Interview with Author – Alexi Lawless

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About Alexi Lawless:
Alexi LAWLESS has been a closeted writer for thirty-odd years—from way back when she was banging out stories on a Commodore 64 to her years writing the corporate strategies for some of the largest companies in the world. But it was two years ago, laid up after foot surgery, that she started to seriously consider whether it was time to come out as the novelist she’d always wanted to be.

Armed with a laptop and an around-the-world ticket, she quit the corporate scene and set out to see if her passion for writing was more than a pipe-dream. Less than a year later, Alexi’s debuting her first published novel, Complicated Creatures: Part One, with the second book due out this summer. And while you may catch her sipping a drink in Miami Beach, you’re more likely to find her indulging her nomadic tendencies somewhere in Latin America or Southeast Asia.

What inspires you to write?
I’ve always been a fan of Anne Rice’s heroines. Whether it was Merrick, of the Mayfair witches or Lisa, the whip-wielding dominatrix of Exit to Eden, I liked that her female leads have distinct personalities, their own individual agendas and motivations and while they were flawed characters or had clear issues to work through, they were often smart, self-reliant and gutsy.

I took what I liked most about male leads in some of my favorite stories and turned the whole thing on its head. I started thinking, “What if James Bond were a woman? What if she was the head of the multinational corporation? What if she led a team of commandos from all over the world–what would that be like?”

And as I considered all the possibilities, she became crystal clear in my mind. I saw a modern Pallas Athena with true grit, style and the kind of savvy we admire but rarely see in female characters in a romance genre. Samantha’s no wilting flower; she doesn’t want for much, so that makes for an intriguing question–what kind of man can get a woman like that? And would she even let him?

Tell us about your writing process.
I’m an early riser, much to my dismay. My body’s natural circadian rhythm drags me out of bed at 5am, sometimes earlier. I like to start writing immediately, before the sun is up and the world around me is moving, because I’m still only semi-conscious and the story can flow out of me with little editing or impatience so characteristic of my afternoon hours.

I generally write uninterrupted until mid-morning, take a break for lunch and a workout or sightseeing if I’m traveling, then back to the grind late afternoon until about 9pm. My goal is typically 1,600 good words a day. And by good, I mean decent and unedited. My max is about 6,000. Past that and the writing becomes incoherent. Less than 1,600 and I start to seriously consider Hari Kari. It’s the Type-A in me. But don’t worry–after a couple bourbons, I’m generally pretty alright with the world.

The reality about writing is that it’s work. Fun, exciting, creative, awesome work–but work, nevertheless. If there’s a muse, I’ve never met her. I don’t think there’s such a thing as writer’s block. I do believe you can’t force good writing to come– that happens on its own– but first, you have to sit down and knock it out. The right words won’t come without your sitting down and writing them first.

For Fiction Writers: Do you listen (or talk to) to your characters?
My characters have definitely taken on a life of their own. In fact, when I first started writing, it was going to be a simple romance novel…and then Samantha developed into this international woman of mystery and the story just expanded from there.

What advice would you give other writers?
Keep.On.Writing.

How did you decide how to publish your books?
I’m a massive fan of eBooks for the simple reason that’s it made reading considerably cheaper and more accessible for many. Growing up, I went through books so fast, I’d burn through the library and eventually had to get a job in a bookstore so I could keep up with my habit at a somewhat reasonable discount (though I might as well just have turned every check I made back over to them anyway). That’s just not realistic for everybody. Additionally, it’s a pleasure to be able to not have to carry a separate duffel bag of books on every trip I take. Being able read almost anywhere, anytime is a joy.

As for conventional publishing… I don’t like the idea of a filter. I’m not interested in having editors tell me what should and shouldn’t be published. As a reader, I want to decide what I’ll pick up. Self-publishing has opened up the book market for so many talented writers who would have been told “no” otherwise. Excellent writers we might have missed. It galls me that Katheryn Stockett’s The Help was declined something like 60 times… what a loss that could have been had it never been published!

What do you think about the future of book publishing?
As a writer, I find conventional publishers even less appealing because they take a massive percentage of the profit for doing very little now that distribution can be so easily managed by the writer via online retail and print-on-demand publishing. Frankly, I’d rather make the extra effort of hiring an editor, a book cover designer, a formatter, a publicist, and virtual assistant myself if I want a staff of help, rather than let someone else brand my image in their likeness and send out a few galleys and press releases for a what is tantamount to highway robbery. (I have strong feelings about this– can you tell?)

That’s not to say other writers I’ve spoken to don’t absolutely love their publisher. Most of them are content to only write, and the conventional publisher takes a great deal of pressure off with advances, a support staff and a “be here at this time” approach to marketing.

I say each to their own on this one, and maybe it’s my years in the business world speaking, but I’d rather take the money I’d fork out to the publisher in royalties and invest that back in my own company, and eventually help other writers do the same.

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

What genres do you write?: romantic suspense, mystery thriller, action

What formats are your books in?: eBook

Website(s)
Alexi Lawless Home Page Link
Link To Alexi Lawless Page On Amazon
Link to Author Page on other site

Your Social Media Links
Goodreads
Facebook
Twitter

Interview with Author – Cristael Ann Bengtson

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About Cristael Ann Bengtson:
Raised in the high mountains of scenic northern New Mexico, Cristael Bengtson grew up riding horseback in the mountain forests and meadows surrounding the small village of Pecos, where her parents owned and operated a small power and telephone company. At the age of 17, she had her first visionary experience of a loving and luminous Light. She went on to have her Near Death Experience in 1998.
Cristael is the mother of two sons that she raised as a single mom. She earned BA degrees in music education and elementary education, going on to earn her Master of Arts in elementary education with a focus on the reading process.
For two years she taught music in Sandoval County, at that time the third poorest county in the nation. She then became an elementary classroom teacher, teaching mainly third grade. After her sons left home, Cristael left teaching to take care of her mother until she passed on.
Cristael’s book grew out of her need to share her near-death experience. It was her way of coming out of her closet of secrets.
Cristael enjoys singing. She is in the grip of a lifelong compulsive reading habit.

What inspires you to write?
Asking myself the three big questions: What sets me on fire as I am writing this book? How can I set the reader on fire? Will what I am writing have the possibility of changing the way the reader looks at the world?

Tell us about your writing process.
I am a seat of the pants writer up to a point. My first drafts are messy, mixed up, and unfinished. At some point the theme of the book begins to jell. Then I start doing mind-mapping. I use that to create temporary informal chapter headings and a very rough outline. Once the book as a whole begins to take shape, I do mind mapping for each individual chapter, just going back and forth from the map to the writing. I use this dig deeper into each chapter and each section of the book. It also helps with the overall focus of the book.

What advice would you give other writers?
If you wake up with writer’s block, write about your writer’s block. If you’re frozen with fear, write about being frozen with fear. If you’re scared that your writing is really bad, give yourself permission to write five to ten really awful pages. More if you like. The funny thing is that after writing a few terrible paragraphs or totally uninspired pages, writing without any inhibitions or self-judgment, all of a sudden you will find yourself taking off and just writing.

How did you decide how to publish your books?
I knew I wanted to self publish right from the start. I chose Create Space because I felt I couldn’t go wrong with Amazon’s publishing company. I figured Amazon wanted me to have the best because that ultimately would mean more money for Amazon. I liked the feeling that I was in control of the entire publishing process. I knew that I could always have the last word if necessary. I had a really good experience with Create Space. They came up with a professional print book and cover, as well as a great Kindle version.

What do you think about the future of book publishing?
I like Amazon’s free days, which are a marketing game that authors can play to win. They work because Amazon knows more about selling books online than just about anyone. I want to find ever more effective ways of using Amazon and lists like Book Goodies to reach lots and lots of readers.

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

What genres do you write?: Near-death biography

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

Website(s)
Cristael Ann Bengtson Home Page Link
Link To Cristael Ann Bengtson Page On Amazon

Your Social Media Links
Goodreads
Facebook
Twitter

Interview with Author – Jody Holford

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About Jody Holford:
Jody Holford lives in British Columbia with her family. She’s a huge fan of Rainbow Rowell, Nora Roberts, Jill Shalvis, Rachel Gibson, Sophia Kinsella, and James Patterson. She’s unintentionally funny and rarely on time for anything. She writes multiple genres but her favourite is romance

What inspires you to write?
I don’t know how to NOT write. Even when I say I’m going to take a break, my mind keeps going. My daughters have watched me pursue my writing journey and I think it is a powerful thing for them to see me succeed, but also to see me get rejected and keep going forward.

Tell us about your writing process.
I have a combined style but mostly, I’m a pantser. I have gotten better at plotting and planning. To do this, I have been asking myself, “What does the main character want and what is stopping her from getting it?” The answer tends to be a very good starting point for a story. If I’m really plotting, I will then map out the chapters to see what the conflict is in each. I can do this and have done this successfully. However, for me, sitting down and bringing a character to life, one that has been stuck in my head, is more fun, more genuinely written, if I just go with it. I sit down. I write. I re read all the time. I know what makes other writing good, makes me want to read more, so I feel like I should be able to assess that, to some degree, in my own writing.

For Fiction Writers: Do you listen (or talk to) to your characters?
I do let the characters guide where the story is going. Even when I start out thinking I know a character, I get to know them more as the story unfolds. I become more certain, as the writing progresses, of who the character is and what their reaction would be. When I go back to re- read, this stronger vision of who my character really is, helps with editing. So, I suppose I listen to, more than talk to, my characters. And I imagine them in specific scenes with other characters.

What advice would you give other writers?
It’s similar advice to what I have been given: keep going. If you really want this, you need to accept that it will not be easy. I am far tougher than I thought. I never would have believed I could receive rejections and use them to strengthen my resolve rather than crush it. Of course, there are days…but, overall, I utilize the feedback I get and I keep writing. Establish a network of support; people that you trust, that can be honest without worrying that you’ll be mad.

How did you decide how to publish your books?
My journey, I think, is a little bit unique. I was signed by an agent for a picture book in 2012. I knew nothing of the publishing industry or how amazing it was that I had secured an agent. She worked with me on my picture book and sent it on submission. As I waited, I explored different genres and found that the one that truly pulled me in was contemporary romance. My first agent and I parted ways after I decided to pursue this instead of children’s books. I worked hard on a manuscript that ended up securing me my second agent. However, and this is a really hard thing to recognize and learn in this industry, that agent and I were not a good match. We had different goals for my writing and different timelines. I was chosen to be part of a Christmas anthology last year that was put out by FuseLiterary. It was exciting to be part of something like this and prompted me to self-publish my holiday novella, Forever Christmas. I am also publishing through an independent press, Anaiah Press. I have a co-authored book coming out from them in April 2015. Having tried several approaches, my goal is to secure another agent that I can build a long-term career with. I want to work with someone who can guide me in the right direction. I think an agent/author relationship provides support that I missed having when self-publishing.

What do you think about the future of book publishing?
I think that book publishing will continue to be a blend of ebooks and traditional print books. I think there will always be room for both.

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

What genres do you write?: Contemporary Romance, Picture Book

What formats are your books in?: eBook

Website(s)
Jody Holford Home Page Link
Link To Jody Holford Page On Amazon
Link to Author Page on other site

Your Social Media Links
Goodreads
Facebook
Twitter

Interview with Author – R. M. Webb

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About R. M. Webb:
After her career as a ballerina was cut short by a debilitating ankle injury, R. M. Webb moved back to her hometown in Ohio and started teaching dance and raising a family. With her own dancing no longer taking up all of her time and dedication, the desire to write, one she’d had all throughout her childhood, resurfaced. In between chasing after children and planning classes, she managed to get words on the page here and there and in the cracks of her days. After meeting the love of her life, a man who fully supported her desire to write, R. M. Webb was able to finish the book that had been begging her to write it for most of her life.

What inspires you to write?
Oh my gosh! Everything! I watch a movie … boom! Story idea! I listen to music … boom! Another idea! I talk to a friend … boom! Yet another. And on and on it goes. I see stories everywhere I look.

Tell us about your writing process.
My first book I pretty much wrote by the seat of my pants. I found as I got deeper into the story that I wished I’d known where I was going so I could have drawn a better map. As I began work on my second book, I outlined halfway through. My intent is to hit that halfway point and then evaluate where I am, outline the rest of the book, and go from there. I want to allow myself the chance to have some of those middle of writing ‘aha!’ moments, but I also would like a clear idea of what exactly needs to happen in the story as I’m writing.

For Fiction Writers: Do you listen (or talk to) to your characters?
I wouldn’t say I talk to them, but I’m always surprised that they have a mind of their own. They’re like unruly children. I tell them what I want to do, then off they go, doing their own thing.

What advice would you give other writers?
Write. Write. Write. And then read. And then write some more.

How did you decide how to publish your books?
Honestly? Reading Hugh Howey’s books led me to his blog which helped me understand self publishing. Or at least get a better picture of what it is. I enjoy having control over my projects and so self publishing is right up my alley. There’s a lot of learning involved. I don’t have the faintest idea how to properly market myself, or reach my target audience, but there are resources available to help me learn. As I love learning new skills, I’m good to go. I can’t speak for what traditional publishing would have brought me. Perhaps it has it’s own perks. I would advise anyone trying to decide how to publish to research the heck out of the subject. There’s a wealth of information out there!

What do you think about the future of book publishing?
Honestly? I think physical books will go the way of cd’s. They’re still out there, but why? As much as I love physical books, the ease and economics of ebooks just make more sense.

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

What genres do you write?: Paranormal

What formats are your books in?: eBook

Website(s)
Link To R. M. Webb Page On Amazon

Your Social Media Links
Facebook

Interview with Author – Suzanna J. Linton

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About Suzanna J. Linton:
Suzanna Linton has lived in South Carolina for the majority of her life. In fact the town where she spent most of her growing up years, Holly Hill, is the inspiration of the fictitious Hammondville, Desdemona’s hometown in WILLOWS OF FATE.

In 2002, Suzanna had the opportunity to attend the summer program of the SC Governor’s School for the Arts and Humanities, where she began to really hone her craft. That experience cemented her love of writing and she went on to Francis Marion University, where she majored in Professional Writing. After graduating, she remained in Florence and eventually began working at the local library, where she met her now husband. Eventually, she quit her job at the library to pursue writing full time.

When she isn’t writing (or procrastinating), Suzanna enjoys working in her rose garden, reading, doing crotchet, and spoiling her nieces and nephew. She volunteers for several charitable works and loves to help those in need. All three of her pets are rescues and she’s been known to swing a U-turn if she sees a dog wandering down the road. Suzanna would probably bring a hellhound home if she could catch it.

What inspires you to write?
The images in my mind inspire me to write. I’m constantly telling myself stories. Even when I’m writing, I’m really telling myself the story first. I think if I didn’t write, my head would explode.

Tell us about your writing process.
My writing process is still very much in development because I like trying new things. I’ve learned that I don’t like to outline too much. This probably comes from the fact that I started off as a “fly by the seat of my pants” writer. I tend to first sketch a general outline and decide how I want it to end before I get started. I use a software called Aeon Timeline that helps me to get the time frame of the story straight. Using a white board comes in handy because I can write it out and then come back to it without the mess of erasing pencil or scratching out ink on paper. I also like to write little biographies of my characters so their backstories are all ready developed. Some characters come along while I’m writing. For instance, in my latest novel, the character Aless just sort of showed up. I wanted Des to have a friend and Aless came bounding out of some corner of my mind.

When I start writing, I use a program called Scrivener. It’s amazing. I don’t know how I did without it. Each scene gets its own document and that allows me to move stuff around or take stuff out without the hassle of Open Office or Microsoft Word, where everything is all in the same document.

For Fiction Writers: Do you listen (or talk to) to your characters?
I am a god to my characters. I watch them. I listen to them. Then I manipulate the crap out of them and get mad when they don’t always do what I want!

What advice would you give other writers?
Don’t give up. Find ways of encouraging yourself. Read a lot, fiction and nonfiction. Listen to the advice of others and then find what works best for you.

How did you decide how to publish your books?
I started off going the traditional route. The publishing industry is this huge, mysterious thing to me and a lot of houses won’t even consider you without an agent, so I started off looking for an agent. A year after I finished my first novel, CLARA, I was just frustrated with the whole process. By then, I had become aware of the self-publishing route and just saw it booming. It was like my rose garden after adding bone meal and coffee grounds.

Late one night, I was looking over the KDP program Amazon offers and just said “Screw it”. I dove in without even knowing what I was doing and what I should do and I’ve been learning to swim ever since.

What do you think about the future of book publishing?
I think we’re always going to have “traditional” publishing. Most people like having a physical book in their hands. Brick and mortar stores aren’t going anywhere and I think the doomsayers are just a tad hysterical when they say the paperback is going extinct. But I also think the self-publishing industry is gaining respect and is being taken more seriously. One day, it may even stand shoulder to shoulder to the big publishing houses.

What do you use?: Beta Readers

What genres do you write?: Fantasy, Urban Fantasy

What formats are your books in?: eBook

Website(s)
Suzanna J. Linton Home Page Link
Link To Suzanna J. Linton Page On Amazon
Link to Author Page on Smashwords

Your Social Media Links
Goodreads
Facebook
Twitter

Interview with Author – L.J. Dickles

About L.J. Dickles:
L.J. Dickles lives in the midwest U.S. with his wife, son, and two furry kids. He enjoys reading and writing all genres of literature. When not writing he enjoys traveling to baseball games, watching college football, and drinking craft beers. While he has currently only written fiction he looks forward to expanding into nonfiction and other genres. His specialties are humor, dystopian fiction, and science fiction.

What inspires you to write?
Anything and everything. It’s hard to pinpoint. It’s like a light bulb goes off and it seems to always happen while I’m driving. Before I know it I’m scrambling for a gas station to pull over and write down notes. My characters are always an eclectic mix of my imagination and various traits of people I’ve been close to my entire life. Knowing there are people out there who enjoy reading what I enjoy writing is the main thing that helps me keep punching away on the keyboard.

Tell us about your writing process.
I am not a very good example to follow because my system is kind of organized chaos in which I’m the only one who really understands it. For short stories and even novellas I will usually just hammer it out. For longer works I tend to make a rough outline of key plot events, maybe list out characters and their qualities (briefly), but I very much enjoy just writing and letting it go where it goes on the first draft. The first draft is always the most fun and produces the least quality. Revision and rewriting are extremely critical and that’s where I usually grit my teeth and get into the meat and make things pop.

For Fiction Writers: Do you listen (or talk to) to your characters?
I try to put myself inside each of my characters. I’ve always had an ability to see things from other points of view. I believe that really helps me get in touch with my characters. I’m just wired that way. I don’t think I talk to them necessarily. It’s more asking myself questions as I see the world through their eyes. What would x do here or what would y do? How would they react to this? That’s how I develop my characters.

What advice would you give other writers?
Write, write, and write. Then write some more. Don’t expect to make money. Write because you can’t not write. If you’re not always thinking up ideas or eager to get into the zone and leave this world for a while, it’s probably not for you. Writing fiction anyway. There are few times in my life where I just didn’t feel like writing. I’ve always had a story to tell.

How did you decide how to publish your books?
I know it’s probably cliche, but I think Hugh Howey has been my biggest inspiration when it comes to how I distribute my work. I’ve never really even queried an agent or publishing house. I come from a business and technical background so electronic self publishing was kind of built for me. I’m always trolling his blog and I just find myself agreeing with almost everything he says. I’ve always been an open source/free market kind of guy so anything that fosters competition is fine by me.

What do you think about the future of book publishing?
I think it’s very dynamic at the moment and a lot is left to play out. I don’t think self publishing is going anywhere and I don’t think traditional publishing is either. They both have pros and cons. I think they’re both great for everyone. Traditional publishing will usually put out higher quality work, simply because you can’t just hit a publish key and slap one of their names on it. There is a lot of junk out there in the self publishing world. But there are a lot of gems that have been discovered and are still to be discovered. I’d like to hope I’ll be one of them.

What do you use?: Beta Readers

What genres do you write?: humor, science fiction, psychedelic fiction, YA, dystopian fiction

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

Website(s)
L.J. Dickles Home Page Link

Your Social Media Links
Goodreads
Facebook
Twitter

Interview with Author – J. H. Bogran

Author Bio:
J. H. Bográn, born and raised in Honduras, is the son of a journalist. He ironically prefers to write fiction rather than fact. José’s genre of choice is thrillers, but he likes to throw in a twist of romance into the mix. His works include novels and short stories in both English and Spanish. He’s a member of the International Thriller Writers where he also serves as the Thriller Roundtable Coordinator.

What inspires you to write?
What inspire me to write is the idea of sharing adventures with others, to entertain, to hold a readers attention from page one til they hit The End.
I’ve been telling stories since I was little. Writing them is the continuation, the perpetuation, of a story that I first see in my mind.

Tell us about your writing process
For short stories, I’m a seat of the pants kind of writer. It is easier to keep straight the plotting twists.

Now, for novels, I’m an outliner for sure. I use an spreadsheet and list the chapter number and what I think needs to happen in each. This gives me a road. Of course, the outline is not set in stone, and many times changes in the process of a first or second draft. Just this past January, I had to delete five chapter and rethink what they’d be about because, as a friend tells me: if it bores me to write them, then they sure as hell bore the readers. So…delete, delete, delete when needed.

As for characters, I also keep a spreadsheet with their physical description, profession and other pertinent information. Sometimes character just show up during the writing process, so I add them to the list. It is not like I have a list of cast as in a play. Well, actually, sort of…:-)

For Fiction Writers: Do you listen (or talk to) to your characters?
Them characters can be so stubborn at times! Sometimes they take the story (their nerve, thinking is “their” story), and take me places where I hadn’t anticipated before, thus the outline changes I mention in the previous question.

When it comes to writing dialogue, I do pay close attention to them as I must render their speech, accent, tone, inflection, and other details. By this time, my wife and kids are used to hear me saying the dialogues out loud, so they no longer have the shrink in the phone’s speed dial button.

What advice would you give other writers?
Read, read, read. Then write, delete, and rewrite.

Make sure you can surround yourself with other writers willing to read your stuff, while you read theirs. Let’s face it, nobody rarely sees one owns mistakes.

How did you decide how to publish your books?
For my novels, I always turn to publishers. Each time a bigger one, so you can escalate and increase the number of people you can reach.

For short stories, I’ve resourced to self-publishing because I think they represent a direct connection. I have two stories in Amazon and they’ve helped me expand readership even for my novels, too!

What do you think about the future of book publishing?
We live in exciting times. I wouldn’t like to venture about the future, just beg that I can be a part of the landscape.

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

What genres do you write?
Thriller, suspense, fantasy

What formats are your books in?
eBook

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

Your Social Media Links
http://www.facebook.com/jhbogran
http://www.twitter.com/JHBogran

Interview with Author – Leslie Watts

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About Leslie Watts:
I grew up in Maine, but came to Texas for school and stayed. I attended law school in Austin, and took a job as a briefing attorney and then staff attorney with two judges on the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals. It was about this time that I found Natalie Goldberg and had the great pleasure of studying with her. Writing Practice opened up a whole new world for me. Writing was no longer just a way to deliver necessary information through articles and briefings, but a mode of personal expression and a way to work out tricky problems. My writing partner and I have a standing date on Sundays at 6:00 and we’ve shared our writing practice for ten years. I also participate in an online writing group that includes Natalie’s current and former students. Writing has become an integral part of my self-care regimen, and how I stay centered and grounded in myself.

I am currently Co-Captain of Writership, an online community of people committed to the craft of writing. I’m working on my first novel (a mystery set in Concord, Massachusetts) and a nonfiction book on gentle and conscious parenting.

What inspires you to write?
For me, writing is a way of life. Whatever else I’ve been doing: college, law school, working as an attorney, being a mother, I’ve been writing. I find inspiration every where I go and everything I experience.

Tell us about your writing process.
When I start on a project, I create an outline, like setting an intention for where I want to go. Once I have an idea of the basic structure, I start writing. The outline is a guide, but I never feel hamstrung by it. I write a fast and lean first draft, not necessarily in a straight line. I like to bounce around and go where I’m feeling most drawn at the moment. Once it’s done, I let it rest for a while (a day or two for a blog post, a month for a longer piece). I bring my fresh eyes to the page and edit the heck out of it.

For Fiction Writers: Do you listen (or talk to) to your characters?
My characters mainly speak to me through freewriting, though I do receive inspiration while in the shower, taking walks, or helping my kids fall asleep at night. I use the Enneagram to help me get a sense for who they are.

What advice would you give other writers?
My best advice is to find a community of writers, write regularly, study the craft, experiment, and find what works best for you. Above all, keep writing.

How did you decide how to publish your books?
I’ve chosen to self-publish in part because I want more control over my books than I can get through traditional publishing. I recommend that new authors investigate the pros and cons and make the decision that feels right to them.

What do you think about the future of book publishing?
I’m excited about self-publishing and the means for more people to share their words with others.

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

What genres do you write?: Writing guides, gentle and conscious parenting, and mystery

What formats are your books in?: eBook

Website(s)
Leslie Watts Home Page Link

Your Social Media Links
Facebook
Twitter
Pinterest

Interview with Author – Traci L. Bonney

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About Traci L. Bonney:
A former newspaper reporter and nomad, Traci L. Bonney is a Mississippi girl who has survived hurricanes, cancer, and ongoing singlehood. Always looking for ways to be creative, she lets her imagination loose on her laptop keyboard, jewelry supplies and homemade hula hoops as often as possible, when she isn’t taking pictures or helping friends with website updates and editing projects.

Her novels Chantal’s Call and Brigitte’s Battle, Books 1 and 2 of the Women of Atherton series, are available for purchase as Kindle and Nook e-books and paperbacks. Helene’s Hope, Book 3 in the series, is being written and will be released soon.

What inspires you to write?
My inspirations come from many sources – my own life and the lives of friends and family, overheard conversations in stores and restaurants, the works of others (books, movies and TV shows), art, nature, the Bible. Anything that catches my attention (any “shiny object”) is a potential source of inspiration. And sometimes, the inspirations are literally shiny objects, as one of my main hobbies is making beaded, embroidered and wire wrapped jewelry.

Tell us about your writing process.
I call myself a plantser, a hybrid between plotter and pantser. I’ll get an idea for a story, usually by way of a “what if” question, and then start thinking about where the “what if” would logically take place. For instance, my first book opens with a fiber artist finding a corpse in a kudzu patch. I knew I had to place the story in an area where kudzu grows, and since I’m a Mississippian, it made sense to base the story in a small town in my home state, where “the vine that ate the South” thrives.

Once I have the basic idea and location, I let the premise simmer in my imagination until characters begin to emerge. From there, it’s a matter of spying on them and seeing what’s going on in their world, then writing it down.

If I run out of steam, I’ll take a break from writing and do other things. I’ve found that chatting with other writer friends on Facebook is often useful; we catch each other up on what we’re writing, and many times those chats turn into brainstorming sessions that generate new ideas.

For Fiction Writers: Do you listen (or talk to) to your characters?
I listen and talk to my characters. I’ve been talking to imaginary people my entire life, which means I’m either crazy or a writer. Since I didn’t want to end up at Whitfield, I decided I better start writing about the people in my head.

I also find that my characters like to carry on conversations with each other when I’m doing other things, like washing the dishes, making my bed or playing Solitaire on the computer. So, any time I hit a roadblock in the story I’m writing, I go do something that doesn’t require too much thought, and then eavesdrop on the dialogues that start up.

Sometimes my people are silent, so I start asking myself questions about what would happen if a certain thing occurred, or what possible outcomes could result from the situation the characters are currently in. For such brainstorming sessions, I find it handy to have a journal on hand and to be in a restaurant or coffee shop. Something about being in public while still alone with my thoughts stimulates my imagination to explore ideas I might not otherwise have considered.

What advice would you give other writers?
Find the process and routines that work best for you, and keep at it. If you have a story to tell, something to teach, a poem to share, then get it out of your head and into print.

If you’re not naturally inclined to do well with grammar, spelling, punctuation, etc. – the technical side of writing – make friends with and/or hire someone who is and let that person help you with the editing. Nothing distracts a reader from the material as much as those types of errors.

How did you decide how to publish your books?
I attempted to find an agent for my first book, but after being turned down, I decided I didn’t want to go the traditional route. So, I dove into the exciting and challenging world of self publishing, getting advice and encouragement from others who have been on the journey and know where to go and what to do.

With the rise of viable and reputable self-publishing companies like Createspace and Smashwords, authors don’t have to be subject the decisions of the gatekeepers at the large publishing houses any more. You can share your stories and thoughts with the world online and via print-on-demand companies that offer both free and paid editing, cover design and publicity services. If you’re not comfortable doing your own editing and cover design, you can either pay the publishing company for those services or find freelancers who can help you, often at a lower cost.

What do you think about the future of book publishing?
While I don’t expect the traditional houses to be driven into bankruptcy by the rise of self publishing, I do believe that they will have to find ways to be competitive with print-on-demand and ebook services. Some of the companies have their own self-publishing divisions now, but authors need to check into them carefully before committing to using them. From what I’ve read recently, some of those imprints are run by vanity press companies, and an unwary author could end up spending thousands of dollars unnecessarily.

What do you use?: Beta Readers

What genres do you write?: Contemporary Christian fiction, comedic fantasy

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

Website(s)
Traci L. Bonney Home Page Link
Link To Traci L. Bonney Page On Amazon
Link to Author Page on other site

Your Social Media Links
Goodreads
Facebook
Twitter

Interview with Author – M.D. Luis

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About M.D. Luis:
M.D. Luis was born and raised in California. She always enjoyed reading but was particularly drawn to the stories that captured her imagination and tugged at the heart. She finally put her own ideas to paper and released Aria in June 2014, the first book in a three part series. Her second book, Sakura, is due out later this year. She lives with her husband and three children in the San Francisco Bay Area.

What inspires you to write?
Dreams I have, music I hear or something I’ve witnessed or experienced. Often I’ll think about a scene or a character and it won’t go away until I’ve written something down. It haunts me just a bit, just enough so I’ll react, write about it and give it life.

Tell us about your writing process.
I don’t have any one way of writing. If I think of something, regardless of where it takes place in my story, I’ll write it down. I think some people try and write linearly and that’s impossible for me. Any outline I have is rough in the beginning and becomes more detailed as I go on. I add to it and revise it, continuously. Everyone has their main parts to the story and then their ‘filler’. It doesn’t matter in what order you write it. I’m also not afraid to write something that I know might get junked later. You never know where an impromptu scene will take your story.

For Fiction Writers: Do you listen (or talk to) to your characters?
I don’t talk to my characters but I do think about them as real people. I think about how they would react, what they would say etc and then sometimes I’ll have them do/say something they might not normally do. By being a bit unpredictable, they seem more like real people. Real people aren’t generic, they’re more complex than that. I also imagine things about them that I might not even write about. What music they listen to, what cologne/perfume they’d choose to wear, what kind of quirks they have…these small things help me develop other aspects of their character. I also like to develop secondary characters to poke at them a bit. It’s another way to see what kind of person they are and how they respond to their world.

What advice would you give other writers?
Don’t polish too much while writing. Just write, no matter how cruddy it sounds, and get the story out. There is always time for cleaning later.

How did you decide how to publish your books?
I chose to self-publish after two years of attempting the traditional route. I had interest in my story but no one wanted to publish it because it fell into a weird category – New Adult. I’d never heard of it. It’s basically college-lit and, according to publishers, is difficult to market. I wouldn’t discount the traditional way of publishing. In fact, I’d encourage new writers to seek it out. Just be prepared for a lot of rejection and keep self-publishing in mind as it might be your only option in the long run. It’s exceptionally hard to find a traditional agent and publisher these days but at least you can say you tried. Self-publishing is difficult too, ain’t gonna lie. You have to market and promote yourself but, for me, I had to do it. I wasn’t about to give up.

What do you think about the future of book publishing?
I think the future is already here. Self-publishing is the new avenue to pursue and the ebook is here to stay. I rarely sell a printed version of my book.

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

What genres do you write?: Paranormal Romance

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

Website(s)
Link To M.D. Luis Page On Amazon
Link to Author Page on other site

Your Social Media Links
Facebook
Twitter

Interview with Author – Andrea Michaels

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About Andrea Michaels:
Andrea Michaels, founder and president of Extraordinary Events, an award-winning international meeting and event production firm, is literally one of the backbones of the special events industry. Launching her business when there was no formalized or defined marketplace, she was and still is a trailblazer, pioneering the way for others to follow. Always on the cutting edge of the business, she has stacked up a pile of firsts (and 50 prestigious awards) in her legendary career – from initiating corporate branding and messaging into events and interactive themes that create experiences for guests to entering the international market ahead of her colleagues and incorporating never-before-used technology into her events, just to name a few. That alone should make her extraordinary, but she runs much deeper. Noted as one of the most caring and giving educators of our time, she has traveled the world to teach others not just her art and craft but to help them learn from her own mistakes. How did this genius evolve? Why is she so revered by all her peers? What does she know that we don’t?

What inspires you to write?
I’ve always been a writer, since I was a small child. I wrote my first teleplay when I was 8. I am inspired by life, people and events around me.

Tell us about your writing process.
I write it in my head first. I formulate and give it time. I’m not an outliner. To me, I need to feel everything that I write, and it always needs to reflect who I am.

What advice would you give other writers?
Write your passion. That passion will shine through your words.

How did you decide how to publish your books?
My editor gave me all the options. Self-publishing suited my needs.

What do you think about the future of book publishing?
Whatever it is, I hope that the reading public will be filled with options. I’m still in love with holding a book in my hands.

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

What genres do you write?: business, memoirs

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

Website(s)
Andrea Michaels Home Page Link
Link To Andrea Michaels Page On Amazon

Your Social Media Links
Goodreads
Facebook
Twitter

Interview with Author – Thomas Whaley

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About Thomas Whaley:
Thomas Whaley was born in 1972 and has lived on Long Island his entire life. Since early childhood, he always enjoyed writing as a pastime, whether it be poems, short stories or funny scripts for his friends to act out. Most importantly, Thomas loved to entertain those around him, especially children. This eventually led him to change his career path from working in The Big Apple to becoming an elementary school teacher at the age of 27. Since becoming a teacher in 1999, Thomas has taken his childhood pastime to the next level, authoring several children’s books and sharing them with his students and his own children.

Thomas has always enjoyed reading books, but particularly those that make him casually self-reflect or hysterically laugh at the idiosyncrasies of daily life. This is what inspired him to finally sit down and write Leaving Montana. Thomas currently lives in Shoreham, New York with his husband Carl, their two sons Andrew and Luke, and their loyal dogs Sam and Jake.

What inspires you to write?
The students that I teach inspire me when writing my children’s books, but when it comes to novels, JUST ABOUT ANYTHING! Leaving Montana, my debut novel, was life-inspired; my life parallels the main character, Ben Quinn.

Tell us about your writing process.
I am a total “seat of the pants” writer. Being an elementary school teacher requires so much pre-planning, outlining and re-planning – I leave that work-style where it needs to be – at work. When I am writing, I let my creativity just flow. There is always time to go back and look things over, but sometimes planning things out, takes away from the natural flow.

For Fiction Writers: Do you listen (or talk to) to your characters?
When I am writing children’s books, I try to image myself being the character (s). This comes easy to me, especially since I am surrounded by 6-7 year old children all day at work and then at home with my two sons. It really helps keep the words in the book comprehensible and enjoyable. It also helps the book keep it’s simplicity.

As for my novel Leaving Montana, or the new psychological thriller I am working on, I try to disconnect. This was difficult with Leaving Montana – because I am Ben Quinn. I had to relive many parts of my past in order for the book to flow. With the new novel, I am trying to let the identities and personalities of the characters remain unaffected by my opinion of them. If I communicate or connect with them, they may not be as authentic as I would like them to be.

What advice would you give other writers?
Write what you know! Write what you feel! Do not be afraid to offend, shock or possibly even scare away some people. There are books for everyone, no matter the writing style or genre. Also – do not be afraid to abandon something. If it is not working…and the story just isn’t coming along smoothly – it is time to move on. So many people TRY to make something work. Sometimes it is not meant to be.

How did you decide how to publish your books?
I decided to go with a small indie publishing company for my first novel. After checking out many different places, I felt comfortable with the intimacy of it. Publishing can be a scary process and I needed to feel a part of every step so that I could learn about the entire process. I am open to all avenues of publishing – so when my next novel is ready, or I decide to begin looking for representation for my children’s books, I may take another path if I see fit.

What do you think about the future of book publishing?
It is most definitely changing! I think author’s are being given the ability to be involved in the process more, however, they are also expected to be involved in their own exposure as well. This is something that agents and publishers used to do FOR YOU. This can be scary – so making sure that you have investigated and established avenues of self-promotion is very important – especially with the divide of expectations between publishers and authors.

What do you use?: Professional Editor

What genres do you write?: Literary Fiction, Fiction, Thriller/Suspense and Children’s

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

Website(s)
Thomas Whaley Home Page Link
Link To Thomas Whaley Page On Amazon
Link to Author Page on Sakura Publishing

Your Social Media Links
Goodreads
Facebook
Twitter