MARSocial Special Author Interview

I just wanted to tell you all about this great interview I had this past month on the International Book Promotion blog.  Eleven authors from different genres were interviewed using eleven questions.  This multi-author interview started off with author bios and spanned several weeks.  Here is the post which includes all of the entries.  Below I have included my answers as well as links so that you can check out the answers from the other authors.  There are some really great authors in there!  :)

MARSocial Special Interview: Question & Answers #1:  How do you promote your work?

I do whatever I can.  I make as many connections as possible on the various social networks.  I post about my books, but I also post about regular things too.  I do author interviews, character interviews and guest posts whenever I can on other blogs or sites.  I also post on my three blogs frequently.  I have author profiles in various places.  I also take out book cover ads on different sites.

MARSocial Special Interview: Question & Answers #2:  What made you choose the genre you write?

I love romance, the concept of “love”.  I always loved reading romance novels and watching romantic comedies.  It appeals to something deep inside of me.  I can’t imagine not writing about love.  It is essential.  To me love is more than an idea.  It is real, the fabric of the universe, what connects us as human beings.  I believe in the kind of love that can last lifetimes, cross time and place.  Why do I believe so wholly in such a thing?  I have my own true love story playing out in my life every day.  Have I always had that?  No, but I always believed I was meant to find that special someone, just as I believe there is someone for everyone.  It is this essential belief that inspires my characters and their stories, that I pour into my books.  When I am writing about romance, even if there are obstacles blocking the characters, I think there is no better high than telling someone’s story.

MARSocial Special Interview: Question & Answers #3:  What’s your favorite color and favorite dessert?

My favorite color is hot pink.  My favorite dessert?  Chocolate.  Anything chocolate, and the darker the better.  

MARSocial Special Interview: Question & Answers #4:  When did you decide to become a writer?

I often chuckle at this question because I can recall at an early age telling people, “I’m going to be a writer!”  Actually, I used the terms writer/author/novelist interchangeably, and this is the truth.  The moment you put pen to paper or fingers to keyboard with the intent of “writing”, you’re a writer.  The moment those words spill out of you, sometimes even chaotically, you’re automatically a writer.  I have always been a writer, and I probably started this wild journey when I was nine years old.  Another thing I want to point out is that I didn’t just up and decide to be a writer.  It chose me.  I could no more stop “writing” than I could stop the passage of time.

MARSocial Special Interview: Question & Answers #5:  There was recently a message on ‘Books and Writers’ saying ‘please stop giving your books away’. What do you feel about this?

I am a total Libra on this topic.  I understand the message.  They are trying to discourage it because, as new or indie authors, we don’t reap any profits from it.  Although I do agree on some level, I also realize that word of mouth is everything in this business.  What better way to spread the word about your book than for a reader to tell his/her friends about it?  So, let me revise the original statement a bit.  “Don’t blatantly give your books away.”  Meaning, sure, offer a brief free period on Amazon.  And definitely promote it.  Run giveaways now and then with multi-author events if you find them.  Do a contest on your blog.  Don’t offer free books all the time because you’re devaluing your work.  But, do offer readers who haven’t even heard of you the chance to sample your work.

MARSocial Special Interview: Question & Answers #6:  If you could be transported into one of your stories as a character, would you or would you stay as far away from it as possible?

You just made me laugh.  Would I be a dual character, meaning would I be aware of myself and my character?  Or, would I be totally unaware of myself as the author?  In that case, you can’t really avoid interacting with the story.  You are the character so you will act like them.  On the other hand, as the architect of the original work, I think I would have the insane urge to “observe”.  That’s what writers do best.  However, I would have to seriously reign myself in, knowing I was a certain character.  And while we’re on the topic, I guess it would really depend on what character I was.  A minor character?  More doable, I think.  It would be hard to be the main character because you would still be thinking about your own life as reality.  I have never been a great actress, and it would definitely be challenging.

MARSocial Special Interview: Question & Answers #7:  What do you consider most important in  a novel – literary value or story?

I think the story is more important, and this is why.  Let’s say you read a book and you think, “Yeah, that was good.”  A couple of hours later, you are imagining the scenes play out in your head and you just realized a message could be drawn from it.  Did the author intend to convey that?  Who knows?  That’s the great fun about reading a book.  You have no idea what the author “meant” to do.  All you know is that there is something of value in any story, whether it’s a way to escape your worries for awhile or that you glean a message from it.  I think that’s the best part, not knowing what you’re going to encounter.  And maybe the author didn’t even intend to place a message or certain theme in the book, but inadvertently did.  Every one of us comes from a different background, went through different experiences.  What one person gleans from a text may be entirely separate from what the next person gets from it.  That’s the beauty of it.

MARSocial Special Interview: Question & Answers #8:  What are your reasons for writing?

I write because I can’t imagine doing anything else for the rest of my life.  There is no greater freedom for me than when I am deep in the construction of a scene, when so much is going on that I forget the world for awhile.  When I come out of it, there is almost a strange euphoria to it.  I blink and say, “Wow.  Did that actually happen?”  So much can occur.  I feel a lot while I’m writing.  With some scenes, I feel a character’s anger or what they would naturally feel if they were insulted or hurt.  Sometimes, with a particularly emotional scene, I know I’ve gotten to the heart of things when I’m writing with tears streaming down my face.  Neurotic?  Maybe.  But, that is the way of a writer.  We feel with our characters.  They become a part of us in a way, and when the book is finished, it is hard to step away from that connection.  So, why do I write?  Because doing anything else just feels wrong.

MARSocial Special Interview: Question & Answers #9:  Who could/would help a writer to sell books?

Tough question.  I think writers automatically assume that being an author is easy.  When they first approach the idea of publishing, they think, “I will write books and someone else, the publisher most likely, will sell them.  Easy!”  No, it’s really not.  And it doesn’t work that way anymore.  The industry has changed.  The term of “author” is changing.  Now an author has to be part writer, part marketing genius.  Publishers now are looking for writers who can not only write, but market themselves, basically “sell” their own books.  New authors tend to get jaded by this fact.  And, I agree, it is exhausting.  So, if you’re lucky, you get with a large publisher that has a whole marketing team to help you.  But, in most cases, you don’t have that.  And, even if your publisher has some marketing tools in place, they won’t cover everything.  You have to learn to be more than just a writer.  You have to be an author.  You have to sell your product.  You.  And your books, of course.  

Who else helps a writer sell books?  Fellow authors usually help by endorsing books or talking about them in social media.  Word of mouth is the best tool, though, and the best source is from readers.  So, how do we go about getting that?  That goes back on the reader in some ways.  All I can suggest is this.  If you are an avid reader of a certain genre, do your favorite authors (even if they are indie authors) a favor by doing these two things:  1) Leave a review.  You have no idea how much that helps an author, especially a fledgling one, sell books.  Be honest about what you liked or didn’t like, but be fair.  What one person doesn’t like may actually be someone else’s cup of tea.  2)  Tell your friends and family about this author and the books you loved, and why.  Chances are someone will get curious and look them up.  Word of mouth is everything in this business.

MARSocial Special Interview: Question & Answers #10:  When you hit a wall, how do you break through?

Ah, the age old writer’s block.  I haven’t had official writer’s block in years, but I will tell you now that I often feel like I’m “almost” having it and that, my friends, is just as terrifying.  Sometimes it will have been weeks since I wrote anything just because my life has gotten too hectic.  

Eventually, I have to step away from these distractions and get back to the reason I went on this journey in the first place.  Writing.  Sometimes just journaling or freewriting gets some of that clutter out of your head.  I have a few writing reference books if I ever need help with freewriting or doing a random scene.  I would recommend Natalie Goldberg’s Writing Down the Bones.  I have returned to it time and time again.  It is a great book to help cut through some of those blocks.  It may not result in a scene, but sometimes writing just to write, even if it’s crap, is just as therapeutic.  Hell, maybe you’ll surprise yourself with another medium – essays or poetry.  Another good book is Anne Lamott’s Bird by Bird.

There are, of course, other resources.  Sometimes I even do a search on “writing prompts” online and print out a few pages.  I pick an exercise and go with it.  But, mainly, my “walls” have more to do with a current work in progress.  Occasionally, I will hit a place in my manuscript in which I don’t know what road to take.  Sometimes the best thing to do is to walk away.  That might sound bad, but even a little distance from a project for a few days can make you look at it from a different perspective.  Maybe when you come back, something will jump out at you and you’ll wonder why you never saw it before.  

Feel like tearing yourself away is the worst thing you could possibly do?  Fine.  Do some research for the book.  Find some much needed information that you can throw in at any time.  Sometimes I find that filling in these blanks is just the boost I need to finish a scene.  In lieu of all that, I often will move on to a different project temporarily.  I will look through my numerous files and do some editing or write a little on those works in progress.  Any little bit helps, right?  Sometimes stepping away from the current work in question is just what it takes to get back on track.  Who knows?  Maybe reading a book, seeing a movie or having a conversation with a good friend will spark an idea.

 MARSocial Special Interview: Question & Answers #11:  What is your writing process like?  Is it spontaneous or do you do a lot of planning in advance before you begin writing?

A bit of both.  It is pretty spontaneous until I get heavily involved in a project.  At that point, I start doing a detailed outline.  Then I do some research.  I also look at what I have written already and decide what needs to be done for each chapter.  Of course, the story will still surprise me with certain twists.  Then I get to the heavy writing and I will stop and research something if I am blocked.