chocolate! It’s vitamin C for a writer’s brain. J

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

Author:    

It came from my mother. If you can’t say anything nice don’t say anything at all. Her other favorite adage was: Pretty is as pretty does. My mother was a very smart woman.

Author Interviews, Blog, Sci-Fi Fantasy Blog

Author Interview: MNR, Science Fiction/Crime

You might know me as “MNR” depending on when and where we’ve met. MNR is short for “Mark Niemann-Ross.” This drives the IT folks crazy when I ask for a corporate email address  like “mnr@somewhere.com.” They prefer mniemannross@somewhere.com, but seriously, who can remember how to spell that?

My latest written work is a contribution to Crooked V.2 – “Do-Ye0n Performs a Cost-Benefit Analysis on a Career Based on Questionable Activities.” I’ve released “Stupid Machine” – A (science fiction) murder mystery solved by a refrigerator. I’m currently prepping to write “Vicious Machine – A murder mystery caused by a refrigerator.”

From Planning to Published

When did you start writing and why?

Author:      I’ve always scratched out stories. My mom was an interrupted journalist but continued to write stories for friends and family. She mourned her missed opportunity to write full time. I’d like to think I’m fulfilling her dream?

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

Author:      Way too long but just long enough. I rewrote Stupid Machine three times and threw out more words than the length of the final book. It was a cheap way to learn to write – cheaper than an MFA. There’s no better way to learn about writing than to crash your way through it.

I’ve stopped worrying about how long it takes finish a project. The finished idea only comes around as fast as it can – I need to be patient.

Has your publishing timeframe improved at all since your first publication?

Author:      Nope. It won’t. I’ll finish it when it’s ready.

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

Author:      My short stories have appeared in Analog Magazine of Science Fiction and Fact, so in that way I’m traditionally published. Stupid Machine is self-published and I’m happy with that. I’m open to working with an agent/publisher, but until that happens, I’ll proceed with confidence.

How did you determine your target audience?

Author:      I didn’t. I wrote what I know. The audience will have to sort themselves out. I’ve found  two demographics reading Stupid Machine: coders and murder fans. Sometimes they’re the same. I understand coders. Maybe someday I’ll understand murder fans better.

What is your publishing process?

Author:      Write the damn story. Publish the damn story.

What platforms do you use to publish your works?

Author:      I’m published at Amazon in both print and kindle. I’ve been pleased with Smashwords for everywhere else. The amount of time I have to fool around with publishing services is growing thin, so I watch numbers and economize. There’s lots of ways to get a book published; I assume if someone really wants to read what I write, they’ll find a way to buy the story.

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

Author:      I have a group of trusted readers. It’s difficult to get good critiques, especially since I’m working somewhere between technology and fiction. I cherish the folks who are able to bridge those two disciplines.

Marketing

What is your launch plan for your works?

Author:      Start with the low-hanging fruit and work outwards. Friends and family, then industry associates, then recognized experts, then general public. My time is limited, so I select activities I can support, complete those activities, then move on to the next. It’s really easy to lose focus with all of the companies who want to offer marketing opportunities.

How do you get reviews for your books?

Author:      I pester readers until they submit to my will.

How do you promote your content?

Author:      My next story is the best promotion for my current story. It’s endless. It’s tiring. I wish there was a magic formula. Sometimes people get lucky and famous.

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

Author:      Be famous, then your books will sell. Success is a subjective pursuit.

How do you define success as an author?

Author:      If I learned something from the creation of a book, then I’m successful. I have the luxury of having an income from other sources, so the financial return on a book isn’t the primary indicator.

About Your Work

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

Author:      Yep…I write Science Fiction.

What genres and subgenres do you write in?

Author:      Sub Genre: Hard. Sub-Sub Genre: Technology-gone-wrong.

I teach programming languages and small computers (Raspberry Pi) so I constantly trip over bugs and unintended machine behaviors. Those are no big deal until we trust our well-being to predictable technology.

I worry about what happens in the unplanned gaps between technologies. One company tests lawn mowers to make sure they’re safe. Another tests to make sure microwaves are safe. But what happens if you plug a lawn mower into a microwave? Nobody tested that. 

What could possibly go wrong?

If you think that sounds just stupid, you ought to educate yourself on what’s going on inside your car at 65 miles per hour.

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

Author:      Just me. I teach technology. I write about technology. I write fiction about technology. It’s all related to the singular me.

How many works have you published?

Author:      Lots of shorts. One long.

Can you tell us a bit about your most recent publication?

Author:      Sure. “Do-Ye0n Performs a Cost-Benefit Analysis on a Career Based on Questionable Activities” is part of Crooked V.2. It’s a background exploration of Do-Ye0n, an inept fuck-up. Everyone assumes criminals are masterminds. If they ARE masterminds, they fix the system so they aren’t criminals. At least, that’s what happens today. Criminals are the folks just short of manipulating society to believe they are doing the right thing. Do-Ye0n just doesn’t work hard enough. So he continues to fall off the edge of competency.

This is important to my writing. Masterminds are a fiction. Everyone is just trying to get it right. Criminals don’t aspire to be criminal – they aspire to survive and maybe a bit more.

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

Author:      A common element? The gap between technologies. Quality assurance does their best to make things work right, but there’s always an edge case between THIS thing and THAT thing.

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

Author:      Someone needed to write this thing. I’m the only person (I know of) with this combination of skills. So I was chosen to write it. I wish I had a better grasp of the medium, but I am what I am.

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

Author:      Enjoy the story. Oh please…enjoy what I write.

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

Author:      Stop using cliches. Use semi-colons, colons, dashes, and em-dashes correctly. Learn more about the stupid english language.

Seriously – programming languages are so much easier than english. Punctuation is predictable, spelling is absolute, the syntax makes sense. That leaves me to fixing bugs – but that’s just logical errors. Why can’t english be that simple?

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

Author:      I love when characters reveal themselves. I know they are fictional, but they develop personalities. That’s also somewhat of a pain in the ass – some characters decided they didn’t want to cooperate with the overall story when it was too late to write them out. So I need to accommodate their needs. What a bunch of complainers.

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

Author:      I admire Andy Weir. He works hard to make sure his stories exist within the bounds of physics.

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:      Oh gawd no. Read outside your genre. I’m fortunate to be married to someone who doesn’t like science fiction. As a result, I watch all sorts of movies and read books I would never have considered otherwise.

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

Author:      I scratch out an idea, then write, then fix the outline, then write, then plot. Characters tell me things about the story I didn’t know when I started. Pantser vs Plotter is an unnecessary bifurcation. Writing is an interactive process. You suggest a situation, then ask the characters what they are going to do. Sometimes they tell you the situation is wrong and you have to start over.

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

Author:      Face to face. Beers. Social media is a cesspool.

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

Author:      I write when the story demands to be written. There’s lots of gaps in my writing while the story sorts itself out. I write as fast as I can, but I’m not in control.

Struggles

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

Author:      Interesting question, but this really doesn’t apply to my writing. I’m an author because I write. Stories need to be written. I’ve expressed an interest in writing them, so they show up at my doorstep.

A journey has a beginning and an end. The stories I write never really started – they always were waiting for me to get my shit together. They never end – they just pause until the next chapter starts. I’m kind of just an innocent bystander with a keyboard.

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

Author:      I hate killing off characters. I spend so much time learning about them, then they die. Dammit. But that’s the deal. If you’re going to write, you need to be emotional about these fictional characters. It doesn’t get any easier, but it does prepare you for when “real” people die.

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

Author:      Nobody “becomes” an author. You are, or you are not. There isn’t a merit badge you can earn. You can only write. Even if nobody publishes your writing, if you’re writing, you’re an author. That’s a relationship between you and the story.

Fun Stuff

What do you listen to while you write?

Author:      coffee shop music and chatter. I can’t write without background noise.

What book are you reading at the moment?

Author:      1Q84. Before that, A Gentleman in Moscow.

What is your favorite literary trope?

Author:      Chekhov’s gun.

I splatter news everywhere, but the most current is my website at http://niemannross.com

Author Interviews, Blog

Author Interview: Cheryl Carpinello, MG/YA Adventure

Hi, I’m Cheryl Carpinello. I write MG/YA myths/legends adventures. The Atlantean Horse, book 1 of The Feathers of the Phoenix, officially released on Sept. 23, 2022.

From Planning to Published

When did you start writing and why?

Author:      After working with reluctant and non-readers in high school, I chose to target the younger kids in hopes of getting those not currently reading to come to enjoy reading. My successes in the classroom with Arthurian Legend and Stories from the Ancient Worlds became my avenue. Once I retired from teaching, I was able to devote time to writing.    

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

Author:     I published my first book, Guinevere: On the Eve of Legend, in 2009. In between grading papers and teaching, it took me a little over two years to release. Since then, depending on the book or picture book, it still takes a good year, and sometimes a bit more, to write, produce, and publish a book.

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

Author:      I am an Indie Author through and through. I tried traditional, but found that I had no control over decisions being made about my books. I like being in control of my options although it requires a lot of work and time on my part.

What is your publishing process?

Author:      Once my book is finished and corrections from my two editors complete, I send it to my layout designer for paperback and ebook files. Once I have the ISBN, I get my cover done. Finally, I upload my files for publication on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Apple, Kobo, Overdrive, Baker & Taylor, Scribd. I also use Draft2Digital as my distributor.

Marketing  

How do you get reviews for your books?

Author:      I ask when people buy my books direct from me to leave a review. I post on social media about the importance of reviews for authors. My blog tours usually bring in a number of reviews also.

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

Author:      Consistency and variety. You need to be in front of readers consistently and use a variety of medias to do this.

How do you define success as an author?

Author:      I feel my success comes when I have kids come up to me and tell me that they have enjoyed my stories, and buy another book. I’ve had some who have read my Arthurian series 3 and 4 times!

About Your Work

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

Author:      I write Arthurian Legend, Tales from the Ancient Worlds, and my picture book series Grandma/Grandpa’s Tales. My novels are shorter than typical middle grade/teen novels because my target readers balk at long books. My Arthurian Legends stories also have an illustration at the beginning of each chapter because reluctant and non-readers usually count how many pages they don’t have to read!

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

Author:      My target audience is Reluctant Readers, mainly ages 8/9-18; however, my books have appealed to mature audiences who may or may not be reluctant readers. My brand: Tales & Legends for Reluctant Readers.

How many works have you published? 

Author:      4 Arthurian Legend, 3 Ancient World, 6 Grandma/Grandpa Tales, 1 Writing Journal, I book of Short Stories relating to my Arthurian Legend, and my grandson’s book: Cameron’s Book of Insects written when he was 9 years old. Total: 15

Can you tell us a bit about your most recent publication?

Author:      The Atlantean Horse is a unique adventure story that melds the ancient world with today’s world. Rosa and Jerome have been given the epic task to find and bring the five feathers of the Phoenix to the Atlantean Horse. When they have completed the five tasks, the prophecy says that the island of Atlantis will rise again so it’s people can finally come home.  Sound easy? Maybe, but not when the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse are pursuing the same and will stop at nothing to obtain the feathers.

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

Author:      I help out author friends with promotion on Facebook and Twitter when I can. I have two author friends overseas and we exchange promo ideas, writing ideas, and what we are currently doing. It’s fun to keep in touch via email (we have never met in person).

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

Author:      A little of both of these. My characters tend to take over my stories so my writing mirrors their actions. Sometimes they like to run through certain parts of the story. At other times, they just want to enjoy their surroundings and experiences.

Struggles

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

Author:      I published my first book in 2009. Back then, writers who did this were not respected and were referred to as self-published or vanity authors. I’ve worked hard on my craft, belong to several professional organizations, and am a member of an author co-op out of England. I still bristle when people ask if I am self-published. I calmly but firmly inform them I am an Indie Author.

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

Author:      Be sure to write the best book you can, get it professionally edited, find a professional cover designer and layout designer. Write your book from beginning to end and then go back and do editing. Also: Develop a thick skin!!

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

Author:      Most of the time I’ve driven. I do a number of shows/conferences all year round promoting/selling my books. I do classroom visits around writing programs I’ve developed, and I talk with parents, grandparents, teachers, and principals about the importance of reading and writing.

How do you combat writer’s block?

Author:      I don’t have writer’s block. I’m constantly writing, whether it be on paper or in my brain. When my story comes to a stop, I move on to another part knowing that my characters will let me know when it’s time to come back to that spot.

Fun Stuff 

What do you listen to while you write?

Author:      A variety: Mumford & Sons, OneRepublic, Elton John, Mark Knopfler, Pink, James Blunt to name a few.

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:      Usually on my couch with a concert DVD on. I love music when I write. My favorites are Mumford & Sons and OneRepublic. Sometimes I do go to a small restaurant for coffee and a bite of lunch and write there, minus any distractions.

What book are you reading at the moment?

Author:      The Ape who Guards the Balance (Amelia Peabody historical mystery series) for the 3th time through the 25-book series.

Do you have a writing companion?

Author:      I do not, but my daughter and husband always read my stories and give me honest feedback. My two good friends/authors always read and give me their read on my stories. I do that in return for them. 

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

Author:      Don’t worry about rewriting while you’re writing. Turn off the critical side of your brain and let your creative side tell the story. It knows how to do this!

Author Interviews, Blog, Sci-Fi Fantasy Blog

Author Interview: Michael J. Brooks, Science Fiction

My name is Michael J. Brooks. I am a science fiction author. My most recent work is Republic Falling: Advent of a New Dawn (book #1 of the Wars of the New Humanity series). Currently in progress is Republic Under Siege: Threat from Within (book # 2 of the Wars of the New Humanity series).

From Planning to Published

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

Author:  I am an independent author. Being independent, I don’t have a publishing company influencing my work, and I don’t have to send submission after submission and get rejection after rejection before publishing, or seek out an agent to get my work into publishers’ hands. I can cut out the middle man and release my work when its ready.

What platforms do you use to publish your works?

Author:  My work is published on Amazon (ebook and paperback) and Barnes & Noble. Ingram Spark is my wholesale distributor and allows my books to be available online through multiple retailers, and possibly get picked up by book stores.

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

Author: Reedsy is a great marketplace to find editors, but the professionals on Reedsy can be expensive. Fiverr is a good place as well to find editors, and you can find some there who are less expensive than Reedsy but are still great. You can also find beta readers on Fiverr.

Marketing

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

Author: I have a website and social media platforms that I use to promote my books and communicate with potential readers and my fans.

How do you get reviews for your books?

Author: In the past, I got reviews from groups on Goodreads or Facebook, sending people free books for a free, honest review. Now, I have discovered Book Sirens and NetGalley, which allows readers and reviewers to read advanced reader copies (ARCs) of authors’ books, and then those readers and reviewers post their reviews to sites like Amazon when an author’s book is released. A lot of big publishing companies use NetGalley. There is a cost associated with both websites, Book Sirens and NetGalley, but I intend to include them in my marketing budget. I am excited about using these sites in the future to see what results they bring.

Also, I enter writing competitions, like the BookLife Prize and Readers’ Favorite’s competition, which, even if you don’t place in any of their categories, you get a critic’s report/critique that you can use for marketing.

How do you promote your content?

Author: I promote my content through social media and the use of Amazon ads.

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

Author: I think the most critical component is getting reviews and praise pre-release and getting reviews after the release of your book. Reviews are social proof of the quality of your work.

About Your Work

What genres and subgenres do you write in?

Author: I mainly write science fiction but intend to write some urban fantasy and fantasy in the future.

How many works have you published?

Author: I have published three works: Exodus Conflict, Exodus Conflict: New Genesis, and Republic Falling: Advent of a New Dawn. My latest work, still in progress, is Republic Under Siege: Threat from Within.

Can you tell us a bit about your most recent publication?

Author:  Republic Falling: Advent of a New Dawn is book one of the Wars of the New Humanity series, a page-turning sci-fi thriller that explores socioeconomic hierarchies, class warfare, ascribed status, group identity, war politics, and more, in a world where humanity wages battle in mechanized combatwear called Shells, humans Link in mental communion, and life throughout the universe is vast.

In the book, Randal Scott, Guardian of the Commonwealth Defense Force (CDF), wants nothing more than to deliver retribution to the man who killed his mother and mentally scarred him forever. That man is his father, former CDF captain, Arson Scott. After establishing a wonderful life for his family and nurturing Randy into manhood, Arson mysteriously joined the insurgency threatening to collapse humanity’s intergalactic republic and partook in his wife’s murder. Randy’s lover, Guardian Stacie Spencer, also enlists into the CDF for personal reasons, to forge a life free of her aristocratic parents’ control. She will shape her destiny, no one else.

Now Randy and Stacie, who are Linked (joined in mental communion), enter a bloody war that has Randy questioning both of the combat forces in opposition, the CDF and the insurgency known as the Coalition of Rebel Factions.

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

Author: I hope that the themes within my work will resonate with readers. For example, Republic Falling explores the theme of seeing things from the perspective of others to sympathize with their misfortune.

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

Author: The part I am working on the most is marketing. Marketing is how authors get books in the hands of readers. So I am constantly studying how to market my books, and I am always looking for new ways to market my books.

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

Author:  WC Bauers, William C Dietz, Linda Nagata, David Weber, Nicholas Sansbury, Richard Baker, and others. I found them by browsing books on Amazon and Scribd.

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: Yes, I have always read in my genre. It makes it easier to create new stories because those books provide influence and inspiration and lead me to new ideas. Therefore, I am always reading science fiction, to continue to learn more about writing the genre.

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

Author:  I am what you would call a pantster or gardener. I’m not like an architect who can develop and outline of a story from beginning to end and then write it. I start with an idea for a story, and then that idea grows as I write. The same is true with my characters. I’ll have an idea for a character, then as I write that character, they grow and change and I discover who they are.

Struggles

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

Author: One of the hardest things to overcome would be watching my book not get any sales at times. Sometimes you start to question yourself and your skills. But I believe that selling books has a lot to do with not only writing skills but marketing as well. Another hard thing to overcome is the stigma that comes with being an independent author. I feel independent authors’ books get stigmatized as being “low quality.” And yes, a lot may be low quality in terms of editing and story development, but not all of them. I believe it is up to us independent authors to put out good quality to fight that stigma.

How do you combat writer’s block?

Author:  I combat writers block by stepping away from the computer and doing something I like, such as working out or going on a run. What also helps me is reading science fiction books as I write my book, which is something I do constantly to get influence and ideas, and discover new verbs and adjectives that I might use.

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

Author:  When I first started independently publishing back in 2012 I wasn’t aware of these terms: advanced reader copy (ARC), blurb, query letter, sell sheet,  developmental edit, line edit, copy edit, beta reader. These terms are definitely important for me as an author. They are important to competence of the profession.

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?

Author: I write in my home office or coffee shops. I love coffee shops!

What book are you reading at the moment?

Author: I am currently reading Blood and Steel by Josh Hayes and Devon C. Ford and 36 Streets by T.R. Napper.

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

Author: I have learned that I am an exceptional world-builder, as told to me by critiques and editors.

What is your favorite writing snack and drink?

Author: Coffee or an energy drink like Zoa, Monster, or XS.

How can readers follow you and learn more about your books?

Author: They can go to www.authormbrooks.com and they can follow me on Twitter at @AuthorMBrooks.

Author Interviews, Blog

Author Interview: Steve Brock, Mystery

I’m Steve Brock. My first novel is Half Moon Lake, which I would say falls into the mystery/conspiracy genre.

From Planning to Published

When did you start writing and why?

Author:      I’ve always wanted to be a writer, but life intervened when I was young. Last year I realized that at 61 years old I was running out of time, so I made the time to do it. 

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

Author:      I began the first of September last year and finished the manuscript just after the new year. Once that was complete There was the editing, both mine and a professional editor I hired. That process took another couple of months. Then there was hiring a book cover designer and working with him. Finally, figuring out how to actually publish the finished book took more time. All together it took about seven months. I think the next one will be quicker though.

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

Author:      I published independently this first time. I didn’t feel like going through the process of trying to find an agent. My understanding is that can be an arduous task, and I was prepared to take on the publishing process on my own. I was also told that traditional publishing has been slow to change with the times and a lot of authors previously published traditionally are now choosing to go independent.

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

Author:      I was lucky enough to have a relative who is a long-time friend of an author who has published 58 books so far. I was introduced to her and she was more than willing to help me along the way, offering advice and critiques as I progressed. Without her assistance, it would have been much more difficult to know how I was doing during the writing process. 

About Your Work

What genres and subgenres do you write in?

Author:      This is my first novel and it happens to fall into the mystery/conspiracy genre. I’m not going to say that is the only genre I’ll write, however. I actually have a couple of new book ideas that I’m working on that would perhaps cross genres into science fiction. I say cross genres because if I write the book as I have it in my mind I wouldn’t consider it totally science fiction, but it would contain elements of SciFi.  

How many works have you published? 

Author:      This is my first published work although I have been writing all my life, both for pleasure and for work.

Can you tell us a bit about your most recent publication?

Author:      The book is titled Half Moon Lake. The story revolves around the main character who has life all laid out in front of him until a personal tragedy causes him to leave it all behind. He moves far from his home and begins a life of solitude working as a float-plane pilot flying people in and out of remote locations in northern Minnesota. His new life gets upended when he is accused of being involved in the disappearance of a group of campers he flew to a remote cabin. To make matters worse, a rival from his past reappears with vengeance on his mind.

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

Author:      I do not, but it’s early and I’m still learning what might work best for me. 

Do you recommend any programs, courses, or websites?

Author:      Yes. I took a course that is offered through The Great Courses channel on Amazon. The courses they offer include just about any topic you can think of. They are college-level courses usually consisting of a series of lectures presented by a college professor. I found a course titled, How to Write Best Selling Fiction. It was very well presented, and I learned a lot from it.     

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

Author:      I’ve found I like to start with creating a main character first. After that I work on a plot, but I’m not totally a Plotter. I like to know where I’m taking a story before I write, but I don’t require the whole thing to be worked out before I begin. I also find as I write I come up with ideas to make the story better.

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

Author:      When I was writing this novel I tried to write every day, and for a while I set a daily goal for myself. That was helpful during the beginning of the writing process, but as I got closer to the end, and the whole story was complete in my mind, I found I didn’t need a daily goal any longer. There were days toward the end when I wrote into the midnight hour.

Struggles

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

Author:      Other than my wife, who knew I’d always wanted to be a writer, it was a total surprise to the rest of the family when I told them I had written my first novel. The immediate response was typically “I want to read it”, I don’t know if that was because they thought it would be a train-wreck they just couldn’t help but look at it or not. Of course, they have all been very complimentary after reading it, and they ask if I plan to write another one.   

Fun Stuff 

What do you listen to while you write?

Author:      I always have the TV on in the background. I find a program I’m only marginally interested in and I write as it plays. Usually, I find when I finish writing that the program had ended long ago and I don’t know what is currently on. I can’t write in silence, I need that background noise. 

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:      Most of the time I write on the family room sofa. I do have an office I retreat into when necessary. I don’t always write using my laptop. I really enjoy the tactical experience of putting pen to paper. There are several scenes in my book that I wrote by hand using my favorite fountain pen and journal. I would type those scenes into the computer later. Sometimes I find writing by hand is not only enjoyable, but it slows down my thought process when I’m working on a section that I haven’t completely worked out in my mind.

How can readers follow you and learn more about your books? 

Author Website:     BrockNovels.com

Book Sales Pages: Half Moon Lake on Amazon

Author Interviews, Blog

Author Interview: Jennifer Chase, Crime Thrillers

My name is Jennifer Chase and I write crime thrillers. My latest release is Silent Little Angels, which is book number seven in the Detective Katie Scott Thriller Series. The series revolves around a cold case detective, ex-Army K9 explosive handler, who is tracking down killers in a rural California Mountain town.

From Planning to Published

When did you start writing and why?

Author:

I have always LOVED books for as long as I can remember. I wrote stories, articles, and a dozen screenplays, but I had my ambition on writing novels. I worked in the corporate world for a while, but my thoughts weren’t far from a crime fiction storyline. One day, after I had written by twelfth screenplay, I began to outline another storyline and series, but this time I wrote my first novel Compulsion. From that time, I never looked back.

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

Author:

My first book took the longest because I did an extensive outline process. I was also thinking that down the road, this would be a series. There was quite a bit of information and background that wasn’t part of the first book. From outline to the first draft, it took me about six months to write my first novel.

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

Author:     

I began as an indie author and worked hard to get my series out there. It’s not that I never wanted to be traditionally published, but I was working hard and seeing results. At that time, many of the available publishing houses didn’t take unsolicited manuscripts, and the ones that did, it took months to hear back. So I forged on until I was contacted by a publisher who asked me to pitch a crime series. I was excited and optimistic because I had a series that I wanted to write—the Detective Katie Scott Thriller Series. Publishing is much more open and friendly to authors wanting to submit their books today. I would say it has definitely changed in the last five years, which is fantastic. So now, I publish both indie and traditional.

What is your publishing process?

Author:  

I outline all of my stories. It’s a loose overview, like a roadmap, where I can see the crimes and clues clearly making it clear where each suspense-building aspect is needed. It makes my writing that much easier and my first draft isn’t a complete wreck.

Marketing  

What is your launch plan for your works?

Author:

Planning is key. A new release requires a pre-order, which has been very successful for my series. I do at least one virtual blog tour, create tweets and posts for social media, email my subscribers, make fun one minute book trailers, and use my blog as the jumping off point.

How do you get reviews for your books?

Author:     

There are several ways I get reviews besides from readers who buy the book. NetGalley is a great way to get more book reviews—generally the reviewers will also post to GoodReads and Amazon as well. I also contact book reviewers I’ve had in the past to see if they would like to review my latest book. That’s a wonderful way to get reviews before you book is published.

How do you define success as an author?

Author:

I think that varies. There’s not just one definition for success. For some, having published books and selling copies is successful. For others, selling a million books is successful. I feel that if you’re writing books, with good reviews, and readers are buying them—that’s successful.

About Your Work

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

Author:    

I write novels mainly, but I’ve written short stories, novellas, and screenplays. I love writing anything in the crime, thriller, and suspense genres. I’ve been influenced by the 80s action films so my novels definitely have some action in them.

How many works have you published?

Author:

I have published sixteen novels, two short stories, and one non-fiction workbook.

Can you tell us a bit about your most recent publication?

Author:     

My latest book, Silent Little Angels, a Detective Katie Scott thriller, is a crime fiction series about a cold case detective and her K9 set in a rural California mountain area. The latest installment is the seventh book, but all my books can be easily read as a stand-alone.

Here is the synopsis for Silent Little Angels:

The water ripples as the girl’s body escapes the reeds and floats silently upwards. Her beautiful face—blue eyes frozen open, skin as white as snow—breaks the surface. But it’s too late, this innocent soul has taken her final breath…

When camp counselor Carolyn Sable’s body is found floating in a lake beside Eagle Ridge Summer Camp, Detective Katie Scott must dig deep to stay focused. As a child, Katie spent many happy weeks at that camp toasting marshmallows on the fire with her best friend Jenny… until the day Jenny disappeared. The loss will always haunt Katie, but Carolyn’s inconsolable family need answers.

Searching the area, the devastating discovery of two more bodies sends the case into a tailspin. Suddenly on the hunt for a serial killer, Katie’s blood turns to ice when she finds newspaper clippings about her own past cases planted near one of the bodies. Was this twisted killer banking on Katie taking the lead? And why?

Struggles

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

Author:     

Time. I actually struggle with procrastination, so it’s been my nemesis for a while. I’ve been learning to see only what I have to do tomorrow and what I need to accomplish today.

How do you keep yourself motivated?

Author:     

The ideas and storylines that I write down help to keep me motivated. I feel that I would never run out of ideas.

How do you combat writer’s block?

Author:

I don’t feel, in my opinion, that there’s a real thing called writer’s block. If you think you’re struggling from it, then you don’t have a complete story. Step back from your project. Begin another. Or just take more time organizing your story that you’re having problems with.

Fun Stuff

What do you listen to while you write?

Author:     

When I’m writing, I listen to piano classical. When I’m editing, it’s all quiet on deck.

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 awarm café with mocha in hand and feet up on an ottoman?

Author:

I can write anywhere, but mostly I write in a small office in my house surrounded by things I love–books. There’s a big window where I can see outside at the trees and grass. It’s really relaxing. I create most of my ideas at my desk and I don’t usually write on a laptop, but a desktop computer. It sounds old school, but it’s comfortable and it makes me productive.

Do you have a writing companion?

Author:     

I have two German shepherds and they take turns being my writing buddy.

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

Author:

Don’t let anyone tell you what you should be writing. Write what inspires and excites you.

Author Interviews, Blog, Sci-Fi Fantasy Blog

Author Interview: Palmer Pickering, Sci-Fi/ Dystopian

Hi, I’m Palmer Pickering! I write science fiction and just released “Light Fighters,” the sequel to “Moon Deeds” of the “Star Children Saga.”

From Planning to Published

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

Author:      I have been working on the Star Children Saga for over ten years. I rewrote Book One, “Moon Deeds,” several times over the years.

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

Author:      I am self-published and have my own Indie Publishing imprint, Mythology Press.

What is your publishing process?

Author:      I work with several editors, from developmental editing, to copy editors, to multiple proofreaders. I found that with books of this length and complexity, it’s best to do multiple editing passes. Then I hire a desktop publisher to do the book layout. I hire artists for the cover art and other art, such as maps. I really like working with so many interesting professionals. That’s part of what makes self-publishing so much fun.

What platforms do you use to publish your works?

Author:      I use print-on-demand for printing, with both IngramSpark and Amazon. That way I can offer my books to any bookstore or library, or small book seller. For ebooks I use the same two services, and they distribute to all book reader companies. I have an audiobook for “Moon Deeds,” and I use Findaway Voices, who handles a wide distribution to many different audiobook outlets. 

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

Author:      During early drafts, I participated in writer critique groups, where we exchanged chapters and offered each other feedback. That was a great learning process, and I made some good friends doing that. At a certain point, that process became too slow for me, so I started getting beta readers to read the finished book and provide feedback. I would meet with them afterwards and ask them all sorts of questions about the plot, characters, and their understanding of the world. That provided invaluable feedback as I learned what came across well to readers and what did not work so well. As I mentioned, I also hire professional editors for all stages.

About Your Work

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

Author:      My writing style is very descriptive. I am going for total immersion, so that readers feel as if they are really there and feel what the characters are feeling. I pit dark characters against good characters, striving to explore the motivations for human behavior and how societies function. However, I always try to make my characters authentic and multi-faceted. I like to explore how people strive for a higher purpose and seek the divine to overcome darkness. This translates into magic in my stories, as the protagonists encounter insurmountable obstacles. 

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

Author:      My favorite thing is writing. My least favorite thing is querying. I like the publishing process, but it take time away from writing, which is my first love.

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

Author:      I network on Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, and I join Facebook groups. Also Goodreads. And at conventions. I have met some of my best connections at writing and genre conventions.

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

Author:      I write or edit a little bit every day, anywhere from 15 minutes to two hours per day, sometimes in small chunks. On weekends I like to do long writing sessions, interspersed with time to think about what I’m writing. I need uninterrupted quiet time and space to just dwell in my mind about the story I am writing: envisioning a scene; working through a plot knot; pondering the best wording or plot device; or outlining and planning the plot structure, world, and character arcs. I guess I would call myself a lion, who likes long days in the sun lazing about but also is a fierce hunter.

Struggles

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

Author:      The hardest thing was trying to find an agent or publisher. I failed at both.

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

Author:      I pretty much got impatient with the whole vetting process of agents and publishers. Perhaps I am somewhat bitter or jaded, but it all seems very random and subjective. The numbers just don’t make for good odds at getting a book deal. There are way more talented writers than there are agents and available slots for new authors at traditional publishers. If you didn’t come up through a respected MFA program or have some other connections, or you don’t win the publishing lottery, chances are slim at finding a deal. Not impossible, just slim. Some friends of mine were successful. So I’m not saying don’t try, just don’t take it personally if you are not successful at landing an agent and a book contract. I am very happy self-publishing. It’s a totally viable path at this point in time, particularly for genre writers like fantasy, romance, or mystery. 50% of the sales in those genres are self-published authors these days. They are definitely giving the publishing houses a run for their money.

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

Author:      If you want to write, then write. That’s the only way to get good at it. That means sit down and put pen to paper, or pound on that keyboard. Don’t worry about the quality, just start practicing and exercising the writing muscles. Try to write several times a week, like you would do to become good at any skill. Some people say they want to write, but they never actually write anything. Thinking and wishing for a thing does not make it so. Fate rewards those who take action. Writing courses/programs or workshops are always a good idea. Join a writer’s group or trade drafts online to get feedback and to read other people’s work. You learn just as much by reading the poorly executed story as you do the great ones. Regarding becoming a published author, go to cons and listen to panels, read trade magazines, and jump in. The water’s fine.

Fun Stuff

What book are you reading at the moment?

Author:      “Kings of the Wyld” by Nicholas Eames, and “Burn Red Skies” by Kerstin Espinosa Rosero.

What is your favorite literary trope?

Author:      How about my least favorite? Meta-fiction. Just doesn’t do it for me. 

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

Author:      I write what is entertaining to me. I am not trying to be unique, I am trying to write a compelling story and improve my craft. I think my imagination is creative enough that my worlds and stories stand on their own.

Do you have a writing companion?

Author:      I have three cats who take turns inserting themselves between me and my computer.

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

Author:      Your best advertisement is your next book.

Author Website:    https://mythologypress.com/
Social Media: https://twitter.com/PalmerPickerin1
Book Sales Pages: Star Children Series

Author Interviews, Blog, Sci-Fi Fantasy Blog

Author Interview: Davene Le Grange, Sci-Fi Fantasy/ Poetry

Hi, I am Davene Le Grange, a Sci-fi Fantasy Author and Poet. I am currently working on a multi-genre 1,200 poems project. The first book in my twelve-book poetry series (inspired by cyberpunk and steampunk) includes almost every punk genre.

From Planning to Published

When did you start writing and why?

Author:      My poem “Once Upon A Butterfly” was published in 2007, but it wasn’t until 2016 that I wrote to publish novels. My husband and the film “Arrival” directed by Denis Villeneuve inspired me to start writing. I wrote “Éatheria: Logbook 1” and the overview for a series of seven dark sci-fi fantasy books, which I hope to complete and publish after some more world-building, rewriting, and editing. 

Marketing

How do you get reviews for your books?

Author:      I typically reach out to friends and family first (recently via my newsletter) to request spreading the word, I will then go onto social media platforms such as Twitter and Instagram to promote my works (as well as the works of my fellow authors involved in anthologies), and also update my author website.

How do you promote your content?

Author:      I did, following the recommendations of fellow authors on social media, try promotional sites, but quickly learnt that there is a lot of controversy on which sites are scams, cons, and that even the generally accepted sites are also sometimes called into question. I am grateful to have come across ALLi which investigates which sites to watch out for, because experience has taught me that even if you think you’re doing everything correct and doing your utmost to adhere to Amazon’s terms, reviews can still be called into question.

How do you define success as an author?

Author:      I have learnt that reviews don’t accurately portray the quality of a book. If what I’ve seen fellow authors share online to be true then a high number of reviews or five-star ratings can stem from large online writer groups, some authors having the ability to spend more on marketing, or sadly when readers are attacked by authors for leaving an honest rating that is below three stars. I myself would rather not rate or even read a book if I feel the quality falls below 3 stars. Follower counters also don’t equate to sales, and I don’t believe that reviews equate to actual success. True success will always be the genuine friends and connections a person makes, and there are no short cuts in the forming of strong bonds between an author and their fellow authors and readers.

About Your Work

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

Author:     As a versatile person, I am still working on my author brand, but overall, I root for diversity, and would like to leave a lasting message of love, peace, and hope. I’m still discovering who I am as a person, and again rarely confine myself to any one particular label as I don’t like to limit myself. I am full of ideas all the time, my biggest challenge is keeping focused, but as I am still experimenting with finding my true passion project, I’m just enjoying living and discovering.

How many works have you published?

Author:      I have had five works published so far.  I have three short stories in three different anthologies: Broadcast 2220 in Arc City Stories (Todd Cinani as Lead Writer), The Spherical Realms and Penumbra and Luster in The Theater of Nok-Mondu, and The Undercover Goth in Neon Digital Darkness (James L. Graetz as Lead Writer). I also have my poem Once Upon A Butterfly published in Away With Words: Inspirations from Europe (Edited by Claire Tupholme), and have a self-published poetry book The Cyber Punk: Ready-2-Play?

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

Author:      Other than my focus on colorful imagery and diverse world-building, a common element I have noticed in my writing is a main character that questions if their actions are truly good. I personally find it very important to constantly question if I’m on the correct path and to challenge myself to see a situation from other perspectives.

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

Author:      Cautionary tales for what people build as well as inspiration to build a better world for future generations. My stories are by nature experimental, and I’m happy if they inspire at least one person to push forward with a new idea to create something good and beautiful for our world to enjoy.

Do you recommend any programs, courses, or websites?

Author:      I would love to give recommendations but again what works for one author might not for another, and with the current climate I’d simply suggest adhering to the terms, rules, and laws as best you can but realize that you’re going to make mistakes and have disagreements. Do the best you can, learn as much as you can, and spread kindness rather than judgment. Not every author you meet has the knowledge and access to the same education as you do. If you see someone struggling offer advice and a helping hand or walk away rather than threaten, resort to group mobs, and cancelling people. Not everyone thinks, feels, and believes the same, and if free speech is to truly be free then our levels of patience, tolerance, and understanding need to reflect our acceptance of another’s right to speak freely. There are boundaries and limits of course, but that’s what the mute and block buttons are for. Opinion and fact are not the same, and people are complex and dynamic. Compassion is essential in the writing field.

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

Author:      Most of my ideas stem from thoughts and inspirations I had since I was a kid, and I simply attach new experiences and concepts to them. For this reason, I don’t struggle as much with writer’s block as much as I do with organizing my thoughts and ideas coherently. I typically write an overview to keep organized, and then write without editing until I have a first draft. Next, I edit over and over again until my work is the best quality I can produce. If I’m still willing to re-read and edit my work for the fifth, hundredth, or umpteenth time, then I know it’s a good enough story to publish because I’m still interested in reading the same story. My quickest turn around for a first draft is a week for 30 poems and a month for a 100K word novel, but a polished draft can take a month or years depending on the story.

Struggles

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

Author:      My toughest struggle continues to be discerning between good and bad advice for fellow authors, especially newbie and indie authors. It is a struggle to sift between what a writer needs to do, should do, and should never do. Even giving advice as an author can be tough because what works for me might not work for someone else. Writing much like life involves a constant learning process. If I may share one tip it is to be kind to yourself and others. As perfect as you want everything, and as much as you want everything to go as you envision, sometimes things don’t always go as planned. If you can make it through the writing process, through every obstacle and challenge, and if you can handle criticism with maturity and grace then you will grow stronger as a writer and as a person. No matter what, you and your story are worth being heard.

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

Author:      Absolutely. I have experienced thrilling moments that made me love every day, and I have had moments that made me want to quit writing and never read another book again in my life. I have experienced the same extreme emotions while writing as well where every emotion pours out of me on every page. Therapeutic as that can be, I do suggest allowing time to go through each emotion. Allow yourself as a budding writer to process every step of the writing to marketing process.

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

Author:      Even though there are times I wish certain things had taken a different route I don’t know that I would change anything because I’ve learnt so much. I believe you meet who you meet and you go through what you do for a reason, and it can all work to help one improve and grow as a person. No route will ever be perfect, and no decision made (good or bad) will ever be without consequence. Nothing can change the past, but working on improving the present, hopefully will mean a better tomorrow.

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

Author:      I believe one of the biggest myths is that you can write and publish a book and make tons of money from it. Most authors barely cover the costs invested in publishing, especially as an Indie. Also, another myth is that popular authors are the best authors around. Some of the (depending on your definition of success) most successful and greatest authors (as people and writers) are the yet-to-be-discovered gems. I recommend taking a chance on authors with intriguing book covers, good blurbs, and interesting sample reads rather than focusing on book reviews, popularity, and ratings.

Fun Stuff

What do you listen to while you write?

Author:      I will listen to Heavy Metal when writing a battle scene, Alternative Rock and mostly Evanescence when writing a sad emotional scene. Synth or Melancholic Post-Rock for city landscape world-building, and Starset, Svrcina, and Sleeping At Last if my world-building involves distant planets and galaxies. Music, especially during the editing process, transports me to the correct mindset I need to fully immerse in the moment and emotions I hope to capture.

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 started writing in 2016 after suffering severe nerve damage. The most comfortable place for me to write at that time was sitting on a bed, which I do not recommend for posture or the neck.  Thank God, I made a full recovery last year, and now write at the dining table or on the couch when our (my husband and my) adopted rescue pup Ava sleeps curled up between my legs. Once a dog falls asleep it’s an unspoken rule that moving is out of the question. I’m able to write a lot until Ava wakes up. I don’t mind that she interrupts my writing, watching her heal and grow is worth every second, and she fills our home with so much love. I wouldn’t trade my precious time with my husband and her, not even for a writer’s award or movie deal. For me true success is the love and joy shared with others, and there’s no greater blessing from God than the love and support of my Hubs and our pup. Everything else is an extra added bonus.