Multi-passionate writer, author and solo-preneur

Tag: interviews

Indie Author Spotlight: Todd Russell on Horror, Halloween, NaNoWriMo and Other Scary Things

This week I’m hosting my last IWU blog tour guest until NaNoWriMo is out of the way. As appropriate for Halloween, my guest this week is indie horror novelist Todd Russell, author of Fresh Flesh, the first entry in his Fresh series.

Authorly Updatiness

I’ve been mostly chilling and enjoying the fall weather this week, and also enjoying what’s left of my down time before the hecticness of NaNoWriMo and my new client’s web project both kick into high gear by doing a lot of crafty stuff and working on my Halloween costume, both of which will get their own posts in the near future.

But in the mean time, the IWU blog tour has been chug-chug-chuggin’ along. I’ve done two new interviews just this week, both with smart women who asked some great questions. Some excerpts…

…from Susan Jean Ricci’s interview:

SR: I loved the post on your Twitter, that went something like this: “It’s a good sign you’ve hit all the emotional notes, when editing your own story makes you cry.”
What makes you cry about your writing that you’d like to share with our readers today?

JB: I tweeted that while I was editing the first chapter of my current novel-in-progress, Dominion of the Damned, and it was a scene where my protagonist was going through something really horrific and tragic that would shape her for the rest of the book. As I re-read what she was going through and what it was making her feel, I really got choked up. When I write an emotional character like that, I think back to watching Buffy the Vampire Slayer, and how every time Buffy cried about something, without fail, I would cry. So I really strive to create characters that my readers can connect with on that level, and care deeply about what they’re going through.

…and from my interview with Jennifer Rainey at Independent Paranormal:

JR: Do you watch many horror/supernatural movies? If so, what’s your favorite and did that inspire you to write a ghost story?

JB: I’ve always been a big fan of horror movies, although I tend to like monster and slasher movies better than ghost stories; mainly because, as mentioned earlier, ghosts freak me out. Movies about ghosts and demons and exorcism–those tend to stay with me and give me the wiggins in the middle of the night (I STILL have nightmares about that little girl from The Ring). I enjoy a good scare, but I prefer to be able to shake it off and get on with my life once the movie’s over. I decided to write a ghost story mainly to confront that fear. That said, my favorite horror movie of all time is John Carpenter’s Halloween. I’m also partial to his version of The Thing. As for more recent movies, it doesn’t get much better than The Descent.

Also, don’t forget: Halloween weekend is the last chance to get Restless Spirits FREE at Smashwords with coupon code FU23M!

Indie Author Spotlight: Interview with G.W. Jefferies

G.W. JefferiesMy guest this week for the IWU Blog Tour is indie fiction author G. W. Jefferies, whose latest novel is the literary epic, Apolo Drakuvich.

An author and poet, G.W. is a native Texan. A writer of contemporary and dystopian fiction, Jefferies’ themes of counter-culture and dystopian views are usually included in some form in his works. Jefferies influences include Hunter S. Thompson, Chuck Palahniuk, William S. Burroughs, and George Orwell. To learn more, visit his blog at GWJefferies.com.

Author Interview: Steven R. Drennon

This week on the IWU Blog Tour, my special guest is indie fantasy novelist Steven R. Drennon, author of Rise of the Raven and Three for Avadar. Steven was born in Lawton, OK (holla!), where he first started writing poetry at the age of 15. Since then he has collected nearly one thousand poems that he has written over the years. Those poems have recently been released as six separate volumes of poetry. He has also recently added two anthologies which resulted in nearly all of his poetry being available to the public for the first time ever. In addition, he has written a number of works of fiction, and he is just beginning to publish those works.

Steven published a fantasy novel titled Rise of the Raven in the spring of 2011. He then released another fantasy novel titled Three for Avadar in the summer of 2011.

Currently, he is working on a series of suspense novellas that will first be released individually, and then offered as a collection. Each of these will be released during the early fall of 2011.

He is also working on a series of thriller novellas that will chronicle three separate serial killers. All three will be available towards the end of 2011 as individual titles as well as a combined collection, expected to be titled Serial Thrillers.

Currently Steven lives in San Antonio, TX with his wife and two youngest children.

JWG: Hi, Steven. Kick things off by telling us about your book.

SD: “Rise of the Raven” is a fantasy novel that tells the story of three separate travelers who are brought together by chance as each travels to a kingdom called Avadar. The first is a soldier for hire who is seeking revenge for the murder of his brother and his family. The second is a princess who is trying to find herself while keeping the others from knowing who she is. The third is a sorceress who is trying to recover a mystical crystal that was hidden away by her father before he was murdered.

The story is a standard swords and sorcerers tale of good versus evil, with perhaps a little more romance than most people would expect. Interestingly enough, some of the reviews have been negative because people felt there wasn’t enough romance, while others felt that it distracted from the story. It’s definitely not a “typical” fantasy novel, but thankfully there are several who have truly enjoyed it!

JWG: What first motivated you to become an indie author?

SD: Many years ago I first started shopping around a manuscript for a book which would eventually be known as “Thrust of the Raven”. It seemed like such an uphill battle and a constant struggle. There were a couple of editors who expressed interest in it, but each wanted pretty major rewrites. Even after the rewrites, however, they were still trying to change the story. It finally reached the point where I just gave up on it.

Then about a year ago I stumbled across Joe Konrath’s blog, and I decided right then and there that I was going to publish my own books. I made several revisions to that first book, and then released it under the title of “Rise of the Raven”. Since then I’ve just kept writing!

JWG: What has been the biggest challenge for you when it comes to self-publishing?

SD: Absolutely, hands down, the promotion aspect. I have a lot of experience in sales and marketing, but I was not prepared for the amount of effort that would be required to draw attention to my books. I finally decided to just step away from that aspect for a while and concentrate on writing more books. I’m definitely much happier with that!

JWG: Has any aspect turned out to be easier than you expected?

SD: The formatting had me intimidated at first, but I have gotten a pretty consistent process down cold. I can pretty much fly right through the formatting process without any concerns!

JWG: Do you take a strictly DIY approach, or do you hire help with things like editing, cover art, etc.

SD: I have done almost everything myself. For my first two fantasy novels I did all the editing and formatting, but I hired someone to do the cover art. For my poetry books (six volumes and two anthologies) I did everything, including the covers. I have already purchased the covers for my next few projects, but I recently discovered that two of them (sadly, including my favorite) was being used for someone else’s books. After that experience, I decided that I will most likely do my own in the future.

JWG: How has the decision to go indie turned out for you? Overall, are you happy with the choice?

SD: So far I would say this decision has been a very good one. I am so pleased to be able to say that I have completed the books that are out there, and it has really motivated me to keep working on others. I’ve had so many story ideas that have built up over time, and it feels very liberating to now be working on getting them out there.

My greatest satisfaction has been the reaction I have gotten from my children. My main reason for publishing my poetry (almost 1000 poems total) was so that I could make them more readily available for my children. When they saw that I was actually selling quite a few, they were so impressed! My two youngest kids are still in high school, and they have been bragging to their friends that their dad is an author, and that is cool beyond words!

JWG: Are there any stand-out lessons you've learned about self-publishing that you'd like to share with my readers?

SD: Absolutely! First of all, if you are going to hire someone to do your covers for you, make sure that they are not using stock images that are not modified or just barely modified. I was completely devastated to see two of the book covers I purchased show up on other books. They were almost completely identical except for the titles and the author name. Both of these covers were premade covers, so I guess I should have expected it. Make sure you work with your cover artist and make it clear that you want something unique for your book.

Second, don’t be afraid to ask for help. If you don’t have the time, money, or energy to spend on details such as editing or formatting, then ask someone to help you with it. There are a lot of new writers out there who are struggling just like you, and many of them are willing to work out a deal in trade or are willing to answer questions when you need it. Don’t settle for just having written a story, make sure it’s polished and presentable.

JWG: What are you working on now?

SD: Currently I am working on a trio of suspense novellas. I plan to release each one individually, and then I’ll offer all three together in a collection. The first one should be published in early fall of 2011.

The Blurb:

The cry came from directly ahead, where the road began to curve to the left. It was the unmistakable cry of a woman in distress, and as Bengar spurred his horse forward, he began to detect other sounds as well.

Accompanying the piercing screams of the woman he could now hear the distinct clashing of swords in combat, and that sound alone made his heart pound with excitement. This solitary soldier of fortune had travelled many days through this desolate forest, and his body ached from the weary ride. Now at last he would find a task at hand that was worthy of him, and which just might provide a reward as well. 

As he rounded the curve in the road, he pulled up on the reins of his coal black steed, taking a brief moment to survey the scene before him. Directly ahead it appeared as if a number of bandits had set upon a small travelling party that was passing through the woods. At least seven men on foot were attacking two horsed soldiers who were struggling to defend their female companion. 

And so begins the adventures of three separate travelers:

A princess trying to find her way back home, while finding herself along the way.
A sorceress trying to retrieve a sacred crystal that was secreted away by her father before he was murdered.
A warrior seeking to avenge the death of his family, who finds himself sidelined by two very different, yet very attractive women.

Drawn together by chance, all destined for one place . . . Avadar!

Author web site: http://www.drennon.com
Blog: http://www.drennon.com/blog
Get Steven's books on Amazon.com!

Author Interview: Jolea M. Harrison

The IWU Blog Tour rolls on, and my guest author this week is Jolea M. Harrison, author of Chosen, the first in her Guardians of the Word series. Jolea lives in Virginia with her family in a 200-year-old farmhouse. She collects historical artifacts from the Civil War period. On a recent fact finding mission about the house, she discovered the name of a young Civil War soldier who died there while being cared for by a field doctor. She has two children who firmly believe in ghosts.

JWG: What first motivated you to become an indie author?

Jolea: Complete frustration with trying to go the ‘traditional’ route. Sent out to agents, over and over, got nothing back. It really makes you feel like you’ve written a terrible story or something. I started getting positive beta reader feedback, heard about the Indie explosion from a friend, and decided it was time to stop waiting around.

JWG: What has been the biggest challenge for you when it comes to self-publishing?

Jolea: The initial learning curve was a bit steep for me. I’m not a tech wizard and you do have to know some stuff about these programs to get them to format properly. I finally gave up and paid someone to format for me, but now that I know what it’s supposed to look like, I think I can do it myself, next time out. Maybe.

JWG: Has any aspect turned out to be easier than you expected?

Jolea: Promoting has gotten easier as time’s gone on. I’ve gotten over the tooting my own horn part of it, and I’m starting to look at it as providing a service to people – they get a good story for my efforts in letting them know about the book.

JWG:  That's a great way to look at it. I admit, I'm still having trouble getting over the "tooting my own horn" feeling, myself.

Do you take a strictly DIY approach, or do you hire help with things like editing, cover art, etc?

Jolea: I did everything myself except the formatting and editing. I had a pretty clean copy, but there were still several typos that got by everyone!

JWG: How has the decision to go indie turned out for you? Overall, are you happy with the choice?

Jolea: I’ve very happy with it. I wanted a specific look for the cover and even trying to get other artists to go along with that was difficult so, I ended up making it myself. I’m glad I have the artistic control over the entire product. If it’s a mess, it’s mine. If it’s great, it’s mine.

JWG: Are there any stand-out lessons you've learned about self-publishing that you'd like to share with my readers?

Jolea: It’s easy to get swept up in ‘publish fever’, especially once the formatting is done, you think, oooh everything is ready to go now! That’s when you should set the whole thing aside for at least two weeks. Give it a rest, then give it one more, painstaking look before hitting the send button. Get opinions on your cover. Don’t get married to a title. Google everything – even your name, before you publish. If your title is already out there a quadrillion times over, you don’t want to use it. There’s a J. M. Harrison – already a published author, so I ended up changing to my full name instead of the initials because of that. You want to be unique because you want Google to find you. If you don’t have a unique name, consider a pen name. We’re writers! We make stuff up for a living, so be creative with everything!

For everyone else in the world, getting stabbed in the heart means instant death. All it does for Dynan Telaerin is send him to hell.

In Chosen, Jolea M. Harrison transports us to a world on the cusp of destruction, caught in a thousand year cycle of ever-repeating time, trapped between the warring Gods and the demon, Belial, with one young hero chosen to save not just the world, but the Gods themselves.

Dynan finds himself on a corpse-strewn hillside, uncertain if he's dead or alive, charged with saving the soul of his ancestor, the most powerful telepath to ever exist. Dynan has telepathic powers of his own, only he doesn’t know how to use them. With monsters and minions trying to eat his soul, the demon’s lair isn’t a place conducive to learning anything, except how to run and how to hide.

Can Dynan find his ancestor before the fabric of time is torn beyond repair? Will courage alone be enough to face the greatest evil to exist? Will he lose his soul to save everyone else?

The running starts, and doesn't stop to the end of this action packed adventure of a young man coming to terms with his life while he's barely a spirit, through horrors he thought existed only in dreams.

Chosen is the first book of a 7 book series, entitled The Guardians of the Word.

Buy Chosen on Amazon and Barnes & Noble.

You can visit Jolea at her blog, friend her on Facebook, and follow her on Twitter.

Thanks for stopping by, Jolea!

Author Interview: Melissa A. Smith

The perpetual IWU Blog Tour continues apace. This week, you can find a reciprocal interview with me by former guest-of-the-blog, Arshad Ahsanuddin, at his Pact Arcanum blog. Meanwhile, back at the ranch, help me give a warm welcome to this week’s guest, paranormal romance and YA fantasy author Melissa A. Smith:

JWG: Welcome, Melissa! To get started, why don’t you tell us a little about yourself?

Melissa: I live in the midwest with my husband and two teenaged sons. When I’m not writing I’m reading. During the day I work as a Preschool ParaEducator ie: sneeze catcher, substitute facial tissue, and play mate.

JWG: And what are you working on?

Melissa: I currently have two books out. The first is Cloud Nine of the Guardians of Man. And the other is of The Waiting Throne series, The Heir Apparent.

JWG: What first motivated you to become an indie author?

Melissa: I would have to say it was all the wonderful form rejection letters. After one of them I came across an article in Writers Beware talking about Self-Publishing and thought, what the hell? What have I got to lose? The answer was nothing, so I did it and I havent looked back since!

JWG: What has been the biggest challenge for you when it comes to self-publishing?

Melissa: Waiting on the editor. She has a life too and sometimes it interferes with her working with me (she does it out of the kindness of her heart so I hate to nag her with "are you done yet?")

JWG: Has any aspect turned out to be easier than you expected?

Melissa: Telling people about my book. I used to sell Mary Kay and was always terrified of handing out business cards or talking to them about it. With my book? I pass out bookmarks (my version of a business card) like they’re contagious! I hand them out to everyone! My boys think I’m nuts because I always have them on hand.

JWG: Do you take a strictly DIY approach, or do you hire help with things like editing, cover art, etc.

Melissa: The only thing I send out is the editing. I’m not completly computer illeterate so I do everything else. I’ve even helped out a couple of friends with cover art and formatting of their ebook files.

JWG: How has the decision to go indie turned out for you? Overall, are you happy with the choice?

Melissa: I love it! While I wish there were an easier way to market to a wider population, I’m very happy with my decision to ‘go indie’! 😀

JWG: Are there any stand-out lessons you’ve learned about self-publishing that you’d like to share with my readers?

Melissa: Join a support group like Indie Writers Unite! Such a great group of people there with so much helping up and none of the tearing down.

Thanks, Melissa!

You can find Melissa’s books on Amazon. You can also follow her on Twitter, and be sure to check out her blog!

Author Interview: Arshad Ahsanuddin

This week marks my first time participating in the Indie Writers Unite! blog exchange. You can read my guest post, all about what scares me, at the blog of horror author Todd Russell.

My guest this week is Arshad Ahsanuddin, author of the indie vampire fantasy series Pact Arcanum, who was gracious enough to answer some questions about his self-publishing journey.

JWG: What first motivated you to become an indie author?

AA: I wrote a novel, kind of accidentally, and posted it online. One of my readers kept pushing me to try and publish it, so I showed it to a couple of agents, who basically laughed in my face. Then I did some research and discovered substantive editing, so I sent my book to an editor, who really gave me some positive feedback and helpful advice on things to improve. Then I did more research and discovered that traditional publishing is a huge game of beg-and-wait, with years of crushed dreams in my future. So I decided it wasn’t for me, and decided to self publish. I didn’t know it was going to become a second profession.

JWG: What has been the biggest challenge for you when it comes to self-publishing?

AA: The writing, definitely. Good marketing skills will get you in the door, but if you don’t have a good product, then no one will be interested in what you’re selling. Learning the skills to be a better writer and not to rely on an editor to fix my shortcomings was a long, drawn-out, and difficult road, which I have not yet completed. I am improving, however, though I don’t think anyone ever feels they are as good as they could be.

JWG: Has any aspect turned out to be easier than you expected?

AA: At first, I was terrified of ebook formatting and cover art design, but as I saw the difference between what I initially paid people to do and what I eventually learned to do myself, there really isn’t any question that having the skills to DIY is the way to go.

JWG: Do you take a strictly DIY approach, or do you hire help with things like editing, cover art, etc.

AA: I hired people to do the illustrations, cover art, back cover copy. Afterwards, I took an active role in modifying their designs/text to be more in line with my own vision. Again, it’s a learning process, and advertising copy and marketing are probably the hardest things for me to get a handle on.

JWG: How has the decision to go indie turned out for you? Overall, are you happy with the choice?

AA: The fact that people are reading my books now, rather than waiting two years for traditional publishing and biting my nails the whole time (assuming I ever got a book deal in the first place), means that I have succeeded in my goal. I’ve put a lot of effort into this, and if people enjoy what I have written, then it was all worth it.

JWG: Are there any stand-out lessons you’ve learned about self-publishing that you’d like to share with my readers?

AA: You need at least three levels of editing to make a book ready for market: Substantive editing (themes, overall structure), line editing (word choice, language refinement), and copy editing (spelling and grammar correction). Skimp on any of those, and your actual subject matter will take a back seat to the fact that your book is unreadable. Whether you find one person to do this task, or many people, you must take the time to edit your work, or no one will give it a chance.

Bio: I am Canadian-born, but lived in the United States for most of my life. I moved back to Canada for work a few years ago. I am a hematopathologist, a physician who specializes in using biopsies and laboratory data to diagnose diseases of blood, bone marrow, and lymph nodes, such as leukemia and lymphoma. Yeah, I’m a blood doctor writing about vampires. The humor is not lost on me.

The first book of the gay vampire saga Pact Arcanum, Sunset tracks the Daywalker Nicholas Jameson as he fights for peace among the Human, Sentinel, Nightwalker, and Daywalker races.

Visit Arshad at Pactarcanum.com. You can also find him on Facebook and on Twitter.

Sunset: Pact Arcanum: Book One is available on Smashwords. Get a 100% promotional discount for the month of July! Just enter coupon code SSWSF at checkout. Feel free to leave a review.

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