Category Archives: Interviews

Leila Adams talks Offering

This is a post I’ve really been looking forward to writing. I met Leila Adams through Wattpad and since then she has become an amazing friend and supportive cheerleader, so I’m incredibly excited that she is finally beginning her true writing journey with the release of her debut novel, Offering.

Tell us what Offering is about.

Olivia’s long-distance boyfriend is on a plane to San Francisco, and she can barely contain her excitement as she plans their passion-filled weekend.  This could be the turning point in their relationship. Having spent a lifetime avoiding emotional entanglements, she is torn between her heart and her common sense. Lust she can handle; love is dangerous for someone who has secrets to keep.

On a cursed night long ago an ancient vampire made a terrifying promise to Olivia, and then abandoned her in a world that was not her own. Forced to find a new way to survive, she has finally found peace in her life and hopes the pledge is forgotten. When a bouquet of black calla lilies appears outside her door, she knows her time is up, and the vampire intends to keep his promise.

Unforeseeable complications from the blood star ceremony take Olivia in a new direction. She finds herself and those she holds most dear under attack. As her dark secrets are revealed, the threads that bind her carefully constructed world begin to unravel.  She must face the heartbreaking truth when the unthinkable happens. The choice she makes now will determine not only her fate but the fate of those she loves.

What the hardest part about writing this book?

The hardest part about writing Offering was finding the time. I started the story in 2008 when I was still teaching. It took me five years to complete the book. On the positive side, I learned what kind of writer I am. I am definitely more of a percolator than plotter or pantser. Taking my time gave me the opportunity to figure out where and how to foreshadow elements of the second and third book in the first one, and possibly avoided some rewrites.

What do you consider the hardest part about writing in general?

I think all writers face the same problem: balancing writing with demands of work and family.

You first published Offering on Wattpad – how much has the final version changed?

The published edition of Offering didn’t change at its heart. I thinned it out, removed excessive description, as well as story-lines and backstory that didn’t move the plot forward. The Wattpad version exceeded 150K words and I shortened it to 119K. By all standards it is still quite lengthy. I also clarified questions readers brought up in Wattpad comments.

Did you find it easy to edit or did you have to force yourself to be ruthless?

Editing is murderous. I have no difficulty cutting excess story, but I find the process incredibly tedious and slow. There were, however, a few parts of the book I hated to delete. They were gems that shined for me. Eventually I will post them on my website as ‘extras’.

Was there anything in particular that inspired you to write this novel?

I hate to admit it but Twilight inspired me to write Offering. When I walked out of the theater after watching the movie, I told my husband the story was written wrong. It should have been (Offering story-line). He said, “You should write that.” I doubt he thought I would, but I did. What I realized in the process was that I wanted the adult version of a similar story, one that included the vampire aspect, but also mystery, romance, and a modern day crime element.

What does your typical writing day look like?

When I’m actively writing, I tend to write in the mornings and late at night. I will squeeze in every available moment. If I didn’t have other demands on me, I could sit at my computer for hours on end and never grow tired. I do take breaks between books to revitalize. That’s important, not only for the mind but the body also.

What do you do when you’re not writing?

Upon reflection, I would say that when I’m not writing, I’m creating. It might be in 2D form, like writing a story, or working on a graphic image, or a 3D project, like tiling a floor, building a fireplace mantle, or plastering a wall. I also love to have families and friends over for dinner parties. I can spend hours creating the perfect red velvet cupcake. I have frosting tips and a nail gun, and I’m not afraid to use them.

What made you decide to go down the indie publishing route?

Offering is a book about vampires. I pitched the story to several agents in 2013 and 2014, at the San Francisco Writers Conference and heard the same refrain from all of them. They couldn’t sell vampire novels to publishers. They wanted new and fresh stories the public had never heard before. Interestingly, at the conference, I also learned about Wattpad, the reading/writing site. I uploaded my story as a test to see if people liked it. While I respect the gatekeepers of the publishing industry, they are not always right, and there have been breakout indie authors who have done well. For me, self-publishing made the most sense.

What challenges have you faced?

There are several huge challenges to publishing on one’s own. Had I chosen to publish using Smashwords, Bookbaby, or a similar company, they would have edited the book and designed a cover for a fee. Because I had already purchased my cover, I decided to do the editing on my own, with the aid of several programs and a few proofreaders. But, I think the biggest challenge in self-publishing is visibility. And marketing drives visibility. Even if you have written the next bestseller, unless readers know it’s out there, they can’t buy it. The marketing aspect is one I have only just begun to explore.

What do your family/friends think of your writing?

My family and friends are excited for me. My author friends are perhaps a bit more enthusiastic, though.

Have you encountered any negative reactions to either your writing or your chosen publishing route? If so, how have you dealt with it?

My first answer to the question is: No, I have not. My friends, family, and Wattpad readers have all been very positive and encouraging. After years of careful consideration, I decided self-publishing was the best choice for me. Perhaps there are bigger questions here. Will I encounter negative comments and reactions, and why would that happen? No doubt, I’ll run into derogatory remarks one day. We have all seen articles that want to delegitimize self-published books. Some people think if it doesn’t have a big publisher’s name on the cover, it can’t be worthy. Unfortunately, publishers are seldom willing to take chances on unknown authors like me. But, demonstrating sales growth, an expanding reader base, and future sales potential could influence a publisher when considering my work in the future. As the market evolves, and and it certainly has over the last five years, writers can take advantage of the changes, too. I feel this is a win-win situation for everyone. I establish myself, hopefully creating a path forward in my career, and I give the public more choices, letting them decide what they want to read.

What are your writing plans for the future?

I have begun writing the third book in the Blood Star Vampire Series, Redemption, and hope to finish it by the end of the year. The second book, Sacrifice, should be released on Amazon this summer, and Redemption early in 2018. Originally I planned to write three books in the series; but a fourth is likely.

I have two other stories in progress at this time. Opia, a YA psychic thriller, and The Edge of Time, a futuristic dystopian novel. I’m excited about these books and looking forward to writing in the different genres.

Thank you for interviewing me, Bella. It’s been a pleasure talking with you.

Offering is available on Amazon US and Amazon UK. Want to win a free ebook? Just enter the giveaway. There are three copies of Offering available, so don’t miss this chance to get your hands on one.

OfferingConnect with the author at Wattpad, Twitter, Facebook, or on her website.

RK Close talks Red Night

Today, I’m happy to introduce brand-new author and all-around awesome person, RK Close, who is probably bouncing off the walls with excitement as her very first book is being released one week today.

So without further ado, let’s get this party started!

Your first novel Red Night – Vampire Files Trilogy #1 comes out in May 10, 2016 and it’s about a young private investigator who stumbles upon a mysterious vampire named Adam. With a supernatural serial killer on the loose, Samantha must adapt to a world where vampires are real and love is dangerous. What was the hardest part of writing Red Night?

Writing Red Night came easily—so much so that it shocked me. You see, Red Night was the first thing I’ve ever attempted to write…EVER. I failed miserably at writing family Christmas letters. I’ve always dreamed of being a writer but in the way you dream of doing something with little to no chance of reaching it, like being a movie star, rock star, president or maybe an astronaut. But I guess the most difficult part of writing for me is editing. I can write and write and write, but editing is something I must force myself to do. *big sigh*

What inspired you to start this novel?

Like I said, being an author has always appealed to me as the best career you could have. Of course I romanticized it to great lengths, imagining myself living in a rundown but functioning villa in Italy where wrote all day and threw lovely parties at night. That still sounds wonderful, but I’ve realized that even without the setting I love to write. It feeds my creative side like nothing else.

Why did you choose to write about vampires?

I’ve been a fan of the paranormal for as long as I can remember. I first fell in love with the conflicting emotional side of vampires by reading Anne Rice in my early twenties. I fell in love with her vampires first. They were so deep and were constantly battling their nature and what they remembered of their humanity. They were beautiful, violent and tragic all at once. Her writing pulled me into a world that felt real even when it couldn’t be. I still love vampires, werewolves, witches and fairies. The idea of these creatures living along side of us and us not knowing makes for fantastic stories with endless ideas and situations.

Who is your favourite character?

That’s difficult to say. If I had to pick, it would be Samantha, but I really love so many of the characters in my stories. Even Zachariah, the villain. He has such a tragic past that I want to weep for what he became. He’s beautiful, tragic and horrifying at the same time.

Is there anything you find particularly challenging about writing?

Editing! And second guessing myself. Writing is the fun stuff but editing is the bane of my existence as a writer. I’m a terrible speller and my grammar is embarrassing. This may be another reason that I never attempted to write. I was always afraid for people to read anything I put to print—fearing ridicule and rejection, I didn’t even try. Makes me sad that I didn’t give myself the chance sooner. All the stories I could have written… *sigh*

What’s the most surprising thing you’ve learned about being a writer?

That you must wear many hats as a writer. You must write, edit, network and market yourself and your story. You may be the most skilled author around but if you don’t do all of those other tasks, nobody will ever read your stories because they won’t be able to find them.

I enjoy the networking the most. I’ve met so many wonderful authors and readers that I would never have known if I never posted that first chapter to Wattpad, November 20, 2014. That one brave act (believe me when I say it took everything in me to hit the publish button) has changed my future. Now it’s filled with stories—written and unwritten, and many new adventures and new friends.

What is your writing schedule/process?

Right now it’s extremely helter-skelter. There is no organization to it but I’m hoping to get a routine set soon. If my only responsibility was writing, it would be easy but I have an active and busy family of five to manage and they still require most of my time. I finally reached the point where I began calling myself a writer but truthfully, I’m a wife and mother first, many other things in between and an author last. It’s bittersweet because I wouldn’t trade one for the other. Balance is key and I’m still learning how that works.

Plenty of people think writing isn’t a real job. Have you ever encountered any such negative attitudes?

A little. Most of my family and friends have been really supportive, especially when I got the news that I’d be published. Prior to that, few people even knew that I had written a novel much less that it would be published.

I’m sure those opinions are out there but nobody has said anything to me so I’ll be thankfully ignorant and blissfully happy.

Do you ever encounter writer’s block?

I don’t think I’ve experienced writers block yet. It may be too early to tell but I have little trouble coming up with what to write. A bigger hurdle for me is time and time management. I’m not a very organized person.

What do you do when you’re not writing?

I love to spend time with family and friends, reading, traveling to just about anywhere, painting, cycling, CrossFit (when my back is better), and hiking.

Do you have any favorite authors or influences?

Professionally – Many from over the years but my favorite currently is Karen Marie Moning and the Fever Series.

On Wattpad – Leila Adams, Juliet Lyons, Bella Higgin (seriously) and Lynn Santiago to name a few.

What are you working on now?

I’m currently wrapping up Red Moon, book 2 in the Vampire Files Trilogy and I’ve begun the prequel to the trilogy during Camp NaNoWriMo. I don’t think I’ll reach my goal but it helped me get started. I’d like to publish Red Moon before the end of 2016 but I’ll have to see how editing goes.

 

Red Night is released on May 10th, available from Amazon, Limitless Publishing

44ed3e59-e06a-4c0a-a25b-ae48c86ad3c3Connect with the author at Wattpad, Twitter, Facebook, or on her website.

Interview with Vanessa Curtis

Today, Ramblers, I’m excited to welcome Vanessa Curtis, award-winning author of books for teens and children, including Zelah Green which won the Manchester Children’s Book Prize. Her latest book, The Earth is Singing, is released on January 27th, Holocaust Day.

Have you always wanted to be a writer?

When I was a little I wanted to be a librarian. But I’ve been a writer since I was about eight or nine when I had my poems published in the school magazine.

If not, what were your original aspirations?

I thought I’d be a musician. I trained at college as a pianist so I always assumed I’d end up going into music. I did go into music but in a more part-time way, teaching piano lessons from home.

How old were you when you first started writing?

I started young, writing stories and poems when I was about eight or nine. English was one of the few school subjects I actually enjoyed.

What was the first thing you ever published?

An article revolving around sex that I wrote in my lunch-break when I was about eighteen. It was published in Girl About Town magazine.

What inspired you to write your first novel?

My first novel was an angsty confessional about the breakdown of my first marriage back in 1997. It was too self-absorbed, too personal, and too depressing to be publishable so it went into my folder of doom, along with my other unfinished or unpublished manuscripts.

Is there anything you find particularly challenging about writing?

Doing it. *laughs* I suppose not deviating or procrastinating on the internet. It’s difficult to keep the incentive going when you have long periods of waiting for publishers and agents to get back to you, especially when sometimes they say yes and then change their minds and say no. All the waiting and rejections and periods of time when you’re not being paid for your work. There aren’t many careers when you can can work for long periods of time and not get paid for it.

What’s the most surprising thing you’ve learned about being a writer?

That I can’t give it up. I have considered giving up, for the aforementioned reasons and because it’s hard, often thankless work, but if I try giving up for a few months I always find myself coming back to it.

What is your writing schedule/process?

My schedule is simply to fit my writing around giving piano lessons. My process is to get a vague idea first, followed by the typing of a very rough chapter by chapter synopsis. Then I discuss the idea with my agent before I go any further to see if she thinks it’s viable. After that there are months, possibly even years of research if I’m writing historical fiction, which I am now. Then I actually have to write the book.

How long does it take you to write a book?

It depends on the book. The first draft of The Earth is Singing took three to four months to write, with about six months of research beforehand. Then it was rewritten two or three times at the request of my agent/editor. The whole process probably took about two years.

How did you feel when you knew your first novel was going to be published?

Quite excited actually, as I hadn’t set out to write novels, particularly not children’s novels. Zelah Green was a change of direction, almost like a new career.

What do your friends/family think of your writing career?

I think my family are quite proud. My mother can’t read The Earth is Singing as it’s so close to her family history that it’s too painful to read. My friends are very loyal, always pre-ordering copies of my books.

Some people think that writing isn’t a real job. Have you encountered any such negative attitudes?

My dad said it to me! I think he regretted it afterwards when he saw my look of distress and horror. What he meant was I had chosen one of the hardest possible careers so I let him off. Now he’s really proud of me.

I had articles coming out when I was still quite young so I think people could see how serious I was about my writing career.

Do you ever encounter writer’s block?

Not writer’s block as such, but I am very good at delaying writing the beginning of a novel. And for about the first fifteen thousands words, I’m very good at getting distracted.

How do you deal with it?

Sometimes I literally trick myself into sitting at the computer. I tell myself I’m just passing by my desk, then I’ll just switch on the computer, then I’ll just put my fingers on the keys and see what comes out. And then I’ll have written a few lines.

Sometimes I’ll tell myself I can’t play the harpsichord until I’ve written a certain number of words, or I’ll tell myself i can’t have lunch.

How do you choose the names for your characters?

In different ways, really. I like strong biblical girls’ names so I sometimes pick them from the Bible. With Zelah Green, the name Zelah was something I spotted on a signpost on the way to Cornwall. I thought it was an unusual name for a character, and decided, ‘I’ll have that.’

What do you do when you’re not writing?

I enjoy walking, playing the harpsichord, teaching piano, doing writing commissions for other people, or running writing workshops at the local Arts Centre.

What would you do if you weren’t a writer?

I’ve changed my ideas on that as I’ve got older. Something to do with research – archiving or genealogy, that sort of thing. Maybe journalism full-time. I’d quite like to work in some kind of heritage property, anything to do with old buildings.

The Earth is Singing is your latest novel, released on Holocaust Day, January 27th. The book follows a young girl, Hanna Michelson, and what happens to her when Nazis arrive in her Latvian town. The book is an unflinching look at the atrocities perpetuated against Jews at this time. What was the hardest part about writing it?

Writing that scene in the Rumbula forest. I tried to tell it as it was, rather than trying to soften it, and I may actually have been writing about members of my own family, several generations back.

What have you learned from writing it?

How lucky I am and how lucky many of us are. Things like that could so easily happen again. That I don’t know very much about one particular side of my family. And also that I’d like to do more historical fiction.

Before the Nazis arrive, Hanna is an aspiring ballerina. What made you decide to have her dance?

I needed something light and graceful and lovely as a contrast to the harrowing scenes in the book. Also, I love ballet.

What made you write this book?

When I went to Riga (where the book is set) I visited the recently opened Ghetto Museum. On the walls there are photos of thousands of pre-war Jewish people going about their daily lives. All of these people will have been killed. I looked at these photos and looked at their eyes, and their eyes seemed to follow me around the museum, almost like they were telling me to write their story. I went home to write it, not caring if it was published or not.

People, especially schoolchildren, don’t know enough about what happened in Eastern parts of Europe during the Second World War. They’re taught a lot about Auschwitz but not much about the horrific situations in places like Latvia and Lithuania.

Finally, what advice would you give to aspiring writers?

Read more. It’s amazing how many people don’t read books in the genre they’re trying to publish in, or worse, don’t read books at all.

Continually strive to improve your work all the time. That process never stops, no matter how many books you’ve had published. I’m still trying to improve. It’s a lifelong journey.

 

The Earth is Singing is released on Holocaust Day, January 27th.

The Earth is Singing

Vanessa Curtis: DKW agency Goodreads

The Earth is Singing: Amazon Goodreads Waterstones