Blog Tours, Interviews

Blog Tour: Eleanor by Johnny Worthen

Eleanor blog tour

I absolutely loved Johnny Worthen’s Eleanor, a fantastic take on shapeshifting (see my review here). So I’m completely thrilled to be part of the Eleanor blog tour!

Below is an interview with Johnny Worthen, plus a giveaway of TWO copes of Eleanor: a signed copy, and a signed ARC!

Interview

Tell us a little bit about yourself. What do you do when you are not writing? Do you have a day job?

I was born and grew up in Utah. I earned a B.A. in English, minor in Classics and a Master’s in American Studies from the University of Utah. I’ve had many careers, and jobs, owned businesses and traveled extensively. I’ve lived in Europe for a time and about a decade in the Northwest. I’m back in Utah now, back in the dirt I was raised in.

I consider myself a full time author. It takes most my time. I do some things here and there, write for other people, speak and help out, but writing is my job.

In six words, what is ELEANOR about?

Eleanor is not what she appears.

Have you written anything else?

I’m working on my eleventh novel now. Of my previous ten, five have been picked up for publication. My debut is BEATRYSEL is an adult occult thriller and came out last fall. A companion piece, DR. STUART’S HEART came out last month. I have a story called THE POINT appearing in an anthology called in an anthology called LITTLE VISIBLE DELIGHT.

ELEANOR will begin my Unseen Young Adult Series with a different publisher, Jolly Fish Press. ELEANOR is a standalone book but there are two books that follow it that carry on the story: CELESTE and DAVID respectively. My final currently sold book is called THE FINGER TRAP, it a contemporary adult comedy/mystery introducing a slacking sarcastic everyman detective named Tony Flaner.

Where can we buy/see ELEANOR and/or your other works?

Amazon is the easiest place find my stuff.

ELEANOR (THE UNSEEN)

BEATRYSEL

DR. STUART’S HEART

LITTLE VISIBLE DELIGHT

Eleanor book cover
Image used by permission

Where did you get the idea for ELEANOR? How did you come up with the title?

I was thinking about what the ultimate outsider would be like, someone vulnerable and afraid, lonely, and needing to be unnoticed for her own safety. Then I took the idea of hiding in plain sight to a extreme. Years ago, I ran across a Navajo legend in Tony Hillermans’ novel, SKINWALKERS and it stayed with me. I used that a springboard for my imagination of the story and thus ELEANOR was born.

From the beginning, I knew my main character would be a girl, a lost daughter, poor and noble. I love the name Eleanor. It is to me an old name, out of fashion and so suggested age. Also too a name of quiet strength. A name for a shy but extraordinary girl. Usually the working title for my books are the names of the main character and in this case there was no changing it. It is her story. She had to be there. The story is Eleanor. Originally I intended to call the series Eleanor, but as the story evolved and the trilogy took shape, we went with THE UNSEEN for the series name and ELEANOR, the standalone, is the first book.

How long did it take between having the idea and publication?

About two years, give or take a lifetime.

How much of the book is based on people you know and/or things you’ve experienced?

There are people I know throughout the books, places I’ve visited, experiences I’ve had. None are directly from my life but everything is a distilled version of it. Eleanor has become to my mind the daughter I never had. I modeled her much after my niece who was so shy when I first met her.

What was the hardest part of writing this book?

Keeping Eleanor and David apart. They’re both such strong and loving characters. I felt bad keeping them apart as long as I did, but of course I had to. Eleanor understands.

What part or scene was the most fun to write?

The first kiss between Eleanor and David was such a wonderful moment for me. I was so happy for them both.

If you had to do it over again, what (if anything) would you change about this book?

I might change my paragraph structure a bit. I don’t mind long paragraphs; it’s how I was trained. Today, there’s a push for more white space on the page, more frequent paragraph breaks, even in paragraphs that don’t necessarily need one. This is done to make the page more attractive to modern readers. It’s a different style and some say it can help sales. I’d like people to read my book, love Eleanor as I do, so I might have changed that to help her along.

How did you first become interested in writing?

I’ve always written. As soon as I could write, I loved it. I think best on paper. I decided to make it my entire life only three years ago. Before that it was always a hobby, a love and an obsession. It’s still all that, but now also it’s a job.

What is the hardest thing about writing? What is the easiest?

The hardest part is pretending someone after me will want to read what I write. There’s no guarantee it’ll be read, let alone appreciated or liked.

The easiest part happens sometimes when the story is so alive that I’m not writing but taking dictation. Sometimes when I get stuck where to go next, I put some characters in a room and they talk it out and decide for me. I love that.

How much research do you do?

Depends on the project. Several month is not uncommon. I’m in the third year of research for an Historical novel I’m mulling over. ELEANOR is a character piece so the research wasn’t so bad, a couple of months during the pre-writing phase. I did however take my family on a vacation through Wyoming to see the lonely western towns far from freeways where Eleanor is hiding.

Do you work from an outline or just write and see where the story takes you?

A bit of both. I have to know where I”m going. I always have a few way points – plot points, scenes and such, that I’m working toward. I always know the climax before I write a word. I then move between the points, letting the story unfold and adjusting course if I need to.

Do you ever get writer’s block? How do you deal with it?

There are days I just don’t feel like writing. It’s a discipline thing. When you approach it as a job, you just do it. Sometimes I have to write three thousand words to get five hundred I’ll keep. That’s writer’s block for me, wasted effort.

Who designed your cover, and how was it created?

Jolly Fish Press handled that. I was terrified. I knew from my contract that I had no say in it. Jolly Fish Press has a reputation for awesome titles, so I wasn’t too worried. Not too much, but still some. When I saw it however, I cheered. Wonderful I say. I haven’t met the model, but I want to.

How do you market your books? How much time do you devote to marketing?

Social media and networking is my main marketing tool. I do a lot of conventions and writer’s workshops. I try to give back. I’m no expert, but I’ve been there and can act as a scout for those coming up behind me. The online stuff and such takes a lot of time. A couple of hours each day. Lots.

Did you make any marketing mistakes or is there anything you would avoid in future?

I’m a publicist’s nightmare: I’m a multi-genre author. I wish I could focus on one type of fiction and so develop a reputation and a following for that, but I’m all over the place. I write adult horror and YA coming of age stories. I write comedy, mystery, political thrillers, short stories and shopping lists. “I write what I want to read.” My palate is broad and so is my writing.

What do you think of “trailers” for books? Do you have a trailer or do you intend to create one for your book?

I did a long blog project looking into them. If I may, could I direct you there?

That’s part five, but it has all the links for the other parts.

My conclusion is that they’re like a book signing – another form of promotion, probably not cost or time effective but still good to have in the hopes it’ll pay dividends later, provided it’s done well and not too dearly.

Johnny Worthen
Image used by permission

Do you think that giving books away free works and why?

No. People don’t value things that are free. I don’t like giving them away for this reason. I still do it though. However, I try to find people who’re genuinely interested in reading it and draw from them a promise that they will, in fact read it and then review it – Amazon, Goodreeds, Blog etc. You might say it’s not free then, but it’s not like I follow them home and check on them.

Who is your favorite author and why?

Elmore Leonard. I love his style. He’s so cool and clean. Crisp and dialog to die for.

What is your favorite book and why?

THE ROAD, by Cormac McCarthy. The story and the language are so stark. Being a father of sons, the story resonates with me particularly well. It’s powerful. I read it once a year to remind myself of what writing can do.

Is there any particular book or author who made an impact on your life?

They all have, but Jacques Derrida’s work in Deconstruction changed the way I see the world profoundly and permanently. He’s the reason why many of my books are called “upmarket” ie “literary.” I’ve been trained in literary criticism.

Do you prefer ebooks or hard copies?

Hard copies over ebooks. I don’t have a kindle. I read on my phone and my computer if I have them and it’s kind of a pain. I love audiobooks. It makes waiting for the kids time well spent.

What book(s) are you reading right now?

I’m re-reading Elmore Leonard’s CAT CHASER to get in the mood for a project I’m working on.

What are you currently writing?

The working title is HOLLAND, the name of the main character.

Can you tell us about it, and do you know when it will be released?

Elmore Leonard died last year and HOLLAND is my tribute to him. I should have the rough draft done by July. After that, I gotta edit and convince my current publishers to take it, or shop it around. If I’m lucky, I might appear as soon as Fall 2015. If I’m unlucky, it’ll be longer.

What advice would you give to your younger self?

Get on with it. Memento mori.

What advice would you give to aspiring writers?

You DO NOT need an agent to get published. Look to small presses.

Is there anything else you want to say to your readers?

You can find me at the following places on the net. Let’s hook up.

www.johnnyworthen.com

www.EleanorUnseen.com

Twitter: @JohnnyWorthen

Facebook: www.fb.com/Johnnyworthenbooks.

Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Johnny-Worthen/e/B00GMZ6ACY/ref=dp_byline_cont_book_1

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/7230878.Johnny_Worthen

Thanks, Johnny, for being willing to chat about your books and writing!

Giveaway!

Seriously, enter this giveaway. Eleanor is worth a read.

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Interviews

Interview: Indie Author M.G. Dekle

Today, I have an interview with Indie author M.G. Dekle, who wrote the fun (and completely hilarious) The Crystal Ordeal. So, while I’m waiting for book two, I’ll have to settle for learning a bit more about Mr. Dekle.

Tell us a little bit about yourself. What do you do when you are not writing? Do you have a day job?

I spend most of my time with my wife and two little girls. We’re usually hanging out around the house, going theme parking, or watching baseball. For a day job, I teach composition online for a local college.

In six words, what is The Crystal Ordeal about?

Graduates seeking employment forced to relocate.

Have you written anything else?

Yes. I wrote two one-act plays in high school that did well in competitions, a few short stories that will never see the light of day (we’ll call those my awkward phase), a full-length play for children that my former high school’s drama club put on, a few radio plays I made with friends, and a large number of scholarly essays. The Crystal Ordeal is my first novel.

The Crystal Ordeal book cover
Image from M.G. Dekle; used by permission

Where can we buy/see The Crystal Ordeal and/or your other works?

The Crystal Ordeal is available on Amazon. I suppose someone could also view my Master’s Thesis if they were so inclined since that is published, but I’m not sure there are very many people interested in the cultural significance of Gulliver’s Travels film adaptations.

Where did you get the idea for The Crystal Ordeal? How did you come up with the title?

In 2005, I decided to write a novel. My wife recommended that I turn the play I wrote in high school into a book, so it started there. The play was about a knight and a court wizard journeying out to bring a princess’s stolen presents back to her. Needless to say, this idea changed considerably, but that is where it began.

The title did not come easily. I wanted something that could hide the real story of the book while also being appropriate once the reader finished it. “The Crystal Ordeal” refers both to the problem Leone and Falchion face in the Ordeal, as well as the broader problem introduced at the end of the novel.

How long did it take between having the idea and publication?

If we don’t count the high school play, this process started in December of 2005 and ended in July of 2013. Of course, I also earned the end of my BA, all of my MA, began a teaching career, and began life as a parent to two incredible little girls, so this length of time was not just spent writing.

How much of the book is based on people you know and/or things you’ve experienced?

None of the characters are directly based on real people, but certain personality attributes and relationships are inspired by real life. For example, the friendship between Falchion and Wick is very much inspired by my friendships in high school. Similarly, Leone’s perception of what school was like is similar to what I thought school was like. She may realize some day that her memory was a bit faulty, as well.

What was the hardest part of writing this book?

Convincing myself to keep in the odder parts of the book. Based on feedback, I think I made the right call. There is always the fear that something will come across as just a little too weird, though.

What part or scene was the most fun to write?

The chapter “A Lesson in Loyalty” was absolutely the most fun to write. That chapter was the first real chance to let the characters unleash their strengths and personalities in a completely uncontrolled environment. It was also fun to throw obstacles in their way just to work through how they would figure them out. While the magic system was well in place, this gave me the opportunity to play with it.

If you had to do it over again, what (if anything) would you change about this book?

I’m sad to say it, but the Prologue. When I began writing the book, I was thinking of the series, not the book itself. A bit of knowledge I have that’s currently unavailable to the readers influenced how I wrote little Leone, and I’m already seeing some backlash against it.

How did you first become interested in writing?

That probably happened back in elementary school (4th grade, I think). I wrote a short story that continued Jack and the Beanstalk from the giant’s perspective, and it had my classmates laughing uncontrollably. That little bit of early positive feedback went a long way. It might also explain why I only like to write stories with at least some humor in them.

What is the hardest thing about writing? What is the easiest?

The hardest part is getting out of my own head. I’ll labor over indecision about plot points, characters, and even word choice for hours. Somewhat appropriately then, the easiest part is daydreaming. The characters in this book have lived more lives in my head than I could ever count.

How much research do you do?

That’s a difficult question. I’ve invented and used important things that just sound right, then researched a trivial point for days to simply not use it. If it’s something that has a real-world equivalent, I’ll research as much as I can for authenticity, but in a fantasy world, sometimes it just has to be improvised.

MG Dekle author photograph
Image from M.G. Dekle; used by permission

Do you work from an outline or just write and see where the story takes you?

I always outline everything I do, but it seems like the best parts of the book (based on feedback) were all late additions. I’ll outline the overall feel and purpose of the conversations, but I tend to improvise the actual lines. Otherwise, I think the characters would lose their voices.

Do you ever get writer’s block? How do you deal with it?

Of course. I’ve been finding more ways to deal with it lately, though. For example, I’ve trained my brain to click into creative mode when I load up the game “Everyday Genius: Square Logic” and turn on specific music. I also find that imagining a movie trailer for my book can help get me into the proper mood. Something about the visualization of specific scenes gets things moving.

What made you decide to go the Indie route in publishing?

Mainly, horror stories about traditional publishing pushed me to become an indie author. I heard one story of a person who waited 1 ½ years just to be rejected. I know me. 1 ½ years of silence would be thoroughly unpleasant to say the least. By self-publishing, my story is out there and really, that’s what is important to me.

What are some of the challenges of Indie publishing?

Cover design is a big one. Without an eye for aesthetics, I need to look elsewhere for a designer. This can be expensive, but I was recently lucky with an incredibly generous person giving me new cover artwork.

What do you think are the advantages and disadvantages of Indie vs. traditional publishing?

Indie publishing does have several advantages. The rights to my book stay with me. The royalties tend to be much higher. I have more flexibility and control over promotions. I also get to know that if my book succeeds, that success was my own. If my book fails, I have no one else to blame, and I can find peace in that.

Traditional publishing makes it easier to get a book into bookstores and libraries. The things that would otherwise cost money (cover, editing, some promotion, etc.) are usually covered by the publisher. Traditionally published books have more options for obtaining reviews.

Overall, though, I think the landscape is changing to favor indie publishing.

Who designed your cover, and how was it created?

My wife, Jessica, designed my original cover. We looked around for stock images, found some we liked, and she manipulated them to fit our need. We were mainly going for a simple, clean look. However, several bits of feedback have mentioned disliking the cover, so we knew it needed to change.

The current cover was put together by a wonderfully generous person from a message board group.

How do you market your books? How much time do you devote to marketing?

I’ve tried out marketing on Facebook, Twitter, BookDaily, Goodreads, message boards, and review blogs. I spent more time in the beginning on marketing, but I’m quickly shifting back to just writing again.

Did you make any marketing mistakes or is there anything you would avoid in future?

Facebook ads seem to be somewhat ineffective. I also think that paid advertising works best after having a few more works in a back catalogue.

What do you think of “trailers” for books? Do you have a trailer or do you intend to create one for your book?

From what I understand, these were more effective a couple years ago and dropped off in effectiveness since then. I do not intend to create one, but I am open to the idea if I see that I am mistaken.

Do you think that giving books away free works and why?

I think it works best after an author has a few more works in a back catalogue. From what I understand, it works well for early books in a series.

Who is your favorite author and why?

Chaucer. He wrote brilliant satire and seemed to really enjoy playing with the language. Middle English is also close enough to Modern English to understand it without too much difficulty.

What is your favorite book and why?

I won’t answer with Canterbury Tales since Chaucer is mentioned above, so I’ll go with The Hobbit. Tolkien put so much into his world and characters. I also adore his writing voice.

Is there any particular book or author who made an impact on your life?

Everything involving King Arthur. I think that’s where I developed a love of the fantastic.

Do you prefer ebooks or hard copies?

Ebooks, definitely. With the backlit text and resizable font, I can read forever.

What book(s) are you reading right now?

Lately, I’ve been reading works from my friend, Scott LeMaster. He’s another fantasy author. He creates some great action scenes.

What are you currently writing?

The sequel to The Crystal Ordeal, as yet to be titled.

Can you tell us about it, and do you know when it will be released?

Spoiler alert: Probably the most obvious character to return makes a return. Beyond that, you can look forward to Leone learning a new skillset, Falchion learning about new locations, and a few of the unanswered questions from the first book being answered, at least a little bit.

What advice would you give to your younger self?

Get over your self-doubt. Then again, maybe I should take that advice myself.

What advice would you give to aspiring writers?

Get over your self-doubt. If I can’t use that one again, don’t be afraid to get a little crazy. The parts of The Crystal Ordeal that I thought bordered on or went well into insane were apparently charming, according to readers.

Is there anything else you want to say to your readers?

You guys are awesome for making a lifelong dream come true.

Thanks, M.G., for being willing to share a bit about your life and your writing! (Now stop doing interviews and go finish book two.)

You can find M.G. Dekle on Twitter and on Facebook, and you can see The Crystal Ordeal on Amazon and on Goodreads.

Interviews

Interview: Indie Author Daniel Harvell

Today, I have an author interview with Daniel Harvell, author of the fascinating somewhat-paranormal The Survivors. He has some interesting thoughts, so enjoy!

Tell us a little bit about yourself. What do you do when you are not writing? Do you have a day job?

Even though writing has always been my passion, I thought a business degree seemed more practical when I was in school. Turns out it was the right decision since being a successful writer requires a lot of business sense. I currently run my own small business that handles marketing, social media, public relations and a variety of other communications-driven initiatives for local, small businesses.

In six words, what is The Survivors about?

Normal people developing superhuman abilities.

Have you written anything else?

I’ve got a young adult novel in the vault. It hasn’t been published … yet!

Where can we buy/see The Survivors?

You can find The Survivors on Amazon.

The Survivors book cover
Image from Daniel Harvell; used by permission

Where did you get the idea for The Survivors? How did you come up with the title?

I’ve always loved superheroes, but I wondered what super humans would be like in the real world. They definitely wouldn’t put on spandex and probably wouldn’t even fight crime. I started playing out the idea in my head and soon had my seven characters. For the title, I’m a big believer in the KISS philosophy: Keep It Simple, Stupid. These seven survive a plane crash. They’re the survivors. Voila!

How long did it take between having the idea and publication?

Over a decade! When I first wrote the novel, I was a newbie. The book wasn’t that good. I put a lot of time into refining my skillset – the reward for my patience is a much stronger book that I’m very proud of.

How much of the book is based on people you know and/or things you’ve experienced?

There are touches of myself in the lead character, Dakota. My mother’s faith resonates with Annabelle. Those are the two strongest reflections of real world people, but it’s almost impossible to write a character without having them echo something you’ve personally felt or experienced.

What was the hardest part of writing this book?

The hardest part came after the actual writing: the editing. I didn’t want to do it. I wanted to keep it intact and move on to making it a best-seller. Thankfully, time eroded my ego to the point I was able to accept the literary advice given to me. I still don’t enjoy editing down a book, but it sure is a stronger product for it.

What part or scene was the most fun to write?

Any scene with Dale Sadler made me happy. He’s so pompous and outspoken – I couldn’t (and wouldn’t) ever say the things he spews out … but it sure is fun to write!

If you had to do it over again, what (if anything) would you change about this book?

The Survivors was always going to be Book One in a series. I’ve had ideas to carry over into the subsequent books, but I only recently started plotting them out on a larger scale. I wish I’d done that from the beginning. There are a few minor plot points that I would have changed to suit my upcoming needs, but now I have to stick to what’s been written.

How did you first become interested in writing?

I loved books as a kid. I would read anything given to me. One night in fourth grade, I had an extremely vivid dream that I wanted to share with my friends. So I decided to write it down and pass it around to my classmates. It was a big hit, and I fell in love with the idea of being a storyteller.

What is the hardest thing about writing? What is the easiest?

Writing is a discipline. Finding the time to write is challenging, but the actual writing comes completely naturally. I love creating characters and dialogue – they’re not always winners (that’s what editing is for), but getting it down on paper is extremely rewarding.

How much research do you do?

I research everything. My greatest fear as a writer is being called out for making up facts. In The Survivors, one of the characters is in a coma at one point. I read for hours on coma patients and corresponding studies.

Do you work from an outline or just write and see where the story takes you?

I’m a firm believer in outlining. That’s not to say that I won’t change or add a plot point mid-stream, but I really think a story is stronger if a writer knows all of the basic facts going into it. I think foreshadowing is an essential element in novels, and you can’t have it without a proper outline (or working backwards, but that’s a messy and time-consuming process).

Do you ever get writer’s block? How do you deal with it?

I don’t believe in writer’s block. There are times when I’m not sure what a character’s going to say or how to move the plot forward, but I just type something out. Maybe it’s just a placeholder sentence, but I don’t let it slow me down for long.

What made you decide to go the Indie route in publishing?

I did a lot of research as to my publishing options. From everything I’ve read, most publishers are leaving the marketing work to their authors anyway, so there’s no advantage in that arena. As an Indie author, I get to retain all of my rights and a much higher royalty percentage.

What are some of the challenges of Indie publishing?

ALL of the work falls on you, the author. Sure, you can hire it out, but that gets expensive quickly. If you don’t know marketing, PR, social media, etc., it could be overwhelming. I’m a marketing professional, and even I had to spend days researching all of the ins and outs of book marketing. You have to be dedicated to the process and understand this is a major time commitment.

What do you think are the advantages and disadvantages of Indie vs. traditional publishing?

With traditional publishing, an author has access to industry professionals and connections. The author may also receive an advance for the book, which may allow them to spend more time on the book itself. Having a publishing house also lends a level of professionalism to an author. For Indie publishing, the author has complete control over his/her work and how it’s marketed. They retain all rights to the novel and characters (pretty nice when a movie studio comes calling!). They also receive a much higher royalty rate.

Who designed your cover, and how was it created?

Christoph Michaud of 7Reed Design created the cover. We talked back and forth a lot about it and, together, came up with a pretty rocking piece of art. He’s an incredible talent. I have a poster-sized copy of the cover on my wall, and it never fails to get compliments.

Daniel Harvell author photo
Image from Daniel Harvell; used by permission

How do you market your books? How much time do you devote to marketing?

I try a little bit of everything – press releases, newsletters, social media, request reviews with book bloggers, network on book forums, utilize the KDP Select program on Amazon, minor advertising, partner with local businesses to get the word out, seek out celebrity endorsers, etc. I spend as much time on marketing as I can, particularly in these early weeks of the book’s launch.

Did you make any marketing mistakes or is there anything you would avoid in future?

No major mistakes so far. In retrospect, I might have waited until the sequel to The Survivors was finished before heavily promoting (or even publishing) the first book. One book is great, but people love a good series – it gets them talking and sharing much more than a single novel.

What do you think of “trailers” for books? Do you have a trailer or do you intend to create one for your book?

I have a simple trailer for the book. I was opposed to the idea at first (we’re supposed to be reading, not watching, after all!), but you have to play to what catches your audience’s attention. (You can view the trailer for The Survivors on YouTube.)

Do you think that giving books away free works and why?

I do think it works. If you’re only selling your book to your family and friends, there are a limited number of people talking about it. But if thousands of people grab a free copy, suddenly you’ve amassed a sizable following that will hopefully act as advocates for your works.

Who is your favorite author and why?

J. K. Rowling inspired me to get back to writing when I was ready to give it up. She crafted such an amazingly detailed world with Harry Potter – it took me back to the reasons I fell in love with being a storyteller at ten years old.

What is your favorite book and why?

Fahrenheit 451 is a masterpiece. I love Ray Bradbury (maybe my second favorite author) and how he speaks to societal issues under the guise of an exciting science fiction read.

Is there any particular book or author who made an impact on your life?

As I mentioned before, J. K. Rowling takes this honor. I’d been told to read the Harry Potter books but I laughed it off as children’s fiction. Then I saw the first movie. I went back and read the first three books (which put the movie to shame) and understood what all of the fuss was about. I cared about fictional characters – there’s no better measure of success for a writer.

Do you prefer ebooks or hard copies?

Like most people, I don’t like change. But ebooks got me. I’m also very environmentally aware, so I think it’s the responsible direction for us to head into.

What book(s) are you reading right now?

I’m debating jumping into the Game of Thrones series. They’re monsters of books, but I love that epic type of storytelling. I’m not sure my poor memory will thank me for the abundance of character names, though.

What are you currently writing?

The sequel to The Survivors! I’m ridiculously excited to continue to tell their story.

Can you tell us about it, and do you know when it will be released?

Although the immediate mystery in The Survivors was solved, there were several big questions left unanswered. The second book will dive into several of those (and maybe ask a few more). I’m shooting for early 2014.

What advice would you give to your younger self?

Always believe in yourself, even when faced with rejection. Allow yourself time to grow as a writer – it will happen but not overnight.

What advice would you give to aspiring writers?

Be persistent but with the understanding that there’s always room to learn and grow.

Is there anything else you want to say to your readers?

I adore my readers! They’ve been very welcoming to The Survivors and me. Please send me questions or comments on my Facebook page or Twitter account. If you enjoyed the book, consider leaving a nice review on Amazon and telling your friends about it. Thanks for reading!

Thanks, Daniel, for being willing to share a bit about your life and your writing!

You can find Daniel Harvell on his website, on Facebook, or on Twitter, or email him at info@DanielHarvell.com. You can find The Survivors on Amazon.

Interviews

Interview with Bev Stout

Today, I have an author interview with Bev Stout, author of Secrets of the Realm (a fantastic historical – click the link to read the whole review). So enjoy learning a little more about Bev and life as an indie author.

Tell us a little bit about yourself. What do you do when you are not writing? Do you have a day job?

Until last year, I taught piano for thirty-five years. On the weekends, I work with children in a Christian outreach program. I enjoy new experiences with my husband, from river rafting to whale watching. I love activities with family and friends, especially playing tennis at least twice a week even when the temperatures are in the triple digits here in Arizona.

In six words, what is Secrets of the Realm about?

Girl faces adversity with unwavering spirit.

Have you written anything else?

I am writing the sequel, Return of the Realm, and a contemporary paranormal novel, My Name is Nissa. Both are in rough draft form.

Secrets of the Realm book cover
Image from Bev Stout; used by permission

Where can we buy/see Secrets of the Realm and/or your other works?

Secrets of the Realm is available on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and iBookstore.  An audio book version will be coming out in late summer 2013.

Where did you get the idea for Secrets of the Realm? How did you come up with the title?

I wanted to pass something down to my family. The initial idea was to paint a picture, but Annie sort of popped into my head. I knew she was resilient. I knew she lived in 18th century England, and I knew I had to tell her story. The title was the easiest part of the whole experience. Secrets of the Realm was the working title from day one, even before I realized Annie was not the only one aboard the Realm who had a secret.

How long did it take between having the idea and publication?

I started writing the story about six years ago and finished it in about six months, not counting the revisions and editing that had to be done. In the meantime, I went to writing conferences, joined two critique groups and submitted it to agents and publishers. I put it on hold for a couple years until my husband’s nephew, who had read an earlier draft, told me how much he wanted me to get it in print.

How much of the book is based on people you know and/or things you’ve experienced?

Joao Perreira was my grandfather’s name before he Anglicized it to John Perry.

While I used a number of family and friends’ names throughout the book, none of the characters are actually based on real people. I believe everyone has known someone in his or her life who has faced some sort of hardship, not necessarily the same as Annie had faced, but equally traumatic.

What was the hardest part of writing this book?

Deciding how much back-story should be in it and then deciding where to put it. Also, the first chapter was the hardest to write. I revised it more than any other part of the book.

What part or scene was the most fun to write?

Almost any scene with Symington, Annie’s nemesis, in it was the most fun to write. I also liked the sweet moments Annie shared with Doc.

If you had to do it over again, what (if anything) would you change about this book?

I don’t think I would change anything of significance.

How did you first become interested in writing?

Before Annie invaded my senses, I never thought about writing.

What is the hardest thing about writing? What is the easiest?

I am easily distracted. Keeping on task can be difficult for me. The easiest is finding my characters. They just show up.

How much research do you do?

I did a ton of research for Secrets of the Realm. I wanted to be as accurate as possible for the time period. I haven’t had to do extensive research for My Name is Nissa since it is a contemporary paranormal novel, but I still had to do some research into police procedures.

Do you work from an outline or just write and see where the story takes you?

For me, an outline would be too confining. The characters take me where the story is going. In Secrets of the Realm, I found myself writing a particular scene while not truly understanding the relevance of it until later in the story. One event needed to happen before another event could take place in a later chapter.

Do you ever get writer’s block? How do you deal with it?

I don’t exactly get writer’s block. But like I said earlier, I get distracted. I deal with it by walking away. I play a game on the computer, read, watch TV, go shopping. I don’t worry about it.

What made you decide to go the Indie route in publishing?

While I had some positive feedback from publishers and agents about Secrets, the consensus was that there was not a big audience for YA historical fiction. However, my husband believed in both the story and in me enough that he convinced me to go the Indie route.

What are some of the challenges of Indie publishing?

Marketing and editing. However, many of those I know who are traditionally published have said they also do most of their own marketing. Unless you are an established best-selling author, it appears writers don’t get much help from publishers. As an Indie writer, you have to either hire an editor or do it on your own. I did both.

What do you think are the advantages and disadvantages of Indie vs. traditional publishing?

The royalties are better in Indie publishing. I have no deadlines or schedules which sometimes drives my husband crazy. A disadvantage of being self-published is the lack of respect that it has carried over the years, but that is now improving. I know a number of traditionally published authors who are now dabbling in self-publishing.

Who designed your cover, and how was it created?

My husband designed and created it using Corel Paintshop Pro X5. My grandson took the picture of his sister. Annie’s eyes are ice blue like my granddaughter’s eyes. By just showing the eyes, I felt the cover left a bit of mystery of what Annie looked like. I wanted my readers to use their imaginations.

How do you market your books? How much time do you devote to marketing?

My husband does my marketing. As an engineer, it is not his forte, so it has been a steep learning curve.

Did you make any marketing mistakes or is there anything you would avoid in future?

Biggest oversight was not starting soon enough.

Author Bev Stout
Image from Bev Stout; used by permission

What do you think of “trailers” for books? Do you have a trailer or do you intend to create one for your book?

I only learned about trailers recently. At this moment, I do not plan to use trailers.

Do you think that giving books away free works and why?

I believe it works better for established authors. However, I intend to try it when my sequel comes out. I might give away a prequel about Annie’s earlier life or I might give away the actual sequel, Return of the Realm for a few days.

Who is your favorite author and why?

Harper Lee, author of To Kill a Mockingbird. She may have written only one book, but what a masterpiece. Her characters, Atticus, Scout, Jem and Boo Radley are such memorable characters.

What is your favorite book and why?

The Human Comedy by William Saroyan is a beautifully told story about love, loss, determination, family. It hits every emotion. I’ve read it numerous times over the years, finding something profound in it each time. It is such a simple, easy to read book. A grade school child can enjoy it as much as an adult. It is a book for all ages.

Is there any particular book or author who made an impact on your life?

To Kill a Mockingbird because Atticus Finch was such a good role model for his children. He stood up for what is right and tried to make the world a better place.

Do you prefer ebooks or hard copies?

I prefer hard copies. I enjoy supporting local authors and my author friends at book signings. However, I have been reading more on my Nook lately.

What book(s) are you reading right now?

A Fatal Waltz by Tasha Alexander.

What are you currently writing?

Return of the Realm and My Name is Nissa.

Can you tell us about them, and do you know when they will be released?

Return of the Realm continues with Annie’s saga. Annie remains true to herself, daughter of a humble fisherman. New characters will be introduced, including Geoffrey Sheffield, who has an impressive lineage. He is not as tall as Captain Hawke, nor is he as brawny as Ambrose Barrette; but for someone who isn’t a sailor, Annie notes he is a fine specimen of a man. I am hoping it will be released in the winter of 2013 or early spring of 2014. Meanwhile, My Name is Nissa is about a baby left in the courtyard of a young couple, Lily and Peter who want children, but haven’t been able to. Nissa, who bears an uncanny resemblance to Lily, is no ordinary child. Not sure when it will be out.

What advice would you give to your younger self?

Embrace life. Don’t sweat the small stuff. Be true to yourself.

What advice would you give to aspiring writers?

Read books in the genre you are interested in. Join a critique group, one that will give you good advice and constructive criticism. Write, don’t stop. You can edit, do research, fill in the blanks later. But most of all, write for the pure joy of it. Writing is the fun part. The rest is work.

Is there anything else you want to say to your readers?

Thank you for taking the time to read this interview. And thank you, Jalyn, for giving me the opportunity to introduce myself to the reading public. I really appreciate it.

Thanks, Bev, for being willing to talk about your book and what life is like as an indie author!

You can find Bev:

On Facebook

On Amazon

On Barnes&Noble

Interviews

Author Interview with H.S. Stone

Today isn’t one of my regularly-scheduled posts. It’s a bonus interview with Indie author H.S. Stone, author of Beyond New Eden (an interesting and creative cross between dystopian and post-apocalyptic – click the link to read the full review). So enjoy learning a little more about life as an Indie author.

First of all, thank you for having me, Jalyn!

George and teh Galactic Games book cover
Image from H.S. Stone; used by permission

Tell us a little bit about yourself. What do you do when you are not writing? Do you have a day job?

In addition to being a writer, I’m a father, husband, and engineer by day. My family and my day job are my highest priorities, but when I have some free time (ha!), I read or write. I wrote my first novel, George and the Galactic Games, with my son in mind as my target reader. I’m fortunate to enjoy being an engineer too, so even if I make it big as an author (double ha!), I don’t know if I’d give up my day job. 🙂

In six words, what is Beyond New Eden about?

Post-war clones learn about their world.

What else have you written?

Beyond New Eden is my third novel. My first novel is George and the Galactic Games, a sci-fi adventure for Middle Grade and younger readers. After that, I published In the Hands of Children, a YA sci-fi apocalyptic tale of a virus that kills everyone past the age of puberty.

Where can we buy/see Beyond New Eden and/or your other works?

All of my books are available at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Smashwords in digital format. You can also buy paperback versions via Amazon and Createspace.

Where did you get the idea for Beyond New Eden? How did you come up with the title?

Believe it or not, the idea of Beyond New Eden started out as a crime thriller. I was thinking of how much we rely on distinctive markers like DNA to determine who a criminal is, but what if a crime occurs in a city of clones where everyone has the same DNA? From there, it spun into the eventual story for Beyond New Eden, which is very different from my original idea. I kept the clones, but took out everything else, including the crime. Maybe I’ll go back and write the crime thriller in the future. 🙂

I don’t remember how I came up with the title, but for the longest time, my working title for the book was Adams and Eves. Then Michael Grant published Eve and Adam, and since In the Hands of Children was already being compared to his novel, Gone, I didn’t want to appear to be even more of a Michael Grant copycat!

How long did it take between having the idea and publication?

A little more than a year. I had the idea while I was finishing up In the Hands of Children, so I jotted down my notes. As soon as I published In the Hands of Children, I started working on Beyond New Eden.

How much of the book is based on people you know and/or things you’ve experienced?

Unlike my first two novels, very little of Beyond New Eden was based on my personal experiences, except perhaps the initial idea springing from my love of the original CSI series.

What was the hardest part of writing this book?

As with all of the books I’ve written, the hardest part of writing this book was the editing. By the time a book is published, I will have gone through the manuscript over ten times, and for some sections of the story, more than twenty. I usually get sick of my books after about the fifth revision, but I push through it because I owe it to the readers to produce the best books I can.

Beyond New Eden book cover
Image from H.S. Stone; used by permission

What part or scene was the most fun to write?

The scene in the rain. It was one of the first scenes I imagined when I outlined the book, so I was excited when I finally got to write it.

If you had to do it over again, what (if anything) would you change about this book?

I hope that I’ve already changed everything I wanted to change about the book before publishing it! 🙂

How did you first become interested in writing?

I’ve been interested in writing since before I could read. I’ve always found books to be magical, with their ability to transport you to another world through only the use of words. I “wrote” my first story before I learned to read or write, so it was just a bunch of gibberish!

What is the hardest thing about writing? What is the easiest?

As I mentioned before, the hardest thing about writing any book is editing it. Oh God, how I hate editing!

The easiest part for me is actually coming up with the story ideas. I’ve got a ton of ideas that I add to a notebook. I have way more ideas than time to write them!

How much research do you do?

It depends on the story. For In the Hands of Children, I looked up information about viruses and how they work to make sure my pandemic sounded plausible. I also did research on the locations mentioned in the novel. For Beyond New Eden, very little research was required because it’s pretty much a made up world.

Do you work from an outline or just write and see where the story takes you?

I do a hybrid of both. I write an outline of the story that breaks the plot down into chapters, but I leave the details of each chapter up to where the story takes me when I’m writing it. When the story starts to diverge too much from my outline, I’ll re-outline the remainder of the story so that I still have a skeleton to refer to when I write.

Do you ever get writer’s block? How do you deal with it?

I rarely get writer’s block because, between my family and work, I don’t have much time to write. When I’m not writing, I’m constantly thinking of what I’m going to write next, so by the time I sit down to put pen to paper, what I want to say is already in my head. On the few occasions where I still get writer’s block, my favorite way to deal with it is to take a walk. It hasn’t failed me yet, and I get some exercise too!

What made you decide to go the Indie route in publishing?

I’ve tried submitting manuscripts to traditional publishers in the past, and I either never heard back from them or got generic rejection letters. Then, in late 2010, when I heard about some of the indie success stories, like Amanda Hocking and Joe Konrath, I decided to take the plunge myself.

What are some of the challenges of Indie publishing?

The fact that you’re responsible for everything yourself. For example, with indie publishing, the author is responsible for marketing his or her own book. Readers aren’t going to buy your books just because you published them. That’s a tough reality that I’m sure many indie authors in addition to me have learned. I’m also a naturally introverted person, so marketing is extra difficult for me.

What do you think are the advantages and disadvantages of Indie vs. traditional publishing?

Ironically, what attracted me to indie publishing and has led me to continue doing it include some of its drawbacks as well. As an indie author, you control everything. You control how long it takes to publish your book, what the cover looks like, what the book’s blurb will be, etc. On the other hand, it also means you’re the only one responsible for it, whereas with traditional publishing, the publisher takes care of the non-writing aspects for you, at least in theory.

Who designed your cover, and how was it created?

The folks at Digital Book Launch did the cover for Beyond New Eden. I have no idea how they created it. It just showed up in my Inbox one day. 🙂

How do you market your books? How much time do you devote to marketing?

I don’t spend much time on marketing. With my family and day job, and trying to write or read in between, I barely have time as it is to keep up with my blog, Twitter, and Facebook accounts. That’s one area where I wish I could do a better job.

In the Hands of Children book cover
Image from HS Stone; used by permission

Do you think that giving books away free works and why?

I haven’t had much success with this strategy, but as a reader, I know that I’ve bought later books in a series when I got the first one for free and enjoyed it. It probably hasn’t worked for me because the novels I’ve written so far have been standalone books. I’ve been thinking about writing a companion short story to one of my novels to give away for free in order to see how much it boosts sales of the novel.

Who is your favorite author and why?

I don’t have a single favorite author, but some of my favorites in recent years include Suzanne Collins, Katie French, Gail Carson Levine, Jonathan Maberry, and Marissa Meyer.

What is your favorite book and why?

The Hunger Games. It’s my favorite book in my favorite genre. It’s as close to a perfect book as I can remember ever reading. Not only was it wonderfully written, but I found the plot to be very engaging and I bonded with the characters in a way that I usually don’t.

Is there any particular book or author who made an impact on your life?

Again, I’ll have to give The Hunger Games the nod here. In addition to its awesomeness, it’s the first book written in the first person POV that I really enjoyed. As an author, it changed my view of the use of first person narration, and I wound up using it in Beyond New Eden.

Do you prefer ebooks or hard copies?

Although nearly half of the books I read these days are ebooks, I still prefer paperbacks to ebooks, but I prefer ebooks over hardcovers. Paperbacks are still easier to carry around and read for me. I also do a lot of my reading in bed before I sleep, and having a paperback fall on my face when I doze off hurts lets than a Kindle!

What book(s) are you reading right now?

This year, I decided to take on a reading challenge that I call Authors A to Z, where I read at least one book by an author whose last name starts A, one whose last name starts with B, and so on. I’m on M, which is Gretchen McNeil’s Ten.

What are you currently writing?

I’m currently working on my fourth novel, a YA sci-fi alien invasion story. I’ve always wanted to write a novel about an alien invasion.

Can you tell us about it, and do you know when it will be released?

Without giving away too much, I will reveal that it’s a YA alien invasion story about a girl whose family is abducted by alien invaders and her journey to rescue them. My plan is to release it in the beginning of 2014.

What advice would you give to your younger self?

Have fun and live the life you’ve been given instead of worrying so much. The stuff that I thought was important when I was younger, like popularity, is actually fleeting and unimportant.

What advice would you give to aspiring writers?

Pursue writing because you love to write, not because you hope to become rich and famous. The odds are long that writing will become a lucrative career, but if you love to write, you’re less likely to give up.

Is there anything else you want to say to your readers?

Thanks for reading my answers, and thank you, Jalyn, for being a gracious host!

Thanks, HS, for being willing to reveal the secrets of life as an Indie author!

You can find HS Stone on his blog, HS Writing, and on twitter @hswriting.

You can buy HS Stone’s books on Amazon:

Beyond New Eden

In the Hands of Children

George and the Galactic Games