Author Interviews, Blog, Sci-Fi Fantasy Blog

Author Interview: B.B. Reed, Fantasy/Mystery

I am B.B. Reed, a fantasy/mystery author, and my most recent publication was DEMON EYE, book 1 of the Blood Witch Saga. Book 2 is currently in editing and forecasted for release in mid-2021!

From Planning to Published

When did you start writing and why?

Author:      I started writing fantasy in middle school after getting immersed in early online fantasy games, though why I did so is harder to answer. Part of it is due to good world building in media like Warcraft or reading The Last Apprentice—those worlds give you so many building blocks to craft stories from! The other part, I reckon, is this was about the time in my life when my older brother wasn’t as large a role in my life. He’d gone off to college and traveled abroad. It was my first time being alone and having nobody around that I could bounce my thoughts off of. So, I started throwing my musings and ideas down on paper, either as drawn art or a mess of words in a notebook.

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

Author:     It took me six years to complete DEMON EYE. Now that I’ve crossed the finish line, I’m kinda kicking myself wondering what took me so long. Honest, though, I had to spend that time teaching myself how to properly write in a novel format, how to make a plot work, how to craft a living world, how to make characters have impacts and techniques on when to raise the stakes.

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

Author:      Seven years in total.

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

Author:      My publishing timeframe has improved SIGNIFICANTLY! Book 2 has taken about a year or two to already be in editing and polishing stage.

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

Author:      I’m an indie author because I have a story that needs to be told. It’s not one that most traditional publishing houses would want or are looking for. Besides, I did most of the work an agent or copyeditor would have done anyway.

How did you determine your target audience?

Author:      I am still working on that, I think. I know the Dungeons & Dragons crowd would appreciate the fantasy world of Moira, and then the LGBTQ community would appreciate the inclusion of gay characters on the stage. The themes of witchcraft and feminism would draw the wiccan crowd on top of that. It feels like I cast a wide net with this material.

What platforms do you use to publish your works?

Author:      Amazon Kindle is my publishing platform due to convenience and some sentimental tie to the name. My career in IT has benefitted greatly from Amazon’s tech certifications.

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

Author:      I ask, and I ask, and I ask. Anyone, literally, who would put down the time and effort to consume my novels. So far, my primary source of feedback and editing is a dear friend of mine in the UK who coaches me in some of the classics like Dune and Jules Verne.

DEMON EYE is my debut novel, setting the stage for a series of fantasy novels following the adventures of the main character, Halena Maris. She’s a wandering witch in the kingdom of Arram, helping peasant folk too afraid to confront the entities of the night. Halena makes what coin she can to support her nomadic life and her pursuit of knowledge, until she has a chance at the biggest payout yet as a noblewoman contracts her for an investigation. She’s caught between the world of nobles and black magic as she struggles to keep up with a conspiracy against the throne, or risks her demonic secret being revealed.

Marketing

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

Author:      My current marketing platform is through Twitter and Amazon KDP exclusively.

What is your launch plan for your works?

Author:      Launch means I turn Twitter and my online Discord communities on blast with my work. I almost feel bad for the massive signal boosting, but it must be done!

How do you get reviews for your books?

Author:      I mostly do grass roots solicitation for reviews. Signed copies, free physical copies, whatever makes a potential reader’s eyes light up. I make sure to inform them how their input for reviews not only helps me become a better author, but also makes the gremlins behind Amazon’s algorithms circulate my work. Otherwise, I post reminders on the regular on Twitter about the importance of reviews for us indie authors.

How do you promote your content?

Author:      I post snippets and one-liners from my book, as well as sharing pieces of non-spoiler artwork I’ve bought over the years that feature my characters from The Blood Witch Saga. On top of that, I divide and conquer. These promotions go through Twitter, Facebook, and my discord communities.

How do you define success as an author?

Author:      You’ve succeeded as an author when you hold your book in your hand and feel yourself compelled to start reading it just as your audience would. Every time I do that, I fall in love with my work all over again.

About Your Work

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

Author:      I have begun an Epic Fantasy series with DEMON EYE, and on the side, I do short stories as well. My content usually features dark themes, like the dangers of the esoteric unknown behind magic, or I’ll scrape myself against the grit of war stories to prod at the man vs. man challenges in that theater. I write about these things because I feel like I’ve had a brush with components of those themes. Death, reflecting on your own mortality, what is the quality of a life lived? All the window dressing of fantasy or sci-fi war scenarios helps to frame these themes in more digestible ways.

What genres and subgenres do you write in?

Author:      I write fiction that straddles across Sci-FI, Fantasy, Horror, and mystery

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

Author:      My brand is definitely Fantasy—especially darker fantasy since I write about witchcraft and magic. However, I hope the message I put out is that despite having an affinity for dark and gothic themes, there is love and acceptance in that. I didn’t so much decide on this as it more just… happened!

How many works have you published?

Author:      One with my second in the works! Goodness, it sounds like I’m talking about kids.

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

Author:      Magick is a huge factor in the Blood Witch series, as well as keeping the reader on their toes as the plot unfolds. I’m also a proponent of maintaining villains that believe they’re on the right side of events.

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

Author:      My first goal was to complete a manuscript draft! But seriously, my goal was to bring a unique and compelling story to the table that someone could reasonably digest. I see no reason in delivering a story that requires a codex to decode heavy exposition. That goal has remained true, I think, and I wish to continue delivering stories that people will enjoy.

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

Author:      I want readers to pull out Halena’s internal struggle, to feel and empathize with her. Some of the challenges she endures are ones many of us face, whether it’s struggling with mental illness or our neuroses that make us quiver. I want them to see that despite all these factors, having friends and loved ones to turn to is not a show of weakness, but how you must weather those internal storms.

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

Author:      My favorite part of the writing process has to be the content generation part of it when making your first draft. You reach those pieces you’ve just been waiting to put down on paper, it’s like riding the lightning! In recent time, however, I have come to love the process of editing too.

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

Author:      Kim Wedlock writes magic-focused fantasy like I do and you can find everything you need to know about her work at her Twitter handle (@KimWedlock) or look her up on Amazon!

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:      In the past, I read a lot of fantasy novels, but in recent time I have pulled away mostly because I’m overly familiar with the genre. Reading detective novels by the likes of Jim Butcher or folk tales by Neil Gaiman have been really invigorating. I’m a firm believer that you have to consume media on the regular to generate new media of your own.

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

Author:      I’m a plotter—or an architect—when it comes to my process. I need a rough idea of where I’m going or else I risk writing myself into a corner. I jot down notes for beats and highlights, as well as a few details I don’t want to forget. However, my timeline isn’t very reliable because I outline my stories from high-level end-to-end plot to begin, then outline as I go by story acts. There’s a method to this madness, I swear!

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

Author:      Twitter has been a decent means of networking with other artists and writers, however, I feel it is not a good means of circulating that media amongst ourselves. The company has also made it abundantly clear it has no interest in supporting the creative demographic. Otherwise, I’ve met other creatives through gaming communities through Discord and network there.

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

Author:      I sprint when I’m writing a scene I have clear in my head and I just NEED IT to be done. I just can’t wait to see how it turns out! Then, once that rush is done, it’s back to milder and slow-paced writing as I try to figure out how to link all these high notes together in a good way.

Struggles

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

Author:      Imposter syndrome has been the hardest hurdle in my road to authorship. Querying made me feel like nobody wanted my vision, but I remained stubborn to keep on the path. My characters and their story were worth it.

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

Author:      It’s shown me just how true the old phrase, “You eat an elephant one bite at a time,” is in real life. Everything is possible if you remain disciplined and persistent. However, I will say that the querying process has left less-than-stellar sentiments with me. So, for you budding writers out there, please take inventory of your feelings. If something doesn’t feel right, or it’s making you hate the work you love, listen to those feelings.

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

Author:      Take Neil Gaiman’s writing advice and start writing. You can always edit it later.

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

Author:      I wouldn’t have wasted a year on the publishing industry’s niche standards and requirements.

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

Author:      I’m definitely a self-advocating author and I’m driven to finish my work to release to everyone for consumption. I will admit I procrastinate in my marketing because I’ve found it to be utterly draining to maintain.

How do you keep yourself motivated?

Author:      I make or commission art of my characters from the main cast of the Blood Witch Saga. Seeing them in such a tangible form and the interpretations varied between artists is so fulfilling and it drives me to keep writing their stories.

How do you combat writer’s block?

Author:      I don’t force the block and I set aside time to consume new media, as well as make an effort to express myself through my visual art.

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

Author:      My heart skipped when my mother told me she couldn’t put my book down, then I was blown away when my church-going cousin bombarded me with all these questions about my world. There was a piece of me that thought they were being nice in supporting me up until that feedback came. Then I knew that I had something worth it.

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

Author:      Many tend to think writing is a lonely profession, and while it does require a degree of loneliness to accomplish the great task of crafting the novel, it could not be accomplished without community. People to exchange ideas with, friends and family to reassure you through the hardships, and the criticisms of how to improve yourself. There is no self-made man behind that book, there is him and the hands he held before touching the paper.

Fun Stuff

What do you listen to while you write?

Author:      I listen to film and game orchestra scores. You have no idea how well the 1989 Batman score can set the mood for a scene!

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

Author:      Esoteric, yawning, sable, haunt

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:      In “The Before-times,” I used to sit in a local coffee shop or Denny’s with breakfast and spend a few hours banging away at my laptop. Nowadays, I gotta get that writing machine going at my own dining table.

What book are you reading at the moment?

Author:      I’m reading Around the World in 80 Days right now!

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

Author:      I break the mould by putting fantasy and mystery together, as well as featuring black magic as a force of good rather than being inherently evil.

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

Author:      The overlap between my visual artistic pursuits and my literary pursuits came together to make this possible for me.

What is your favorite writing snack and drink?

Author:      LaCroix and Chex Mix

Do you have a writing companion?

Author:      My own black cat named Patty!

My primary haunt is via Twitter:  @WonderBran31

Follow me on Amazon:  https://www.amazon.com/B-B-Reed/e/B08BPDV3LZ/ref=dp_byline_cont_ebooks_1

And you can see a portfolio of my other hobbies at https://bbreedart.squarespace.com/

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!

Blog

Reblog: Interview with The Writers Life eMagazine

I had a great time and am grateful for being included in their ezine!

You can find the original interview here:

https://thewriterslife.blogspot.com/2019/12/stellar-fusion-author-q-with-el-strife.html

Today’s guest is scifi fantasy author E.L. Strife. Her new book is Stellar Fusion (Infinite )Spark Book 1 and she is on a virtual book tour this month with Pump Up Your Book! We’re very glad to have her here today to talk about her book, writing and what surprised her about getting her book published.

 

Welcome to The Writer’s Life!  Now that your book has been published, we’d love to find out more about the process.  Can we begin by having you take us at the beginning?  When did you come up with the idea to write your book?

I appreciate you having me today!

Stellar Fusion, my first novel, is a blend of science fiction and fantasy with militaristic and agricultural elements. I have fond memories of watching Star Trek with my father and spending time on my mother’s family farm. I combined those experiences with my military and adoption background into this futuristic story of Earth with, of course, a magical twist.

Stellar Fusion originally started as a dream-journal entry in the summer of 2012. I’d just been married, and my husband was sick with a mysterious, chronic illness. We had no money. It was just nice to have something that felt powerful when our lives seemed like a constant struggle to make ends meet. I started writing because I didn’t want to lose that spark of hope.

It took about two years to develop the story into a full manuscript. It was my first time tackling the idea of writing a book. I had a full-time job, so I wrote in the evenings and on the weekends.

In the three years that followed, I studied writing craft and revised my book before sending it off to a freelance editor for professional feedback. It might as well have come back on red paper! But I learned a lot and built on my knowledge with local classes and seminars. Now the Infinite Spark series has three books with a fourth in progress!

Who is your publisher and how did you find them or did you self-publish?

I self-published Stellar Fusion for the first time in 2017. Back then, I was an easily-embarrassed and shy writer. Self-publishing was a way for me to experience the entire process while studying the market from a safe distance. I have since fine-tuned my writing, publication, and marketing strategies, but I am glad for the bumps and bruises along the way. I love learning new things, and self-publishing comes with a hefty workload.

Is there anything that surprised you about getting your first book published?

I was terrified the first time I hit publish. Then nothing happened. I had mixed feelings of fear that I’d screwed something up during the publication process and disappointment that my work wasn’t interesting enough to entice readers to buy. I didn’t know how critical having a marketing platform and street team was to the launch of a book.

Do you believe a book cover plays an important role in the selling process?

The cover image, in my mind, is the most important piece in advertising a book. It displays the genre of the story when it’s not always readily listed, particularly online. If you want to catch the attention of readers of a specific genre, you want to ensure the cover reflects the trends of that genre. A great cover will hint at the main predicament or plot as well as create tension before readers even start the book.

The packaging of a book needs to represent what’s inside. It’s frustrating when the main character featured on the front doesn’t look like the character described in the book. It makes me wonder who I’m looking at. Even more, the quality of the cover images and arrangement is critical. I won’t talk about titles. But if your images are pixellated, not blended well, or the arrangement isn’t balanced, then the cover won’t catch the readers’ eyes. It needs to grab their attention to make them stop. If they don’t stop, then your title, blurb, and content won’t matter.

Just remember, the cover is a symbol of your book. If it’s shoddy work, readers will expect the same inside. Conversely, don’t have an expensive cover then skimp on edits. Do your hard work justice with great packaging.

How hard was it to write a book like this and do you have any tips that you could pass on which would make the journey easier for other writers?

I chose a heck of a book to start with. Stellar Fusion features multiple alien cultures and languages, a villainous galactic empire, planetary invasions, an organization of soldiers with hard-and-fast rules, a dying Earth, and a main character who can’t remember the first fifteen years of her life. I had to manage all of that while learning about editing, formatting, cover design, publication, and marketing. It was far more difficult than I anticipated.

I have noticed certain genres are easier to write than others. A lot of it depends on the complexity of the story. But, in general, I find writing romance and women’s fiction far easier than science fiction and fantasy. It’s mostly due to the technical detail and explanations of things that must occur in the latter genres. I’ve written a romance in a month, whereas a science fiction novel might take four to six.

Tips for other writers (from my experience):

Twitter is a great place to connect with other writers, whether through critique swaps, writing prompts, querying events, or the general community.

Join a writers’ organization where you can take online classes or go to interactive sessions and network with others. The more you can educate yourself on the processes of writing and publishing, the better. And having a friend who understands the stress of the process is important. We all need a shoulder to cry on sometimes.

Build a website before you publish your books. You can link social media accounts and email subscriptions to one place and begin to build your launch team/street team. This way, you can share your big news with tons of followers on publication day and start with a bang!

Give away Advanced Review Copies of your book, so when you publish, you can get a few ratings posted early-on. This will encourage more people to buy when they visit your book’s page.

But I think the most important thing is to get comfortable with critiques and critical feedback from authors and editors. Don’t let the suggestions or edits get under your skin. Fix what needs fixing and move forward. It’s not worth getting upset over. You’re going to need that energy for plenty of other tasks.

What other books are you working on and when will they be published?

I just completed and published Shadows of the Son, the third book in the Infinite Spark series. Redshift, book four, is under construction and will publish sometime in 2020. A Promise in Ash, a stand-alone romantic suspense novel, is keeping me busy with final edits. Wildfire, book two of the holiday romance series Embers on Ice, is next in line.

What’s one fact about your book that would surprise people?

I didn’t want to write it.

I swore off creative writing and dream-journaling after a few bad experiences as a child. My entire life, I’ve been a lucid dreamer. I didn’t want to write my dream down. But I’ve never felt such a compulsion to do anything in my life. I pushed aside my fears to hang on to that spark of hope.

I find dreams intriguing, and you’ll see that it’s a large focus in the series. The characters often experience different stages of consciousness and even dip into a separate realm I named Ether.

As I caved and studied more of the writing craft, I began to control the dream-child better, hone it into a story instead of a compilation of nocturnal delusions. The process took time, but I finished it and moved on to book two, Requiem, and now, Shadows of the Son.

Finally, what message are you trying to get across with your book?

Stellar Fusion carries two main messages:

First, we all have common vulnerabilities: pain (physical/mental/emotional) and mortality. When we remember these, no matter who we are or what we believe, we can always find common ground.

Second, family does not have to be defined by blood. It can be built with trust and time together.

The messages in Stellar Fusion are channeled through members of the Universal Protectors. They are orphans from the Three Hundred Year War on Earth. They serve and protect the remaining people of Earth regardless of race, religion, gender, orientation, age, capability, species, or zone of residence. They judge only based on actions that threaten our common vulnerabilities.

 

Thank you again for this interview!  Do you have any final words?

Thank you for taking the time to read about my experiences as a writer and a self-published author. I hope you’ll check out my books! I’m always happy to network with anyone interested, even if you only have a question about the process. If you subscribe to my email list, you’ll always get free access to my new releases before they publish! (I only email about the free stuff. I’m swamped with messages too.) You can find me at elstrife.com and primarily on Twitter @ ElysiaLStrife.

Best wishes!

-Elysia-

Meet the Author

Adopted by two educators, Strife developed a deep love for learning new things. In 2012, she graduated from Oregon State University with two Bachelor’s Degrees in Public Health and Human Sciences: Interior Design and Exercise Sport Science. Her past wears fatigues, suits, and fitness gear, sprinkled with mascara and lace.

“I like to question everything, figure out how things work, and do tasks myself. Experiencing new things is fun but also helps with writing raw and genuine stories. And I’m always trying to push my comfort zones.”

Strife likes the rumble of her project car’s 350-ci V8. She enjoys the rush of snowboarding and riding ATVs on the dunes. But nothing brings her more solace than camping in the mountains where the stars are their brightest.

Strife enjoys connecting with readers and welcomes all feedback and questions.

website & Social Links

Website  → www.elstrife.com

Twitter  → http://twitter.com/ElysiaLStrife

Facebook  http://www.facebook.comauthorelstrife