Another good post on the Zon/Hachette kerfuffle…
An interesting take on Amazon/Hachette negotiations. As is usual, not going off half-cocked on something with precious few factoids available appears to be the way to go…
Today on Awesome Authors I have the distinct pleasure of interviewing author, playwright, actor, memoirist, and voice artist Ken LaSalle (I’ve probably missed something he does, like ninja surfing with throwing stars or free climbing while editing, but I think you get the drift). Ken and I met through Indies Unlimited and a couple of months ago Ken emailed to ask if I’d like to be a guest on his podcast So Dream Something. I did, and enjoyed the experience so much that in return I thought it would be fun to feature him on the blog. So, without further ado, heeeere’s Ken LaSalle:
(From the author’s bio): Author and playwright, Ken La Salle’s passion is intense humor, meaningful drama, and finding answers to the questions that define our lives. Ken La Salle grew up in Santa Ana, California and has remained in the surrounding area his entire life. He was raised with strong, blue-collar roots, which have given him a progressive and environmentalist view. As a result, you’ll find many of his stories touching those areas both geographically and philosophically. His plays have been seen in theaters across the country and you can find a growing number of books available online. Find out more about Ken on his website.
DV: Hi Ken! Welcome to Awesome Authors. Can you tell us a bit about yourself?
KL: I usually describe myself with one word, “author,” but the years have shown me that one word encapsulates a whole lot. Just off the top of my head, for instance, I’m a writer, editor, publisher, cover artist, manager, admin assistant, interviewer, sound mixer, sound editor, voice actor, producer, and web monkey. And there are plenty of things I’ve probably forgotten.
Further, no two authors are the same. We all go about this job a bit differently. That’s one of the things that makes the indie author community so rewarding; there’s a lot of sharing of knowledge and experiences. It’s almost difficult to feel completely alone.
“I’m a writer, editor, publisher, cover artist, manager, admin assistant, interviewer, sound mixer, sound editor, voice actor, producer, and web monkey.”
Beyond that, I’d say I’m a “big picture” kind of guy. I try to think on the biggest scales I can manage, because I know that’s one of my strengths and there are plenty of other authors who do so many other things better than me. I’m so big picture, in fact, that I will very often overlook small details in my first drafts. That’s actually become part of my process, rewrites just for the purpose of getting the details in.
DV: I hear you’ve been busy this year. What have you accomplished so far and what are you working on now?
KL: That’s a dangerous question because, you’re right, I have been busy.
I finished a new, romantic novel, called Heaven Enough. It’s about accepting what life throws at you and trying not to over think things, finding the things that matter and saying to hell with the rest. My agent, Jeanie, is very enthusiastic about it.
I penned the first two books in a series of experimental “children’s books for adults” called Fun To Grow On. Fun To Grow On will be a series of very strange stories – you might say “morality tales,” were you to stretch the definition. One thing I’ve come to realize as I get older is just how little knowledge so many adults have and I think adults could use some children’s books to relearn a thing or two. Look for the first two books in the series coming in e-book, audiobook, and paperback soon.
But perhaps my favorite book this year, which may turn out to be my favorite book of the decade, is a book I recently wrote on Buddhism. I can’t say too much at this point but I will say that I’ve taken what can often be a confusing subject and I’ve found a way to make it easy to understand. After writing a book on success (Climbing Maya – available in e-book and paperback) and a book on ethics (Dynamic Pluralism –which we’re still looking to place with a publisher), this is really the most incredible story.
That’s just the start of what my year has held! I’ve been fortunate as a playwright to have two staged readings this year. I placed my romantic fantasy novel, The Wrong Magic, with WiDo Publishing, who should be releasing it in time for the holidays. I premiered a new YouTube series, Jackemoff Forest. (The “J” is pronounced like a “Y” and the “f”s are silent.) That’s about a liquor store employee who discusses current events with a host of very strange characters. And so much more
… it’s been a crazy year.
DV: What’s your process when sitting down to write? Do you outline or just go with the flow?
KL: I approach process on a couple of different levels.
First, I try to run my writing career as much like a business as I can. I keep regular hours. I work five days a week, sometimes 10-12 hours each day. I try and set a strategy for everything I do. If it’s a book, can it work as an audiobook? If it’s an essay, how can I re-purpose it? I try to think as far into the future as I can manage.
On the flip side, I know myself pretty well. So, I know any plan that goes too long is going to bore me if it’s not just amazing. A new fantasy series I’m trying to sell, for instance, will be nine books long. That will probably equal over a decade of writing. But it’s worth it. It is flat-out amazing.
And that brings me to the actual writing. As with most things, I try to be as pragmatic as I can while being completely insane. For instance, I use whatever method works for whatever project I’m on. A book like Heaven Enough required very little outlining. It was all feeling. (I tend to think of writing in strange terms, such as feeling, rhythm, landscape. It’s my own kind of shorthand.) The first book in this fantasy series, however, got diagrammed in extreme detail on a giant piece of poster board. I needed that to be as clear as possible, because so much happens at once.
“I tend to think of writing in strange terms, such as feeling, rhythm, landscape.”
Basically, and this leads to your next question, I go where the story takes me. My first problem is conceiving of a story I can’t stop thinking about. This is why I don’t take a lot of notes. I figure that if it’s not memorable I don’t want it. Somehow, I’ve been fortunate enough to get more of these ideas as I go and not less, owing to practice I suppose. I tend to be drawn to questions, which is how I ended up writing non-fiction. (And that surprised me more than anyone!) Otherwise, when a story comes to me, I try not to discriminate. I know it’s coming from a place deep within myself that needs to speak. So, I try to find a way to let that happen.
DV: You write in several different genres (horror, memoir, self-help, fantasy) as well as being a playwright—but you were first passionate about acting. Tell us a little about what prompted you to switch from acting to writing.
KL: You know, I loved acting more than just about anything. There is no feeling equal to a theater full of people applauding you and you alone. It is breathtaking.
And yet… I came to a point in my life when I realized that as an actor, and I was fairly good as far as actors go, I would only be good. I would never be great. Realizing this was only complicated by the fact that I knew I could be something special as an author. My competency as an actor does not come close to what I can do as an author. Just look at Climbing Maya, The Day We Said Goodbye, or Daughter of a One-Armed Man – three books that I believe do some remarkable things. Add to that two new books coming this year, Indian Paintbrush and The Wrong Magic, which are just a ton of fun. Add to this the book on Buddhism. And that’s just the start.
Perhaps the best thing that has happened very recently in my career is my discovery of audiobooks and YouTube content generation. I’ve found that I need not leave my acting career completely behind me. As the narrator of my audiobooks, I get to be the one to interpret my books in that medium. On YouTube, I’ve produced spoken-word essays, theater of the mind, and this new thing: Jackemoff Forest. Not only do I act but I direct, mix the sound, edit – everything!
DV: Audiobooks have become a huge industry for indies as well as for trad pubbed authors. You’ve got a great voice for narration and have produced and recorded your own audiobooks. Can you tell us what’s involved?
Producing your own audiobook requires a kind of “jack of all trades” mentality. And, just like writing itself, you won’t get it absolutely right the first time out. Maybe not even the second. But you have to get good pretty fast because consumers are not very forgiving.
The reading itself is never a problem because one of my steps in rewriting is often to read aloud and listen to how the book sounds. Sometimes, acting isn’t even required. When I read A Grand Canyon and The Day We Said Goodbye, and in those moments when I got choked up (yes, even after all the times I’d read, re-read, written, and re-written those words before), those were real emotions from real times in my life.
But I know my limitations. I’ve stayed away from books with too many characters or too much action because those don’t quite suit me. I suppose I’ll just have to find someone else for those.
DV: How do you define success?
KL: Funny you should ask! I define success in my book, Climbing Maya, An Exploration Into Success. No kidding. The dictionary has it wrong. Conventional Wisdom has it wrong. I found myself without a job one day. One friend was dying of leukemia and another was crawling into a bottle. And I had to know what we mean when we refer to “success.” The answer to that question lies in the pages of Climbing Maya.
… but you probably want something for your interview. I don’t really think about success all that much anymore. (After years on Climbing Maya, I’d kind of beaten it to death.) As an artist, I’ve pretty much accepted that “success” is really not the name of the game. An artist is someone who puts themselves through discomfort, possibly embarrassment, to create something meaningful. They basically transform fear into meaning.
So, I’ve found myself intentionally doing things that scare me. My YouTube videos, for instance. I’m basically daring the Internet to call me names. Why would anyone do that? Because there is a thread coming from the edge. It’s my hope that someone pulls on the thread and finds the meaning I’ve left there.
(And, just in case anyone found that all unbearably pretentious, I completely agree. This La Salle guy, huh?)
“As an artist, I’ve pretty much accepted that “success” is really not the name of the game.”
DV: You’re a big believer in having a dream, but you haven’t always felt that way. Would you talk about that and what it means to you to believe in your dreams?
KL: I grew up in a very blue-collar home. We were poor and there wasn’t much hope. I was told to find a job in a factory and keep it. Just keep it. I ended up being the black sheep for many years, horribly misunderstood, because I just couldn’t. I just wasn’t built that way.
As much as I fought my artistic tendencies, I couldn’t stop myself. I found an avenue that allowed me to write for a living, which was in technical and marketing writing. I spent 20 years doing that, thinking that was all I could hope for. Then, the economy crashed just over a decade ago, and I went from one layoff to another as I went from one job to another. The idea of focusing on my writing only came because, strangely enough, the economy was so bad that being an author made about as much sense as trying to find a “real job.”
But I still didn’t believe in the power of dreams. This was all a fluke. I couldn’t understand that my dream, buried as deep down as I could manage, had been steering me this way despite my best efforts to avoid it. A dream is just your body’s way of exerting its will, of telling you, “I want this.” If you try and run away, you’re only running away from yourself.
Writing about following your dreams for Recovering the Self was just a lark at the beginning. How was I to believe in something I’d spent my life running away from? Yet, the more I considered the power of dreams, even hosting a podcast on the subject, the more I realized something that should be clear to everyone.
“I couldn’t understand that my dream, buried as deep down as I could manage, had been steering me this way despite my best efforts to avoid it.”
This is what I’ve come to understand: Dreams make us better people. They make us happier and healthier. Even if we do not accomplish our goal, even if we fail, we’re better off. Because trying breeds a kind of confidence. Failure fades but the knowledge that you went for it lives on.
DV: What advice do you have for a writer just starting out?
I say this, of course, fully aware that anyone who has to write has to write. So, I say that if you can avoid it you should, because it probably isn’t that important in the long wrong.
Writing is tough and shouldn’t be attempted by anyone who can help it. You make nothing for money most of the time. You toil in anonymity for the most part. And people will take advantage of you at every step, if you’re not careful.
But, if you have to do it, then I say, “Do it.” Don’t let anyone tell you to have a Plan B or something to fall back on. Over the years, I’ve come to realize that life is long and you should fail as many times as you can. Only failure will show you what you’re doing wrong and, perhaps, what you should be doing to get things right.
DV: Where do you see yourself in five years?
KL: This is an interesting question as I am writing this at the beginning of the Pacific Crest Trail season. Every year, at the end of April, thru-hikers attempt to traverse the 2,668 miles from Mexico to Canada, along the Pacific Crest Trail.
One of my life goals is hiking the PCT. For me, it’s all about conquering fear. I’m personally terrified of being eaten alive by wild animals, which I have built up to a point where the entire 2,668 distance seems wallpapered with bears and mountain lions and rattle snakes.
To get there, I’m going to need to write my little heart out. The PCT trek takes about 5-6 months. That means I’ll need to have an income to afford not working that long and I’ll also need to be physically fit enough to go that far.
As unlikely as that may sound, that is where I see myself in five years. Now, let’s see how good I am at predicting the future…
DV: What’s next for Ken La Salle?
KL: A lot of work.
This year, you’re going to see several new titles from Ken La Salle. Some titles will include e-books, paperbacks, and audiobooks. You’ll see new YouTube videos each month, along with new episodes of So Dream Something, and new essays on Recovering the Self and perhaps even on Indies Unlimited.
As strange as it might sound, I’m even more excited about the work I have laid out beyond that. As of now, I have five new books just sitting there, waiting to be written. There’s nothing as exciting as a new book. This is partially why I don’t read so much anymore. Why read it when you can write it?
DV: Wow. That’s a lotta work! I completely agree with your description of the excitement of a new book. I feel it every time. Go get ’em, Ken, and good luck! 😀
To find out more about Ken LaSalle and his work, here are some links:
On the web at www.kenlasalle.com
And, on YouTube
Interesting thoughts on ebook pricing…
Join me today on Lise McClendon’s kick-ass blog where I list my top 10 favorite kick-ass women in the movies. Who’s YOUR favorite?
Today on Awesome Authors I get to treat you all to an interview with the lovely and talented Carol Wyer. Carol and I met during my stint at the venerable death-star of an indie blog, Indies Unlimited, and I’ve been a fan ever since. She’s sweet, funny, and always finds a way to inject humor into her writing, whether she’s penning fiction or non-fiction. Best known for her Grumpy Series (How Not to Murder Your Grumpy and Grumpy Old Menopause) Carol is a veritable powerhouse of a publicity-generator, and if she ever gives a class on promotion, consider me there. She currently lives in the UK with her very own Grumpy. And now for the interview:
Bio (from the author): Carol E. Wyer is an award-winning author whose humorous novels take a lighthearted look at getting older and encourage others to age disgracefully.
Her best-selling debut novel, Mini Skirts and Laughter Lines, won five awards for humour. Surfing in Stilettos, which follows the further adventures of Amanda Wilson as she attempts to inject some fun into her life, won a gold award for Romance at Readers Favorite. How Not to Murder Your Grumpy, the first of three non-fiction books in a ‘Grumpy’ series, is a finalist for the People’s Book Prize Award 2013-14.
Carol has featured on numerous shows discussing ‘Irritable Male Syndrome’ and ‘Ageing Disgracefully’. She has had articles published in national magazines such as Woman’s Weekly’ and on-line magazines. She writes regularly for The Huffington Post and author website Indies Unlimited. She is a signed author with ThornBerry Publishing and Safkhet Publishing.
DV: Welcome to Awesome Authors, Carol! Can you tell us a little about yourself and your work?
CW: Thank you so much for inviting me. I’m rather excited to be here. So, about me? Well, I started writing decades ago when I was in my twenties and lived in Morocco where I was a teacher/translator. I wrote for pleasure and it wasn’t until my thirties that I wrote with a view to being published. My first stories were written for children and taught them basic French. They were used in schools. There was even a tape of songs to go with them (Mercifully I didn’t sing the songs.)
I didn’t write full-time until my son left home. It was about then I decided I wanted to fulfill my ambition to become a well-known writer (given my desire to be a well-known comedienne was unlikely).
I wrote my first novel that year, Mini Skirts and Laughter Lines, got a stack of media attention and contracts with two small publishing houses, and since then it’s been all go. I am currently writing my seventh book and am enjoying myself thoroughly.
DV: Since you write both non-fiction and fiction, do you find that you need to do something different (time off from writing, virgin sacrifice, different kind of laundry detergent, etc.) to switch between genres? Or is it an easy change for you?
CW: It’s no problem at all for me. Fiction allows me to spend hours in the bizarre fantasy world that is my brain, while the non-fiction books are more logical in format and fun to write. I derive a lot of pleasure from researching them too. I collect stupid facts and jokes all the time so now I have stacks of useless information that would make me an excellent contestant at a pub quiz. How Not to Murder Your Grumpy and Grumpy Old Menopause are both related to getting older and ageing disgracefully, themes that are to be found in my novels. Even my own precious grumpy old man enjoyed the trivia and jokes in the first.
CW: It was a superb experience and I would do it again in a heartbeat. The television production team are extremely welcoming and enthusiastic people, so it’s very easy to get carried along with it all. I barely had a minute to think, from the moment I arrived at the hotel the day before and was interviewed by a researcher, to the end of the interview. I wrote about the day on my blog, so rather than bore you all here, you can find out what it’s like to be a star for the day by clicking the link Dreams Are Made of This
DV: Tell us about your latest release.
CW: My latest book, Love Hurts, is a departure from my usual humorous stuff and should surprise all readers. It’s a collection of five stories on the theme of love but not at all conventional. Each story aims to evoke an emotion from the reader. Each is different and may tease, torment, surprise and/or delight.
DV: How long did it take to go from inception of the book to completion?
CW: This book has taken a year. All my books seem to take about the same time. They start as nuggets of ideas in my head. I then scribble some sort of essay plan down and, because I suffer from insomnia spend night after night going through possible twists, characters, endings and plots. Once I’m satisfied the story is a goer, I’ll start typing. That can take three months of hard effort. The rest is the laborious process of going through edits, sending to beta readers, editing again and again. Then I send it to an editor, where it goes through several edits and then on for formatting, proofreading and publishing. I was extremely fortunate to have excellent beta readers on this project who worked very quickly to return the stories to me, I had a top editor, Cathy Speight, and a formatter who worked faster than Superman–Indies Unlimited’s very own Rich Meyer. They all worked so hard to get the stories ready before Valentine’s Day and I owe them all a huge debt of gratitude.
DV: Great choice of people! It’s so important to have a good team. Short stories take a different skill set than writing novels. What do you like most about the form? Least?
CW: My writing career began with short stories and I wrote them because I only had time to write in short bursts. Short stories are much easier to write because you have to hold so much information in your head all the time when you write a novel. You need to be careful not to repeat yourself and ensure timelines are correct. The continuity can often be a problem.
If I’m honest though, I now prefer to write lengthier novels where I can get into characters’ minds and give them substance. However, these stories allowed me to test out a side of my writing personality that I usually hide. I’m known for my humour and lighthearted approach to life but my mind can be a scary place and I often have horrific dreams (when I sleep). Even my husband wonders where the ideas come from when I tell him what I’ve dreamt. These stories allowed me to free some of those ideas. It’s my intention to develop this further and I’m going to be writing a psychological thriller next year.
DV: Oooh–sounds right up my alley. Seriously can’t wait to read that. Do you plan your books prior to writing them or just get on with it?
CW: Plan, plan, plan and plan. It comes from my years at university where I studied French and English. I had to write essay plans before I could write the essay. I have notebooks filled with scribbled notes, arrows and plans for each novel. I never sit down and start typing. I always write chapter layouts, character traits and some of the story out longhand.
DV: You use humor extensively in your work. Comedy is a hard thing to pull off, but you do it well. How do you inject humor into your work, or is it second nature?
CW: Sadly, I am one of life’s irritatingly cheerful people who injects humour into everything. I must be a nightmare to love with. There is a very long story as to why I’m this way. Maybe a look at this article will give you an idea. http://clinicalposters.com/news/2013/0206-laugh-at-unfunny-life.html
“I never sit down and start typing. I always write chapter layouts, character traits and some of the story out longhand.”
DV: You’re one of the hardest working authors I know in regard to publicity and promotion. What have you found works best for you when you’re launching a new book?
CW: Wine! No, seriously, it’s got easier the more books I launch because I now have a contact list and can send out press releases.
I spend every morning sending emails. I usually start with local press and target any magazines whose readership best suits my book. I know quite a few radio presenters, so I always stay in touch with them and let them know if I have a new release. The best thing to do though, is to write around your subject. I make sure I have a Google alert out on my book title or a subject related to my book. If a news item appears that is relevant, I write a piece about it and send to the press.
“I usually start with local press and target any magazines whose readership best suits my book.”
DV: Great ideas. Especially the wine…In light of the huge changes in publishing we’ve all seen, what do you predict for the industry over the next few years? Where do you see yourself in 5 years?
CW: I really don’t know where this is all going. The increasing number of authors who are able to self-publish along with the role of the internet, is surely going to have a bearing on the industry. It seems to me that it’s getting harder and harder to become noticed and unless you’re prepared to stick at it and turn out books every year, you’ll only have a limited time as a successful writer. It seems to be a good idea to try and find other writing projects or projects related to your writing. I write for several websites, online magazines, and national magazines now. I’m even branching out and doing stand-up comedy this year. I also appear on BBC radio every month in a slot as a ‘loud mouth’. You need to do as much as possible to stay in the limelight. In five years? I’ll still be writing, and telling jokes and being an irritating nuisance.
“I’m known for my humour and lighthearted approach to life but my mind can be a scary place and I often have horrific dreams…”
DV: What advice would you give to a writer who is just starting out?
CW: Be patient. One of the biggest mistakes new writers make, time after time, is to rush to get published. Make sure your work is the best it could possibly be before you even consider sending it to an agent, a publisher or publish it yourself. You must make sure it is correctly edited and presented. If it takes three years then so what?
DV: Completely off-topic question: If you could time travel (either backward or forward) where would you like to go and why?
CW: I’m a complete Francophile. I speak pretty good French and used to live and work in Paris. If I could time travel, I’d love to go to Paris for the 1889 World’s Fair. I would like to join all the thousands of people who walked up the 1,710 steps for the first time then experience the wonder of the whole Exposition.
DV: Wouldn’t that be cool? Thanks so much for being here, Carol. It’s been a pleasure interviewing you. If you’d like to find out more about Carol and her work, you’ll find links at the end of this post. But first, here’s a teaser from her latest release, Love Hurts:
Love does not always result in ‘happy ever after’. It is a powerful emotion that, in the hands of a damaged soul, can be all-consuming, dangerous and even lethal.
In this collection of short stories—some dark, some lighthearted—written by award-winning author Carol E. Wyer, we discover what happens when love takes over.
Be prepared for a roller coaster of emotions.
Estelle grabbed the inside of her soft, upper, left arm, pinched it firmly and swore quietly. She breathed in deeply and checked her reflection in the bathroom mirror. Her corkscrew curls tumbled in all directions. Her hair had a renewed lustre. It looked distinctly coppery in this light, with soft highlights of blonde. It had never looked so good. Her eyes sported grubby, smudged, mascara circles, but not even these could detract from the glow emanating from her. A smile stretched her slightly swollen lips and stretched further as she recalled how they had become swollen. No, she wasn’t dreaming. She had just spent the best night of her life with a young stallion, who, in spite of his age, had shown and taught her things about sex she had never before dreamed of.
Behaving in the most wanton and sluttish way, fueled by the bottle of Bollinger beside the bed and encouraged by the sexy wild stud, who was at least fifteen years her junior, made Estelle feel twenty years younger. Her skin prickled in anticipation of experiencing it all again. She stared more closely at the woman in the mirror. She would leave the mascara. It exemplified the wild, carefree person she had recently become, or had that person always been there, hiding? Maybe she had lost sight of her true identity, having masked her desires and feelings for so long.
She moved away from the mirror to the bathtub. She sat on the side and idly watched water pour in from the waterfall tap, swirling bath salts in with one hand. Had it only been three months?
Her thoughts wandered back to that first March morning when she had rolled up at the Belside Country Club in her white Mercedes SL. She strolled into reception, where she handed in the voucher she had been given. The receptionist phoned the Golf Pro office. She asked Estelle to wait for a moment while they sent up the instructor to escort her to the golf range. Estelle was examining the wall adorned with photographs of various celebrities clutching golf trophies when she heard her name spoken. She spun around and found herself staring into the most arresting midnight-blue eyes.
“Delighted to meet you, Mrs Chambers. My name is Ricardo. I know, I don’t sound Italian. My mother is Italian. People usually call me Rick or Richard. Would you prefer me to call you Mrs Chambers, or may I call you Estelle?” he said in a lilting gentle Irish brogue, making her name sound seductive. He held out his hand.
She offered her hand but couldn’t reply instantly. She was too busy taking in his muscular shoulders, his smile and staring at the designer stubble, which made him look like a movie star. She tried to think of whom he resembled.
“Oh, sorry, yes. Please, call me Estelle,” she stammered, suddenly noticing the warmth passing between them and realising he was still holding her hand. She pulled it away hurriedly. He smiled an easy smile.
Links to find out more about Carol:
According to tradition, the Horse is bright, warmhearted, intelligent, and clever–but also impatient, hot-blooded, and rarely listens to good advice. I have a couple of friends born in a horse year, and I can attest to the description 🙂
Also according to tradition, you should be careful what activities you participate in on the first day of the new year. Apparently, whatever you choose to do signifies what will be in abundance for you during the year. I have plans to write, hit the gym, and go out to dinner with friends, which sounds like a good foundation for a great year.
My all-time favorite New Year tradition is the warning against cleaning your house since you might sweep away any good fortune that comes your way. When I told Mark I wouldn’t be doing any housework on Friday he asked, “This is something new?”
It’s such fun living with a smart ass.
To find out what Chinese animal sign you are, here’s a link. May good health, good luck, and much prosperity be yours in the Year of the Horse!
Happy New Year, everybody! New Year, new way of doing things. As some of you have noticed, Awesome Authors has been on a bit of a hiatus. I’ll still continue to post interviews with fabulous authors, but it’s going to be, well–er–a bit less structured, shall we say. In other words, no set schedule! Yay! Can I hear a yay? No? You’ve always been fine with whenever? Oh, well then, let’s get on with it, shall we?
Today I get to interview women’s fiction author, Holly Gilliatt. Holly’s another fabulous Sister-in-Crime member and I was excited to get to know all about her and her books. So, without further ado, here’s Holly!
From Holly’s bio: A self-confessed music, movie and accessories junkie, Holly Gilliatt’s passion has always been writing. Give her an algebra quiz and she’ll curl up in the fetal position. But throw a test requiring all essay answers her way and she’s in heaven. Between the day job, husband, three kids, two dogs and cat–it’s not easy to find time to write. So she sacrifices the laundry pile to spin her tales of laughter, friendship and love. She’s proud to call the St. Louis area her home.
DV: Welcome to Awesome Authors, Holly! Tell us a little about yourself and what you write.
HG: I’m a romantic at heart and tend to find humor in just about everything. So it makes sense that I write women’s fiction that could also be viewed as romantic comedies. Full of laughs, romance, heart.
DV: Sweet-romComs are always fun. Tell us about your newest release.
HG: My first release which is available now as an e-book or in paperback, is ’Til St. Patrick’s Day. It’s the story of three best friends and their lives and loves over the course of one winter. And I’m excited about my recent release which came out on January 5th—Love in Sight. This book is about a smart, funny, charming guy searching for love, but the fact that he’s blind doesn’t exactly put him on any Most Eligible Bachelor lists.
DV: What was your favorite part about writing this book? Least favorite?
HG: My favorite part about writing Love in Sight was getting to know my characters. When I write, I end up falling in love with the guys and wishing the women were the sisters I’ve never had. I get really attached to the people I create. And my protagonist, Jason, is a fantastic guy. Funny, genuine, flawed—but amazing. My least favorite part was editing. The editing process for this book was pretty extensive and I had to cut a lot of scenes that I loved, but in the end, just weren’t necessary.
“I don’t write books with vampires, bondage or sorcerers—I just write funny stories about love and friendship.”
DV: Ah yes, the dreaded ‘kill your darlings’ stage of editing…How long does it take for you to complete a novel? Do you have a set schedule?
HG: It can vary quite a bit. ’Til St. Patrick’s Day only took about three months—it just flew out of me. For Love in Sight, it took a couple of years to write and edit. There was a great deal of research that went into it, though, to hopefully make sure I got the details about living with blindness as accurate as possible. My current work in progress will probably end up taking about five – six months. I don’t have any set schedule for writing—I’ve got a day job and three kids so my schedule is to squeeze it in whenever I can!
I’m extremely jealous of full-time writers. I guess if I sold more books I could quit the day job, huh?
DV: 🙂 Do you work with a professional editor?
DV: Judy’s such a lovely person. She was one of my Awesome Authors last year 🙂 Can you tell us about your ‘road to publication’ and what it entailed?
HG: I spent an exhausting amount of time trying to get an agent. Over and over I got responses that ten years ago they could have sold my book, but in today’s market, they’re looking for someone that already has a built-in audience (like celebrities) or something with huge blockbuster potential (like Harry Potter, Twilight, etc.). I don’t write books with vampires, bondage or sorcerers—I just write funny stories about love and friendship. So when I was about to give up, I decided to approach small publishing houses directly. Within a month or two, I was offered three contracts.
DV: Nice! That must have been exciting! Where can we find you when you’re not writing?
HG: Probably eating something. 🙂 Most likely I’m spending time with my family, or enjoying a movie or concert. And whenever I can, I like to escape to nature—either the woods or the beach.
DV: I’m with you, Holly! I love nature (okay, and food…). In light of the huge changes in the publishing industry, where do you see yourself in five years? How do you think publishing will change in the future?
HG: I’ve got two books contracted (sequels to ’Til St. Patrick’s Day) that are due out in 2015 and I’ve got another manuscript called Loose Ends that is about halfway done and will hopefully get published in the next couple of years. I can’t think much beyond that. I love writing, so I’ll just keep plugging away and see what the voices in my head tell me to write about. Along the way, I hope to build a loyal following of readers. As far as the industry, it’s hard to say. Things are changing so rapidly in terms of self-publishing, e-books, etc. But the good news is that I think books are becoming more accessible and I hope that ultimately means more readers.
DV: What type of promotion do you do for your books? Can you tell us what has worked the best?
HG: Ah, promotion. The part of publishing that I hate. I just want to write. The rest of it—social networking, websites, book trailers—I wish I didn’t have to do any of it. I’m an introvert in a lot of ways, so it’s hard to put yourself out there and push your product. But it’s a part of the process these days. As far as what works the best…I’m still figuring that out. Getting exposure in newspapers has helped locally. Maybe review sites. It’s a work in progress.
“…the good news is that I think books are becoming more accessible…”
DV: If you could time travel (either backward or forward) where would you go and why?
HG: Oh, what a fun question! I would definitely go backward. I would love to either go back to the 19th century to experience such a different world, or go back to experience each of my kids as babies again. I miss those days.
DV: Very cool 🙂 Thanks so much for stopping by, Holly! Below is an excerpt for ‘Til St. Patrick’s Day. To find out more about Holly and her novels, please see the links below.
Excerpt from ’Til St. Patrick’s Day:
The three women stepped into one of their favorite shops on historic Main Street. Jayne was sifting through some scarves and asked Karen, “How’s Rick?”
“Oh…he’s Rick.” Karen browsed through a selection of chunky metal rings.
“What does that mean?” Jayne asked, eyeing her friend.
“You know…he’s nice and not bad on the eyes, but….”
“But what?” Jayne loved Rick. He was the anti-Karen. He was sweet and tender and light-hearted. He evened her out, balanced her in a way no other man had.
“He’s just rather dull, I think. No spark there, not terribly ambitious—”
“I think there’s plenty of spark there.”
“Everything’s just so comfortable with him, though, nothing exciting there,” Karen said, trying on a ring.
“You do this every time.” Jayne sighed.
“Just when it’s time to consider actually getting vulnerable and sharing your life with someone, you call it quits.”
“I don’t do that.” Karen’s brows furrowed. “Do I?”
“Yes, you do,” Claudia confirmed. “And I think Rick is a really great guy and he really loves you. I don’t think you should let him go. I think you’ll regret it forever.”
“Me too,” Jayne said, nodding her head with enthusiasm.
“Hmmm… Well if you two think he’s so great, do you want him?” Karen said, rolling her eyes as she walked away.
“What are you so afraid of?” Claudia asked. “Actually needing someone? Getting too out of control with your emotions?”
“Oh Jesus, don’t give me any of your psych bullshit. You watched Oprah for too many years.”
“But Oprah’s always right.” Jayne chuckled. “Well, except for with James Frey. But besides that, she’s a pretty reliable source of information.”
“Well, you two can just chill out and calm down because I’m certainly not going to get rid of him at the moment. We’re safe, at least ’til St. Patrick’s Day.”
“What are you talking about?” Claudia asked.
“Do you mean that John Mayer song, St. Patrick’s Day?” Jayne asked, deciding on a blue-green scarf.
“Yeah, you know, it talks about how if you’re in a relationship when the weather starts turning cold, you’re safe until St. Patrick’s Day. Nobody wants to be alone over the holidays, then the New Year seems so optimistic, even I’m not jaded enough to dump someone then. The next thing you know, it’s Valentine’s Day, and I don’t need to tell either of you how screwed up that can be when you’re alone.” They all nodded. “But who cares if you’re alone on St. Patty’s Day? It’s a holiday that practically celebrates public drunkenness. Perfect for a raw break up.”
Claudia chuckled. “I never heard that. It’s a pretty interesting concept, though. And actually pretty dead-on.”
“Yep, so relax and know that you’ll be seeing Mister Happy Rick throughout the holiday season.”
Hmmm, Jane thought. Then maybe I’ll get at least a few months with Gray…and that should be enough time to convince him that I’m the absolute perfect woman for him. Yep, I can make this happen.
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