Category Archives: Indieview author

IndieView with Gil Cope, author of The Amber Conspiracy

AMBER_CONSPIRACY.SM

 

It’s long story, but the Amber Room is considered to be the eighth wonder of the world and has been missing since the Nazis hid it in 1944.  It’s one of the most valuable missing treasures out there and looking for it has come at a high price. 

Gil Cope – 21 September 2014 Continue reading

IndieView with Jake Carter-Thomas, author of Nineveh Fades, or, The Bomb Shelter

Nineveh

 

I initially was struck by an idea of a room where everything you could possibly need existed in a can somewhere: so you’d have cans of pencils, cans of paper, cans of fillet steak, anything. This quickly became the contents of some kind of incredible fallout shelter, combined with an image of a young boy showing his sisters how nuclear fusion worked by slamming two peach halves together and making a mess. 

Jake Carter-Thomas – 18 September 2014 Continue reading

IndieView with David Burton, author of Seven Sneezes

seven sneezes cover

 

It’s a cliché, but I tend to say, “I write for me and edit for others.” And while this is true —because I must want to read the story I’m writing—lately I’m thinking more about the wonderful person who might honour my characters by diving within their story and sharing their lives. 

David Burton – 14 September 2014

The Back Flap

Lizzy Anderson is given a cold for her first birthday, and discovers she always sneezes in sevens. Her mum worries about her, her dad loses interest, and Lizzy learns to entertain and look after herself. Over the years (one chapter for each), we trace Lizzy’s childhood, teenage years and then adulthood, first as a single woman, then a wife, a mother and beyond. As the years pass we enjoy all her heart-warming highs and suffer all her heart-breaking lows as she navigates through what becomes one woman’s life, sparked by one key moment:

Lizzy felt something flutter over her right hand, which was still clamped over her face in case she sneezed an eighth time, although that had never happened. It felt like a handkerchief. She had been told not to accept anything from strangers, but this man (or boy, as now she’d stopped sneezing she thought he sounded young) appeared friendly, and was being helpful, and what else could she do with her sticky palm or runny face?

“Thank you,” she said, turning away to begin cleaning her face, delighted to realise she was still in the shadows, and he probably couldn’t see how messy she was. “I’m Lizzy,” she said. “Short for Elizabeth.”

“More like Esneezybeth,” he said, his cheeky chuckle making him sound even younger. “I’m Fred,” he said. “Short for Freddie.”

About the book

What is the book about?

Seven Sneezes is a lifelong romance, and tells Lizzy Anderson’s story, beginning when she is given a cold for her first birthday and discovers she always sneezes in sevens. Over time, we travel with her, one chapter per year, through childhood and teenage troubles, jobs and friends, romance, the love of her life, a family and children, grandchildren, heartache and happiness – all the crazy, sad and magical moments that make up one woman’s life.

When did you start writing the book?

13 July 2012. The timeline idea –to focus on one year of a life per chapter– has often surfaced as a possible structure for the stories I’ve told, but it never felt right, never seemed to fit, until Lizzy introduced herself. Her specific story had bounced around my head for a few weeks, with ideas, plot points and conversations vying for my attention. One day in town I had a two hour window between appointments, so found a quiet spot in the local library, jotted down the numbers 1-xx in my notebook, and started filling in her timeline. By the time I left (late) for that second appointment most of the story curve progressions were plotted.

How long did it take you to write it?

I completed the first draft on 05 August 2012, so just 23 days. I wasn’t working at the time, and had few commitments, so was able to fully immerse myself in Lizzy’s life. I think this helped with the story flow and style, as her story would often burst from me in almost cinematic moments. Most days it was all I could do to keep up with the images, dialogue and plot progressions being shared with me from somewhere, as if being offered through me, rather than me creating anything.

Where did you get the idea from?

The dedication is: “for mum ~ this book isn’t your story, but is inspired by your love and strength.” And it is just that. My mother is a wonderful person, so loving and generous, yet she has suffered more than her share of heartache and loss, and I wanted to create someone who came even a little close to possessing and sharing her possibilities. There are some similarities between Lizzy’s life and my mum’s, but Lizzy is not her. The rest –the twists and turns of story—came moment by moment, as they almost always do, one thing sparking another until you find you have a story to share.

Were there any parts of the book where you struggled?

The story flowed easily, and Lizzy led me everywhere the story was supposed to go, so I had no particular problem finding the words, no writer’s block or major plot issues. However, I did struggle to write a few of the more heartbreaking scenes, and would occasionally have to stop mid-scene because I couldn’t see what I was doing. These scenes still caught me out during re-writes and editing, and even during the last read-through before committing the documents for self-publishing, where I obviously knew exactly what was going to happen, I still couldn’t control myself, especially so with the final chapter. I might need a moment now… Also, the editing was particularly tricky, but only because I’m a fan of original drafts, warts and all, as it feels more honest, more muse-based and closer to the story I should be telling. That said, I do understand the need for a strong edit, and think I found a happy medium between edited and muse-happy.

What came easily?

The whole thing. It was the easiest book I’ve ever written, from that initial life-in-yearly-chapters idea I carried around for a dozen years or more, through the specific moments that kept bombarding my brain pre-planning, through that structural session in the library, to having the free time to spend however many hours on it each day I wanted. Even the re-writes and edits weren’t that difficult or stressful because the structure was in place. I started another book two summers before, with very little structure, just an idea, really, about his unhappy middle-aged man who wanted to correct his life through his fiction, and ended up writing over 400,000 words before I finally found the 275,000 I wanted. Editing that was a nightmare, especially compared to Seven Sneezes.

Are your characters entirely fictitious or have you borrowed from real world people you know?

All my characters are 100% fictional. Nobody anywhere in any of my stories is based AT ALL on a real life person, living, dead or otherwise. Honest. Okay, are we alone now? I’m joking, of course, but I think every writer borrows a little here and there, and a little more there and here, until you find the character you’ve been seeking. For example, in Seven Sneezes, Lizzy has parents, and my mum had parents. And Lizzy got married and had kids, as did my mum. But those are merely starting points, springboards, if you will, and I would say almost all characters become who they are rather than remaining where they may have begun life. So, no – the brothers in the novel are NOT my brothers, and the lesbian lover…

We all know how important it is for writers to read. Are there any particular authors that have influenced how you write and, if so, how have they influenced you?

I used to write mostly horror and thriller stories, novels, screenplays, shorts, etc, when I was much darker-minded. And while I rarely read horror stories now, and the days between me picking up one thriller and then the next are slowly increasing, I still rate Stephen King as my biggest influence. His ability to drag you (often kicking and screaming) right into the heart of the story and care for his characters’ lives is amazing, and I still rate the first two-thirds or so of almost all his novels as some of the best storytelling I’ve read, even if I’m less inclined to “enjoy” the crazy climaxes.

Danielle Steel is another I respect, despite some mockery from others I’ve known, but she knows what she’s doing, and does it well, pulling you into the heart of the story and her characters. I sometimes see Seven Sneezes as me writing “in Danielle Steel mode.” Both authors are occasionally prone to the passive voice, which I know is a no-no, but even that they make work.

Plot-wise, you can’t go wrong with a good crime story or thriller, and Michael Connelly remains one of my favourites. Also, dialogue has always been a key component of my writing, and I feel I have an ear for it, and it’s mostly for this reason that I’ve always enjoyed the dialogue in Elmore Leonard novels. So yeah, these help keep me focused on character, plot, dialogue and the desire to keep pulling the reader along with me on my wordy journey.

Do you have a target reader?

It’s a cliché, but I tend to say, “I write for me and edit for others.” And while this is true —because I must want to read the story I’m writing—lately I’m thinking more about the wonderful person who might honour my characters by diving within their story and sharing their lives. That said, I actively don’t like to think about it too much (that’s not just laziness) because then I could twist characters, settings or dialogue etc more toward what I think that theoretical reader might want to read, and I think if you dive too far into those waters you could drown trying to find your way out again. I read something a few weeks ago where an author had broken down his target audience to scary specifics. For me. In one way I suppose it might help to know your most likely reader is 45, female, an office worker with two kids, separated but not divorced, about to trade down her car because she can no longer afford it, and living in a one-bed apartment because the kids rarely visit… but if I had that in mind I would possibly keep tweaking things until they felt like they better fit her, and by doing that I could be alienating a gazillion other readers who might otherwise have been interested? Perhaps it’s a good thing, I don’t know, but like the over-editing, I’m not comfortable going there just yet.

About Writing

Do you have a writing process? If so can you please describe it?

First and foremost, I’m a procrastinator. Even if I’ve written a lot the day before and LOVED it, I still struggle to sit down and type the first word. Once that word is down, I’m fine, but I find a gazillion things to do to keep me away from it. It’s crazy. Especially because once I start I struggle to stop. I can write for hours each day if I have the time, and can keep writing day after day if I’m feeling the flow, just like with Seven Sneezes. That said, I do try and take a break every hour, just a couple of minutes, to check on the cat, go to the loo or simply glance out the window, because my eyes can start to hurt, and the older I get the more I find my hands can begin hurting. I guess my process –if I truly have one—is to write out what I can when I’m feeling it surging through me, probably because I know how lazy I can be if I give myself the opportunity.

Do you outline? If so, do you do so extensively or just chapter headings and a couple of sentences?

I’ve tried a myriad of approaches, partly to keep things fresh for me, but also to see if one way works better than others; however, I think different approaches suit different books. For Seven Sneezes, I methodically planned Lizzy’s life, step by step, year by year, trauma or delight by trauma or delight, mostly because I knew I wanted the chapter-by-year approach, and having the structure helped with that, in that I knew I had 70-however-many points I wanted to touch, and each one had to be done before the next step made sense. But then with my novel Tell Me Something True, about that middle-aged man who wants to correct his “wrong” life through his fiction writing, although I was aware of the three key moments from his past that he feels affected his life the most, I wasn’t sure where they would lead him, or how he would get there. The book runs to 275,000 words, and yet I must have written another third or so that led me in wrong directions I had to reject, but without them I might not have found Ed’s more natural path.

Do you edit as you go or wait until you’ve finished?

I type fairly fast, but still try and edit as I go. Sometimes it frustrates as I want to keep writing the new bit, but know that the bit I just wrote isn’t right, and feel a strong urge to correct it before continuing, so I’m often surrounded by quickly scribbled notes that I use to correct at the end of the chapter or hour or day, etc. Aside from this in-moment editing, I don’t tend to re-read one day’s writing before beginning the next, or therefore edit in that way, as I like to dance in the freshness of the tale, and if I let myself be dragged back too much too often I wonder if I might lose my original muse-led fire. This actually happened earlier this year. I reached a major turning point in the novel I was writing, and couldn’t decide which way to go, so chose to re-read what I already had. What I found was a tale that wasn’t told from the viewpoint that better suited the story, and because of that I couldn’t continue, and am left with just over 50,000 words of a novel I may never complete, although many of the ideas and more than half of the moments will resurface in the re-telling from that other viewpoint, as and when I get around to it.

Did you hire a professional editor?

This is where I’m going to give the wrong answer, because all writers should hire an editor. Even a semi-professional, if a professional isn’t within budget. And I should know better, as I recently began a semi-professional editing service –ECONOMY EDITS—for indie writers who perhaps can’t afford the professional fees. I tell myself I’m okay because I edit, but those other eyes are a must, really, and should be utilized if at all possible.

Do you listen to music while you write? If yes, what gets the fingers tapping?

Yes. As for what, it varies. Lately I mostly listen to chillout music because it’s interesting enough to keep my focus away from other everyday local distractions, but not SO distracting that it pulls me away out of my story. But I think this is more a mental crutch than an actual physical aid; something I tell myself to get in the mood and the moment, as there have been innumerable times when I’ve stopped typing after being fully immersed in the words only to discover that the music had stopped. If I’m writing something fast-paced I may opt for trance music; and one time when writing a novel about an aging, lonely hippy who was struggling to connect with loved ones and life, I listened solely to Neil Young CDs on my headphones (because I wrote that one from 12-3am each night).

About Publishing

Did you submit your work to Agents?

I have in the past, but haven’t for… wow… must be a dozen years or more. I’ve not been submitting much anywhere for the past five years or so, and only recently started subbing again, and then only rarely. I did submit my novel Seven Sneezes to a publisher and they accepted it, sent me a contract and everything, but then withdrew the offer, citing that a sudden influx of work for their current clients would leave them with no time for me. These days I mostly self-publish, but am currently spending more time editing for others than writing for self.

What made you decide to go Indie, whether self-publishing or with an indie publisher? Was it a particular event or a gradual process?

I hadn’t been submitting anything anywhere, but then got involved in some groups on Google+ and chanced upon a few good writers who were self-publishing as indie writers. I read a few and thought they were good, and figured if others were self-publishing to that quality then there was no reason not to myself. So I did. I made a few mistakes with covers and formatting, and still haven’t found a successful (or even decent) marketing plan/strategy, but I do like the control. Part of this could be laziness, but I like to believe a larger part is that I’m a fan of the disjointed muse, and there is a far wider span of voices telling interesting but probably unpublishable (by the big 5) type stories. And I like to feel a part of that crowd – an independent voice joined with others. I like parts of the idea of a traditionally publishing deal, but am happy doing what I’m doing.

Did you get your book cover professionally done or did you do it yourself?

So far I have done all my covers myself. I did have a friend I found online create a photograph for Seven Sneezes, but, despite liking it, I still haven’t updated the file to include it as I still love the currently one. I also asked a couple of arty friends to try and draw me something for my Wonky Monky series, but as of writing this I haven’t heard back. Also, another kind and arty online friend volunteered herself and her friends to design a new cover for my novel Tell Me Something True. She’s currently reading it (it is 700 pages), and enjoying it, and had some quality ideas. We shall see if anything comes from any of these helpful directions. But no, as of today, all my available covers have been done by me.

Do you have a marketing plan for the book or are you just winging it?

Winging it. Every now and then I come up with an idea, or read something in a blog or Google+ post that sounds interesting, and I try that. But, so far, no strict policy as such, although this is something I plan to sit down and think about in a more structured, focused kind of way, as I do believe it is important.  Given how little promotion I’ve put behind my fiction over the last six years or so, I have to say I’m happy with my semi-focus these days, and commend my desire to improve on this, certain that I will one day. The thing is – different things work for different writers at different times, so maybe this is what will end up working for me, whatever “this” is?

Any advice that you would like to give to other newbies considering becoming Indie authors?

Write. Read. Write some more. Read some more. You see where this is going, right? Heh. And read outside of your comfort zone, too. And read about writers and how they write (like Stephen King’s On Writing). Everything helps. Join communities like Google+ and share with like-minded souls. And the same with Facebook and Twitter. Anything that helps you feel like you can, and encourages you to. But yeah – WRITE. And READ. Write ‘n Read. As for the specifics of the Indie life, the same things apply – but focus it on indie writing and reading, guides and blogs. Check out what appears to be selling, what covers work and why. Pay attention to categories and where/how you market yourself. Develop a series, if possible. And smile. Enjoy.

About You

Where did you grow up?

In England, in a county called Bedfordshire, and born in a town called Luton. I’ve spent a few years living in Derbyshire, and some time travelling, including a month in Spain, but around 75% of my life has been lived within 150 miles of my birthplace. Wow. I hadn’t registered that as an active thought before. Is that normal? I grew up with my mum and an older and younger brother. There was much love, laughter and pets, and I wouldn’t swap it or them for anything.

Where do you live now?

I’m still in Bedfordshire, albeit in a cheap but cheerful situation, for the most part.

What would you like readers to know about you?

Probably almost anything they are interested in knowing. I’m not a big one for keeping secrets, at least not about myself, although I try not to expose too much about my family, as they get sucked in almost against their will, and that seems unfair. So if anyone has a question please feel free to post them on my blog just1more.wordpress.com or email me at somethingeneric@gmail.com

What are you working on now?

This interview. J I know – you’ve heard that before, right? Sorry. I’m currently flipping between my editing and writing caps, as I’m working with two lovely ladies at the moment on their books. With my own writing I am: almost always participating in 3words, a 100 word daily writing prompt, but am also currently editing a collection of 3words based short stories for a collection; about to start final-editing a novel I’ll here call TSOCC so you’ll know what I was talking about when it appears later; making notes for the third Wonky Monky story; and beginning to sift through ideas for my next stand alone novel, tentatively titled FB.

End of Interview:

For more from David, visit his blog or follow him on Twitter.

Get your copy of Seven Sneezes from Amazon US (paper or ebook) or Amazon UK (paper or ebook).

IndieView with Claire Ashby, author of When You Make it Home

When-You-Make-It-Home-800 Cover reveal and Promotional

 

One day I asked him if I was making a mistake trying to tell a story that was so far from my experience. He said, “You know what? Don’t tell anyone, but I’ve never met a zombie.” 

Claire Ashby – 11 September 2014 Continue reading

IndieView with Clifton K. Meador MD, author of Sketches of a Small Town

Sketches of a Small Town

 

I write every day. Stephen King’s book on writing is my favorite. He says it is like any job, just get up and do it.

Clifton K. Meador, MD – 7 September 2014 Continue reading

IndieView with Martin Preib, author of Crooked City

CrookedCity

 

The new editor said he thought it was a potential masterpiece but he wasn’t going to publish it because it was too controversial. I was disappointed and angry, but after talking to some other writers, self publishing seemed like a good way to go.

Martin Preib – 9 September 2014 Continue reading

BookView with Melissa MacVicar, author of Ever Lost

Melissa

 

The process reinforced for me that novel writing is 90% hard work and perseverance and only about 10% magic. I think the general public thinks writing books is this elusive, mystical process but in reality, it mostly takes dedication to the task and a love of storytelling.

Melissa MacVicar – 28 August 2014 Continue reading

IndieView with Shoshaku Jushaku, author of The Cheese Stealer’s Handbook

Cheese Stealer

I would have thought I would have been real stubborn about letting someone tinker . . . but it was surprisingly easy to say:  “Go ahead . . . whatever you think is best.” I guess laziness trumps artistic integrity. And my editor was pretty.

Shoshaku Jushaku – 24 August 2014 Continue reading

IndieView with Arpan Panicker, author of Wordscapist: The Myth

Wordscapist

 

I have a vague story outline in my head. This comes to me through extensive, focused daydreaming. I follow this up with lots of research on lore and urban myths. I go back and daydream some more. 

Arpan Panicker – 21 August 2014

The Back Flap

Wordscapist (n)A legendary wordsmith, usually assumed to be male, who is rumoured to be able to shape reality to his words. Limitless in his powers, and not aligned with the Guild or the Free Word. No proof or evidence of his existence has ever been found. First known usage circa 16th century.

Everything you say is true… somewhere. But for Slick the notion of what is true is becoming very blurred indeed. He always knew the world was one of constant change. He just didn’t expect that change to include witnessing a demon tearing off the head of a stranger. That’s the kind of change that could lead to hearing voices in your head. Which is also happening rather too frequently for Slick’s liking.

But that’s what happens when you’re thrown headlong into the world of wordsmiths, where simple words can shape and reshape reality, and the legend of the Wordscapist becomes more than just an urban myth. Slick must discover the Way of the Word if he is to shape a new reality and discover his true destiny……Buckle up. Hang on. And yes, careful what you say. Everything you say is true…becomes true…somewhere.

Wordscapist: The Myth is the first groundbreaking volume in the Way of the Word series, and Urbane Publication’s launch title for a thrilling new digital only frontlist – open your mind and your e-reading device to a new voice in fantasy fiction.

About the book

What is the book about?

Wordscapist – The Myth is the first in a planned contemporary fantasy tetralogy and is set in our world today. It is based on the simple concept that words can shape reality.

There is a secret community of wordsmiths with the power to shape reality by weaving wordscapes. However, weaving wordscapes has limits and comes with lots of risks. But the wordsmiths weave anyway, as a battle for power rages for the ultimate power, the power of the Wordscapist.

Amongst the wordsmiths, there is the legend of the Wordscapist… the ultimate wordsmith who can weave freely. As the quest for the legend heats up, into the fray stumbles a clueless cipher (an undiscovered, untrained wordsmith) who is linked to the legend more closely than anyone could suspect.

What follows is sheer chaos wordsmith-style as the setting jumps and skips across Goa, the Andaman Islands, the island of Skye, Glasgow and ending in Venice. The story is told through the eyes of four narrators who are key characters and represent completely different perspectives of what unfolds.

When did you start writing the book?

I started planning the book in 2006 and wrote one of the key verses in the book back then, but the actual writing process started in 2008.

How long did it take you to write it?

The first draft was pounded out in one long burst during a three-month writing sabbatical in Goa, India. It also helped that Goa is one of the main settings in the book. It was a crazy way to go about it, but now that I think of it, it was the best way to do it. I was cut off from life and everyone else and it gave me the focus I needed to get the book out. And given where I was in my life and career, I really could not afford to take more than three months off back then!

Where did you get the idea from?

I have always believed in the power of words. I have seen how words can change situations and how words can flip around your perspective as well as affect those in your circle of influence. I wanted to write a tale that features words as the hero and talk about how words could indeed change reality in the most fantastic ways possible. Once I settled on the contemporary fantasy genre (inspired by my literary gods, Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman), the story pretty much wrote itself.

I developed the core idea after researching mythology and lore from all over the world, including tales of the Fey, concepts from the Vedas and legends like the Aboriginal Songlines.

Were there any parts of the book where you struggled?

I had trouble containing the story as it was a sprawling epic that stretched over time and space. I tried to do too much and wrote myself into a corner. After almost a week of writer inertia (a week’s block is massive when your entire first draft timeline is three months!) I had to come up with something radical.

I then decided to fast-forward four months of book-time (skipping through the difficult parts) and continued writing. I found it much easier to go on and complete the story. I came back later to the missing chunk and boiled the four months down to four days. It’s difficult to explain, but it worked beautifully. Writing those missing four days took just about two weeks (of real time that is) and it fit in very well with the rest of the book.

I guess the book would have been completely different if I had tried to soldier on through my writer’s block. But I have a strong feeling that this version turned out to be a lot more fun!

What came easily?

The easiest parts to write were the narratives featuring the two male narrators.. One of them is the protagonist, a cipher fashioned after a younger and borderline dysfunctional version of me, and the other is a timid yet strangely cheeky historian. Their perspectives just felt completely natural and telling the story through them was sometimes as easy as recounting a memory.

Are your characters entirely fictitious or have you borrowed from real world people you know?

All the characters are completely fictitious (with wordsmiths watching me, I don’t dare say anything else).

We all know how important it is for writers to read. Are there any particular authors that have influenced how you write and, if so, how have they influenced you?

First and foremost, my Elder God, Terry Pratchett. He is the reason I fell in love with fantasy. He is also the reason why I learnt that fantasy need not be just about magic and dragons. It is about people. It is about the words. And the entire point of fantasy is that there are no limits, and not to worry if it’s too sci-fi or leaking into other fantasy sub-genres. The motto is always ‘Just write’!

The second person on the list is my Younger God, Neil Gaiman. He is the reason I finally decided to write that book. There was something about his craft and his stories that enthralled me and made me want to tell stories of my own.

I worship both these amazing men, and they actually feature in my book’s Acknowledgments.

Apart from them, there’s everyone else I’ve ever read (including the penny dreadfuls and the dime novels.) I believe that you absorb a bit of the author’s life with every book you read, and it’s this journey that allows you to become the person that you need to be to tell stories of your own. It’s a chain-spiritual-cannibalistic ritual. Now that I put it that way, it sounds horribly wrong, but that’s what it is and I’m sticking with that.

Do you have a target reader?

The book appeals to a whole bunch of readers, ranging from young adults to adult contemporary fantasy readers. But if I were to define that perfect target audience group, I’d sketch it as passionate fans who are ready to devour fresh, original fantasy and love the idea that today’s new and interesting concepts will be tomorrow’s clichés, and they got to be the ones who read it first!

About Writing

Do you have a writing process? If so can you please describe it?

I have a vague story outline in my head. This comes to me through extensive, focused daydreaming. I follow this up with lots of research on lore and urban myths. I go back and daydream some more. Once I have some meat to add to the daydreams, I start scribbling out various conversations and narratives that map to some of the key incidents in the book (as per the plan in my head).

Once I’m out of scribbles, I go back to the beginning and start writing in a linear flow, incorporating each of the scribbles when I come to them. There are times when the scribbles don’t fit in at all and then later I realize that they were actually meant for a later chapter in a later book. It’s a strangely chaotic process (much like me), but it works out in the end, which is the important thing I guess.

Do you outline? If so, do you do so extensively or just chapter headings and a couple of sentences?

I outline once my first draft is done. It helps me gauge the structure and helps with the editing and rewriting process. Before the first draft is written, I avoid outlines like the plague. I find them way too restrictive, especially given the way I write.

Do you edit as you go or wait until you’ve finished?

I read through individual passages and chapters after I’ve written them to absorb the story. I restrict my editing at this stage to pure language and grammar hygiene. I try not to second guess myself and rewrite. I leave the extensive editing for later when I’m doing my end-to-end edit.

Did you hire a professional editor?

My work involves a lot of language editing and this helped me generate a reasonably clean copy. My wife, Radhika, who is also my colleague, brings her own set of language quality skills to the table. Her reviews put my manuscripts through another strong review filter. Add to this my literary agent and my publisher (both of them do thorough hands-on edits for their authors’ manuscripts, god bless their sincere souls) and it gave the book as thorough a scrubbing as it could get. You’ll notice the occasional clean squeak as you flip pages on the ebook.

Do you listen to music while you write? If yes, what gets the fingers tapping?

I listen to music when I’m working on intense parts of the book where I need to shut everything out. At such times, the last thing you want is for a doorbell, your cat or even family to interrupt what could be a once-in-a-lifetime chance of getting it right. The music is rhythmic and instrumental and is usually on a loop. I amp up the energy of the music depending on what I need to write.

About Publishing

Did you submit your work to Agents?

Most publishers I approached refused to even consider my work till I found an agent. I was eventually accepted and represented by Priya Doraswamy at Lotus Lane Literary. Priya has been my friend, mentor and agent and has been infinitely encouraging and supportive through the long history of rejections and doubts that we shared before we finally found a publisher.

What made you decide to go Indie, whether self-publishing or with an indie publisher? Was it a particular event or a gradual process?

My agent sent across the manuscript to several of the big fantasy imprints in North America and Europe. We saw many kind and appreciative responses but they were all rejections of one kind or another. There were some vague come-back-next-year responses as well. Through all of this, Priya kept talking about Matthew Smith, who was then leaving Kogan Page to start Urbane Publications, and how he was not only a wonderful guy but a great fit as a publisher. While catching our breath after a fresh slew of rejections, we spoke about Urbane yet again and decided that it was the best way to go. I’m extremely glad we took that step. I was heavily involved in everything from the editorial process to book cover design and final layout design than I would ever have been with a bigger publisher. Matthew has been a joy to work with and I’m proud to be represented by Urbane. What happens next is up to us, our networks and communities like IndieView!

Did you get your book cover professionally done or did you do it yourself?

Matthew was talking to professional designers for the book cover and we saw some sample images. However, I had a clear idea of what I wanted (I actually have a tattoo of the cover design that I got done on my back before I took off on my writing sabbatical in 2008!) and it wasn’t matching any of the samples we were seeing. I then went hunting through lots of stock library repositories (a lot of them specializing in fantasy and surreal imagery) till I came across this image that was just perfect. A quick usage rights purchase later, I sent the image across to Matthew, who passed it on to his designer. Two days later, we had the perfect book cover!

Do you have a marketing plan for the book or are you just winging it?

We do have a marketing plan for the book and because we are a relatively small and indie group, we are trying to leverage smart strategies rather than big ones. Phase 1 is all about leveraging our individual networks and using social media as much as possible (we are well into this phase.) Phase 2 involves garnering press mentions and publicity, combined with strategic events at small venues and engaging online reading communities (we are doing our pre-work for this phase.) Phase 3 will require a bigger push with some advertising spend combined with trying to acquire celebrity reviews and endorsements (already initiated dialogues to prep for this.) Based on the success of these phases, we’ll push for a print release and plan further steps after that (maybe even a graphic novel!)

Any advice that you would like to give to other newbies considering becoming Indie authors?

Go for it! There never has been a better time to get published! There are millions of ways of doing it and there are billions of people reading. The digital release platform has taken a huge chunk of the cost and risk out of publishing and it makes the indie market for books really attractive and viable. Just pour your heart out into whatever you want to write.

But yes, you’re going to need lots of hard work and patience. You’re also going to need a day job. Your day job can be about writing too (mine is, mostly) but you need it to pay the bills and be able to enjoy your writing without getting frantic, desperate or cynical. Writing and publishing don’t make you rich, not unless you’re very, very lucky. If you do get there and actually start making buckets of money, more power to you!

About You

Where did you grow up?

Except for a year spent in Toronto, Canada and a lot of travel to different parts of the US, I’ve lived all my life in India. I grew up in an Indian city called Hyderabad, that’s known for its incredible food and quaint lingo (kind of like a Cockney version of Hindi).

Where do you live now?

I work out of Pune, a small city close to Mumbai. It’s quiet here and rather nice, and it’s also where I met my wife. I am prone to wanderlust though, so that’s likely to keep changing.

What would you like readers to know about you?

I’m a serial dabbler and I’m excited about a thousand different things. I love my work and my career. I’m a tech geek who is borderline obsessive about all things Google. I love cooking and eating, and am crazy experimental with both. I’m an avid motorbiker and am just waiting for an excuse to take off cross-country on my Honda. My professional writing debut involved working on a screenplay and I’ve always had a soft spot for theatre ever since. My wife and I fought the Indian government and legislation just so we could bring the cat we adopted in Toronto back home with us to India. We won and Folie is now a permanent member of our household, fulfilling the if-you-write-get-a-cat cliché. I’m also crazy about animals in general, but Folie doesn’t approve and that’s that.

What are you working on now?

Radhika and I run a learning design and strategy consultancy, The Learn Link. As a two-person team, we find it relatively easy to stay nimble enough so that we can balance work and life, and travel as well. It also gives me time to work on the second book of the Wordscapist series, which is due out early next year. I’m also flirting with the idea of starting work on a graphic novel collaboration once I’m done with the book 2 draft.

End of Intervew:

For more, visit the series website or like its Facebook page.

Get your copy of Wordscapist: The Myth from Amazon US or Amazon UK.

IndieView with Debbie White, author of The Salty Dog

The Salty Dog

 

My husband worked on a salmon boat during the summer months as a teen. He told me some wild stories. I wrote my “romance” around the boat.

Debbie White – 17 August 2014

The Back Flap

Libby and Luke give up the city life and move to a small fishing village along the California coast, where he pursues his dream of owning and operating a commercial salmon boat, and she runs a small café the locals love. The two of them are dedicated to make his dream a reality when something happens that even Libby could not have prepared for. The Salty Dog is about love, loss and the ability to move forward.

About the book

What is the book about?

The Salty Dog is about a couple – Libby and Luke, who decide to leave the big city and move to a small fishing village where he pursues his dream of owning and operating a commercial salmon boat.  Something happens that changes her life forever.  The Salty Dog is about love, loss and perseverance.

When did you start writing the book?

I started writing the book in the summer of 2013.  I almost didn’t finish it or publish it. I had a bad experience with my first self-published book so I was a little apprehensive. However, I’m so glad I decided to finish it and put it out for readers. The reviews have been awesome.

How long did it take you to write it?

It took me about 7 months.

Where did you get the idea from?

My husband worked on a salmon boat during the summer months as a teen. He told me some wild stories. I wrote my “romance” around the boat.

Were there any parts of the book where you struggled?

Not really. I just wanted to make sure it was as accurate as possible in terms of fishing lingo, and the geography of the location.  It took time to research that.

What came easily?

The main thing that came easy is the area I write about in The Salty Dog, I live nearby. It made it easy to visualize etc.

Are your characters entirely fictitious or have you borrowed from real world people you know?

The characters so far are fictitious; however, my own life experiences and meeting people from all over the world I’m sure has infiltrated into some of them!

We all know how important it is for writers to read. Are there any particular authors that have influenced how you write and, if so, how have they influenced you?

I started out a big Danielle Steel fan. I then discovered Elizabeth Berg, Nora Roberts, and Nicholas Sparks. I also enjoy reading non-fiction and one that really sticks out in my mind is the memoir of Helene Cooper titled The House at Sugar Beach. I’m also reading the Walk Series by Richard Paul Evens. It is a fiction, but as I turn the pages, I’m swept away regarding the believable factor in his writing. I highly recommend his books.

Do you have a target reader?

I would say women between the ages of 17 and up.  However, I’ve had a couple of men read the book for their honest review, and they liked it!

About Writing

Do you have a writing process? If so can you please describe it?

I wish I could say I do. I’ve interacted with many authors who go through this whole process of cutting out pictures of what they think their characters look like and tape them on their wall so they can constantly visualize them etc. I just get an idea, I jot down the characters (lady, man, young girl) then I visualize how I want them to look and act and then I find a nice name that suits them.  I will have to say, a picture might be easier…you should see all my sticky notes and chicken scratch all over the surface of my desk!

Do you outline? If so, do you do so extensively or just chapter headings and a couple of sentences?

Yes, I do an outline of sorts.

Do you edit as you go or wait until you’ve finished?

After I’m finished. If I see something obvious I correct it on the spot.

Did you hire a professional editor?

Yes, I did. She was awesome and I’ll use her for my next book as well.

Do you listen to music while you write? If yes, what gets the fingers tapping?

No, I like it quiet.

About Publishing

Did you submit your work to Agents?

No, I didn’t.

What made you decide to go Indie, whether self-publishing or with an indie publisher? Was it a particular event or a gradual process?

I’ve read that a lot of publishers get most of the profit leaving the author with little to none so I went the self-publishing route.

Did you get your book cover professionally done or did you do it yourself?

I used Createspace covers that they offer free, but I bought a stock photo and incorporated into the design.

Do you have a marketing plan for the book or are you just winging it?

I think I’ve done things a bit backwards. Partly because it was a last minute decision to publish the book. I published the book then created my website, blog and fan Facebook page. I’ve been working hard at marketing. I’d say that is the hardest and most time consuming part of being a self-published author.

Any advice that you would like to give to other newbies considering becoming Indie authors?

I would just say if you’re contemplating publishing get your ducks in a row regarding marketing first. Get all of your social media tools ready so you’ll be ready to show the world your book.

About You

Where did you grow up?

I grew up in a small town, in northern California.

Where do you live now?

Ironically, I live in the same town now, but only after being gone for 30 years!

What would you like readers to know about you?

My husband is retired Air Force and we spent 20+ years traveling the world. We are avid animal lovers and have two adorable rescue dachshunds, Dash and Briar. I happily donate a portion of sales of my books to local animal rescue organizations.

What are you working on now?

I actually just finished and am in the editing stages of Passport to Happiness. It’s about a young girl who grows up in a small west Texas town and escapes her humdrum life by being absorbed in books. She reads about travel and adventure and decides after graduating from high school to join the State Department as an Educational Specialist.  I took some of my own travels and incorporated them into the book. I hope readers will find it fascinating.

Thank you so much for the interview. I enjoyed your questions!

End of Interview:

For more from Debbie, visit her website or blog. You can also follow her on twitter, connect on LinkedIn, or what do you do on Pinterest? Pin her? :)

Get your copy of The Salty Dog from Amazon US (paper or ebook) or Amazon UK (paper or ebook).