Life’s your turn on the dancefloor; give it all you’ve got: Morgan Silver (WIP Q&A)

Morgan Silver, pen name M.W., has an MA in Creative Writing and a love for (cosy) mysteries and magical realism. She’s currently querying her first two novels, a YA mystery and a cosy mystery, while working on the first draft of a magical realism novel. She has lovely beta readers, naughty pet dragons, and an addiction to snacks.

Morgan , thank you so much for being here. Before we talk about your WIP, why don’t you tell us a few things about yourself?  

Thanks for having me! The virtual cup of tea is lovely, by the way. Well, by day I teach English and by night I write novels. I’m kind of like Jessica Fletcher, only I haven’t solved any real-life murders yet. (It will happen one day.) I feel like life’s your turn on the dancefloor so why not give it all you’ve got? I’m teaching myself Japanese and how to play the violin when I make time for it. I read novels, manga, and watch TV series, including Japanese and Korean dramas and anime. My characters are mostly quirky and I was definitely born a writer. I have that annoying thing that all born writers have; the NEED to write.  Sometimes I even neglect my pet dragons for that reason.

Your “our turn on the dancefloor” analogy I will use to promo this post! Awesome! What are you working on right now?

The Chess Club – Image used by author on Wattpad

My current WIP is absolutely different from what I usually write and strangely enough I am the most excited about this one. Perhaps because after a few written novels you notice you’ve grown as a writer.

My WIP was inspired by the Addams Family as well as a cartoon about zombies. (Yes, I sometimes watch cartoons.) Victoria Woods is always surrounded by death and doesn’t have much of a life herself. A twist of fate leads her from a funeral parlour to a strange mansion on a hill. Most people are afraid of this place and its inhabitants, but Victoria feels right at home in this world that contains unusual beings, experiments, more dead people, new friends, and even romance. As if having a life all of a sudden isn’t stressful enough, she also encounters enemies who are in search of eternal life and don’t care who they have to hurt in the process. Now that she finally has something to live for, she has to do something she’s never done before…fight back.

Writing this novel is like falling in a dark and deep puddle from which it is hard to emerge and novels like this make me really passionate about writing.

I’m a blurb enthusiast (always pick them apart as I read them) and I have to tell you, I love your ending! Are you happy with the pace of your work? Do you aim at a specific word count each day?

When I didn’t have a day job, yes. My aim was always 2K a day, which was usually easy to manage because I had nothing else to do. Apart from staring at the shiny internet of course. Now, not so much. When I have day off my goal is 1K, but sometimes I write 4K or 6K. It depends on how long it’s been since I’ve written. I guess the words just spill out of my fingers at some point.

What’s your worst enemy in getting that first draft finished?

LIFE! I just get distracted doing stuff for work, hanging with awesome people, or staring at a wall because I’ve had a long day. Not to mention my pet dragons who also require daily snuggle time.

You can’t not love your pet dragons! Could we take a look at your workspace? Is there a particular place you find inspiring for writing? 

Morgan's workspace

I usually write at my desk, sometimes in my bed. Inspiration isn’t tied to a place for me, I just sit down and let the events in my head inspire me. I am a bit messy and that can sometimes affect my concentration. Regular cleaning sessions are therefore a must for this writer.

Apart from Word and Google, do you use any other writing or research tools and apps?

I tried things like Scrivener, Ommwriter, and a bunch of other ones. I like Ommwriter because it prevents you from being distracted but I still use yWriter5 and writeordie.com. Especially the latter is highly recommended. You can just use it on the website for free. I use yWriter5 to summarise chapters and nothing more. I really just prefer physical notebooks and Word. Plus, with actual notebooks you get to use post-its and highlighters. It’s way more fun.

I like Scrivener. It gives me a purpose in writing. I’ll check out yWriter5 and Ommwriter, which I hadn’t heard of. Does the agent-hunting process have a deadline for you? Are you considering self-publishing?

No deadline, I just keep at it until someone bites. I have to have faith that it will happen when it’s supposed to happen. I do find myself getting a bit impatient and I’m kind of running out of agents with my first novel. I’m querying two novels while finishing a third, so luckily I can keep querying new novels. I am considering self-publishing my first novel, though. It would require a lot of money and hard work, because I’d want to do it right and I’d want to self-publish paperbacks only. I’ve posted the first chapter of my first novel on Wattpad to see if people are interested.

You’ll be hearing from me then… Do you have any marketing tips or favorite promotional sites you’d like to share?

I mostly live in my head, so I feel like marketing is something that is on the other side of the looking glass. I do have to say that I really love Twitter and it allows you to be yourself and find people who like you for you. Having a blog is also great for connecting with like-minded people and showing the world a piece of yourself. It’s wonderful how some parts of the internet can bring strangers together.

Fun stuff now: Let’s do a rapid fire round.

Advertisements

A trip that changed it all – Lena Mikado (WIP Interview)

IMG_0155

This week’s guest is an author with whom I have a lot in common: love for languages, translation experience, writing in our second language (English) and juggling motherhood, work and homemaking with writing. Ladies and gents, I present to you the beautiful and talented Lena Mikado.

_____________________________ 

Hello, everyone! I’m really happy to be here – Maria, cheers to you for inviting me to your beautiful blog. My name is Lena Mikado, and I am the author of My Journey to the Ocean – my debut novel and the first one of the All Colors of the Rainbow trilogy.

Lena, thank you so much for being here. Before we talk about your WIP, why don’t you tell us a few things about yourself?  

I’ve been so many things lately, I don’t even know where to start. First of all, I am mom to two little boys (they’re 5 and 2) and a happy wife. Secondly, I am a translator – foreign languages had been my love long before I became a mom and a wife, so… not sure – maybe I should have given priority to the languages 🙂. I graduated from Voronezh State University, Russia, with the Degree in Translation, Linguistics and Intercultural Communication. Oh – yes, I am Russian. 🙂 I moved to the United States at the young age of 22, but I like to think of myself as a citizen of the world. I absolutely adore traveling – to the point that I cannot imagine my life without it – and belly-dancing 🙂.

MyJourneyToTheOcean-FJM_High_Res_1800x2700

How did My Journey to the Ocean came to be?

One day, my very good friend, who now lives in London, told me that we all should write a book about our first summer in the United States. When I say “we all” I mean “four Russian girls who came on a J-1 program to America in the summer of 2004 and who never got back to be the same people before their plane left the tarmac in Moscow”. Back then, I just had my first kid (which totally rocked my world – and I don’t mean it as necessarily 100% positive experience) and I was working for a corporation that was consuming me with all my sweat, blood and tears as corporations tend to. So at first I laughed a little bit and politely declined. But then I thought… and thought… and thought about it… And I realized that I did have a lot to say. I wanted my sons to know my story. After all, what do we really know about our parents? And I started writing. It took me 5 years – and now my third baby is here 🙂.

There’s another thing we have in common. My little one also rocked my world in a non-positive way until I realized that going down the road she paved made me a better mom. What are you working on right now?

I started working on the second book of the series – A Year in the Sky. The novel will be about traveling all around the world, while trying to deal with jealousy, insecurity and fear of losing that bright future that you already directed for yourself in your head :). I have to share a little secret with you. The full name of my 5-year-old son is Liam Ocean and the name of my youngest – Maximillian Sky ;). 

That’s super sweet. Are you happy with the pace of your work? Do you aim at a specific word count each day?

To be honest with you, I am constantly under the impression that I need to do more. I am trying to juggle my translation business with my writing career – and family life – and sometimes I feel like the ground is slipping from under my feet. My main goal in writing is to complete whatever I have started – when? Not sure about that. Perhaps, I will be able to stay more organized and deadline-oriented once the boys grow up a little.

Plotter, pantser or both?

More of a pantser 🙂. I do tie it all together when I write, but I don’t necessarily plan it ahead. I’m just constantly thinking about what I want to say throughout the day, sometimes I write thoughts that come to mind in a little notebook I carry with me. But I’m definitely – 85% of the time – surprised by what is coming out of me when I write 🙂. Like – wow, where did that come from?

What’s your worst enemy in getting that first draft finished?

Lack of time. I wish we didn’t have to sleep 🙂.

You’re telling me. Have you ever experienced lack of inspiration or drive to write? If so, how do you motivate yourself?

Yes, I have. I typically just sit down and write anyway. And the inspiration comes back.

Could we take a look at your workspace? Is there a particular place you find inspiring for writing?

Photo Feb 10, 12 28 28 PM

This is the view from my window. 🙂 My office is at the marina. I don’t have the Ocean view, but I love looking at the boats. There is also a birds’ nest up top in the corner of the window, and we typically communicate with them through the glass 🙂

Very interesting view! Now your view is pinned on my Featured Writers’ Workspace board on Pinterest. Apart from Word and Google, do you use any other writing or research tools and apps?

I use a few websites that help me with synonyms and descriptive words – But generally I’m your Google/Word girl 🙂.

How do you intend to celebrate writing “The End” on your draft?

With a glass of nice Chardonnay. And a bath. Definitely a bath, because otherwise the kids won’t let me enjoy that glass of nice Chardonnay.

Makes sense 🙂 Which book publishing processes are you going to outsource and which are you confident enough to undertake yourself?

I hired an editor, Courtney Diles– since I believe that there always must be a second pair of eyes. Working in the translation industry, I know for a fact that we cannot write a piece alone. There is always room for improvement. Plus, Courtney helped me immensely with the formatting. I have also hired a book cover artist, Fiona Jayde – and she did an amazing job. She literally read my mind. As far as everything else goes – all done by myself.

Do you have any marketing tips or favorite promotional sites you’d like to share?

I’m really very new to all this. I like Twitter a lot. I managed to connect to a lot of very interesting people there. Besides, Twitter moves so fast that it offers you plenty of opportunities for marketing. I do some Facebook, Google Plus and Goodreads, but there is still lots for me to learn.

Your blog is http://lenamikado.blogspot.com/. Do you follow a specific branding pattern with your posts or is it a free writing platform?

Totally free! I’m trying to be myself, but that’s about it.  

Is chick-lit the genre you will stick to or do you see yourself branching out in the future?

I think I’m a chick lit author for life. 🙂 I’m pretty sure I will always be writing light and funny books. This life is too full of horrible things, and I like to create a happy reality. I’m not a fan of dark stuff. J

Fun stuff now: Let’s do a rapid fire round.

  • Flavored sorbet or chocolate ice cream? Flavored sorbet!
  • Pizza or sushi? Sushi 🙂
  • Twilight or The Hunger Games? None 🙂
  • Ryan Gosling or Benedict Cumberbatch? Ryan Gosling… because I had to google Benedict Cumberbatch. I’ve seen the Sherlock Holmes show, but I didn’t know the actor’s name :).
  • Trek in the Andes or snorkeling in Tahiti? Both! As long as I don’t sit at home.
  • Ugg boots or red-soled designer stilettos? Stilettos. Definitely.

Ah, there’s the chick-lit girl 🙂 Finally, please share with us links where we can find you and your work.

Amazon Link – myBook.to/MyJourneytotheOcean

Facebook Link – https://www.facebook.com/lenamikado?ref=hl

Twitter Link – https://twitter.com/Lena_Mikado

Goodreads Link – https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/23698308-my-journey-to-the-ocean

Google Plus – https://plus.google.com/u/0/+LenaMikado/posts

Blog – http://lenamikado.blogspot.com/

Thank you, Lena, and best of luck with your future projects!

Thank you very much, Maria, for having me here. 🙂 I wish you the best of luck as well.

Between Canada and the Caribbean: Susan Toy – WIP Interview

author picSusan Toy has been a bookseller, an award-winning publishing sales representative, a literacy teacher, and is now a published author, publisher, and promoter of fellow authors and their books. Born and raised in Toronto, after completing a degree in English Literature at Queen’s University in Kingston, she moved to Calgary in the late 70s and immediately found a job in a bookstore, beginning what has become a life’s career working with books and their authors.  She’s the author of Island in the Clouds, a Baquia Perspectives mystery novel.

Susan , thank you so much for being here. Before we talk about your WIP, what else can we know about you?  

I’m retired from paid work and now move back-and-forth between Canada and the Caribbean. I have always read voraciously and was fortunate to have enjoyed a career working with others who also love books and writing. I met so, so many great authors along the way – too many to count – and have become friends with most of them. I have always been their champion or cheerleader, in a sense, so carrying on with author promotions on my blog, Reading Recommendations, is a way of staying connected and paying them back, in a sense, for writing so well. Aside from reading, I love to cook and am constantly experimenting with food and recipes.   I share a house in the Caribbean with four cats and one partner/property manager who has never found a dead body floating in a pool.

That’s good to know! What are you working on right now?

cover susan full colour jan2012 - largeI’m rewriting and editing a second novel in the Bequia Perspectives series. This, and the next two, were written about a decade ago, before I knew what I was doing. Since publishing Island in the Clouds, I now have a better idea of the direction I’m moving in with these books.

Are you happy with the pace of your work? Do you aim at a specific word count each day?

Are we ever happy with the pace of our work? I tend to be the Queen of the Procrastinators so am easily distracted from what I should be doing, and … Oh, look! Another author to promote or a blog post idea to write up!

If you’re the Queen, then I’m definitely applying for a position as the lady-in-waiting. I do belong in the procrastinators’ court! Plotter, pantser or both?

Definitely a plotter. I know exactly what’s going to happen, who does what to whom, and the timeline the story covers before I begin writing. I don’t write any of that down. It’s all in my head, but it’s definitely plotted before I begin writing. That’s not to say I don’t make changes after the fact. For instance, this new novel was written more than ten years ago directly after Island in the Clouds, including following the time in which it’s set, a few months after Island ends. Some of the same secondary characters recur in the second novel, but I recently decided to make a number of drastic changes to those characters and am introducing new ones into this next story. I’m essentially keeping the original scenes and action I’d already written, but new characters will be involved and I’ve added another plot thread to what I already had written.

What’s your worst enemy in getting that first draft finished?

Myself. My time-wasting habits. (I actually haven’t written a new first draft in a very long time, because my files are full to over-flowing with first drafts and manuscripts in various states that I have never gotten around to finishing. Many of those were written for contests. Entering contests proved to be the best means for me to complete a first draft quickly. Deadlines also seem to work – although not self-imposed deadlines. See, Maria, how I managed to get these interview answers back to you in a timely fashion?)

I totally empathize. Have you ever experienced lack of inspiration or drive to write? If so, how do you motivate yourself?  Could we take a look at your workspace? Is there a particular place you find inspiring for writing?

Always. All the time. I have never imposed a strict work schedule on myself, mainly because I know I’d never adhere to it. (See above.) I don’t even have a particular work place where I write. When I’m in Canada, I find I can work quite well in coffee shops or at the library. I’m also not on an agenda to write and publish X number of books in Y length of time. I think by doing that to themselves, many (not all, but many) authors run the risk of producing less-than-perfect work. I’ve assisted authors who were extremely agenda-driven and, rather than taking the time to really hone their craft and enjoy the process, creating something of which we could all be proud, they were self-centred, miserable, and blamed everyone else for their lack of progress and success by insisting on following this rigid agenda of theirs. Remember, haste makes waste! I would hate for a drive like that to ruin my own life, so I try not to worry about the whole “motivated to write” thing. I did, however, manage to write for the 3-Day Novel contest sitting in this chair while looking at this view.

Susan view

A slice of heaven! Apart from Word and Google, do you use any other writing or research tools and apps?

I wrote the first drafts of three novels using yellow legal pads and a pen. I transcribed that into Word and have been editing using Word ever since. (I took a few editing courses and learned how to use that system.) Now I may make a few notes by writing them into a notebook with a pen, but I always begin any new manuscript on my computer, in Word. I actually didn’t know of any other tools or apps.

How do you intend to celebrate writing “The End” on your draft?

That’s never been a celebration for me, because I know the fun part is over and the really hard work has only just begun.

Which book publishing processes are you going to outsource and which are you confident enough to undertake yourself?

Even though I have a great deal of experience in publishing books and I have published the work of other authors, I always bring in the professionals, at every stage of the process (editing, cover design, formatting, ePublishing and print publishing). The more eyes there are on any manuscript production the better to uncover potential problems and create a perfect book. I work with a Canadian eBook formatter who not only produces the various eFiles I require, but also looks after listing with online sales sites, including Overdrive which sells to libraries, and collects revenue from them all for the authors she represents. Every month I receive an email funds transfer of royalty payments. No fuss, no muss. It doesn’t get any better than that.

Actually, the one area I do always look after myself is promotion, but that’s because I know of no one else who can promote books as well as I do. 😉

Do you have any marketing tips or favorite promotional sites you’d like to share?

I am constantly posting marketing tips and ideas of my own, and reblogging those of others, to my blog.  One thing I will say here though is that authors should know who it is they’re writing for, who their target market is, and really aim for that group specifically in whatever promotion they do. Build up a fan base from that target market and let those fans do the promotion to their friends for you.

Is mystery the genre you will stick to or do you see yourself branching out in the future?

I kind of fell into mystery with my first novel because, at the time, it was the best way I could imagine to tell the story of Bequia. I prefer reading literary fiction and that’s the genre I’ve written in for all my non-Bequia stories. The mystery part of these Bequia novels was kind of meant to be a hook to get readers interested in what I’m really writing about in this quartet, which is Bequia. I do believe though that the story we have to tell decides the type of genre in which it best needs to be told. I don’t ever want to be slotted as a writer of one particular genre. That’s so limiting – for me and for my readers. I hope readers enjoy my writing enough to want to read anything I publish, no matter what the genre, or even the form.

Fun stuff now: Let’s do a rapid fire round.

  • Flavored sorbet or chocolate ice cream? Chocolate. Always chocolate.
  • Pizza or sushi? Sushi, as long as someone else is making it. (We make our own very fine pizza, but sushi, while we can also prepare it, is another matter because of availability of ingredients and finickiness of preparation.)
  • Twilight or The Hunger Games? Ummm, neither? (Won’t read them or watch the movies. They’re just not my thing.)
  • Ryan Gosling or Benedict Cumberbatch? Ummm, neither? (Much too young and inexperienced. Give me Sean Connery any day!)
  • Trek in the Andes or snorkeling in Tahiti? Sitting on the verandah of my house on Bequia.
  • Ugg boots or red-soled designer stilettos? Neither again. Running shoes or barefoot.

 Finally, please share with us links where we can find you and your work.

My main blog, Books: Publishing, Reading, Writing (https://islandeditions.wordpress.com/), includes links to my bio, published novel, Island in the Clouds, publishing imprint, IslandShorts (where I have published one novella, That Last Summer), and the author promotion blog, Reading Recommendations (http://readingrecommendations.wordpress.com/).

Thank you, Susan, and best of luck with the sequel to Island in the Clouds!

 

Jessica Cale: Music beats writer’s block (WIP interview)

Jessica Cale

I’m quite busy promoting Fate Accompli, and writing Fate Captured, so I have stopped actively seeking out authors for the WIP column. But when I saw the cover of Jessica’s debut novel, I just wanted it on my blog!

Jessica Cale is a journalist and author currently based in North Carolina.  She is the author of Tyburn, her first novel for Liquid Silver Books. Tyburn is a dark historical romance set in Restoration London and is the first book in her new series, The Southwark Saga.

Jessica , welcome to MM Jaye writes. Before we talk about your WIP, why don’t you tell us a few things about yourself? 

I’m originally from Minnesota, but I lived in Wales for seven years and earned a BA in Medieval History and an MFA in Creative Writing at Swansea University. My husband and I both studied history in Swansea and we met when I crashed a beach party there back in 2005. Now we live in North Carolina with our Welsh rescue cats and life is good. I have a full-time day job as well as writing, but it’s for a great non-profit organization and I work with a lot of lovely, supportive people, so I’m very lucky in that respect. I collect tea cups, history books, and I bake macarons on the weekends. I’m always trying to come up with new flavors!

*Ignoring the saliva influx in my mouth*Exercise in lean writing: give us a synopsis of your current WIP in under 200 words.

Lady Jane Ramsey is ruined.

Valiantly rescued from her kidnapping by a gorgeous highwayman, she thanked him as enthusiastically as her imagination allowed, only to find her marriage prospects greatly reduced when she returned home. She doesn’t mind. All she can think about is her highwayman, and she is determined to find him again.

As the daughter of an earl and one of the wealthiest heiresses in England, she is expected to make the best match possible before her reputation is damaged beyond repair. Her father accepts an offer from the repulsive Lord Lewes and expects Jane to comply.

Jane has other plans.

tyburn (2)

Intriguing! And isn’t that cover a study in perfection? Compelling! What are you working on right now?

I am working on the second book in The Southwark Saga, which picks up immediately where Tyburn leaves off. This book follows Lady Jane Ramsey, a supporting character in Tyburn. It’s nice to work on something so close to Tyburn because I’m still so immersed in that world, and I can spend more time with the characters. It’s great to be able to check in on Nick and Sally, too.

I know exactly what you mean. The best part about writing a series is that you can interact with all the characters you’ve nurtured in every book. Are you happy with the pace of your work? Do you aim at a specific word count each day?

I’d like more time to write. I work full-time, but I start unbelievably early in the morning (you don’t want to know) so I have more time to write when I get home. I usually work on writing, editing, research, or promotional things until I have to go to sleep for the next day. I don’t get time off, and I don’t get a lot of sleep. It’s still worth it, and my husband and friends are very supportive. On a good writing day, I’m happy with anything over 1,000 words. On my best writing day, I made it to 9,000. That was a long day. I ended after midnight and went downstairs to find my husband and friends having a party. I hadn’t even noticed it was going on. I was still pretty energized, so I made everyone crepes!

IMG_20140309_003955

And we have the picture to prove it! Plotter, pantser or both?

I plot the absolute heck out of everything. I have a notebook for ideas, and about a thousand post-its stuffed into it from when I thought of something away from the house! It’s difficult to plot on demand, though, so the books evolve slowly over time in pieces. They usually start with a scene or two, and I try to fill in everything else from there.

What’s your worst enemy in getting that first draft finished?

Time and work. I get so into it that I don’t want to stop, but of course I have to. The ideas keep coming, though, and that’s where the Post-Its come in…

Have you ever experienced lack of inspiration or drive to write? If so, how do you motivate yourself? 

Definitely. When I was doing more journalism in the UK, I went for a few years without writing any fiction, just because I didn’t have time between the journalism and working in the day. I was doing mostly music journalism then, so I’d work all day and then have shows to review at night. It was crazy. I didn’t want to give it up, but it was either that or fiction, and fiction is what I’ve always wanted to do. It was a little tricky getting back into fiction after the break, but music helped. Music continues to be a great way to beat writer’s block for me. When I’m thinking of ideas for a book, I imagine the whole thing in vivid scenes like watching a movie, I cast the characters, and the songs are the soundtrack. it’s not the lyrics themselves, but the mood. There’s something about music that taps into that creative part of my brain and makes everything work a little bit better. If I’m really having trouble or a project just isn’t working, I’ll write something completely different, like horror or satire, just to switch things up a bit. That usually works, too.

That usually does the trick, yes. Could we take a look at your workspace? Is there a particular place you find inspiring for writing?

IMG_20140601_084125

One of your Welsh rescues I presume? Now your workspace pic is pinned on my Featured Writers’ Workspace Pinterest Board. Apart from Word and Google, do you use any other writing or research tools and apps?

I actually really like using Pinterest as a sort of idea board. I have secret boards of photos and pieces of research for future stories, plus fun public boards for possible characters, locations, and costumes to help readers to picture the Restoration world. This is a work in progress, but it’s a lot of fun. I also use Google Sheets to organize my characters, chronology, research, and outside commitments and obligations. I color code everything, because things are less intimidating when they’re in pastel.

Google Sheets as an organizing tool is definitely something I’ll have to look into. How do you intend to celebrate writing “The End” on your draft?

I probably won’t. By the time I finished Tyburn, I was already halfway through Jane’s book (the result of a lot creative exercises to beat writer’s block — they are worth doing!), and then I was worried about editing and pitching it right away. I edit everything I write several times before I’ll show it to anyone, so I never really feel like I’m done. I did celebrate signing the contract by going out to dinner with my husband, his parents, and our friends, and that was great. There’s just so much to do and it’s such a continuous cycle of work that it’s hard to pick one time to stop and celebrate anything. I’m usually too busy! The first draft of Jane’s book is done, but now I’m working on rewrites. Maybe I’ll celebrate when that one gets published!

Which book publishing processes are you going to outsource and which are you confident enough to undertake yourself?

I’m very lucky to have a fantastic publisher and they help so much with the editing, layout, cover, and marketing. Apart from that, I undertake a huge proportion of the promotional duties myself. I’m doing the line edits and layout for the print version myself, and if I could physically print and assemble the books myself, I probably would. I would be a lot happier if I outsourced more, but I come from a very DIY background (I published an independent zine for ten years), so I tend to just do things myself if I know how, and if I don’t, I figure it out. I would get a lot more sleep if I could learn to outsource!

Do you have any marketing tips or favorite promotional sites you’d like to share?

I’m very new to the whole marketing side of things, so I’m still learning. From my very limited experience, I would recommend befriending other authors (of any genre/subgenre) and learning from them as much as you can. Be nice to each other — you’re all in the same boat! — and thank people for their time and help. Be grateful, and be mindful of others: when someone helps you, return the favor. Also, be on the lookout for new opportunities. The Marketing For Romance Writers Yahoo group is a fantastic source of continuous opportunities for networking and promotion. I would definitely recommend checking it out.

I’ll second that. MFRW has taught me so much in such a little time. That’s how we got in touch! Is dark fantasy the genre you will stick to or do you see yourself branching out in the future?

Tyburn is very dark, but Jane’s story has a completely different tone — it’s almost a comedy! The third one will have more of a mystery element to it, but the whole series will still be historical romance. Someday I’d like to branch out to try some other things, but for now, I’m very much rooted in the seventeenth century.

Fun stuff now: Let’s do a rapid fire round.

  • Flavored sorbet or chocolate ice cream? Chocolate ice cream! My favorite is So Delicious chocolate ice cream made with soy milk.
  • Pizza or sushi? Pizza with anchovies, olives, and capers. Yum!
  • Twilight or The Hunger Games? The Hunger Games.
  • Ryan Gosling or Benedict Cumberbatch? Benedict Cumberbatch
  • Trek in the Andes or snorkeling in Tahiti? Trek in the Andes. I love a great view.
  • Ugg boots or red-soled designer stilettos? I have a pair of black Converse ballet flats I wear everywhere. They go with anything! (I’ll have to Google these!)
  • Jane Eyre or Wuthering Heights? Wuthering Heights
  • London or Paris? London
  • Beatles or the Rolling Stones? The Rolling Stones!

Finally, please share with us links where we can find you and your work.

My website is http://www.authorjessicacale.com

You can find Tyburn as http://www.lsbooks.com and http://www.amazon.com/Tyburn-Southwark-Saga-Book-1-ebook/dp/B00PQV6H9Q/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1416519139&sr=1-1&keywords=tyburn+jessica+cale

You can also find me here:

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

Twitter: https://twitter.com/JessicaCale @JessicaCale

Google+:  https://plus.google.com/u/0/+JessicaCaleWrites

Tumblr: http://authorjessicacale.tumblr.com/

Pintrest: http://www.pinterest.com/rainbowcarnage

Amazon Author Page: http://www.amazon.com/Jessica-Cale/e/B00PVDV9EW/ref=ntt_dp_epwbk_0

Thank you, Jessica, and best of luck with your future projects!

_________________

Fate Accompli is now out on Amazon in two heat versions. The links below will take you directly to your Amazon store.

Fait Accompli - Spicy version

Fate Accompli Spicy: getBook.at/FateSpicy

Fate Accompli Clean: getBook.at/FateClean

If you’d like to read the first chapters of Fate Accompli, they’re available on Wattpad. (3,000 views and counting…)

Sandra Danby – On adoption dynamics and work process (WIP interview)

Sandra Danby Author - photo Simon CooperWhen Sandra Danby contacted me for an interview, my first move was to check out her site and book covers. I ended up spending about an hour that I did not have there, drawn by the power of simplicity and her strong theme. Therefore, it’s with great pleasure, I feature Sandra and her work today.

Sandra Danby’s debut novel ‘Ignoring Gravity’ is just published and she is now writing the sequel ‘Connectedness’. Both novels examine how a person’s sense of identity is affected by adoption.

Sandra, thank you so much for being here. Before we talk about your WIP, why don’t you tell us a few things about yourself?  

If I could, I would write all day every day. And when not writing, I would be reading. It’s always been that way. I grew up on a small dairy farm at the bleak edge of East Yorkshire where England meets the North Sea. So I am a proud Yorkshire woman, tea drinker and tennis fan. When I am not writing, which I can do while drinking tea, I can be found reading a book or watching tennis on television.

Ignoring Gravity by Sandra DanbyExercise in lean writing: give us a synopsis of your current WIP in under 200 words.  

‘Connectedness’ – the second book in the series about ‘Rose Haldane: Identity Detective’ – features controversial artist Justine Tree. She is a Marmite artist: some love her emotional honesty, others say she is attention-seeking. Disapproving critics say her work could be done by primary school children with empty cereal boxes, fingertips and potato prints. Fans say her work has an emotional freedom that 21st century society could learn from, that she has unbuttoned the British stiff upper lip. But are the emotions Justine puts into her collages real? Truth or Lies: only Justine knows how and why she manipulates the truth.  So when she confronts her past and asks journalist Rose Haldane to find her lost baby, two strong personalities clash. Rose tries to untangle truth from lies in order to find Justine’s daughter who was given up for adoption when Justine was an art student. Justine, who has never told anyone she had a baby, is desperate to find her daughter but ashamed of the truth, desperate to have her daughter’s love but terrified she will find hate.

Connectedness will be published in late 2015.

This will make an interesting read! Are you happy with the pace of your work? Do you aim at a specific word count each day?

At the moment my writing has halted temporarily as I concentrate on promoting ‘Ignoring Gravity’, but I plan to return to ‘Connectedness’ in January 2015. I am a disciplined writer, which comes I think from 35+ years as a journalist. Writing is my job. I don’t have a specific daily word count and I don’t have a target word count for the book. My first draft of ‘Ignoring Gravity’ was 140,000! Through re-drafting and polishing, that finally came down to 99,000. I hadn’t targeted 99,000, I just polished the manuscript until it felt right.

Plotter, pantser or both?

Plotter, always a plotter. That’s the journalist in me again. But I have learned to plot loosely and let the story develop.

What’s your worst enemy in getting that first draft finished?

Easy, social media. Essential today for writers to promote their work. But it sucks the minutes out of a day.

Hear, hear. And if one is not as disciplined as you (that’s me!) then the writing time goes out the window. Have you ever experienced lack of inspiration or drive to write? If so, how do you motivate yourself?

Nope, never not wanted to write, never had writer’s block. I think my journalism training knocked that out of me years ago. When writing is your daily job, and you have a deadline and an empty page to fill, excuses don’t count.

Could we take a look at your workspace? Is there a particular place you find inspiring for writing?

Sandra Danby - where I writeThis is my desk in the attic of our house. I have no view as the loft windows are higher than my desk so all I can see is sky. I am the first in the house to know it is raining. My desk faces the wall and I have a huge whiteboard to which are stuck photos of my characters, inspirational notes and photos of locations. All my books are here, the bookcases are bulging and books are beginning to form piles on the floor. There is a sofabed as my study doubles as a bedroom for visitors, but I rarely sit on it. I did entertain ideas of sitting there, reading… but that has never happened. What else? A floor-standing fan as the room gets stifling hot in the summer, and a small electric radiator to keep me warm in winter. And my CD collection, I couldn’t do without my music. As I write this, Mozart is playing gently in the background. I always write to classical music – Mozart, Verdi, Karl Jenkins, Elgar, Holst – as I find lyrics too distracting.

Lots of wonderful light there! The concept whiteboard is a great idea! Now your workspace pic is pinned on my Featured Writers’ Workspace Board on Pinterest! Apart from Word and Google, do you use any other writing or research tools and apps?

I have read a lot of adoption/family history, books, mostly requested from my local library or in the Reading Room at the British Library. For ‘Connectedness’ I researched art, again lots of reading but also visits to art galleries in London. My favourites are Tate Modern, Tate Britain, The Royal Academy, and the Victoria & Albert Museum. I also watch specialist television programmes. Two key TV series for me are ‘Who Do You Think You Are?’ and ‘Long Lost Family’ have been enormously helpful. And the BBC has excellent arts coverage.

How do you intend to celebrate writing “The End” on your draft?

No celebration planned, the end of the first draft is the beginning of the next stage of the writing process for me. I find it useful to take a break from the work in progress though, so at the end of the first draft I will write shorter fiction, perhaps some flash fiction, and get out more. Go to art galleries and the theatre! It’s also a great time to research the next book. I am always thinking ahead.

Which book publishing processes are you going to outsource and which are you confident enough to undertake yourself?

I am a writer, that is what I do best. I outsourced copy editing, manuscript formatting, front cover design, book trailer production, website design and e-mail marketing.

Do you have any marketing tips or favorite promotional sites you’d like to share?

Network like mad: blog, tweet, Facebook and share. Don’t bore people with constant requests to buy your book, social media is swamped by repetitive messages like that. And don’t just retweet other people’s original thoughts. Find an original way to communicate, tweet your own ideas and support other writers. There is a great network of mutually-supportive writers out there to tap into.

True words! Your blog can be found here. Do you follow a specific branding pattern with your posts or is it a free writing platform?

My writing blog has transferred in the last few weeks to a website promoting my books, but the content and purpose of my blog remains the same. I’ve been blogging on WordPress since February 2013, my new website is WordPress too. I blog about my thoughts on writing and the world of books. What other writers are saying and doing, I review books [new releases and classics] and publish some of my own short fiction. Writers’ BLOCKbusters is an occasional series offering solutions to get the creative juices started.

Is contemporary women’s fiction the genre you will stick to or do you see yourself branching out in the future?

Who knows what the future will bring. At the moment I am concentrating on the ‘Rose Haldane: Identity Detective’ series, with storylines planned for books three, four and five. Beyond that, I have ideas for two standalone novels set in Yorkshire.

Fun stuff now: Let’s do a rapid fire round.

  • Flavored sorbet or chocolate ice cream? Strawberry ice cream
  • Pizza or sushi? Sushi
  • Twilight or The Hunger Games? The Hunger Games
  • Ryan Gosling or Benedict Cumberbatch? BC of course.
  • Trek in the Andes or snorkeling in Tahiti? Trek in the Andes. I have flown over them, on the way to Santiago, Chile, and they look amazing.
  • Ugg boots or red-soled designer stilettos? Scruffy blue Converse

Finally, please share with us links where we can find you and your work.

Amazon: http://www.amazon.co.uk/Ignoring-Gravity-Haldane-Identity-Detective-ebook/dp/B00O3D2PFI/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1415632368&sr=8-1&keywords=sandra+danby

Website: http://www.sandradanby.com/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/sandradanby

Facebook: www.facebook.com/sandradanbyauthor

Pinterest: http://www.pinterest.com/sandradan1/

Watch the book trailer for ‘Ignoring Gravity’: http://youtu.be/jpzWKR4gx8I

Thank you, Sandra, and best of luck with your future projects!

 _____________

Fate Accompli is now out on Amazon in two heat versions. The links below will take you directly to your Amazon store.

Fait Accompli - Spicy version

Fate Accompli Spicy: getBook.at/FateSpicy

Fate Accompli Clean: getBook.at/FateClean

If you’d like to read the first chapters of Fate Accompli, they’re available on Wattpad. (Almost 2,000 views in one week!)

Flamingcrystal: WIP Interview

My author photoThis week’s guest is a wonderfully giving lady who, although sharing my time zone, lives and writes in the opposite hemisphere—South Africa.

Hi Marlaine!

Hello Maria, thank you for inviting me to your blog, and doing this interview with me. Greatly appreciated. I am Marlaine Lloyd writing under my fantasy pen name Flamingcrystal. I am the author of Dejavu, Destiny, Fatal Fantasy, Ghost Portal, Geeste Portaal, Die Minnaar and Dejavu & Destiny : Book 1 and book 2 of the Dejavu Series.

Before we talk about your work process, why don’t you tell us a few things about yourself aside of your writing credentials.  

I am a widow and have 2 beautiful daughters. We are currently living in a very small town, Pongola in Kwazulu Natal in South-Africa. I’ve studied Retail Marketing at Unisa many moons ago (pssst whispers, a woman should always be mysterious about her age – I would love to have a magic wand that could keep me in my mid thirties, although I’m past that age already…) I have a day job working in the retail fashion sector, as senior Store Manager. I recently sustained a serious spinal injury at work, resulting in 2 spinal operations within 3 months of each other, but the bright side of this is that it gave me ample time to write and get my books published, in the time that I’ve being at home. If everything goes as planned I would be returning to work by December 28th, 2014. Writing, sketching, cooking, and  chatting on Twitter and Face Book are my most beloved hobbies.

ECOVER DejavuDestinyYou sure know how to make delicious homemade lemon juice out of the lemons that piled on your doorstep! What are you working on right now?

I am currently working on book 3 of the Dejavu Series, but this time the POV will be that of the 16 year old, supernaturally gifted twins that are on a mission to create havoc.

Are you happy with the pace of your work? Do you aim at a specific word count each day?

I aim at 2000 + words a day or at least to write every 1st draft within 70 days, and done that with all my previous books…but with my current WIP it will be much longer than that, as the first two weeks after the spinal operations I’m sleeping way too much…

You’d better listen closely to what your body needs… Plotter, pantser or both?

Pantser mostly…. I don’t have the patience to plot out every single detail of my story. Once started, the story sometimes takes on a life of its own, but I never lose sight of my initial outline and the goals each of my characters need to achieve, to keep the readers on the edges of their seats… and where I want to create ‘peak’ stages in the story.

That’s exactly my M.O.! What’s your worst enemy in getting that first draft finished?

I have to admit, I just love Twitter and Face Book, but it is such a delightful distraction.  

Is there a particular place you find inspiring for writing?

The tree was the inspiration for Ghost Portal
The tree was the inspiration for Ghost Portal

I love to look at the view outside my window or to think about the view on my folks farm, the latter always inspires me to write. (Picture attached – the view at my folks farm.)

Now this image is pinned on my Featured Writers’ Workspace board on Pinterest! Apart from Word and Google, do you use any other writing or research tools and apps?

I find this cover creator website very handy http://www.ebookcover.pro/

How do you intend to celebrate writing “The End” on your draft?

I intend to celebrate with my daughters and their boyfriends at a restaurant that serves the biggest platters of seafood.  

Do you have any marketing tips or favorite promotional sites you’d like to share?

Gary is such a sweetheart, he is always promoting authors on his website at http://look4books.co.uk/bestindieauthor

I also love author alliance

http://www.authoralliance.net/category/promote-your-book

Clive Eaton has a list of websites that authors could use for free book promotions

http://www.cliveeaton.com/freebookpromotions.html

Authors also could tweet their free or bargain book with link & include RT @WordSatSpangalo  

 

Thank you for the awesome tips! Are Mythology, Paranormal, & Contemporary Romance the genres you will stick to or do you see yourself branching out in the future?

Dejavu is my only mythology/romance with 50 Shades of Blushing Pink *just teasing*  honestly it only has 3 really -oehhh aahhh – very romantic scenes. I love mythology and always getting goosebumps while writing about anything supernatural. I’ve recently published my first Young Adult supernatural book and I thoroughly enjoyed every moment writing that…so I think I’m now hooked on YA!  

Fun stuff now: Let’s do a rapid fire round.

  • Flavored sorbet or ice cream? Chocolate mint ice cream.
  • Pizza or sushi? Spare-rib pizza. Whaaaa?! Not only I’ve never had one (and God knows I’ve had all kinds of pizza, but I can’t even picture this! J)
  • Twilight or The Hunger Games? Both but *whistle/howl* Jacob from Twilight is sexy, if I was younger…*sigh*
  • Ryan Gosling or Benedict Cumberbatch? Benedict Cumberbatch.   
  • Trek in the Andes or snorkeling in Tahiti? Snorkeling
  • Ugg boots or red-soled designer stilettos? I love both, but stilettos are dangerous in more ways than one *wink-wink*

Finally, please share with us links where we can find you and your work.

My webpage is http://www.flamingcrystal.com

I am on Twitter @FlamingCrystal1

My Author page is at Amazon Author Central  http://www.amazon.com/-/e/B00HMJYX8M

Thank you, Marlaine, and best of luck with your future projects!

Thank you for featuring me here Maria, and best of luck with all your books too! I am looking forward to reading your romance ‘Fate Accompli’, with its Greece setting and Greek gods.

Nina Lemay: WIP Interview

An extra perk of hosting authors for virtual book tour companies is connecting with awesome writers. After reading  and reviewing Shameless, a not for the faint of heart, edgy but very well written NA romance, set in Montreal, I sought the writer out, knowing that she would give me a great WIP interview. I was right. Nina, in her twenties, is the youngest writer featured here so far. Nina, you’re on:

Hi! I’m Nina Lemay, aka that girl who wrote that feminist stripper book, aka Shameless (available now on Amazon). The rest of the time, I write YA and adult speculative fiction. I’m an indie author with hybrid aspirations.

Nina, thank you so much for being here. Before we talk about your WIP, why don’t you tell us a few things about yourself outside writing.

I’m (almost) fully trilingual, having moved to Montreal at a young age. One of these days I’ll write an epic Montreal-set novel en français, but until then, I’m working on my BFA in Creative Writing in English. Like a number of writers (as it turns out), I’m somewhat socially awkward and am way more comfortable in front of a keyboard than in front of people—which is why I’m hoping to work as a full-time writer or freelance editor once my degree is finished. Yay pajamas!

What I loved about Shameless was its location. I’ve been to Montreal, and it’s a beautiful city. My husband has also spent twelve years there. Can you talk your city up a bit?

plateau balconiesMontreal, I find, is outrageously underrepresented in books. Regardless of genre. And I have no idea why, it’s a really cool place with a rich history to rival New Orleans. The Catholic and French roots of Montreal (and Quebec as a whole) mean that it looks quite different from a number of North American cities. It has a more European feel—which doesn’t always work in our favor, for example, those pretty outdoor winding staircases probably look wonderful in the south of France, but here they’re basically an ice-slicked deathtrap eight months of the year.

But what really sets Montreal apart is the mindset. It is a little bit hedonistic, with rich food and entertainment and yes, there really is a strip club on every block on Ste-Catherine. The drinking age is 18 but really just a suggestion, and the nightclubs are open till three AM. There was a project this year to allow them to stay open till 6, but it was shot down due to public safety concerns.

Despite of the woo-hoo-party mindset, Montreal is a really safe place to live. I can walk pretty much anywhere at any hour, with headphones on, and have no fears for my safety.

 All these elements are well portrayed in Shameless–one of the book’s features I enjoyed. Exercise in lean writing: give us a synopsis of your current WIP in under 200 words.

Our heroine is supposed to be in college, having the time of her life with her popular, beautiful friends and boyfriend. Instead, she’s stuck repeating her senior year. Other teens whisper behind her back, her parents took the door off her room, and instead of parties she attends AA meetings.

Then, at one meeting she runs into the new guy at school. He’s the only one to treat her like a human being after what happened last winter. He’s the only one who seems to understand her. But what is he really doing at her school, and what does he really want from her? And how is he connected with the anonymous threats she’s been finding in her locker ever since he appeared?

Intriguing! Are you happy with the pace of your work? Do you aim at a specific word count each day?

I try to aim for 2000-3000 words. But during the school year those words are often essays, so I try not to be too hard on myself if I fall behind.

Plotter, pantser or both?

Plotter! Enthusiastic plotter. That word makes me giggle because in French the word plotte means something else J But yeah, I like to outline thoroughly, chapter-by-chapter. I keep “idea books” where I jot down my brainstorms and outlines. Some people find it a little obsessive.  But for me that’s the only way to finish a book in a month, so…

A Book in a month?! I’m so going to ignore that that’s your time frame, What’s your worst enemy in getting that first draft finished?

The doubt. Who the hell wants to read this? Nobody cares about your stupid stories, change majors and get a job. It’s kind of tough pushing past it, but sometimes you just gotta stick your fingers in your ears, shut your eyes and go la la la… that makes it kind of hard to type though.

That’s the attitude! Have you ever experienced lack of inspiration or drive to write? If so, how do you motivate yourself?

This has to do with the last answer… doubt is the worst. Inspiration might be there, but when you’re paralyzed by doubt, it doesn’t help much.  And to say I’ve faced some adversity in my writing journey (I really hate that phrase, writing journey. There’s never an end. You never “arrive”. You’re only as good as your current WIP) is to say nothing at all. I’ve faced rejection on Books of my Heart, from both agents and editors. I’ve faced crappy reviews. I’ve had phases where it feels like I’m beating my head against a concrete wall, hoping the wall will crack before I do (these odds are not in my favor). I’ve almost given up writing altogether. But you know what, writing makes me happy. I may not write trendy things on trendy topics, but I believe in my books. I believe I’m talented, I believe I’m a good writer. And I believe my stories will find their way.

In danger of repeating myself, that’s the attitude!! You bet you’re a good writer otherwise I wouldn’t seek you out. It’s as simple as that. Now, could we take a look at your workspace? Is there a particular place you find inspiring for writing?

photo (1) (1)I used to live in horrible, tiny studios on the Plateau where my bed was three feet from my fridge. Now I finally gave up on the Plateau and I have an actual office, for the first time in my life! It has no windows, but it’s a start.

Very … bookish! Now your workspace pic is pinned on my Featured Writers’ Workspace board on Pinterest. Apart from Word and Google, do you use any other writing or research tools and apps?

Scrivener is nice, but it got to be too much clicking around for me and I went back to Word.  And have I mentioned that I loooove notebooks? I’m a texture freak. I love the feel of pen on paper. The ideas just flow. I rely on my journals and idea books. Without them I’d be lost.

How do you intend to celebrate writing “The End” on your draft?

Go for a poutine! Just kidding. Or am I?

I had to look up the fries/gravy/cheese curds dish up. Calory-infested yumminess! Which book publishing processes are you going to outsource and which are you confident enough to undertake yourself?

I will never be able to format anything by myself, ever. Nor design a cover. I’m computer-illiterate, unfortunately, so all the webby stuff will be outsourced. However, I do (almost) have a degree in English, and I have good betas. So my manuscripts only need the lightest touch of professional editing, mostly just proofreads.

Great job you did on Shameless, if it was not professionally edited. Do you have any marketing tips or favorite promotional sites you’d like to share?

Itching For Books do GREAT blog tours and promo services. And with the next release I intend to give Netgalley a shot. Everyone says it’s pricey but worth it. We’ll see!

I’ve been thinking about Netgalley myself. Your blog is ninalemay.com. Do you follow a specific branding pattern with your posts or is it a free writing platform?

I’m terrible at blogging! I just needed a semi-official-looking site (everyone says you have to have those or you’re not a real author, or something).

Interesting. No blogging effort there. I’ll come back to you later to ask you if not having a blog as a pillar of your author platform affects your sales outreach. Is contemporary romance the genre you will stick to or do you see yourself branching out in the future?

Oh my. It actually took me a really long time to get my a** in gear and write a contemporary romance. I’m a genre writer at heart. Give me paranormal elements and weird powers and supernatural creepiness! My current YA projects are all of the speculative variety, or thrillers. There WILL be a New Adult SFF novel in the not-too-distant future. *mysterious face*

Fun stuff now: Let’s do a rapid fire round.

  • Flavored sorbet or chocolate ice cream? Sorbet. I’m a rebel.
  • Pizza or sushi? Sushi.
  • Twilight or The Hunger Games? THG! Ugh, Katniss over Bella any day.
  • Ryan Gosling or Benedict Cumberbatch? Cumberbatch, of course. (See? I’m not a normal NA writer…)
  • Trek in the Andes or snorkeling in Tahiti? Museums in Paris. But the trek in the Andes is a close second.
  • Ugg boots or red-soled designer stilettos? Doc Martens. Or Converse.

Finally, please share with us links where we can find you and your work.

My website (where I try to keep things up to date on a semi-regular basis): http://ninalemay.com/

My Twitter: https://twitter.com/NinaLemay

My Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Nina-Lemay/335772423239892?ref=hl

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/8298989.Nina_Lemay

Thank you, Nina, and best of luck with Shameless and your future projects!

For more great WIP interview by an array of interesting authors click here.