I met Samantha through our recent cross-blog critique event. Apart from a participant blogger she also coordinated the entire thing, and I was impressed both by her writing and her coordinating skills. Next logical step was to invite her over for a WIP interview through which we’ll get to know her and her work process better.
Hi, everyone! Thanks for stopping by. I’m the author of the recently released fantasy novel, Guarding Angel, which came out in May.
Samantha, thank you for being here. Before we talk about your WIP, why don’t you tell us a few things about yourself?
When I was a child, I loved reading and, when very young, decided to try my hand at writing. I wrote my way through high school, but being too practical and focused on what would give me an income instead of what I love, I decided to study my second love—science—instead of my first love—writing. When I graduated with a Bachelor of Science in Physics, I’d had enough of school and took a job at a bank as an assistant on technology projects. For ten years, I’ve worked in banking project management, but my first love remains writing. A couple years ago, I decided to vehemently, seriously, rambunctiously pursue a career in writing, and that’s how Guarding Angel came to be published.
What are you working on right now?
I have two projects underway. I’ve written and done the first revision of a dark urban fantasy novel with the working title The Exorcist’s Assistant. It’s with CP’s now, and I plan on doing another revision toward the end of summer and then querying. Tagline: A woman harassed by a demon enlists the aid of a doubting exorcist and discovers its connection to her past life and its hunger for her wife and daughter.
The second project is the sequel to Guarding Angel, called Reaping Angel. It’s the second of three books in the Fallen Redemption series. So as not to spoil too much of the first book, I’ll be vague: Angel Enael, main character of the first book, must meet the demands of Heaven’s governing Council of Seraphim for her past transgressions while struggling with interference from a now-demon love interest from her past.
Dark fantasy turning midnight black! Are you happy with the pace of your work? Do you aim at a specific word count each day?
Right now, I’m delighted with the pace of my writing, but for the first half of the year, I was not. I’m currently 7.5 months pregnant, and the pregnancy made it difficult for me to write for a variety of reasons. I had originally planned to have Reaping Angel written by March … then May … Then I just wanted to hide in a hole because I’d only gotten about a quarter of it done. However, this month I’m doing Camp NaNoWriMo, and I’ve been keeping up with and even exceeding my goal of 2,000 words most days. When I was writing The Exorcist’s Assistant, I found that same word count to be a good goal for both writing and revising. I work best under pressure with a daily goal and a deadline.
Plotter, pantser or both?
Both. Guarding Angel was written totally pantsy, but I had to go back and do a lot of revisions. I started Exorcist’s Assistant that way and it went nowhere. I originally didn’t want to be confined by a plot, but once I caved and tried it when I got stuck, I found that’s my method. One of the reasons I was so frustrated with myself with Reaping Angel was because the chapter-by-chapter plot was written last November. All I had to do was actually write the thing! Now that I’m underway, things change and evolve in a pantsy way. I discover new secrets, plot twists, and back story to my characters every day, while still guiding them along the general plot I’m aiming for.
What’s your worst enemy in getting that first draft finished?
Allowing myself to believe that I’m not feeling it. What does that even mean, anyway? I find that when I go back and reread what I’ve written, it doesn’t matter if I wrote on a day where my brain was bursting with ideas or on a day when I felt like my muse had a hangover. It reads with the same voice, the same inspiration. (Which isn’t to say that everything is gold; it’s just that the good stuff and bad stuff come in equal quantities whether I was feeling it or not.) All I need to do is sit my butt in a chair and get those words out. I know I have to revise, so slogging, for me, is not a reason to stop and wait for a better moment.
Hear hear! Have you ever experienced lack of inspiration or drive to write? If so, how do you motivate yourself?
The reason I decided to do Camp NaNoWriMo was because I am a bit terrified of what’s going to happen when the baby comes, since it’s our first. I find revising easier—like shaping clay into a finished statue. If I didn’t have a draft of Reaping Angel written, when was I going to do the most difficult part—getting that clay out of the recesses of my brain and onto paper? Maybe I’ll have a ton of time and motivation when I’m on maternity leave. Or maybe I won’t feel at all like writing because the baby will need my attention constantly. I didn’t want to chance not having something.
Good thinking! Those little ones are a blessing, but they can seriously mess up with the best of your intentions! Could we take a look at your workspace? Is there a particular place you find inspiring for writing?
I have a great setup in the basement with two big monitors and an L-shaped desk. Previous to the pregnancy, I found it inviting and inspirational, but now, it feels like a torture device because the desk chair isn’t exactly top-of-the-line. That was an impediment for awhile, so now I just fluff up half a dozen pillows on my couch and write on my tiny laptop that I originally purchased to go into my purse so I could write on the train commute. If I have an idea while sitting in front of the TV, I just pick up my laptop and plop it in. And it’s easier to get motivated to write because I don’t dread the actual sitting part anymore.
Very cozy! I love it! Now it’s pinned in my Featured Writers’ Workspace board on Pinterest! Apart from Word and Google, do you use any other writing or research tools and apps?
I used Scrivener, which I love for drafting and revising. It’s more difficult once I get feedback from my editors because I have to manually make all the changes. However, I’m a perfectionist and I have to scrutinize everything before I allow it in, so it works for me. I also use dictionary.com and thesaurus.com—for inspiration. Piece of writing advice: If you didn’t already know the word, don’t use it. Your editor, if she’s worth her salt, will magically know, tsk at you, and make you cut it. And not only her—your readers will know. If you’re not comfortable with the language you use, your writing will seem awkward.
How do you intend to celebrate writing “The End” on your draft?
I’ve been throwing around the idea of starting a new game of Spore or the Sims 3. I am a gamer, but I haven’t played anything in quite a while. My husband and I are the ultimate nerds—we met on an MMO, Star Wars: Galaxies, in 2006. I don’t have time for MMO’s right now, but a fun one-player game is something I’ve been missing lately. Maybe I’ll even splurge on something I don’t already own.
A gamer who writes demon-infested dark fantasy and reviews horror without blinking an eye while pregnant. You’re amazing! Which book publishing processes are you going to outsource and which are you confident enough to undertake yourself?
I outsourced the cover design, which was a really good idea because I’ve had people tell me over and over that the cover is what really sold them on giving my book a try. I also outsourced the editing (developmental, copy editing, and proofreading). Next time, I might try to find a CP or two to trade proofreading services with, since the bulk of the problems are taken care of in the first two editing processes.
I did the book formatting and uploading myself. If you have an aptitude for computer languages, I would suggest using Guido Henkel’s Take Pride in Your eBook Formatting guide to do your own formatting. I’ll probably take less than an hour to do an entire novel now that I’ve done it twice (once for the ARC and once for the final version). I also purchased a paperback template but did the merge/format myself.
The Guarding Angel cover is indeed eye-riveting! Do you have any marketing tips or favorite promotional sites you’d like to share?
Talk to people on social media rather than spamming book links. Always have something on the go (another interview or guest appearance on a blog). Set a goal for how many book review bloggers per week you’ll contact and stick to it: send out lots of review copies because reviews are how you get people’s attention on both Amazon and Goodreads. And start early—a month beforehand at least, start contacting bloggers with your ARC. Then you have a strong release if you have a handful of reviews for people to see on your release day.
Your blog is http://www.saboviec.com/reviews/. Do you follow a specific branding pattern with your posts or is it a free writing platform?
I struggled with what to blog about for months. I decided to do book reviews of speculative fiction books, since those are what I read. I believe in the idea, from a philosophical perspective, since reviews are what indie writers need to get noticed and I truly enjoy helping the community.
The toughest part is saying no. First to requests, since I can’t possibly read every book in the world. Second, to not over-rating books that I didn’t enjoy, since I pride myself on being honest. It’s tempting to just say, “Yeah, this was great,” when I sometimes fear repercussions from authors who don’t take kindly to criticism. I suspect that the only one-star review I got of Guarding Angel came from someone who was offended by a review on my blog, based on the vagueness of the review, the timing of when it went up, and how someone has been methodically down-ranking my reviews for months. Not that I begrudge less-than-stellar reviews: If that’s really how someone feels, that’s fine! I’m actually surprised I haven’t yet offended some people with the spiritual ideas presented in Guarding Angel yet.
Reviewing can be quite dodgy. Is dark fantasy the genre you will brand yourself with or do you see yourself branching out in the future?
I can’t see myself writing outside the speculative fiction genre, but I have an idea of a science fiction novel that I plan on writing after I get further along on Reaping Angel and Exorcist’s Assistant.
Would you like to share with us links where we can find you and your work?
Kindle US: http://amzn.to/1jTRde0
Kindle Canada: http://www.amazon.ca/dp/B00K6ZM372
Paperback (Amazon): http://amzn.to/1vjDguz
My website: http://www.saboviec.com
Thank you, Samantha, and best of luck with your Reaping Angel!
Thanks for having me on the blog!