Book Spotlight

AshBloodRush

My good friend, and fellow coffinhopper, Ash Krafton has a new release out

in her best-selling Demimonde Series. Book Two is now out for your enjoyment. 

*This book is on its way to me now and I for one cannot wait to dive into this story.*

Blood Rush 

The Books of the Demimonde, Book 2

Ash Krafton

Genre: urban fantasy
Publisher: Pink Narcissus
Date of Publication: May 14, 2103
ISBN: 9781939056016
Number of pages: 353 
Word Count: 94000
Cover Artist: Duncan Eagleson

Book Description:

 

Sophie doesn’t believe in happily ever after. 

These days, she’d settle for alive after sunrise. 

Advice columnist and newly-appointed oracle to the demivampire, Sophie Galen 

has more issues than a Cosmo collection: a new mentor with a mean streak, a 

werewolf stalker she can’t shake, and a relationship with her ex’s family that 

redefines the term complicated. And then there’s her ex himself, who is more

interested in playing leader of the vampire pack than in his own salvation. 

Becoming a better oracle is tough enough, but when Sophie encounters a deadly 

enemy – one she never dreamed of facing – it will take everything she’s ever 

learned in order to survive.

 

Excerpt: 

I don’t believe in happily ever after. These days, I’d settle for alive until sunrise.

I never thought I’d become a nine-to-fiver. Certainly never thought I’d be too pre-occupied to 

make fun of myself for being one. Sometimes the irony was too great to appreciate. 

While I waited for the elevator to arrive at The Mag’s foyer, I smoothed my scarf along the back

of my neck and hefted my tote bag a little higher on my shoulder. Every chime increased my

trepidation, tightening the fist of anxiety in my chest and the sensation of bees swarming in the

top of my stomach. I hated quitting time.

More underappreciated irony. Why not?

People chatted around me but I fidgeted with my zipper, keeping my gaze lowered and my 

mouth closed. Leaving at five in the afternoon meant more than crammed elevators and crowded

buses; it meant the light would fade soon and with it my peace of mind. The autumn wasn’t a 

happy golden foliage time of year for me anymore.

Although it was only early October, already the longer nights and shorter days made me

feel nervous and brittle. Bad enough I didn’t have a sweetheart to share the long nights but even

worse now that I knew what came out when the sun went down. Although I hadn’t had any 

problems with vampires over the last year, the threat never left my mind.

Vampires were out there. It was just a matter of time until I had to deal with them again.

Halfway during our descent, I felt a vibe. It was a mild one but, over the past year, my empathy 

had become sensitive to the point of being squirrely. The thin thread of power wound its way 

around each of the passengers as the DV who owned it checked out who else was in the car. 

When it reached me, it felt like a poke on the arm. I glanced over my shoulder, catching the eyes 

of an older dark-eyed woman near the back. She sent a tiny pulse of apology-ladened power and 

lowered her eyes. 

I smiled politely and concentrated on tugging my scarf loose. The DV didn’t approach me in 

public where any old human could see. We kept our dealings distant and private. That was the

way I preferred.

The door opened and I flowed out with the crowd, sunglasses on and scarf over my hair. I hoped 

everyone would more or less continue on together today so I could hide in the crowd a bit longer.

Without turning my head, I saw a rail-thin guy, his scruffy head and jeans out of place amongst

the exiting office employees. He leaned against the wall, scanning the people emerging from the 

other elevators. Seemed to have missed me—good. Taking shelter behind a taller woman and her 

chatty companion, I hustled out the front doors.

Outside, my luck ran out. My camouflaging crowd of co-workers suddenly scattered like roaches 

when the kitchen light is turned on. I hesitated, taking too long to pick a direction.

It was all he needed to spot me. I looked back through the glass into the foyer of The Mag’s 

building. He was on the move, eyes locked onto me.

I bolted.

Startled faces blurred past as I hurried through the five o’clock exodus, bumping into one man,

dodging another, and rounding the corner at a speed unfitting for heeled pumps. Steve Madden

would be horrified if he knew what I did in his shoes.

Well, Steve could kill me later. Right now, I was facing a much more immediate threat.

At the corner, a bus was loading and at this point I didn’t care if it was mine or not. An elderly lady

with a big shopping bag struggled on the steps and I danced behind her like a first grader 

with a full bladder. Once she cleared the last step I leapt up, slamming my token into the fare box.

The door closed behind me just as my pursuer caught up. For once I was glad for the driver’s

rude efficiency. The bus leveled and lurched forward. I grabbed the bar, almost swinging into the

laps of the front seat passengers. As we pulled away from the curb, I met the man’s stare through

the grimy glass of the door.

Rusted-orange eyes with wide pupils. 

Non-people eyes.

Werewolf eyes.

I sank onto an empty seat, heart thumping, gradually slowing. Glancing up at the sign over the 

driver’s seat, I realized I’d ended up on the round-about route. Close enough for me. I tugged my

necklace out of my shirt and kissed the pendant, my good luck charm, and offered a silent 

thankful thought to whatever divine powers had saved my behind, yet again.

Reaching into my bag, I pulled out a book of poetry and readied for a long ride home. Ironically, 

when I’d flipped to a random page, I opened to one of Dylan Thomas’s poems.

Do not go gentle into that good night. Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

I had no energy left for rage. All I could muster was a thankful thought because at least today’s 

escape had gone better than most.

About the Author:

Ash Krafton writes from the heart…of the Pennsylvania coal region, that is. 

She is the author of the Books of the Demimonde (Pink Narcissus Press). 

BLEEDING HEARTS (Demimonde #1) is a six-time RWA finalist and was voted 

“Reviewer Top Pick” by Gravetells.com. Ash continues the story of Sophie and 

her Demivampires in her latest release BLOOD RUSH (Demimonde #2). 

She’s hard at work (when she isn’t watching Doctor Who) writing the third book, 

WOLF’S BANE.

Ash Krafton’s poetry and short fiction has appeared in several journals, including 

Niteblade, Bete Noire, Abandoned Towers, and Silver Blade. She’s a member of 

Pennwriters, RWA, and Maryland Writers Association. She lurks near her blog 

and contributes to the QueryTracker blog.

Ash lives with her family and their German Shepherd dog deep in the Pennsylvania 

wilds, awaiting the day the TARDIS appears in the driveway (the dog most likely 

keeps the Doctor away. What a beast.) 

Until then, she writes.

Find Ash at:

The Demimonde blog

Facebook

Twitter

Goodreads

 

 


			

Unveiling the Debut of Forbidden Territory

Forbidden Territory

by Melissa Pearl & Brenda Howson

kim-forbiddenterritory

Book blurb:
Mica and Lexy have been best friends and next door neighbours since they were eight years old. They share everything and have no secrets from each other until… Tom arrives on Mica’s doorstep – a gorgeous exchange student from England. And Lexy is smitten.
 
Suddenly both girls are keeping secrets. Mica is hiding news about Tom’s English girlfriend and Lexy hasn’t got the heart to tell her best friend that her brother Eli, the guy Mica is mad on, thinks of her as only a friend.
 
After a massive fight, the girls decide the best way to mend their friendship is to spend some quality time together. And what better way than to go camping away from their parents and why not invite along the guys they are crushing on.
 
So the four teenagers embark on a geo-caching expedition into New Zealand’s native bush expecting a long weekend filled with flirtatious fun; instead secrets are exposed as they stumble across a hidden marijuana crop and its gun-wielding watchmen. Forced apart they spend the next forty-eight hours racing blindly in opposite directions as they fight to find each other before the hunters do.
Today I talk to the brains and the beauties behind this new YA Adventure Novel: Melissa Pearl & Brenda Howson. 
Melissa and Brenda are two best friends who have co-authored this YA debut set in the spectacular location of New Zealand. The book is filled to the brim with adventure and prove that girls can get up to as much mischief as boys can and live as many adventures. But enough from me. 🙂 Make yourself comfortable and get a little behind-the-words look at the world of Forbidden Territory and the friendship that inspired the friendship and bond of the two main characters: Mica & Lexy. There is even a sneak peek or two from some included excerpts.

1. Where did this story come from? What inspired it?

Melissa – We were out geo-caching with our husbands. We were hunting around the bush, looking for the hidden treasure when one of us said, “This would make a cool story.” That little statement sparked a plethora of ideas and by the end of the day we had each created two characters and come up with a basic storyline.

2. The story is told in two very distinct voices. You each chose a character and co-wrote the plot-line. 

a.) What were the 3 aspects of co-authoring a story that you most enjoyed?

Brenda – 1) spending time with my bestie, 2) creating a story together meant two brains coming up with ideas, which is so much better than one, 3) did I mention spending time with my bestie? She is so awesome and sharing this love of writing is the cherry on top!

b.) What were the 3 aspects of co-authoring a story that you found most challenging?

Brenda – 1) we live an hours drive away from each other and both have kids, so that makes it harder to find time to actually get together, 2) because there are two writers we needed to make sure we knew the other authors character inside out but sometimes we get it wrong, so rewrites are needed (so not a big issue though), 3) this is a future challenge, my bestie is moving to CHINA…. Soooo much more than an hours drive away!!

3. Geo-caching is what sends these two girls on an adventure into Forbidden Territory. 

a.)What is Geo-caching? 

Melissa – Geo-caching is basically modern day treasure hunting. There is a website with hundreds of different cache locations listed. You type the co-ordinates into your GPS then go searching. It is so much fun. You find little trinkets and swap them out for other trinkets. There have been some little badges and things that have made it all the way around the world. SO cool!

b.) Have either of you experienced Geo-caching before? 

Melissa – Yes – Ben got Pete and I into it. I’m not sure how he found out about it… Brenda?

Brenda – My husband Ben bought a GPS for sailing and when he was looking for instructions on how to use it, he came across a website about geo-caching. The first cache we tried, we accidentally put the wrong coordinates in and ended up walking soooo much further than we needed to, heh heh, but we eventually found the cache and were hooked. Treasure hunting is awesome!!!!!

Melissa – We’ve found quite a few caches throughout NZ. It’s a really fun thing to do when you’re away on holiday or if you have nothing to do on a sunny afternoon 🙂

4. Are either of you anything like your characters in nature or are they personality opposites to your real-life personalities?

Brenda – Lexy is not based on me but she does share a few of my characteristics, we are not opposite in nature. We look nothing alike however, she’s much hotter than me, but I did give her the career dream I wanted as a teen (Architect).

I would say that Mica and Melissa’s personalities are opposite though. Mica says things that Melissa never would (out loud anyway) 

5. This book is about the bonds of best friends and is co-authored by best friends. What is the funniest thing you can each tell us about one other?

Melissa – oooo – tough one!! One thing I love about Brenda is the occasional contradiction in her personality. She is an incredibly strong and motivated woman… very talented and goes about making things happen. Yet if it comes to complaining about something in a shop or having to question something in a public setting, she always hides behind me!! What’s with that 🙂

Brenda –  Heh heh… you are so right. I’m a total contradiction. Melissa is WAY braver than me and I take advantage of that. Hmmmm something funny about Melissa would be, she puts mayonnaise on EVERYTHING! This is only a problem for me because I hate the stuff, but Melissa has a love affair with it and I can’t think of anything she wouldn’t have it with… ok, maybe not with chocolate 😉

Totally! How embarrassing. Thanks for not mentioning my addiction to ketchup as well. LOL!

6. I know that Melissa has mentioned that this book might be first in a series of Mica’s and Lexy’s adventures…Can you tell us if this is just a rumour or is this only the first of their adventures?

Melissa – I’m very happy to say, it’s not a rumor. The next book, “Forbidden Waters” is due out next year and is already planned out. We just have to write it now 🙂

The book after that is tentatively entitled “Forbidden Liaisons”. We have some ideas for that story, but haven’t nutted out a firm plot yet. There is much fun to be had… she laughs evilly! Can’t wait to see how Mica and Lexy will deal with the mayhem we are going to dump them in 🙂

7. If you could pick a favourite guy in the story, which would it be and why?

Melissa – I am totally in love with Eli. Whether it’s because he’s my creation, I’m not sure, but I just find him delicious. I also love his quiet strength and the way he is with Mica. I love those two together.

8. If this book were a movie, who would play the lead characters?

Brenda – Agh that’s so hard. I’d actually love some unknown actors to play the leads, as I find over time, popular actors play their characters all very similar and that takes away from the story. I’d love some New Zealand actors to come out of the woodwork and rise up to the challenge. I actually think it would make a really cool movie too!!!!

9. Can you each give us an excerpt of your favourite scene in the story and tell us why they are your favourite scenes?

Melissa – I have so many scenes I love and I don’t want to give away spoilers, but one of my favourite little interactions between Mica and Lexy is…

“Mike,” I could hear Lexy forcing her voice to be gentle, “you told me it was just a scratch.”

“I lied.” Sniffing at the torrent of tears, I kept my head turned away.

Grabbing the side of my face with a gentle tenderness, she wiped at my tears and placed a little peck on my forehead. “I know,” she sighed, “you stubborn little shit.”

I think those few little lines show the depth of Mica and Lexy’s friendship. They are so confident of their friendship they can say anything to each other.

Brenda – This is probably my fave scene, and I’ve pulled a few sentences out so it doesn’t spoil anything, but basically Mica has just called Tom (Lexy’s crush) weedy. This excerpt is written from Mica’s POV:

I looked up at my best friend. Standing in front of me was a determined looking brunette and hanging by her side was the gun we didn’t want to use. Breathing hard, she looked up from the crumpled body and shook her head. “Weedy?” Her eyes narrowed.

“What?” I crouched towards the ground and grabbed the unconscious man’s hands.

“Tom’s not weedy!” Lexy bent to join me, whipping off the man’s belt and wrapping it around his wrists.

“He’s a little weedy.” 

“No he’s not! He’s gorgeous!” 

“I didn’t say he wasn’t gorgeous. I said he was a little weedy.” 

“He’s not weedy!”

I tried to quell my laugher. This was ridiculous, we were probably in the most fatal situation of our lives and we were having a whispering argument about whether or not Thomas Williams was skinny!

“He’s wiry,” Lexy finished with a superior tone and a tip of her chin.

I just love the way Mica and Lexy interact. They have such a deep friendship and know each other so well and sometimes they just have the funniest conversations. Love those two girls.

Melissa – CLASSIC! I nearly chose that scene myself 🙂

10. Thank you ladies for giving us a behind-the-words insight into Forbidden Territory and sharing a little of your own friendship with us. But before I let you go, tell me where can readers buy Forbidden Territory?

Melissa – the book comes out on July 1st and can be purchased digitally from Amazon stores and Smashwords. It can also be purchased in paperback from Amazon.

Here are the links:

Smashwords:

https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/177572?ref=melissapearl

Amazon.com:

http://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_sb_noss?url=search-alias=stripbooks&field-keywords=Forbidden+Territory+by+Melissa+Pearl

Amazon.co.uk:

http://www.amazon.co.uk/s/ref=nb_sb_noss?url=search-alias=aps&field-keywords=Forbidden+Territory+by+Melissa+Pearl&rh=i%3Aaps,k%3AForbidden+Territory+by+Melissa+Pearl&ajr=0

Author bios:

Melissa Pearl and Brenda Howson have been best friends for about 12 years. Both mothers of two young children, both married to school teachers and both lovers of writing, they have a lot in common. Having spent many vacations away together, they have become as close to sisters as two girls can get. It was on one of these holidays away that the Mica and Lexy Series was born.

Melissa is the author of the Time Spirit Trilogy, which was published at the end of 2011. She is a fully trained elementary teacher, but is lucky enough to stay home and watch her kids grow. She is also spending every spare moment trying to turn writing into a full time career – and loving the process.

Brenda was the one who encouraged Melissa to start writing in the first place. Once Melissa got started, Brenda caught the bug and she has been writing for ten years, in between motherhood and working at a local high school in the computer department. She has won two short story competitions and been runner-up in another. Forbidden Territory is her first published novel.
Blog Tour Schedule & Giveaway!! – Click here
** This is what you could win on Melissa and Brenda’s YAlicious Blog**
And now for the giveaway. Please spread the word far and wide. The more, the merrier.We are giving away 3 prize packs, which include:
– a digital copy of Forbidden Territory
– a friendship necklace like the ones Mica and Lexy wear
– Forbidden Territory and Time Spirit Trilogy bookmarks
We are also giving away a Grand Prize, which includes:
– a paperback copy of Forbidden Territory
– a friendship necklace like the ones Mica and Lexy wear
– bookmarks
– a digital copy of Golden Blood (Bk 1 of the Time Spirit Trilogy by Melissa Pearl)

Many Ways to Skin a Cat | Shevi Arnold

Blog Series: Researching “The Many Ways to Skin a Cat” in Publishing

Over the next few weeks I am going to be looking at all the ways “to skin a cat” in publishing. I am going to interview and feature guest posts with different authors from different publishing options. So if, like me, you are at that painful and exciting point of trying to make the most informed choice…stick around and watch this space. Perhaps one of the options will stand out for you and perhaps one of these authors that I interview or who guest-post will inspire you down the same path.

I am coming at this with a completely open mind and non-judgmental attitude. I am doing this series as much to get more information for myself and educate myself as I am any reader whom finds this interesting or useful.

Open Call*

Also if you want to be one of the authors to be interviewed or guest post on this topic in this series, please shout out.

*My Guarantee: No Cats will be harmed or skinned in the writing of this series!*

😼   😼   😼   😼   😼

Today I have the pleasure of interviewing a woman of many talents. Not only does she have a way with words but she has a way with pictures and illustrations as well. She is definitely a “cat” with many lives. She has been an editorial cartoonist, a newspaper illustrator, a journalist, a comics magazine editor and now she is a published author. She has a unique view on the world of publishing since she has been in the industry of words and images for over 20 years. I have been itching to get her views on “the many ways to skin a cat” in the publishing industry and what better time and place than right here and right now on Dragonfly Scrolls. So relax, sit back, put your feet up while the talented Shevi Arnold and I chat.

1. Can you tell us what “being Indie” means to you?

Shevi >> I came to indie publishing after trying to break into traditional publishing for nine years. I found some success—one of my novels, Ride of Your Life, won third place in a big national contest and received numerous requests from literary agents for full manuscripts—but I found a lot of frustration too. I was okay with rejection letters, but when so many agencies switched to a “no response” policy, I just couldn’t take it. I couldn’t handle not knowing, never knowing, not even if my query letters had been received. It felt like I was sending my stories into a black hole. It got so bad that I literally got palpitations every time I hit the send button on a query letter. I have this thing that I do when I hit a wall. I stop, reevaluate the situation, and ask myself why I got into it in the first place and whether it’s still worthwhile to continue along the same path. Over those nine years, indie publishing had evolved. After taking a long hard look at it, I realized that traditional publishing couldn’t offer me anything I didn’t already have. I had years of writing experience. I had years of illustrating and designing experience. I even had years of editing experience. True, all of this was in newspapers and magazines, but it was still experience. And I could use that experience to adventure out on my own. For me, being an indie author means taking the fate of your work into your own hands. It means that you’ve chosen to believe in your own work, instead of waiting for someone else to believe in it for you.

2. Nowadays there are so many options for authors but the sheer amount of publishing options can create confusion.

Why did you decide to go the pure Indie route of self-publishing?

Shevi >> I’m not sure I would say that I have decided to go the “pure indie route.” I have for now, but things might change in the future. I’d like to keep my options open. Indie publishing does take a lot of time, however, which is why I’m focused only on that. And I am enjoying my freedom. Independent publishing lets you take chances a traditional publisher might be hesitant to take. I like that the reader gets to see my vision for the story, because no one made me change something to make it more marketable or for some other reason. For example, I like to illustrate my own stories. Even my YA novels, like Toren the Teller’s Tale and Ride of Your Life, have illustrated chapter headers. I feel this gives the readers extra value when they buy my books, and the readers seem to like it. When I was working for the Jerusalem Post, I used to draw illustrations for my own consumer column, but a traditional book publisher might not want me to do that. I like that as an indie author that’s a choice I can make.

3. You hear of authors switching methods of publication from seeking traditional representation from agents & the Big6 to small press to self-publishing.

Did you try any other route in publishing before settling on self-publishing and can you tell us what these routes were?

Shevi >> (See my reply to question 1.)

4. On the converse side of the debate, are you a dyed-in-the-wool Indie author or would you ever consider the lure of a Big6 publishing contract?

Shevi >> It depends. I like to keep my options open.

5. What would you say is the most important piece of advice you were given in your dream to become a published author?

Shevi >> When I was in college, I majored in English Literature and Theater Studies. I took a playwriting course, and the professor told me I should be a writer. I guess that was the most important piece of advice I was ever given on the topic. Before that, I wanted to be a film director, but then I thought, “Writing… Hmm, that’s not a bad idea. It’s just another form of storytelling, after all.” But I guess what you’re looking for is something your readers can take away. I’m not going to tell you, “You should be a writer.” I haven’t just heard you read the play you wrote, so I don’t know. What I can tell you is that you can learn a lot about writing by studying Improv. You can learn, for example, that it doesn’t have to be perfect. It just has to be done. Perfection, after all, is unattainable. You’ll drive yourself crazy if you try to get it perfect, and you’ll never write a thing. But something really amazing can happen and you take a piece of crap and edit the crap out of it. Of course, before you can do anything, you’re going to need that piece of crap written down. Otherwise, you’ll have nothing to edit. You’ll be like a sculptor without a block of clay. Of course, it might be fun to watch a sculptor trying to create something out of thin air, but in the end the sculptor will have nothing to show for it. The only difference is that as a writer you need to create your own block of clay.

6. Being Indie means that you have to be your own Marketing guru and Public Relations expert, what have you learnt about marketing your own books as an Indie Author?

Shevi >> The main thing I’ve learned about marketing is that I’m really bad at it. I’m first and foremost a writer, and I have qualms about some of the marketing tactics I’ve seen some in other indie authors use. For example, I wouldn’t feel right about rewarding people for reviewing my book, and yet I’ve seen other indie authors do just that. And I can’t stand seeing posts on Facebook from authors shouting things like “Like my fan page! Download my book! Vote for my book in this contest!” How about instead you write a great book, create a great fan page with great content, and then let me be the judge? I’d rather let my books stand on their own merit. I don’t want you to buy my book (or like my Facebook page) because I told you to. I want you to do it because it sounds like something you’d want to read. There’s a magician in one of the stories that Toren tells in my novel Toren the Teller’s Tale who refuses to be paid until the customer is fully satisfied. I feel the same way. I want you to be happy that you bought one of my novels because you enjoyed the story, and not because I told you to.

7. Everyone keeps on about the importance of developing “your own brand” as an author.

Do you agree and how have you built “your own brand”?

Shevi >> I think this was actually one of the main reasons why I came so close to landing an agent but wasn’t able to, if you’ll excuse the cliché, seal the deal—I don’t fit a single brand. I wouldn’t even want to. My tastes are eclectic. I wouldn’t want to read just one kind of book. Why would I want to write just one kind of book? Brands are so limiting. I think that no writer is as well branded as JK Rowling. But look at how she got locked into writing Harry Potter books for years. I couldn’t stand that! Don’t get me wrong, I absolutely adore my characters. I look forward to writing the next book in the Toren the Teller series, and I have another series I’ll be starting soon– the Gilbert the Fixer series– with characters I love to death, literally! But I think I would go insane if I could only write one series over several years. I actually wrote a blog post about this. I concluded that if brands were colors, my brand would be rainbow. I can’t help it. It’s just who I am. The only thing I can say is that humor is a part of almost everything I write. Even my most recent novel, Ride of Your Life, which is possibly the most romantic, bittersweet thing I’ve ever read–a story that made me cry buckets while I was editing it–has funny, surprising scenes in it. I don’t know. Maybe “quirky” is my brand. I certainly am a different kind of writer. Steve Martin is one of my heroes. He doesn’t limit himself to one thing, not even one medium. That’s what I want, to be able to tell any kind of story any way I want.

8. Nowadays the world is a smaller place through social media and the internet.

How important a tool do you believe social media is to an author today and what tips would you give an author in how to use it effectively?

Shevi >> I believe that social media is the single most important kind of marketing that writers have today. It’s also the cheapest, and writers have the best tool to take advantage of it– the ability to communicate in writing. The truth is there’s so much to learn, way too much to be summed up in a brief paragraph. I would highly recommend that you read several books on social media marketing. I’ve read about a dozen of them. We Are Not Alone: The Writer’s Guide to Social Media by Kristen Lamb is a great place to start.

9. What would you say has been the biggest learning curve for you in Indie Publishing, and would you say the greatest challenge was the publishing aspect or the marketing aspect?

Shevi >> The greatest challenge for me was and still is the marketing aspect of indie publishing. There’s just so much to learn; and if you’re shy, putting it into practice can be quite daunting.

10. Considering the question of editing, how important do you think it is that all books (Indie or Big6) be edited professionally?

Shevi >> Generally speaking, I would say that, yes, all books should be professionally edited. However, I have edited my own books. I used to edit a magazine, and I moderated a critique group for many years. I’ve also been offered editing jobs, so I guess you could say my books were professionally edited, even if I did do it myself.

11. If you have a Big 6 contract and/or an agent – you have project deadlines to keep you motivated to finish that draft and keep you from procrastinating. How do you, as an Indie author, keep yourself motivated to keep finishing those drafts?

Shevi >> I used to be a journalist. Journalists have to meet deadlines. I had a 1,000-word midweek column, and a 2,000-word weekend column. Sometimes I had additional freelance work. Writers who finish the work and meet deadlines get paid. Writers who don’t finish the work and don’t meet deadlines don’t get paid. It’s a great motivator. I try to view my work now the same way, even if the rewards are a bit different. I’ve learned so much from being a journalist. It’s not just discipline. It’s also humility. It’s hard to think highly of your writing when you know that tomorrow it’s just going to be lining a birdcage.

12. If an unpublished writer came to you to get advice on whether they should go the Indie route or a more Traditional route in publishing, what 3 tips would you give that writer?

Shevi >> I wouldn’t give tips. Maybe it’s the journalist in me, but the first thing I would do is ask questions and listen to the answers. Why did the writer decide to write a book? How well did the writer research the market for this book? How much does the writer know about publishing? Has the writer studied other books in this genre? Has the writer studied writing? Has the writer studied literature? Who did the writer write this book for? How long has the writer been writing? Is this the writer’s first book? Is the writer in a critique group? The advice I would give would depend on the answers to these questions. Generally speaking, I think it’s best for writers to develop their skills over time. Unfortunately, indie publishing today makes it so easy to go from wanting to write a book to having one published in almost no time at all. Don’t rush it. Great books aren’t written overnight. That being said, there are exceptions. Douglas Adams wrote the radio play that was later adapted into my favorite novel, The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy, when he was just 19 years old. It would have been silly for me to tell Douglas Adams at that time to wait, especially considering that he eventually died quite young. So a tip that I might give one person would be completely irrelevant to someone else. The indie route is right for some people, but it isn’t right for everyone. Study your options, and choose the one that’s right for you. Leave your options open, because you might change your mind later on. Whatever you choose, I hope you have fun. I think writing is the most fun you can have, and if you have fun writing it, there’s a good chance others will have fun reading it. 

Thank you Shevi for your insight into the many publishing options nowadays. It is wonderful to meet such a diverse writer with such a varied experience in the publishing world. What stood out the most for me out of chatting to you is: “You can learn, for example, that it doesn’t have to be perfect. It just has to be done. Perfection, after all, is unattainable. You’ll drive yourself crazy if you try to get it perfect, and you’ll never write a thing. But something really amazing can happen and you take a piece of crap and edit the crap out of it. Of course, before you can do anything, you’re going to need that piece of crap written down. Otherwise, you’ll have nothing to edit. You’ll be like a sculptor without a block of clay. Of course, it might be fun to watch a sculptor trying to create something out of thin air, but in the end the sculptor will have nothing to show for it. The only difference is that as a writer you need to create your own block of clay.” Before we even think of publishing options, we need to be continuously writing, creating and “moulding” our own block of clay. We need the product before we can sell it or market it after all. Words of advice every writer can take to heart. Great words on motivation and how to stay focused as well. Thank you for taking the time to share your writing journey with  us. ~ Kim

 

Author Notes

BIO: When I was little, I wanted to be God. Then I discovered that job was already taken. So I decided to become a film director instead, because that seemed like the next best way to create worlds. Then I discovered that directors have to work with a lot of people who don’t necessarily share their visions for those worlds. So I decided to become a writer. After graduating with degrees in English Literature and Theater Studies, earning a teacher’s certificate, and studying art and design, I began working in newspapers and magazines. Over 12 years I’ve worked as an editorial cartoonist, a newspaper illustrator, a comics magazine editor, an arts-and-entertainment writer specializing in comedy and children’s entertainment, and a consumer columnist. In 2001, I left my job to move to New Jersey in search of a better education for my autistic son. After that, I decided to start writing what I wanted to write, the stories that had been playing like movies in my brain since I was a little girl. I’ve since written seven novels and I’ve published three–Toren the Teller’s Tale, Dan Quixote: Boy of Nuevo Jersey, and Ride of Your Life. Why My Love Life Sucks, book one in the Gilbert the Fixer series will be out later this year. After that, who knows?

Shevi can be found writing on her blog: http://shevi.blogspot.com/

Shevi’s author page can be found on Amazon, where you can also find her books:

Many Ways to Skin a Cat | Denise Grover Swank

Over the next few weeks I am going to be looking at all the ways “to skin a cat” in publishing. I am going to interview and feature guest posts with different authors from different publishing options. So if, like me, you are at that painful and exciting point of trying to make the most informed choice…stick around and watch this space. Perhaps one of the options will stand out for you and perhaps one of these authors that I interview or who guest-post will inspire you down the same path.

I am coming at this with a completely open mind and non-judgmental attitude. I am doing this series as much to get more information for myself and educate myself as I am any reader whom finds this interesting or useful.

Open Call

Also if you want to be one of the authors to be interviewed or guest post on this topic in this series, please shout out.

*My Guarantee: No Cats will be harmed or skinned in the writing of this series!*

😼   😼   😼   😼   😼

Today I am very pleased to have the pleasure of Denise Grover Swank’s company on the blog. It is especially a pleasure because today is Denise’s Birthday – So Happy Birthday Denise!

Denise is not someone to be pegged into a square. She has written across genres, has been a self-publishing success and has just been signed to a top literary agency. As Denise will tell you in this interview, she did not go searching for the accolades, she writes for the love of writing. Her fans fell in love with her writing and she has proven what I have always believed that no matter what genre an author writes in – whether they stick to one genre or one market or diversify and cross genres and markets – the readers will continue reading your books. Once you have turned a reader into a fan, your success as an author is guaranteed.

1. Can you tell us what “being Indie” means to you? 

Denise >> I know there’s a big controversy about what “Indie” means.  Some consider Indie to be published with a small press. Others consider it to include self-published authors. I typically call myself a self-published author. I used to say defensively, now I’m proud of it. I’ve also begun to interchange the words “Indie” and “self-published.”
2. Nowadays there are so many options for authors but the sheer amount of publishing options can create confusion. 
Why did you decide to go the Indie route of self-publishing? 
Denise >>  I started out wanting a traditional book deal. I wrote three books in three different genres and actively queried them with agents but never got an offer of representation. Then Nathan Bransford wrote a post saying he thought there were valid reasons for self-publishing and it was the approval I needed to pursue it. I plan to write a series for my agent, Amanda Luedeke  with MacGregor Literary, to shop to traditional publishers, but even if I sell to a Big 6 publisher, I will continue to self-publish.
3. You hear of authors switching methods of publication from seeking traditional representation from agents & the Big6 to small press to self-publishing. Did you try any other route in publishing before settling on Indie Publishing and can you tell us what these routes were? 
Denise >>  I was very close to acquiring an agent with my YA Here. She was also reading Chosen, my urban fantasy. I knew the agent liked darker manuscripts and wouldn’t be interested in my rom com mystery, Twenty-Eight and a Half Wishes. But I loved that story and the characters so the thought of the book dying on my hard drive upset me. I decided to self-publish it. During the process to prepare it, the agent rejected Here and I decided to self-publish Chosen. I’ve self-published five books and plan on a sixth in June. I’ve never regretted my decision. I am planning to write a new urban fantasy series for my agent to shop in NY, but I’m doing that to widen my reader base. It’s a business decision.
4. You have just recently been signed by a literary agent. Congratulations!
Can you tell us how this came about?
Denise >> Amanda found me. Chosen had climbed to the top 100 on the Kindle list and hovered in the 20’s for several days and Amanda emailed me and asked if I was seeking representation and said she’d love to chat with me. I really liked Amanda’s forward thinking and loved that she wasn’t threatened by my self-published works. During our conversation, she offered unsolicited career advice with no sign that I would sign with her. That spoke volumes to me. She was the one who suggested I write a new urban fantasy/paranormal romance series. She believes the success of The Chosen series will make me more appealing to New York.
5.  You have already gained huge success as an Indie author.
How will having a literary agent now change things for you as an author? 
Denise >> I’ve had foreign rights and production rights inquiries. I’ve handed all of those over to Amanda to take care of, which has been a huge relief. She’s going to actively pursue other foreign rights sales She also plans to try to sell my new series to a traditional publisher. But my self-published books are mine, and at this point, I’m deciding all my career options.
6. Do you plan on continuing to release books yourself now that you have an agent, or will you be looking mainly at the traditional publishing houses?
Denise >> Yes, I fully intend to continue to self-publish even if I get a traditional book deal. I love the control.
7. Being Indie means that you have to be your own Marketing guru and Public Relations expert:
What have you learnt about marketing your own books as an Indie Author?
Do you also feel you are now more savvy about the Publishing Industry because of your Indie experience?
Denise >>  I think one benefit to being an indie author is that I can make immediate changes. If I want to change the price of my book or change the cover, I can do it. I don’t have to seek anyone’s permission. I can change the price within hours. I can put a book on sale or set up a free promo. I can decide where I sell my books or if I make them exclusive somewhere. That being said, I really don’t play with prices other than when I raised the price of Chosen and Twenty-Eight and a Half Wishes from $0.99 to $2.99. I’m also raising the price of Here to $3.99 after it goes off its $0.99 sale.  (Here is on sale on Barnes & Noble and Amazon until June 1.) Still, I change the price with strategy in mind. I’ve also made both ebooks free for several days but all three times were carefully thought out and calculated.
I feel like I’m very much more savvy about the publishing industry. Amazon distributes 98% of my books, so I’m constantly keeping up on the theories behind current algorithms. I also study pricing in my genres, rankings, the rise and fall of similar book’s sales. I read multiple articles and blog posts a day to keep on top of the latest news and theories. I spend one to four hours a day on research and marketing.
8. Everyone keeps on about the importance of developing “your own brand” as an author.
Do you agree and how have you built “your own brand”? 
Denise >> Yes, I think I have a brand even if it’s not really an actual written concept. I think my “brand” is that I’m somewhat sarcastic and funny (even if in my own mind LOL) I hope people see me as a usually positive person and that I’m generous to my readers. Romance authors typically have a “tag line” or brand for themselves. If I have one it’s: I keep my sanity by creating characters to talk to and worlds to live in. What did I say about my sanity?
9. Nowadays the world is a smaller place through social media and the internet.
How important a tool do you believe social media is to an author today and what tips would you give an author in how to use it effectively? 
Denise >> I don’t think I’d be here right now without social media. Social media sold my first 200 books when I released Twenty-Eight last July. I was told to expect to sell around 20 books the first month, if I was lucky. But I’d stopped writing my family blog, There’s Always Room for One More, to write novels. I had encouraged all my readers to friend me on Facebook. So when I released my book last year, several people bought it to see what in the world I’d been done for the last two years. Thankfully, most loved it and recommended it to their friends. I watched the book sell in ripples. My friends bought it, then their friends bought it. By last August and September, I was getting reviews on Amazon, B&N and Goodreads from people I didn’t know.(Confession: That actually kind of freaked me out at first. People I didn’t know were reading my book!!!)
As you know, Kim, I’m a big Facebook user. I usually make multiple updates a day. I encourage readers to friend me. I talk to them. I’m forever amazed at the authors who never interact with people on Facebook and Twitter. It’s social media. That’s the point of it. I love talking to my readers and anyone who friends me is “fair game.”  If you’re my friend on Facebook, I’ll comment on your status update if I have something to say. I want readers to know I’m a real person, just like them.
I also use Twitter, but less so than I used to. Most of my readers seem to be on Facebook and I like that we can carry on a “conversation” with relative ease. On Twitter, I have to scroll down MULTIPLE tweets to keep up with a conversation unless it’s in real time.
I have a Tumblr account but haven’t used it in ages. I have a Pintrest account but usually use it to pin pictures associated with my books, like characters and locations.
I try to answer every email, Facebook message, post on my Facebook timeline and tweet. If someone took their valuable time to reach out to me, I want to let them know I appreciate it.
Thank you so much, Kim!
Thank you Denise for taking the time to talk to me and my readers about Publishing Options and the routes you have chosen. You will soon straggle the worlds of both NY Publishing and Self-Publishing and definitely have a unique perspective on the options open to authors today. I especially love the fact that you are a writer who has stuck to your guns on writing the stories you way to and need to write regardless of whether they are in the same genre or different genres than your others. I knew the agent liked darker manuscripts and wouldn’t be interested in my rom com mystery, Twenty-Eight and a Half Wishes. But I loved that story and the characters so the thought of the book dying on my hard drive upset me. I decided to self-publish it.” – I love that you refused to let your story die on your hard drive and decided to self-publish anyway. I wish you even greater success with all your next books.  – Kim

Author Notes

Denise Grover Swank lives in Lee’s Summit, Missouri. She has six children, three dogs, and an overactive imagination. She can be found dancing in her kitchen with her children, reading or writing her next book. You will rarely find her cleaning.

 

You can find out more about Denise and her other books at www.denisegroverswank.com or email her at denisegroverswank@gmail.com

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/deniseswank

Twitter: @DeniseMSwank

Book links:
The Chosen Series:
Rose Gardner Mysteries:
On the Otherside Series:
Denise Grover Swank
Author of The Chosen series: Chosen , Hunted and Sacrifice (The Chosen Series) adult urban fantasy, Redemption, (The Chosen #4) October 2012
Twenty-Eight and a Half Wishesa humorous southern mystery, Twenty-Nine and a Half Reasons release June 29, 2012
and Here (On the Otherside, #1) a young adult science fiction/romance, There (#2) Late December 2012

The Many Ways to Skin a Cat | Maria V. Snyder

 

Blog Series: Researching “The Many Ways to Skin a Cat” in Publishing

Over the next few weeks I am going to be looking at all the ways “to skin a cat” in publishing. I am going to interview and feature guest posts with different authors from different publishing options. So if, like me, you are at that painful and exciting point of trying to make the most informed choice…stick around and watch this space. Perhaps one of the options will stand out for you and perhaps one of these authors that I interview or who guest-post will inspire you down the same path.

I am coming at this with a completely open mind and non-judgmental attitude. I am doing this series as much to get more information for myself and educate myself as I am any reader whom finds this interesting or useful.

Open Call

Also if you want to be one of the authors to be interviewed or guest post on this topic in this series, please shout out.

*My Guarantee: No Cats will be harmed or skinned in the writing of this series!*

😼   😼   😼   😼   😼

Today I have the pleasure of a well-known author’s company. I have been a fan of her’s for just almost 3 years now. When I picked up her book, Sea Glass, I was captured by her writing style, her incredible world building and her exquisitely crafted characters. I couldn’t get enough of her other books. If you are a teen or have a teen in your house, you will know exactly who I am talking about. If you love reading books written by story-weavers then you will know her too. She has carved a niche in readers’ hearts all over the world. She has written 3 successful series of books and many short stories. From when her first novel, Poison Study, was published in 2005, nothing has held her back from creating new worlds and weaving new stories. 

So make yourselves comfortable as the talented Maria V. Snyder and I have a conversation about Publishing.

1. Can you tell us a little bit about you as a beginning author and can you tell us the best advice you ever received before being a published author?

Maria >>  I started writing because I was bored at work (shhh…don’t tell!).  I’ve always enjoyed reading and being creative and I had dabbled with painting, acting, and dancing, but lacked the confidence to pursue any of those for my career.  The best advice I received was to be persistent – to keep writing and submitting.  Truthfully, when I first heard it, I thought it was one of those “eat an apple a day” type of advice – something you say that doesn’t mean anything.  But it proved 100 % true in my case – persistence paid off!

2. Nowadays there are so many options for authors but the sheer amount of publishing options can create confusion.
If you were starting out now as an author, would you still have made the same choices in publishing that you have made?

Maria >> Good question!  At the time I was sending my first book, Poison Study around there were other options like self-publishing, digital formats, and print on demand available, but I really wanted to be published by a traditional publisher and if I hadn’t sold the book, I wouldn’t have pursued those other options.  In today’s market, e-publishing is more popular, but I think it’s very difficult for a new author to stand out without spending lots of time and energy on marketing.  If I was just starting out, I think I would still try to find a traditional publisher first before looking into e-publishing, but I wouldn’t rule it out like before.

3. How long did you spend in the pre-publishing trenches before you got an agent?

Maria >>About four years.

4. Rejection comes with the territory in the publishing industry.
Did you receive many rejections before signing with your agent? How did you persist submitting in spite of the rejections?

Maria >> I received 40 rejections from agents for Poison Study.  After I exhausted all the agents who represented fantasy, I submitted the book directly to the publishers.  I had a list of 20 publishers and I was determined to send the book to all of them before putting it away.  While all this was going on, I wrote another book, Storm Watcher for kids ages 8 to 12.  When I finished that book, I sent it to 20 agents and actually found one who wanted to represent me.  When Poison Study found a publisher (#18 of 20), I called my agent and asked her to negotiate the contract.  She asked me why I didn’t send her Poison Study when I was searching for an agent. I told her she hadn’t listed fantasy as one of the genres she represents and she said, “Oh, I take anything I like.”  Sigh!  This was back in 2003 – she never did sell Storm Watcher, however, I recently sold it to a small publisher (Leap Books).  Even after 9 years, I didn’t give up on it.  It is hard to persist when the rejections keep rolling in, but I was determined to exhaust all the publishers before giving up.

5. Many unpublished authors believe that the golden ticket to success is signing with a top literary agent. Would you agree and why/why not?

Maria >>In my case, I sold Poison Study on my own and my agent helped with the contract. However that was 9 years ago and many publishers were still accepting unagented submissions – I found 20, but today a writer might only find 5 as editors are relying on agents to pick the gems from the slush pile.  An agent is very helpful and I always suggest you try to find one first, but if no one is interested, then to go ahead and submit on your own.  Be careful about which agents you query – not all are reputable.  I’ve an article about finding agents on my website here: http://www.mariavsnyder.com/advice/findingL.php

6. Do you get nervous when a book submission and a new contract is under way, worrying whether it will be accepted or not?

Maria >>Yes!  During contract negotiations, I’m always so thankful to have my agent.  He (my second as my first passed away) loves to negotiate and I can hear the glee in his voice as he reports to me on how it’s going.  He also gives me feedback on my novels as I working on them so I know if I’m in the ballpark or not – since he’s been in publishing forever, he knows if one of my projects won’t fly with my editor.

7. Can you share with us the process you go through once you have finished writing your book up until the time it is published?

Maria >>After I send off my book, both my agent and editor read it and send me comments.  I revise based on their comments and re-submit.  Then I get the copy edits and a few more comments from my editor (or her assistant).  I revise again, and either agree or disagree with the copy edits then re-submit.  Then I get the galley proofs and I have to go through every single line, looking for errors and typos (not fun) and then type up ALL the changes on the Author Alterations (AA) form (which is hell on earth) and send in the form and the pages with the changes.  About six weeks before publication, I receive a box of books in the mail (always fun!).  During this time, I’m also making up bookmarks with the cover art of the new book, updating my website, writing newsletters, preparing for blog tours, sending out review copies to bloggers and media, and doing a ton of other marketing and promotion.  With Touch of Power, I had two blog tours (one in the US and one in the UK) and did a number of events for the Australian release.

8. Nowadays the world is a smaller place through social media and the internet and readers/fans can now have and often demand to have more direct access to authors. How important a tool do you believe social media is to an author today and what tips would you give an author in how to use it effectively?

Maria >>Social media is wonderful!  I always encouraged my readers to contact me through email, but I noticed once I had a Facebook page, the number of emails I received went down.  The trap is spending too much time on these sites and not enough writing your book.  I’ve fallen into that one many times.  If you’re a new author, I’d suggest that before your book is released, that you set up a website, blog and make a Facebook page at the least.  Some authors also do Twitter and Goodreads and other sites, but I think if you have too many, it’ll suck up all your time.  I use Facebook, Goodreads, my blog and website and I’m barely keeping my head above water (and I have a quarterly e-newsletter, too).  The nice thing about my blog is – it will automatically show up on my Facebook and Goodreads pages, saving me time.  I’d suggest you set aside a certain amount of time each day for social media and stick to it so it doesn’t dominate your life.

9. What would you say has been the biggest learning curve for you in the Publishing Industry, and what has been the greatest challenge for you?

Maria >> The biggest lesson was that not all books/authors in a publishing house are equal.  Certain titles and certain authors get more support and more marketing dollars because their books sell like crazy.  It’s not personal, it’s business.  The greatest challenge for me is to say no.  I really enjoy marketing and promotion and visiting schools and answering emails, and doing Q&As, that I don’t write as much as I should.  Plus my children are teenagers and will soon be off to college and I want to spend time with them – so juggling all my commitments is a constant challenge.

10. One of the most important relationships any author has is the one with your editor.
Have you had one trusted editor for the length of your writing career or have you had a few different editors?

Maria >> My very first editor, the one who called me to offer my first contract left the company six months later.  I’ve heard horror stories about orphaned authors and I would have had a heart attack, except my new editor called and told me not to worry since she was going to take me on.  And I’ve had the same editor at Harlequin since!  Love you Matrice!

11. There is a lot of talk about how Indie Publishing and Traditional Publishing are at loggerheads with one another.
What are your feelings about the rise of Indie Publishing and the digital book format?
Do you believe it can work alongside traditional publishing or is it a threat to traditional publishing?

Maria >> I believe the rise of Indie Publishing is great for authors.  It gives authors more options and greater control over their stories and more control over what type of stories they write.  I think it will also lead to changes to the traditional publishers’ contracts that will be better for authors.  They’ve always been the gate keepers and authors had to agree to their terms in order to see their books published.  This isn’t the case anymore.  I think most publishers are adapting to the changing climate and both Indie and Traditional will exist together in the future.

12. If an unpublished writer came to you to get advice on whether they should go the Indie route or a more Traditional route in publishing, what 3 tips would you give that writer?

Maria >>

  1. I’d tell her to do lots and lots of research – there are a few success stories about self-published books hitting big like Amanda Hocking and E. L. James, but there are far more stories about low sales.  
  2. I’d also recommend he hire a professional artist – book covers are still important no matter the format.  
  3. And I’d suggest no matter what the format, that she give away copies of her books to book bloggers/reviewers – that’s the best way to generate interest and buzz about a book.
Maria, thank you so much for taking the time to sit down and chat with me about Publishing and your writing journey. Thank you for the many generous tips and advice you gave. I know, that you made the Traditional Publishing process much more transparent for me and many others. I think we can all relate to you when you tell us “It is hard to persist when the rejections keep rolling in, but
I was determined to exhaust all the publishers before giving up.”. Rejection is a really difficult pill to swallow and the literary world is such a subjective world that it is hard to know what the perfect formula is for acceptance. “The best advice I received was to be persistent – to keep writing and submitting.  Truthfully, when I first heard it, I thought it was one of those “eat an apple a day” type of advice – something you say that doesn’t mean anything.  But it proved 100 % true in my case – persistence paid off!” – I have to agree that is Brilliant advice. Persistence in writing and determination in seeing your book published is key. Thank you again Maria. It was a true pleasure to hear your views on the “many ways to skin a cat” in Publishing. ~ Kim

Author Notes

Maria V. Snyder switched careers from meteorologist to fantasy novelist when she began writing the New York Times best-selling Study Series (Poison Study, Magic Study and Fire Study) about a young woman who becomes a poison taster.  Born in Philadelphia, Maria dreamed of chasing tornadoes and even earned a BS degree in Meteorology from Penn State University.  Unfortunately, she lacked the necessary forecasting  skills. Writing, however, lets Maria control the weather, which she gleefully does in her Glass Series (Storm Glass, Sea Glass, and Spy Glass). Maria returned to school and earned a MA in Writing from Seton Hill University where she is currently one of the teachers and mentors for the MFA program. Her published young adult novels include Inside Out, and its sequel, Outside In, both are about the dystopian and fully-contained world of Inside.  Her latest release is Touch of Power, which is about healer dealing with a plague stricken world.

You can find her at:

Her Website: http://www.MariaVSnyder.com

Her Blog: http://officialmariavsnyder.blogspot.com

The Many Ways to Skin a Cat | Jonathan D. Allen

Upcoming Blog Series: Researching “The Many Ways to Skin a Cat” in Publishing

Over the next few weeks I am going to be looking at all the ways “to skin a cat” in publishing. I am going to interview and feature guest posts with different authors from different publishing options. So if, like me, you are at that painful and exciting point of trying to make the most informed choice…stick around and watch this space. Perhaps one of the options will stand out for you and perhaps one of these authors that I interview or who guest-post will inspire you down the same path.

I am coming at this with a completely open mind and non-judgmental attitude. I am doing this series as much to get more information for myself and educate myself as I am any reader whom finds this interesting or useful.

Open Call

Also if you want to be one of the authors to be interviewed or guest post on this topic in this series, please shout out.

*My Guarantee: No Cats will be harmed or skinned in the writing of this series!*

😼   😼   😼   😼   😼

Are you a writer who writes in a hard-to-market genre? Do you cross or blend genres in your stories? Have agents and editors told you they love your work but don’t know how to market it because it is so “different”? Don’t fear…here’s one author’s take on how he made his writing style work for him and how he took the publishing reins into his own hands…

In interview #2 on The Many Ways to Skin a Cat I have the pleasure of Jonathan D. Allen’s company. He kindly agreed to sit down with me and chat about Publishing, the route he chose and  the tips he has learnt along the way. Jonathan found that his talent for blending the genres of dark fantasy and horror didn’t necessarily translate well to the Big6 but this did not stop him. He took matters into his own hand and decided to go the Indie route.

1. Can you tell us what “being Indie” means to you?

Jonathan >> It means being the master of my own destiny. That can be a good and a bad thing – if things go well, not only am I able to take the kudos, but most of the profit comes back to me, and can be re-invested into things like covers and editing. Of course, if things go badly, I also take the burden of those losses and mistakes. It’s enormously freeing but also scary and depressing at times.

2. Nowadays there are so many options for authors but the sheer amount of publishing options can create confusion. Why did you decide to go the pure Indie route of self-publishing?

Jonathan >> After a round of rejections from literary agents (most of them friendly and personal – some even praising the writing but saying they didn’t quite know how to sell it), I realized a few things. One was that, in the old model, the traditional route might well have worked for me. It also answered a burning question that’s plagued me throughout my career: when would I be ready? Those responses told me that I was now ready. At the same time, I realized that the kind of fiction I write has limited mass appeal, and I have no interest in changing what I write. If I really wanted to blend genres in the manner that I’m currently pursuing, it made a lot more sense to go it alone, at least for a while.

3. You hear of authors switching methods of publication from seeking traditional representation from agents & the Big6 to small press to self-publishing. Did you try any other route in publishing before settling on self-publishing and can you tell us what these routes were?

Jonathan >>As I said above, I did try the agent thing. That had been my dream for years – close to 23 now: get the agent, get the publishing contract, and then see my books in stores. I was 13 years old when I figured out that whole equation, and it was just “what you did” if you wanted to be a novelist. I still toy with the idea of going back to the old way of doing things, but sooner or later something occurs that reminds me that things have changed forever. I won’t lie, part of me misses that old system, but I’m also excited about the future of this industry.

4. On the converse side of the debate, are you a dyed-in-the-wool Indie author or would you ever consider the lure of a Big6 publishing contract?

Jonathan >>Right now, I’m flexible. I would prefer to stay indie or possibly move over to a small press that gets what I’m trying to do, but I also won’t lie: I’d love to be able to do this full-time, and if a large six-figure advance dropped in my lap, I’d have to snap it up. I don’t necessarily see that as “selling out”, as I would never accept a contract, no matter the size, that changed what I’m doing. Of course, my current path makes that dream contract a lot less likely, anyway.

5. What would you say is the most important piece of advice you were given in your dream to become a published author?

Jonathan >>”You know, you can do this.” I can still hear that in my head all these years later. Those came from my 10th grade English teacher, who encouraged my creativity at a critical time. She allowed me latitude in the papers that I wrote for that class, and showed me ways that I could use my imagination in not just creating stories, but in my everyday life. I learned from her that I had…well, an exceptional imagination, but I had always believed that either others were better at it, or I was wasting my time with it. She showed me quite the opposite.

6. Being Indie means that you have to be your own Marketing guru and Public Relations expert, what have you learnt about marketing your own books as an Indie Author?

Jonathan >>That I’m not a very good marketer. Actually, I’m not so sure how I’ve done, as I’ve followed a lot of the “conventional wisdom”, consumed marketing books for self-publishing, done book blog tours, etc. and seen very little bang for my buck. I’m slowly realizing that the only real conventional wisdom that works is the oldest one: the best marketing for your books is writing and releasing another book (or short story these days).

7. Everyone keeps on about the importance of developing “your own brand” as an author. Do you agree and how have you built “your own brand”?

Jonathan >>To some extent, I do agree. I couldn’t tell you exactly how my “own brand” would be packaged, but I do know that my stories have certain themes in common, and I can see how they’re evolving as I write them. I think sometimes writers fear that establishing a brand means they won’t be able to write what they want, but I tend to disagree. Look at Stephen King. He’s written sci-fi, horror, straightforward literary fiction, and fantasy, yet each of those stories have an undeniable “Stephen King quality”. It’s all about establishing a signature quality. I’ve focused on that and keeping my book covers consistent as a way of building a brand. The other stuff seems like wasted time.

8. Nowadays the world is a smaller place through social media and the internet. How important a tool do you believe social media is to an author today and what tips would you give an author in how to use it effectively?

Jonathan >>I think it’s incredibly important, but not in the ways that a lot of social media marketers would tell you. Sure, it’s a way to advertise your work and maybe get more people aware of your existence as an author, but I think it’s far more important as a tool to connect with other authors, publishers, and readers on a personal level. I’m a total Twitter junkie, and I always shake my head when I see people who spam a link to their book, with no other information, over and over. I think it’s fair to expect a little of that when you follow an author, but the whole point of something like Twitter is carrying on a conversation or giving micro-blog updates to friends/readers. The same applies to Facebook.

9. What would you say has been the biggest learning curve for you in Indie Publishing,  and would you say the greatest challenge was the publishing aspect or the marketing aspect?

Jonathan >>Marketing. Hands-down. I’m in a difficult-to-market genre, which makes getting across the unique aspects of my story even harder. Many times I wonder if the issue is really my approach or just that I’m writing material that is difficult to package.

10. Considering the question of editing, how important do you think it is that all books (Indie or Big6) be edited professionally?

Jonathan >>Extremely. I will not allow a novel to be released under my imprint without it having been edited professionally. The same goes for the beta reading process – nothing leaves without at least one level of beta reading (usually two). Would you want to buy a product that hadn’t been quality tested at some level? I think it’s the same thing here.

11. If you have a Big 6 contract and/or an agent – you have project deadlines to keep you motivated to finish that draft and keep you from procrastinating. How do you, as an Indie author, keep yourself motivated to keep finishing those drafts?

Jonathan >>I’ve found that deadlines are counterproductive to my own creativity. That’s not to say that I “wait for inspiration”, I’ve set a goal of writing at least 1,000 words a day, but just that when I have a set deadline, I feel pressure and begin to worry too much over mechanical aspects of the work. That’s fine in my day job as a technical writer – in fact, it’s desirable, but fiction is a whole different beast. I keep myself motivated simply by knowing that I’m mentally healthier when I’m writing on a regular basis. That and the 1,000 word goal are enough to keep me going.

12.  If an unpublished writer came to you to get advice on whether they should go the Indie route or a more Traditional route in publishing, what 3 tips would you give that writer?

Jonathan >>

  1. Think about what you want – what you really want – out of your career. Be brutally honest with yourself. Are awards and associations important? Would you rather make more money at the risk of appearing less “legitimate”, or would you like to have someone help you chart the waters? There are lots of pros and cons to both traditional and indie publishing.
  2. Ask lots of questions. Talk to people who’ve been both places, whether it’s one person who has done both or several who only have experience in one or the other. Get a feel for what their experiences have been like. Ask them about their pros and cons, and weigh those against what you want from your career.
  3. Remain flexible. Over the course of my first year, I’ve already gone back and forth between which I would prefer, and while I’m fairly settled at this point, I still have some doubts from time to time. What you want may change as your career evolves – try to be open to those changes.

Thank you for taking the time to chat with me and my readers today Jonathan. What really resonated for me was: “in the old model, the traditional route might well have worked for me. It also answered a burning question that’s plagued me throughout my career: when would I be ready? Those responses told me that I was now ready. At the same time, I realized that the kind of fiction I write has limited mass appeal, and I have no interest in changing what I write. If I really wanted to blend genres in the manner that I’m currently pursuing, it made a lot more sense to go it alone, at least for a while…” So often we as authors want to stretch our wings and pursue a genre that is perhaps a little more off-the-wall than others. Understandably traditional publishing is generally speaking less willing to take a risk on a hard-to-market genre or a blended genre story. This is when Indie is sometimes the best option. At the end of the day, readers will read stories that keep them turning the pages, not caring whether it is an Amazon imprint or a BIG6 imprint. Good stories trump marketing and genre-marketing any day. As you have said Jonathan: “I’m slowly realizing that the only real conventional wisdom that works is the oldest one: the best marketing for your books is writing and releasing another book…”. No matter what route a writer chooses to publish, Keep Writing. ~ Kim

Author Notes

Born and raised in the rural Shenandoah Valley of Virginia, Jonathan wrote his first fantasy/sci-fi novel at the age of 13. After studying writing and communication at James Madison University, Jonathan turned his passion for writing into a full-time technical writing career in the DC Metro area, working for companies like Sprint/Nextel, Time Warner Cable, and Sirius XM Radio, where he had an opportunity to combine his love of music with his love of writing.

 He may have drifted away from fiction at times, but it was always his first love – and he always returned to it. Now living in Bethesda with his wife, two cats, and two quirky guinea pigs for whom his publishing company is named, he crafts the kinds of stories that he had always hoped to read but just couldn’t quite find.

You can find him at:

The Many Ways to Skin a Cat | Introducing Patti Larsen

Upcoming Blog Series: Researching the many ways “to skin a cat” in publishing

Over the next few weeks I am going to be looking at all the ways “to skin a cat” in publishing. I am going to interview and feature guest posts with different authors from different publishing options. So if, like me, you are at that painful and exciting point of trying to make the most informed choice…stick around and watch this space. Perhaps one of the options will stand out for you and perhaps one of these authors that I interview or who guest-post will inspire you down the same path.

I am coming at this with a completely open mind and non-judgmental attitude. I am doing this series as much to get more information for myself and educate myself as I am any reader whom finds this interesting or useful.

Open Call

Also if you want to be one of the authors to be interviewed or guest post on this topic in this series, please shout out.

*My Guarantee: No Cats will be harmed or skinned in the writing of this series!*

😼   😼   😼   😼   😼

Today I have the great pleasure to kick off this series of “The Many ways to skin a cat” Talking Publishing options with a prolific YA Author and one of my closest friends and writing mentors: Patti Larsen

Patti Larsen is a YA author with 15 books published. Her readers love her and other authors respect her. She is an author first and foremost and writing is her business.

So pull up a chair and make yourself comfortable as Patti talks about her business, the business of writing and publishing, with me on Dragonfly Scrolls.

 

1. Patti, you have made yourself a well-known and well-regarded name amongst Indie authors & YA authors. Can you tell us what “being Indie” means to you?

Patti >> Being an independent author/publisher means I’m able to be my own boss, just how I like it. There was a time when having a publisher (and I’ve signed with two in the past) was the best thing in the world, the core of the dream I’d been longing for my whole life. But times are changing and my inner entrepreneur (I’ve owned three businesses) just couldn’t tolerate not having the reins in my hands. I’m the type of person who has to try every single job in a profession in order to understand that profession, and working with a publisher simply didn’t give me that flexibility. I like to get my hands dirty as well as know exactly what’s happening day in, day out, with my business–from sales to pricing, marketing to production, cover design, editing, you name it. I often found myself in the dark and waiting on one publisher (I’ve now parted ways with the company) for even the most basic answers. The realization I had lost control, that signing away my rights meant I no longer had the ability to see how the process advanced, I put on the submission brakes and dove back into what I love–being a writer AND a businesswoman. It was the best decision I’ve ever made.

2. Nowadays there are so many options for authors but the sheer amount of publishing options can create confusion. Why did you decide to go the pure Indie route of self-publishing?

Patti >> Think of it this way: you can have a boss (traditional publishing) who assigns you work and gives you a paycheck based on what they think you’re worth at the end of every quarter(if that frequently), with no transparency on accuracy of profit reporting and no input into how your work (cover design, final edits) is produced. All while expecting you to do the majority of the marketing, relying on you for the success of the work while keeping the majority of the profit. Or you can open your own small business (indie publishing) and take the project on yourself, hire a team of professionals to come together as a partnership, ensuring the final product is exactly what you wanted. Track day by day the amount of money you’re making and keep the profit for yourself, minus expenses. I’m not bashing traditional publishing. For some people, the first scenario is what they are looking for. And that’s okay. But to me it’s a no brainer.

3. You hear of authors switching methods of publication from seeking traditional representation from agents & the Big6 to small press to self-publishing. Did you try any other route in publishing before settling on self-publishing and can you tell us what these routes were?

Patti >> Settling seems like a harsh word. I feel now like had I signed a large contract, that would have been settling. None of us are immune to the call of the dream, however: write a best seller, find the perfect agent who signs you with the big publisher for the seven figure advance and everyone lives happily ever after in a nirvana of creativity and public accolades. It’s been thrown in our faces over and over again as the only way to be successful. Thank goodness the lie of the dream is finally being challenged. I spent years querying and submitting to agents and publishers, signing with two separate presses. I’m so glad it happened that way first–had I signed with the Big 6, after all I’ve learned, it would have been like selling my soul.

4. On the converse side of the debate, are you a dyed-in-the-wool Indie author or would you ever consider the lure of a Big6 publishing contract?

Patti >> They would have to change their model drastically for me to consider it. Drastically. For instance, I’d need full transparency on all financial matters. They would have to prove to me the value of publishing with them beyond putting my books in brick and mortar stores. That’s my new rule of thumb–what can you do for me I can’t do for myself? 99% of the time, the answer is nothing. As things stand now, I would turn them down. I’m a highly prolific author with a structured release schedule. Having to veer from that because of their demands or being forced to go from publishing two books a month to one a year would simply not work for me. And since most publishing contracts (especially coming out of New York) now require a non-compete clause (meaning I’d be unable to publish on my own while under contract), that would put a serious damper on my schedule. There are a number of other reasons, but mostly because I’m a businesswoman and see the pure benefits of being in charge. Besides, signing a contract and receiving an advance doesn’t mean anything until you earn out that advance. I recently read of an indie author who is being forced to pay back his sizeable advance to his publisher because of low sales. No thank you!

5. What would you say is the most important piece of advice you were given in your dream to become a published author?

Patti >> I hate to beat a dead horse… my dear friend and incredibly talented writer, Joseph Paul Haines, (www.josephpaulhaines.com) was the one who broke the last thread of control the dream had over me. We butted heads over the issue at first, me the champion of traditional publishing and he the level-headed voice of reason. He finally asked me what the hell I, a capable and seasoned businesswoman, was thinking (it still makes me laugh). I will be forever grateful to him. 

6. Being Indie means that you have to be your own Marketing guru and Public Relations expert, what have you learnt about marketing your own books as an Indie Author?

Patti >> This is not a sprint, it’s a marathon. A career. Like any business, it takes time to grow. We’re actually in an enviable position as writers/entrepreneurs. With the connectiveness of the world through the internet, building our business is much easier than ever. Bear in mind, most small business don’t see a profit for up to five years. Meanwhile, I’ve been selling independently for eight months and I’ve made back my investments already. Am I typical? No, I know I’m not. But the other side of the equation is production. Dean Wesley Smith, (www.deanwesleysmith.com) an advocate of indie publishing, himself the author of over 100 novels and a veteran of the publishing industry, puts it like this: think of your business like a bakery. If you make awesome cookies, fantastic. People will rush out to buy those cookies. But if you only have one kind to offer, eventually folks will get sick of them and you’ll lose business. But, if you have a fully stocked store with new merchandise available all the time, your customers will keep coming back over and over again. He’s so right. When I do a special promotion of one of my novels, I see a wonderful upswing in sales of that book–but I also see an equal rise in sequel sales. Meaning I’m not just benefiting from one book, but many. Readers then peruse my store for more goodies, driving up sales of my other series. The more you have to sell, the more money you make. It’s simple math. So many writers put all of their time and effort into marketing one book. And while it works for some, the majority come out disappointed. Marketing is important–but if you don’t have much for sale, you’ve pretty much thrown your efforts out the window.

7. Everyone keeps on about the importance of developing “your own brand” as an author. Do you agree and how have you built “your own brand”?

Patti >> Yes, I agree with branding, though I know for some it’s a dirty word. As authors, we’re notorious for being introverts who hate coming out into the sunlight except for book signings and grocery shopping (and both begrudged!). I’m fortunate in that I’ve had a lifetime of performance experience, so I’m very comfortable and even welcome media attention and the connections that come from networking with readers and other authors. I make sure to use the same bio image for all of my sites, promos and posts, as well as on the backs of my books. My flagship series, The Hayle Coven Novels, has a very distinctive look, allowing me to use the imagery as an easily recognizable symbol representing me and my writing. I guest post as frequently as possible and am always available to other writers as a helping hand as well as doing frequent giveaways to readers. And I’m everywhere I need to be as often as I can be, at least virtually, from Facebook to Twitter, Goodreads and my Amazon author page as well as many other sites like LinkedIn and Pinterest. I if you’re just getting started branding, I highly suggest you not overwhelm yourself with a million different sites. Pick one, get really comfortable with it, then add another. First and foremost is a webpage/blog. Second is Facebook. Third Twitter. And so on. Don’t frustrate yourself by taking on too much at one time. Remember what I said? This isn’t a sprint. You’ve loads of time to build yourself and your books into a visible presence.

8. Nowadays the world is a smaller place through social media and the internet. How important a tool do you believe social media is to an author today and what tips would you give an author in how to use it effectively?

Patti >> My biggest tip? Don’t use social media as a sales avenue. I know this sounds counter intuitive, but think about the name: social media. It’s a place to connect with people, not sell them things. A place to make friends from around the world, not annoy the ones you already have with BUY MY BOOK. The only times I post my books on social media are A) when I have a new one released. I alert everyone once, on all networks. And B) when I’m doing a freebee or giveaway. The rest of my status updates are either links to other people’s free books, witty (I try anyway) stuff I think might make people laugh (I’m sure I’m way less amusing than I think I am), one-time shares of blogs I’m guest posting on and occasional updates on how my writing is going. I do have a Facebook fan page: this is where I update folks on book progress, cover reveals and all things Patti Larsen Books. But again, I don’t overload them with marketing. I offer a page where they can find links to all of my books. And on my webpage, instead of pushing sales, I offer an Amazon trailing widget (www.pattilarsen.com) that scrolls my books past you on the top of the page with clickable links to each novel. The best way to market your books is to be accessible, friendly, open and willing to help others. Making connections with people, friends even, comes first and foremost. Because when you do, they automatically jump on your bandwagon when the time comes to sell more books. Please don’t get me wrong–I don’t see my online friends as tools, not in the least. Our relationships come first. But I’m happy to know they think enough of me to pimp me out.

9. What would you say has been the biggest learning curve for you in Indie Publishing, and would you say the greatest challenge was the publishing aspect or the marketing aspect?

Patti >> This is such a huge question. The learning curve has been enormous and I’m still at it (and always will be). In fact, it’s had such a huge impact on me, I’ve created a course on the subject, which I’m teaching more and more frequently. That said, I love a challenge, so this evolution has been the most fun I’ve ever had. If I had to choose one thing that was the hardest, marketing would be it. Not because it’s hard, but because there is so much conflicting advice on the subject and every book requires a different approach. Trial and error, experimentation rather than sticking to one method has served me well, though I feel like I’ve finally found a good promotion strategy for myself. But even that is ebbing and changing all the time! Best advice? Have fun with it, seriously. Don’t look at it like a job (this goes for social media and building your brand, too!) or a drudgery. This is an awesome part of the process that should leave you happy.

10. Considering the question of editing, how important do you think it is that all books (Indie or Big6) be edited professionally?

Patti >> I can’t stress enough how important a good editor is. If you find one (I guard mine jealously and hope she never, ever leaves me) do the dance of joy. You’ve just found a partner who will help you take your work above and beyond, into a place of greatness. Always, always, always (did I say it enough times?) put out your very best work and only your very best work. And an excellent editor is a vital component to that end. How do you find one? Start auditioning them. I know having a few edit your first chapter won’t help you know if they are good at content edits or not, but you’ll at least see how fast they are, their take on grammar (so important!!) and how comfortable you are with them. Ask around as well, to other Indie authors. Many great editors are leaving publishers to freelance. But be cautious: there are more bad editors out there (with good intentions, don’t get me wrong!) who don’t really understand what you need than there are good ones. Choose wisely!

11. If you have a Big 6 contract and/or an agent – you have project deadlines to keep you motivated to finish that draft and keep you from procrastinating. How do you, as an Indie author, keep yourself motivated to keep finishing those drafts?

Patti >> I’m a very structured and organized person. I track my progress daily, weekly, monthly and even yearly. I know what my plan is well in advance, balancing cover design delivery with editing on the last book while I write the next one, etc. Without a plan, if you don’t treat writing as a career, it’s easy to fall into the procrastination pit and not get anything done. Trust me, I have my days. But I also have very firm goals and readers to please, so I have to focus. It helps I love what I do so much I can hardly stand it. This is what I’ve always wanted, ever since I was twelve years old. And while life can get in the way of my passion, there’s no silencing the voices.

12. If an unpublished writer came to you to get advice on whether they should go the Indie route or a more Traditional route in publishing, what 3 tips would you give that writer?

Patti >>

  1. One: Do your research. Check out The Passive Voice (www.thepassivevoice.com), a legal eagle blog that dissects contracts into human terms, as well as Dean Wesley Smith and his wife, Kristine Katherine Rusch (www.kriswrites.com). Both have been in the industry for years and years, been publishers themselves, have had Bix 6 deals and have independently published. They know their stuff.
  2. Two: Ask yourself–what can a publisher do for me I can’t do for myself? Right now, the only things are a) free editing (but bear in mind you then have no control over that editing–they get what they want, not the other way around), b) free cover design (see previous) and c) placement in brick and mortar stores. Is that worth 90% (in the case of the Big 6) of your royalties? Not to mention the 15% your agent will take from that measly 10% you receive once or twice a year with no idea if your publisher is tracking and reporting your sales correctly (I’m not blowing smoke, here. There’s an inquiry happening right now on just this issue, involving ebook reporting).
  3. Three: Decision time. Are you the type of person willing to put in the work necessary to make this happen? I’m in the enviable position that this is my full-time job. And yes, I work hard at it–but that’s why I’m doing so well. Effort out, success in, like with anything. But many people are succeeding while working full-time. So, are you excited about doing it yourself but a little scared/daunted? Then go for it. If, however, you’d rather just write and have everything done for you, traditional publishing is your way to go.

Patti, thank you for your time and your advice. I especially love “This is not a sprint, it’s a marathon. A career. Like any business, it takes time to grow. We’re actually in an enviable position as writers/entrepreneurs. With the connectiveness of the world through the internet, building our business is much easier than ever. ” I could not agree more. This is a marathon and us writers are in it for the long term. This is also our business. It’s serious. You gave some really great tips and gave us all a great peek into the world of publishing Indie-style. Definite food for thought there. ~ Kim

 

Author Notes

Patti Larsen is a middle grade, young adult and adult author with a passion for the paranormal. Her YA thriller series, The Hunted, started it all, released in August, 2011. The first four books of The Hayle Coven Novels, Family Magic, Witch Hunt, Demon Child and The Wild are also out now, with book five, The Long Lost, due for release this May. Her YA steampunk series, Blood and Gold, can be found on Amazon along with The Diamond City Trilogy. Her YA paranormal novel, Best Friends Forever, is also due in May along with more of the Hayle Coven Novels. Two of her books, Family Magic (Hayle Coven #1) and Run (The Hunted #1) were recently shortlisted for the PEI Book Awards. Patti is a full-time writer and a part-time teacher of her Get Your Book Done program. She lives on the East Coast of Canada with her very patient husband and four massive cats.

 

You can find her:

XOXOXO thank you 🙂

Friday Feature | YAlicious Time Travel with Melissa Pearl

...Showcasing White Hot talent in Indie Fiction
It is my pleasure to welcome my first FRIDAY FEATURE Indie Author:
Melissa Pearl…The new voice in Time Travel in YA Fiction.
The new voice in Time Travel - Melissa Pearl (The Author)
Thank you for agreeing to be my first Indie author of 2012 on Dragonfly Scrolls.
Congratulations on the release of the complete trilogy now with the release of Pure Blood, the last book in the         Time Spirit Trilogy.
1) Tell us a little bit about Melissa Pearl, the woman behind The Time Spirit Trilogy.
I’m super excited about Pure Blood’s release. Having the trilogy complete is such a fantastic feeling. I really wanted to get them out close together so readers didn’t have to wait to find out what was going to happen.
Thanks for letting me be first interview for 2012 too. How cool.
i)  Who are you?
I am the mother of two young boys, the wife of a gorgeous school teacher and a passionate writer. I have grown up with stories dancing around in my brain, but I didn’t write my first one until I was 23. Ten years of learning and studying has flown by and I finally feel as though my work is good enough to be published. I am also a fully trained elementary teacher and particularly like teaching middle grade students. They are such a cool age. I think that’s one of the reasons I like writing YA.
ii)  What/Who inspires you?
My best friend was the one who inspired me to write my first book, but the actual stories come from all over the place. Songs, movies, concepts, poetry, nature. It only takes the smallest spark to ignite the imagination.
iii)  What is your “guilty pleasure” when not writing?
Watching movies. I love getting lost in a great story.
iv)  What is one thing about you that your readers/fans would be surprised to find out?
Hmmm – that’s a tough one. I’m quite an open and honest person, so I don’t tend to surprise people much.
How about this? I used to take kick boxing classes. Loved them. I suck at sport, but I love beating up a punching bag 🙂
2) You decided to go the Indie route and self-published your debut YA trilogy.
     Can you tell us why you went this route?
Had you tried the Big 6 route before deciding to go Indie?
It was a difficult decision and I took my time making it. I had been trying the Big 6 for a while, with no luck, but I really felt like my stuff was good enough to put out there. I also knew that traditional companies were sometimes hesitant to go for a trilogy. My brother suggested I check out self-publishing as he’s an avid reader and had enjoyed numerous indie authors. I decided to look into and realized that it was a very plausible option for me. I knew it would be really hard work and I wouldn’t have the backing of a publishing company or agent, but I liked the idea of being my own boss and I felt like I was up to the challenge. I figured my trilogy could spend the next 5 years sitting in my hard drive while I tried to win over a publishing company, or I could jump into the Indie river and see how far I got swept down stream.
3) What has been the biggest teeth-cutting lesson for you in going the Indie route?
I have learned sooooo many things on this journey and I am still learning all the time. I’m not a great marketer (so I’ve discovered) so I have found that aspect really challenging. Knowing who to target and how to target on a $0 budget has been really hard. If I could afford to hirer a marketing guru to work with me, I’m sure my sales would jump through the roof, but I can’t and so I will continue to take one step at a time. I am still gaining momentum, day-by-day, but it is a slow-moving vehicle 🙂
There is so much support out there in the writing world though and that has been a salvation. I think if I was doing this all over again, I’d take more time to research marketing strategy and build up my social media presence before putting my book on-line.
4) Now having released your debut trilogy yourself what tips would you give other pre-published writers?
Take your time. Edit until your eyes bleed. Get feedback from your critique partners, your beta readers and then keep working on the story until it’s brilliant. Once you’ve done that, you’ll want to get your work properly line edited. No mistakes is always your ultimate goal.
You also want to take time to get your cover right. A professional looking cover speaks volumes. I was lucky enough to have a friend who was a graphic designer who generously offered to do the work for me. I’ll pay her back when I make my millions ;o)
Also read up on as much as you can. Make connections in the writing world. Get your book reviewed before it’s even released. Make yourself known throughout social media. You’ll get a following who are dying to support you. The writing world is a very warm and encouraging place to hang out.
5) What aspect of the business end of releasing your books was the highlight for you?
Seeing your book on-line, watching it sell and then having people write to you and tell you they LOVED it, is the biggest buzz in the world.
ii) What aspect of the business end was the most difficult to learn?
I still have much to learn, but it’s been hard wrapping my head around the best way to target and reach my audience. Getting exposure can be really challenging.
6) Can you give us a short summary of the process of self-publishing that you undertook?
I started by letting people know my intentions and getting some advice. I was led to Smashwords and Kindle Direct Publishing. These are both awesome places to publish your books. I decided to start with just e-book copies of my books, but have since realized that putting paperbacks out is also a really good idea. Hence the reason this trilogy will be re-released in paperback with new covers in March, April & May.
I read every thing I possibly could on both sites until I felt comfortable that I knew what I was doing. Smashwords has fantastic information, outlining everything really clearly. It made formatting the book a breeze and I didn’t have any issues uploading my book as I had followed everything to the letter.
Once Golden Blood was up, I then started looking at marketing (as I said earlier, this is possibly the wrong way around, but it has still worked for me). I e-mailed numerous sites to review my book and heard back from about 50% of them. I also got linked into sites that would support me and promote my books. YA Lit Chat has been awesome, as well as all the great groups on Facebook. Goodreads is another excellent site. It’s all about getting exposure for your book.
I participated in a blog tour in December, which brought a ton of traffic through my blog and gained me a steady flow of new followers on Twitter. I also have a big blog tour coming up at the end of March. I have my fingers crossed for good things.
7) What has been your best marketing strategy or promotional strategy in both building your brand as a YA author and selling your books?
Getting in with people who have some influence and sway is a really good move. I am hoping for really good results from this blog tour in March. I guess I have to wait and see how that goes, but bringing traffic through your sites and getting exposure is a great way to go. I also think giveaways and sales are a really good move. I made Golden Blood available for free for two weeks leading up to the release of Black Blood. I had a whole bunch of people grab it, so that was worth doing.
8)  In terms of marketing and promotional strategies:
Do you think there is a different strategy in releasing a trilogy compared to a stand-alone title and what is the difference, if any?
I was advised, that if I could, I should release the trilogy close together. The more books you have out there, the more potential for sales. I took that advice on board and released them quickly… maybe too quickly? It’s been really hard to build up much momentum for Black Blood (Bk 2) as Golden Blood is still getting off the ground. At this stage, I’m still spending quite a bit of time promoting the first book. I really hope it has a good flow on effect. If people love Golden Blood then they will hopefully be after Black Blood and it will be immediately available for them. However, I am going to spend some time shifting my focus to Black Blood and Pure Blood leading up to the paperback releases.
I guess if you only have one title to promote, it would be a lot easier in that regard, because you’d only be pushing one book.
9) What was the best advice; if any, you received from other Indie authors or even traditionally published authors?
I read a blog post by Patti Larsen about the Dos and Don’ts of Indie writing. It was SUCH a good post and I found it so encouraging. The thing that really stuck out for me was – don’t worry about constantly checking your stats and fussing, just write another book 🙂 She had lots of great advice, but her main point was to write another book.
10) What is your best advice to up and coming authors whether choosing to be self-published, small press published or Big 6 published?
Write because you love it. Write a story that will capture people’s hearts and minds. As awesome as this industry is, being a writer is really hard work. If you find yourself slogging along and hating it, then you should probably stop. Whichever path you choose to take in the publishing world it’s going to be really challenging and there will be days you feel like a totally crap writer or that no one will ever accept your manuscript or buy your book.
I have been riding a roller coaster ever since taking the plunge. I can go from a low to a high to a low, all in one day, but not once have I wanted to quit. You have to take all the hard stuff on the chin and just keep writing.
11) Tell us why you decided to go YA fiction. Have you always be drawn to YA fiction and why?
I have always loved high school movies and books. There’s something about teenagers that I just adore. They are so passionate about life. They think they are invincible yet can be totally insecure as well. I love the way they fall in love with everything they have. They are complex, awesome, fascinating beings. That’s why I like to write about them 🙂
12) Do you have a favourite YA author and why?
I really like Simone Elkeles – she writes excellent stories with lots of emotion and tension. I find her books really hard to put down. I quite like Ally Carter as well. She has a fantastic sense of humour. I also have a long list of indie YA authors on my “to read” list so keep an eye out for my reviews. I’m bound to discover more brilliance as I work my way through these books.
13) If you could throw a dinner party with two of your favourite characters from your own books and four from other authors’ books:
Tell us who would be on the guest list and tell us what food would be served?
What a great question 🙂 I love it.
Okay…
My two favourite characters from the Time Spirit Trilogy are Harrison and Gabe.
Along with them, I’d invite Kat and Gabrielle from the Heist Society Series (Ally Carter), because they are just fantastic, funny & very entertaining.
I’d also love to be joined by Mark & his best friend, Brian from Screwing Up Time (C. M. Keller)
So that would give us two gorgeous, sassy girls, three very likeable teenage guys and one relaxed father figure.
Food wise, we’d have to go for pizza 🙂
14) What do you want readers to get out of reading your books?
I want to provide them with an entertaining story that they struggle to put down. I want them to be thinking about the characters when they’re not reading. I want them to step out of reality for a little while and get lost in someone else’s emotional and physical adventures.
ii)  Do you have an overall premise/message/theme that guides your stories?
The overall message for the Time Spirit Trilogy is about breaking free. As Gemma walks this journey throughout the books she is learning to fight for what she wants and ultimately gain her freedom.
Each book has a main theme that drove me through the stories…
Golden Blood – hope
Black Blood – betrayal
Pure Blood – sacrifice
5) Your trilogy has elements of time travel in it.
i) Have you always been fascinated with time travel.
Yes – I love history. The idea of being able to travel back and see it with my own eyes is tantalizing.
ii) What other time travel stories, if any,  have inspired your own trilogy?
To be honest, I haven’t read many time travel stories. I quite like that I haven’t, because it means all my ideas were fresh to me. In saying that, I have seen a few time travel movies I enjoyed like, Timeline and of course the Back To the Future series (how old am I?)
16) Do you have a favourite out of the three books of your trilogy and why?
Black Blood is my favourite. I’m not even sure why. I just really love Gemma’s journey through that book. I feel like she really starts to come into her own and discover the strength she has buried deep down inside her.
ii) Do you have a favourite character from the trilogy? Who is it and why?
I love Gabe. I don’t want to say too much, because of spoilers, but Gabe is the coolest guy. He’s calm, relaxed… a brilliant contrast to all of Gemma’s turmoil.
7) A trilogy can be tricky to write and release. Some readers love them, others don’t.
For readers: Does your trilogy need to be read in the order it was written to be best appreciated?
Yes – very much so. I actually wrote all three books in one go. There is a big story arc that spans the three books and then three smaller arcs inside that (one for each book). To understand all the links and subplots, you really need to read them in order.
18) You have come to the end of this trilogy now. It must have a bittersweet feel to it.
Are you working on anything new? Can you give us a sneak peek/blurb?
I have a few things in the pipeline.
The next book to be released (hopefully July this year) is co-authored with a friend of mine, Brenda Howson. It is the first book in the Mica & Lexy series. These books will stand on their own and not need to be read in any particular order. We are hoping to release one a year. They follow the adventures of two kiwi girls who have been best friends forever. As they reach their senior years in high school, their friendship is put under different pressures as the girls acquire boyfriends and have to deal with the new dynamics. On top of this, they have the uncanny ability to get themselves in the worst situations, so each book will be filled with plenty of tension and nail biting. I’m really excited about this series. I love these two girls so much and we have so many cool adventures planned for them.
I am also in the early planning stages of a stand alone paranormal romance called Betwixt… about a girl who is hit by a car. She is lying in the forest, lost and dying, stuck between two worlds. In her ghost like form, the only person who can hear her is a boy who just happens to hate her guts. With the clock ticking, she must convince him to help her and then do whatever she can to find out where she is so that he can save her life.
19) Where can readers find your books?
ii) Where can readers find you online?
I have two blogs:
http://yalicious.blogspot.co.nz/ (co-authored with Brenda Howson)
Facebook:
Twitter:
I love connecting with people, so please leave a comment anywhere and I will always do my best to respond.
20) Lastly what do you want to say to your fans and readers, if anything?
I have had some fantastic feedback on these books and it warms my heart everytime. My goal was to write stories that entertained and were really hard to put down. To read the reviews and realize I am doing just that, totally makes my day. Thank you to everyone who has taken the time to review or rate my books or leave a comment on any of my pages. It means so much to me.
For those of you who haven’t read my stuff yet, I really hope you enjoy it 🙂
To celebrate the release of the final book in The Time Spirit Trilogy, Melissa Pearl has decided to give away 2 complete ebook sets of this trilogy to commentors of this post. If you would like to be a lucky recipient of this awesome YA trilogy from a fresh voice in the YA fiction world…then just tweet the following tweet:
 
I am traveling in time with the YAlicious Time Spirit Trilogy by @MelissaPearlG Check out this exciting new YA author and her trilogy!
  • The first 2 tweets will be the lucky winners but make sure you comment on this post with the URL of your tweet.
 
Thank you for taking the time to answer my questions Melissa. I look forward to your next release and wish you many sales with the Time Spirit Trilogy. 

The Time Spirit Trilogy

by Melissa Pearl

They were an enigma. Throughout the ages there had only ever been rumors of these mysterious people who appeared out of nowhere and disappeared just as quickly, whispers of swirling gold dust, unexplained piles of abandoned clothing left in dark alleys. Only a select few had glimpsed the reality and they chose not to speak of it. They knew the truth needed guarding. These people were special… chosen. Created for the sole purpose of changing history.

Book 1 ~ GOLDEN BLOOD

Purchase here on Amazon

Purchase here on Smashwords

St. Augustine, Florida – 2011 AD

Book 2 ~ BLACK BLOOD

Purchase here on Amazon

Purchase here on Smashwords

Daytona Beach, Florida – 2011AD

Book 3 ~ PURE BLOOD

Purchase here on Amazon
Purchase here on Smashwords
Rome, Italy – 2006AD
   

Hunting for the Truth | Interview with Reid | Patti Larsen

We Are Hunted

Kids are going missing. We see the posters everywhere. The kids from happy families are the ones with posters up and rewards are offered. But what about all those faceless kids lost in the system. The street kids, foster kids and orphans. Who misses them? Who notices that they have gone missing too? Where are these missing kids? Why aren’t we asking more questions? Enough is Enough. One brave woman asked too many questions and she went searching for answers. Her name is Patti Larsen. She was one of the people who started asking questions about the faceless kids, the ones nobody had wanted in the first place. She got in contact with one of these missing kids. Through covert meetings and phone calls he told her his incredible story. When I first read the four accounts of the horrors that are happening to kids, my heart jerked in terror. I also wanted to meet this faceless kid, an orphan, who had such a harrowing story to tell. Patti thought it would be a good idea for the kids to tell their side of the story. It is time for us to put faces and names to these lost children. It might be late for some but it might just be in the nick of time for other lost children.
Patti:
Yeah, he’d rather stay in the dark anyway…
Wants to know if you’re a reporter…
Trying to tell him this is about his story but he’s a little freaked.
Kim:
No….I am sort of a investigator…a seeker of truth.
Too many kids have been going missing and I am asking questions.
Reid:
Yeah, I know all about that.
Kim:
I am on the kids’ side.
Reid:
What do you want to know?
Kim:
Hi Reid…can I call you Reid?
My name is Kim.
Reid:
That’s my name.
Hi.
Kim:
So Reid….I have been really concerned…and I am not the only adult who is….some kids are going missing…it seems without a trace.
Patti told me I should get in touch with you.
Reid:
I’m trusting you. But only so far. Okay? You have to understand what we’ve been through.
Kim:
Can you tell me…firstly…are you with some of these kids? How long have you been missing for?
I cannot even imagine what you have been through.
Reid:
We’re in a safe place now. I can’t tell you where. And don’t bother tracking the IP address.
Yes, I’m with some survivors.
Kim:
Ok…good…so there are survivors….but then…that means there are some who didn’t survive? Is that correct?
Reid:
Yes.
A lot…
Who didn’t make it…
Kim:
Oh No! That was my worst fear!
Reid…do you know who is behind this?
Reid:
I’m not supposed to talk about it. But… damn it, people need to know. And understand.
It was a government program…
Kim:
Well let me help you get your story out there…
Reid:
Through the military…
Kim:
I am all ears…
Reid:
This crazy scientist. Dr. Kirstin Lund. She was doing experiments on animals, creating super creatures or something, decided to start testing on humans.
I guess she figured orphans–foster kids–were the most disposable.
Kim:
Like you?
Reid:
Hired this guy, Syracuse, to round up kids.
Yeah. Like me.
The cops, they figure we just ran away, you know?
Kim:
Reid….do you mind if I take notes? Should have asked you before?
Reid:
Yeah, go ahead
Drew told me you’re not tracking this.
Sorry to check up on you but we can’t be too careful.
Kim:
No I am not.
Please go ahead…I have nothing to hide…you can trust me….and I know that is difficult for you right now.
Reid:
It’s not so bad anymore. We’re okay. Trying to forget. But, it’s hard.
Kim:
Well…I have been investigating this for a couple of weeks now….the officials have been telling us that all you kids were runaways and since you were troubled kids…you probably ran away to join a gang or something.
Reid:
That is crap.
They really don’t give a shit about us, Kim.
They never did.
Kim:
I am beginning to see this Reid.
Reid:
And it’s not like this program wasn’t sanctioned.
They had a military base.
Kim:
Reid…can you tell me how many survivors there are now?
Reid:
One of the guys–Marcus–his Dad was the commander.
Kim:
Oh that is terrible!
Reid:
Eight and Minnie – she’s my lab
Kim:
Eight including you?
Reid:
Yes.
Kim:
Are you all roughly the same age?
Reid:
Well, the youngest is thirteen–hang on, let me ask.
Kim:
Ok.
Reid:
Yeah, Cole is thirteen and Marcus is eighteen so that’s the range.
They’re all here you know.
They want to know what this is about.
Kim:
Can you give me the names of the survivors? It is better for me to be able to make people realise you are just kids and knowing your names will help…you are not faceless then.
Reid:
Let me ask…
Kim:
Ok
Reid:
Milo’s pissed because I counted wrong and he thinks I missed him on purpose. LOL
Kim:
You can tell them all I am here to get the truth out…your truth? Enough is enough!
Reid:
So nine: Me, Leila, Drew, Kieran, Nishka, Sarah, Milo, Cole, Marcus and Minnie.
Kim:
Ok and where are you all from?
Reid:
I’m from Arizona.
Drew’s from NY state.
Leila’s from Cali.
Marcus says he’s from nowhere–army brat.
Kieran is from Ohio.
Nishka from Maine.
Milo’s from South Philly he says.
Cole is from Seattle.
Kim:
Ok…so all from the US?
Reid:
Yeah…
Sarah’s from New York too.
Kim:
Reid…I think this is bigger than just the US though….
Reid:
Why?
Kim:
Kids have been going missing from Mexico and lower Canada.
Reid:
There wasn’t really a whole lot of time to ask where people were from, you know?
Kim:
Which is why I am here asking questions….it has been making international news.
Yeah I get that.
Reid:
Barely had time to ask names…
Kim:
How long have you been hiding? on the run?
Reid:
Since June.
Kim:
What is the last thing you remember that was normal?
Reid:
My mom and dad alive. Nothing was normal after that
Foster homes for a year.
Kim:
But you have a sister…I have spoken to her…
Reid:
We made a new normal.
WHEN???????????????????
Kim:
About a month ago.
Reid:
Oh.
Kim:
I interviewed her, as one of the family members…
Reid:
Well… What did she say?
Kim:
She said that you were troubled since your parents died…..
She thinks you ran away.
Reid:
Maybe if she wasn’t sleeping with the guy who got me into this–
Whatever…She had no idea if I was troubled or not.
Kim:
Reid…something did not gel with me when she told me her story…
Reid:
She never even tried to contact me the whole year after Mom and Dad died until the day she got me out of foster care.
Kim:
She just did not seem that worried….I mean I have a younger brother and if he went missing I would go after him.
Reid:
It was her fault…She told her boss/boyfriend about me…I didnt’ know at the time.
Kim:
This guy…she is together with…is this Syracuse?
Reid:
WAS Syracuse…Guess she didn’t tell you she killed him.
Kim:
Was? No!
Reid:
Almost got away with it…
Kim:
Reid … what is Marcus’ dad’s name?
Reid:
Colonel Brackett.
Kim:
Right…so the suspects are: Dr Kirsten Lund, Colonel Brackett and this Syracuse fellow – who is now dead…as well as your sister Lucy?
Reid:
Yes. She was part of it for sure.
Brackett worked for Lund. So did Syracuse. One was her collector the other her bully but she was the core of the whole thing: She made the stuff that turned kids into monsters.
Kim:
What sort of monsters?
Reid:
The hunters.
Kim:
Hunters? Men with guns?
Reid:
Not exactly….
Okay, so we’re getting to the stuff that you’re going to judge us for.
Kim:
Only tell me what you think is necessary Reid.
Reid:
Dr. Lund was running this secret program to create super soldiers…
She developed this stuff that turned normal kids into these hybrid creatures
silver eyes, shark teeth, claws — you get the picture?
Thing is… The stuff made us into monsters…bloodthirsty. So when under the influence so to speak, the kids became bloodthirsty…hunted other kids…
Kim:
So that would make it appear that you are the guilty ones….cunning evil plan by this Dr Lund.
Reid:
Yeah.
Yeah totally…like we were the bad guys.
Kim:
Are you still under the influence of this experiment?
Reid:
um… I don’t know how to answer that
I mean, we’re all changed.
But we don’t take dust anymore. Unless there’s a mission…
Kim:
Ok…so the changes are permanent? They don’t wear off?
Reid:
Our senses are different, like hyper…
Eventually they don’t…if you take enough and Dr. Lund changed the formula
she said we were immortal but we’ll see… I don’t really believe her…
But we’re not bloodthirsty or anything, not dangerous.
Kim:
This Dr Lund? Is she still alive? Where is she?
Reid:
Unless you’re our enemy…
She’s dead.
Kim:
And Colonel Brackett?
Reid:
Dead.
Kim:
But there will still be people who know about this…their soldiers and helpers?
Reid:
No, not really–well sorta.
There was a general who came to clean up the mess but everyone who was responsible is no longer able to stand trial, you know?
(Trying to be subtle.)
Kim:
Yes I understand…but Reid if you kids are all changed, it also means it is not safe for you to come forward.
Reid:
No.
Kim:
Is that the sum of it?
Reid:
That’s why I was (we were Drew made me type) worried about this.
But people need to know!
‘Cause if it gets out, they’ll think we’re monsters…and we’re not…not anymore.
Kim:
OK…Could you tell me this? Do you think this is still going on? Maybe that we don’t know about?
Reid:
I… we never thought about that…
Lund is dead so we figured…
Drew wants me to ask you why you’re asking?
Kim:
Reid….kids are still going missing…
Reid:
I…from here?
Kim:
Yes
Reid:
The US?
Kim:
Yes and other places.
Reid:
I’ll ask–I have someone I can check with…but I don’t know how it could be… not with Lund dead.
We’d have to do something about that!
Kim:
That’s why I am talking to you.
I am going to do something about it…and I have people I trust who are going to help me.
Reid:
If there is more going on, this is your only warning:
Stay out of our way!
Kim:
Reid…you need to promise me that you kids will stay in hiding? Don’t tell me or anyone where you are…
Reid:
We’ll do what we have to if this is still going on!
Kim:
But I will give you an email address that you can contact me on.
Reid:
We ALL agree!
Okay.
Kim:
Reid…is there anything you kids need … anything at all?
Reid:
No. We have everything we need.
Thanks for asking and for telling me about the other kids.
Kim:
OK…..then the last question is: is there anything any of you want to say to the world? Tell me now and I will be your mouthpiece.
Reid:
I’m not so great with words… hang on, Leila wants to answer this…
Leila:
Hi, Kim. We just want everyone to know that we’re real. We exist. We’re not evil or monsters, that we may be foster kids but we’re not disposable. And we’re not dangerous. We just want to live our lives and not hurt anyone ever again. That’s all. Thank you for your kindness. Leila..
Reid:
Okay, she’s done.
Kim:
Ok…Leila, Reid and everyone else I will get the truth out there….
Trust me.
Reid:
Just be careful…if you’re poking around there’re going to be consequences.
Kim:
I will…I don’t trust just anyone….I have been trained to take care of myself…
Reid:
Listen, if a guy named Aberdeen knocks on your door? Go with him – don’t hesitate, it means you’re in danger…
Okay?
Kim:
Ok…Aberdeen…I will remember that.
Reid…I have got to go now..in case anyone else is trying to track this…I have it pretty heavily encrypted but you never know…
Reid:
Okay. Um…Thanks.
Kim:
Contact me if you need to…anytime…any day ok.
Reid:
I will.
We will.
Kim:
And thank you for trusting me…and telling me the true story behind all your kids’ stories….
Please take care of one another. Be safe.
Reid:
Just get it right!
Bye.
Kim:
I will.
Bye.
Ok…..Patti…done
Patti:
WHEW!
That was intense!
Kim:
Not so bad…
That was intense.
Patti:
The kids were right here with me.
Kim:
Its’s going to be a good story…
Well the kids were brilliant…I thought it would be a good idea to get their story…in their words…
It is time for the truth to be told.
All four books are now available on Amazon. If you want to read more of Reid, Drew and the others’ story get your copies now. It is a story that needs to be read and shared. The order of this harrowing series are:
Patti Larsen | In the Spotlight | Run or Hide (dragonflyscrolls.wordpress.com)
Run | Patti Larsen | This year’s Next YA Amazon Hit (dragonflyscrolls.wordpress.com)
Night Terrors in Patti Larsen’s Mind (kimkoning.wordpress.com)

 

Patti Larsen | In the Spotlight | Run or Hide

 

Patti Larsen is a middle grade, young adult and adult author with a passion for the paranormal who writes a great deal of horror for someone who is afraid of the dark. She lives on the East Coast of Canada with her very patient husband Scott and four enormous cats. (That’s the official bio.)

Kim: Patti, congratulations on the release of both Run and now Hide – the first 2 in a 4 part YA series.

I know Patti as a friend with a wicked sense of mischief, an uncanny ability to cut through the BS, loyal and supportive and a mind as dark as my own is at times. Yesterday I reviewed Run and promised that I would introduce you to the imagination behind the characters. This is one INDIE author to watch because she has plenty more tales in her. When I say that the HUNTED series is the next YA hit – I meant every word. But for those who think that YA is a tad tame for your taste…let me introduce you to Patti and her HUNTED series. I dare the “grown up” kids amongst you to not be terrified, fascinated, shocked and riveted by the HUNTED series. This series is not for the timid. But if you like characters that are in as much inner conflict as outer conflict, you will love each of her characters in this series…both the good guys and the bad guys.

So without further ado I am going to let the lady who is never short of a wry comment tell you about herself and give you some teasers of RUN and HIDE: the first two books in the Riveting HUNT series.

Patti, Congratulations on the release of Run a couple of weeks ago and Congratulations on Hide’s release which gets released today. I am thrilled to have you on Dragonfly Scrolls.

~~~

Kim: Tell us a little about the writer that penned these incredible novels. 
Patti: I know you don’t want the shiny, polished version, right? (Knowing you P, I would not get it…no, we want the real version.) I’m a writer by choice and passion, a cat lover extraordinaire. I adore summer above all other seasons if only we could get rid of bugs. I’m a blonde and always will be no matter what Mother Nature thinks. I work far too much and love every second of it. (Believe me, this woman is a machine when it comes to getting the words out! Hard working is an understatement.) And I’m addicted to the voices in my head. I joke about wishing they would leave me alone, but I really love having them around.
Kim: What draws you to YA?
Patti: I was always a hard-core sci-fi and high fantasy girl growing up. That’s what I read and was exposed to, thanks to my father. But when my niece introduced me to Harry Potter and, later, Twilight, I realized my inner angsting teenager had been yelling at me for years to let her have a go. And despite the fact I have a few adult works I’d like to get to eventually, the pack of under eighteen’s in my head won’t let me go there just yet.

Kim: Does this series have an Omni-Premise? What is it?
Patti: No one is going to save you. You’re the only one with the power to do that.(A message we all could hear and heed.)

Kim: Reid, your main character, is also your POV throughout these two books. Where did Reid come from?
Tell us how he introduced himself to you.
Patti: I often receive my inspiration as flashes of images, almost like movies playing in my head. In this case, Reid appeared as he ran down a nighttime forest trail. There was just enough moonlight to see the terror in his face when he stopped for a minute. He turned and looked up. I could see his breath just puffing white in the cool of the air. Somewhere in the distance, something howled. Reid instantly panicked and ran on. I can still hear the sound of his sneakers on the hard dirt path and it will always give me goosebumps. (Bbbr…I just had a shiver down my spine.)

Kim: Both of these novels are emotionally intense as the reader is swept into the turmoil of Reid running and hiding.
Tell us about the process for writing such an emotionally intense storyline. How did you release your emotion?
Patti: Writing the series was a wild ride, I have to admit. All four books came out of me over about fifty days, with only a month of actual writing time and another 20 days of edits and breaks. It was like there was no stopping the story from coming out. I actually first thought there were three books, only to find out by the end of book two there were four!

I found I had to take days off in between writing binges to rest my mind from the constant conflict and turmoil. Reid is a tough kid, though, and he got me through it, though I’m not sure I’ll ever write that much that fast again.

Kim: Your antagonists in this series are as strong as Reid’s voice. Where did the inspiration come from for the “bad guys”?
Patti: I have the most over active imagination on the planet. I have trouble sleeping often because I’m afraid of the dark. Yup. Sad. But makes for great monster fodder.

The silver eyes came from a dream. The claws are very velociraptor–Jurassic Park still gives me nightmares.

I also have a pure and panic-laden phobia of sharks. Thus the teeth. But I always think monsters who look more human than creature are the scariest of all, which is why they retain their man-like shape. (That definitely makes them scarier…we don’t want to face a man-like monster..that is just cutting to close to home.)

Kim: If you could give Reid one piece of advice at the beginning of the series, what would it be?
Patti: Don’t panic. You’re going to be okay, I promise. Mostly. Maybe. Okay, just run.

Kim: Can you give us a teaser from Run and from Hide?
Patti:

Run: Alone, Reid gasps in one deep breath, another. It hurts his ribs, his lungs. He manages to roll over on his right side and regrets it. His shoulder screams in protest. Still, he is finally able to wriggle his numb hands loose from what holds him and claws at the cloth around his eyes.

Darkness. But not complete. The moon is up. Trees loom over him, the smell of spruce and fresh air so sharp it almost hurts. He jerks at the plastic ties around his ankles while. his vision swims through a veil of pain-laden tears. He manages somehow to force his screaming hands to work the ties loose and he is free.

Sixteen-year-old Reid thinks life is back to normal. His sister Lucy pulls herself together and cuts him free from a year of foster care. She promises to take care of him, that her new boss and her new life are what they both needed to start again. Until Reid is taken in the middle of the night, dumped in a wild stretch of forest far from home with no idea why he is there. Lost and afraid, he learns to run from the hunters who prowl the darkness, their only pleasure chasing down kids like him. And killing them.

Hide: “There’s no way out,” Milo says like it’s a death sentence. As far as they all know it could be. Everyone falls so silent Reid can hear the buzzing of the light bulb as it flickers its life away.

“You heard him,” Marcus says. “Time to move on. You,” he points at Cole and the boy perks, “keep an eye on that line.” He jerks his thumb at the electric cable. Like it’s going anywhere. 

Laughter bubbles up in Reid’s chest but he manages to hold it back. Somehow he doesn’t think Marcus would appreciate it. And not that Reid really cares but he’s too tired and wrung out to do anything about it if the other guy finally decides to challenge him.

Reid isn’t sure if he’s grateful to be alive. He’s managed to save a small group of kids from the hunters, but only by trapping them all underground without food or water or a way out. If starvation doesn’t kill them, thirst will. Still, they are out of the hunter’s reach and that’s something. Reid refuses to stop trying, even when the kids find out they aren’t alone in the mine after all.
Kim: Where can readers buy Run and Hide?
Patti: Amazon.com is my favorite place to buy and sell books! They are also available on Smashwords in a variety of downloadable formats

Kim: What are the other books in the series and when and where will they be released?
Patti: Fight is book three, coming out September 15th and Hunt, the final book, is scheduled for release on October 1st. (Readers will be waiting with bated breath for the last two to be released.)

Kim: Would you like to give a message to the readers of this series?
Patti: Read them at night alone in the dark. And hang on. Oh, and the nightmares? Sorry about that… (Um..now that you mention it…some of the nightmares I had after reading your books almost sent me to therapy…now I know where to send the therapy bills. 😉 )

Thank you Patti for an insight into your world and into Reid’s world. You are an inspiration in creativity and self-discipline to your friends, fellow writers and readers all over. We wish you all the success possible for many sales and many new readers/fans. Congratulations again!

You can find her at

Her Website: http://www.pattilarsen.com/

Her Writing Blog: http://www.pattilarsen.blogspot.com/

Her Book Blog: http://www.pattilarsenbooks.blogspot.com/

On Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/pattilarsenauthor

And On Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/ – !/PattiLarsen

You can find Run HERE (http://www.smashwords.com/books/view/82356) and HERE (http://www.amazon.com/Run-The-Hunted-ebook/dp/B005HZJX9W/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1314734322&sr=8-2)

You can find Hide HERE (http://www.smashwords.com/books/view/85195) and HERE (Amazon is still to be released in a couple of hours so will add the link then..)

Hide is now LIVE!

Get it here….

http://www.amazon.com/Hide-The-Hunted-ebook/dp/B005K0EFZQ/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1314887009&sr=8-1 

(Aside: On the 1st of October I will have the pleasure of Patti’s virtual company again when the last book of the series is finally released. So mark your calendars to come back on the 1st. Now…go to your nearest Amazon/Smashwords and buy RUN and HIDE.)

Run | Patti Larsen | This year’s Next YA Amazon Hit

run

Sixteen-year-old Reid thinks life is back to normal. His sister Lucy pulls herself together and cuts him free from a year of foster care. She promises to take care of him, that her new boss and her new life are what they both needed to start again. Until Reid is taken in the middle of the night, dumped in a wild stretch of forest far from home with no idea why he is there. Lost and afraid, he learns to run from the hunters who prowl the darkness, their only pleasure chasing down kids like him. And killing them.

My Review

Heart-pounding….

Pulse-racing…

Blood-pumping…

Nerves-Jumping….

Stomach-churning….

Nail-biting….

Teeth-clenching….

You will look over your shoulder.

You will tense at every sound.

You will wonder when they will get you.

Step into Reid’s shoes and you will be turning the pages as fast as the hunted can run.

Imagine your worst nightmare…release the monsters of dreamland horrors….and you will also want to RUN!

Patti Larsen has created a world that will disturb you, haunt you and change you. As she literally asks you to jump into her character’s shoes, you will be faced with a world where everything you ever knew just got spun on its head and spat you out.

The conflicts are finely crafted and taut with tension. The voice will cut you with emotion.

For fans of The Hunger Games Trilogy, get your hands on this story. You will not be disappointed.

You will not be able to forget these characters.

You will not be able to put this book down but you will not want this story to end.

If you want to know more about this incredible writer and her riveting Hunted series – stay tuned – tomorrow I will be doing an interview with the author herself. There will be teasers as well as upcoming news on the 2nd book in this Hunted series.

Eternity|A.J. Cole & Jenni James | Book Review

Eternity by A.J.Cole & Jenni James 

 

 

The pre-existence – a time before time itself when heaven was torn apart by holy war. Two angels stood above the crowd in their desire to defeat Satan’s dark army: General Laurelia, powerful, aloof and alone; and Petrus, a lowly soldier under her command with surprising abilities and a burning desire to win Laurelia’s heart. Together they could achieve anything, but the Dark Lord’s eyes are everywhere and the net is tightening fast…

 

I was given one of the preview copies of this incredible book to read by one of my good friends; Jenni James. At first I was sure that I would review the book politely and was prepared to like it. Thinking it was another paranormal book like countless others…I tucked in for a read.

By the first sentence  of the first chapter, I was hooked. For me the most important aspect of an unputdownable book is memorable characters that are richly drawn. In this story, I have found two characters that I want to meet in reality.

The book starts off with a prologue setting the scene of the world the reader is about to enter and explore. I know that a lot of the industry professionals do not like prologues but personally if the prologue adds to the story, I have no problem with them. With the first couple of lines of the first chapter, you are introduced to one of the MCs – Petrus. This is a man who will stop at nothing to get what he wants. Through a few sentences, the authors bring across a picture of a man of action. Soon afterwards you are introduced to the strong and feisty female lead – General Laurelia.

Without giving too much away, this book has two storylines. There is the main storyline of a holy war breaking out in heaven resulting in the ultimate fight between good and evil. But underneath this there is a storyline of love and its complexities. 

There is a saying that: All is fair in love and war. This book sums up that sentence. The characters evoke your empathy and not merely your sympathy. You know these characters. They are so richly drawn that it is easy to say you know them. The two main characters are fully fleshed out. They have flaws and insecurities. Indeed the authors portray these very insecurities so well that the characters start breathing. 

The plot line of this story is very well constructed and easy to follow. There are also twists and turns in the journey that make the story unpredictable and interesting. The battle scenes are epic and evoke the ageless time of time before time. 

The world that the authors create is rich in imagery. What amazed me was how seamless their descriptions of this world is. These authors show more than tell. You view the world through their characters’ eyes instead of the authors’ eyes. As the book is written in 1st person POV, the world that it takes place in is layered and very believable.

You will want to read this book if you are looking for something different and unusual. This is a book that will be equally enjoyed by both women and men. It is a suspense-filled action adventure but it is also a love story. This is a book that will keep you turning the pages. The only warning I would give is that you don’t start reading late at night as you will want to finish the book before putting it down, not leaving much time for sleep.

So much has been done in the paranormal genre but this is a book unlike any other. These authors are not following a trend. Their book will be ahead of the curve creating a trend. My only regret is that their story came to an end too quickly. I await more of this story and these very memorable characters with eager anticipation. This is a world I want to return to.

I give this book 5 stars out of 5. I loved this book so much that I read it two more times after the first time. Now go get yourself a copy of this book and be prepared to fall in love with EPIC characters and a rich story that will linger in your mind.

 

To own your own copy of this book, you can purchase this book here:

 US Kindle

UK Kindle 

Smashwords 

 

For more about these authors, here are some links:

AJ Cole and Jenni James writes on Facebook

Author Jenni James – Her Website with links to AJ Cole as well.