Tag Archives: Interview

Road to Publication #21: Completing your first interview

Okay, to be honest, I am writing this up after completing many interviews.  The questions just keep flooding in.  Such wackiness, I swear!

If you were on a train in Alabama, and the lights went out and the sky turned green, what would you do?

Seriously?  You really want me to answer that question?

Okay, I made that up, but some of the questions are like this.  A lot of the questions are very much the same though, and it’s hard to keep them sounding “Fresh”

While I was filling out a set of questions last night, my son (The Monomanical Middle Grade Reviewer) Leaned over my shoulder and told me I was boring.

I read it over, and decided he was right.  I thought about some of the interviews that I’ve done here, and laughed at myself.  Boring interviews are the reason that the Little Blue Lady from Mars was created… to add a little spice and fun into it.

He pointed out the last question, and told me I didn’t even really answer it.  I looked it over.  Yep, he was right.  I danced around it.

“Okay,” I said.  “I’ll answer it.”

With a big smile on my face, I answered the question… I answered it with him in mind… Using all the magical powers of a science fiction author.

Within a few keystrokes, my son was chuckling.  I was too… and I found that this time, I really DID answer the question.  And it was funny.  More “me”.

“You are just too cool, Mom,” the MMGR said.

You know what?  I AM COOL Dernit!

Why hadn’t I done all of my interviews like that?  It made me want to go back and re-do all of the interviews I’d already done.  Unfortunately, I’d sent them all out already.

Lessons Learned.

For you guys… when you do your interviews, don’t get all “tight” and “boring”.  Remember your “voice”… remember who you are.  You only have about 250-500 words to get someone who has never heard of you to like you.

Use those words wisely.  Have fun and be yourself.

What do you like/hate about guest posts and author interviews?

Work in Progress Challenge. Yup, I’m actually gonna do this one. Why?

Oh, goodie.  I’ve been tagged.  – If you didn’t catch that – there was an intentional little snark there.  Part of me grins with glee when people think of me.  Honestly, I usually thank the person, and move on. [She hangs her head in shame] because there are just not enough hours is a day to do EVERYTHING I need to do.  Nor are there enough days in a week to post all the stuff that bubbles out of my brain.

But this one caught my attention.  This particular tag, I believe, adds value for my readers, and also for myself.

Here’s why:

Recently I started doing interviews in preparation for the Blog Tour for the release of the “Make Believe” Anthology.  (by the way –shameless self-promotion warning—I’m doing interviews now if anyone would like a guest-post – [Wink] 🙂 )

Anyway… I found myself looking at some of the questions and thinking.  “Duh… I have no idea” and moving on to something simpler.  The problem is, when you have five interviews in front of you, and dinner burning in the kitchen, and laundry piling up, and a kid crying with a skinned knee (you get the point) you just want to finish FAST and not think too hard.  So I didn’t answer the hard- hitting questions that more accomplished authors tackle all the time.

What the Work in Progress Challenge is… is a list of questions very similar to many that I came across during the interviews.  Some of them are hard.  Some questions like this I skipped over because I was embarrassed of the answer, and I was afraid to admit it.  Here, (among my 600 or so best friends) I will force myself to answer them honestly.

For one thing—so when you guys get to that point, you don’t feel alone and stupid.  Secondly, so you can think about this for your own works, because you might have to answer these questions yourself someday.

I’m going to post this “introduction” now, and then go back and answer the questions.  This is mostly a prod to myself to make sure I don’t skip any because “I don’t wanna” answer them.  This is me… putting it out there and forcing myself to do it.

Hopefully, going through this exercise will help me be better prepared for the harder questions coming up this tour, and for the next round of interviews when my novel hits the world.

Stay tuned tomorrow.  🙂

Score! Author Claire Gillian talks about “Voice” in The P.U.R.E. Yes! She agreed to the interview!

Yes.

No.

Yes

No!

.

.

You promised!

Oh!  I’m sorry but not today.  I have a super important guest!

.

.

I’m not important?

Of course you are, but I managed to score an interview with Claire Gillian, and she’s going to talk about the Voice in her novel THE P.U.R.E..

.

I have a voice.

I know, but all you want to do is…

.

.

Take

Over

The

World!

Okay enough of that.

Without further ado, I am super-excited to have Claire Gillian, the author of THE P.U.R.E. with us.

If you haven’t seen  my review of THE P.U.R.E. please check it out so you will understand why it is so incredibly cool to have her here today.

Hello Ms. Gillian!

Claire:  Hi there, Ms. Eaton! Thanks for inviting me to chat today.

Me:  As you know, I loved THE P.U.R.E. which was a surprise, since I really don’t like mysteries.

Claire:  I’m thrilled I managed to hook you on story outside of your usual genre. Thank you, thank you! I’ve had several reviewers make similar preface comments, which makes me both worry and rejoice. Worry because how many will never give The P.U.R.E. a chance, and rejoice because for those who were brave enough to try, I accomplished what I set out to do—convince readers that even CPAs could be sexy and have intriguing stories.

Me:  Ahem… Ummm… I think you managed to do that… I mean, Dang, Girl.  (If you’ve read the book you’ll know what I mean by that)  Anyway, how the heck did you manage to hook a Fantasy reader into a Corporate Murder Mystery?

Claire:  I think most novels are mysteries really, otherwise, why would you read them if you already how everything unfolds (other than for analysis of writing techniques)? I know when I read a story, no matter what genre, I’m always thinking along the lines of, “I’ll bet she does such and such next.” In that sense, the only difference is that with a mystery, the reader is working on figuring out two stories at once—the protagonist’s own story and the mystery she is trying to solve.

Me:  Hmmm.  I guess that’s ture to some extent.  I think what sold me on it was that I felt completely enveloped in your world, even though it was a boring office environment (at least to start).  How’d you do that?

Claire:  I’m not used to analyzing my own writing style, to be honest, but what I think you’re keying in on is probably my “voice”.  At least this is what I’ve gathered from my four years of feedback. Even when my writing was and is utter crap, it has had a quality people seemed to like. I’m still not 100% sure what “voice” is because I have yet to give it any sort of boundaries. I assume it’s like a signature, with its own loops, swoops, slants, and sizing.

Me:  You definitely have your own style, which I have found off-putting in some novels, but in The P.U.R.E. it was part of the “warm and cozy” feeling, I felt like I was experiencing it with her, like I could totally relate.

Claire:  I tried to make Gayle relatable–a flawed but appealing character with a bright, funny side to overcome the “Oh, no, a CPA as the heroine? Seriously? Just kill me now!” She’s both naïve and brash, curious and cautious, blasé and hyperconcerned, confident and hesitant. I also attempted to poke a little fun at corporate America—the posturing, hierarchy and HR double-speak. Office types will hopefully get and appreciate it. Non-office types will probably skim over it to get to the good stuff. No harm, no foul.

Me: So how did you come up with this magical “voice”?

Claire:  I think my writer’s voice is just how I talk. I like to make people laugh. I like non sequiturs, innuendoes, dirty jokes, and the ridiculous. I watch a lot of romantic comedy and comedy in general and there’s a rhythm there that I try to imitate and even use as a template. It really is like telling a joke. You have to know where to pause and where to have long sentences that leave you out of breath, and when to put in a series of choppy sentences with these pauses for the audience to “get” the joke and laugh.

Me:  I noticed that, and it didn’t seem forced, it just seemed like part of the character’s personality coming out in her thoughts.

Claire:  Sometimes those pauses are filled with a character’s observations or a snippet of internal monologue. I like internal monologues but they are easy to overdo, especially in a first person point of view book. I mean, we’re already in Gayle’s head because she’s the narrator, so the only difference is in tense. Her monologues are in present tense and her narration is in past tense. Too much jumping back and forth I think would feel herky-jerky and confusing to the reader. .

Me:  I didn’t find it overdone at all.  In fact, they seemed natural.  Some of them were so simple, like her looking at her hot boyfriend and saying simply: “Yummy”.  Tee Hee.  It looks odd here, but in the context of THE P.U.R.E. it totally worked.

Claire:  Thanks. Some authors use internal monologues to contrast to what the character says, but I tend to see internal monologues as telling vs. showing. Rather than have Gayle say out loud to Jon, “Oh gosh, golly, I’m so sorry you broke up with your girlfriend” but think, “Yippee-skippy! Ask me out! Ask me out!!”  I’d rather have her “show” the reader how she feels with narration like “I hoped he couldn’t see me grinning like an idiot into my coffee cup.” Both convey that she’s not the least bit sorry but doesn’t want to show her hand. A few monologues are fine, like a dash of salt for seasoning. Too many is telling vs. showing and that ruins the meal.

Me:  Yes.  I think it worked because it was only here and there.  I think it would have gotten monotonous if she was always talking to herself—you know—cliché and all.  How’d you know when you had it right?

Claire:  If it felt forced or out of rhythm with the story, I zapped it into the cornfield. In my head, I remembered movie scenes I liked and used them as templates. For example, one scene I built on the bones of a scene from When Harry Met Sally. In the movie, Sally tells Harry about a recurring dream she has where some faceless man rips her clothes off. Harry asks if the dream ever varies and Sally says, “Yes.” He says, “What part.” She says with this totally serious face, “What I’m wearing.” Same back and forth rhythm with Gayle’s narration to convey Jon’s straight man reaction.

Me:  Yes, this is the kind of cadence that really helped me to relate to her.  It’s brilliant.  I could totally relate to her, like she was in my own mind

Claire:  Great, then I guess I did my job!

Me:  Tell us about the editing process.  I’ve heard it can be pretty painful for an author to be ripped and shredded by a professional editor.

Claire: My editor did a fabulous job tightening up the manuscript, cutting out bits that were just clutter. No disagreements at all over those edits, because I know that is a writing weakness I have.

Me:  Awe, come on!  You must have disagreed with your editor some time or another.

Claire:  Well, no one can ever understand an author’s vision of the story and its characters better than the author herself. When I felt we were drifting from the point of the narration or dialogue, I pushed back. Some bits I felt were really clear, but my editor disagreed. That’s when I had to acknowledge that while no one else could ever step into my shoes, I could never step into my readers’ shoes either. What’s that saying? “Strive not to be heard but to be understood.” Sometimes an author’s “darlings” need to be killed (or at least be given a little plastic surgery) if they are confusing or add no value from the reader’s perspective. One of the best pieces of advice I ever received, that I did not fully understand or appreciate at the time, was, “tell the reader what she needs to know, not what you want her to know.”

Me:  Yeah, I’ve heard that too.  But only the author knows what the reader needs to know.  Sometimes you are leaving breadcrumbs that might seem pointless to an editor, that won’t make sence until later.

Claire:  Yes. There were a few places where I rolled up my sleeves and prepared to do battle because I felt passionately about the suggested changes, mostly my red herrings in danger of being cut altogether.

Me:  Red Herrings?

Claire:  [[Grins]] If you read many mysteries, they all have red herrings—tidbits that blend seamlessly into the story but throw the protagonist and the reader off track. If they seem too arbitrary or random to a reader (or editor), they aren’t written properly. I had to tweak a few of those to make those seams less ragged.

Me:   This is your debut novel.  How long were you querying before you found a publisher?

Claire:  I queried The P.U.R.E. with about twenty literary agents who all sent fairly prompt and succinct form rejections except for one who asked for a partial but then passed because she didn’t like Gayle. Queries, synopses and blurbs are not my strong suit, unfortunately.

Me:  Ugh!  Me either.  It’s easier to write a novel.

Claire:  I also entered The P.U.R.E. into the RWA Daphne du Maurier contest but it received mixed reactions. One judge gave it high marks and compliments while another felt it was unrealistic how the CPA heroine’s work situation was portrayed—ironic because I modeled those parts after my own real life CPA experiences.

After that and similar feedback when I sought critiques on my query letter (“CPAs are sooo not sexy; no one will read this.”), I accepted that a CPA-centered romantic mystery was an impossible sell, especially from a debut author. Although I loved The P.U.R.E. and so did my beta readers, I trunked it and moved on to other projects. The P.U.R.E. was only the second novel I’d ever written, so I just counted it toward paying my dues.

Me:  Holy cow!  So you almost shelved this?  What a waste!  What made you pull it back out again?

Claire:  Well, I went on to publish a few short stories and I also wrote other novels and novellas. I had never submitted nor even considered submitting The P.U.R.E. to any indie publishers previously because I thought it was literary agent / NYC publisher or nothing. A writer friend encouraged me to try that route after she had some success, and so I did.

Me:  Why do you think this worked out?

Claire:The timing was right for me, and I think indie publishers, especially newer ones, are more willing to take chances on debut authors who are a little outside of the box.

Me:  So, what’s next for you.  Can I convince you to explode something?

Claire: I promise you I have multiple explosions, shootings and chase scenes in an in-process manuscript called Sins of Our Mothers.

Me:

Yay!

Claire:  [Laughs]  One day I’ll finish that puppy. The bits I’ve shown off have piqued a few interests so I have high hopes for it if I can ever buckle down and finish it.

Me:  What else?

Claire:  I have a couple of submissions I’m waiting to hear from the publishers on within the next three weeks. One is a superhero romantic suspense novella called “Prometheus Unstitched” and guess what? There are hand grenades and snipers in that one!

Me:  Wahoo!

Now we’re talking!

Claire:  [Giggles] I also have an urban fantasy series I pull out periodically and fiddle around with. It has nuclear weaponry of my own design, used for dispatching all evidence of dead supernaturals. Since that one’s probably going to be part of a trilogy of novels, I need to write or at least lock down the plots of books two and three before I shop book one. Hard to do for a pantser like me.

Me:  So, what can we see soon?  I’m impatient, you know.

Claire:  In terms of pending publications, I have a short story to be included in a steampunk anthology called “Conquest Through Determination”, releasing any day now from Pill Hill Press. At the beginning of June, I will have a short story in an ocean-themed paranormal romance anthology called “Tidal Whispers” coming from J. Taylor Publishing.

Me:  Awesome!  I’ll be looking for them.  Okay, the rule is that you need to be open for questions after an interview.  Are ya up to it?

Claire: Sure! As long as there’s no math. Kidding. I’ll take the math questions too.

Me:  Okay, here we go.  I now leave Ms. Gillian in your capable hands.  Ask away oh seekers of infinite knowledge.  Don’t be shy!

Oh!  I almost forgot!  Leave a comment below, and one lucky random winner will get an ebook version of The P.U.R.E. (any format) for free!  Totally Cool!

But for those of you who can’t wait, pick up a copy at one of the links below.

Buy The P.U.R.E. online at Amazon (Paper or Kindle)

Buy The P.U.R.E. online at Barnes and Noble (Paper or Nook)

You can also buy The P.U.R.E. online at All Romance, Powells, Books on Board and Diesel.

Published Author Brinda Berry takes on the Little Blue Lady from Mars: (An Interview)

I want an interview

Sorry Little Blue Lady from Mars.  I don’t have time to interview you today.

Unacceptable!  I will be interviewed!

Wow!  Did you just get bigger?  Ummmm… Will you answer questions?  Give helpful comments?

Ha Ha!  No!  I am here to take over the world!

.

.

Ummmmm.  Maybe next week. 

Today we are talking to the lovely and talented Brinda Berry

Hello, Brinda!

(Imagine Brinda waving madly)

Your first novel, The Waiting Booth was published in 2011.  It was your very first published piece, right?

 Yes, The Waiting Booth was my debut novel.

Do you have an agent? 

I don’t have an agent.  I have experience in querying agents but not in obtaining one. That was supposed to be funny. If you are an author, you should be smiling. 

A brave lady.  Publisher direct, Huh?  So, How many publishers did you query before finding Etopia?

I have a spreadsheet with the exact number and details, but I’d say I queried a dozen before receiving the offer from Etopia Press.

What was your funniest/most memorable rejection letter?

Most of what I received were form letters. I don’t remember any specific letter that stands out. It’s all a blur.  You begin to feel that you can recite the first paragraph of a rejection letter before you read it.

How did you settle down with Etopia press?

I participated in an online conference with authors and publishers. This conference, Digicon, accomplished two things for me. It gave me tons of information about digital publishing as opposed to traditional publishing. It exposed me to the changes taking place in publishing. It also gave authors the opportunity to participate in online pitch sessions with requested publishers. I received two offers as a result of the pitches. I chose Etopia because of the quality of their published works and their input on my manuscript. 

I have a fifty pound poodle that could eat your cairn terriers.  Either that, or she’d roll around with them making a mess of the lawn.

I hope she’d roll around with them.

Chloe is licking her chops looking over the screen.  Don’t let her bows fool you.

Brinda:  One of my  cairns believes he is a bull mastiff.  If challenged, he acts like a lunatic.

Sounds like a two-on-one puppy derby!

Okay, back on topic.  Your first novel, The Waiting Booth, was told in “mostly first person” you switched to another POV in a few chapters.  New writers are told to shy away from this.  How’d you get away with it?  Did the publisher have any concerns?

Although I felt this was the right thing for me to do in my story, I did have reservations. I quizzed my editor about the risk in another POV, and she whole-heartedly supported it. She had no reservations and I trusted her instincts. You will see this again in the second book of the series, Whisper of Memory.

So, interdimensional portals hidden in the woods, huh?  Where did that concept come from?

I have a wild imagination. What can I say? Actually, I’ve always loved stories about portals. Also, I spend two hours daily in a car for my commute. I enjoy listening to NPR podcasts about string theory, black holes, and alternate dimensions.

Sexy government agents are always a hoot too.

One of mine is a hoot. The other is just sexy.

Just sexy works for me 🙂 Let’s see… If you had a choice between a pound of Godiva chocolate, or a week’s free Starbuck’s coffee, which would you take?

Could I take 1/2 lb of Godiva with the 3.5 days of Starbucks?

Nope.

You are drill sergeant tough. I guess the chocolate. One Christmas, my husband gave me a 5 lb. box of Godivas. The man loves me.

Yeah for thoughtful hubbies!

I hear you’re an internet junkie.  What’s your favorite internet site?

I spend most of my time reading blogs. I like Amazon a lot because you can find anything there. I spend a limited amount of time on social media like Twitter and Facebook.

Yeah, I’m not much for Twitter or Facebook either, although I have met some interesting people on Twitter. 

Your new novel, Whisper of Memory,  is out on March 16.  How long have you been working on it? 

I worked on it for approximately three months. That does not include time editing after it was submitted to my editor. After submission and contract signing, you can add several additional months.

Because I work a day job, I’m a slow writer. I hope to get faster at some point (or not require a day job).

Quick Brenda Run!

Aaaaaa!

Okay, I just blocked her with my cyber-super-blog-o-blocometer.  We’re safe.  Quick, before she breaks back in, tell us about your new novel.

Are you sure it’s safe?

Yeah, I’ve got my finger on the blocometer button. go ahead.

Okay.  Whisper of Memory is Book 2 in the Whispering Woods series. It was actually more fun to write since I knew the characters so much better. I like to have lots of action, and it was interesting to create problems for my characters.  Mia Taylor, the main character, is a high school senior who is a synesthete. Her sensory perception is different from the norm.  Beyond the typical synesthesia experience, Mia is able to sense portals. In Book 1, The Waiting Booth, she wanted to find her missing older brother. This book still includes that goal but adds the tension of a romantic relationship.

Did you have this plot in mind when you finished book #1, or did that come later.

I already had this book plotted when I finished Book 1. Otherwise, the first book might have ended differently.

 If anyone wants to get a taste of Brinda’s first novel, here is the trailer.  You can pick up book one now so you are all ready for the release of book two in a few days.

Check out the book trailer here!

 

Just curious, did your publisher ask you for another novel, or did you wave and say “Hi, I have more!”

When I pitched my story for the first book, I let them know that I had plans for three in this series. I was asked to give the details for the entire series arc.

What is one bit of advice you can give to “soon to be published” authors?

One rejection does not a failure make. Seriously.  Also, authors should be open to new ideas and challenges.

Great!  Thanks, Brinda.  As you know, Q & A is a prerequisite to stopping by here.  Are you ready to answer questions?

Sure

There you go guys.  Brinda is now all yours! 

Buy the Waiting Booth

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