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.