Book Marketing – What Works? (Part 3): Interview with YA author Jordan Elizabeth

Jordan Elizabeth and Books

In Part 1 of Book Marketing – What Works? we heard from self-published author, Cynthia Vespia, and in Part 2, we met traditionally published co-authors Mark Todd and Kym O’Connell Todd, to get a glimpse into their marketing strategies. While Vespia preferred face-to-face marketing strategies such as conferences and book signings, the Todds use Internet marketing such as websites, blogging and social media. Today, we’ll talk with an author who utilizes paid advertising via the Internet.

Small presses may take some of the publishing duties away from the author, such as cover art, and of course, the actual publication of your book, but even then, a lot of the marketing and promotion may fall upon the author. Therefore, traditionally published authors are faced with the same challenges of getting their books out there where readers can find them as independently published authors are.

I’m pleased to welcome Jordan Elizabeth to Writing to be Read today. Jordan is a talented young adult author, who is published with a smaller independent press. I have reviewed many of her books and anthologies where her short fiction has appeared, and she’s weighed on publishing, with an interview in my ten part series, Pros and Cons of Traditional vs. Independent vs. Self-Publishing. Although she may not have as much control over the publishing  details, she maintains the brunt of the responsibility for the marketing of her books.

Kaye: Would you share the story of your own publishing journey?

Jordan: I always knew I wanted to write.  I had written a ton of stories by high school (none of which will ever see the light of day).  I finally wrote my first “real” manuscript sometimes around 12th grade and started sending it to publishers.  They rejected me right away.  After some research, I understood you need an agent to get your foot in the door.  I queried over 4,000 agents before I landed mine with COGLING.

Kaye: What is the strangest inspiration for a story you’ve ever had?

Jordan: I get most of my ideas from dreams, but I would say the strangest inspiration was for VICTORIAN.  I volunteered at Fort Stanwix and worked for the Victorian Leisure Fair, both in Rome, NY.  The positions involved dressing in costumes and explaining history to visitors, while having fun.  I had the best adventures in Rome!

Kaye: Have you ever had places that you travel to end up in your books?

Jordan: Yes!  I love to travel, and we used to do 3-4 vacations a year before I had my baby.  The places I go to especially come out in my fantasy novels. The homes in COGLING were based on a lot of historic sites and tour houses, such as President Buchannan’s house in Pennsylvania.

Kaye: Do you participate in KDP Select on Amazon? Do you feel this program is conducive to selling books?

Jordan: All of my published novels except for one are on Kindle Unlimited.  It depends on the publisher’s rules, so I don’t have a say if they are or aren’t.  I do find it conducive, as someone who might not want to buy my ebook has the freedom to borrow it for “free.”  I’ve heard from quite a few people that they used Kindle Unlimited to read something I wrote.

Kaye: Do you use social media to promote your books? Which social media is your favorite for promotion and why?

Jordan: I use Facebook and Twitter.  In the past, I’ve found Facebook to be the best, but the world seems to be moving away from that.  I’ve had bad luck with my past few Facebook ads.  I’m going to try to utilize Twitter more and see how that goes.

Kaye: What type of marketing strategies have you tried with your books? What worked and what didn’t?

Jordan: I post on Facebook and Twitter, aim for one book signing a month, and take out ads.  The ad in BookBub was amazing.  I’ve also had good luck taking an ad out in Fussy Librarian.  The more reviews you have, the more people are excited to read your book, so I am always open to giving a blogger a book in exchange for an honest review.  That hasn’t always worked out in the past, as some bloggers will take a book and never read it.  Book review tours have never worked for me.  I’ve paid for multiple companies to send out my books to x-amount of reviewers.  Each time, I’ve only gotten a handful of reviews.  It hasn’t been worth the price.

Kaye: You have publishers for your books. How much non-writing work, (marketing & promotion, illustrations & book covers, etc…), do you do yourself?

Jordan: The publishers all take care of editing and book covers.  I do about 85% of my own marketing.  It takes a lot of time and effort, but I enjoy it.  It gets my face out there and helps me connect with my readers.

Kaye: You and I made a connection through a member of your street team, when I reviewed Escape From Witchwood Hollow, and I’ve been reviewing your books ever since. Could you explain what your street team does for you? How do you go about building a street team?

Jordan: My street team has actually disbanded, but I did have a street team for many years.  It started when a few girls told me they loved my books and asked me about the process.  When I told them how I’d gotten published and all the time spent on marketing, they asked if they could help out.  Of course!  They contacted reviewers for me to see if anyone would like to read one of my books in exchange for an honest review.  I had an awesome group of supporters and we had fun brainstorming new marketing ideas.

One girl dropped out of the street team to concentrate on going back to college and the other two started getting hate mail from reviewers because they felt that I should be the one contacting, not them.  I personally don’t see anything wrong with having someone else contact a blogger on your behalf, but I also see where it can become tricky.  You don’t always know if the personal contacting you is legitimate.

Kaye: What works best to sell books for you, as far as marketing goes?

Jordan: Taking out ads and book signings.  In those cases, I know how many I sell.  I don’t know why people who buy my books on a day-to-day basis bought them.  Did someone tell them about the book?  Did they see it on Facebook?  At least when I see a jump in sales on the day an ad runs, I know it is because of the ad.

Kaye: How much work do you contract out? Book Covers? Editing? Marketing? Etc…?

Jordan: I don’t contract anything out.  Ah, if only I had that luxury!

Kaye: What kind of Chinese food do you order all the time?

Jordan: Peanut noodles are my favorite.  Oh, and Chinese donuts.  I eat the entire container in one sitting unless my husband grabs on first.

Kaye: What advice do you have for aspiring authors?

Jordan: Don’t give up, because you need to write for yourself.  Even if publishers aren’t biting, write because you love it.  Also, make sure to understand marketing is going to fall on you.  I was surprised and a little taken aback at first.  Authors need to realize that publishers have 100s of books out there.  They can’t donate 100% of their time on marketing your book.  You need to do your share of the legwork too.

I want to thank Jordan for joining us today and sharing her marketing experience with us. You can check out my reviews of Jordan’s books and anthologies in which her work appears by following the links below.

Reviews of Jordan Elizabeth Books:

Escape From Witchwood Hollow

Cogling

Treasure Darkly

Wicked Treasure

Victorian

The Goat Children

The Path to Old Talbot

Riders & Runners

Kistishi Island

Reviews of Short Story Collections from Curiosity Quills Press Featuring Jordan Elizabeth’s Short Fiction:

Chronology

Under A Brass Moon

Darkscapes

Be sure to check back next week for Part 4 of Book Marketing – What Works?, where I’ll interview a veteran author that has traveled both the traditional and self-publishing routes and will share what his learned about marketing after writing books for ten years, author Tim Baker. Don’t miss it!

 

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Book Marketing – What Works? (Part 2): Interview with Co-Authors Kym O’Connell Todd and Mark Todd

Tods and Books

Last week we talked with self-published author, Cynthia Vespia, who shared her thoughts on social media marketing vs. face-to-face marketing opportunities. This week, we’ll take a look at other marketing strategies available to authors today and their effectiveness, when co-authors Mark Todd and Kym O’Connell Todd join us on Writing to be Read.

Mark and Kym are not only co-authors, but husband and wife, who are peculiarly in sync with one another. As the Southern Colorado Literature Examiner, I had the pleasure of reviewing their Silverville Saga books, which are filled with quirky characters who inhabit a small fictional mountain town where crazy antics are in abundance. They even wrote themselves into the first story, Little Greed Men, and as you will learn, they really are as eccentric as their own characters. They also dabble in ghost hunting and bring their experiences to us in their book Wild West Ghosts and on their blog site, Write in the Thick of Things. (They have a website by the same name, but there you’ll find their books, not ghosts.)

Kaye: Would you share the story of your own publishing journey?

Mark-&-Kym: We got the idea for the first book in the Silverville Saga after a trip to the 49th anniversary “pilot” event for the Roswell UFO crash. The town was testing the idea of an annual celebration. It was crazy – researcher seminars, abductee interviews, parade, and alien costume contest. On the way home afterwards, we decided there was a book in the fanfare. We wrote half of the first book for fun and sat on it for ten years. An author friend one day put us in touch with his publisher, who loved the premise and said he was interested if we finished the book. We scrambled, completed the project, and he did publish it. Since then, we made a deal with another press, and all three books in the series now live at Raspberry Creek Books. The same press recently published our nonfiction book Wild West Ghosts, which is about haunted hotels.

Kaye: Your Silverville Saga books are about the people who live in a small mountain community in Colorado. Their titles are Little Greed Men, All Plucked Up and The Magicke Outhouse. How do you decide the titles for your books? Where does the title come in the process for you?

Mark-&-Kym: For us, finding the right title is tough. Our publisher titled the first one! When we had a chance to republish it with Raspberry, we’d come up with what we thought was a very clever title, Little Greed Men. After that, the titles had a strategy: be clever or punny.

Kaye: Why do you think some authors sell well and others don’t?

Mark-&-Kym: So far as we can tell, it’s a mystery. Marketing is key, of course. And much of it falls to authors these days, regardless of whether you use a large or small press. It’s time-consuming and can take more time than it takes to write the book. There are so many additional factors that lead to success or failure, such as cover design, distribution, quality and voice of writing, distribution opportunities. The list goes on and on. The biggest factor of all might be luck.

Kaye: Is there anything unique or unusual about your writing process?

Mark-&-Kym: Yep. We’re doing it as we answer these questions. We write every sentence together. We’re so in sync that this isn’t difficult for us. One of us starts a sentence and the other finishes it. We massage the words and by the time we’re done, we have no idea who wrote what.

Kaye: For Wild West Ghosts you videotaped your research and then published the videos on your website/blog. Do you think that helped sales, or helped to grow your fan base?

Mark-&-Kym: As far as book sales, maybe or maybe not. It definitely increased the fan base. Over the six months before publication and the year following, we garnered over three-quarters of a million social media impressions for the book, and we have fans on six continents. We’ve even had invitations from ghost investigators to visit the Great Britain, Wales, Scotland, Germany, and France. We generated tens of thousands of followers through Google Plus and YouTube, but these fans were more interested in our ghost investigations than in buying books. Nowadays, we try to spend our marketing time on venues that cater to readers who buy books. Live and learn.

Kaye: You mention YouTube. Are you using YouTube as a marketing tool then?

Mark-&-Kym: Yes, YouTube is one part of our marketing campaign for Wild West Ghosts, right alongside the blog, FB, Twitter, and GoodReads platforms. And I think it does help grow our fan base — but primarily because of the nature of this particular book. Each blog relating to the book ends with a pitch to buy, and we have close to a hundred blogs relating to the ghost adventures, and each blog embeds the YouTube clips as part of the blog article package.

I haven’t figured out an effective analytics to measure YouTube alone so far as it relates to book sales, since the video clips point people to our blog, where we point people to our books. And we’re simultaneously using all the platforms in an integrated way to reach audience.

Kaye: What type of marketing strategies have you tried with your books? What worked and what didn’t?

Mark-&-Kym: We have a Website, Write in the Thick of Things and author pages on Amazon. We use blogging and blog hops, tweets, Facebook pages, Goodreads and, as mentioned, Google Plus communities to spread the word.

We’ve found book readings to be less productive. We’ve had anywhere from a smattering to three-hundred attendees. But that doesn’t mean we sold three-hundred books. And at one event, no one came. A lot depends on the publicity that your host provides. After spending the gas and taking the time to go, it’s often a wash in terms of generated revenue.

Kaye: Which social media is your favorite for promotion and why?

Mark-&-Kym: Mark likes blogging the best. The 400- to 600-word length is about right for explaining a targeted subject. And we’ve created RSS feeds to share those blogs on our Amazon author page as well as on Goodreads. We also have our Facebook author pages linked to Twitter, so we make sure the first 160 characters make sense.

Kaye: Have you tried any free promotions with your books? Did it help to boost your sales?

Mark-&-Kym: After Mark’s SF book Strange Attractors was left at the altar when a small press folded just two months short of street release and then orphaned (twice) at a large press, he decided to Indy-publish the novel using CreateSpace. The free promotions with KPD Select helped create buzz and boosted sales. We also use the Goodreads Giveaway program every time we publish a new book, and that’s also worked for us.

Kaye: You talk about free promotions. How does giving away your work help sales? Or does it?

Mark-&-Kym: The “free” promotion doesn’t count toward sales numbers but does generate interest in a featured book and often additional Amazon reviews, which is always a good thing. It costs us nothing as an ebook download, and KDP Select handles all that. For whatever reason, the new buzz tends to raise awareness about the featured title, so word-of-mouth usually generates legit spin-off sales. So it’s “free” marketing. 🙂

Kaye: How much work do you contract out? Book Covers? Editing? Marketing? Etc…?

Mark-&-Kym: None. We have an advantage: Kym designs book covers commercially, and Mark copyedits as part of his job as a college writing teacher. So those are already are a part of our professional skill sets. We do have trusted, honest beta readers and a good editor in our publisher. But don’t misunderstand the importance of having competent and professional book designers and copyeditors. If you want to be taken seriously as an author, you have to treat writing as a business and hire out what you don’t know or can’t do professionally. As for marketing, we’re about to try out BookBarbarians, which we’ve heard produces promising results. Stay tuned on that one.

Kaye: What is the single “What do you do” for cover art?

Mark-&-Kym: DIY usually looks like DIY. When Kym designs a cover for either a publishing house or an individual author, she first reads a good portion of the book to get a feel for the content and mood. She asks if there are specific elements the writer wants on the cover, and then she creates several mock-ups to show the client. People do judge a book by its cover. If that cover doesn’t look interesting, readers will pass it by.

Kaye: What advice do you have for aspiring authors?

Mark-&-Kym: Don’t be disappointed if your first book doesn’t turn out to be the Great American Novel. The market is incredibly competitive, and just because you write it doesn’t mean it will sell. But if writing is your passion, then that should be your goal. That’s why we do it.

I’d like to thank Mark and Kym for sharing a glimpse into their writing and marketing processes. Click on any of the links above to learn more about Mark and Kym and their work. Be sure to drop by next week for Part 3 of Book Marketing – What Works?, with YA author Jordan Elizabeth, who will talk about street teams, and social media marketing.

 

 

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“Leave a Mark” leaves an impression

Leave a Mark

I’m not a huge romance fan, although I do read them, and I write romantic elements into most of my fiction. But, every once in a while, I happen onto a really good romance, which grasps me in it’s plot line and doesn’t let go. You know what I’m talking about – the kind of well-crafted story that is so enthralling you seriously don’t want to put it down until you’ve turned the very last page, that you stay up reading even though you have to be at work early in the morning. “Leave a Mark”, by Stephanie Fournet is just that kind of story – a contemporary romance with compelling characters and all the great troupes that mark the genre, with a few sex scenes which are tastefully done.

Wren is a twenty-something tattoo artist, who carries around some inner demons, resulting from her being molested at an early age and growing up with an addict for a mother. Lee is a gynecologist who doesn’t want to let go of his inner child, and has never stood up to his father. Not exactly two people you’d expect to find together, but once they find each other, their love is powerful. How can two broken people such as these, overcome all the obstacles and make their relationship work? The answers may surprise you or not, but you’ll have fun along the journey.

Leave a Mark is a really enjoyable contemporary romance that will grab your heart. I give it five quills.

Five Quills3

Kaye Lynne Booth does honest book reviews on Writing to be Read in exchange for ARCs at no charge. Have a book you’d like reviewed? Contact Kaye at kayebooth(at)yahoo(dot)com.


Book Marketing – What Works? (Part 1): Interview with fantasy author Cynthia Vespia

Vespia Books

Frequently I rant about the time I have to spend marketing and promoting my writing instead of actually writing. It’s no secret that marketing is not my favorite author hat to wear, and I know a lot of other authors who feel exactly the same way. But the fact is, in today’s writing industry, the author must carry most, if not all, of the load when it comes to promoting their work and marketing their masterpieces.

Now, I’m a struggling author, just as many of you are, so I don’t have a big marketing budget and I can’t afford to hire someone to do my marketing for me. My promotions are limited mainly to social media marketing, usually the kind that’s free. Even when I have a little money to put into marketing, I don’t really know what avenues would be effective enough to be worth it.

A lot of the information about book marketing that is out there on the Internet today is geared toward marketing your non-fiction book, whether it be self-help, or how-to, or even a cookbook. These articles tell you how to show potential readers why they need your book, how your book can help them, which is great, except most of their strategies do not apply to marketing fiction.

As a result of this discovery, I’ve been doing some research of my own into the matter, but I’ve found that the effectiveness of any marketing strategy depends on many factors, and results vary from author to author.  In this eight part series, we’ll take a look at my findings and interview seven different authors to learn what they’ve found to be effective in marketing their own work. All work and no play makes us all very dull writers, so we’ll get to know a little about each one of them and their books just for fun.

It’s my pleasure today to interview speculative fiction author, Cynthia Vespia. I have review several of her books, including her Demon Hunter saga: The Chosen One & Seek and Destroy and Hero’s Call, Lucky Sevens, and Life, Death and Back. In addition to her great storytelling, Cynthia is also a talented cover artist, designing most of her own covers, as well as working freelance.

Kaye: Would you share the story of your own publishing journey?

Cynthia: Once upon a time I was a young mind hungry for books. I’d read Piers Anthony; C.S. Lewis; and comic books (my favorite being The Punisher). Then one day I stumbled upon a book by Dean Koontz called Intensity. To make a long story short it got me hooked and I knew then I wanted to write. My first novel, The Crescent, was written after seeing a documentary about female gladiators narrated by Lucy Lawless. I self-published it back when self-publishing wasn’t cool. It was fun to see my book in print. Flash forward to today and that same story is in pre-production as a feature film.

Along the road I’ve written several more books and short stories, each of which I’m very proud of. I received a Best Series nomination in 2009 for Demon Hunter.

Kaye: What made you decide to go with self-publishing?

Cynthia: I was published by small publishing houses but I never really saw any benefit when I could do the same things they were doing and they weren’t even really promoting me much. So much like a lot of other authors I’ve gone the indie route.

Kaye: As a fantasy writer, what kind of research do you find yourself doing for your stories?

Cynthia: Honestly, the majority of my work is completely created in my head. Recently the type of research I’ve been doing is for superpowers, modeling, and locations for the Silke Butters Superhero Series. And for my upcoming apocalypse trilogy there was a lot of research regarding weapons and safe-houses.

Kaye: What’s the most fun part of writing a novel or short story/screenplay? What’s the least fun part?

Cynthia: The most fun part of writing for me is in the initial creation of the characters and their backstory. It’s like a sculptor molding clay. You breathe life into your subjects.

The least fun part is in the aftermath which is marketing and promotion. It’s so difficult to posture yourself out in front of a very large crowd of other writers all clamoring for attention.

Kaye: What is the strangest inspiration for a story you’ve ever had?

Cynthia: Probably Sins and Virtues. I was at Alcatraz in SF and I went inside one of the prison cells for a photo. Afterwards, I felt a heavy cloak of energy from what I could only feel was a former prisoner’s spirit.

While writing Sins and Virtues I started to see visions of prison escapes that I had no business knowing about. If you read the first chapter you’ll get a taste of what I mean. That feeling stayed with me throughout the entire novel. It only left when I was done writing.

Kaye: What’s the best piece of advice you were ever given?

Cynthia: I’ve heard quite a bit of good advice over the years. I seek it out, and write it down in my journal. Lately, I’ve been falling back on one from Arnold Schwarzenegger where he said “earn it so nobody can say they gave you shit.”

Kaye: What do you see as the pros and cons of independent/traditional publishing?

Cynthia: Sadly, the pros and cons are one in the same in that everyone can publish a book. There’s a lot of good work being published that would probably never see the light of day due to the politics of traditional publishing, but at the same time I’ve seen a lot of awful books out there too.

The other things I’ve been noticing is that it’s no longer about the writing. It’s become a numbers game. How many FB followers or Twitter followers do you have? How many likes did you get? How many reviews did the novel receive? How large is your fan base?

I struggle with that because I don’t have the time to spend all day on social media when I have other things that take up my time like earning a living. There’s people now who are even cheating the system with paid “likes” etc. to bump themselves up into the top spot. To me, that’s not what writing should be about. It’s about the story, not how much attention you can get for yourself. Sorry if I’m coming off very negative but I’ve been doing this for a very long time and the business model has changed so much now that I hardly recognize why I started writing in the first place.

Kaye: What do you do for cover art? DIY, or hired out, or cookie cutter prefab?

Cynthia: I always do my own cover art. That is one of the beauties of going indie, you can have complete control over your cover. Although, I do have to point out that the comic book look of the Karma character in my Silke Butters series was done by an artist named Ka Rolding, whom you can find on Deviantart.

I also create covers for other authors too, so if you’re in need of a custom cover please look me up at http://www.cyncreativeservices.com/authorstudio

Kaye: What’s your favorite social media site for promotion? Why?

Cynthia: None…lol. I’d rather do a face-to-face event than spend time on social media promoting. But if I have to choose I like Twitter because it makes you think and be clever with your 140 characters. BTW, you’re all using hashtags wrong!

Kaye: How much non-writing work, (marketing & promotion, illustrations & book covers, etc…), do you do yourself for your books?

Cynthia: All of it! I’m a one woman show. It’s honestly extremely exhausting. Like I said, I just don’t have the time needed to put in to make a dent. I even bit the bullet and hired a couple people this year and it still didn’t make a difference. But I’m trying every day. That’s all you can do is try, right?

Kaye: You participate in book events on social media often. How effective do you see Facebook release parties and cover reveals, etc… being?

Cynthia: It depends on the crowd and your time slot. I’ve had some that were very active (including my launch party for Karma) and then others where nobody interacted at all, or not until later on. I find them effective for exposure. I’ve actually gained quite a few new FB friends from events so I’ll continue to do them. But I will suggest going in with a game plan and do some interactive posts, don’t just ramble on about how your book is for sale.

Kaye: What works best to sell books for you, as far as marketing goes?

Cynthia: For me, I like face-to-face conventions. Because of the genre I write in I can easily blend into comic cons. I liken it to an actor doing a stage play over doing a movie. In that regard, they get immediate audience reaction when they are doing a play, rather than waiting for box office receipts from a movie. The same can be said about conventions. I get an immediate reaction from readers (some have even come back the next day to compliment my work) where as stuff online I don’t really see what is working and what isn’t. Also, during conventions I keep a tally on how many books are selling and my 2009 Best Series nominee Demon Hunter is still the biggest seller.

Kaye: Why do you think some authors sell well and others don’t?

Cynthia: Again, it’s all who you know. And a lot of that comes from great networking. There’s something to be said for word-of-mouth. I also believe some genres sell better than others, that’s just the way it goes.

Kaye: Which author, dead or alive, would you love to have lunch with?

Cynthia: J.K. Rowling or George RR Martin. I’m fascinated by the amount of detail they’ve both put into their respective worlds of Harry Potter and Game of Thrones.

Kaye: What kind of Chinese food do you order all the time?

Cynthia: I don’t always eat Chinese food but when I do I prefer orange chicken and lo mein.

I want to thank Cynthia Vespia for joining us and for sharing her marketing strategies with us. If you’d like to learn more about Cynthia, check out her author profile, here on Writing to be Read, or check out her website.

Be sure to catch Writing to be Read next Monday, for Part 2 of Book Marketing – What Works?, where I will interview the co-authors of the Silverville Saga books and Wild West Ghosts, Mark Todd and Kym O’Connell Todd, who will share their experiences in marketing and clue us in to which ones have been most effective.

 

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Interview with romance author Molly V. Lovell

A sibling's dilema-001 (1)
If you were expecting a book review today, you’re in for a bit of a surprise, since I’m bringing you an author interview instead. I have the pleasure of talking with romance author Molly V. Lovell to round off the FMB tour for her latest book, A Sibling’s Dilemma. When not writing romance, Molly studies law at William and Mary. Join us as we learn about this double romance and the intriguing author who wrote it.
Kaye: Your book A Sibling’s Dilemma was recently released. Would you like to tell us a little about how two sisters and their double romance will double the reading pleasure?

 

Molly: In my opinion (and it may just be me), having lots of interesting and unique characters makes a story read better. A genre convention for romance novels is that there needs to be a happy ending. No happy ending=no romance novel. This is good, in a way, because people look to romance novels for a fun, happy, read—it’s the hallmark of the genre. But, the downside to that is that you know how the book ends before you pick it up. When you have multiple couples, it adds a little mystery to it. Who’s going to end up with who? Are both couples going to be together at the end? There’s going to be a happy ending somehow, but you don’t know what that happy ending is.

Kaye: You are a law student by day and novelist by night. What’s the trick to juggling two careers at the same time?

Molly: Honestly? As long as I budget my time, it’s okay. I spend about 40-50 hours a week doing legal work and about 40 hours a week writing and promoting my books. An 80/90-hour work week is very manageable, especially when you’re doing something that you love. I’m fortunate enough to have two jobs that I’m very passionate about. In a way, having two very separate and distinct careers is easier than having just one—I never get bored. When I tire of legal stuff, I write. When I get writers block, I hit the books again. My husband and I don’t have any children, which makes things easier too. I’ve had the pleasure of meeting other romance novelists who work, write, and have kids. I don’t know how they do it because that’s like having three jobs. I just have two.

Kaye: What’s something most readers would never guess about you?

Molly: I’m actually an only child. You’d think that someone who wrote a book called A Sibling’s Dilemma would be tripping over siblings, but it’s just me. I’m fortunate enough to have three life-long friends that I would call my sisters though. (They’re nothing like Cassie and Ellie, for the record.)

Kaye: What time of day do you prefer to do your writing? Why?

Molly: I like to write whenever I can. Usually “whenever I can” turns into the evening because of law school. I also do this really weird thing where I like to write with the TV on in the background. (I measure my stories through how many series I blow through on Netflix. If you’re curious, this book took me the entirety of X-Files, most of Pretty Little Liars, and a boat load of one-season Netflix original series to write.) It’s nice because I can write while I’m hanging out with my husband; I’ll take breaks every so often and we’ll chit-chat and stuff. Writing’s always a fun time for me. Whenever I’m not out with friends or doing law school stuff, I write (and watch TV.)

Kaye: Which author, dead or alive, would you love to have lunch with?

Molly: Okay, I’m going to have to say Ernest Hemingway for this one. I’m not a huge fan of Hemingway’s books. I mean, they’re great and all, but there are other authors that I like more. Hemingway’s an interesting guy though. You can only talk about books with someone for so long—that would get old after about fifteen minutes. Hemingway’s done all sorts of interesting stuff. He was an ambulance driver during WWI, lead a group of French Militia against the Nazis, stole a urinal from his favorite bar, survived a ton of weird illnesses, lived through two plane crashes, and was kind of a spy at one point for the KGB. (Well, the KGB part is kind of sketchy, but it was the 1940’s…) Hemingway even has his own hamburger recipe. Who else does that? No one. We could go to bars and eat hamburgers. It would be great.

Kaye: What is the biggest challenge of being a writer for you?

Molly: The biggest challenge is that, with being a writer, you need to wear many hats: it’s sort of like being a small business owner. Writing itself isn’t too hard though. My other career, law, can be a bit more challenging at times. I spent a great deal of time clerking at prosecution offices and that’s way more taxing—especially because I did a lot of stuff with sex offense and domestic violence. It can get emotionally hard at times, but also rewarding. I’ve done jobs that are physically demanding too; I worked night shift McDonalds during college. That was hard. Really hard. I guess, in comparison, writing’s not that challenging—even with all the ‘hat wearing’ involved. I don’t have to stay up until five A.M. dealing with angry customers looking for their cheeseburgers.

Kaye: If writing suddenly made you rich and famous, what would you do?

Molly: I wouldn’t change my day-to-day life, actually. I would still finish my JD and I would still go into criminal law because I believe in what I do. We need good prosecutors and good public defenders. Even if I were a multi-millionaire, my day-to-day life would be the same. I would, however, do something really nice for my parents. Buy them a fancy mansion or something like that. I would definitely go on an awesome vacation with them too. (They just took me to Bermuda, so it’s fresh on my mind.) They’ve done so much for me and I wouldn’t be where I am today without them. Being an only child, I feel like I’m closer to my parents than most people. They’re my best friends too. I would do something nice for them. In addition, none of the people I care about would want for anything. I guess that’s what everyone dreams of if they become rich—doing nice things for the people they love. I’d probably give most of the money away. I have simple tastes. I mean, my favorite food is McNuggets. You don’t need to be rich and famous to eat McNuggets, hang out with friends, and write on your couch. My husband has simple tastes too.

Kaye: When did you know you wanted to be an author?

Molly: I used to love to write as a kid. My best friend and I were big nerds and we would write all the time. We made up really elaborate fantasy stories. Mine was called Unakarie’s Tail (because I didn’t know the difference between “tale” and “tail” as a kid) and hers was called Magic Factor. We would obsess over our books and stay up late drawing our characters and writing cross over stories. I wrote like, a hundred pages. For a ten-year-old, that was like writing War and Peace. Then, being a nerd and all, I transitioned to fanfiction. I stopped writing for a bit when I went to college, but then about a year ago I realized how much I loved to write and picked it up again. I started writing my own story with my own characters and it’s so much fun. This time I managed to not have any typos in my title, so that’s progress.

Kaye: How would you describe yourself in three words?

Molly: Friendly, off-beat, tenacious.

Kaye: What’s the best piece of advice you were ever given?

Molly: My mother, the wisest woman that I know, told me not to care about what other people think. If you live your life beholden to the opinions of others, you can never be the best version of yourself.

Kaye: Is there anything unique or unusual about your writing process?

Molly: I don’t really think that there’s anything unique to my writing process, other than I write my drafts while I watch television.

Kaye: Is there another book in store from Molly V. Lovell in the future?

Molly: Actually, yes, there will be. For the last several months, I’ve been working on a trilogy of books. I want to finish all three books before I submit them for publication. So far, I wrote 150,000 words and I’m almost done with the series. Then, I need to polish it up; that’s going to take a while. But, by this time next year, I’m hoping to have those three books out. The characters have pretty different personalities than the ones in A Sibling’s Dilemma and it’s written in first-person instead of third-person. The stories chronicle a hot-headed attorney and her rambunctious teenage intern, who happens to be the boss’s daughter. Together, through a very strange series of events, they take on the mob, a stalker, and a bunch of other things.

I want to thank Molly for joining us today on Writing to be Read and sharing a little about herself and her book. A Sibling’s Dilemma is available in ebook format or paperback on Amazon, so be sure to get your copy today.

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“Short Stories Not Forgotten” may be too short

Short Stories Not Forgotten

Short Stories Not Forgotten by Calvin Bender is a small collection of short fiction. As I’ve mentioned many times, a big problem with a lot of short fiction is that authors fail to get in a full story arc. With this collection four, that is a problem with every piece. In fact, these seem more like brief ideas, each being a good start for something, but none following through to make a complete story. Every one ended abruptly, with none feeling quite finished. If the author just would have given us more. In all honesty, I can’t give it more than two quills.

Two Quills3

Kaye Lynne Booth does honest book reviews on Writing to be Read in exchange for ARCs at no charge. Have a book you’d like reviewed? Contact Kaye at kayebooth(at)yahoo(dot)com.


Interview with Author Kasi Blake

kasi

I’m pleased to welcome speculative fiction author Kasi Blake to Writing to be Read today. Kasi likes to write about vampires and werewolves and witches, oh my! I invited Kasi to join us today because she’s doing something different with her 4-Ever Hunted series, which encourages reader participation. I thought was kind of clever, and I asked her to share her creative marketing idea with us. But first, lets learn a little about Kasi and her books.

Kaye: When did you know you wanted to be an author?

Kasi: When I was 12. I read The Outsiders in class and then started a short story. It slowly progressed from there.

Kaye: You have three series out. Would you like to tell us a little about each one?

Kasi: The Rule series is basically a YA Urban Fantasy series about a vampire boy who goes legit. Meaning, he turns mortal through a freak event and loses the fangs. This is great for Jack, because he hated being a vampire. He just wants to be normal, but then he falls for a werewolf hunter and discovers his true destiny.

Witch Games

The Witch-Game books are about teen girls with powers. They use them to play games at school beginning with one called Crushed. They enchant boys and compel them to do their bidding. Witch Hunt is more like hide-n-seek for witches. They both have romance and a bit of mystery.

Bait

Bait starts off the Order of the Spirit Realm series. The titles are a little strange here: Bait, Hunter, Warrior, Legend. These are the ranks the students at Van Helsing’s school receive as they work their way up the hunting ladder. Bay-Lee is his daughter, but she doesn’t get special treatment. In fact, the gorgeous hunter assigned to be her mentor hates her on sight. This series is set in New Zealand and has all the action, sweet romance, and monsters you could possibly hope for.

4-Ever Hunted

Kaye: In 4-Ever Hunted, you’re offering your readers a say in how the series turns out. This is a cool and unique thing to do in your writing. Would you like to tell us how that works?

Kasi: After you read 4-Ever Hunted, there is a link at the end explaining that you can choose Dani or Scarlet as his love interest. Read the book and at the end, there is a link to click on, which takes you to my 4-Ever Hunted Facebook page, where you can vote for the girl you’d like to see him end up with at the end of the series. This book is free with Kindle Unlimited, so no purchase is necessary to vote, but you do need to read the story.

Also, feel free to post and try to sway people to your side in the comments. You can change your vote until voting closes after I begin to write book three. Majority rules. I like both girls, so I know how to make either relationship work, depending on who is picked. Trick will wind up falling in love with and sharing a romance (not to mention action-packed adventure) in book three and four.  Think of it as team Edward or team Jacob, with the readers in control. It’s all up to you, the readers.

LegendKaye: Legend is your most recent release. Would you like to tell us a little about that?

Kasi: Legend is the final book in the Order of the Spirit Realm series and wraps up life at Van Helsing’s school for Bay-Lee, Nick, Mike, and the rest of the young hunters. Monsters from the other realm have found a way to blow the doorway between them wide open. It’s all-out war. Who will win? Who will survive?

 

Kaye: What are you working on now? What can we expect in the future from Kasi Blake?

Kasi: I am currently writing 4-Ever Cursed, book two in the 4-Ever Hunted series. I plan to do all four books in a row, if possible. Then, I have an exciting fairy tale series like none other coming your way. Cursed by a Grimm is a dark fairy tale about a fading faerie realm, the wicked Ivory Queen who will do anything to stay in power, and a strange creature hiding in the shadows. The Grimm will either help Shayne save the realm and find true love. Or he will lead her down the wrong path and destroy everything.

Kaye: How do you decide the titles for your books? Where does the title come in the process for you?

Kasi: The titles come from the books themselves. I usually don’t name them until the book is either done or the entire outline is at least finished. Vampires Rule is something Cowboy says to Jack all the time. He loves being a vampire; Jack loathes it. Then it goes from there. Werewolves Rule and so on. Crushed and Witch Hunt are named after the games the witches play. Bait, as I already said, was named after the ranks the hunters get.

4-Ever Hunted is unusual because it comes from the fact that Cowboy and Summer want a fourth for their group. Cowboy is obsessed with having four members. They make the mistake of setting their sights on a hunter though. The question is, will Trick become the thing he hates most in order to save his own life?

Kaye: Are you a plotter or a pantser? Why?

Kasi: Plotter. I feel like I need a map so I know where I’ll end up. I don’t understand pantsers. I would get lost without my map. Although, the outline does change several times during the process as I write. I leave room for character growth. Sometimes they do things that surprise me and turn my outline upside-down.

Kaye: You write about vampires and werewolves and shape shifters. What kind of research do you find yourself doing for your stories? 

Kasi: I only research creatures that are new to me. Most of the mythology I make up so that it will be new and fresh like how vampires and werewolves were created by a faerie.

Kaye: What do you do for cover art? DIY, or hired out, or cookie cutter prefab?

Kasi: I started off doing them on my own, and they were not that great. Crushed and Witch Hunt were published by Clean Teen Publishing, so the covers were created by the awesome Marya Heidel. The Bait series and the vampire series were done by a woman just starting out in the business. I don’t even think she does it anymore. The awesome 4-Ever Hunted books are all by a great artist I found on Fiverr. Off the top of my head, I don’t remember her name, but she is listed at the front of the book as the designer.

Kaye: You have a blog, Supernatural Slant. How did that start?

Kasi: They say all authors need a blog, so this started off as a blog about writing, but I am obsessed with the show Supernatural. So, it went off more in that direction. I still blog about my books, sometimes books I like, but the blog is about Supernatural, the show, and shows like it now more than anything else.

Kaye: What time of day do you prefer to do your writing?

Kasi: I like to write late at night and early in the morning because there are no distractions then. I’m not getting phone calls, and people aren’t asking me to do favors for them or help them out or just wanting to talk. Plus, it is so peaceful when others are asleep.

Kaye: Besides writing, what are your favorite things to do?

Kasi: Reading, shopping, hanging with friends, and I love all my animals. I live on a farm, so taking care of them and watching them do silly things is always entertaining.

Kaye: Which author, dead or alive, would you love to have lunch with?

Kasi: I guess I would have to say JK Rowling, because I really want to know what it feels like to have your world made not only in movies but also in a theme park. I’d never want to go home.

Vampires RuleKaye: My final question is one you may get asked a lot because of your Rule series, but you had to know it was coming. Who does actually rule, vampires or werewolves?

Kasi: I go back and forth on this. Sometimes I like vampires better, and sometimes I prefer werewolves. It depends on which character I’m writing at the time.

I want to thank Kasi Blake for joining us today, sharing about her books and letting us get to know her. If you want to know more about Kasi or her books, you can check out her website, or her author page on either Amazon or Goodreads.

 

Next week there won’t be a Monday post because I’m being interviewed on Authors Talk About It and I’ll be promoting that. Then, on Monday, September 4th, we’ll be treated to an excerpt form author Scerina Elizabeth, before delving into my seven part series Book Marketing – What Works? on Monday September 11th. So don’t miss it, on Writing to be Read.

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