#ASI: Nicole Strycharz

Hi Nicole, thank you for agreeing to this interview. Tell us a little about yourself and your background? Well first off, thanks so much for having me on your magnificent blog!

I’m from NJ and I now live in VA with my three crazy ass toddlers and my wonderful parents! I’m a tea-aholic and my love of history fuels my inspiration.

Discuss your newest book. My newest book, “Meadow Creek,” is about a sassy New Yorker who moves herself and her young son Oliver to a farm in Oklahoma. Sloan’s husband died in Iraq in active service but she’s kept this truth from her son, whom she believes to be too sensitive for the news.

The farm that Sloan insists on using as a tool to move on however, is settled on land that matters dearly to a Mr. Joseph Two Blood. It’s been said his ancestors had village settlements there and he wishes to utilize the land for his people.

To do that, Joseph attempts to run Sloan off Meadow Creek, but Sloan Bradshaw wears big girl stilettos and running isn’t in her blood. The two clash but with time an attraction forms that might require one of them to buckle.

Nikki.jpg

 

Do you recall how your interest in writing originated? Very clearly. That was my Mom’s doings. My mother has stoked the fire for my love of writing since I can remember. When I was three I remember drawing her a picture while she was working. She flipped over it like mom’s do, then asked me to tell her the story behind the picture. She actually wrote down the story I made up and I drew more pictures until it was a book. I seriously remember it.

Then all through my school years she tended to my passion and developed my skills. Term papers, reports, essays, those were my strong points and I always went above the expectation. I was always telling stories and she demanded nothing less from me than intense imagination.

When I was twelve she bought me my first ‘clean’ romance book and now I owe her that too. That was how I discovered my genre. Great moms are wonderful.

What are your current projects? Oh I’m so excited to share! I have two. ‘The Divorce,’ and ‘Bealtane; Tales of the Fae.’ The Divorce’ is a full-length novel that has become the beat of my heart and Bealtane is another Novella that continues my first novella ‘Nollaig Shona Duit; A Christmas Tale.’  Sound wonderful!

What books have most influenced your life most? Well, the first romance book my mother gifted me was ‘The Proposal’ by Lori Wick. I read almost all her books and that was what led me to my perfect fit in genre.

The other is ‘Little Women’ by Louisa May Alcott. Jo’s love of storytelling made me feel understood and few people understand me besides my mom.  

‘Clan of the Cave Bear’ by Jean M. Auel. I love stories about early time, they make me feel inwardly strong.

‘The Odyssey’ by Homer and all other Mythologies, they kick-started my imagination full force and it hasn’t stopped since.

 What inspired you to write your first book? I wanted to write about a love triangle that was realistic and honest. I wanted to explore the fact that the human heart might want more than what society allows. Monogamy is ideal but is it always obtainable? I wanted to write the struggle of loving more than one person but under the pressure of an era like the 19th century. Hence ‘The Duke of Golden Shire; King of Heart’s’ was born.

Give us an insight into your main character. What does he/she do that is so special? In ‘Duke of Golden Shire; King of Hearts’ Nicholas Knight is 100% man. He may disappoint or earn imaginary slaps from readers but his “true man heart” is what made me fall in love with him.

His journey in discovering which woman to choose and his development as a character was fun to write.  

 Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp? Just that love doesn’t have boundaries and living under your own rules and choices should always outweigh society and it’s expectations. It’s better to risk a bad decision than to live for the opinions of others that don’t have to walk in your shoes.

Which actor/actress would you like to see playing the lead character from your most recent book? Ahhhh in ‘Meadow Creek’ if I could get Jason Momoa to play a Native American, I’d be too much happy. YUM!

For Sloan, I’d want Phoebe Tonkin!!! She has the sass and class.  

When did you decide to become a writer? I’ve been writing forever since I first held a pen, but officially when I was ten. Everything else was fleeting or didn’t fit me. Early bird!

Why do you write? I literally have to. I’ve taken long breaks or talked myself out of trying but in the end I have too many voices in my head and they don’t quiet unless I put them on paper.

 What made you decide to sit down and actually start something? My brain felt clogged with voices and ideas.

 Do you write full-time or part-time? I’m a single mom of three so part-time but all the time. I write through the noise and the interruptions. I fail miserably at domestic chores when I’m on a writing roll. You’re doing great. Keep it up!

What is the hardest thing about writing? Research. If I’m doing historical books, research is distracting for me. I might come up with ten more stories while looking for an answer to one question. I desire to be as accurate as possible, I hate being sloppy but that means read till you bleed.

Writers block too. If my people aren’t talking I get anxious, depressed and bitchy.

Having too much inspiration, the opposite of Block. Then you can’t type fast enough and get annoyed. I start to hate my hands haha. “Bloody type faster!”

What was the hardest thing about writing your latest book? ‘Meadow Creek,’ is based on my mother. Sloan’s character is my mom, and even the outrageous awesome acts she does are real. I didn’t make them up so honestly…nothing. Meadow Creek, aside from The Divorce, has been the easiest book to write. I had no blocks and was done with it in two weeks.

My mother kept my character breathing so my muse didn’t go out to lunch on me, I was lucky.

What is the easiest thing about writing? Mmm, the idea. Thinking it up while driving or showering, that’s easy and fun, everything else is delicious torture.

What book are you reading now? “Someone to Come Back to,” By Roisin Black. I’ve read all her books and this one is as epic as the others. She’s not only a close friend, she’s a badass author.

What is one random thing about you? I like someone to sit on my feet while I watch TV. Like I need my mom or my best friend to sit on my feet, I like tight spaces. I’m like a worm. Or a cat…

What is your preferred medium of writing? Pen and paper or strictly tablet and computer? I wrote my first book entirely by hand! That was a trip. A great experience, but never again. I prefer computer only. My sad little lap top. I did that once…didn’t work for me either.

 What does your writing process look like? Sloppy as hell! I don’t do anything right really. My outline is really just a notebook full of notes. Then toward the end, I number the notes and yeah…sloppy.

Do you have any strange writing habits (like standing on your head or writing in the shower)? I need tea to start in the morning, and music, my Pinterest board and that’s it. I can write anywhere, anytime, and I’d say my weirdest habit is acting out the scene before writing it. I have a dramatic, private play out. Yes people have walked in on me, yes it’s awkward and yes I try to lie that I was on the phone or something, which doesn’t work.

How important are names to you in your books? Very. It MUST fit or I won’t use it. The character will act wrong till it’s right. I’ll ask them for hours, “What’s your friggin name?” Been there, done that.

Is there anything you find particularly challenging in your writing? Editing. I hate it. I hate it always.  I know an editor who would love to help…

 Did you make any marketing mistakes or is there anything you would avoid in future? First time around I think I thought they would market themselves. (Insert laughing like a pycho.)

It takes leg work, but it’s worth it.

 What is your favorite motivational phrase? My Mother always says, “When you get overwhelmed, just remember Nikki…How do you eat an elephant? One Bite at a time.”

She’s morbid like that but it works. She sounds fun!

What is your favorite book and why? I can’t. I just can’t. Books are like body parts, you need them all.

Do you have any advice for other writers? Find other writers! My book family is my life line. They motivate me, understand me, and support me. If I climb the rock first, I pull them up. When I slip, they pull ME up. It’s beautiful and special and I call them my “write or die,” crew.

Find your “Write or Die” crew and power each other forward. This isn’t a competition. There’s enough room on a reader’s bookshelf for all of us.

 What do you like to do when you’re not writing? READING! Antique stores. Coloring. Watching shows with my mom. Cuddling with my babies.

From where do you gain your inspiration? Music, my mother, my Daddy Joe, and my Best friend Jon. Those are the main places but I can get inspired over a tea cup.

What would you say are the main advantages and disadvantages of self-publishing against being published or the other way around? I like the control Self-Publishing has given me and though I have to juggle it all on my own it’s worth it.

How do you market your books? Social media and local shops have been best for me. Networking is important. Making friends and sharing a little life creates readers that become as precious as rubies.

Why did you choose this route? I trust myself. If I wrote it I can publish it.

Would you or do you use a PR agency? I don’t but I’d love to try one day. The PA’s I’ve met are incredible. I’m just always broke haha.

Do you have any advice for other authors on how to market their books? Foot work, and networking. You can’t stay an introvert.

What part of your writing time do you devote to marketing your book? Not enough probably. It should be more like 50/50 but I run out of day and funds sometimes.

What do you do to get book reviews? Make friends and meet new people and peddle. I walk around with business cards and a tote full of my books.

How successful has your quest for reviews been so far? Somewhat steady now! YAY

Do you have a strategy for finding reviewers? Not really. It’s a hit or miss.

What are your thoughts on good/bad reviews? I welcome them all. A review is a review. As long as it’s honest, I’m happy. I don’t write any book expecting everyone on earth to like it. I write to entertain myself, and my hope is to do the same for others.

Any amusing story about marketing books that happened to you? Not really. I’ve made a book live in the amazon store before I intended to but…shrug**

What’s your views on social media for marketing? It’s a must. It’s where you meet people and connect. Events and Giveaways, and release parties are where I see sales spike.

Which social network worked best for you? Facebook no doubt.

Any tips on what to do and what not to do? Don’t turn down constructive criticism, but don’t change your story based on opinion. It’s a delicate balance. You have to really trust the people you share with in early stages.

Did you do a press release, Goodreads book launch or anything else to promote your work and did it work? Mostly Facebook events. I’m still learning Goodreads…

Which famous person, living or dead would you like to meet and why? I can’t pick one. I’m a history nut. That’s as bad as the favorite book question.

If you could have been the original author of any book, what would it have been and why? None. I’m happy with the ones I made up.

 What advice would you give to aspiring writers? Don’t give up obviously, but more importantly like I said before, don’t make this a competition. Tearing another writer down won’t make your work better. We’re like stars in the sky. We light it up and make it beautiful together. One star wouldn’t make the sky that epic.

How can readers discover more about you and you work? My books are on Amazon in paperback and eBook.

You can also keep up with me and my books on the following sites.

www.nicolesbooks.wix.com/authorpage

FB:@nicolestrycharz

IG:@nikkiwrites2

TW:@asag4jupiter

Pinterest:@nikkiwrites2

And my email is: nicolesbooks@yahoo.com

#ASI: Jillian Jacobs

Hi Jillian, thank you for agreeing to this interview.

Discuss your newest book. My latest release is Air’s Vision. The third and final book in a paranormal romance trilogy about four peri-mortal beings who use their element-air, water, earth, fire- to protect the Earth and its inhabitants. I would suggest reading them in order: Water’s Threshold, Fire’s Field, Air’s Vision.

Jill

Do you recall how your interest in writing originated? I’m an avid romance reader, and thought, I can do this. It’s not as easy as it seems. I had to learn basic grammar all over again. Grammar can be a pain.

What are your current projects?  I have a novella waiting to be run through a second draft. I also am finishing the first draft of my third romantic suspense in the O-Line Series, Maude’s Score.

What books have most influenced your life most? I get asked this question a lot. I think reading in itself has influenced me. Influential books are ones like Night by Elie Wiesel.

Give us an insight into your main character. What does he/she do that is so special? Main character, Nodin has the ability to become all forms of his element, air. Interesting.

Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp? A lot of messages, take care of the earth, good wins over evil, believe in yourself, and sometimes you have to make sacrifices to find love and happiness.

Which actor/actress would you like to see playing the lead character from your most recent book? Both characters are Native American, so I don’t have anyone in mind.

When did you decide to become a writer? In 2013.

What made you decide to sit down and actually start something? I thought I’d make easy money putting out a book. It does not work like that…at all.

Do you write full-time or part-time? Part-time

What is the hardest thing about writing? First draft, second draft, third draft, edits, final draft… Another hard thing is finding new readers.  So everything? Sounds about right.

What was the hardest thing about writing your latest book? The female lead is blind, so that presented challenges in showing the reader versus telling.

What is the easiest thing about writing? I’m drawing a blank other than when you just set your mind free on that first draft and tap out what’s in your head.

What book are you reading now? I’m reading entries for a contest.

What is one random thing about you? I like moose.

What is your preferred medium of writing? Pen and paper or strictly tablet and computer? Computer

Do you have any strange writing habits (like standing on your head or writing in the shower)? No, but sometimes, when I’m driving or walking on the treadmill, ideas come to me, so I have notepads everywhere.

How important are names to you in your books? Crucial, especially in the paranormal series. I used names that meant their particular element.

Did you make any marketing mistakes or is there anything you would avoid in future? I don’t believe in making marketing mistakes. I’m a contract media buyer by day, so I believe in all forms of advertising. Anyway you can get your name or your book seen can help keep you at Top of Mind Awareness.

What is your favorite book and why? Yikes, I don’t have a favorite. Well, if you held me down maybe, Until You by Judith McNaught.

Do you have any advice for other writers? Take your time, know it’s expensive, befriend other writers, join writing groups, attend writer events, and just write.

What do you like to do when you’re not writing? Being an author encompasses so much of my time. I started a boxing class last fall, I enjoy that.

Do you have any advice for other authors on how to market their books? Use the sale sites like Bookbub or Book Gorilla, Boost ads on Facebook, attend author signings and national conferences like RT (Romantic Times), support other authors

What do you do to get book reviews? I read them and like them, regardless of the readers comments or the number of stars, I’m grateful someone took the time to register their thoughts.

Any tips on what to do and what not to do? Stay away from drama by being careful about what you say.

Which famous person, living or dead would you like to meet and why? Elvis, because he is The King! Agreed!

If you could have been the original author of any book, what would it have been and why? Outlander.

What advice would you give to aspiring writers? Use an honest and well-educated editor

 

How can readers discover more about you and you work? Visit my website at www.jillianjacobs.com

#ASI: Angela Roquet

Hi Angela, thank you for agreeing to this interview. Tell us a little about yourself and your background? Hi there! A little about myself… I’m an urban fantasy author from Missouri. I’m happily married to my best friend, and we have one very awesome son. We recently relocated to Lake of the Ozarks, where my husband and I both enjoyed our summers as kids, and now I feel like I’m on permanent vacation. It’s magical here. As far as background goes, I was actually more drawn to art growing up, and my degree is in art, too. I wanted to be an animator for Disney or Cartoon Network, and I was constantly drawing up storyboards and writing scripts for shows I wanted to create. A high school English teacher nudged me toward writing novels, after I showed her one of my script notebooks. It was at that point that I realized it was the storytelling element that really spoke to me. Before I made enough from writing to call it a career, I learned on my artistic talent and did a lot of freelance graphic design work. I miss my home state!

Discuss your newest book. “Ghost Market” is the sixth novel in my Lana Harvey, Reapers Inc. series. War in Limbo City has been thwarted, but there’s still a period of adjustment everyone is going through, including the now leaderless rebels. Some of those rebels have fueled the ghost market (like the black market, except they deal in poached souls) into a prominent problem that Lana is assigned to fix. If that wasn’t bad enough, the council, who are now fully aware of Lana’s unsanctioned special abilities, have decided that if she doesn’t fix the problem, her past transgressions are enough for them to vote her out of existence. Sounds ominous!

What are your current projects? Right now I am working on “Death at First Sight” book 2 in my Spero Heights series.

What books have most influenced your life? There are so many… but “Ishmael” by Daniel Quinn and “The Age of Spiritual Machines” by Ray Kurzweil both come to mind first.

What inspired you to write your first book? It’s no secret that I’m a big fan of the macabre, and the grim reaper is a just such a fun character to play with. I’m also fascinated with world religions—their similarities, differences, influence on history and art. The question of how an all-inclusive and modern afterlife might look and function was such a natural angle for me to approach with my writing. “Graveyard Shift”, my first Lana Harvey noel, began as a short story with a female grim reaper transporting a soul to the other side, through the harbor of Limbo City (the capital of the afterlife) and over the Sea of Eternity, where all of the heavens and hells waited on the outlining coast. I had a friend read that story, and they quickly informed me that it needed to be a novel, and not just a novel, but a series.

Give us an insight into your main character. What does he/she do that is so special? Lana Harvey doesn’t appear special at first. She’s a standard, low-risk soul harvester at Reapers Inc. That all changes when she’s assigned to collect a very special soul. The hazards of the new job end up revealing that she was not cast from the same mold as other reapers. She was given something extra that made this particular job something only she could do when the time came. She can see the importance of a soul—the very aura that determines their value, and whether or not they’re an original believer of a particular faith, something that is of the utmost value to Grim and the structure of Eternity.

Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp? As a fantasy author, my main goal is to entertain with a good story, but, like many other authors, I do believe that my values shine through to some degree. The message in my Lana series is aimed toward religious tolerance. People tend to fear what they do not understand, so slipping in bits about other religions and mythologies is something I hope will lend readers insight into faiths they are unfamiliar with. Knowledge is power, and it is also a means of compassion.

Which actor/actress would you like to see playing the lead character from your most recent book? My answer for this one is constantly evolving, but at the moment, I think Ellen Page would make a fantastic Lana. Her sense of humor is totally on point. I think Christina Ricci would be awesome too though. Both great actresses in my opinion.

When did you decide to become a writer? I think I’ve always been a writer. I can remember stories that I wrote in 5th grade. But professionally, I believe that happened when I was 16. I went on to get an art degree, but my first novel was actually published before I finished that degree. Writing has always been part of my personal story.

Why do you write? Because I can’t help it. lol.

What made you decide to sit down and actually start something? The first time? That might be too long ago for me to remember. The one week mark after editing for my latest novel is complete is what makes me sit down and start something these days.

Do you write full-time or part-time? Full-time for the past year. : )

What is the hardest thing about writing? Scheduling my writing sessions. I am a serious creature of habit, and having my daily routine disturbed is a big challenge that I still struggle with constantly. The trick is to block out more sections of time than you actually need, so if you have to forfeit one or more for any number of reasons (doctor’s appointment, school play, funeral) you’re not totally thrown off track and miss deadlines. I have not mastered this yet. Maybe by book 10 I’ll have it figured out.

What was the hardest thing about writing your latest book? Scheduling my writing sessions. For real. This one kills me.

What is the easiest thing about writing? Dreaming up stories. I have more story ideas than I will ever be able to flesh out into novels. Unless science unlocks the secrets of immortality in my time. Fingers crossed!

 What book are you reading now? “The Darkest Part of the Forest” by Holly Black. I love her.

 

What is one random thing about you? Hmmm. My favorite band is Our Lady Peace.

 

What is your preferred medium of writing? Pen and paper or strictly tablet and computer? I’m good with whatever I can get my hands on, though I can type faster than I write by hand, and it’s definitely more legible that way too.

 What does your writing process look like? I outline everything with large post-it notes on a poster board, and then I type up a document with all of my chapter headings and add a typed chapter summary under each one. Then I go from there, occasionally jumped from chapter to chapter if I feel like working on something in particular that day.

Do you have any strange writing habits (like standing on your head or writing in the shower)? I don’t think so. Like I said, creature of habit here. 95% of my writing is done in my office, and the other 5% is done at the island in my kitchen, usually only if something on the stove or in the oven needs to be watched.

How important are names to you in your books? In my Lana series, many of the names were already determined by the various mythologies and religions I employed. Others were just names I liked, but there were a few that I researched for something more meaningful.

 Is there anything you find particularly challenging in your writing? Challenges change day to day. There are certain times that I find writing angst and sorrow hard to do, or writing a death scene for a character that I like.

Did you make any marketing mistakes or is there anything you would avoid in future? I’ve made my fair share of mistakes along the way, but it’s hard to say, when it comes to marketing, what will work tomorrow or next year. It could be vastly different from what works today, so mistakes will happen. What I have learned to do differently is not beat myself up over them. The most productive thing I can do is keep moving forward.

What is your favorite motivational phrase? In with the Buddha, out with the Hitler. LOVE IT!!

 What is your favorite book and why? The Wizard of Oz. Always has been, always will be. ♥

 Do you have any advice for other writers? The internet is magical, and it’s a good place to find or form your inner circle. You’ll have access to thousands of like-minded writers all across the globe. This is how I found my critique group, the Four Horsemen of the Bookocalypse. Having a circle of friends all on the same path, who are dedicated to helping one another along the way, is such a wonderful thing. When I feel lost or unsure about something, I turn to them. And when I find something useful, I share it with them. Writing can be a lonely career, but it doesn’t have to be. You’ll want someone to share your ups and downs with.

 

What do you like to do when you’re not writing? I enjoy a lot of things. Mostly, I like spending time on the lake with my family. But I also enjoy painting and drawing and singing. And of course I LOVE to read, so I do a lot of that too.

From where do you gain your inspiration? Everything. There’s so much in this world. I try to be a sponge and soak it all up.

What would you say are the main advantages and disadvantages of self-publishing against being published or the other way around? Self-publishing, like I do, can be challenging. I think it helps when an author has some experience in something other than just writing. I was lucky in that I had graphic design experience. I’m able to design a lot of my own promotional materials. I also have a bit of marketing experience, heavily linked into my freelance graphic design work. Not having this experience doesn’t mean an author can’t adequately tackle self-publishing, it just means that it might cost them a little more up front if they want a professional looking book.

Traditional publishing allows an author to turn over all other aspects of book publishing to a team of professionals, but that also means they’ll be turning over a larger chunk of royalties. Is it worth it? Sometimes. I’m happy with my self-published novels, but I can definitely see the appeal in letting someone else handle all the extra details of the job. It’s something I would still consider for future novels.

How do you market your books? I use a lot of different methods, but lately, I prefer BookBub and hosting Facebook parties.

Why did you choose this route? It’s fun, and readers seem to enjoy the silliness and prizes. : )

 

Would you or do you use a PR agency? I have not used a PR agency before. I think if it was something my budget would support and the company had plenty of testimonials from familiar authors, I might give it a try.

 Do you have any advice for other authors on how to market their books? Do your homework. A quick Google search can save so much time and money.

What part of your writing time do you devote to marketing your book? It seems to take up a larger part of the pie lately. Maybe 30%.

What do you do to get book reviews? I include a short, polite request in the back of all my books. I also send out a handful of ARCs to readers who have been following my series from the beginning. It’s a great way to get a few early reviews on Goodreads.

How successful has your quest for reviews been so far? Considering I have over 800 reviews for my first novel, I think it’s going pretty well.

Do you have a strategy for finding reviewers? I just have a short mailing list for the ARCs, but I did try something new with my latest book. I hosted a Facebook party and gave away about a dozen extra ARCs as prizes.

What are your thoughts on good/bad reviews? Reviews are great! I try to read them all, even the bad ones. Sometimes the bad reviews will have good points that I’ll consider in future novels. Sometimes they’re just flat out mean and I try to chalk it up to that person was probably just having a bad day or my book wasn’t their cup of tea. Not everyone will like what you write. There is no writer who pleases 100% of readers. Take the last Sookie Stackhouse novel for example. I rather enjoyed it, but there are over 1000 1-star reviews on Amazon alone. : /  Even Harry Potter has negative reviews. It’s part of the business. If there’s a silver lining here, it’s that negative reviews will at least make your good reviews more credible and should assure readers that more than just your friends and family have read your book.

 Any amusing story about marketing books that happened to you? Erm… I once tried to set up a signing at what I thought was an indie bookstore in state I would be traveling through soon, only to find out that it was actually an “adult” bookstore. The name was very misleading, and it was quite awkward explaining that my book was not a picture book of that nature. lol lol

 What’s your views on social media for marketing? I think it’s great if you use it right, and more of a noose if you use it wrong. Blasting “buy my book” non-stop is a great way to turn off potential readers. Social media should be used to connect with and entertain fans. Think like a writer, not a telemarketer.

Which social network worked best for you? I’ve dabbled in most of them, but I still prefer Facebook 80% of the time. Twitter the other 20%.

Any tips on what to do and what not to do? That’s a novel for another day. ; )

Did you do a press release, Goodreads book launch or anything else to promote your work and did it work? I have a mailing list, and I have a few friends who blog and post to social media the week of the release. I also have a really awesome reader, Andrea, who does Twitter countdowns a couple weeks before release day. I think it all helps. I might try a Goodreads book launch in the future though, now that you’ve mentioned it. Thanks!

Which famous person, living or dead would you like to meet and why? Terry Pratchett. He was the king of world building and humor. I didn’t start reading his work until shortly after I published my first novel. A reader mentioned his grim reaper character in the Discworld series, and I immediately picked up the first book from the library. I’ve been smitten ever since, and it was a sad day when he left us.

 If you could have been the original author of any book, what would it have been and why? That’s… a new one. Hmmm. Probably Peter Pan. It’s such a magical classic, and it has inspired so many other works: Hook, Pan, Return to Neverland, Jake and the Neverland Pirates, and the Tinker Bell movies (which I love to watch with my son).I mean, my kiddo thinks I’m pretty cool as-is, but if I had written Peter Pan, I’d be the coolest!

How can readers discover more about you and your work? My first book “Graveyard Shift” is FREE on Amazon, Nook, iBooks, Kobo, and more. You can also connect with me on Facebook or Twitter. Or find me at http://www.angelaroquet.com

#ASI: JD Carabella

Hi JD, thank you for agreeing to this interview. Tell us a little about yourself and your background? I’m 40-something, married with one child. I’ve been with my husband for 25 years and we live in the mountains of Maryland. I have 2 dogs, 2 cats and a large aquarium of fish. I’m a nerd and a geek. I love fantasy, sci-fi, comics, tabletop roleplaying and video games. As well as also being a computer programmer and IT Project manager in my day job. I’ve been addicted to books for as long as I remember. I’ve forgotten more books than many people have read. Welcome!

Discuss your newest book. Nocturnal Voyeur started as an idea of how to combine Lovecraft and Traditional Paranormal Romance. Which really should be enough of a warning for folks. The FMC, Fiona, has the power to control the Dream realm, but doesn’t know it. By controlling her, various evil supernatural creatures would be able to use her power. Mack, a Native American Bear Shifter, has traditionally controlled access to the Dream in Chicago, so he has an interest in her as well. But his desire for her isn’t to control her, his goes much further, as he feels they are fated to be together. Because Fiona’s powers were awakened in her sexually by a shadowy otherworldly being, her abilities start out with her being able to see into people’s sexual fantasies and are tied to her own sexual desire. Mack helps her learn how to control the very fabric of dreams, but in the end she has to learn to master it to save Mack’s life. Sounds very good.

jd

Do you recall how your interest in writing originated? I’ve always wanted to write, but was afraid to. Some people have inspirational stories of how their teacher mentored them, unfortunately I have the opposite. I was not a good student in school due to boredom. The one class I was excited about in High School was Creative Writing. I’d lived in the Science Fiction and Fantasy section of the library since I was 8. I already had Foundation and Dune under my belt by middle school. I wrote this wonderful story (at least to me) for my first assignment. After the teacher looked at it, she questioned me about words I’d used. As a reader, you know you end up with a rather large vocabulary. She didn’t think I knew the meaning of several of the words and accused me of plagiarism. After I defined all the words for her, I gave her the bird and walked out of class, never to return.

I realize this is somewhat of  the opposite of what you asked, but for me the struggle was overcoming that fear of rejection. When I finally got old enough to decide I’d rather do what I’ve always dreamed of doing instead of being afraid, I finally just started to write. Good for you! I hate when teachers put a student down instead of lifting them up.

What are your current projects? I have two currently. Both are being written as novels and not short stories, so that changes the format a lot for me. Lets me take more time developing characters and plot, and actually less sex.

Dorothy Surrenders is a companion story to Arrested by Passion and Nocturnal Voyeur. In the two previous books we encounter Dorothy. She was Kathleen’s old friend in Arrested and Fiona witnesses something horrible happening to Dorothy in Voyeur. Surrenders starts out nearly a decade before the other two stories and ends at the same time as AP and NV. That arc is set mostly in the 1930s. Dorothy’s story is going to be very dark, she suffers a great tragedy and becomes nearly a slave through part of it. But in the end it is a love story and Dorothy will be rescued.

I’m also working on an untitled Contemporary Urban Fantasy. Though the mythology between the worlds will remain the same. It’s the same universe, just further in time than the 1930s stories. There will still be a love story, the Paranormal plot will be the primary plot. The main character will be a monster hunter named Ash. His partner and eventual love interest will be a supernatural creature he rescues, who turns out to be a Fallen Angel.

What books have influenced your life most? I love old Sci-Fi and read so much of that in my formative years, it’s always stuck with me. Stranger in a Strange Land, More Than Human, Dune, and I Robot influenced me on an almost existential level. They explored the human condition above and outside the human. But my love for supernatural came from the Anita Blake and Sookie Stackhouse series. I started reading those back in the early 2000s.

What inspired you to write your first book?  The 1930s era stories are actually inspired by a roleplaying game, a movie called To Cast a Deadly Spell and Agent Carter. My favorite era, cool.

Give us an insight into your main character. What does he/she do that is so special? I have lots of MCs, though the one that is nearest to my heart is Kathleen from Arrested by Passion. She’s a willworker ie; a mage in the 1930s. She’s also a reporter and uses a pseudonym to hide her sex from her readers. Her struggle to succeed in a man’s world and her conflict over accepting her sexual desires vs her strong independent nature resonates with me quite a bit. I like that she’s so strong on her own, but yet so submissive in bed. I dislike the stereotype that a woman is weak if she’s submissive.

Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp? You can be weak and still strong and vice versa. That no one is perfectly good, everyone has flaws. Also, that sometimes, evil is just evil, it has no excuse.

Which actor/actress would you like to see playing the lead character from your most recent book?  Katheryn Winnick as Fiona from Nocturnal Voyeur, she plays Lagertha on Vikings.

When did you decide to become a writer? I have always wanted to, but was afraid of rejection letters. Self-publishing is why I decided to take the chance.

Why do you write? Because I have all these ideas bubbling out all the time. My problem isn’t coming up with ideas, it’s having enough time to write them down.

What made you decide to sit down and actually start something?  Try not to laugh. A Cracked article. I was just so intimidated by the idea of trying to get published and if I could find an audience or not. I started out writing my stories as erotic shorts. They were easy – I like smut – and low-risk in that I didn’t spend months writing to find out that no one liked it. The article pointed out how easy it was to use Amazon to self-publish and the basics of writing erotic short stories. I did not make a ton of money with my shorts and the immediate feedback I got was that I should be writing full-length stories out of them.

Do you write full-time or part-time? Definitely part-time.

What is the hardest thing about writing? Getting the time to do it, plus staying consistent across books. I cross over a lot, and have character sheets and short descriptions so I can quickly remember their eye color etc.

What was the hardest thing about writing your latest book? Deciding how gross I want to go. I find I tend to go very graphic because that’s how I see it in my head and I want the reader to be able to see it and feel it.

What is the easiest thing about writing? The world building and mythology and ideas.

What book are you reading now? Oh, The Girl with All the Gifts. That story has been such a kick in the gut – wow. Totally new twist on the zombie story. I love Mike Carey.

What is one random thing about you? I love villains. My favorite is Maleficent, followed closely by Loki. Some villians you can’t help but love.

What is your preferred medium of writing? Pen and paper or strictly tablet and computer? I jot notes down on pen & paper or notepad on my phone when I have an idea on the go. But for writing it’s my computer and Scrivener.

What does your writing process look like? Lots of brainstorming with my husband or my friends. Then long drives with music or soaking in the bath to think about character voice. Then I jot out outline cards in Scrivener, which match up to chapters. From then it’s more seat of the pants and what the characters what to do. Once I have a chapter written, I run it through some online tools to catch anything obvious. Then I have several editing partners review it, my husband included. Once it’s complete, I have some Beta readers take a go at it.

Do you have any strange writing habits (like standing on your head or writing in the shower)? I think the bath is the weirdest. I’ll float there and listen to some instrumental music (can’t have vocals, they’re distracting) and run through dialogue and character reactions in my head or a loud.

How important are names to you in your books? I try to make them accurate to the time and culture of the character. I also try to avoid any other major books character name, though I don’t always do that.

Is there anything you find particularly challenging in your writing? I like to surprise people, sometimes that has led to misunderstanding about a plot or that a character seems too mysterious because I didn’t want to give something away. In Nocturnal Voyeur I wanted people to keep guessing about Mack – what are his real motives? My favorite though is Milady’s Command. It’s a short erotic story, but it’s a bit tongue in cheek, and that was missed by at least one reviewer. The whole 1980s Harlequin Romance vibe was deliberate and about half way through you figure out why. Better read it to find out!

Did you make any marketing mistakes or is there anything you would avoid in future? Oh. Well, I picked a really conflicting genre to start with. Paranormal, historical, erotic romance turned out to be a harder sell than I thought. Not just any historical, but 1930s. I love the era, but most people who love the era don’t mix it with paranormal. The fact that Agent Carter is tucked into the mid-season break of Agents of Shield should have been a big hint for me that the audience for that era just isn’t as big. Most historical romances are set earlier than that. I have a whole rack of reviews that start with, “I don’t normally read X, but …”  Most of them liked it once they read it, but it’s been a struggle to get them to pick them up. I should have started with straight contemporary PNR/UF, then once I had readers who loved what I wrote, I could get a bit more experimental.

What is your favorite motivational phrase? The sooner you start, the sooner you’ll be done. Strangely, this is from my endodontist who hits me with the shot as soon as I sit in the chair so I don’t just keep dreading it.

What is your favorite book and why? Snowcrash. I love the concept, the new cyberpunk, the banter and vision. So many neat things in this book, so many new ideas. Strong female character too, and the ultimate Alpha – he has a freaking nuke in the sidecar of his motorcycle. 🙂

Do you have any advice for other writers? Write what you love, it won’t be as much of a chore then.

What do you like to do when you’re not writing? I roleplay, read, play video games, watch movies – I’m an action movie addict, especially Asian ones –  drink beer and margaritas, cook, garden and try to get my son to do his homework.

From where do you gain your inspiration? Everywhere. Books, movies, mythology, roleplaying games, songs. The other day I was trusting Google maps to get me somewhere and I thought, “We just trust this thing to take us to where we want to go – what if it was evil?” I’m going to fit that in somewhere.

What would you say are the main advantages and disadvantages of self-publishing against being published or the other way around? I hate the idea of rejection letters and being forced into a box. Having someone else do my marketing and editing would be nice – but by all accounts, the big publishers don’t spend much money on your marketing, so you still need to maintain your own social platform.

How do you market your books? I’m still boiling this down to find the most efficient way. I’ll tell you, Twitter is useless for marketing. Facebook blogs and the like might get some clicks. But the absolute best is via Newsletters. Not just your own, but big names with 10k+ subscribers in your genre. Don’t bother with the ones that aren’t targeted to your genre.

Why did you choose this route? Because I could do it myself. I’m the kind of person who buys a book on tiling and tiles their own bathroom. Literally did this. Same with painting, electrical wiring, computer building etc.

Would you or do you use a PR agency? Considering it. Because it comes down to time. I could build the network and take the time to post everywhere, but that means I’m not writing. Writing is the one thing that no one else can do for me. But I need that PR person or agency to not be a dick. No slamming other authors or being pushy – I hate hard sells. Plus I only spend as much on advertising as I made on books 3 months ago – ie; what I get from Amazon in that month I’ll spend on ads.

Do you have any advice for other authors on how to market their books? If it’s ok if I name drop – Love, Lust and Lipstick Stains and Shameless Book Club have cost effective newsletters for steamy romance books at less than $20. I Love Vampire Novels and Romance Devoured newsletters are in the $50-70 range. The holy grail is Bookbub, but you’re talking $500 and up there, and they are very choosey. But I’d definitely stick with email newsletters, unless you’re ready to tackle Facebook ads. For a grassroots effort, if you are patient with Goodreads, it’s a great place to find reviews and beta readers.

What part of your writing time do you devote to marketing your book? Too much. But I try to not use writing time, but to use other moments. Like the Doctor’s office or waiting on hold on a phone call or while I’m cooking.

What do you do to get book reviews? I have a detailed spreadsheet of blogs that do erotic romance reviews and I use Goodreads and my newsletter. I’ve gotten some nice organic reviews as well though Goodreads recommendations and Facebook takeovers.

How successful has your quest for reviews been so far? It’s still about 50% of the ones I’ve sent copies of the books to. Which is about average.

Do you have a strategy for finding reviewers? Find groups appropriate to your book – ie; the BDSM group on Goodreads is great and has a fantastic review program. So does the Fifty Shades Support Group. Your newsletter subscribers are obviously a great resource, they already liked you enough to subscribe!

What are your thoughts on good/bad reviews? Ah. Other than trying to not let them keep me up at night, I try to look at them critically. Is there something to learn there? Or maybe that person just didn’t know what they were about to read. A lot of my current reviewers seem to have overlooked some of the book description or maybe I was too subtle in the description. “Amorphous shadowy lover” may have been too vague for some people.

Any amusing story about marketing books that happened to you? Amusing, no. Painful, yes. I had a Thunderclap go out with half of the links to a typo on the cover (facepalm). No one noticed it though.

What’s your views on social media for marketing? People don’t click off of Twitter. They might for Facebook for a sale or freebie. Free or cheap Facebook takeovers are good and can net you some totally new readers, but don’t just spam them with ‘this is my book, buy it’. Hell, never spam anyone with ‘this is my book, buy it’ no one likes that. Engage on a personal level, be interesting, make friends.

Which social network worked best for you? I like Facebook, but I’m about to make some serious changes to how I do my newsletter. Lots of unique and interactive content will be exclusively available there.

Any tips on what to do and what not to do? Pick a popular niche, develop it, then get experimental and play with tropes. Get the readers comfortable with you before you try to get them to try a chocolate covered banana dipped in red chili.

Did you do a press release, Goodreads book launch or anything else to promote your work and did it work? I contact a bunch of Book bloggers that I’ve already established a relationship with and asked them to post, plus used all the free newsletter options. I need to re-look at this I think.

Which famous person, living or dead would you like to meet and why? Kurt Vonnegut – I’d love to sit with him and drink beer for hours and just talk.

If you could have been the original author of any book, what would it have been and why? Theodore Sturgeon, More Than Human. They were writing really new concepts back then, no one else had ever written anything like it before. How neat that must have been. Now it feels like there is nothing new under the sun, and we’re just struggling to come up with some new twist.

What advice would you give to aspiring writers? Start writing, find a peer review group to look over each other’s writing. You’ll learn so much by critiquing other writer’s work. Can’t find one, start one.

How can readers discover more about you and you work? I’m all over the social media spectrum. My website is under development, but until then:

 

Mailing Listbit.ly/1oETKyy – I’ll be doing plot, name and other contests to include content from my subscribers in my books, as well as Beta and ARCs and freebies.

Amazon Author Pageamzn.to/1Qnf7NX – Currently I’m all in on Amazon, so all my books can be found here.

Goodreads Pagebit.ly/1T45NSY – I’m pretty active on Goodreads and accept all friend requests.

Pinterestbit.ly/24Doa4P – Pinterest is where I’d recommend after the Newsletter. I have a board specifically for pictures that have inspired me for a story or character.

Twitter – NSFW 18+: bit.ly/1Q8JZzj – I talk a little about writing on Twitter, including when I’m writing, but also like to share naughty or semi-naughty pictures.

Tumblr – NSFW 18+: bit.ly/1QAgVGt – My Tumblr has lots of dirty stuff.

Blogbit.ly/1QtYHRz – My Blog has all book announcements and some general ramblings. But these cross post to Facebook and Goodreads.

#ASI: Piper Davenport

Hi Piper, thank you for agreeing to this interview. Discuss your newest book. Road to Victory is Knight & Kim’s story and they’ve waited a long time to get their happily ever after, so I’m excited for them.

 Do you recall how your interest in writing originated? Ah…no…not really…I don’t know that I’ve ever had an interest. It’s been more of a burning need to write or die kind of thing.

What are your current projects? I am in the finished book coma at the moment, so it’s the “I will never write another book” phase. Ask me in a week or two and I might be willing to sit down and write again.

 What books have most influenced your life most? Christine Feehan’s Dark series, Julia Quinn (everything), and this really old book, called Timeless Passion by Constance Day O’Flannery.

 What inspired you to write your first book? I read a horrible one and thought I could do better than this…I can’t for the life of me remember the name of it now. Probably a good thing.

 Give us an insight into your main character. What does he/she do that is so special? Kim is horribly emotionally wounded, having survived abuse in her past, but she also has an incredible confidence about her that draws people in. She’s loyal to a fault, and she’s easily hurt, but she’s also funny and smart, so it’s no surprise Knight fell in love with her. And he’s all alpha with a heart of gold who beats back her demons…who doesn’t love that?

 

Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?

 

I’m one of those die-hard romantics who believes there’s only one true love and when you find him/her, you treasure them…so all my books really have that message.

Which actor/actress would you like to see playing the lead character from your most recent book? No clue! This is one of the first books I’ve written where I have no one in mind.

When did you decide to become a writer? When I lost my job and couldn’t find another one.

Why do you write? Because I can mostly. Piper Davenport is actually my pen name, but I also write under my real name and it has afforded me the ability to do this as a living.

Do you write full-time or part-time? I write full time.

What book are you reading now?

 

Reading? What is this thing you call reading? Unfortunately, I haven’t got a lot of time to read, but give me anything from Amanda Washington or Geri Glenn and I’m in.

 

What is one random thing about you?

 

I’m married to an ex-pastor, but I swear like a sailor. I guess there is a reason he’s an EX-pastor. 🙂 Jk

 

What is your preferred medium of writing? Pen and paper or strictly tablet and computer?

 

Computer!

 

What does your writing process look like? I vomit onto the page….I don’t edit as I go.

 

Do you have any strange writing habits (like standing on your head or writing in the shower)?

 

I write on my sofa with the television on most days.

 

How important are names to you in your books?

 

Not particularly, because they’re so subjective. One name might remind you of someone you love…or hate.

 

Is there anything you find particularly challenging in your writing?

 

Not being able to type fast enough!

 

Do you have any advice for other writers?

 

GET AN EDITOR! I know one!

 

What do you like to do when you’re not writing?

 

I ride horses every chance I get

 

From where do you gain your inspiration?

 

Everywhere!

What would you say are the main advantages and disadvantages of self-publishing against being published or the other way around? I keep all my royalties and I have total control over quality.

Which famous person, living or dead would you like to meet and why? Abraham Lincoln…because I feel he’s the only decent president we’ve ever had.

 

How can readers discover more about you and you work?

 

www.facebook.com/piperdavenport

#ASI: Julia Brannan

Hi Julia Brannan, thank you for agreeing to this interview. Tell us a little about yourself and your background? Hi Courtney, thanks for asking me to answer these questions! I’m based in the UK, and am lucky enough to live in the beautiful countryside of Wales. I’m an only child, and was brought up in Manchester, England. I’ve had a variety of jobs, including office work, teaching, gilding, call centre work, and I now edit for a few very successful authors. I love travelling, and have been on extended trips to many countries. Well (if Google Translate can be trusted) Helo!

Discuss your newest book. My newest book will be published at the beginning of July, and is the third in a series of historical novels about the Jacobite Rebellion of 1745. The series is set in England, Scotland and Europe, and deals with the lives of Beth Cunningham, her family and friends during the build-up to the rebellion, the actual rebellion itself, and the aftermath. There is a romance at its heart, but I’ve taken great pains to ensure the historical setting and events are accurate. Sounds great, and like you should have been my history advisor for a book I’m working on.

Julia2.jpg

 Do you recall how your interest in writing originated? My interest in writing originated with my mother, who taught me to read before I went to school, and who showed me just how magical and influential the written word is. I wrote little stories from the age of 5, and she encouraged me all the way. #MothersDay

What are your current projects? At the moment I’m editing book three – The Gathering Storm, and preparing it for publication, and spending all my free time doing background research for the next book.

What books have most influenced your life most? That’s a difficult one, because there are so many. I would say as a child that Heidi gave me my love of travelling, because I wanted to go to Switzerland. I also loved the Moomintroll series, and really identified with Snufkin, who goes off travelling alone for months at a time. The dark and brooding Wuthering Heights helped me through a very turbulent puberty, because it matched my dark and brooding moods!

What inspired you to write your first book? In honesty, the wish to make lots of money inspired me to write my first book, a long time ago when I was 18. I foolishly believed that it would be really easy to write Mills&Boon romances and make a fortune, even though I wasn’t really interested in the genre, and I spent a long hot summer slogging away at writing one, only to (quite rightly) have it promptly rejected.

Later I realized that it’s far more important to be passionate about your subject, and write for the sheer love of writing, which is what I do now. Dreams have to start somewhere.

 Give us an insight into your main character. What does he/she do that is so special? There are two main characters. Beth is a fiercely independent woman who has to fight for her freedom against a family and society who believe women should live very restricted lives ruled by men.

Sir Anthony is an effeminate, foppish man of fashion, a flippant social butterfly, but there is clearly more to him than meets the eye.

Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp? I would like to inspire my readers to love history as I do, and to realize that although laws and customs may change, the dreams and desires of human beings remain constant. History is amazing in my opinion.

Which actor/actress would you like to see playing the lead character from your most recent book? I really have no idea at all. I’m sure my readers will have some thoughts on that, though!

When did you decide to become a writer? I always wanted to be a professional writer, but life got in the way for many years, as it has a habit of doing!

Why do you write? Because I have to. I can’t imagine not writing something. For many years I wrote for my own pleasure alone, keeping a diary, writing poetry, then experimenting with ideas for novels. But I’ve always written, since I learned how to form letters.

What made you decide to sit down and actually start something? I went on a walk across Spain – the Camino de Santiago – and just for a joke, I sent emails to my boyfriend about my adventures, but wrote the whole thing in a Tolkienesque style. I became an elf going into the west, and meeting hobbits, orcs etc along the way. It was enormous fun, and every time something happened, I’d work out how to turn it into a Lord of the Rings type of event. He showed the first email to his friends, who loved it, and after that they were all waiting for the next episode. I really enjoyed having an avid audience, and it gave me confidence to start writing with a view to publishing once I got home. That’s sweet! and AWESOME!

Do you write full-time or part-time? Part-time at the moment. I have another job that pays the bills, but it’s my dream to write full-time.

What is the hardest thing about writing? Actually sitting down and starting.

What was the hardest thing about writing your latest book? Finding the time to do it. I have a very full life.

What is the easiest thing about writing? It’s fun! Once I start, it becomes an obsession, and I live in the period I’m writing about.

What book are you reading now? At the moment I’m only reading research books. My current one is about poverty in the eighteenth century.

 What is one random thing about you? I have trekked to Everest Base Camp, and once there, got to sing ‘Tom Dooley’ with guitar accompaniment, with the Swedish Climbing Expedition. Cool.

 What is your preferred medium of writing? Pen and paper or strictly tablet and computer? I use a computer for the actual writing, but I keep handwritten index cards with details of all the characters, and a hand-drawn timeline of historical events etc. I also carry a notebook with me everywhere to jot down ideas that might come to me at random times.

What does your writing process look like? I start by researching the historical period in general, reading anything and everything I can get hold of – biographies of historical characters, books about the period, military books about the battles, newspapers from the period, etc. Then I plot out the storyline and start to research in more depth the specific events etc. Once I start writing, I may change my ideas about certain things, or decide to include a specific skill etc, so then I research again. I write chronologically, unless I suddenly have a full scene from further along the book come into my head; then I’ll write that as a separate document and rework it later.

 Do you have any strange writing habits (like standing on your head or writing in the shower)? Not when I’m actually writing, but I did astonish the neighbours somewhat by teaching myself to throw knives at the door of the garden shed, because one of my characters has that skill, and teaches it to another character, and I wanted to know how it was done, and what mistakes you’d make when learning. So, readers, beware of flying knives while writing a review! Lol Jk.

 How important are names to you in your books? Some of the names of fictional characters just pop into my head. Some of them are names of actual ancestors of mine. But the surnames of MacGregor and MacDonald were chosen because the clan histories fitted what I wanted from my characters and plot.

 Is there anything you find particularly challenging in your writing? I think the hardest thing with historical fiction is to keep the characters as true as possible to the time they’re living in, whilst still ensuring that a 21st century reader can identify and sympathise with them. This can be extremely difficult at times.

 Did you make any marketing mistakes or is there anything you would avoid in future? I’m still relatively new to marketing, so am trying different promotional ideas and am open to suggestions!

What is your favorite motivational phrase? I’m not really a fan of motivational phrases. Sometimes I hear one that strikes a chord, but having worked in several office-based jobs over the years, I have realized that the worst employers are usually the ones whose walls are littered with motivational posters, such as ‘Every great journey starts with the first step’, when all the employees longed to do was take that last step out of their appalling job asap. I am, however, a fan of the sarcastic demotivational poster…

What is your favorite book and why? My all-time favourite book is Lord of the Rings. Tolkien’s mastery of language and description blew me away, and decided me on studying English Literature at university. The world he creates is totally believable, and you just live there for the duration of the book.

 Do you have any advice for other writers? Don’t be discouraged if you get a one-star review, and never, ever respond to it. On the other hand, if ALL your reviews are one-star, then it’s worth having a look at why. Often it’s not because you’re a bad writer, but because your book needs editing or proofreading. That can make all the difference in the world!

What do you like to do when you’re not writing? I love fitness training, reading, gardening, walking, travelling, and photography, although I’m not very good at it!

 From where do you gain your inspiration? The inspiration for the Jacobite Chronicles came from family history research, when I discovered that one branch of my family were almost certainly Jacobites. I started reading a little background history to see how they would have lived, and became completely absorbed in the period. I had no idea the mid-eighteenth century was such a fascinating period of history until then.

What would you say are the main advantages and disadvantages of self-publishing against being published or the other way around? I think the advantages of self-publishing are that you have total control over your book – the content, the cover, the blurb, the marketing, and when you publish. Also you get a larger percentage of the royalties. The disadvantages are that some people still think of independent publishing as somehow inferior, something you only do if your book isn’t good enough to be traditionally published. This view is slowly changing, though. Also, having all that control means a lot more work for the author, which is hard when you’re also trying to actually write the books!

How do you market your books? At the moment through social media, promotions, etc.

Why did you choose this route? As I said, it’s still early days for me, so I’m using media I’m already familiar with. I now intend to branch out into new avenues, though.

Would you or do you use a PR agency? I don’t at the moment, and don’t know enough about what’s involved to answer this, really.

Do you have any advice for other authors on how to market their books? I wouldn’t like to give advice yet – I’m still learning myself.

What part of your writing time do you devote to marketing your book? Probably not enough! But I want to actually WRITE! And as I also have another job, I market as and when I see an opportunity, and am experimenting to see what might work!

What do you do to get book reviews? I periodically post on media just asking people, if they read my book and like it, to post a review. If someone contacts me directly to say they’ve enjoyed my book, I ask if they’d be kind enough to review it. That’s all.

How successful has your quest for reviews been so far? Not as successful as I’d like it to be!

Do you have a strategy for finding reviewers? No.

What are your thoughts on good/bad reviews? As long as they’re constructive, or an honest opinion, I really don’t mind. Of course I love getting five-star reviews! I put an enormous amount of work into writing my books and it’s wonderful to get praise. But if someone gives me a bad review, then I try to look at it objectively, and take any comments on board.

Any amusing story about marketing books that happened to you? Not as yet, but I’m sure there will be.

What’s your views on social media for marketing?  I like it. I like the fact that your readers can contact you directly to ask questions and give feedback. It makes it more personal than just doing promotions en masse.

Which social network worked best for you? Facebook, possibly because I’m very familiar with it, but you have a huge prospective readership on there.

Any tips on what to do and what not to do? Set up an author page. Don’t pester people too much to read your book, or drown their newsfeed with your promotions. If you do, they’ll unfollow you.

Did you do a press release, Goodreads book launch or anything else to promote your work and did it work? I do a Facebook launch party and hire an excellent person to help me with it. That has been a very successful strategy.

Which famous person, living or dead would you like to meet and why? There are so many…but I would love to meet William Wallace, because he must have had enormous charisma to unite Scotland as he did, and incredible courage and dedication to his country never to waver for a moment in his loyalty.

 If you could have been the original author of any book, what would it have been and why? Lord of the Rings. I would love to be able to invent a whole language, and write so beautifully.

What advice would you give to aspiring writers? Stop wanting to do it, and start writing. Write a journal, poetry, short stories, anything. It’s all practice, and it’s only by writing that you will improve, and find your style. Don’t write with the sole intent to make money; write about something you’re passionate about, and you’re more likely to do it well. #WriteOn

How can readers discover more about you and you work? (links – FB, Pinterest, Twitter, Goodreads. Web site coming…

Facebook: https://facebook.com/pages/Julia-Brannan/727743920650760

Twitter: https://twitter.com/BrannanJulia

Pinterest: http:/www.pinterest.com/juliabrannan

Goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/14060028.Julia_Brannan

 

#ASI: J.S. Snow

Hi J.S., thank you for agreeing to this interview. Tell us a little about yourself and your background? J.S. Snow began her literary obsession at the tender age of eleven with the first voluntarily read book Dear God It’s Me Margaret by Judy Blum.  Only a few years later her fascination with fictional offerings really took root as she stepped into the mind of one of her heroes Stephen King through his work, Christine.

Now seriously considering a twelve step program for her e-Reader addiction, she feeds her fascination for make believe with new literary offerings via said e-Reader, has a passion for dark chocolate, sweet tea and Heavy Metal music.  She is the proud mother of a downright spectacular daughter (who was head banging in the belly) and lives with the belief that the mind where the imagination lives is a far more entertaining place than TV or movies ever will be.

J.S. Snow currently resides in Central Florida and has been in the administrative office field for thirty years.

 

Discuss your newest book. It’s the fourth full-length novel in the series and one book does lead into the other and needs to be read in order.  That is Redemption, Resurrection and Reconciliation.  There are also two stand-alone novellas in the series Trepidation and Attraction.  Here is Temptation’s synopsis:

None of us are immune from a particular course of action in this lifetime, it surrounds us and is a constant presence.  It all began with Eve in the garden and forever reminds us, it’s tough to resist.

Our choices in this lifetime define who we are and how we are to be remembered, and Alex’s journey continues with five tattooed, foul-mouthed, sexy and talented men comprising of the greatest Heavy-Metal band in the world.  New surprises unfold with this gregarious bunch and even bigger choices now have to be made.

When it comes down to it, it’s a huge bite of the apple for some, but for Alex, could it be too much?  Succumbing and giving in to the urge to do the opposite of what you believe in is the ultimate test and for most, the easy way out.

This continues to be Alex’s story, these continue to be her choices and now she comes face to face with…

 

TEMPTATION

JS2

Do you recall how your interest in writing originated? I’m an avid reader and have always had it in the back of my mind to write.  I guess it stems from wanting to read what I would find interesting but isn’t out there.

 What are your current projects? In 2016, three works will be published.  The aforementioned Temptation and after that will be the third novella in the series, Admiration due out this fall.  Finally, the series will come to an end with the fifth and final novel, Isolation which is due out around Christmas. Keep an eye out!

What books have most influenced your life most? I wouldn’t say certain books, but writers who have shown individuality and out of the box thinking is okay.  No one does this better than the King himself.

What inspired you to write your first book? Alex’s story had been in my head for over twenty-years by the time I went to put it down on paper.  It was after reading a widely successful trilogy where I learned about character development that I decided to give this a shot. Wow, it’s good to let a story marinate before bringing it to life.

Give us an insight into your main character. What does he/she do that is so special? Thanks for the segue, I think the synopsis to my first book Redemption sums it up nicely:

How does a child musical prodigy who was left for dead by the mafia at the age of three in a cardboard box discarded next to a blue dumpster in a South Philadelphia neighborhood alley wind up becoming the lead guitarist for one of the world’s most successful Heavy Metal Bands… Hells Redemption?

The beginning of Alex’s young life was tragic and should have been the end, but a Nun and a Priest who ended up rescuing her then later raising her determined that surely a predetermined destiny wasn’t to be for Alex. Despite her conservative and secluded upbringing, Alex wants to prove herself to be anything but a foregone conclusion, especially when she strives to not only succeed, but dominate the music genre that she loves more than anything with her natural God given talent.

With dreams of becoming nothing but one of Heavy Metal’s Music’s most legendary guitarist’s of all time, and at the same time proving that a woman can indeed melt faces off just as well as any man, Alex is determined and focused to let nothing stand in her way, not even her past. Can Alex achieve her dream while keeping her anonymous wants while still maintaining her integrity and the values she was raised with?

We can choose to allow our pasts dictate who we are or who society decides we are destined to be, or we can embrace that we truly are only defined in this life by the choices we make now.

These are Alex’s choices, this is Alex’s story and in turn become’s Alex’s… Redemption Sounds very interesting!

Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp? Absolutely, forgiveness.

Which actor/actress would you like to see playing the lead character from your most recent book? Considering Alex’s young age, it would more than likely have to be an unknown actress.  This role would catapult her career, that’s for sure. Certainly.

When did you decide to become a writer? As mentioned before, the story has been in my head for a very long time.  It was after my daughter graduated High School and I had more time on my hands that I decided it was time to put down on paper what was running through my head.

Why do you write? It’s cathartic for me and allows me to express my individuality in a sane and rational way.  I think most people will find that writers are introverts and tend to suffer a bit of anxiety.  This is therapy for most of us in my opinion and saves money at the same time expensive doctor visits to tell us what we already know… we just on this side of nuts.

What made you decide to sit down and actually start something? It goes along with the inspiration question you asked earlier.  Seeing how a character can be developed, taught me a lot.  Not that she made it look easy, but she didn’t make it look all that hard either.  I figured, what the hell, and out poured the words.

Do you write full-time or part-time? Part time, unfortunately, the bills have to be paid one way or another.

What is the hardest thing about writing? Not having enough time to do so and lacking the tremendous typing skills of Clark Kent to be able to churn out books faster to keep up with the ideas in my head.

 What was the hardest thing about writing your latest book? All of my books, even the novellas are rather long.  Alex’s story is relatively complex, so higher word counts are norm.  With my current one, I set a goal to keep the chapter lengths at a not to exceed word count and that has been challenging.

 What is the easiest thing about writing? There’s actually something easy?  Oh, do tell, I’m dying to know over here!

 

What book are you reading now? I just finished Lexxie Couper’s Heart of Fame series and have several on my Nook patiently waiting for me to get to, but when I’m in full-on writing mode with a deadline looming over me, I have to put reading off to the side and focus on the character’s world.  I’ll take it back up when the book is done.  J.R. Ward’s latest is taunting me mercilessly.

What is one random thing about you? All of me is random and just like my main character, I refuse to be a foregone conclusion.  I don’t think anyone will ever figure me out.

 What is your preferred medium of writing? Pen and paper or strictly tablet and computer? Tablet at lunchtime due to portability and laptop when I’m home.

 What does your writing process look like? Extremely unglamorous and rather boring really.  I write on my lunch breaks in a deserted parking lot next to my work and then at the coffee table when I’m home after work.  First thing in the morning before the world awakens I’m on my bed in my bathrobe chugging away.  You’re welcome for the visual. Thank you. The parking lot is a new one.

 Do you have any strange writing habits (like standing on your head or writing in the shower)? Just full on out loud conversations with my characters in the car as I’m heading to work.  I just hope the other drivers think I’m talking on the phone or something as they watch me chit chat away and I’m the only one in the car.

 How important are names to you in your books? Extremely, they have to be both derivative of my character and where they are from.

 Is there anything you find particularly challenging in your writing? Giving a voice to the many characters this series contains and not forgetting anyone.

 Did you make any marketing mistakes or is there anything you would avoid in future? I signed up for a few book promotional things via Twitter which never panned out.

 What is your favorite motivational phrase? We can choose to allow our pasts dictate who we are or who society decides we are destined to be, or we can embrace that we truly are only defined in this life by the choices we make now.

What is your favorite book and why? The Stand, by Stephen King.  Honestly, do I really to go into why?  It’s pure genius! It’s on my to read list.

Do you have any advice for other writers? Quit sweating the small stuff and just write.  Eventually, you’ll get it all figured out, but don’t let the little things stop you from being great.

 What do you like to do when you’re not writing? I’m a big music fan, so wherever it is, I’m there.

From where do you gain your inspiration? Anything to a writer is fair game to their imaginations.  We’re always looking at something and wondering if we could mold it into a story that would work.

What would you say are the main advantages and disadvantages of self-publishing against being published or the other way around? I didn’t know any better at the beginning of this to be honest with you.  Self-publishing was just the way, considering I had no clue how to get a publisher.  For A-type personalities such as myself, it’s perfect though, full power and control.  I don’t like being told what to do or how to go about it.  However, as time has gone on, the stress of the constant self-promotion is grating on my last nerve.  There’s a publisher interested in my series, and I’m looking forward to handing it off and letting them deal with it all. Good luck.

How do you market your books? The standard way I guess, I’ve become a self-proclaimed social media whore.

Would you or do you use a PR agency? I don’t, and probably wouldn’t.

Do you have any advice for other authors on how to market their books? Not really, because I have yet to figure it out for myself.  Oh, other than, don’t buy followers or reviews.  It’s unethical.

What part of your writing time do you devote to marketing your book? I utilize tools that take up very little of my time so I can write.  I have to invest in roughly four hours a week in cueing up posts which will go out throughout the month.

What do you do to get book reviews? Pray whoever reads it will be kind enough to actually leave one.

How successful has your quest for reviews been so far? Not very, and from what I’ve learned so far, how others are getting their’s is not always on the up and up.  I find it disconcerting that they can actually look at themselves in the mirror everyday and be okay with the fact they had to buy them versus gaining them based on the merit of the work they wrote.

 Do you have a strategy for finding reviewers? No, and I’ll just stick to the eternal hope those who do read it will recommend it to others and they’ll read and review it.

What are your thoughts on good/bad reviews? It’s a report card.  You get a lot of insight by what they have to say and can gauge logically how you are to proceed with future works.  I hope that those who have left a review are honest and are not blowing sunshine up my ass.  It serves nothing if what I wrote doesn’t work and I continue churning out bad stories.

What’s your views on social media for marketing? It’s really the only viable and free source for indie writers.  We are tiny fish in an extremely big pond.

 

Which social network worked best for you? A toss up between Facebook and Twitter.  Both have been highly lucrative for me.

 Any tips on what to do and what not to do? Keep it short, simple and to the point.

Did you do a press release, Goodreads book launch or anything else to promote your work and did it work? No, I just talk about it a lot and trust in my loyal followers that they’ll continue to pimp me out.  I do takeovers to assist with this and to hopefully gain new readers.

 Which famous person, living or dead, would you like to meet and why? To be in the presence of any of the authors I model after would be a dream come true.  I’d just suck in their aura’s and hope their magic, will come out in my own work.

If you could have been the original author of any book, what would it have been and why? No, the literary masterpieces were written by those who were supposed to.  I’m not about to wish for a god given gift that doesn’t belong to me.

What advice would you give to aspiring writers? Yes, you are nuts.  Yes, this is a bad idea.  Yes, you are about to enter a world you can not even fathom how complicated it really is.  Yes, you will suffer.  Yes, you will second guess yourself.  Yes, in the end, it’ll all be worth it, especially when you hold your book in your own hands.  Not a lot of people can say they’ve written a book, but you’ll be able to.

How can readers discover more about you and your work? JS Snow is working hard on finishing her fourth full-length novel in the acclaimed Five Star Metal Prodigy Series, Temptation, due out May 31st.  In the meantime, if you haven’t already checked her out, she invites you to hop on board her own crazy train at her Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/jbstspbooks