Interview with Author – Steve Moran

About Steve Moran:
I can remember looking at picture books when I was a very small child. Anything colourful captured my imagination. I also loved to look at Rupert the Bear and Noddy books, although I couldn’t read the text.
Then, one day, I asked my older brother – who already knew how to read – if he would read me a bedtime story. Not surprisingly – knowing older brothers – his reply was a resounding “No,” followed by “Why don’t you learn to read yourself?”
I was only four, so this was quite a challenge! Nevertheless, this was the goal I set myself.
When I finally achieved it – and I couldn’t tell you when it was – I started my own reading journey, which continues to this day.
I can remember when we lived next door to the local public library. In those days we were allowed to take out only two books at a time, so, on a Saturday morning, I would go and take out two books. I would sit down and read them all morning, so that at lunch time I could go back and change them for two more. Then I would sit down and read these all afternoon, so that I could go back and change them for two more just before the library closed at 5.30pm. Then, at least, I would have two new books to keep me occupied on Sunday!
My fascination with books has never faded, and I always have one with me – sometimes two or more! I love the world of imagination they open up to me.
I love it so much that I decided to cross the bridge from reader to author so that I could create my own worlds of imagination, and share them with you!
And so here I am!
The stories I like to live in are ideal for children in the age range of 8 years to 12 years, and for those who love children’s stories, whatever age they may be!
I hope you enjoy reading my books as much as I enjoy writing them!

What inspires you to write?
I suppose I began where many authors do – with their own children. Or, in my case, with my son. I used to make up stories to tell him when we were driving or going on walks, and when he became too old for these I thought, “Well, I really should write these down!” I tried to do this, but found it wasn’t as easy as I’d thought. Stories made up on the spur of the moment to be spoken out loud don’t easily transfer to written text. The spoken word is completely different from the written word!
Having begun the process of trying to write, I was intrigued by its particular challenges, and so gave up transcribing spoken stories and entered into the written world in its own right (write?).
I found that when I choose the right storyline, then things fall into place as if they’re meant to be, and that is a uniquely satisfying feeling. It’s not easy to get there, and it doesn’t happen immediately, but once I’m in the groove of a story then it’s like nothing else on earth!
It’s that feeling of being totally involved in a creative process – and the sheer joy it engenders! – that makes me pick up that pen, push away the cares of the day, and write, write, write!

Tell us about your writing process.
My creative writing is all done by hand. Me and my pen are a single creative unit. We write as one. I will write the whole of the first draft (usually between 25,000 and 30,000 words) by hand, and only when it is finished will I type it up onto the computer. This is the beginning of the reviewing process. As long as I’m in the initial stage, I’m a free spirit, and anything can happen. As soon as I start transcribing the text, I’m beginning to look at the story from the outside, and the critical/analytical stage begins. This continues through revision after revision, until I’m completely satisfied I’ve expressed the story in the way it wants to be.
As for planning – yes, an outline can be useful, although sometimes I’ve started off on a book not knowing where it was going to go, and only discovered it on the way. An outline can give me hope that I’m really going somewhere, but at the same time I sometimes find it claustrophobic. I’m a great believer in the integrity of the story, and the story knows best where it wants to go. When it feels like I’m going in the right direction, then I don’t feel as though I’m creating the story, but rather I feel as though the story is revealing itself to me.

For Fiction Writers: Do you listen (or talk to) to your characters?
I feel as though the story is telling me about the characters. My relationship is not directly with them, but through the story itself. That means that everything they say and do has to be consistent with the story, has to belong to it. I’m not free to make them behave as I think they should behave, but rather I have to write them as the story dictates.
In this way, for me writing a book is a bit like watching a film – I am an onlooker, and I’m trying to faithfully record what I see.
So I don’t really interact with my characters – I try to learn about them and discover who they are, so I can faithfully represent them to the reader.

What advice would you give other writers?
Find your own style and method. Read all the “how to write” books you can get your hands on, and then do it your way. You will only be able to sustain your interest, imagination and energy if you are doing what you like to do, and if you believe in it one hundred percent.

How did you decide how to publish your books?
Once I began writing it became obvious that I would like to publish, so I sent manuscripts to literary agents and publishers. They were all rejected. Looking back at them now, I can see why, because I’ve learned a lot since then!
Nevertheless, I felt I had something to say, and I was sure that someone would like to hear it (or read it!), so I decided to go for self-publishing. To me, Amazon Kindle was the obvious choice, and I’ve been with them ever since. Also, making use of their company, CreateSpace, I’ve also achieved my ambition of publishing my books as paperbacks as well as ebooks.
It is hard work being your own editor and publisher, but it’s very satisfying too, and at the end of your day there is no-one else to blame when things go wrong – and no-one else to share the rewards with when things go right!

What do you think about the future of book publishing?
There is no doubt that ebooks are changing the face of publishing, but they will never wipe out the printed-on-paper version. Yes, it’s practical to carry dozens of books around in a slim e-reader, but nothing will ever replace the feel – and the smell! – of real paper books!
It’s a question of balance, and the balance of the market is moving towards ebooks at the moment, but only until it finds its right place, a place which still allows for lots of printed books too!

What genres do you write?: Children’s books, aimed at the age group between 8 and 12. I almost always like to write about something magical – even if it doesn’t seem like that in the first place!

What formats are your books in?: Both eBook and Print

Website(s)
Link To Steve Moran Page On Amazon
Link to Author Page on other site

Interview with Author – Jeff Altabef

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About Jeff Altabef:
Jeff Altabef is an award winning author who lives in New York with his wife, two daughters, and Charlie the dog. He spends time volunteering at the writing center in the local community college. After years of being accused of “telling stories,” he thought he would make it official. He writes in both the thriller and young adult genres. Jeff’s second thriller, Shatter Point, published by Evolved Publishing, won the Pinnacle Book Achievement Award for Fall 2014 in the category of Best Thriller.

Jeff’s first young adult novel, Wind Catcher: A Chosen Novel, will be published in March also by Evolved Publishing. He’s extremely excited that his daughter, Erynn Altabef, is his co-author on the Chosen Series. As an avid Knicks fan, Jeff is prone to long periods of melancholy during hoops season. He has a column on The Examiner focused on writing and a blog designed to encourage writing by those that like telling stories.

What inspires you to write?
I’ve always loved to tell stories. it’s in my blood. Going back to my childhood, my mom never read us stories, she made them up.
When I stopped being a banker in 2009 (please don’t hold my former career against me), I had free time for the first time in my adult life. I also had two teenaged daughters. My oldest was fifteen and an avid reader. We went to every Harry Potter release at midnight, whether it was a movie or a book. So i suggested that we write our own book together. We had so much fun and the manuscript turned out reasonably well, I’ve been hooked ever since. And now I’m in the middle of a Young Adult series with my youngest daughter!

Tell us about your writing process.
I never outline a story before I write it. I find outlines too restricting. I don’t want to force a story in a pre-determined path. Instead, I usually start knowing where I want the plot to get to at the middle and the end of the story, but I let the characters figure out how they arrive at those points on their own. Often, I’ll think through a scene and discover my characters want to take the story in an unexpected direction. As weird as it sounds, I love those moments. It makes writing exciting and the story fresh. The plot unfolds as I go, which means it’s never predictable for me, or the reader!
My writing is always character driven. Before I start writing, I make sure I have a strong understanding of my major characters: who are they, what makes them tick, their background, their strengths and weaknesses. You’ll find my characters, whether protagonists or antagonists, are always multi-faceted. People are never black and white, and my characters usually struggle with their faults.

For Fiction Writers: Do you listen (or talk to) to your characters?
Whenever I think of my favorite books, I always recall the main characters. That’s the thriller with Odd Thomas, or I love Alex Cross books. Plots are secondary for me. To be honest, I usually have to read the jacket to remember what actually happened in the story. So I always listen to my characters. As weird as it sounds, I want them to be real and often find myself having conversations with them. I’ve even had a few of those conversations out loud. Luckily, my family is patient with me or they probably would have had me committed a long time ago!

What advice would you give other writers?
I write because it’s the closest I can come to magic. I can create characters, worlds, and events in my mind, transfer them onto paper and transmit them to others I’ve never seen or met before. If I’ve done my job well, those readers will see, hear, and feel what I want them too.
I discourage people from writing if their motives are monetary. It’s hard to make a living as a fiction writer. Luck plays a huge role. If you want to get rich (and there’s nothing wrong with that) try a different path–invent something.

How did you decide how to publish your books?
I decided to publish with publishers. I love writing. I don’t enjoy the mechanics of finding a qualified editor, cover artist, distribution company, etc. I don’t mind marketing so much because that’s just another form of storytelling, so I’m happy to help market my books.
I admire those who have the time and the passion to self-publish, so long as they do it the right way. Every book can benefit from a qualified editor and an inspired cover artist. I think it cheapens the experience for the reader not to produce the best story possible, so I always encourage writers to check all the boxes even if it will take additional time and cost more money.

What do you think about the future of book publishing?
It’s human nature to tell stories. Humans have been doing it since we created language and probably before then. The publishing industry will continue to evolve. Hopefully we find a way to effectively sort through books, so readers will have confidence that what they’re investing their time in is a high quality product. I hate it when someone is unwilling to try new authors just because they had a bad experience with a sub-par product. As much as I dislike the notion, I don’t think print books will be widely sold twenty years from now.

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

What genres do you write?: Thrillers. Young Adult Fantasy.

What formats are your books in?: Both eBook and Print

Website(s)
Jeff Altabef Home Page Link

Your Social Media Links
Facebook
Twitter

Interview with Author – Natalie Wright

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About Natalie Wright:
Natalie is the author of H.A.L.F., a young adult science fiction series, and The Akasha Chronicles, a young adult fantasy trilogy. She lives in the high desert of Tucson, Arizona with her husband, tween daughter, and two young cats.
Natalie spends her time writing, reading, gaming, geeking out over nerd culture and cool science, hanging out on social media, and meeting readers and fans at festivals and comic cons throughout the western United States. She likes to walk in the desert, snorkel in warm waters, travel, and share excellent food and conversation with awesome people. Natalie supports the rights of both humans and non-humans to live a life free of suffering caused by people. She was raised an Ohio farm girl, lives in the desert Southwest, and dreams of living in a big city high rise.

What inspires you to write?
My writing inspiration comes from various places. Often, the broad brushstrokes for a story (the big picture) comes at me all at once. For example, I was driving a few years ago, listening to music and the song “Cowboys and Aliens” by Gramm Rabbit came on. The funky techno-rap song gave me the idea for my current release H.A.L.F.: The Deep Beneath. My first book, Emily’s House, was inspired by a combination of a vision I had while in hypnosis combined with my fascination of the Large Hadron Collider at CERN.
I also get ideas from news stories or events happening around me. Really anything that makes me wonder, “What if?” or “If this continues then …” is fodder for a story.
When it comes to the interactions between the characters – their emotion, their dialogue – I pull inspiration from my own relationships as well as my observation of people in my life.
As far as what inspires me to put my butt in the chair every day and write words, somedays truthfully I’m not “inspired” at all. If a writer waits for “inspiration” to hit, she may be sitting looking at a blank screen for days on end. Professional writers need to write every day, even if the muse is away. So then it becomes the process itself that is inspirational. It’s like exercise (at least for me). The first five minutes of my walk I’m wishing I was back in the house. But after about 15 minutes, I’m enjoying the scenery and the smell of flowers and air and then I’m wishing I could stay out longer.
Writing is much the same. The first 5-15 minutes can feel awful. I’m stumbling over the words. I can’t think of what to write. But I press on and then it happens. Inspiration occurs merely from the act of doing it. And after a few hours I wish I had more time to write.

Tell us about your writing process.
My writing process is long, convoluted and messy (and probably why it takes me about a year to produce one book while some others produce 4-6 books a year).
Generally, I have a big picture idea. The beginning, middle and end of the story in my head. At this stage, I outline a bit. But my outline for a novel may be only 1-3 pages.
At that point, I simultaneously work on two things. First, I do the “Snowflake” (Randy Ingermanson’s method). I’ve done it by hand but since I liked the process so much, I bought his software and am now using that. The Snowflake helps me get a grip on the characters, their interactions with each other, and plot. I find it very helpful and more informative than an outline.
But while I’m working the snowflake, I also spend time doing things like creating family trees for important characters. For example, in the current novel I’m working on (“The Makers,” Book 2 of the H.A.L.F. series), a new (and important) character that will be introduced is William Croft II, the leader of the Makers. I spent quite a it of time creating his family tree and backstory. I need to understand where this man comes from and how he got the place where he is. I did the same for Commander Lilly Sturgis (antagonist in “The Deep Beneath”, Book 1 of the H.A.L.F. series). The time spent creating a history for important characters is important to my writing process because it gives me a well of information to draw on during the creative/writing phase of the project.
I also spend time writing descriptions/histories/drawing maps, etc. for the worlds in my novels. In The Makers, Erika and crew end up on an alien planet. So I’m spending lots (and lots!) of time thinking through what the world looks like and how it works. What’s the weather? Atmosphere? Moons? Sun(s)? Political system? Races?
Another important aspect of the planning phase is to visit as many of the places mentioned in the story as I can. Obviously I cannot go to another planet! But I spent time in Ajo, Erika’s hometown, for example. I tour facilities mentioned (if I can) and drive the same roads (if possible). I think this allows me to add sensory details to the story that makes it feel more real to the reader. In Emily’s House, Emily ends up in Ireland and I won a trip to Ireland after I’d finished the first draft. My ability to go there was amazing and it allowed me to add authentic sensory detail because I was actually there (and readers -especially those from Ireland – have commented on the details and how they enjoyed that aspect).
I think that when writing SciFi and/or Fantasy that’s set in our world, adding authentic details can really help the reader feel grounded in the story. It helps them suspend their disbelief when the fantasy elements arrive. I think it makes the whole story feel more plausible.
Another thing that I do is write scenes that never make it into the book but are background for important events that happened before the story begins. So for The Makers, for example, I’m writing scenes between William Croft and his daughter, Lizzy, that took place before the story.
All this thinking, planning and writing can amount to a couple of notebooks and perhaps 30-50,000 words of written material that never makes it into the final 75-100,000 word novel. But for me, all of it is essential to be grounded in the world and know the characters before I begin to write the story.
As far as the writing goes, I like to write the first draft straight through. What that looks like is writing for 2-5 hours a day, every day, until it’s finished. This generally takes me about 6 weeks.
Because I do not outline heavily AND I allow myself to wander from the main storyline while writing (if the story and characters lead me that way), the first draft is generally a mess. While I may spend only 6 weeks writing the first draft, it will likely take me at least 6 months to revise.

For Fiction Writers: Do you listen (or talk to) to your characters?
I do “listen” to my characters while I write. Often, if I feel “stuck”, I’ll ask the character questions such as “What are you seeing? What are you feeling? What do you taste/smell?” Getting into the head of the character with sensory questions is a great way to dislodge myself from my stuck place and move forward.
I also allow my characters to “tell” me their story. Sometimes it leads down a rabbit hole, which is fine because I always learn something I didn’t know even if it will not make it into the final cut. Often, though, by allowing my characters to “speak”, the story flows in a more interesting direction that I had intended.
It is my view that what we’re talking about here is the the subconscious mind versus the conscious (ego) mind. The writer’s conscious (ego) mind is the mind that outlines and plans; the part of me that is making maps and using the Snowflake program. That’s all fine and dandy and necessary to get started. But if I allow myself to get in the flow, it’s like a meditation. The conscious mind is pushed aside while the subconscious begins to speak. It’s what Stephen King calls “the boys in the basement.” If the writer allows the “boys” to come up from the basement, it can feel like the characters are “speaking”. But it’s all inside the writer. It’s part of the writer. And it’s a beautiful thing and the place that true creativity and imagination comes from. The more I get in that zone – that place of allowing – the better the story is for it in the end.

What advice would you give other writers?
1. Write. Read. Write.
As the saying goes, “Good words in, good words out.”
The more you read and write, the better you will get at it.

2. Do not revise, just write. Write from beginning to end without going back and revising and editing. If you are writing a novel, this may take a long time. It’s okay. Don’t obsess about it. Just write until you’ve reached the end.
One of the most common reasons that people who want to write do not finish their first novel is because they read back over it and feel that it sucks (it probably does) and they feel frustrated and psyche themselves out. Everyone’s first draft of their first novel sucks. That’s okay. That’s what revision is for. And you can’t revise a blank page. So just write through to the end so that you know what your story is about. Now go back and rewrite it. The second draft will likely still reek a bit, but it won’t stink as bad as the first draft. Now repeat until you feel that you cannot make it any better. Then begin your next story.

3. Do not share your work or talk about your story(ies) with others at first. The writer ego is fragile. You must protect it and allow yourself to create in an environment that is free to explore and learn craft. Even people who support you greatly may – without meaning to – crush your writing spirit with an inopportune word. When you are first starting out, write for the sheer pleasure of writing. Write to feel the rush of creativity spring from within you. Write to express your emotions, your fears, your love. Write and enjoy the fact that you can.

4. If you are new to writing, accept that the first things you write will suck. That’s okay. That’s normal.
Writing is not easy. In fact, it’s damned hard. When you first start out, you are likely going to be focused on telling the basic story. Beginning, middle, end. And that’s what you should focus on. Learning how to plot. Learning how to get the story out of yourself.
And when you’ve got the hang of that, you’ll move on to focusing more on characters and setting.
Then you’ll deal with beats and nuance and other more subtle and finer detail.

I’m all for writing courses and how-to books, but don’t allow it to overwhelm you. The amazing, lovely and incredibly frustrating thing about writing is that you never truly “master” it. The more you write, the more you learn how complex it is. I’ve been to “beginning” writing courses where the instructor talked about “beats” and hooking the reader at the end of each paragraph and I was still back at showing not telling. That’s like walking into Math 101 and the instructor teaching differential calculus.
When I first started out, I spent periods of time not writing at all because I was intimidated by the “craft” of it. It was overwhelming and I thought “I’ll never be able to do this.” But I’d get back to it because I enjoyed the process. And then I turned my head around and realized that when I first began practicing law, my first cases were simple. I didn’t start out with a capital murder case or handling a divorce for a multi-million dollar estate.
So remember that as a writer, if you’re just starting out, your first works are not going to be masterpieces. But if you keep writing and learning, you’ll improve exponentially with each novel (or short story) and each will be more complex and nuanced than the last.
Your mantra must be, “Just do it.”

How did you decide how to publish your books?
When I had my first novel, Emily’s House, to the point of submitting to agents/editors – this was in the beginning of 2011 – self-publishing (independent publishing) was taking off. Amanda Hocking and John Locke were making waves and selling a gazillion books.
At the same time, I was going to writer’s conferences and hearing from editors/agents. And it seemed to me that every panel was saying the same thing. “We’re not going to promote your books because we don’t have the budget for that. And you probably better pay a freelance editor too because we don’t have the editorial staff we once had.” So to me, it sounded like I needed to do all of the work and I would get (maybe, on a good day) 90% of the list price.
I had owned and operated my own law practice for close to twenty years, so I was used to being a business owner/entrepreneur. For me, the idea that I would independently publish made sense. I have never submitted my manuscripts to agents or editors. I went straight to the people.
For me it was a good choice. I am first and foremost an artist. I want total creative control. I enjoy the fact that I have the title and cover that I want. The story is my story told my way. And the timing is my own. As I said above, my writing process is somewhat slow. But even at that, I’m getting out a book a year (instead of readers having to wait 2-3 years between books).
There are, however, downsides and if you’re new to writing/publishing, I don’t want anyone to think that self-publishing is the “easy” way out. It’s not. At the end of the day, no matter how a book is published, it needs to be well-written, well-edited and be quality inside and out or it will not gain traction with readers. So you need to be willing to invest in your writing – and yourself – if you self-publish. I have a team of people that I’ve put together (after much trial and error) of editors, cover designers, formatters, etc. Each book costs somewhere between $1500-$3000 to produce (depending on how long it is, costs of the cover, how many editing passes, etc.). That’s a significant investment. And consider that if you’re making approximately $2 a book (if it’s list price is $2.99 for digital on Amazon), you need to sell 750 books (if your production cost was $1,500, which is on the low side) just to break even. And it’s not easy to sell 750 books! Over 95% of first-time self-published authors will sell LESS than 100 copies of their first book. Total. Ever.
So self-publishing isn’t for everyone and it is my opinion that if you do not have the time and funds to invest in it, then you should stick with seeking out a publication contract, at least at first.
I do not rule out seeking a publication contract for myself in the future. I have a project that is a one novel idea that’s a bit more literary than what I’ve been writing. If I ever get around to making that idea a reality, I will likely seek a publishing contract because I think that it would be a good fit for big publishing. But we’ll see.
The good news for writers right now is that we have more publishing options available to us than at any time in history. Each writer should do adequate research for each project to determine what is the best method of publication for that project. I think that going forward – say 10 years from now – most professional writers will be “hybrid” writers, with some projects going through publishing houses and other projects being independently produced. And there may be methods on the horizon that we have only just begun to dream up.

What do you think about the future of book publishing?
I am optimistic, realistic and cautious.
Optimistic that writers have more and better opportunities today to get their work out to the masses than ever before in the history of humankind.
Realistic about the fact that while opportunity exists for me, it exists for everyone else as well. That means that right now there are more books being published than ever before.
And apps, games, music, movies, etc. vying for the attention of our would-be readers. In 2011 when my first book came out, people were buying my book and reading it on their Kindle (not Kindle Fire, just a Kindle). With a Kindle Fire (or iPad or smartphone) in their hands, would-be readers may choose instead to play Candy Crush or check out what their friends are up to on Facebook or Twitter (or spend hours looking at cat videos and Sharknado on YouTube).
Writers are not in competition with other writers. Writers are in competition with MEDIA. And since a lot of that media is free and easy, it is a serious issue for writers who are trying to eke out a living selling books (often) in that 99 cents to $2.99 price point (and making about 33 cents to $2.00 per book, or less).
So writers need to be flexible, adaptable, and embrace new technology and social media in order to reach the intended audience and to keep them engaged. I go back to optimism in that writers are, by their nature, creative people and I think that opportunity exists to exploit media technologies to stay competitive with other media.
I’m cautious about the fact that we seem to have an increasingly large “culture of free” arising when it comes to consuming art and media. What has happened in the music industry is instructive. First we got songs for 99 cents and now we get them for free on Pandora. Why pay for music now if you can have what you enjoy for free? Yes, some people (like me) still pay for the songs we really love. But others do not buy music at all anymore.
I see this happening with stories and books. Writers utilize free days on Amazon to get their work out there to people. And I have heard people say “I’ll wait until it goes free,” instead of buying the book. And then we have sites such as Wattpad where all the stories are free all the time. My first book, Emily’s House, is posted in its entirety on Wattpad and is close to 2 million reads. That’s a lot of reading of my story! And it’s amazing that that many people have learned about my work. But I have not received a penny for any of that reading. It’s okay because it brings me exposure and I have excerpts of books 2 & 3 in that series for people to read. But how many of my Wattpad readers go on to buy the second two books, even if they loved book 1? I estimate less than 1%. I’ll also note that many of my readers and fans on Wattpad are teens, many of them outside the U.S. A lot of them read on Wattpad because they do not have access to money/an Amazon account/a library but they may have a computer or smartphone. So in some ways, Wattpad is like a library giving people (kids) access to reading material. In truth, many of these people are not potential book buyers anyway so it’s not like “lost” revenue.
So I say cautious because we (writers & publishers) need to keep any eye on things like Amazon’s lending library, Wattpad and other such things. We need to look at how to think outside the box and leverage the “culture of free” in a way that we can still make a living doing what we love while fulfilling the desire to read by people throughout the world.
And I’ll repeat optimistic because I am truly optimistic that there has never been a better time to be a writer.

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

What genres do you write?: Teen (YA) SciFi and Fantasy

What formats are your books in?: Both eBook and Print

Website(s)
Natalie Wright Home Page Link
Link To Natalie Wright Page On Amazon
Link to Author Page on Smashwords

Your Social Media Links
Goodreads
Facebook
Twitter
Pinterest

Interview with Author – Robin Murarka

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About Robin Murarka:
Robin Murarka was born in Canada in 1980 and now resides in Sydney, Australia. After a successful career as a self-employed entrepreneur, Robin dedicated himself to his passion of storytelling in 2009.

Robin’s interest in history, psychology and science heavily influences his writing style. His storytelling is elegantly simple, allowing complex and uncompromisingly realistic characters and themes to be universally enjoyed. ‘Akin’ is Robin’s debut novel, published and released in Australia in July 2014.

What inspires you to write?
I love writing stories to create universes and most importantly, characters. I love interesting characters, their development, and their actions.

Tell us about your writing process.
I generally go with my feelings and write when I become inspired. Luckily, I have a good knack for knowing when a story is worth pursuing, and my brain is pretty consistently interested in it (even over years).

For Fiction Writers: Do you listen (or talk to) to your characters?
No, I do not. It all seems to happen in my mind as their universe exists inside there, so I let them react to it and scribble it down.

What advice would you give other writers?
If you have a story to tell, take the time to ensure it is grammatically as perfect as you can get it and edited as efficiently as possible. There are always going to be typos and errors in every finished product, but minimizing it to the degree that the reader knows you worked really hard to make their experience enjoyable is extremely important.

How did you decide how to publish your books?
The landscape is changing, and the line between independent works and traditionally published works is blurring. I wanted full and absolute creative control over every aspect of ‘Akin’, and will continue to demand that in anything I output. I therefore chose to independently publish, and am happy to have done so.

What do you think about the future of book publishing?
I don’t have much of an opinion on this, although I am glad it is easier for readers and writers to connect without relying on third parties.

\What genres do you write?: Literary fiction injected into everything else, whether it be historical, fantasy or science fiction.

What formats are your books in?: eBook, Print, Both eBook and Print

Website(s)
Robin Murarka Home Page Link
Link To Robin Murarka Page On Amazon

Your Social Media Links
Goodreads
Facebook
Twitter

Interview with Author – Duffy Brown

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About Duffy Brown:
Duffy Brown loves anything with a mystery. While others girls dreamed of dating Brad Pitt, Duffy longed to take Sherlock Holmes to the prom. She has two cats, Spooky and Dr. Watson, her license plate is Sherlok and she conjures up who-done-it stories of her very own for Berkley Prime Crime. Duffy’s national bestselling Consignment Shop Mystery series is set in Savannah and the upcoming Cycle Path Mysteries are set on Mackinac Island.

What inspires you to write?
The love to plot a mystery and the setting. I love putting the stories in real places like Savannah and Mackinac Island. When I visit these places I can imagine the characters, where to hide the body, why there’s a murder and the fun thing that go on with the their lives and how the murder sets them on their ear.

Tell us about your writing process.
I’m a plotter. At first I write down scenes I want in the story, funny lines, unique ideas about the characters, where to hide bodies, etc. Then I use a big sheet of paper and start plugging in the beginning, the end, the middle action, when all seems lost, new characters etc. Things always change but this is how I start off.

For Fiction Writers: Do you listen (or talk to) to your characters?
You have to be true to your characters so listening to them is important and they do come up with the funniest lines and crazy things to do. I think my characters are all a part of me that come out on the paper…well, maybe not the murderer but there are are times… LOL

What advice would you give other writers?
Sit your butt in the chair and wite 3 pages a day come hell or high-water.

How did you decide how to publish your books?
Writing with Berkley Prime Crime is a dream come true. I always wanted to be with a big publisher as the editing is fantastic and the distribution is wonderful. Penguin/Random House is the biggest distributor of books in the world.

What do you think about the future of book publishing?
People will always read and with self pub and indy pub and big publishers the reader has fantastic options.

What do you use?: Professional Editor, Professional Cover Designer

What genres do you write?: Cozy mystery

What formats are your books in?: Both eBook and Print

Website(s)
Duffy Brown Home Page Link
Link To Duffy Brown Page On Amazon

Your Social Media Links
Goodreads
Facebook
Twitter
Pinterest

Interview with Author – Simon Potter @SimonPotter63


Author Bio:
I grew up in a family where education was highly valued. Most of my family has masters degrees or doctorates with several, including myself, involved in the education field. I do a great deal of coaching youth sports as well as teaching. I am married with four children. I am very interested in sports, education, public policy, religion, and history.

What inspires you to write?
My years working with troubled middle school students and seeing how modern culture has had a tremendous impact on their world view. Unfortunately, this modern world view has done a great deal of damage to their ability to succeed in life and in my opinion to our culture as a whole. I hope my stories will explore the conflicting beliefs between traditional American views as best seen in old television series and movies and the “new normal.”

Tell us about your writing process.
From my years learning to teach writing as a special education teacher and alternative education teacher I have learned to brainstorm my ideas using various webs and graphic organizers and then sometimes I use an outline. In this, my first novel, I simply sat down and started writing. The story had been in my mind for some time and it really just came flowing out. It was much more how I use to experience writing before I taught writing.

For Fiction Writers: Do you listen (or talk to) to your characters?
This novel and the sequel I am now working on have characters who are composites of real people I have known very well. The attitudes, beliefs, and skills are based on real people. While the main story line is obviously fictional there are elements of truth in that story. Many of the other events in the story, especially those that happen to the character Peter are real events. By taking events I am familiar with and building characters based on real people, I feel like I had an easier time making them seem genuine. I was interacting with the real people I knew.

What advice would you give other writers?
The advice I often give my students, begin with stories you are familiar with and get those down on paper. You can then use those real events as a base to build around. Let your imagination run free.

How did you decide how to publish your books?
In part, it was a challenge from my students. I wanted to show them that with modern tools, perseverance, hard work, and faith anyone can publish and sell their ideas. By self-publishing, I was in control and could keep my work the way I wanted it without the influence of a publisher who has his own ideas about what sells. I am not a salesman or a marketer, but there is enough information out there I can learn to do it. I wanted my book to sell the way I wrote it, and if others don’t like it so be it. I will simply learn from that and move on.

What do you think about the future of book publishing?
I believe self-publishing and all the businesses that help self-publishers will be the wave of the future. The big name publishing houses will be for those who have already managed to build a following using these other methods and will sign on with a publisher to take that marketing end away so they can just write.

What genres do you write?
christian fiction, motivational, general fiction

What formats are your books in?
Both eBook and Print

Your Social Media Links
https://www.facebook.com/simon.potter.56211
https://twitter.com/SimonPotter63

Interview with Author – Christopher Mannino

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About Christopher Mannino:
Christopher Mannino’s life is best described as an unending creative outlet. He teaches high school theatre in Greenbelt, Maryland. In addition to his daily drama classes, he runs several after-school performance/production drama groups. He spends his summers writing and singing. Mannino holds a Master of Arts in Theatre Education from Catholic University, and has studied mythology and literature both in America and at Oxford University. His work with young people helped inspire him to write young adult fantasy, although it was his love of reading that truly brought his writing to life.

What inspires you to write?
I have dreamed stories since I was child. My series “The Scythe Wielder’s Secret” was largely inspired by a trip I took while studyig at Oxford University. I became stranded, alone, at Tintagel Castle in Cornwall. I crawled onto the cliffs at dawn, and watched the sunrise, while feeling utterly alone. That sense of isolation and beauty inspired “School of Deaths,” and the rest of the series.

Tell us about your writing process.
I outline to a degree, using handwritten notes. Most of my outline notes are images I want to incorporate, or events I forsee occuring. After that, I largely write by the seat of my pants.

For Fiction Writers: Do you listen (or talk to) to your characters?
I listen to my characters more than talking to them. The characters tell me what they want to do or say.

What advice would you give other writers?
Never give up. Not ever.

How did you decide how to publish your books?
I sought the traditional publication path, due to time constraints and the fact that I’ve read self-published books that I didn’t feel were up to the same quality as professionally produced books.

What do you think about the future of book publishing?
With the advent of self-publishing, book marketing in general is getting harder and harder. The market is absolutely flooded, and at the same time, the demand for new books seems to be shrinking, with more and more people turning to cell phones, internet, and video games for entertainment. With the world in our pocket, fewer people use books to dream, which is saddening.

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

What genres do you write?: Young Adut

What formats are your books in?: eBook, Print, Both eBook and Print

Website(s)
Christopher Mannino Home Page Link
Link To Christopher Mannino Page On Amazon

Your Social Media Links
Goodreads
Facebook
Twitter

Interview with Author – Kristi Porter

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About Kristi Porter:
Always a reader, Kristi Porter never thought much about writing until she entered a writing contest sponsored by the Detroit Free Press. Her nightmare vacation story – The Worst Vacation Ever – went on to be published in a travel anthology that sold over a million copies worldwide. This was followed by numerous articles published in local magazines and newspapers. As her love of writing grew, she added adult fiction and short humor pieces to her repertoire.

But writing isn’t all Kristi does. A preschool teacher, she won the Governor’s Award for her work with young children and is dedicated to the education of young children. She also enjoys bicycling, video games, photography, Facebook, and spending time with family. She lives in Michigan with her husband, son, and a menagerie of cats.

What inspires you to write?
I write non-fiction, mostly humor, based on moments and events in my life. Children are the inspiration for many of my books

Tell us about your writing process.
My writing process is purely “seat of the pants” writing. When a moment happens that I think will make a good story down the road I jot down a few notes and tuck them away. When I later have the time to write (in some cases years later!) I pull out my notes and put it all together.

What advice would you give other writers?
Never give up. Put your work out there. Keep putting your work out there.
“What do you call a writer that doesn’t give up?” Published!! :)

How did you decide how to publish your books?
My first book was a suspense thriller, written under a pen name. I took the traditional route, and submitted to dozens of agents before signing one. My agent then submitted my book to all the major publishing houses. One hated it. All the others liked it, and several passed it “up the line” before eventually turning it down, saying “they weren’t taking on many unknown authors at this time.” My agent really believed in my book however, and actually suggested I go the Indie publishing route. So I did, and sold over 6000 copies in the first 6 months! Needless to say I’ve stuck with Indie Publishing.

What do you think about the future of book publishing?
While I sell 10 eBooks for every print book, Print books are NOT dead. eBooks are convenient, but print books are holding their own. There is just something about holding an actual book in your hands….

What genres do you write?: suspense thriller, non-fiction, humor, parenting

What formats are your books in?: Both eBook and Print

Website(s)
Kristi Porter Home Page Link
Link To Kristi Porter Page On Amazon

Your Social Media Links
Facebook
Twitter

Interview with Author – Putin’s Psychic Elizabeth Fernandez

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About Putin’s Psychic Elizabeth Fernandez:
Founder Elizabeth Francina Fernandez, was born and brought up in England. is a creative, serial entrepreneur, qualified paralegal, social scientist, psychic metaphysical Author holds a diploma in “Enterprise and Entrepreneurship” and a certificate in “Solving life’s Problems”

Prior Educator and expert with Wall Street No.1 Gerson Lehrman Group. Her work spans over twenty years in motivational skills and creative skills developed since 2005.

In 2010, Elizabeth has authored Integrated Medicine, The Easy Way To Heal. Four years later in 2014 after graduating from Universal class in Energy Healing, Auras, Reiki Attunements, reiki Essentials, Teaching Reiki, Reiki 1st and 2nd Degree Reiki Master, Yoga, Buddhism.

With 18 years’ experience in the holistic social care industry as a pastoral counselor, and letter writing coordinator at a prison ministry. Giving advice to offenders on housing issues and pastoral counseling about their children going into care. Supported individuals with mental health problems and young homeless people with drug, alcohol or substance dependency

Combined with practical, hands-on experience as a psychic tarot consultant and Reiki Master and Psychic to the Putin Family.

What inspires you to write?
Writing a bestseller

Tell us about your writing process.
I am a teacher so I write from a lesson planner

What advice would you give other writers?
Keep writing till you make a bestseller

How did you decide how to publish your books?
I was post operative at the time I wrote my first book in 2008 and have not stopped since then.

What do you think about the future of book publishing?
Its a great way for people to find knowlegde they normally won’t find in a night club :)

What genres do you write?: Health,wellness and New Age

What formats are your books in?: Both eBook and Print

Website(s)
Putin’s Psychic Elizabeth Fernandez Home Page Link
Link To Putin’s Psychic Elizabeth Fernandez Page On Amazon

Interview with Author – Matt J Pike

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About Matt J Pike:
Like the legendary R M Williams, Matt was born in Jamestown in rural South Australia. But that’s where the remarkable similarities between these two end. While Reginald went from bushman to world renowned millionaire outback clothing designer, Matt is a complete dag who was lured by the city lights of Adelaide. Kindergarten in the big smoke was a culture shock, but it is here he first discovered his love of storytelling.

In high school that love found an outlet in a series of completely unflattering cartoons about fellow students and teachers alike. He survived long enough to further his art into a successful career in multimedia design but, like a zombified leech, the lure of the written word gnawed at him, forcing him to pen his first novel, the award-winning sci-fi comedy epic, Kings of the World. It was followed the next year by Amazon Australia dystopian sci-fi best-seller Apocalypse: Diary of a Survivor and book 1 of the middle grade Zombie RiZing series, Scared to Beath.

Matt donates part-proceeds of each book sold to find a cure for Rett Syndrome, a neurological condition the youngest of his three children, Abby, has. As a gorgeous Rett angel, Abby cannot walk, talk or use her hands in a meaningful way. So, not only is each of your book purchases a ticket to fantastically rounded, character driven, hilarious and poignant sci-fi awesomeness, it wraps you in a warm feeling that you’ve made a difference to people who deserve your help the most. Like the zombified leech it’s a no-brainer.

What inspires you to write?
I’ve always been drawn to write having started my first novel back in the olden days (when I was a teenager). After my dad passed away at 59 I realised life was too short not to pursue the things you love while you can. I wrote Kings of the World in the months that followed. It collected dust for a couple of years before I decided to use my writing to raise awareness and funds to find a cure for Rett Syndrome – a neurological condition my youngest daughter has.
I have now published three books, all with sequels on the way in 2015.

Tell us about your writing process.
With the Starship Dorsano Chronicles and Zombie RiZing books I plot out the bones of the story in advance but with the Apocalypse books (being diary format) I like to write it on the fly with no preconceived structure.
Either way, I don’t like to be too paint by numbers as I find so much of the originality and freshness of a story comes from the ideas you have on the spot – they’re also the most satisfying.

For Fiction Writers: Do you listen (or talk to) to your characters?
Not directly, as such, but my characters are always making decisions/choices I certainly wouldn’t. They often steer the ship that is the manuscript in ways I wouldn’t have foreseen before writing.
I’m also going through the process of having my work converted into audiobook. The narrator for my books – Justin Braine – does such a good job with the characters I can’t but help hear that version of their voice when I write their lines!

What advice would you give other writers?
Keep writing. Learn from each book. Get a quality editor and good cover.

How did you decide how to publish your books?
I had close encounters with getting traditionally published with both of my first two books – neither eventuated. I’m so glad I’ve taken the self-publishing route and will no longer seek old-school publishing deals.
If you’re committed to the marketing and promotion of your work, prepared to keep writing and in it for the long haul – then I believe self-publishing is for you

What do you think about the future of book publishing?
It’s a very exciting time with the predicted future growth of indie book and audiobooks it’s a great time to get involved if you haven’t already.

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

What genres do you write?: Sci-fi, adventure, comedy for YAs and adults alike

What formats are your books in?: eBook

Website(s)
Matt J Pike Home Page Link
Link To Matt J Pike Page On Amazon

Your Social Media Links
Goodreads
Facebook
Twitter
Pinterest

Interview with Author – Morgan St. James

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About Morgan St. James:
Former interior designer, MORGAN ST JAMES lives in Las Vegas, is on the board of Writers of Southern Nevada and belongs to multiple writers’ groups. In addition to the Silver Sisters series, she also collaborates with other writers in addition to writing her own novels and short stories. Morgan frequently appears on the radio, author’s panels and is an entertaining speaker.

Published short stories include contributions to two Chicken Soup for the Soul books and many anthologies including the single author anthology The Mafia Funeral and Other Short Stories. She gives workshops at writers’ conferences and has written 12 books and over 600 published articles on diverse subjects.

In November, 2014 she and true crime author Dennis N. Griffin launched the Writers’ Tricks of the Trade Show with Morgan St. James on Blog Talk Radio.

What inspires you to write?
Sometimes my inspiration comes from life experiences, sometimes from an idea that popped into my head, and sometimes from prompts. There is no one thing that inspires me. For example, my co-author Caroline Rowe and I worked for a marketing company that was contracted by the federal government to sell furniture manufactured in federal prisons to government agencies. During the four years on the job we racked up millions of dollars in sales and saw many things, including the inside of prison factories. Paired with some questionable practices by our employer we were aware of, after leaving the job we were inspired to write “Ripoff,” a funny fictional crime caper involving embezzlement from the federal prison system. Our knowledge made writing this book possible.

On the other hand, I was part of a group of writers who wrote an anthology, “The World Outside the Window,” working from a unique angle. We were given ten prompts and everyone had to use a certain number of them, regardless of the genre of their story. The result of mine was “Saying Goodbye to Miss Molly,” a poignant story about an old woman on the last day of her life. When I began to write that story, I had no idea it would turn out to be what it was, nor did I even intend to write about an old woman. It literally wrote itself.

The inspiration for the award-winning Silver Sisters Mysteries series was entirely different. My sister, Phyllice Bradner, and I were both published writers back in the mid 90s but neither had written fiction. We both loved funny mysteries and decided to launch our own series. The protagonists, identical twins Goldie Silver, an over-the-hill flower child from Alaska, and her fashionista sister Godiva Olivia DuBois, a Beverly Hills wealthy widow who authored an advice to the lovelorn column were loosely fashioned on our own personalities. We added their feisty octogenarian sidekicks, mother Flossie Silver and her brother-in-law Sterling Silver, both former vaudeville magicians who loved to dress in disguise and go undercover. The plots just seemed to come to us and there were three books in the series. Then our publisher went out of business. After being dormant for a short time, the books were updated with new covers, edits and in the case of “Terror in a Teapot,” even a new title. There are currently two Silver Sisters Mysteries in publication with the third scheduled for release in early 2015 and a fourth in work.

Tell us about your writing process.
I used to be a seat of the pants writer, and sometimes still am. It depends upon the project. I find that timelines and pre-plotting is essential because one can affect the other. The methods are always different for me. I am blessed with the ability to click into “automatic writing,” and therefore am very prolific when working on a project. I allow my subconscious to take over, and sometimes don’t even remember writing some of it when review what I’d written.

For the Silver Sisters Mysteries, because Phyllice and I are in two different states, we generally have a face-to-face plotting session that might last 3 or 4 days. The bonus is we get to see each other, and it isn’t all work. I used to go to Alaska when she lived there, and now either I go to Oregon or she comes to Las Vegas. By the time the session is over, we have what we call a plot point timeline. It is not etched in stone. We work the events we want to happen into the timeline we’ve developed and try to keep to a short time period. Beyond the event, we don’t elaborate that much so we can leave the door open for creativity when actually writing the chapters. The best part is, we can pick up these timeline plot points a year or two later, and still know exactly where the story needs to go. I’m a fast writer, and she is the consummate editor, so I churn out the chapters, not bothering to edit them because I know she will. She also adds the quirky touches that Silver Sister fans love so much.

When I write with other co-authors, we generally also develop most of the plot and particularly the ending. However, these might change several times during the production of the book, but at least we have a roadmap to follow. Not a formal outline, but rather a compass to point us in the right direction.

When I write short stories, I generally begin with an idea and then go by the seat of my pants and let my subconscious create the story. I also do a version of that with some of the chapters in books I write solo, as well.

For Fiction Writers: Do you listen (or talk to) to your characters?
Absolutely!! It is amazing what they might tell you, and that could take the story in a whole different direction. I always develop my characters with physical attributes, personalities, backgrounds and inner thoughts. Often I slide into their character when writing. In my book “Betrayed,” when writing the main character Laurel (the victim) I found myself writing with tears running down my cheeks. Then I was amazed at what one of my characters revealed to me around the middle of the book–something that took me fully by surprise. I had no intention of giving him that direction and it influenced a good part of the book and changed some of what I’d planned. But it was perfect for him as a real twist.

I also learned early on to listen to their voice. Don’t make a 5 year old sound like an adult. Don’t make an airhead sound like a PhD. Be sure to stay so consistent in their speech patterns and thoughts, so that the reader knows who is talking even without see-tags like “he said,” or “Margaret said.”

Think about their actions. Unless you are doing it for surprise or shock value, don’t have them do something totally out of the range of their character. Make them behave as the reader would expect them to, and reserve those segues for misdirection or something that sounds the alarm that they might not be what they appear to be.

What advice would you give other writers?
Hone your craft. Attend conferences, workshops and writers groups. Look for solid and meaningful critique on your work. Even the most seasoned writers benefit from editing or astute critique.

Don’t jump the gun, and publish a work that is not ready for publication. Make sure it has been carefully proofread and edited.

If you are using real locations, make sure you get the details right. It is amazing how many authors don’t research to make sure they are using the right freeways for a person rushing to get to a scene, and something very important–they forget to infuse locations with details that make the reader feel like they are there.

Be prepared to put lots of time into promotion after the release of the book.

Most of all don’t get discouraged. One of my writer friends, who is also a contributor to Writers Tricks of the Trade, the free eZine I publish, makes no bones about the fact that he received over 600 rejections of his novels until he finally hit the one that earned him a publishing contract.

How did you decide how to publish your books?
I am a hybrid author–published traditionally and self-published. I stayed away from self-publishing for a long time, and only went the traditional route. Then when the publisher for the Silver Sisters Mysteries went out of business and gave 200 authors back their rights, I knew the only way to get the series back into publication fast was to set up my own imprint. This also gave Phyllice and I control over so many aspects of the books, like the cover, promotions, etc.

While I am still traditionally published for some projects, my own imprint has also grown and added more books.

One caution to view like the proverbial flashing yellow light if self-publishing–if your final product is not up to the standards of traditional publishing, including cover, editing and proofing, it is not ready to be published. People pay good money for your work, and are entitled to receive the finished product they expect.

What do you think about the future of book publishing?
It is changing radically and I’m not sure what the future holds. Self-publishing has gained a foothold, but traditional publishing offers benefits that self-publishing can’t. Ebooks are becoming the elephant in the room, in many cases far outselling the paperback editions, and with so many on the market these days, prices are falling. However, many authors are discovering that what they lose in price they make up in volume. MP3 is gradually replacing CDs for audio books.

What do you use?: Co-writer, Professional Editor, Professional Cover Designer, Beta Readers

What genres do you write?: Cozy mystery, romantic suspense, true crime,memoirs Also short stories.

What formats are your books in?: Both eBook and Print

Website(s)
Morgan St. James Home Page Link
Link To Morgan St. James Page On Amazon

Your Social Media Links
Goodreads
Facebook
Twitter
Pinterest
LinkedIn

Interview with Author – DC Renee

About DC Renee:
I’m a lover of reading and writing, naturally. I’ve been writing for as long as I can remember, from cheesy poems in elementary school to short stories and even fan fictions. I have a very supportive family, from my parents, to my husband, even my in-laws, and especially my sister. She approves or rejects literally every chapter I write. It’s because of them and my amazing fans that I keep doing what I do.

What inspires you to write?
My readers. Plain and simple. When I have someone that isn’t obligated to love my work (like my family and friends) come to me and tell me that they really enjoyed my story, it pushes me to keep writing.

Tell us about your writing process.
I usually get a vague idea in my head and write the first chapter. I send it to my sister to see what she says. if she approves, I start thinking about major plot points and I go over them with her to see what she thinks works. I tend to write them down so I don’t miss something later on. As I write, I cross them off. It makes me feel like I’m accomplishing something.
As far as actual writing goes. I tend to write a chapter at a time and send it to my sister. She either tells me it’s good and to keep going or tells me what didn’t work and I re-write and re-send.

For Fiction Writers: Do you listen (or talk to) to your characters?
I don’t know that I interact with my characters so much as I notice I have a hard time with some chapters as opposed to others. I end up blaming my characters for being finicky when that happens, but that’s about as far as it goes.

What advice would you give other writers?
Marketing and editing are very important. No one wants to purchase a book and count the number of errors they find. If you haven’t noticed already, some reviews specifically point out spelling and grammatical errors and that actual turns people off. Marketing is what gets your name and your books out there, but it’s hard work. You end up spending almost as much if not more time marketing than you do writing. It’s just the nature of the game, so don’t get discouraged.

How did you decide how to publish your books?
I honestly just kind of said, “Hey, why not?” I self-published and it didn’t cost a ton of money to do so. I figured if I did well, great! If not, then it was just the price of a hobby. I got lucky with promoting at the time. The market wasn’t as saturated and facebook posts reached a ton more people. It’s a lot harder now, but it’s definitely worth it.

What do you think about the future of book publishing?
I think it’ll be easier to publish (not that it isn’t now), but will be harder to market. There are just so many great authors and books out there, but that makes it more difficult for readers to pick and choose.

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

What genres do you write?: Contemporary Romance Fiction

What formats are your books in?: Both eBook and Print

Website(s)
Link To DC Renee Page On Amazon
Link to Author Page on Smashwords

Your Social Media Links
Goodreads
Facebook