Interview with Author – Robert Sells

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Author Bio:
I attended Ohio Wesleyan where I struggled with physics. Having made so many mistakes in college with physics, there weren’t too many left to make and I did quite well at graduate school at Purdue.

I worked for twenty years at Choate Rosemary Hall, an exclusive boarding school in the heart of Connecticut. More often than not, students arrived in limousines. There was a wooded area by the upper athletic fields where I would take my children for a walk. There, under a large oak tree, stories about elves would be weaved into the surrounding forest.

Returning to my home town to help with a father with Alzheimer’s, the only job open was at a prison. There I taught an entirely different clientele whose only interaction with limousines was stealing them. A year later Alfred State College hired me to teach physics. I happily taught there for over ten years. A rural, low income high school needed a physics teacher and the superintendent, a friend, begged me to help out. So, I am finishing my teaching career in a most fulfilling way… helping kids who would otherwise not have access to a qualified physics (and math) teacher.

My wife pestered me about putting to “pen” some of the stories which I had created for my children and kids. I started thinking about a young boy and a white deer, connected, yet apart. Ideas were shuffled together, characters created and the result was the Return of the White Deer. This book was published by the Martin Sisters.

Years ago I gave a lecture on evolution. What, I wondered, would be the next step? Right away I realized that silicon ‘life’ had considerable advantages over carbon-based life. Later this idea emerged as the exciting and disturbing story called Reap the Whirlwind, my most recent novel.

I have many other stories inside my mind, slowly forming, patiently waiting for the pen to give them breath. Perhaps someday I will even write about those elves which still inhabit the woods in the heart of Connecticut.

What inspires you to write?
Giving words and paragraphs, neatly ordered, clearly stated, about different ideas and scenarios.

Tell us about your writing process.
For me, stories grow on paper. They start as a seed, basically just a notion, but usually a unique and interesting one. For example, in Reap the Whirlwind, the seed was the exponentially growing memory and capability of computers. What would happen if a computer could actually think for itself and recognize that it existed?

I figured the computer would recognize immediately its greatest threat: man. So, my writing began with one man, Whit Emerson. Then I write and write, adding new characters as necessary. A love interest is always fun so one of my characters had to be young lady. Of course, there had to be a bad guy. Actually maybe one or two.

After my first draft, I think about how my characters are behaving. Whit starts confused, forlorn, helpless. As the story evolves he becomes more certain, daring, and a leader. The characters take on personalities. Sometimes a personality changes. This happened to Jimmy Northup. He started as a kind, intuitive detective. However, he seemed darker. His actions became more malevolent.

By the fourth draft, the characters are writing their own lines. Jimmy had a mean streak, but why? I had to give more depth to him to explain his sometimes malicious behavior.

By the fifth draft, the story is pretty much set. Then I start the editing process: choosing just the write word, turning a phrase to make it more memorable, amplifying the scene. With both books, I edited the entire manuscript over a dozen times. Then, and only then, I show it to some beta readers. After their comments, more editing.

For Fiction Writers: Do you listen (or talk to) to your characters?
Talk to them? No, absolutely not! I’m not that crazy. I do, however, listen to them all the time. They are usually very persuasive.

What advice would you give other writers?
Don’t wait. Just start writing.

How did you decide how to publish your books?
I think it is best to start with a publisher. I was fortunate to choose a good one. The company has helped me a great deal. Now, however, I plan to self publish. I need more control and my profit margin is considerably better.

What do you think about the future of book publishing?
Ebooks and self publishing will increase.

What do you use?
Professional Editor, Professional Cover Designer, Beta Readers

What genres do you write?
Adventure, thriller, mystery, young adult, science fiction.

What formats are your books in?
Both eBook and Print

Website(s)
Robert Sells Home Page Link
Link to Author Page on other site

Your Social Media Links
https://www.goodreads.com/author/dashboard
https://www.facebook.com/geneseo4444

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Interview with Author – Jesi Lea Ryan @Jesilea

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Author Bio:
Jesi Lea Ryan grew up in the Mississippi River town of Dubuque, IA. She holds bachelor degrees in creative writing and literature and a masters degree in business. She considers herself a well-rounded nerd who can spend hours on the internet researching things like British history, anthropology of ancient people, geography of random parts of the world, bad tattoos and the paranormal. She currently lives in Madison, WI with her husband and two exceptionally naughty kitties.

What inspires you to write?
I tend to be character motivated rather than plot or action motivated. I guess what I mean by that is it is the character who comes to me first. Only after I have a fully-formed character in my head do I start to think about what sort of situation I can place them in or what kind of trouble they might get up to.

As for where where the characters come from? I don’t really know. Song lyrics, photographs, a snip-it of dialogue…any of these can trigger a character to form in my head.

Tell us about your writing process.
I’m not much of a pre-planner. Because I start with character, I tend to have my main characters fully formed before I start writing, but I only have a vague idea on the plot. My typical outline goes something like this:

* Messed up character in messed up situation
* Stuff happens – Trouble ensues
* Character is redeemed with a HEA or HFN (happily ever after or happy for now)

That whole middle part is the big struggle. :)

For Fiction Writers: Do you listen (or talk to) to your characters?
I’m in control of my characters. I don’t talk to them like they can hear me as some writers do. My mind just doesn’t work like that. However, there have been a few times when a completely unexpected thing winds itself into my manuscript that I didn’t plan for at all. Maybe this is evidence of the characters taking the wheel.

What advice would you give other writers?
It is not enough to write a great book. There are thousands of great books out there that nobody reads. If you want to write for a career, you need to learn the business of your industry. All of it. It doesn’t matter if you are a traditionally published author or indie. You have to understand basic business concepts, advanced marketing concepts and how to handle your money. I actually have my Masters in Business Administration degree, and as a writer, I use it every day.

How did you decide how to publish your books?
My first book was published by a small press, and it failed. There are a lot of reasons for this, but in the end, it taught me valuable lessons. After that experience, I decided to take charge of my own career and indie publish. I have done much better for myself on my subsequent books. I’m not saying indie publishing is right for everyone, but it was right for me. My advice to new authors is to read everything you can about all types of publishing to determine which direction is right for you.

What do you think about the future of book publishing?
My characters are psychic – I’m not. However, speaking from a business perspective, I think technology and innovation has transformed the publishing industry irrevocably. Those who want to bury their heads in the sand or dig their heels in against change risk being left behind…or at the very least, not maximizing their potential.

What do you use?
Professional Editor, Professional Cover Designer, Beta Readers

What genres do you write?
Paranormal romance, urban fantasy

What formats are your books in?
Both eBook and Print

Website(s)
Jesi Lea Ryan Home Page Link
Link To Jesi Lea Ryan Page On Amazon
Link to Author Page on other site

Your Social Media Links
https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/4375098.Jesi_Lea_Ryan
https://www.facebook.com/pages/Jesi-Lea-Ryan/152086598147945?ref=bookmarks
https://twitter.com/Jesilea

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Interview with Author – S. Thomas Kaza @SThomasKaza

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Author Bio:
S Thomas Kaza is a writer of novels, short stories, and poetry. He was born in Michigan, raised in Ohio, and later graduated from St. Louis University. He lived in Japan and China before returning to Michigan where he now lives with his wife, two children, and two pet turtles

What inspires you to write?
Sometimes emotions….. sometimes music….. sometimes I “feel” a dramatic scene that I would like to portray, then I need a story and characters to bring it all to life.

Tell us about your writing process.
For novels I do outline my story usually in Excel. But for short stories I do not use outlines. I find it useful to write out what my characters believe. Everything comes from a character’s beliefs….. their thoughts and words, and their actions.

For Fiction Writers: Do you listen (or talk to) to your characters?
No, but I might talk out the dialog between characters when I am alone. I like to hear dialog and even descriptions spoken. I like to feel the words running off my mouth, but not for everything I write.

What advice would you give other writers?
1. write something
2. get some good criticism (not just “I liked it” or “it was good”.)
3. read something about improving your writing and take it to heart
4. keep repeating steps 1~3 until you have written about a million words

How did you decide how to publish your books?
For my short stories, I decided that I was spending more time sending them out to be rejected rather than writing more. So I created the Good Story to Read.com website. For my books, I did find a small publisher for my first book. But I started to realize I could do most of what my publisher was doing myself.

What do you think about the future of book publishing?
It is a great time to be a writer. But you not only have to work on your writing crafting. You also have to learn how to market, promote, and sell yourself. It is very challenging.

What do you use?
Professional Cover Designer, Beta Readers

What genres do you write?
medieval adventure, middle-grader fantasy, fantasy, science fiction, realistic fiction, and ghost stories

What formats are your books in?
eBook

Website(s)
S. Thomas Kaza Home Page Link
Link To S. Thomas Kaza Page On Amazon
Link to Author Page on other site

Your Social Media Links
https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/6455936.S_Thomas_Kaza
https://www.facebook.com/SThomasKaza
https://twitter.com/SThomasKaza

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Interview with Author – Xenia A. Demes-Zevounou @XAshley_DZ

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Author Bio:
I am an old soul, born in New York City in a new age. My ambitions are far beyond my knowledge. I want to be known more than anything – to be known for doing something extraordinary. We usually have to start somewhere small, and I thought I’d start off by writing a children’s book that I would have liked to have read. I am currently a young student who also serves as a reservist in the United States Army. I just recently hit the drinking age, but don’t worry, I was not intoxicated when I wrote this book. I currently do not have many degrees or certificates to brag about, but I am happy to be able to say I’m married to the man of my dreams at such a young age. I really think that whoever decides to read this book, will love it, regardless of your age. Enjoy !

What inspires you to write?
Life experiences that seem surreal inspire me to write. I like to write about things that actually happened, let readers know that it happened and then have them wonder how anything like this could have happened to anyone. Their expressions are worth the time. That’s not what inspired me to write my children’s book though. I had to take of my sister for some time and watching her daily actions inspired me. My sister is such a beautiful trouble maker, her appearance would not allow you to believe the things that she does. I want to say thank you for driving me crazy, baby sis. I truly appreciate it, without you, I wouldn’t have been to write such an amazing book !

Tell us about your writing process.
I take my time to write and I also constantly reread my manuscript and read to my husband.

For Fiction Writers: Do you listen (or talk to) to your characters?
Yes, I also have a really weird habit of personifying objects..

What advice would you give other writers?
Just take your time and think. Think hard.

How did you decide how to publish your books?
I decided to go with self-publishing because it’s my first book. Next time, I’ll probably go the traditional route.

What do you think about the future of book publishing?
I believe that the future is ver bright and that writers will continue to have many choices.

What genres do you write?
Fiction, Non-Fiction, Adventure, Drama

What formats are your books in?
Both eBook and Print

Website(s)
Link To Xenia A. Demes-Zevounou Page On Amazon

Your Social Media Links
https://twitter.com/XAshley_DZ

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Interview with Author – Karen J. Hicks

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Author Bio:
Karen J. Hicks is retired and lives in Henderson, Nevada. She recently published her second novel, The Coming Woman, based on the life of the infamous feminist Victoria C. Woodhull, who was the first woman to run for U.S. President. Her first book was a self-help book titled The Tao of a Uncluttered Life. Karen served as in-house editor for author Steve Allen and has written several screenplays, as well as poetry, short stories, and essays. To learn more, go to http://www.karenjhicks.com/

What inspires you to write?
It’s not so much about being inspired as it is about being driven. I get very out of sorts, shall we say, when I don’t write for a while. A lot of my ideas come from dreams and daydreams.

Tell us about your writing process.
I guess I’m more of a seat of the pants writer. I get an idea for a story and sit at the computer and dash out a brief synopsis or short story of it. Then I start adding details – various “scenes” that expand on the idea. I think using scenes comes from my days of writing scripts. The Coming Woman was actually written as a script first, as is the novel I am currently working on.

Once I get scenes visualized, I print them out and then arrange them in an order that seems coherent.

Once I start putting them all together on the computer, I visualize myself as the reader and what I want to read next – what questions I need answers too, etc. – so the scenes get moved around even more, as well as some added and some deleted. I copy and paste (I used Word) and then print out a first draft. Then the real process of writing begins: the editing!

THE COMING WOMAN was a bit different, however, because history provided the sequence of events. The biggest problem I had with this book was that there was so much material I really had to pick and choose carefully to keep the book focused. As you can tell by this answer, I tend toward verbosity so editing is undoubtedly the most important stage of all my writing.

What advice would you give other writers?
If you want to be a writer, write and never give up.

How did you decide how to publish your books?
I’ll be honest. I love to write but hate the business end of it. I would fail terribly as a salesperson. By going with a publisher, they can take care of the details of getting my stories to the public and leave me free to concentrate on the creative end of things. I have never had an agent and with today’s electronic age I am not sure one is necessary. I generally meditate and then send out queries to publishers I am led to through internet searches research into on which publisher would be the best fit for the genre of my book.

For writers who are not celebrities, I find that working with smaller publishers is better than being lost in the shuffle of the “big guys.” Truly, though, I am a little metaphysical in that I throw things out and count on the Universe to let them land where and when they are supposed to. I would advise new authors to first do their research – actually read the books in a publisher’s catalog before approaching them. And then listen to that voice in your head and pitch from the heart.

What do you think about the future of book publishing?
The internet has made much easier for writers to be heard for sure. And e-books are an exploding market. I still prefer the good old paper versions, but I think the electronic publishing revolution has made reading much more accessible to people due to the ease of publishing and purchasing and the decrease in cost. I think brick-and-mortar stores may eventually die out, unfortunately, but hope and pray libraries stay viable.

What genres do you write?
womens, historical, fiction

What formats are your books in?
Both eBook and Print

Website(s)
Karen J. Hicks Home Page Link

Your Social Media Links
https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/22921576-the-coming-woman
https://www.facebook.com/TheComingWoman

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Interview with Author – Deanna Anderson @Deannanderson

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Author Bio:
Married, and the mom of two beautiful teen daughters Anderson works full-time but can’t wait for the day when writing is a full-time career. She is a freelance writer and contributes regularly to Circle Sanctuary Magazine and Lakeside Magazine. She is a member and co-leader of Gatherers of the Sacred Circle, a member of the Ladies of the Palmetto Trail, and a member of Sumter County Active Lifestyles in which she also volunteers as a Community Ambassador. She enjoys spending time with her family and friends, gardening, hiking, and spending time in nature.

What inspires you to write?
My children, my friends, crazy discussions I get into, and just life in general.

Tell us about your writing process.
I don’t really have a process, its different with everything I write. Sometimes with short stories I just sit down and write whatever comes to mind. With longer pieces I might plot it out. When I write non-fiction I tend to have long, detailed outlines.

For Fiction Writers: Do you listen (or talk to) to your characters?
Oh yes, I do talk to them and sometimes well after the story is done I feel as if they are with me.

What advice would you give other writers?
Never give up

How did you decide how to publish your books?
I went with Create Space (self-publishing) this year with “365 Tarot Activities” based on a recommendation from my brother who had published with them. I enjoyed the process so much I went with them again.

What do you think about the future of book publishing?
I think we are seeing it now: online self-publishing, e-books, etc. I will miss paperbacks if they ever go away forever (and I hope they don’t).

What genres do you write?
Pagan, metaphysical, fiction, non-fiction

What formats are your books in?
Print

Website(s)
Deanna Anderson Home Page Link
Link To Deanna Anderson Page On Amazon
Link to Author Page on other site

Your Social Media Links
https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/3087113.Deanna_L_Anderson
http://www.facebook.com/pages/Deanna-Anderson-Author/229272093755700
https://twitter.com/Deannanderson
http://www.pinterest.com/andersondeanna/

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Interview with Author – Marianne Sciucco @MarianneSciucco

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Author Bio:
Marianne Sciucco is not a nurse who writes but a writer who happens to be a nurse. A lover of words and books, she dreamed of becoming an author when she grew up but became a nurse to avoid poverty. She later brought her two passions together and writes about the intricate lives of people struggling with health and family issues. Her debut novel, “Blue Hydrangeas,” an Alzheimer’s love story, is a Kindle bestseller, IndieReader Approved, a BookWorks Book of the Week, a Reader’s Favorite, and winner of IndieReCon’s Best Indie Novel Award. A native Bostonian, she lives in New York’s Hudson Valley and, when not writing, works as a campus nurse at a community college. She loves books, the beach, and craft beer, and especially enjoys the three of them together.

What inspires you to write?
Everything inspires me to write. The world is amazing. People are fascinating. I see stories everywhere and some of them are compelling enough for me to want to tell them. Once an idea or image penetrates my brain I start filling in the details, developing a story line, building characters. If it excites me and takes off far enough, I write an outline so I don’t forget it and put it on my “To Be Written List.” Hopefully, I will live long enough to complete all of these stories.

Tell us about your writing process.
I developed repetitive strain injuries from an inappropriate computer workstation at my job, so I have a pretty unorthodox writing style. I don’t (can’t) write everyday, a practice recommended by many authors. I have to respect my limitations or suffer pain and loss of function for days. So I work in spurts, constantly prioritizing my tasks, doing as much as I can to finish the novel I’m working on and promoting “Blue Hydrangeas.” I use a number of devices to assist me: iPhone, tablet, Dragon Dictation, laptop, PC, pen and paper, whatever it takes. It’s frustrating, but I’m managing to pull it off. I outline with pen and paper, write character sketches before and during the writing phase, research as I go along, pick the brains of those I know who have knowledge of my subject, scribble down ideas and pieces of dialogue when they strike me on all kinds of scrap paper: napkins, receipts, gum wrappers, etc. I love the rewriting process, where all the good stuff happens. I use Bobbie Christmas’ Find and Refine method of editing (found in her book “Write in Style,” http://www.zebraeditor.com) and watch my story transform into something wonderful. It’s magic!

For Fiction Writers: Do you listen (or talk to) to your characters?
Oh boy, here’s where I admit to hearing voices. Yes, my characters and I do talk to one another. After all, these people live in my head. We communicate. I try to tell them what to do or say, but they can be rebellious and sometimes tell me what’s going to happen next or how they want to respond to a situation. In the end, they’re usually right. This subconscious part of the creative writing process is fantastic. There’s a certain amount of mystery to it as well. It’s truly the best part of writing a story.

What advice would you give other writers?
Don’t give up. This is a long-term commitment; you will most likely not be an overnight success. If you’re going to do this you must be in it for the long haul. Utilize all resources for promoting your book, including social media and the internet, but also local resources such as your public library and independent bookstore. Spend your marketing dollars wisely. Figure out how you define success: sales? reviews? awards? and use that as a barometer to see how you’re doing. Don’t let others determine whether you’re successful or not. I offer additional advice in my blog post “Happy Birthday Indie Author! 7 Things I Learned My First Year.” http://mariannesciucco.blogspot.com/2014/04/happy-birthday-indie-author-7-things-i.html

How did you decide how to publish your books?
Ten years ago, I took the traditional route to publish “Blue Hydrangeas” and accumulated a pile of rejection letters from agents and editors who never read my book. This was more than discouraging. I gave up for a while, wrote some other things, but kept coming back to this book because it’s a beautiful story and one that needed telling. Alzheimer’s is an important subject that affects millions of people. I thought the book deserved a chance. So I did a rewrite and tested the traditional publishing waters again and more rejection letters trickled in. Then a friend suggested I publish on Kindle. I thought, “Why not? What have I got to lose?” It took a year for me to publish. More than 100 books were given away in my first Kindle Select Giveaway, but then something amazing happened: 4 and 5 star reviews started popping up on Amazon. Readers thanked me for writing the book and shared their own personal experiences with Alzheimer’s. Seems I’d struck a nerve. Soon people started asking for a print book. I published with Create Space because it’s an Amazon company and I’d had a positive experience with Kindle. It was a more difficult process than Kindle due to my repetitive strain injuries. I almost crippled myself before conceding I needed help and hired a professional formatter. I later won a publishing package with Vook and published on iBooks and Nook through them, and then used Bookbaby to publish on Kobo and a variety of other distributors. The bulk of my sales is with Kindle. Earlier this year I published an audiobook through ACX, another Amazon company, which was an easy process and a lot of fun. I loved working with my narrator, Elinor Bell.

What do you think about the future of book publishing?
The publishing industry needed a shake up. There are so many talented people writing good books and not getting the chance to see them published. The number of publishers out there is small, too small to keep up with the volume of work created. As I said earlier, I approached at least 50 agents and editors with my book proposal and didn’t get any bites. It was like trying to enter an elite club and I wasn’t wearing the right clothes to get through the door. Having the ability to strike out on my own as an independent publisher and author is a tremendous option but one that is not to be taken lightly. Authors shouldn’t self-publish just because they can – there is a responsibility to put out an excellent product. Readers demand self-published books be as professional as traditionally published books, and the self-publishing industry is harmed when mediocre or sloppy work is let loose in the marketplace. As the self-publishing movement continues to explode and more professional resources are made available to serious authors, the quality and number of these books will grow, giving readers more options and authors new avenues to success. The traditional publishers will have to rethink how they do business and make way for these independents.

What do you use?
Professional Cover Designer, Beta Readers

What genres do you write?
Literary fiction, women’s fiction, Young Adult

What formats are your books in?
Both eBook and Print

Website(s)
Marianne Sciucco Home Page Link
Link To Marianne Sciucco Page On Amazon
Link to Author Page on other site

Your Social Media Links
https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/18002405-blue-hydrangeas?from_search=true
https://www.facebook.com/marianne.sciucco.1
https://twitter.com/MarianneSciucco
http://www.pinterest.com/mariannesciucco/

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Interview with Author – Katrina Abbott @AbbottKatrina

Author Bio:
Katrina Abbott loves to write about the struggles, triumphs, and excitement of adolescence. She lives in California with her husband, kids, and cats.

What inspires you to write?
I have always loved to read, and being able to write the books that I wish had been available when I was a teen drives my current series. I love to imagine characters that are strong and smart, but also quirky and vulnerable – characters that we can all relate to on several levels.

Tell us about your writing process.
I’m more of a jotter than an outliner. I jump in and start writing, but I jot down notes as I write so that I won’t forget ideas as they come to me. When I get a little stuck or feel that a scene needs a little something-something, I’ll refer to my notes and see what will work and what I might have missed along the way.

I do keep track of future characters and give them names before I start writing. Keeping a chart of characters and how they’re related to each other and how they’ll interact with future characters helps me stay on track.

For Fiction Writers: Do you listen (or talk to) to your characters?
I don’t really talk to my characters so much as they talk to me. Once their personalities are fully formed, it becomes easier to know how they’ll react to certain scenarios. The fun part is coming up with scenes that will test the characters and really show their strengths and weaknesses.

What advice would you give other writers?
Just write. Don’t be afraid to put yourself out there. Writers can be extremely insecure because, let’s face it, we’re putting our own creativity and the products of our imaginations out there for anyone and everyone to consume. Not everyone will love what we do, but the ones that do make it all worth it.

How did you decide how to publish your books?
I believe that new authors should explore every avenue available to them. Having a book published traditionally is an absolute thrill, but self-publishing leads to more instant gratification. What I really love about self-publishing, and the main reason why I went this way with this series, is that I have complete control over the entire process.

What do you think about the future of book publishing?
I think that self-publishing is going to continue to grow. As more and more really great books get noticed, authors will become more confident in this method and will start embracing it as an alternative to traditional publishing.

What genres do you write?
YA, romance

What formats are your books in?
Both eBook and Print

Website(s)
Katrina Abbott Home Page Link
Link To Katrina Abbott Page On Amazon
Link to Author Page on other site

Your Social Media Links
http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/7752855.Katrina_Abbott
https://www.facebook.com/KatrinaAbbottAuthor
https://twitter.com/AbbottKatrina
http://www.pinterest.com/abbottkatrina/

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Interview with Author – Chloe Testa @ChloeMTesta

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Author Bio:
I am a British Maltese author, born in October 1990 on the beautiful Mediterranean island, Malta, growing up in the small, seaside town of Bugibba with my mother, grandmother and two arrogant cats. In 2009, I left Malta for Gloucestershire University (about 40 minutes from Birmingham, UK) where I earned an English Literature and English Language Degree – despite many people questioning why I would ever leave such a beautiful country. My course gave her the opportunity to work in California at a summer camp and, along with being eaten by every mosquito in Mendocino, it was here I began to consider her next career move. As a graduate, I moved to Brighton, UK and, after a tough but rewarding year long example of the highs and lows of classroom life, gained a Postgraduate Certificate in Education (PGCE).

I now live in Surrey, dividing my time between writing novels and teaching English with almost no time to sleep in between the two. I am a lover of great books, good company and bad puns. i also run writer’s workshops on my website targeted at helping others improve their writing skills through exercises, tips, tricks and techniques, as well as talking about my experiences with publishing and offering guidance through this.

What inspires you to write?
Everything. the world around me is completely fascinating and I can find something to write about in absolutely anything I do. Being a teacher and constantly surrounded by teenagers, I find these are the easiest characters to write about as they seem the most ‘real’ to me in my writing and being a huge fan of fantasy and supernatural fiction, I do tend to mostly focus my writing on these. I love the human mind – it is a dark, unexplored and often twisted place so I do like to write about anything psychological. Often a lot of my writing starts with a simple ‘what if’ thought of mine, such as ‘what if I started seeing things nobody else could’ and from there it goes on to the how and where and so forth.

Tell us about your writing process.
I like to have an outline, even if this is incredibly basic. I will write it out on whatever I can find, though normally I keep it in a notebook as I’ve got hundreds of those that need using up (which I must stop buying!). I have in the past used sticky notes and tape to my walls but I now live in rented accommodation so I can no longer do this – it was possibly the most helpful thing in the world, however. Once I’ve got my rough outline down, I tend to do a lot of ‘seat of the pants’ writing where I just pen whatever comes to mind and let me writing run away with itself. This does end up leaving a long editing process ahead but I find it to be easier to get the story out in this way. I never used to write character sketches but with my most recent novel I found character sketches to be so helpful. There’s a lot I know about my characters that, though it hasn’t made it into the book, has really helped develop who the characters are in my head and helped me write them more coherently and much more consistently.

The most important thing to me is timelines. i ended up confusing myself so much as time moved and jumped around and without a timeline I do think it would have been a jumbled mess so this is a big point in my writing process – a visual timeline. I do edit and change it as I go but having it in front of me really helps.

For Fiction Writers: Do you listen (or talk to) to your characters?
I do listen to my characters actually. It almost feels like, when I’m writing, I have no control over them, they go off and do as they please and say what they please and I’m just recording it. I can tell instantly when I’ve written dialogue I’ve had to ‘force’ that hasn’t come ‘naturally’ from them because it just sounds different. So I listen to their voices and the accents they’ve got – my action is set in Yorkshire but my characters do sound different in my head so I listen to their voices and how they would word things, and I get them to repeat lines a few times to see if changes sound better or worse.

What advice would you give other writers?
You’ll get to a point where you really think you can’t go on but you need to keep pushing through that block. Writing is really hard and getting that story out of your mind and onto the paper, polished up and ready for others to read is not an easy thing to do, though there are quite a few people in the world who think so, so you need to be prepared for this. But don’t give up. Writing is fun and keep at the forefront of your mind why you decided to write and why this story in particular needed to be told, especially when it feels like all you want to do is throw in the towel! Also be brutal with yourself – yes this is your baby, but be honest about whether this scene/character/chapter/story is genuinely good, or good just because of your own bias towards it. If your bias is coming out, consider how you can make it genuinely good.

How did you decide how to publish your books?
Self-publishing was always something at the back of my mind. I know the publishing industry is hard to crack into nowadays because of the boom in writers but decrease in readers so they’re taking less of a risk on new writers. I’d approached a few publishers and literary agents but the long time in between contacting and hearing back (they’re busy people so it could take upwards of 4 months to hear from some) wasn’t working for me, so I decided to self publish. Now this isn’t an easy feat! Self Publishing is hard because it’s not just putting your book out there on Amazon but it’s also promoting, marketing, getting readers, getting known, building websites and doing everything in between and it is hard work. I don’t think I slept properly during that first week, trying to get all my channels up and do my marketing! But I’ve found it to be infinitely better for me – I’ve got a more intimate relationship with my fans, able to directly communicate with and reach them, and I feel closer to my book’s reach and influence.

I would definitely recommend self publishing to new authors but beware – your book needs to be flawless or it will be instantly dismissed by readers. You’re judged as a self published author in a different light and if your cover doesn’t look professional, you’ve not been thoroughly edited or your blurb is slightly sub par you will be rejected by readers. Invest in an editing program or editor. I’m lucky enough to have a professional editor/photographer as a partner but if you have to, pay for a professional image and editing service for this. Make it look stunning. It is worth it!

What do you think about the future of book publishing?
I think it’s going to be rocky. I do think self publishing will continue to rise but the quality of various self published books may let it down. eBooks may just be the saving grace of book publishing however, as I did for a while think books would soon die out as less people were finding the time to read. I think we will see a bigger focus on eBooks and ePublishing.

What do you use?
Beta Readers

What genres do you write?
Fantasy, Dark Fantasy, Young Adult, Horror, Thriller

What formats are your books in?
Both eBook and Print

Website(s)
Chloe Testa Home Page Link
Link To Chloe Testa Page On Amazon
Link to Author Page on other site

Your Social Media Links
https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/22837031-blood-roses
http://www.facebook.com/ChloeMTesta
http://www.twitter.com/ChloeMTesta
http://www.pinterest.com/ChloeMTesta/

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Interview with Author – Cheri Allan @CheriAllan

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Author Bio:
Cheri Allan lives in a charming fixer-upper in rural New Hampshire with her husband, two children, two dogs, four cats and an excessive amount of optimism. She’s a firm believer in do-it-yourself, new beginnings and happily-ever-afters, so after years of wearing suits, she’s grateful to finally put her English degree to good use writing romance. When not writing, you might find her whizzing down the slopes of a nearby mountain or inadvertently killing perennials in her garden.

Cheri loves to hear from readers! E-mail her at cheri@cheriallan.com, like her at facebook.com/cheriallanbooks, friend her at www.facebook.com/cheriallanauthor, find her on twitter at @CheriAllan or visit her website and blog at www.cheriallan.com.

What inspires you to write?
Watching the news. It’s easy to be overwhelmed by the difficulties in this world, and so I am continually inspired to share stories of hope, humor and happiness as a reminder to readers that there IS good out there. Some years ago (God bless you for not asking how many!) I met, fell in love with and married my best friend. I’ve had the good fortune to be surrounded by supportive, loving friends, family and neighbors, and it is *that* love and positive energy that inspires me to write hope-filled stories for my readers.

Tell us about your writing process.
I’m a total pants-er. Outlines give me hives. The one time I did an outline for a book, I deviated wildly half way through, tore up the outline and never looked back. That said, I’ve learned that if I don’t identify the key GMC (Goal, Motivation and Conflict) of the characters at the outset, I set myself up for lots of hair-pulling revisions down the road.

My writing schedule is more like binge eating… I will get a great idea and immerse myself for as long as I can, ignoring household chores, menu planning, and small kitchen fires then, when the draft is complete, I walk away and ignore it. I’ll read again and watch romantic comedies. Then, I’ll feel guilted into revisions and dig in, finally sending it to my CP who will point out all the parts I knew weren’t working but had hoped I’d be able to get away with ignoring. (I can’t.) She’ll send me notes, and I’ll find a lot of cleaning that hasn’t been done (see step #1) as I attempt to avoid the inevitable before remembering why I loved the story to begin with and diving in again. It sounds haphazard, but it has its own cyclic quality.

The few semi-organized things I do are this: keep writing. When I get to a glitch in the book, I use the digital highlighter in Word to mark it and MOVE ON. This includes details I want to research. It helps keep me immersed in the story. Alternatively, I’ll type notes or thoughts in ALL CAPS, highlight them, and move on so I know what I was thinking at the time. After the first draft is completed, I address all the highlighted areas, usually moving from easiest to resolve to most difficult, because I’m a procrastinator. I also have assorted notebooks and a giant whiteboard behind my desk for jotting down everything from random snippets of dialogue to themes and character names. I’m a visual/kinesthetic thinker and learner, and writing these things down helps me remember little details so my subconscious can mull them over while I sleep. Lastly, I brainstorm. A LOT. The give and take aspect of talking about my story with others is highly clarifying, particularly if I’m struggling to articulate some aspect of a character’s motivation or actions. The tough questions like “why?” that are thrown at me are key to forcing me to think things through and making the story the best it can be.

For Fiction Writers: Do you listen (or talk to) to your characters?
I envy writers whose characters will plop in a chair like they’re Barbara Walters and chat away, desperate to share their story, as if they’ve just been rescued from a desert island. My characters, on the other hand, tend to lie to my face. You see, they are coy. I have to eavesdrop on them, listening in to their innermost thoughts and whispered conversations as I write. But, I have to be careful about it, because when they know I’m here, they clam up. I don’t mind this, because there are times that I can sneak up on them when they are unguarded and see what is truly going on, then I wave and smile, knowing I’ve got my million-dollar snapshot.

What advice would you give other writers?
1.) Go buy yourself a copy of Deb Dixon’s Goal, Motivation and Conflict. (I’ll wait.) You’ll save yourself a lot of time and frustration. 2.) Don’t apologize for wanting to be a writer of popular fiction. I spent too long worrying what others would think of my choice, but I’m over that now. Romantic fiction celebrates love, life and community in an unpredictable world. So, what am I apologizing for?

How did you decide how to publish your books?
I originally began writing with the intent of selling a category romance to a traditional publisher. And, while my work was requested and ultimately rejected by said publisher (with a very nice, encouraging letter, mind you), the industry underwent a sea-change. I found myself struggling to be noticed with agents and editors who now wanted the next break-out novel or nothing. I was told small-town settings and humorous romances were OUT. Could I write romantic suspense? Erotica? Um, probably not well.

It was through witnessing the self-publishing success of fellow chapter-mates in my writer’s group that I finally got the courage to publish on my own. Now, I hope to find the readers out there who read what I want to write: hopeful, humorous contemporary romance. Plus, I like having a hands-on approach (i.e. Control Freak alert!) so that definitely appealed!

The one downside is that you are ULTIMATELY in charge. Which is scary in all caps like that. Even with a traditional publisher you are, but self-publishing takes away that thin veil. If you are considering self-publishing, take a good hard look at whether you want to control the process from cover design, editing, to distribution and promotion OR if you want people (agents, editors, a marketing department…) to walk through the process with you. They charge a fee for that service, but if you don’t think you want to do it ALL yourself (or hire out tasks) then traditional publishing may be the way to go. If you decide to self-publish, educate yourself by subscribing to forums and groups that share information. It’s an amazingly supportive community, so don’t be shy. Ask questions!

And remember, there’s no right way to get a book in readers’ hands. But there is one best way for YOU at any point in time. Be realistic. Be honest. Be brave. Then do it!

What do you think about the future of book publishing?
Book publishing has launched like a roller coaster down the tracks, and there are just as many people who are thrilled with the ride as there are those scared out of their wits. I’m confident, however, that the more books become widely available in all formats–print, ebook and audio–the more luck readers will have finding *exactly* what they most need and want in the marketplace. The ride may look unsafe and wild, but we’ll find a new equilibrium. No worries!

What do you use?
Beta Readers

What genres do you write?
Contemporary Romance

What formats are your books in?
Both eBook and Print

Website(s)
Cheri Allan Home Page Link
Link To Cheri Allan Page On Amazon
Link to Author Page on other site

Your Social Media Links
https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/22738174-luck-of-the-draw
http://www.facebook.com/cheriallanbooks
http://twitter.com/CheriAllan/

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Interview with Author – Martin Roy Hill

Author Bio:
Martin Roy Hill is the author of the military mystery thriller, The Killing Depths, and the award-winning DUTY: Suspense and Mystery Stories from the Cold War and Beyond, a collection of new and previously published short stories. Martin spent more than 20 years as a staff reporter and editor for newspapers and magazines before becoming a Navy analyst specializing in battlefield medical operations. His freelance credits include Reader’s Digest, LIFE, Newsweek, Omni, American History, Coast Guard Magazine, Retired Officer Magazine, the Los Angeles Times Sunday Opinion Section, and many more.
Much of his freelance work involves historical topics, especially military history. He was a lead contributor to the 1995 WWII anthology, “From Pearl Harbor to Nagasaki: America at War,” published by the Retired Officer Association (now called the Military Officer Association).
Martin’s short stories have appeared in such publications as Alfred Hitchcock Mystery Magazine, San Diego Magazine, San Diego Writer’s Monthly, and the Plan B Mystery Anthology and webzine. His first book, DUTY, was named the Best Short Story Anthology/Collection by the San Diego Book Awards Association (SDBAA). His first novel, The Killing Depths, was a 2013 finalist for the SDBAA Sisters In Crime Mystery Award.
A veteran of the Coast Guard and Navy reserves, he now serves as a medical service corps officer in the California State Military Reserve, a component of the California National Guard. Hill has more than 13 years experience in maritime and wilderness search and rescue and disaster response.

What inspires you to write?
I like to think I have something to say through the stories I create. My short story collection, as the title suggests, is all about military service—what it means to those who serve and how it impacts them. Writing is also addictive. When you’re writing a story and it starts to come together, it’s thrilling. Sometimes I get lost in the story. I see it in my head as if I’m actually living it. It’s a great escape from the everyday world. And if I can make money from it, that’s just icing on the cupcake.

Tell us about your writing process.
I’m afraid it is haphazard at best. I’m a military analyst by day, and tend to work long hours. I try to squeeze in an hour of writing each day, about 500 words a day, but I don’t always succeed. I do a lot of my writing on weekends sitting on the couch with my laptop. I recently bought a Kindle Fire and a Bluetooth keyboard that I carry in my backpack—it’s a lot lighter than my laptop. When I end up someplace where I’m waiting, I take it out and do a little writing

For Fiction Writers: Do you listen (or talk to) to your characters?
Oh, I listen, definitely. My characters develop their own voice, and when I’m working on a scene I hear them in my head saying their dialog. I hear their accents and their inflections. Oops. I think I just admitted I hear voices…

What advice would you give other writers?
Writing is a business. It’s hard work and harder work selling your product. You have to keep at. An author friend and I were discussing this a while back, about how as indies we spend so much of our time getting our books noticed. I told him, “This ain’t no build it and they will come. We’ve got to go out there and pull the readers in.”

How did you decide how to publish your books?
I tried the conventional publishing route—you know, get an agent who gets you a publishing contract, etc. I signed with three different literary agents and they all turned out to be flakes. Then, with the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, the op tempo in my day job was so high I pretty much did no writing for years. When I finally came back to it, I discovered indie publishing. After reading up on indie publishing, I tried to give it a try. That was what my first book, DUTY, was—an experiment, a way to get my feet wet.
As a former journalist, I have a lot of experience editing and designing publication layouts, so self-publishing wasn’t that difficult for me to learn. I actually enjoy the production end of it—you know, designing the cover and such. I’m also lucky in that my wife, Winke, has even more editing experience than I do. I don’t have to pay for an editor to work on my book; my wife edits everything I do.

What do you think about the future of book publishing?
I think publishing is evolving, and I believe conventional publishers are going to have to evolve with it. Surely, big name publishers put out books by big name authors, but they also charge a lot more for their books than small publishers or indies. And the economy’s not doing that well, so people don’t have a lot of money for discretionary spending. I think it’s interesting that a best seller like David Morrell, one of my favorites, recently Tweeted that the Kindle version of his latest thriller was marked down to $1.99. That’s down in the range of most indie ebooks. And, yes, I bought it at that price. You bet.

What do you use?
Professional Editor

What genres do you write?
mystery, suspense, thriller, adventure

What formats are your books in?
Both eBook and Print

Website(s)
Author Home Page Link
Link To Author Page On Amazon

Your Social Media Links
http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/6534612.Martin_Roy_Hill
http://www.facebook.com/Martin.Roy.Hill
http://twitter.com/MartinRoyHill

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Interview with Author – Sharon Stevenson @chettsgenie

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Author Bio:
Sharon Stevenson is the twisted mind behind The Gallows Novels and the After Death Series. If you want to know a bit about her, here it is: She spends too much time indoors and probably watches too many horror films. Some of her favourite things are; Alone time, people who know when to shut up, having a drink, eating pizza (usually after having too much drink the night before), reading books, adult swim cartoons, bad horror and sci-fi movies, proper good TV shows like Dexter & The Walking Dead, and last but not least having a laugh with her hilarious other half – this would usually include some of the above.

What inspires you to write?
I’ve been writing since I was about five years old, so making stuff up and writing it down is just something I’ve always done and can’t ever imagine not doing. My imagination has always been on the overactive side so writing is my release. I draw inspiration from many different sources, including books, movies and real life. Ideas usually fire up beginning with a ‘what if’ scenario and the ideas quickly snowball from there, mutating and taking on a life of their own.

Tell us about your writing process.
Once I have a fully formed idea, I like to get planning. I tend to write out a synopsis, and make some notes on the characters before I get started writing the novel. There are usually a few moments during the course of writing a novel where I will get stalled and this will either be because of something I don’t like that I’ve already written, or something that is coming up next that is bothering me. I deal with this by first checking what I’ve already written; if something isn’t right I cut it and start again, and if all is okay so far I write up chapter-by-chapter notes on the next few chapters, which helps me identify any problems and get writing again. I don’t believe in writer’s block. I don’t let myself stop when I get stalled like this, I make sure I fix the problem there and then.
I don’t have a set writing schedule, I grab time whenever I can get it which is mostly at weekends, and I can usually write the first draft of a full length novel in about 2 months. I believe in writing first and editing later, which helps me get my first draft out in this time frame. I find it helps to then leave this draft for a couple of weeks before beginning the editing process.
I usually write while listening music and I take a bit of time to find the right sound for what I’m working on. The Gallows Novels have been written almost exclusively to Twin Atlantic CD’s.

For Fiction Writers: Do you listen (or talk to) to your characters?
I don’t talk to my characters. I know this is something a lot of writers do, but it’s never worked that way for me. I see things play out in my head like I’m watching a movie. Sometimes scenes like this will pop into my head and I’ll have to write them down as soon as I can.

What advice would you give other writers?
Work hard, write what you want to, and never give up!

How did you decide how to publish your books?
I’m a control freak so self-publishing was a no-brainer for me. Different things suit different writers but for me self-publishing made the most sense.

What do you think about the future of book publishing?
As much as I try to keep up with all things publishing, I don’t claim to be any kind of expert on trends. That said, I think the future of publishing will see a rise in hybrid authors as more traditional publishers sign up bestselling indie authors, and as more traditionally published authors see the benefit in putting out self-published titles, alongside their other books.

What do you use?
Professional Editor, Professional Cover Designer, Beta Readers

What genres do you write?
Modern Fantasy, Urban Fantasy, Paranormal

What formats are your books in?
eBook

Website(s)
Sharon Stevenson Home Page Link
Link To Sharon Stevenson Page On Amazon
Link to Author Page on other site

Your Social Media Links
https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/1698875.Sharon_Stevenson
https://www.facebook.com/sharonstevensonauthor
https://twitter.com/chettsgenie

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