Monday, December 28, 2015

Guest Post by Indie Author Deanna Dee



I’ve heard many authors say some variation of “I’d love to be able to write full-time." I often stay quiet if I’m in a position to reply because, like anything else, writing full-time isn’t perfect. I currently write as my day job, and I feel lucky that I have the ability to pursue my dreams, but having twenty-four hours, seven days a week to write has a downside. Most obviously is the logistics of essentially running a small business by myself. I not only have to write and publish...there’s also marketing, scheduling, formatting, budgeting. You name it, I’m doing it. Perhaps more challenging is…finding time to write. In addition to learning much about the non-writing aspects of the business, I've learned about time management. I've also learned much about myself. For example, I’ve learned that afternoons are not my creative time; I work much better in the morning and evening. So I try to compensate for this by fitting other things into afternoons, like laundry and errands. (Move over, tightrope artists, my balance is becoming flawless!) And finally, the most challenging: getting motivated. If I know I have a deadline coming, I work. The zing accompanying a book release also helps keep me on track. There are times, though, when I just flag. When those times hit, I take time away and only write when something strikes. After all, even 9-to-5 jobs have weekends off. The trick is to take a day and get back in the saddle. I’ve learned a lot about that, too. So the next time you wish you could write full-time, think about what that means. Writing as a day job lacks imposed structure, so you'll need to make your own structure. I’m good at regulating my own schedule, but doing so is not for everyone. If you think you can train yourself, try it. There’s nothing like having plenty of time to write.

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Thursday, December 17, 2015

INDIE AUTHOR SPOTLIGHT: KELLI CROCKETT




Q: Kelli...what made you become a writer?

A: I've always loved to write, ever since I was a little kid. I would always tell stories and my mom would type them up and print them out like they were books. I guess I got serious about writing a couple years ago when I came up with an idea for a book that I couldn't stop thinking about. Ever since then, I've been writing novels and short stories. I've published one and another is on the way.

Q: What is your typical writing day like?

A: Writing days are the kind of days that you don't get out of your pajamas for. I like to make hot chocolate or grab something that goes with peanut butter. Food is important. And then I reread what I wrote or edited the day before and go on from there. Some writing days are different, though. Sometimes I'll write in an environment that's similar to the scene I plan to write that day, like going into a dark attic for a creepy scene or sitting outside for a more lighthearted scene. And sometimes I don't have writing days. Writing all night is way easier because there aren't as many distractions and nothing is going to interrupt you when you get into the story.

Q: Do you outline? If so, how extensive are your outlines?

A: Yes! I love to outline. It's kind of how I hype myself up for writing the first draft because it will help me get through it. My outlines are fairly extensive. I start with sticky notes on a poster board to figure out the basic plot and then elaborate from there, filling in the blanks. Of course I also plan out characters and settings and all of the little details in research. My story never quite sticks to the outline, though. I like it better that way, so I'm not in control and the story can run free. That's the fun of it.

Q: How many revisions will you typically do on a novel?

A: It depends on how bad I mess up with the first draft. Sometimes I'll go through ten drafts and sometimes I'll go through five or six. For the one I'm writing now, it's looking to be around six or seven... I've got my work cut out for me. I do keep a lot of my first draft in there, but the best parts come out in editing.

Q: What is your best tip for editing a manuscript?

A: Don't give up. That is the single hardest thing about editing. I just started editing my second novel, and all I want to do is read. I'm three days from winter break and no school and I couldn't be happier. That means I'm going to be editing and I can actually get into it. Editing is monotonous and boring at first, especially if you don't like your first draft, but you can't give up. Don't start writing something else. You've just got to look at how much you've done and find inspiration for another draft.

Q: Which writing habits and/or tricks of the trade have made you a better writer?

A: Avoiding laziness is my main problem, but I'm changing that. You see, I am an expert in procrastination. I love NaNoWriMo because it doesn't allow you to be lazy. Laziness is what makes us overlook misspellings and grammatical errors. It makes us ignore things that tell us we'll have to rewrite a whole chapter. To fix that, I got into a habit of writing every day, and now I can't stand to be lazy with my work. It's all or nothing when I write now, and that's something that has already made me a better writer. 

Q: Do you ever suffer through writer’s block? If so, how do you fight it?

A: Yes, unfortunately. Writer's block is something that is in the mind, not the fingers, which is great, because as long as I can type, I'm writing. Even if I'm not feeling the story that day or if I just can't figure out what comes next, I write anyway. Even if it's trash, I can edit it later. Sometimes I'll write parts of the story that I am looking forward to getting to, and then connect the dots on how to get there. Sometimes I just remind myself that it's a first draft and it's okay if it sucks, because I'm the only one reading it. 

Q: What drew you to write your preferred genre(s)?

A: I love to write about things that gets people on the edge of their seat; things that get your blood pumping and make you turn the pages faster. I don't know why, but that has always been my preferred genre to read, so I guess writing it came naturally. Even when I don't intend to, my stories all lead to some kind of huge, dangerous, perilous climax.

Q: Do you utilize beta readers?

A: Yes! Beta readers are a great way to get input. It's even better when beta readers have discussions about things in the book. This gives you insight into how they see it versus how you saw it when you were writing.

Q: In your most recently published novel, what’s one scene you really enjoyed writing—and why?

A: My most recently published novel is Looking for Lily. I would actually consider it more of a novella, since it's short. My favorite scene was the climax, when the main character is face to face with the antagonists, having no idea whether or not he is about to die for what he believes in. I liked writing this part because it was so real to me, and it pulled me into the story like no other part in the novella. Of course, now when I read it I can't help but think about how much I've improved and how much more editing I should have done on it.

Q: What makes the main character(s) of your most recent novel so special?

A: I'm going to answer with my upcoming novel, Holding My Breath. My main character is so much more developed than any character I've written so far. Maybe it's the fact that she's nothing like me, or because of her backstory, but she is real in my head. I was talking about it to another writer and she had to stop me and reminded me that my character isn't real. I'm not kidding. This character was so real to me that I didn't even feel like I was controlling her anymore...that's when you know you have a well-rounded character. They can just be so stubborn sometimes. The other characters in my book are unique too and I'm looking forward to developing them more in the second draft. 

Q: What is your best advice for author self-promotion?

A: Give back to your readers somehow. Even if it isn't through giveaways or tours, that's fine. Get social media. Answer questions from fans. Meet them. I'm writing a blog all about writing and novelizing because it is something that I like to write about and there are people who want to read it because they say it inspires them. I love inspiring people, so I keep writing. And I love writing, so I keep writing. Just try to give back and don't get full of yourself or anything because then it isn't about the writing or the readers anymore. And that's what matters.

Q: How do you deal with negative reviews?

A: It depends. If the review is bad because of something in the writing that I agree with, then I write it down. I have a list of things that I have to remind myself not to do with the story when I go back to edit. Like when I get in the habit of using this one word as an adjective and it happens too much. If the bad review is because somebody doesn't like me, then I just shake it off. If they haven't read the book or don't know me and they are just criticizing me, then I'm not going to bother with them. When someone criticizes the writing, though, I seriously do try to take it into account and work on it.

Q: What is your favorite aspect of being an indie author?

A: It's not even something that comes with being an author, exactly. I just love the writing. Being an author, though, is amazing because the writing I do turns into books that I can hold in my hands. It's awesome to meet people who have read my book and talk with them about it. Or when someone asks me to sign their copy or something. I love meeting people who love my stories as much as I do. But the best thing has to be writing the story itself. I love to come up with the characters and their lives and what they are going to do about the problems they face. I love coming up with new worlds and exploring them. Writing is like reading but better, because you can make it whatever you want.

Q: What is your least favorite aspect of being an indie author?

A: To be honest, my least favorite part is when people judge me because of my age. I'm still a teenager, and I know there are so many other writers out there who are more experienced and have more developed writing styles. I know I'm not going to get famous or anything off of my books. That's not why I write. Writing, for me, is something that I love to do and I'll keep doing it. You can't judge the writing based off my age, even if it does mean I'm not experienced or whatever. I share what I write because there are people out there who want to read it, but if you don't want to, nobody is making you. Just because I'm young, doesn't mean I'm not allowed to follow my dreams. Of course, most people don't say it to my face, even if they think what I do is just some kiddish phase. Most people encourage me and stop to talk to me about my work. Especially friends and family, but it isn't just the people who I know I can count on. I've gotten to talk and connect with a ton of other writers and authors over Twitter, writing conferences, and NaNoWriMo. They've all been super supportive and understand what it's like to write.

Q: What is your current writing project?

A: I just finished NaNoWriMo with a 116,000 word book called Holding My Breath. Obviously, I've got a ton of editing to do since I just started my second draft. The book is something I've wanted to write for a while, since I can get into the minds of characters who are nothing like me and I can explore a story that I haven't completely finished developing yet. In fact, by the end of my editing, the odds of it being the same story is not likely. It's something I'm excited about and that means it's something I'm going to bring to a whole new level.

Q: What are three of your favorite novels?

A: This is a hard question. The Darkest Minds by Alexandra Bracken is definitely one of them. The writing and development of that story is simply amazing, and I have looked up to this book for a while. It's that awesome. The Fault in Our Stars by John Green is also up on my list. Overall, the story sent a beautiful and touching message and I love his writing style. Finally, I just read Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell and it's still stuck in my head. Rowell is great at capturing that essence of writing and the whole dynamic of why we write, why writers need to finish a story and how real it can become, even when we know it's fiction.

Q: If you could have lunch with any novelist, living or dead, who would it be? What would talk to them about?

A. I'd love to meet Alexandra Bracken, but I feel like my answer to this question changes from day to day. There are so many authors that I look up to and would love to meet. So many. Too many to name. I just wrote a blog post about the writing style of Bracken and how she uses such unique description and I wish I could talk to her about that. Even just the dialogue and everything in the Darkest Minds trilogy that has stuck with me. I would love to know how she came up with the story.

Q: What is your best piece of advice for budding authors?

A. Don't give up. You might face judgment from others or momentary doubts of your writing ability. You might have people who think that what you do is a joke. You might not want to keep going until the end. I'm telling you now: If you like to write, and you have a story you want to tell, don't let anything stop you from  telling it. Even if it is yourself, even if you get bored and want to move on to something more interesting, don't give up. I promise you won't regret it.

Q: What is your favorite inspirational quote?

A: "The best way out is always through."— Robert Frost

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No witches, warlocks or vampires...
just a sexy tale about trying to live the Hollywood dream...

Friday, December 4, 2015

Guest Post by Indie Author Kathy Zebert...



Chapter 3, Page 55

Hi!  I’m Kathy Zebert, and this is the short story of my transition from court reporter to novelist over the last five months.  This is the third chapter in the novel of my life, and the 55th page, because, well, I’m 55, and each year seems to be blazing by similar to the amount of time it takes to read a page in a book. 

The first chapter in my life lasted 32 years, until I finally figured out that I needed a career, a profession, a way to be financially independent.  I began the second chapter more than 21 years ago; a career in court reporting, a.k.a. stenographer.  I’m the lady that sits in court and depositions and moves her fingers on that little machine no one really knows anything about.  You’ve seen them in movies, TV crime shows, maybe even if you’ve been in a courtroom.  The camera will pan past her, but rarely does anyone make mention of her, talk to her, or even know her name. 

But that’s sort of the point of the profession.  Court reporters are supposed to be silent guardians of the record.  They are trained listeners, taking down every word and making a record of a legal case, the tragic stories of other people’s lives.  They are crucial to the process of litigation, with a required knowledge base like none other in the world, ethics beyond reproach, and the skillset similar to that of an Olympian athlete.  They work very long hours, under unbelievable deadlines, through holidays and weekends, to be sure that the transcripts that result from those legal proceedings are as perfect as humanly possible.  An entire novel could be written about what goes into this profession, but that’s the synopsis of Chapter 2 for me.

As you can imagine, after 21 years in this profession, there have been many changes.  In the last decade, seeing the “writing” on the wall, I began to think about where I wanted to be in Chapter 3.  I’ve been writing in some form or fashion since the early ‘70s, and along the way, I’ve been published in trade journals, newsletters, et cetera.  But the real push to write began about two years ago, with the passing of my dad.  You see, he was a jurist, and because I was in the legal services business, we loved talking about it. After his death, and along with all of the other changes in the profession, I knew I needed joy.  There is no joy in the subject matter of litigation, so my pursuit of joy threw me into a frenzy of a full year of a baking business before I realized that although it was extremely joyful, it was not physically or financially beneficial for my life’s Chapter 3.  Let’s just say I gained pounds and lost dollars.

Not to be discouraged from my pursuit of joy, I began to think about my experience as a court reporter, speaker and writer, and thought, Hey, what about a novel about a court reporter?  I can give them a voice.   My daughter had just completed her master’s degree in linguistics, and she’s an excellent editor/graphic artist.  Perfect!  In talking with her about my idea for the novel, she said, “Mom, it’s a great story, but you won’t write it.”  It was then that Incredulity was born and Chapter 3 began for me.  I needed to show my daughter what her mom was made of.  And the bonus was that I got to work with her on it as my editor.  That was June of this year, and through a move from one state to another, Incredulity was not only written, but self-published in both print and e-book and available all over the world.  Joy just became incredulity!

The writing was easy.  The story fell together as if it was planned.  It wasn’t, really, but it poured out of me so quickly that my fingers couldn’t keep up.  The process of getting it formatted for both e-book and print was a little frustrating because I didn’t have the money to pay a service to do it for me.  But I found videos, articles, reached out to strangers, and it finally came to fruition.  Next stop, beta readers.  Easy.  Everyone wants to be helpful and read it first.  Next stop, marketing.  Facebook, Twitter, Goodreads, oh, my!  I’m in!  I’m still floundering around with marketing, but I already had an audience of court reporters, and they began to purchase, read and review.

Everyone who knows me is completely aware that I’m no stranger to conversation, and I needed a site for my launch party, a press release, and who knows what else!  And because Incredulity is an over-the-top romance between a court reporter and a Texas rancher, who shows up on her docket for murder, I really wanted a cowboy at the party.  Phone call after phone call, my wishes came true.  The party was booked at a bookstore, the professional cowboy showed up, and the ranch offered up their PR person, who amazingly brought her horse, Chico, to the party!  Yes, I got on a horse for the very first time in my life!
 
Then the local radio station owner asked for an interview, twice.  He read the book and said he thought it was a screenplay and that I needed an agent!  What?!  (I haven’t found one…yet.)  I published on October 4th, and in the first month, I had 150 combined e-book and paperback sales!  That’s huge for someone who has no outside help, no experience in the industry, and no real connections.  I’m learning something new every day.

Chapter 3 has been a blessing so far.  Although I’m still standing in the middle of the street between the courthouse and the bookstore, hoping not to be run over by a truck, I know I’ve found my new purpose.  Book 2, Madame Court Reporter, will be out in early 2016.  The business aspect of writing is very much the same as court reporting.  Both focus on words, both rely on sales of copies for financial success, and both are seeing a decline in the value of the person responsible for getting those words on paper.  The one major difference, however, is the joy that writing brings, not just to me, but to the reader. When readers ask if they can date your character or suggest an actor for the role in the movie, again... Incredulity!


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No witches, warlocks or vampires...
just a sexy tale about trying to live the Hollywood dream...

Saturday, October 24, 2015

INDIE AUTHOR SPOTLIGHT: KSENIA ANSKE



Q: Ksenia...what made you become a writer?

A: Oh, it's a very long story. The short version of it is this: I was depressed, I wanted to kill myself, my therapist told me to journal, so I started writing in a journal, by hand, in English, and that unlocked something, and I still can't shut up. 

Q: What is your typical writing day like?

A: It's really very simple: I wake up, I get my coffee, and I start writing. I don't stop until I produce 2K words or spend 4 hours writing. Sometimes it spills to 5 hours or more. Then I stop and do a bit of social media (like bragging about how many words I wrote), study the etymology and meanings of the new words I learned from reading the night before, scan some literary news, then eat a snack, then read for 3 hours or at least 100 pages, then it's dinner and family time, then I might write a blog post, then I meditate and exercise and read what I wrote to my partner Royce. We talk about it, then it's bed time and the next morning everything repeats. I don't break for weekends or holidays until the draft is done. 

Q: Do you outline? If so, how extensive are your outlines?

A: No. I used to, with my first trilogy, only to come to hate the process. I like writing not knowing what happens next. It's like reading a book. I want to turn the page and get all excited. Where is the fun in knowing what will happen ahead of the time? 

Q: How many revisions will you typically do on a novel? 

A: From 4 to 5. So far. Maybe the current novel I'm writing will take more than that. Each revision is a complete rewrite from start to finish. I go through it from beginning to end like I'm reading a book (again). I'd like to slow down and do more revisions, but by draft 4-5 my brain usually is urging me onto the next story and I can't help it. I have to let the current story go or I'll go crazy. 

Q: What is your best tip for editing a manuscript?

A: Read aloud what you write as you're writing it. I wish I knew this earlier, it would've saved me so many hours of revisions. You can't see the sound of your words, can't get the rhythm right unless you actually hear what you write. This is especially true for dialogue. Try it. You'll never go back to your old methods again. 

Q: Which writing habits and/or tricks of the trade have made you a better writer?

A: Reading. When I started writing, I read Stephen King's On Writing and followed his words ever since: "If you don't have time to read, you don't have the time (or the tools) to write. Simple as that." I have learned so much in the last 3 years of writing full-time, but aside from this I have also been reading full-time, and all my tricks I have picked up are from reading. One, to know that what's unsaid is more important than what is said and that only multiple rewrites will get you to the point where you know exactly what to leave in and what to cut out. Two, that people don't say what they mean most of the time and it takes a long time to get to know your characters so you can understand how they talk. Three, that no book is perfect and it's okay to simply write what comes to your head. Four, that big complicated words don't matter. Five, that grammar rules. Six, that writing every day is what makes your voice sound consistent. Seven, that none of us really know what we do but we do it anyway, and that's okay. Well, I can write a whole book of tricks here, so I better stop. 

Q: Do you ever suffer through writer’s block? If so, how do you fight it?

A: I don't believe in writer's block. I believe it's a convenient myth to hide behind to justify your procrastination. Ever heard of an accountant having an accounting block? Neither have I. Writing is a job and most days it's tedious and exhausting and boring. The glamour around writing is yet another myth concocted by wannabes, I would suspect, or those who believe that the process of birthing a book is like waving a magic wand and having it pop out of thin air complete with a muse carrying it to you on a silver platter. Unfortunately, it's not like that at all. It takes a great deal of discipline and focus to sit alone, day in and day out, with your own inadequacies and deficiencies and flaws staring you in the face from the screen, or from a piece of paper if you write by hand or type. No one you can blame for it but yourself. It's hard to stomach, this truth, so people chicken out and then tell their friends they have writer's block and their friends feel sorry for them and so on. Aside from this little treatise I gave you just now, I do get scared of not knowing what happens next and I end up staring at the screen for too long without producing words, so I get up and get a cup of tea or eat some dried squirrels for a snack (I catch them myself), and by the time I'm back I usually have a good idea what to write next. That's as much as I've been blocked. 

Q: What drew you to write your preferred genre(s)?

A: I get asked this all the time and all the time I scratch my head before answering. You know the simple truth? When I started writing, I had only the vaguest idea about genres. I simply wrote what wanted to get out of me, dark magical horrors that wouldn't let me sleep. It was only after I have published my first trilogy that people told me it’s urban fantasy, and about my later books they told me it’s magical realism with a touch of horror. So I guess that's what it is! I would say, I write Ksenia Anske because that's what Ksenia Anske prefers, damn her. 

Q: Do you utilize beta readers?

A: Oh, yes. Big time. At first I didn't even know that's what they were called. All my drafts I post on my site for anyone who wants to read them. If they give me feedback, great! I read through it and if it rings true, I apply it to the next draft. 

Q: In your most recently published novel, what’s one scene you really enjoyed writing—and why?

A: The boys fight in Castle Dracula, the scene from The Badlings. There are three of them, the boys, and Dracula locked them in a room while he had a mind of sinking his teeth into their friend Bells, and they want to save her, naturally, but Peacock was acting as a coward the whole time and so Rusty wants to give him his piece of mind only it turns into a scuffle where Peacock is acting a sissy and Rusty beats him up. Grand, the bigger of the three, instead of stopping the fight allows himself to revel in what Peacock had coming to him. I laughed so hard writing this, I would have tears in my eyes. I was itching for this to happen and it gave me an immense satisfaction to write it, waving my arms about and grunting like I was fighting myself. 

Q: What makes the main character(s) of your most recent novel so special?

A: Bells? She is a very strong-willed girl who doesn't take no for an answer and is not afraid of taking risks. It's one of my own traits and I delighted in writing a character where I could magnify it and make it her core. She's bossy, she wants to be a scientist when she grows up and because her mother disapproves of that decision, she runs away from home "to show her." A rebel! I love rebels.

Q: What is your best advice for author self-promotion?

A: Be yourself. Share yourself and make friends instead of trying to sell your book to anyone who happens to talk to you. It's off-putting. But if someone happens to know more about you, they will be willing to spend time to find out more about you, and that time is precious. It's worth more than money, more than the sale of your book. Cherish it. Thank for it. And you will convert a passerby into a guest, a guest into a friend, a friend into a reader, a reader into a fan. 

Q: How do you deal with negative reviews?

A: They don't bother me. I have only a few and they're not that negative, really, just people misunderstanding why I wrote the book or misunderstanding the story. It's an opinion. There are millions of opinions. Let them have it. It doesn't mean that I should stop writing or should change my writing. I write for myself. What does it matter what people think? If they love it, great! I'm elated! If not, then they should read something they love, not my books, and feel happy. Life is too short to read books you don't like.  

Q: What is your favorite aspect of being an indie author?

A: Control. I have control over my story, my covers, my marketing methods, my publishing decisions. I own my books and I can do whatever I want with them. It's a heady feeling, really. Makes you dizzy at first, then happy, very happy. 

Q: What is your least favorite aspect of being an indie author?

A: I can't just thrown up my arms and take time off and not do work for a day. If I don't talk about my work daily, if I don't produce work every day, people will forget about me and then I'm screwed, so sometimes I wish I could hand it over to someone and take a break. But I can't. 

Q: What is your current writing project?

A: I'm writing the second draft of TUBE: Trans-Urban Blitz-Express, a novel about a train that is killing its passengers one by one, those passengers being Russian ballerinas on tour across the United States. A nice sweet story, right? Not bloody at all. I have started writing it while on the train during my Amtrak residency. I was lucky enough to be selected as one of the 24 winners and I will remember that trip for the rest of my life. It was fantastic. 

Q: What are three of your favorite novels?

A: Oh, that is a cruel cruel question. It's impossible to pick only three as time goes by and I read so many books that every year I have different favorites. Let's say that so far this year the three novels that I fell in love with are The Slynx by Tatyana Tolstaya, The Road by Cormac McCarthy, and Matilda by Roald Dahl. 

Q: If you could have lunch with any novelist, living or dead, who would it be? What would talk to them about? 

A: It used to be Neil Gaiman, but I already talked to him. So now it’s Stephen King. We'd probably talk about dead bodies. I'd tell him spooky Russian stories and he'd tell me spooky American stories and maybe I will learn from him how to stop being afraid of my writing and just write. 

Q: What is your best piece of advice for budding authors?

A: Write and read every day, that's all there is to it. If you do enough of it, and if you do it continuously and won't give up, one day you will get so good, people won't be able to ignore you. 

Q: What is your favorite inspirational quote? 

A: The quote that my daughter sent me once when I was feeling down and hated my writing. I reread it every time I start doubting myself and feel better again. It's the quote by Ira Glass: "Nobody tells this to people who are beginners, I wish someone told me. All of us who do creative work, we get into it because we have good taste. But there is this gap. For the first couple years you make stuff, it’s just not that good. It’s trying to be good, it has potential, but it’s not. But your taste, the thing that got you into the game, is still killer. And your taste is why your work disappoints you. A lot of people never get past this phase, they quit. Most people I know who do interesting, creative work went through years of this. We know our work doesn’t have this special thing that we want it to have. We all go through this. And if you are just starting out or you are still in this phase, you gotta know it's normal and the most important thing you can do is do a lot of work. Put yourself on a deadline so that every week you will finish one story. It is only by going through a volume of work that you will close that gap, and your work will be as good as your ambitions. And I took longer to figure out how to do this than anyone I’ve ever met. It’s gonna take awhile. It’s normal to take awhile. You’ve just gotta fight your way through.”

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No witches, warlocks or vampires...
just a sexy tale about trying to live the Hollywood dream...


Tuesday, October 6, 2015

INDIE AUTHOR SPOTLIGHT: BIANCA SCARDONI




Q: Bianca...what made you become a writer?

A. I've always been fascinated with words and how powerful they could be when put together the right way. Since as far back as I can remember, I loved writing. I loved telling stories. I loved creating worlds. I loved everything about it, really. And I wrote all the timepoems, short-stories, screenplays, you name it... I even built an online community for writers and started sharing my writing there. Oddly enough, as much as I immersed myself in it, and surrounded myself with it, it never occurred to me that it was something I could actually do for a living until many years later. 

Q: What is your typical writing day like?

A. Scattered and messy. My days are filled with dirty diapers and spit-up so I usually spend most of the day thinking about writing but not actually getting anything done. Evenings are my favorite time to write. Everyone is asleep and the house is finally quiet enough to let my characters come out and play. 

Q: Do you outline? If so, how extensive are your outlines?

A. I usually do a quick and dirty outline so that I have a basic overview of where my story is going. Of course, it rarely ever stays on track but that's all part of the fun. 

Q: How many revisions will you typically do on a novel?

A. I'm a compulsive editor; almost to the point where it's crippling. I can stay fixated on a scene or even a paragraph for days. I try to set rules for myself (just keep writing, edit later) but I rarely ever follow them. 

Q: What is your best tip for editing a manuscript?

A. Pay someone to do it. 

Q: Which writing habits and/or tricks of the trade have made you a better writer?

A. Shutting everything off. Distractions are procrastination's best friend. When it's time to write, I unplug all my devices and turn off all my electronics so that I have no other option but to write. 

Q: Do you ever suffer through writer’s block? If so, how do you fight it?

A. Definitely. I think mine usually stems from the pressure I put on myself to get it just right—make it perfect. When I'm in that space, I try to step away from my work and find ways to decompress. Music, reading, going for long drives...whatever helps me lessen the tension.

Q: What drew you to write your preferred genre(s)?

A. YA fiction and paranormal romances have always been my favorite genres to read so I think it was only natural that I would gravitate towards those genres in my own writing. 

Q: Do you utilize beta readers?

A. Yes. They're hard to find but definitely worth the effort. They help spot any inconsistencies early on, and also give me the motivation I need to make that final push through the painstaking editing phase.

Q: In your most recently published novel, what’s one scene you really enjoyed writing—and why?

A. In Inception, probably the kissing scene between the two main characters, Jemma and Trace. There was so much build-up and tension between the two that it was almost a release to finally let them have their moment. However short-lived it was. 

Q: What makes the main character(s) of your most recent novel so special?

A. I think she's a down-to-earth girl with a good head on her shoulders. She doesn't sit back and watch things happen to her. She fights for what she wants, but doesn't go after it blindly or at the expense of others. 

Q: What is your best advice for author self-promotion?

A. Get it in as many hands as you can. Give it away for free. Get bloggers to review it. Promote it on social networking sites like Facebook or Goodreads. Do whatever you have to do to get people to read it. And then pray like hell that it spreads like wildfire. 

Q: How do you deal with negative reviews?

A. I remind myself that negative reviews are inevitable. Not everyone will like my book (or the writing style, or cover, or main character, etc....) and that's okay. It doesn't mean it isn't good or that the next person won't enjoy it. It just wasn't for that particular person. 

Q: What is your favorite aspect of being an indie author?

A. I like having control over my writing. 

Q: What is your least favorite aspect of being an indie author?

A. Promoting myself. It isn't very fun and I'm not very good at it. 

Q: What is your current writing project?

A. I'm currently working on the second book in my series, The Marked.

Q: What are three of your favorite novels?

A. Pride and Prejudice has always been my top. My contemporary favorites change quite often, but right now I'd say Angelfall by Susan Ee, and Easy by Tammara Webber.

Q: If you could have lunch with any novelist, living or dead, who would it be? What would talk to them about?

A. Although technically a playwright, I would choose William Shakespeare. I'd love to hear the real story behind his work and personal life. If I had to choose an actual novelist, Stephen King would definitely be at the top of my list. 

Q: What is your best piece of advice for budding authors?

A. Don't let anyone get in your way. We all face roadblocks at one point or another. Just remember that those roadblocks are there to stop the other guys from getting throughthe ones who didn't want it bad enough. The ones who didn't have what it took to persevere. They're not there for you so just push them aside and keep on going. 

Q: What is your favorite inspirational quote?

A. "You fail only if you stop writing." -Ray Bradbury

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No witches, warlocks or vampires...
just a sexy tale about trying to live the Hollywood dream...

Thursday, October 1, 2015

INDIE AUTHOR SPOTLIGHT: MYLO CARBIA



MYLO CARBIA (also known as “The Queen of Horror”) is an American screenwriter turned #1 bestselling author widely known for her work in the horror, thriller and science fiction genres. Born and raised in Jackson, New Jersey, Carbia spent her childhood years writing to escape the horrors of growing up in a haunted house. Her very first screenplay was optioned 28 days after completion, earning Carbia a "three picture deal" and the cover of Hollywood Scriptwriter in 2003. After that time, she quietly penned numerous film projects under her production company Zohar Films, earning the reputation of being Hollywood’s Number One Horror Film Ghostwriter. In September (2015), her debut novel The Raping of Ava DeSantis hit #1 Bestseller in New Releases and #1 Bestseller in American Horror weeks before its official release date, and continues to receive critical acclaim from both avid readers and critics worldwide.

Q: Mylo...what made you become a writer?

A: As a child I grew up in a haunted house and found writing to be my only escape. Writing was my therapy. It was a cry for help. It was the only way I could communicate with others as to what was going on without telling people the truth. In 1979, you could not tell people that your house was severely haunted. Movies like The Exorcist and Amityville Horror had everyone talking about how horrible it would be to know someone like that. So anyone who had paranormal experiences like me did not speak about it, except to a few of my closest friends and immediate family.

Q: What is your typical writing day like?

A: My daily routine changes based on family obligations, but now I mainly write from 5:00 am - 3:00 pm and 6:00 pm - 9:00 pm. I can write very late at night but I only edit very early in the morning.

Q: Do you outline? If so, how extensive are your outlines?

A: I started out as a screenwriter so I prefer to write a screenplay first and use it as my outline before tackling the novel.

Q: How many revisions will you typically do on a novel?

A: I am a Dean Koontz sort of perfectionist who rewrites the same page a million times before moving on to the next one, which isn't always a good practice. It can slow down the editing process to a snail dance. I am training myself to change this habit in order to meet my deadline of seven more books over the next three years.

Q: What is your best tip for editing a manuscript?

A: Always go with your first instinct. It's always the right choice.

Q: Which writing habits and/or tricks of the trade have made you a better writer?

A: Hollywood demands a certain type of story and I use that mindset when writing novels as well. Something must happen within the first ten pages. The story needs to bend, twist and turn many times before its unexpected conclusion. These are all strategies I used in screenwriting, and now I use them in writing novels as well.

Q: Do you ever suffer through writer’s block? If so, how do you fight it?

A: Writer's block is just your intuition telling you: Hey, you're on the wrong track. Make a change in direction and move forward.

Q: What drew you to write your preferred genre(s)?

A: Growing up in a haunted house definitely made me a horror writer. No doubt about it.

Q: Do you utilize beta readers?

A: No way. I don't want any outsider to influence my story. That's the main reason I left screenwriting — producers, directors, studio executives, actors — everyone changes your story before the audience gets to experience it. People who paint for a living don't ask others if the leaves should be green or purple, they simply make the choice. The only exception to this rule is that my editor and publisher read the early versions of my work and make recommendations. Luckily, they "get me" so we don't have any major issues.

Q: In your most recently published novel, what’s one scene you really enjoyed writing—and why?

A: With The Raping of Ava DeSantis I loved writing the whole damn thing! I just love writing revenge stories, probably because I am a triple Scorpio. But if I had to pick one scene it would definitely be the one where the three fraternity brothers wake up the next morning and realize what they did to Ava the night before. What they do in attempt to clean up the evidence will stay in people's minds forever.

Q: What makes the main character(s) of your most recent novel so special?

A: Ava DeSantis will probably be my favorite character for a long time in that she's my first baby in the literary world. She transforms from a shy, unattractive, nerdy college student to a gorgeous, badass, wealthy serial killer. Doesn't get any better than that.

Q: What is your best advice for author self-promotion?

A: Hire a publicist if you can afford it. They come in all shapes and sizes, so even a hungry marketing major in college will do an amazing job on social media for just a hundred bucks a week.

Q: How do you deal with negative reviews?

A: I'm pretty thick skinned when it comes to reviews. I know my writing is not for everyone, so a person who only loves Disney movies probably won't like my books. I hope the subject matter of my novels make it clear up front that we're in for a wild ride, folks.
  
Q: What is your current writing project?

A: My next horror novel is called "Violets Are Red" and tells the story of a middle-aged housewife who kidnaps her husband's young mistress and quietly keeps her prisoner in the basement. I am in the process of writing it now and can't wait to release it next summer. It's a shocker, even to me!

Q: What are three of your favorite novels?

A: Harry Potter And The Deathly Hallows (JK Rowling), The Shining (Stephen King) and Ghost Story (Peter Straub).

Q: If you could have lunch with any novelist, living or dead, who would it be? What would talk to them about?

A: I would have lunch with Stephen King, of course. My writing is often compared to his so I would ask him how the hell he gets so many books out each year. I am fascinated with his super-human ability to produce such a volume of good prose. I want some of that mental mojo to rub off on me over brisket.

Q: What is your best piece of advice for budding authors?

A: First study the "Law of Attraction" to understand how you can achieve any goal in life with the power of positive thinking coupled with hard work. This is a non-negotiable. As a writer, you will face many odds against you and the only people who will make it are those that believe they will without a doubt. My favorite Law of Attraction books are Ask and It Is Given by Esther & Jerry Hicks, The Secret by Rhonda Byrne and Think And Grow Rich by Napoleon Hill. I have read about thirty books on the subject, but those three are by far the most straightforward and easiest to understand.

Q: Why do they call you "The Queen of Horror"?

A: The nickname came from a paparazzo who yelled it to me while I was on the red carpet of an Academy Awards party a few years back. The Examiner printed it and it stuck. I have always loved the idea of being a princess, so what the hell. Queen is even better. 

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No witches, warlocks or vampires...
just a sexy tale about trying to live the Hollywood dream...

Friday, September 25, 2015

Another solid review for my novel!


A Novel About Hollywood by Jim Vines


"I wasn't really sure what to expect with this book but it was an awesome read. I think I read it in only four sittings which is saying a lot because a) I'm really busy with two jobs and four kids, and b) it's over 300 pages long....I loved the parts of this story where the main character, Trent, got down to writing. There were tons of awesome scenes of him getting the writing done driven by inspiration, a deadline, or both. It's always cool to see how others write, and even though Trent is a fictional character, he sure feels real when you're reading the book. I loved seeing him struggle—and, man, did he struggle. It made me root for him big time. Jim Vines writes a great story [and it] moves at a great pace. It's not clogged up with unnecessary scenes or description. Just story. Even though the book is fairly long I sat down and before I knew it I had read like 74 pages. The crude language and sex scenes in this book weren't my cup of tea [but] I did appreciate...that the [sex scenes] would always end before going into much detail....I loved how the book was written in first person. It was like reading a memoir more than a fictional story, which was pretty sweet. The story had a great flow and it was fun to go for a ride through Hollywood with Trent as he struggles to get his art onto the page, and hopefully, onto the big screen."  Review by Dan Absalonson (4 out of 5 star rating)



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