Author Interviews

* you can find the original interviews and much more on my 'everything writing' blog (http://morgenbailey.wordpress.com), the main items being the interviews (new ones posted there 7am UK time daily) as well as author spotlights, guest posts, flash fiction or poetry 7pm.

Monday, 31 December 2012

Author interview no.502 with writer Linda Palmer (revisited)


Back in September 2012, I interviewed author Linda Palmer for my WordPress blog. I hope you enjoy it...
Welcome to the five hundred and second of my blog interviews with novelists, poets, short story authors, biographers, agents, publishers and more. Today’s is with romance, paranormal erotica and young adult author Linda Palmer. A list of interviewees (blogged and scheduled) can be found here. If you like what you read, please do go and investigate further.
Morgen: Hello, Linda. Please tell us something about yourself, where you’re based, and how you came to be a writer.
Linda: I was born and have almost always lived in Arkansas (did live in Texas a short time). The middle of three girls, I was the one with the big imagination.  My sisters have other talents I could never claim. I started writing for pleasure at an early age.  Poetry, first.  I actually have a letter that my third grade teacher wrote to my parents, telling them she thought I had writing talent. In junior high and high school, I moved on to short stories, usually romance since I'm a hopeless romantic.  Yeah, I've had crushes on many a mythical man--Robin Hood, in particular--as well as some flesh-and-blood guys such as Roy Rogers.  I didn't write a full-length novel until the late eighties.  By then I was married with two children and a government day job, but that didn't stop me. Looking back, I don't know how I juggled my careers.
Morgen: How lovely that you’ve been writing for so long and clearly with such passion. Having given up my job in March I don’t know how I worked and blogged at the same time… well, I do, 4-5 hour nights, but when it’s something you love… What genre do you generally write and have you considered other genres?
Linda: I started as a Silhouette author writing contemporary women's romances. These were formulaic in that they all had an ensured happy ending, which suited me fine.  Over a ten-year period, I wrote 21 novels under my maiden name, Linda Varner.  When I burned out on category romance, I took a break and did some reading.  I found that I liked two very different genres--paranormal erotica and paranormal young adult. So when I could not write any longer, I restarted my career focusing on them. These days I occasionally write romance that isn't paranormal, but I prefer stories with witches, werewolves, vampires, ghosts, and psychics.
Morgen: I have to say given the choice, I’d be the same. I rarely write romance (although it’s usually not as bad as I think when I start them) but even then I usually manage to kill off someone. :) What have you had published to-date? Do you write under a pseudonym?
Linda: To date, most of my Silhouette romances are still available, with some now being offered digitally.  I also have eleven young adult titles available, as well as novellas, short stories, and three anthology contributions.  As for my erotica, the pseudonym will remain a secret as far as this interview goes since I don't want any teens to stumble across my stories.  I will say that I have two full-length novels and fifteen novellas out there, all paranormal in one form or another.
Morgen: Have you self-published? If so, what led to you going your own way?
Linda: I have publishers--Sugar and Spice Press, Wild Horse Press, Uncial Press, Changeling Press and Ravenous Romance Publishing--but I've also self-published two books just to get a feel for it.  I like self-publishing, but it's definitely scary not getting an editor's input.
Morgen: Readers just be just as useful. Plus if something is an eBook, you can change it easily. You mentioned your ‘digital romances’, are all your books available as eBooks? Do you read eBooks or is it paper all the way?
Linda: All of my recent books are available as eBooks; some are in print. I own a Kindle, and, yes, it's packed with the books I loved.  My most recent acquisition was all seven Harry Potter books.  I was thrilled to shelve ten pounds of novels by placing them in a less-than-one-pound e-Reader.
Morgen: eBooks do tend to be cheaper (and rightly so), although I have seen some (mainstream) more expensive which makes me pretty mad because the overheads are SO much lower… a topic for another time, I think. Do you have a favourite of your books or characters? If any of your books were made into films, whom would you have as the leading actor/s?
Linda: Whatever book I'm writing is usually my current favourite, though I do have a soft spot for certain stories.  I love Jaguar Moon because it was my first really, really paranormal novel.  I love Operation: Normal because it was the first teen romance I ever sold.  I love Wolf-Crazy because it is my latest release.  As for the lead roles if my books were optioned for a movie...hm.  That's hard.  Most of the young actresses I admire are really too old to play teenagers--Kristen Stewart, Amanda Seyfried, Keira Knightly.
Morgen: Kristen Stewart managed it in Twilight and Amanda looks pretty young. I should say Keira does (especially as she’s the British choice) and I guess it depends upon the movie. Did you have any say in the titles / covers of your books? How important do you think they are?
Linda: I've always had a say in my titles.  As for the covers, I've only been allowed input on the e-books.  I've actually started making my own covers, and I love doing it.
Morgen: Oh so do I. There’s a great resource (http://morguefile.com) for free photos (do check the terms and conditions though) although so far for the eBooks I’ve used my own. What are you working on at the moment / next?
Linda: I'm playing with an idea at the moment.  If it falls into place, it will be about a high school girl who is psychic.  Working title: Lifers.  I just finished two projects.  One is the fourth book in my werewolf series, Wolf of My Heart, published by Wild Horse Press.  The title is Wolf-Crazy.  The other project was an anthology contribution built around Midsummer's Eve.  It's called Caught.
Morgen: They sound great and you sound prolific. Do you manage to write every day? Do you ever suffer from writer’s block?
Linda: There are days when I don't even turn on my computer, but they're rare.  Writers write.  I've never suffered from writer's block.  If I'm not in the mood to face the keyboard, I don't.  I realize that's a luxury.  But since writing was my secondary career until two years ago, I understand why some people have to write every day to make a living.
Morgen: Writers like to write although sometimes life (and marketing) gets in the way. Do you plot your stories or do you just get an idea and run with it?
Linda: For shorter works (10K and under), I run with it.  For books (50K and up), I definitely write a synopsis.  Otherwise, I waste time writing scenes that go nowhere or don't forward the story.
Morgen: That’s true. I’ve done NaNoWriMo four times and plotted the first and it ran away with me. I soon learned to reign things in when I start to waffle, although 50K in 30 days is all about quantity over quality and the real works starts once NaNo’s over. Do you have a method for creating your characters, their names and what do you think makes them believable?
Linda: Yes.  I'm constantly on the internet looking up unique names that fit my character.  Same for last names.  If the name is wrong, the character won't work.  Silly, but true.
Morgen: Oh no, it’s absolutely true. I often change my characters names when they don’t fit. Do you do a lot of editing or do you find that as time goes on your writing is more fully-formed?
Linda: I've never written drafts.  When I get finished with a page, I'm done except for cleaning up the typos.  But I spend an hour on a page, so I've probably put in my time.
Morgen: Ouch. Do you have to do much research?
Linda: Oh yes.  I heart Wikipedia!!!  I've found that my story usually evolves from the research.  For example, if I know I want to write an erotica piece about a, say, a mythological god, I read up on him and invariably the story pops out of that information.
Morgen: I love that. :) What point of view do you find most to your liking?
Linda: I prefer first person.  It puts the reader right in the middle of the action.
Morgen: Do you write any poetry, non-fiction or short stories?
Linda: I write lots of short stories. I love them.
Morgen: Me too. It’s my ‘thing’, and I write one a day (so I get to write every day) for my blog’s 5pm fiction slot. Do you have pieces of work that you think will never see light of day?
Linda: A few.  Usually I rework parts of them into other stories, so little goes unused.
Morgen: Excellent. I like to think that everything I’ve written will find a home (having been severely whipped into shape of course). Have you had any rejections? If so, how do you deal with them?
Linda: Most of my rejections have come from agents.  I don't take them personally.  No one has to like me. I just try someone / somewhere else.
Morgen: I like to think it’s just the right thing for the wrong person. Do you think agents are vital to an author’s success?
Linda: No and no.  In today's writing climate, there's no reason not to do everything yourself.
Morgen: As you said earlier, it’s fun. :) Do you enter competitions? Are there any you could recommend?
Linda: Yes.  I'd recommend the yearly Electronic Publishing Industry Coalition's contest.
Morgen: Not heard of that, thank you. I shall investigate. How much of the marketing do you do for your published works or indeed for yourself as a ‘brand’?
Linda: I do everything I can: guest blog, interviews, Facebook, Twitter, online scavenger hunts (sponsored by eBook sellers), my website, book trailers on YouTube, etc.  It's hard to get your name out there.
Morgen: I like the sound of ‘online scavenger hunts’. :) What’s your favourite / least favourite aspect of your writing life? Has anything surprised you?
Linda: My favourite part of writing is when a reader gets what I'm trying to do.  My least favourite is when there are mistakes in a book that I or my editors should've caught.
Morgen: It invariably happens to most (or certainly many) books. What advice would you give aspiring writers?
Linda: Stick with it. Focus on grammar, punctuation, and word crafting.  Those things matter.  The best plot in the world is useless if you don't have the skills to put it to paper.
Morgen: Indeed, although I’ve heard (from writers mainly) criticism for Dan Brown’s and JK Rowling’s writing but that they tell good stories. I’m sure you can certainly vouch for JK. :) If you could invite three people from any era to dinner, who would you choose and what would you cook (or hide the takeaway containers)?
Linda: I'd like to meet Charlotte Bronte.  Jane Eyre is my all-time favourite novel.  I'd also like to meet JK Rowling and Lady Mary Stewart.  I'd serve them southern fried chicken, mashed potatoes and gravy, green beans, and my mom's chocolate pie.
Morgen: Yum. Is there a word, phrase or quote you like?
Linda: "It's not our abilities that show who we are, it's our choices." Dumbledore to Harry Potter, The Chamber of Secrets.
Morgen: :) Are you involved in anything else writing-related other than actual writing or marketing of your writing?
Linda: I edit other people's books and theses.  I create book covers. I'm also helping a woman self-publish to Kindle.
Morgen: It’s not that hard a process. Everything is scary until we have a go. Once it’s done you then have the template to do more. What do you do when you’re not writing?
Linda: I'm a licensed cosmetologist!
Morgen: Although I was pretty sure what that was, it’s not a term I’ve heard before so Wikipediad it. :) Are there any writing-related websites and / or books that you find useful?
Linda: I swear by Techniques of the Selling Writer by Dwight V. Swain.  You can find it at Amazon.com.
Morgen: Are you on any forums or networking sites? If so, how valuable do you find them?
Linda: I am on a few.  They can be valuable, but they can also eat up your time.  So be choosy.
Morgen: They can indeed. I’m on loads but I don’t spend a lot of time on each, I tend to leave them on my connections-type pages so I know if I’m involved in any conversations. What do you think the future holds for a writer?
Linda: I think that technology is taking old-fashioned publishers to their knees. I think authors can and should take control by eliminating agents and self-publishing.
Morgen: It does tend to be the way writers are going (and I have heard that some agents are becoming small presses) and it no longer has the stigma it once had. Where can we find out about you and your writing?
Linda: My website is www.lvpalmer.com.
Morgen: Is there anything else you’d like to mention?
Linda: I've collaborated with my daughter on a couple of books--S'nat Wars and Double Vision.  That was a lot of fun, and we have another in the works.
Morgen: What fun.
Linda: Also, thanks for this opportunity.
Morgen: You’re very welcome, Linda, thank you for taking part.
I then invited Linda to include a synopsis of one of her books and this is of Wolf-Crazy:
Zeke Sterling, the love of Skyler Walker's life went missing over a year ago, leaving her an emotional mess. Now he's standing on her front porch with an earring and tats, still unaware that she adores him. If she dares believe his crazy story of abduction, teen gangs and werewolves, will they both be wolf crazy?
Linda Varner Palmer has been writing for as long as she can remember. In 1989, she sold her first romance to Silhouette Books, writing as Linda Varner. She wrote twenty more over the next ten years, with all being translated and sold worldwide. She was an RWA Rita finalist in 1993 and 1996. After taking a break, Linda is at her computer again, writing e-books as Linda Palmer. She is focusing on teen romances with a paranormal twist and is thrilled to announce sales to e-publishers Uncial Press, Sugar and Spice Press and Wild Horse Press. Linda's YA novel THE CINDERELLA SWAP won the Electronic Publishing Industry Coalition’s (EPIC) 2011 award in the YA category. Another YA novel, NIGHTMARE, INTERRUPTED, won the 2012 award. Visit her website: www.lvpalmer.com.
***
If you are reading this and you write, in whatever genre, and are thinking “ooh, I’d like to do this” then you can… just email me and I’ll send you the questions. You complete them, I tweak them where appropriate (if necessary to reflect the blog ‘clean and light’ rating) and then they get posted. When that’s done, I email you with the link so you can share it with your corner of the literary world. And if you have a writing-related blog / podcast and would like to interview me… let me know.
** NEW!! You can now subscribe to this blog on your Kindle / Kindle app!
You can sign up to receive these blog posts daily or weekly so you don’t miss anything. You can contact me and find me on the internetview my Books (including my debut novel!) and I also have a blog creation / maintenance service especially for, but not limited to, writers. If you like this blog, you can help me keep it running by donating and choose an optional free eBook.
For writers / readers willing to give feedback and / or writers wanting feedback, take a look at this blog’s Feedback page.
As I post an interview a day (amongst other things) I can’t unfortunately review books but I have a list of those who do, and a feature called ‘Short Story Saturdays’ where I review stories of up to 2,500 words (and post stories of up to 3,000 words). Alternatively if you have a short story or self-contained novel extract / short chapter (ideally up to 1000 words) that you’d like critiqued and don’t mind me posting it online in my new Red Pen Critique Sunday night posts, then do email me. They are fortnightly episodes, usually released on Sundays, interweaving the recordings between the red pen sessions with the hints & tips episodes. I am now also looking for flash fiction (<1000 words) for Flash Fiction Fridays and poetry for Post-weekend Poetry.

Writing interview no.501 with publisher Martyn Forrester (revisited)


Back in September 2012, I interviewed author Martyn Forrester for my WordPress blog. I hope you enjoy it...
Welcome to the five hundred and first of my blog interviews with novelists, poets, short story authors, biographers, agents, publishers and more. Today’s is with Managing Director of publishing house Apostrophe Books Martyn Forrester. A list of interviewees (blogged and scheduled) can be found here. If you like what you read, please do go and investigate further. Martyn mentions Robert Ford who I interviewed in August – you can read our interview (after Martyn’s please :)) here.
Morgen: Hello, Martyn. I’d like to jump straight in and ask you whether there is a genre that sells better than others or that you can’t get enough of?
Martyn: Perversely, the genres that sell best aren't the ones we're interested in. What we can’t get enough of is literary fiction that conventional publishers can no longer afford to take the risk on – that was our original mission when we launched earlier in 2012. We're talking experimental, cutting edge fiction like The King Of Spain, by Robert Ford (http://apostrophebooks.com/kingofspain). Robert's a movie editor, and you can tell by the way he uses his literary cameras. The result is a collection of vivid images that stays in your head a long time after you've finished reading.
Morgen: I wrote a TV script for the now defunct Script Frenzy in April 2010 and whilst I didn’t enjoy the process (I’ve since converted it into the beginning of a novel) it has made me think more about the construction of visual media. I’m sure there will be writers reading this interview who are looking for a publisher, how can they submit to you?
Martyn: Submit fiction to us through Fiction Fast-Track, our new competition in which we publish an e-book voted for by the public every two months: http://apostrophebooks.com/fictionfasttrack (we have just published our first winner). Writers submit their complete novel or collection of short stories, and we upload a sample for the public to vote on. For non-fiction, we take submissions by email. We also hunt down writers ourselves, often by sampling self-published works.
Part of our aim is to give new life to books we've loved in the past. In theory these should be easy enough to track down, but it's often taken a lot of detective work to trace authors.
Finding exciting new work is becoming easier by the day. We've even had some coy approaches from agents who like the idea of launching their authors' new work in ebook format. We have an ebook coming out later this year whose author has been on the New York Times bestseller list many times – their Madison Avenue agent specifically wanted a boutique ebook publisher, and we're thrilled he chose us – especially as we don't pay advances!
The ebook market is maturer in the States, and agents and publishers have been able to see that the ebook and hardback markets don't cannibalize each other – they cross-fertilize. I see a rosy future in which we all happily co-exist. After all, part of our mission is to find conventional hardback / paperback homes for our new authors – if we love their writing enough to publish it, we want to see them reach as wide a readership as they possibly can.
Morgen: I’d say only a handful of people I’ve spoken to / interviewed only read eBooks. I see them running alongside each other quite happily, in fact I know of readers who have both… of the same book! (if it’s good enough of course) Can you suggest some do’s and don’t’s when submitting to you.
Martyn: Please make sure your work has been edited, even if it's by a friend. Spelling mistakes and poor grammar make our teeth itch. It's like singing out of tune at a music audition.
Morgen: The X-Factor factor of publishing. :) Are there authors that you deal with on a regular basis and / or perhaps represent directly?
Martyn: We have been asked to represent authors, but being an agent is a full-time job. Informally, we're happy to get great work we're publishing in front of the right people in the right agencies or conventional publishing houses, but after that we'll step back.
Morgen: Again most authors I’ve spoken to appreciate that the emphasis is on them to do the marketing, “a necessary evil” some have called it. You mentioned your competition, do you think they help with a writer’s success?
Martyn: I think competitions can be a fantastic springboard. Any contest open to public vote can be skewed by a contestant's friends and supporters, but by and large you can tell how well a book is going to do. Robert Ford's The King Of Spain attracted a lot of votes and positive comments, and sure enough it went straight in at Number 1 on the iTunes New & Noteworthy feature.
I think the book and author get a lot of publicity they wouldn't have otherwise. The media like reporting competition winners – look at the coverage The Orange Prize winner got this year. The launch of Fiction Fast-Track was reported as far afield as the San Francisco Chronicle and the Times of India, and internationally on Yahoo.
Morgen: Don’t you just love technology (I’m so grateful I grew up with an older brother). You spoke of agents earlier, do you think an agent is vital to an author’s success? How would you suggest an author gets one?
Martyn: Between us, we've been in publishing for 30 years and we know how tall the slush piles are in most publishers' offices. Mind you, they are in agencies too. In general, get yourself a good agent and you're home and dry. Not because of the money – these days, you're very unlikely to receive an advance that lets you give up the day job – more in terms of editorial advice and guidance. An experienced agent has a price beyond rubies.
Morgen: Most of the authors I’ve spoken to who have them would say the same. Now for, in theory, a simple question: what’s your opinion of eBooks, do you publish them and do you read them?
Martyn: We love them – we only publish ebooks! And Amazon have just announced that their customers are buying more Kindle books than print books, both hardback and paperbacks, so it looks like we've made a good decision to only publish ebooks. So far in 2012, Amazon say that for every 100 print books sold on the site, it has sold 114 Kindle books, excluding free Kindle books. What's most encouraging, though, is the news that in the UK, Kindle readers buy four times the number of books they did before owning a Kindle. As long as people are involved in the magic of reading, does it matter whether it's via an iPad, a hardback or a cereal packet?
Morgen: I had heard that. Mine are only eBooks (so far :)). Poetry and short stories are, in my opinion anyway, the two most hard done by genres… what do you see as the future for them? Do you think the eBook revolution will help given that eBooks seem to be getting shorter?
Martyn: I see a huge future for them. We are bringing out a stunning poetry collection in September, and if it's successful, we'll look to establish a list. We’ve already published our first collection of short stories, Pork by Cris Freddi (http://apostrophebooks.com/books/fantasy/pork) ­– a powerful and unusual collection of animal stories for adults. We're on the hunt for good short stories. A lot of people write one or two good ones, but not enough to fill a collection.
Morgen: As a short story author, that’s great news. :) Is there a plot that’s written about too often?
Martyn: There is now – it's the 50 Shades plot, or as we call it, Boy Beats Girl.
Morgen: Ah yes. It’s like vampires, it goes in and out of fashion although Dracula has always been popular. Writers should write what they want to, there will be a market for it somewhere. I loved your music audition analogy earlier, do you have to do a lot of editing to the stories you accept or is the writing usually more or less fully-formed?
Martyn: We expect submitted work to be already edited, but no work is perfect and there are always a few tweaks we can suggest.
Morgen: For your purposes, does it matter what point of view a story is written in? Have you ever printed any in second person? What’s your opinion of second person?
Martyn: Not a fan of the second person. Mind you, books written in the present tense don't float our boat either but you still see plenty of them, so what do we know?
Morgen: <laughs> Although second is my favourite point of view, and I write a second person story every Friday for my 5pm fiction slot, I’m sensible enough not to write anything long in it. It’s wearing as a writer and reader. Have you had any surprising feedback about any of your published works?
Martyn: It's cheesy to say this this, but the greatest feedback comes when writers we admire choose to come aboard.
Morgen: Flattering for sure. What advice would you give aspiring writers?
Martyn: It's obvious, but: keep writing. Monica Dickens used to spend the first two hours of the day writing furiously, and then she'd throw it away and start her working day. It's the same for aspiring writers. Just because you wrote it, doesn't make it good. The very least you can do is cut the first three paragraphs of your first chapter. And then, as Elmore Leonard says, cut the stuff people don't read.
Morgen: Absolutely, start with the action, although I don’t throw anything away regardless of how bad it is because I like to think it can be whipped into shape, or if not it shows me where I’m going wrong or how far I’ve come when it’s finished. Regardless of what you write, you can’t edit a blank page.
Martyn: The other thing is, don't be afraid to expose your work to criticism. If you're worried about showing your work to others, it's probably for a good reason – it most likely needs another edit. Be brave and send your work out to publishers, and enter it in competitions – of course we’d suggest Fiction Fast-Track as the first port of call!
Morgen: Of course. :) What do you think the future holds for a writer?
Martyn: I think we're in danger of heading for a world where you have to be able to afford to be a writer, like the gentlemen scientists of the 19th century. That's why Apostrophe Books is trying to incubate and showcase great new voices. It's not a money making mission; it's a labour of love.
Morgen: I’ve not charged for anything on this blog and therefore not made a penny out of it but it’s part of me (some of my writing friends have called it an obsession and I’d agree with that, about writing certainly). I’d say that’s what it has to be for everyone in this industry.
Martyn: For the last couple of years now, the big mainstream publishers have been caught in a perfect storm of high overheads and dwindling sales. They are having to concentrate their resources on their surefire franchises, and it's being left to independent publishers to champion new writing – look at the number of independent publishers on this year's Booker long list. Hardback indie publishers tend to have been set up with good intent and decent war chests, and they can fill the void – as long as the good intent and war chests hold up!
The costs, and therefore risks, to us as ebook publishers are much lower – not least because all the elements like cover design, formatting and proofreading can be bought out.
Morgen: Absolutely. It cost me nothing but time to put mine online and it was a fun process. What do you think of social media sites such as Facebook and Twitter, and more business-related such as LinkedIn? Do you think they’re invaluable or too time-consuming?
Martyn: Social media sites are really important these days, but it's easy to fall into the trap of thinking that because you have a lot of followers, you have a lot of buyers. It's not the same thing. We use Twitter (@apostrophebooks) and Facebook (www.facebook.com/apostrophebooksltd) to update our followers daily and to reach new readers – and new writers. We’re also on LinkedIn, and starting to build a presence on Pinterest (http://pinterest.com/apostrophebooks). Join us!
Morgen: I’m pretty new to Pinterest but have heard good things about it so I will have to check you out. Thank you, Martyn.
***
If you are reading this and you write, in whatever genre, and are thinking “ooh, I’d like to do this” then you can… just email me and I’ll send you the questions. You complete them, I tweak them where appropriate (if necessary to reflect the blog ‘clean and light’ rating) and then they get posted. When that’s done, I email you with the link so you can share it with your corner of the literary world. And if you have a writing-related blog / podcast and would like to interview me… let me know.
** NEW!! You can now subscribe to this blog on your Kindle / Kindle app!
You can sign up to receive these blog posts daily or weekly so you don’t miss anything. You can contact me and find me on the internetview my Books (including my debut novel!) and I also have a blog creation / maintenance service especially for, but not limited to, writers. If you like this blog, you can help me keep it running by donating and choose an optional free eBook.
For writers / readers willing to give feedback and / or writers wanting feedback, take a look at this blog’s Feedback page.
As I post an interview a day (amongst other things) I can’t unfortunately review books but I have a list of those who do, and a feature called ‘Short Story Saturdays’ where I review stories of up to 2,500 words (and post stories of up to 3,000 words). Alternatively if you have a short story or self-contained novel extract / short chapter (ideally up to 1000 words) that you’d like critiqued and don’t mind me posting it online in my new Red Pen Critique Sunday night posts, then do email me. They are fortnightly episodes, usually released on Sundays, interweaving the recordings between the red pen sessions with the hints & tips episodes. I am now also looking for flash fiction (<1000 words) for Flash Fiction Fridays and poetry for Post-weekend Poetry.