Liza O’Connor lives in Denville, NJ with her dog Jess. They hike in fabulous woods every day, rain or shine, sleet or snow. Having an adventurous nature, she learned to fly small cessnas in NJ, hang-glide in New Zealand, kayak in Pennsylvania, ski in New York, scuba dive with great white sharks in Australia, dig up dinosaur bones in Montana, sky dive in Indiana, and raft a class four river in Tasmania. She’s an avid gardener, amateur photographer, and dabbler in watercolors and graphic arts. Yet through her entire life, her first love has and always will be writing novels. She loves to create interesting characters, set them loose, and scribe what happens.
What inspires you to write?
All the stories that form in my head leave me no choice but to write them out or tell them verbally to others, and honestly, most people don’t want me to follow them around telling them a story for eight hours. Bosses especially get annoyed.
Tell us about your writing process.
I go to sleep and dream a weird story. Wake up, thinking ‘that’s an interesting story’ then run to a computer and start typing like a lunatic trying to get the story down before I forget it. Then later, after breakfast and hiking with my dog, I’ll return to what I wrote, which will look something like this: “Go foer help, now! I can’t ther feral cats are lurking outdise the dorr” and spend a great deal of time trying to figure out what I meant to write. (Some fingers work faster than others in the morning).
Once I translate the story into legible English, I send it out to critters. If they love it, I’ll take the time to de-was and de-that it, then try to find it a home. Some of my stories break too many rules, and I have to self-publish them. Those require me to hire independent editors, which oddly are tougher than publication editors..
For Fiction Writers: Do you listen (or talk to) to your characters?
In my early years I spent days at the threatre watching my mother act on stage. So naturally, i stepped on the boards myself. where I became my characters. As an author, I do the same. I become each character, And let me tell you, they are a sassy group with definite opinions of what they will and won’t do. So often they head off in a totally different direction than I had planned. But on the good side, they aren’t predictable. Their actions are decided by their conversations with others, their inner thoughts, the mood they are in, I never force them to do something against their character, and in return they often leave me laughing at the stuff they spontaneously say and do.
What advice would you give other writers?
Do what works for you. No methodology works for everyone. No methodology is the ‘right’ one.
Discover your own voice. Don’t try to be anyone else. The world needs to hear from you, not a copy of someone else.
Learn the current rules of writing, but be brave and break them when your soul says you needs to.
Never lose the joy of writing. This job doesn’t pay well enough to warrant doing it for anything but love..
How did you decide how to publish your books?
I have a curious nature, so after publishing my first book with a publishing firm, I chose to self-publish my second book to see how that experience compared using a publishing firm.
Having total control of my book allowed me to have the precise book cover I wanted, This is important given how critical a book cover is for your book’s success. But hiring a quality designer costs about $100. If you’re lucky, you might find the perfect pre-made for $30. I’m never lucky.
Next comes editing: with a publishing firm you get several different editors polishing your work, which really helps. On my self published book, I only hire a single editor.(depending upon the size of your book, they can be costly). IMO, when it comes to editing: The more eyes, the better. So publishing firms win this–UNLESS you get an editor who insists you alter your book so it’s no longer the same story you wrote.
Publishing firms take almost a year to publish a book, which you can shorten immensely as an independent. So speed of publishing, in my experience, goes to the indie.
Publishers will often restrict your marketing endeavors, such as limiting the number of chapters you can provide as free reads, or the number of free books you can offer. As an indie you are free to do what is best for your brand and future sales.
Being an indie you have to manage more task and learn more skills and spend more money upfront, but in return, you can experiment to your heart’s content and market your book as you think best. With a publisher, you still do a lot of the work, but there are important pieces you have little input to, which could make or break your book. Choose an excellent publisher, and it won’t be a problem, because they want you to succeed almost as much as you do. You’ll get a quality product before the public without costing you any upfront money. But of course, your share of the royalties will be less.
Going with a publisher might also give you an immediate audience for your ‘type’ of book and provide you credibility. But your long lasting credibility will depend upon your ability to write and publish books readers want to read. So no matter which you choose, you need to stay focused on the story.
I intend to continue doing both.
What do you think about the future of book publishing?
I think publishing is going through an exciting, ever-changing time of uncertainty right now.
Ten years ago, agents were the first filter to publishing, once you passed that hurdle, your agent took your book through a second filter of publishers. These two filters decided what would be made available to be read. Those filters still exist, but there are huge new pathways that go direct to the public. They are called Amazon and Smashwords to name two. Now anyone, including my dog Jess can write a book and take it straight to the public.
Yet the public can easily feel overwhelmed by this massive tsunami of books crashing over them. And while the choices have expanded dramatically, the time a reader has to read has generally decreased in modern society. More than ever,we need filters. And thus comes the Tsunami of filters that crush and slowly drown so many authors: Review rankings, Top 100 Lists, Top ten lists, Awards, Recommendations by publicly known figures (Oprah, Stephen Colbert), and the head of PTA, who shares with the other mothers what books she loves and hate.
Oddly, the old word-of-mouth remains one of the most potent ways to get a book read by new readers. But how do you get the party started? You can try to get the bossiest friends in the world who have no problem telling the rest of the world what they should read.
Scene in head: *Agnes Knowitall enters cafe, sees a young woman reading her Kindle.* “Look at you! Reading. Fabulous, simply fabulous.” *snatches ebook from girl’s hand* “Oh this is horrible.” *deletes book* “This one is fabulous! Liza O’Connor is very funny.” The young girl braves a response. “I haven’t read it yet.”
“Oh, you’ll love it. But don’t drink liquids while you do, or your kindle will be a mess.”
After deleting all the books she doesn’t like and insists the girl buys new books Agnes knows she’ll love, she moves on to the cranky old man in the corner. He doesn’t have a kindle, so she bullies him into buying one, then writes him out a paper list of the ‘books he must, absolutely must buy for his new Kindle.’
If you don’t have an Agnes friend, then that’s where Book Goodies comes in and why I’ll be giving my book away for free from 9/5-9/7/13. I want to get my book into the hands of people who wouldn’t have otherwise bought me, so they can start buzz about my crazy novel that will become an inferno of belly laughs over my humourous disaster romance.
What do you use?
Professional Editor, Professional Cover Designer, Beta Readers
What genres do you write?
humor, contemporary, young adult, new adult, suspense thriller, romance, sci-fi, paranormal, and yes even historicals.
What formats are your books in?
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