Interview with Lynne Marino

lm

Lynne Marino’s second book, The Cha-cha Affair, was released in July. She writes humorous fiction and romantic comedies. I’m endlessly fascinated by how my fellow writers define themselves and their work. Lynne was kind enough to indulge my questions.

What kind of writer are you?

I walk the line between humorous women’s fiction and comedy romance. My characters don’t set out to meet a guy, nor do they necessarily want a man in their life. They have other goals and things going on, and then they run into someone they can’t say no to.

If you’re asking if I’m a pantser or a plotter, I do a little of both. I guess that makes me a hybrid author (joke intended).

Do you insist on daily word counts?

No. I do insist that I spend a good four hours a day writing, and another two learning about marketing. I will often put on a timer for forty-five minutes, take a fifteen minute break, and then start writing again. No cheating is allowed, like when I was a kid and moved the timer up during piano practice. I was the master at shaving a good ten minutes off that timer.

Did you study writing in school?

No, I studied child development and family systems. It comes in handy when you’re writing about internal conflict and the character’s motivations.

Do you edit as you go or force out a whole first draft first?

I write about sixty pages and then do a rough edit and revision. It helps me clarify where the story is going, and if that’s where I wanted it to go.

Do you write in silence or with music?

Silence. It’s golden.

Do you read in the same genre(s) you write in? Are there particular authors who inspire you?

I read a lot of books, mostly women’s fiction, humorous fiction, and comedic romance. I love novels that really walk the line between all three.

Some of my favorite authors are Frederik Backman, Markus Zusak, Jennifer Weiner, Elizabeth Susan Phillips, and Gillian Flynn who does not write comedy or romance. These are a few authors that I would pick up anything they wrote without hesitation.

ccTalk a bit about your books. Who do you write for?

I write books about women in crazy situations who have the temerity to try and figure a way out of them, and who have the audacity to search for a happier life. The women in my novels are older with children, careers, and ex-husbands, or, at the very least, have a few romances under their belts. I write for people who want to laugh about life.

Why do you write?

Good question. Because I can’t not write. My head is constantly thinking up stories.

What can we expect to see from you next?

I’m half-way through another comedy romance, the working title of which is “The Third Time’s The Charm”. It’s about two people who grew up next to each other, who’ve pretty much bombed at life and love, and who end up living back in their parent’s houses. The last thing they need is each other, until they come to realize that the only thing they need is each other.

For more information, check out Lynne Marino’s author site.

Advertisements

Interview with Margaret Ann Spence

Author photo- Margaret Ann Spence

Lately, I’ve been getting to know some of my fellow members of the Women Fiction Writers’ Association. Margaret Ann Spence is a romance writer who recently published her first novel. She answered my questions about writing, editing and publishing.

Tell me about your recent novel. Who is your audience?
My novel, Lipstick on the Strawberry, was published by The Wild Rose Press in 2017. It is women’s fiction. And, by the way, I love that term. Raised in a family of boys, and with three sons of my own, I just relish being in the company of women, real or fictional. My target audience is women aged 25-60. Particularly women who enjoy the domestic arts. The print and ebook book are available from the publisher, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, iTunes, and many other book sellers.

Do you have a critique group or support network? Do you let people read early drafts?
I belong to a bi-weekly critique group. We meet in person, over dinner. Two people (usually) email their manuscripts or portions of manuscripts to the other members the week before. We then discuss the submissions at the meeting and at the end, hand our written critiques to the presenters. We have a dozen members, all writing in different genres. Each person gets to present about four times a year. The discussions are always lively. I also belong to the Women Fiction Writers’ Association, an online group, and a couple of other writing groups who meet once a month for discussion of craft, marketing, etc.

Are you a ‘plotter’ or ‘pantser’? Do you outline a story before writing or make it up as you go?
Combo. I start off with an idea, or rather a couple of ideas that will meld into a story. Have a vague idea of a plot and some main characters. Put that on paper. Then start writing. At first it’s like hammering away at the rock face until a shape emerges. Sometimes I have no idea how it will end until I write it. Other times I know the ending and have to shape the story to get to it.

lipCan you describe your path to publication? Did you query agents? How long did it take?
Lipstick on the Strawberry is my first published novel. But it’s the second novel I pitched and sent to agents. In fact, I started writing Lipstick when waiting to hear back from an agent who had requested the full from the first novel. I had a first draft of Lipstick in a few months, then many revisions, and a contract two years after I started writing it. I met Rhonda Penders, CEO of The Wild Rose Press, at an RWA conference and pitched the story to her, resulting in the publication of the book.

What are you working on next?
My next novel is completely different in setting and characters. It has three point of view characters, three generations of women. I’m deep into it at the moment, powering through to the end. Then comes the fun part, reorganizing and rewriting. I love revision.

For more information, check out her blog.

Interview with Rachael Richey

New profile pic 2013Rachael Richey is a romance writer I met in a critique group I’ve participated in for several years. (I highly recommend joining a group like this, for many reasons.) I’ve been able to read two of her novels, pre-publication, so far. I recently got her to answer a few questions about writing, publishing, and about her new book.

 

Tell me about your most recent novel. Who is your audience?

My most recent novel, Practising for Christmas, is a romantic comedy set at Christmas.  Olivia and her friends are spending Christmas in a remote coastal cottage, and before the others arrive, Olivia discovers an unconscious and very handsome stranger on the beach.  She takes him home to patch him up and it’s when her friends arrive the next day that things begin to spiral out of control due to a case of mistaken identity.  It’s basically a feel good seasonal romcom.  My audience will probably be mostly female, but I do have some stalwart male fans who read all my books.

perf5.000x8.000.inddWhat kind of writer are you? Do you insist on daily word counts? Do you edit as you go or force out a whole first draft first? Do you write in silence or with music? In the morning or at night? What do you do when you get stuck in the writing process?

Wow.  A lot of questions!  Right.  I write when and where the mood takes me.  At the moment I’m going through a bit of a dry patch, but when I’m in the zone (for example, nearing the end of a book), I have been known to write about 20k per week.  Definitely no insistence on a daily word count – that would put me off.  Sometimes it flows, sometimes it doesn’t and you just have to go with it.  I usually read back over my previous day’s work and do a quick edit, but save most of the editing until I’ve finished.  Sometimes I like music when I’m writing, but I’m equally happy writing in silence.  I have been known to do it with the TV on in the background if all the family are in.  I have to fit my writing in around everything else (I long for the day when it is my main job), so I write anytime.  I wrote a lot of my first book at night, between midnight and 4 am, but these days I don’t seem to stay awake so well, probably because I have more early mornings now.  If I get a bit stuck on a plot, the best way to sort it out is in the shower.

Who are some of your favorite authors?

Daphne du Maurier, Kate Morton, Kate Atkinson, Patricia Cornwell, Kathy Reichs, Linda Fairstein, Barbara Erskine, David Baldacci, Sophie Kinsella, Elizabeth George

When did you decide you wanted to be published? How did you go about making it happen? What is the biggest challenge of being published? What’s the best part?

I’ve always wanted to write, right from when I was a small child.   I used to write stories all the time and just assumed that when I was grown-up I would be a published writer.  That didn’t happen for a very long time and I kind of got caught up in other things, then one day in early 2012 I resurrected a story idea I had had a few years earlier, and once I started I couldn’t stop!  As soon as I had finished that one, in about three months, I started a sequel, at the same time editing and then submitting the first one.  By the time I finally got an offer from a publisher (actually from three in one week), in early 2014, I was part the way through the fourth book in the series.  You really do have to be prepared for a lot of rejections though.  I must have had at least twenty, if not more, for the first book.  Don’t be put off.  It’s worth all the rejections when you hold your first published book in your hand, and realise that other people will be getting to know your characters, and hopefully getting to love them.

What are you working on next?

I’m currently working on another romantic comedy, but I have ideas for several other books all fighting for my attention as well.  I’m not sure which one will win yet, but it’ll be exciting finding out.

You can find out more about Rachael Richey here.

Interview with Dave Olner

IMG_20170518_162052070 1

Years ago, I belonged to a now defunct writing site called Authonomy. There, I workshopped my writing, learned to critique others, and, ultimately, found my publisher. Dave Olner was one of the writers I met there and his book, The Baggage Carousel was one of my favorites. I was so glad to see he recently published it and I had a bunch of questions for him that he was nice enough to answer.

Since Authonomy closed, have you found a comparable writing group?

I haven’t frequented a writing site since Authonomy shut up shop. I feel like I found it at the right time: as a clueless fledgling taking their first crack at writing a book. Some of the feedback I received there helped shape the finished manuscript immeasurably and I’m thankful for it. It was a case of separating the wheat from the chaff, though, because some of of the feedback I received there was dogshit, from people who didn’t know what they were talking about. People just like me! I had found a virtual peer group and it was a sad day when the site closed.

 

When did you decide you wanted to pursue publication? How did you find your publisher?

After completing the book I embarked on the well-trodden road of queries, subs and rejections. I garnered some initial interest in the manuscript, but nothing that ever came to fruition. When I’d exhausted all options, when I couldn’t find anyone else who would even spare the time to dismiss my work, I set the MS to one side and started on a second book.

Years later, I was contacted by Nathan O’Hagan, one of the non-dogshit people from Authonomy. Now a big-shot published writer, he babbled excitedly about a new indie publisher, Obliterati Press, he was setting up with another author, Wayne Leeming. He told me he remembered my book fondly and asked if I’d ever managed to get it placed. The short answer to that was No. The two of them agreed to consider the MS and…well, here we are.

 

Describe your writing process. Do you keep a journal?

Much to my shame, I’m not currently writing at all. I’d like to write but after work, sleep, feeding and occasionally washing myself there doesn’t seem to be much time left. Although, sometimes I get an idea for a short story and it starts to rankle me so much that I’m eventually forced to write it down. It’s like lancing a boil and finding a homunculus within.

I don’t keep a journal in my grim everyday existence, but I have done them whilst away on backpacking trips. I’d like to say these journals contained in-depth reportage of the places I’d visited, but I found an old one recently and most of the pages were filled with doodles of robots.

 

tbcIn The Baggage Carousel, the main character’s traveling is motivated by rootlessness and restlessness. The places he travels to seem so real. How have you researched these places? Are you affected by a similar wanderlust?

All the places mentioned in The Baggage Carousel are ones I’ve visited. Some of the events featured in the book are based on actual occurrences. For the purpose of the narrative, I expunged myself from those events and transposed the central character, Dan Roberts, into them. He’s a bit more of an arsehole than I am but, hopefully, a little more entertaining. So it was like a Spacey/Plummer situation, except in reverse.

 

Is this really your first book? How long did it take to write and when can we expect another?

Yes, it’s really my first book. I would not intentionally deceive you. It’s hard to tot up how long it took to write The Baggage Carousel, because it’s something I would set aside for months on end and then return to periodically, a scab I had to keep picking at. So, maybe soup to nuts was something like five years, but it wasn’t five years of continual slog. If anything, the MS was something I would revisit when I had a little time away from the continual slog.

I wrote a second book, “Munger”, a character study based on a sex-tourist I met on a bus in Thailand. He was a hideous man, really, but his voice got stuck in my head. Even after the inherent darkness of my first novel, I somehow managed to plumb new depths of depravity with my sophomoric effort. I honestly do not know if the world will ever want or need this novel, but I do know it was something I needed to write.

 

You can follow Dave at daveocelot@twitter.com and and check out his publisher, obliteratipress.com.

Interview with Jeanne Felfe

Head shotJeanne Felfe is a women’s fiction author whose debut novel came out in 2016. Always curious how other writers make the journey, I asked her a few questions about writing, publishing and her support system. Here are her answers.

When did you start writing?

I actually have a notebook from Junior High that contains some of my writing, so back at least that far. However, I didn’t write seriously until around 2012. I “played” at writing, but would start and then stop for months at a time.

When did you decide to pursue publication?

The Art of Healing began its life as a short story for a Writers Digest contest in 2003. A friend mentioned Camp Nano in July 2013, the day before it started, and I decided to turn that short story into a novel, even though I knew two weeks of that month were already booked. Although I didn’t write 50K words, I did make it to 21K, which was the most I’d ever written on a single story. The writing bug caught hold that time and hasn’t let go. It took me three years to complete The Art of Healing, and I published it in June 2016, knowing absolutely nothing about pre-launch and marketing. I knew half-way through that I would publish my first book as an Indie author – it just felt right.

Pageflex Persona [document: PRS0000026_00025]Describe your book. Who is your audience?

The Art of Healing is a blended Women’s Fiction/Love story. Although the love story is central, it’s not a true romance. And though it has a satisfying end, it’s not the ending one might expect. The main female character, pediatric nurse Julianne Garvoli, has fooled herself into thinking her life is perfect – that it’s her dream life. Until she comes home one day to learn that her perfect life is anything but perfect. The main male character, photographer Jokob O’Callaghan, is definitely living his dream life, with his wife Keara. They travel the country in an RV creating works of art from his sunrise/sunset photos, and her poetry. When his life is shattered, he hides behind his work. A chance meeting between Julianne and Jokob in St. Louis at one of his art shows opens the door to a possible future together that neither really wants due to their brokenness. In spite of themselves, they find themselves falling in love. But life may have other plans for them.

The ideal audience is a reader who enjoys a deeply emotional journey through pain and healing. A story of growth and forgiveness, and of learning that we all deserve a second chance at love.

The Art of Healing was a quarter-finalist in the Booklife Prize 2017 Contest, where the judge said, “…This satisfying novel has a traditional romance plot, but infuses it with a depth and introspection that keeps the story fresh. No space is wasted on tangents, and the plot comes to a gratifying climax.”

Do you consider genre before you start writing or after the book is complete?

I should, but don’t. When a story floats into my head, I don’t question what it is, I simply write it. However, most of my stories revolve around strong female characters, and fit into some sub-category of Women’s Fiction. That said, I also write short stories, many of which have won contests and been published in several anthologies. My short stories range from humor to horrific, and just about everything in between, including a couple of fantasy. I’m never sure where the ideas come from, but they are usually a flash of a character or scene, and I follow wherever the stories lead.

Do you have a critique group or support network? Do you let people read early drafts?

I am truly blessed to belong to Saturday Writers, a chapter of the Missouri Writers Guild (MWG), and began serving on the board in January 2017. I also served on the MWG board for the 2017-2018 session. Saturday Writers is my writing home and I belong to two novel critique groups made up of several of its members. I can’t imagine trying to write a novel without their support. These two groups (one made up of six women), along with a tightly knit Facebook group, are the only ones I allow to see early drafts because I trust them completely to be honest without destroying me. That wasn’t the case early on when I received some critiques from writers who were not kind, nor supportive but were rather demeaning. I quit writing for a while because of that feedback. Now I am selective. My FB critique group has been writing together since 2014 when we participated in short story workshop together.
Learning which feedback to take from any particular critique partner is something all writers must figure out. Many beginning writers will take anyone’s feedback and make changes that may not serve the story, perhaps changing the voice beyond what truly works.

What are you working on next?

I am so excited to be working on my second novel, The Things We Do Not Speak Of. One day I had a flash that a teenage boy, Daniel, the pastor’s son, had disappeared. When I asked what happened, the voice of fourteen year old Cadey Farmer, a Somali Muslim refugee came through as if she were sitting in my kitchen telling me her story. I ran with it, not truly knowing where it would lead. I knew the beginning and the end, and I knew what had happened to Cadey and Daniel. The rest comes to me in flashes of conversation (how I usually write) between the various characters. I am trying something different. Cadey’s voice came to me in 1st person. There are multiple other point of view characters, all in 3rd person (but all with their own chapters and/or scenes – it’s not omniscient, but rather deep POV for each character). I’ve never read a novel that does this, and it probably breaks a bunch of rules, but all my critique partners tell me it works this way.

The story is a blend of coming of age, family drama, small town bigotry, religious clashes, and mystery, all rolled into one. After the Farmer family moves from Atlanta, where they settled six years earlier after escaping Somalia, to (fictional) Savannah Falls, South Carolina, young Cadey makes a decision that rocks her family, and rattles the townsfolk. Her decision sets up a collision course, forcing a change in deeply held beliefs on all sides. The story dives headlong into generations of racism and prejudice, of small town rivalries, and hidden secrets.
I hope to finish it by the end of the summer and will then begin submitting. All three of my critique groups have been reading it as I write it, so by the time I finish it will have had over ten sets of eyes on it.

For more information, check out Jeannefelfe.com.

Interview with Tricia Drammeh

Tricia DrammehTricia Drammeh is an author who writes in many genres: YA, fantasy, paranormal, romance, and women’s fiction. I asked her to share her thoughts on craft and publishing.

Do you decide on genre before you start writing? Does your audience shift or is there crossover?

I usually have some idea of genre, though there have been times I’ve been surprised by the outcome. For example, with Better than Perfect, I had originally intended to write a romance. It turned out to be Women’s Fiction, as the story focused more on the main character’s non-romantic relationships and her evolution as a person.

I would say my audience is broken down into two types of readers, though there is some crossover. There are the readers who fell in love with Better than Perfect and who wish I’d write more Women’s Fiction. Then there are my readers who love young adult fiction with a bit of fantasy. My writing has been all over the place in terms of genre, so I can’t really say I have a large, hardcore fan base who will read everything I write, though there are a few readers who fall into that category.

btpebook (7)What do you do when you get stuck in the writing process?

In cases where I have a deadline, I push through and force myself to write through the hard stuff. Without a deadline, I have a tendency to abandon projects, sometimes for months.

How many books have you written? How long does it typically take?

I have written nine full-length novels and one non-fiction book. When I began writing, I could complete a novel in about two months. Now, it takes much longer. I’m not a fast writer and I like to edit as I go.

What is your biggest challenge of self-publishing? What’s the best part?

Like many authors I’ve spoken with, my biggest challenge has been promotion and marketing. I feel very uncomfortable with self-promotion. The best part about self-publishing is having control of the publication process. I choose the book cover, the editor, and the publication date. It’s very empowering.

What are you working on next?

I just finished writing a short story for an anthology being published in June. My next project will be revisions on The Coven, a paranormal story for teens.

If you’d like more information about Tricia, check out her website.

Interview with Debbie Burke

piano editDebbie Burke is one of the authors I’ve met since joining the community at Kindle Press. Her thriller, Instrument of the Devil, was selected by Kindle Scout’s crowd-sourcing program in October. I’ve asked her to tell us about her book and her writing process.

 

When did you start writing? When did you decide to pursue publication?

I wrote stories starting in third grade through college. Then career turned my focus to business writing. About thirty years ago, my husband and I moved to Montana where I found a wonderful writing community and I restarted with fiction. Sold my first short story for $5…and…the check bounced, a great lesson in the vagaries of publication. I also wrote magazine articles while working on numerous novels. The novels won contests and earned rave rejections from agents and editors but no publishing contracts. Finally, last year, my tenth book, Instrument of the Devil, won the Kindle Scout contest and was published. A thirty-year long haul but worth it.

Are you a ‘plotter’ or ‘pantser’? Do you outline a story before writing or make it up as you go?

Basically I’m a pantser. I have a starting point and an ending point but not many clues about the middle. The first draft is the skeleton to figure out the plot. Succeeding drafts, I add the flesh, muscle, sinew, layering on more with each rewrite. Sometimes characters appear and force their way into the story, changing the direction. Because I trust the power of the subconscious, I go with the flow. Usually it works out. Also my critique group helps when I get stuck, offering fresh ideas.

Do you read a lot of the mystery/thriller genre? Who are your favorite authors?

Because I do a lot of editing and beta-reading, I don’t have time to read as many books as I’d like. Probably my all-time favorite author is Raymond Chandler. I also admire Sue Grafton because she maintained high quality for decades until, sadly, the alphabet ended in “Y” when she recently passed.

InstrumentoftheDevil_KPress_Cover_FinalTalk about Instrument of the Devil.
Instrument of the Devil is about a terrorist who targets Tawny Lindholm, a technophobic widow, setting her up as a scapegoat in his plot to bring down the electrical grid. It takes place in Montana at the Hungry Horse Dam, a major power generating station for the Northwest US. The inspiration came from two sources: five years ago, I bought my first smartphone when they really took off in popularity. It confounded me with its antics–strange tones, inexplicable messages, a screen that spontaneously went black, etc. I assumed the problems were operator error, but it also made me wonder, what if a bad guy used a rigged smartphone to manipulate an innocent person to take the fall for a crime? At the same time, I was researching the vulnerability of the power grid and learned that a smartphone has the capability to access computers that control the grid’s inner workings. Those two components came together and the story was born. Then in 2016, the FBI thwarted a cyberattack by smartphone on a dam in New York, so I knew I was onto something that could really happen. A rigged smartphone is the Instrument of the Devil. Ironic postscript: after numerous trips to the phone store, it turned out my phone was defective so not all its antics were operator error.

What are you working on next?

Stalking Midas is a proposed title for the second book in the series. Tawny is working for the lawyer who helped her in Instrument of the Devil. He suspects his estranged father is a victim of elder fraud and sends Tawny to investigate. The plot involves a lucrative annuity scam that takes cruel advantage of senior citizens’ devotion to their pets. The third book in the series (proposed title The Suicide Gene) deals with teenage suicide.

Check out Debbie’s website at debbieburkewriter.com

Debbie is giving away three FREE signed copies of her book! Three winners will be chosen at random from all entries received by April 30. Enter by answering this question in the comments section:

Who are your favorite authors?

 

Interview with Louise Cole

LouiseColeLouise Cole is a fantasy writer whose book, The Devil’s Poetry, was published by Kindle Press in 2017. The sequel will be out this year. I got her to give her thoughts about publishing and writing and to talk about her books.

What do you do when you get stuck in the writing process?

I don’t really believe in writer’s block. I think it’s a bit of an indulgence – teachers and nurses and firefighters don’t get to say: ‘Oh I can’t work today. I’m blocked.’ They have to push through. And to some extent it is, therefore, about discipline. That said, not all writing is done at a keyboard. I usually find that when I’m not writing well, it’s because I don’t know where the story is going or what the point of the scene is. So I need to stop and do something else. Often manual labour which leaves your mind free – digging, washing up, walking the dog – is a great opportunity to let your subconscious solve problems. But I’m still writing. It is purposeful. I’m not just knocking off for the day.  Some people have to work stuff out by typing. Others – like me –  work it out by thinking, dreaming, living the scenes before we type. What you don’t get to do is say: “Shucks. I can’t do this now but it will magically come right tomorrow.” It only comes right when you put your mind to it.

Can you describe your path to publication? Did you query agents? How long did it take?

The Devil’s Poetry had a long and twisty path to publication. I have an agent, who loved the book but, as she sent it out, the UK publishing industry decided, more or less collectively, that it needed to turn its attention to middle grade novels and not YA. Editors felt that the YA  dystopian market must be running dry but they didn’t know what the next big thing would be. As a result we got a lot of lovely rejections, saying things like: “This isn’t where we’re putting our focus this year,” or even, from one editor; “I’d love to buy this but I’d never get it through acquisitions at the moment.” We were offered one deal which I declined on commercial grounds, and I decided to put the book out through Scout. I’ve always believed in The Devil’s Poetry as a book that could excite and move people and, really, I just wanted it to have an audience.

Would you recommend Kindle Scout to other authors?

This is a difficult question. Everyone’s path to publication is different, often from project to project. My first advice would be to write a book good enough to attract an agent. You don’t need to sign or take a trad deal – I’m talking about the quality of the book. There is a marked difference in quality between most traditionally published books and most self published books. When you look at the really successful self-pubbed authors like Hugh Howey and Michael J Sullivan, they wrote astoundingly good novels. They know their craft inside out and there is no sense that these books  are rushed or derivative or ‘good enough’. They stand their ground against anyone in their field. I know some self publishers take a different view and that’s a valid choice – but for my part, I wanted to write a really good book. Whether I’ve succeeded is up to you guys but that was my aspiration. Not to make a tonne of money or give up my day job. Just to write something other people would love.

Sorry, back to your question: If it’s your first novel and you have no following, then Scout may well give you more publicity and, if picked up, a stronger launch than otherwise. That was my reckoning and I think I was right, for me. If I already had lots of books out there, I’d run a campaign with a standalone because I think that has marketing benefits for your other work as well.

However,  if you are an established writer, I might think twice about putting a first in series into Scout. Keeping the rights to the first book may pay dividends in driving traffic and sell-through to your other novels.

For myself, overall it’s been a good experience. I’ve had more confidence than I would have had I put TDP out on my own; I’ve got more reviews and had more sales. It’s not a perfect experience  but frankly nor is working with most traditional publishing houses. But working with Kindle Press gives you a  great deal of liberty when doing your own marketing and building your platform and I really enjoy that.

Who are some of your favorite writers?

Oh golly. My heart has always belonged to the epic fantasy writers, which is strange given that my own fantasy is rooted in the real world. I think Tolkien, Robin Hobb, Leigh Bardugo, Brandon Sanderson. People who combine glorious characters, and vast but detailed worlds with an unerring instinct for style.

the-devils-poetry-cover-final1123Tell us about your books.

The Devil’s Poetry is about a girl who has the chance to stop world war three by reading from an ancient manuscript. In a way it’s an exploration of the whole magical solution question: if you could go back in time to shoot Hitler, would you? If you could wave a wand to solve world hunger, what would happen? So part of the novel looks at that question, the apparent no-brainer which actually, when it’s in your hands, turns out to be far more terrifying and complex than you had imagined. My 17 year old heroine, Callie, is torn between wanting to perform this one seemingly simple act and having a growing realisation that the consequences are unknowable. The Cadaveri – chaos inducing demons – seem determined to stop her from reading, as are other more human forces – but why? TDP  takes a fantasy element and drops it into the real world, a world that is so very nearly ours – filled with terrorism, rumbling wars and desperate peace talks. And it asks how you make the right decision when you never really know the truth.

But it’s also an action-packed thriller with a dash of love story and a glorious friendship.

The sequel to The Devil’s Poetry is on Kindle Scout now – it’s called On Holy Ground. It continues Callie’s story as faithfully as I can. It’s not an easy journey for her. Her dreams of breaking free from all of the allies and enemies she made during The Devil’s Poetry are scotch mist and she finds herself hunted and alone but this time in the United States. She desperately needs help – but whose agenda can she trust? Callie has to find the book and escape – or die trying.

You can follow Louise Cole on Facebook or Twitter.

 

Interview with author Sam Boush

Sam Boush PhotoSam Boush has just had his first novel published – a sci-fi, techno-thriller called All Systems Down about an imagined catastrophe in the not so distant future. We first connected on Twitter when I asked him to explain the genre. He explains it again below and answers several more of my nosy questions.

Your book came out last week. What has been the most fun part about getting published? What has been the most challenging?

Well, last week my fifth grade teacher reconnected with me and ordered a copy of my book. I just thought about how eleven-year-old me would have reacted if he’d known a special teacher would, twenty-five years later, be reading his book. I got a little teary, which doesn’t happen often.

The most challenging part has been reining in my expectations. I keep telling myself this is a great start, but building up a fan base takes time and years more work. So even though we had strong sales and stellar reviews last week at launch, I know the road to real success is still a long way off.

When did you start calling yourself a writer?

I only started calling myself a writer (and changing my LinkedIn profile) a few months ago, in conjunction with the cover reveal for my book. Most people didn’t know I’d gotten anything published before that.

I don’t really think writers do themselves any favors by announcing themselves too early. It can add pressure and expectations that aren’t easy to meet. The process of publishing a book for debut novelists can take a year or more, even after it’s written. Why invite questions and stress too early?

Talk a bit about your journey toward publication. How did you find your publisher?

Like most of us, I didn’t enjoy the querying process. A lot of rejection. A lot of unanswered emails. But after a few months of working diligently, I had two publishers interested in my manuscript. It was a good place to be since it allowed me to select the one that fit me best. But it was also difficult because the other publisher I didn’t select, Owl Hollow Press, has a talented staff. (I recommend your readers query directly if it’s a fit. I have only good things to say about how they handled the process.)

Ultimately, I chose Lakewater Press, and have been thrilled with the team. They publish more than just sci-fi thrillers like ALL SYSTEMS DOWN, so your readers might find they’re a fit depending on genre. Pretty much all my success should be attributed to Kate, Jodi, Rebecca, Emma, Samantha, and the rest of the team over there. They’re all ladies, and they’re incredible.

asdWhat is your book about? Who is your audience?

ALL SYSTEMS DOWN is a thriller set in present day. Brendan Chogan is an out-of-work parking attendant, unsuccessfully interviewing for jobs when a series of computer viruses from North Korea begin to wreak havoc on the country. Banks close. Bridges are raised. The electric grid falters. Satellites fall from the sky.

From there it only gets worse. I won’t spoil too much.

The audience is broad. I’d say if you liked Jurassic Park, it’s similar in style and pacing. A fun read, I hope.

How does All Systems Down fit into the sci-fi genre as well as thriller? Do you plan to write other books in this genre?

I suppose it’s more of a thriller or technothriller. Broadly I believe it fits under science fiction, so “sci-fi thriller” is as good a descriptor as any.

All Systems Down is the first in a planned series. I’m working on the second book now, with potentially a third. So, yes, I’ll definitely keep writing sci-fi thrillers!

If you’d like to find out more about Sam Boush, check out his website.

Interview with Kerrie Noor

kerrie

Kerrie Noor is an Australian writer who lives in Scotland  and teaches belly dancing. She’s written a series based on that and has recently branched out into science fiction. She agreed to let me quiz her about her books, her writing style, and her process.

You write in diverse genres. Do you think about genre before you start writing? Do you write for different audiences?

Comedy is always the background; for me it seems to be part of my bones. A story starts with a funny scene or dialogue usually from a real-life situation or a cheesy film.  There is a reader I have in my head who I write for, she or he is usually listening with a drink at the bar laughing in the right places. I imagine myself telling him or her the story.

What kind of writer are you? Do you insist on daily word counts? Do you write in silence or with music? In the morning or at night?

I write best in the morning. I often go to bed early, wake at five and that’s when the words flow and the problems melt away. I don’t do a daily word count except at the very beginning when I will try to write 1,000-1,500 words a day. I wake up and just write scenes and dialogue until 1,000-1,500 is done once. When I am at 30,000-40,000 words I stop and try to make sense of it all. I can write anywhere. Sometimes, I like to play meditation new age type music (from Youtube) while writing. 

What do you do when you get stuck in the writing process?

Sleep on it, do something else, usually clean, walk, write a blog, cry, drink, keep going (don’t really cry). I am used to getting stuck. But the best thing is to wake up early and write, it really is so easy to write first thing. Right now, I am at the end of a novel and I am quite stuck so I have printed it out and will read through it all. Actually, when I think about it, the ending is always the hardest for me. I think the ending I am working on just now is quite a painful piece, which is weird as it is a comedy book.

 Can you describe your path to publication? Did you query agents? How long did it take?

I had two agents when I started but nothing came of either. So I gave up and self-published my first book which sat on Smashwords and Amazon. I then spent time trying to promote by becoming a story teller/ stand-up comedian, and did a small show in the Edinburgh festival. None of which helped in any way, but was a lot of fun and I still have exaggerated stories in my head to write. It was only when I started Nick Stevenson’s course I began to understand digital marketing.

Talk a bit about your belly dancing books. How much is based on your life? Will there be more to the series?

More is based on my life than I first realised. I started to teach belly dancing at the end of a bad marriage. I was quite depressed and lonely at the time and terrified of leaving him and being even more lonely. I was also quite chubby and felt bad about my body, etc. Belly dancing changed my life. I was so passionate about it and I wanted other women to feel as I did. Sheryl’s Last Stand came from all those feelings.

The Downfall of a Belly Dancer, is more about living in a small place and how we as women relate to each other, and the loss of an ego.  I found when I first discovered belly dancing I became quite full of myself, my ego at times took some knocking and I wanted to write about that and used Nefertiti to express it, I hope with humour.

I have almost finished the third book in the series, Four Takeaways and a Funeral. Nefertiti narrates the story which is all about her pal Mavis. The story is about friendship, sibling rivalry, with a hint of curry…

I have plans for a fourth all about Sheryl again, she wants to become mum.

I have also just published the first in a Sci-Fi comedy series called Rebel Without a Clue. Lots of older women from another planet (Planet Hy Man) behaving badly.  It’s all about power, and what we will do to keep it.

And also, being the odd one out in a world you don’t understand even though you have learnt about it.

To learn more about Kerrie Noor, check out her website. The first book in the Belly dancer series is free on Amazon.