Interview with an indie author (Deanna Lynn Sletten)

In the last of this series…  Deanna Lynn Sletten, author of Memories; Widow, Virgin, Whore; and Outlaw Heroes

If you were trapped on a desert island, and a magical talking stork could bring you one book (not yours) which would it be?

This is a difficult question to answer because I have so many favorites. The first book that popped into my mind was Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte. I could read that book over and over again.

Which authors influenced you most?

I’m not sure if these authors influenced me because I would never say that I write like any of them, but they did influence my love of reading. F. Scott Fitzgerald for his wit and smooth writing style, Louisa May Alcott because Little Women was the first book I fell in love with and of course, Charlotte Bronte, because I just love the beautiful old-time writing style of Jane Eyre.

What made you go indie?

To be quite honest, I went indie because after sending out dozens of query letters to agents and publishers and getting nowhere, I decided that if I wanted to publish my books, I’d have to do it myself. I haven’t regretted it at all. It’s the best decision I could have made.

What’s your favourite part of indie publishing?

I love having total control over everything from the writing of the book to the editing and formatting and having a hand in creating the book cover (with a lot of help). I even enjoy the whole promotion process even though it can be a lot of work.

What’s your least favourite part?

I really don’t have a least favorite part, I enjoy the whole process.

Summarise your writing style (or books) in 100 words or less:

When I’m writing, I like showing the reader a little bit of each character at a time and let the reader learn more as the story unfolds. Characters are the main focus of all of my books. It is their lives and who they are and what happens to them that creates the story. If the characters stay stagnant, then there is no story. Hopefully, people see the characters grow
and change and enjoy reading about their lives. One reviewer said of my book, Widow, Virgin, Whore, that she kept thinking about the characters long after she’d finished the book. If that is true, then I have accomplished my goal.

If you were offered a book-deal would you take it?

I would love a book deal if I could set the terms. It would have to be a very patient publisher.

Why should someone pick-up your book(s)?

Because they are honest stories with real-life characters who experience real situations. You walk away feeling like you know these characters personally. The books are entertaining and readers seem to connect with the characters and their stories. As for my children’s book, Outlaw Heroes, it is just plain fun!

What formats is it/are they available in and where?

Memories is a Women’s Fiction/Romance novel and is available in Kindle eBook format for $2.99 and paperback for $8.99 on Amazon.

Widow, Virgin, Whore is a Women’s Fiction/Family Drama novel available in Kindle eBook format for $2.99 on Amazon.

Outlaw Heroes is a Children’s Fiction/Action/Adventure novel for kids ages 10 and up. It is available in Kindle eBook format for $2.99 on Amazon and will soon be available in paperback for $6.99 on Amazon.

Readers can visit me at my blog, goodreads, Twitter or Facebook.

Advertisements
Posted in Interview with an indie author | Tagged , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

Dragon Gem, by Brian Beam

“Korin has a problem.  He’s foolishly signed himself into a magical contract to find a stolen gem and just when he has it in his clutches its carted off by a mysterious stranger. So, he has just under 2 weeks to find the gem again and return it to his employer or else face the repercussions – a lifetime of servitude.”


Rating: 3 stars

Genre: Fantasy
(coming of age, self-discovery, heroics, magic and dragons)

A light hearted read with the usual mix of adventure fantasy creatures such as a dragon, some magic, a lost prince(?) and evil wizards – this was not a difficult book to read.  There were times however, where the writing was a little clumsy and from the tone of the storytelling I would guess that it would be more suited towards young adults or children.  If it were to targeted at adults it would need some serious editing to polish up the prose a little (although let me point out, someone probably said this of the Harry Potter books…).  One of my favourite aspects were the various deities and the curses associated with them and Max’s humour/wit.

There were points however, which I felt needed work:

1. The magic talking wizard cat: Ok, so there’s a magic talking cat – this is a nice touch and threads into the storyline well, but the narrator’s overemphasis of the fact got tiring.  I don’t need to be reminded every other page that there’s a magical talking wizard cat… shorten it to magic cat and the other two words (wizard + talking) are implied, or even talking wizard cat – the whole combination was quite frankly a mouthful and by the end a little boring.

2. The contract: This is central to the storyline and yes, it needs some explaining, but I think again the author overdid it – it could have been put much simpler with something along the lines of:

Rule 1 – The contract holder and setter agree on a deal and a deadline sealing this with blood on a contract designed by an ancient wizard.

Rule 2 – If the contract is fulfilled then the blood will disappear and the setter and holder can go their own ways.  If the contract holder fails then his soul is bound to the contract setter.  Any resistance to this will lead to a slow, painful and unnatural death.

Rule 3 – The contract setter cannot interfere with the holder’s task.  Similarly even after the task is completed the holder cannot reverse the task.

‘The end’.  Any subtler points could have been added later along the way so that the reader is not overwhelmed with information.  And of course you could thread in some backstory, but the key details really need to be (at least initially) laid bare in an accessible fashion.

3. Focus: I have to say a lot of the storyline was focused on Korin’s origins (which I assume will be the core of a series) and worked as quite a large ‘hook’.  As it wasn’t resolved by the end of the book I felt, in a way, cheated and the start-up to the next book was a little contrived. Really I should have known it was coming from the title alone.

So was I annoyed because I wanted to find out more?  Yes.  (You decide if this is a good or bad thing 😉 )

Did I enjoy the story?  Yes.

Was it perfectly edited? Not quite, but it also wasn’t riddled with the usual errors indicating a good proofread is required.  A professional edit on the other hand would have improved the ‘flow’ of the text.

See also:

– Author page

Reviews: some general rules

Posted in Reviews | Leave a comment

Interview with an indie author (David Berger)

David Berger, author of Task Force: Gaea

If you were trapped on a desert island, and a magical talking stork could bring you one book (not yours) which would it be?

Lord of the Rings (assuming a trilogy could be carried together) 🙂

Which authors influenced/influence you most?

Even though I write fantasy, and writers like David Eddings, Terry Goodkind, Terry Brooks, Piers Anthony, J. R. R. Tolkien, et al have influenced my fantasy side, I also feel that people like Maya Angelou, Gabriel García Márquez, Isabel Allende, and Mikhail Lermontov have influenced me. Their works, more grounded in reality (although García Márquez and Allende write Magical Realism), have shown me more complex styles to emulate.

What made you go indie?

After over 25 years of working on the manuscript, I simply wanted to get the book out into the world. The closest thing I can compare it to is being “pregnant” for that long and just wanting to give birth. I have poured my heart and soul into Task Force: Gaea, and going indie felt like the right thing to do. If a traditional published saw the novel and wanted to publish/promote it, that would be grand, but if not—then indie I shall be.

What’s your favourite part of indie publishing?

The control I have over everything, since I am a bit OCD about what I’m doing. I find that if my name is on something, then I need to have my hands into it all the way up to my elbows. Knowing that I get to decide design, format, and distribution makes me feel empowered, more so than I might if I had pursued a traditional publishing house.

What’s your least favourite part?

Marketing. I’m an introvert, so putting myself out there into the world and drawing attention isn’t my normal place to be. I use social media, like Twitter and Facebook, to promote myself, but sometimes I feel like I am saturating my friends with information they’ve seen over and over again. I’m toying with the idea of finding a publicist who specializes in independent authors to see what he or she can do not only to teach me about self-promotion, but also to do some things that show me how it’s done well.

Summarise your writing style (or books) in 100 words or less:

My style can best be described as true to who I am and also complex. I make no apologies for using strong vocabulary, and I think setting the bar a bit higher for readers can keep them interested as well as nudge them to think a bit more beyond the story. I strive to write something that I, and like-minded people, would want to read.

If you were offered a book-deal would you take it?

That would depend on the deal. I’m not willing to relinquish any creative control or any authorial control, but I would be open to a traditional publisher picking up my work.

Why should someone pick-up your book(s)?

Task Force: Gaea has all of the elements of high fantasy, Greek mythology, and intricate plot development to challenge a reader, especially one who enjoys the comfort of myths read as a child coupled with changes made to expand the scope of the original stories in fresh and exciting ways. Having some knowledge of Greek mythology may be helpful, but is certainly not required, to enjoy this novel.

What formats is it/are they available in and where?

Task Force Gaea is available at Amazon in both paperback and Kindle, at Barnes & Noble as Nook, and at Smashwords in formats compatible with other e-readers.

Posted in Interview with an indie author | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

A True Friend

There’s a new (free) short story available from Karen Aminadra: A True Friend.

If you get a chance to read it, please take the time to leave a review and perhaps pick up the larger collection of stories – Life & Love from Amazon.

To learn more about Karen and her work check out her blog, visit her author page, or follow on Twitter or Facebook.

See also:

Indie e-books now open for submissions

Short stories as a marketing tool?

Posted in indie ebooks, Short stories as a marketing tool | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

Fifty Shades of…?

I’ve talked before about the effect that both positive and negative bias can have on reviews and given a certain indie book has received a lot of attention  of late (in the UK press at least) I’ve decided to return again.

So, in case you’ve been hiding under a rock…

“Fifty Shades of Grey is a 2011 erotic novel by British author E. L. James. Set largely in Seattle, it is the first instalment in a trilogy that traces the deepening relationship between a college graduate, Anastasia Steele, and a young business magnate, Christian Grey. It is notable for its explicitly erotic scenes featuring elements of sexual practices involving bondage, discipline, sadism, and masochism (BDSM).” – Wikipedia (July 2012)

Now that the introductions are over… there will inevitably be a few people picking up ths book just to see what the fuss is about and given perhaps that it could be considered a ‘niche genre’, quite a few of those won’t be happy with what they get.  The result?  A LOT of disgruntled customers.  This is what we expect from a ‘conflicted’ or ‘skewed’ set of reviews (as I outlined in ‘credibility of book reviews’ part 3 ) and yet when you look at Goodreads it’s skewed more towards 5 stars – does this indicate that the reviewers were better informed of their choice?

Above: Ratings pulled off of Amazon and Goodreads (~July 2012)

See also:

When the credibility of book reviews comes into question Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3

Posted in Indie Publishing, Reviews | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Interview with an indie author (Sarka-Jonae Miller)

Sarka-Jonae Miller, author of Between Boyfriends

If you were trapped on a desert island, and a magical talking stork could bring you one book (not yours) which would it be?

Well first I’d ask the stork to bring me a satellite phone, but if he only brings books I would go with The Chronicles of Narnia – seven awesome books in one. I loved those stories as a child and as an adult. I discover something new every time I read them.

Which authors influenced/influence you most?

I read a variety of books in different genres, but the only book I have finished so far is chick lit so I guess I’d have to narrow down my influences to that genre. I’d say Risa Green has been a big influence. Her main characters are not all sugar and spice and everything nice, nor do they always hold the popular opinions. I respect Risa Green for writing outside of the box. I also think that Sophie Kinsella/Madeline Wickham is an influence. She has certainly shown that one person can write with very different styles in the same genre, which I think helped influence me to play around with my style and find my voice.  Emma McLaughlin, Nicola Kraus and Lauren Weisberger have influenced me too. They all have a rather unique, sometimes cutting and sometimes cutesy, sense of humor.

What made you go indie?

I felt that my book was ready to be published and it was taking too long to find a large publishing house to print it. I’m also working on the sequel and figured I’d better get book 1 out there soon or the series would start backing up and feel dated.

What’s your favourite part of indie publishing?

You can do almost everything yourself nowadays and retain full creative control. I love that. Even if I signed a deal with a major publishing house in the future I would be in a better bargaining position having gone the indie route first and gaining some success on my own.

What’s your least favourite part?

It takes a lot more time to get people to hear about your book without the clout and marketing budget that major publishers bring. I also dislike that so many people won’t even consider self-published books or books published by small publishers for reviews or awards. It’s hard to get noticed with so many people unwilling to even look at your book .

Summarise your writing style (or books) in 100 words or less:

I love to write with a lot humor. Sometimes my humor is dry or sarcastic, but I try to make things fun. Between Boyfriends is unique because it has a lot of the fluff and silliness that other chick lit books offer, but it deals with some deep issues and emotional pain. I really like to combine entertainment with realism and insight.

If you were offered a book-deal would you take it?

Probably. I think Between Boyfriends would make a great movie and it would have a much better chance getting there with help from a large publishing house. However, I would not take the book deal if it meant I had to change the ending or shorten my three-book series. I firmly believe that characters should develop in a believable timeline. My main character, Jan, is truly a sweet person inside but needs years to fix the type of insecurities and issues she has. Watching her grow and learn and repair relationships overtime is part of the fun. When she finally gets her happy ending it will seem real and more importantly she will have earned it. Would it have been as satisfying if Big and Carrie worked everything out in season 2 of Sex and the City? Not at all. We watched them grow and struggle for 10 years (in TV/movie time) before they finally got together. It takes as long as it takes.

Why should someone pick-up your book(s)?

Between Boyfriends can appeal to many types of people. If you’re just looking for something really funny to read quickly at the beach or on a trip, it’s great for that. If you’re looking for something a bit deeper but not too heavy, it works on that level too. Between Boyfriends isn’t a fairytale, but it will make you laugh out loud and pretty much anyone can relate to Jan’s struggles, whether it’s heartbreak, financial difficulties, searching for what makes you happy, trying to figure out your career path, or just not always knowing how to relate to people.

What format is it available in and where?

Between Boyfriends is available as an ebook in all formats at Smashwords and can also be found at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Goodreads and other ebookstores like Diesel, Kobo, iTunes and Sony. I am working on an audio book, which should be available later in 2012 along with the next book in the series.

If you want to get in touch with the author, check our Sarka’s Facebook author page and Goodreads blog.

Posted in Interview with an indie author | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Broken City, by D.D. Chant

Deeta has been sheltered all her life…

In a world destroyed by a financial crisis gone too far, tribal factions struggle to survive.  For Deeta’s tribe, those ‘unbroken’ tribe members like her are kept within the confines of their tower block.  But when one of theirs is kidnapped and this way of life is threatened Deeta finally gets to experience the outside world – good and bad.

Rating: 4 stars

Genre: Post-apocalyptic/YA

Length: ~300 pages

Ok ok, I’m a sucker for a post-apoc novel… and this one would perhaps fall under the ‘coming of age’ post-apoc sub genre.  The majority of the book is narrated from the perspective of Deeta – who might be described by some as annoyingly naive.  I found, however, that her ‘blindness’ is perhaps part of the hook, in that you spend most of the book waiting for the penny to drop.

The premise and world which has been crafted here is also rather insightful – that a financial crisis could drive the world to riots and ruin and that the majority of ‘survivors’ would band into tribal factions.  The background for all of this was also naturally delivered, i.e. not thrown at you in the first dozen pages allowing the reader to ask questions that are answered further down the line.

So what did it entail?  A traditional ‘quiet setting’ followed by being thrown into some high-paced scenes. Some intrigue, romance, betrayal, politics, espionage and finally a little bit of fighting…

What were the possible downfalls? I could see some becoming frustrated with Deeta’s character and some of the text could have used a bit more polish, but the quality of the story itself made up for any of these – in the end this provided 2 days of welcome distraction.

Disclaimer: There were some editorial problems, but as these have since been ironed out it hasn’t affected the rating.

See also:

Author page

– Reviews: Some general rules

Posted in Reviews | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Interview with an indie author (Elizabeth Baxter)

Elizabeth Baxter, author of Circle Spinner and Other Tales

If you were trapped on a desert island, and a magical talking stork could bring you one book (not yours) which would it be?

The Lord of The Rings (omnibus edition so it’s just one book).

Which authors influenced/influence you most?

When I was younger I was a huge fan of Stephen Donaldson so when I look through my old manuscripts they are just like his work. Then a bit later on, I became a huge Robin Hobb fan, so my work from around that time is like hers. These days I like to think I’ve found my own style. I love the work of George RR. Martin and Steven Erikson and if my own work could get to even a tenth of their standard, I’d be happy!

What made you go indie?

I actually turned down a publishing contract to go indie. Why? Because I’m slightly crazy. My publisher was a small one, and they had originally given me a contract for both paperback and eBook, but halfway through the process they restructured and changed to eBook only. They still wanted to publish my book but gave me the option of taking back the rights. It was around the time self-pubbing went crazy so I’d been researching it. I thought to myself, “I’m sure I could do this myself. Sounds like hard work but fun!” So I got the rights back and did it myself. And yes, it was hard work and fun. Time is yet to prove if it was crazy!

What’s your favourite part of indie publishing?

Hmmm, all of it? I just love the whole process. It’s really hard work, and at times I was pulling my hair out with frustration, but it’s also very enjoyable. My most favorite part is probably when I’ve got all the proofs back, the cover finished and I can start putting the file together ready for publishing.

What’s your least favourite part?

Fiddling with file when I should be leaving it alone! I read through my books about a gazillion times before I publish them. Each time I spot something I want to change. I’m trying to be more disciplined.

Summarise your writing style (or books) in 100 words or less:

Character-driven fiction that sucks you in and makes you laugh and cry with the characters.

If you were offered a book-deal would you take it?

That’s a tough question. It would depend on the deal. It would have to offer me something that self-publishing doesn’t and I’m a little skeptical that it could do that. Having said that, I’ve heard of a lot of indie publishers taking traditional contracts, so I’d have to sit down and give it some serious thought.

Why should someone pick-up your book(s)?

Circle Spinner and Other Tales is a collection of fantasy and science fiction stories. They are varied and exciting so there’s something for everyone. Whether you like comedy, heartwarming stories or epic battles, there will be something you enjoy. Go on, give it a whirl!

What formats is it/are they available in and where?

Circle Spinner and Other Tales is available on the Kindle in the  US  or  UK.

Thanks for reading!

Elizabeth Baxter

Posted in Interview with an indie author | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Close the Door, by James Fant

“Mark Morris was a monster bent on revenge.  Armed with hatred, brass knuckles, and a glock pistol, he traveled to his hometown to harm those who harmed him so long ago. But every act of revenge only moved Mark closer to the edge.  In the end, Mark finds out that the only person he is harming is himself and that happiness had always stood before him like an open door.  But by then, would it be too late for him to walk through that door?  Would he be able to close the door on his past so that he can truly embrace his future?”


Rating:  4 stars

Genre: Inspirational fiction

It seems I’m developing a habit for reading short stories from Mr Fant having reviewed The Secret Branch in January and from what I’ve seen so far, he’s cultivating his own brand of inspiring (and/or thoughtful) short stories.  This includes the themes of real relationships (i.e. sometimes complicated and rarely perfect) ; questions about right and wrong; the consequences we could face when we take the wrong path in life; and even, sometimes, the second chances we might be gifted with.

As for this short story, well it’s clear from the start that some revenge is in play with a brutal fistfight but I challenge you to guess where it leads from there.  I spent my time wondering what the protagonist was so bitter about, and finally, whether he had imagined it himself…  Imagined a situation and then held onto it for years, so that it develops into a bitter, soul-destroying hate.  In the end the question remains whether he can let it go and get on with his life and could you do the same?

See also:

Author page

Review of The Secret Branch

– Reviews: Some general rules

Posted in Reviews | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Interview with an indie author (Larissa Hinton)

Larissa Hinton, author of Everblossom: A Short Story and Poetry Anthology

If you were trapped on a desert island, and a magical talking stork could bring you one book (not yours) which would it be?

Gosh, only one!? I guess the one book I would love to wish for Nightshade by Andrea Cremer.

Which authors influenced/influence you most?

The top five authors that have shaped me into the author I am today are: Bruce Coville, Meg Cabot, Shel Silverstein, Stephenie Meyer and Andrea Cremer.

What made you go indie?

I decided that after a massive amount of research (mostly through JA Konrath’s blog) that traditional publishing wasn’t for me. I spent years trying to write better books, better query letters, better research and after all of this effort, I just got more and more frustrated. I know I’m a talented and committed writer. Why wasn’t I able to get published?

So, after some pushy and strong arguments from my professor, I checked out JA Konrath’s blog and read more compelling arguments. The choice was clear: either I continued to do the same thing and try even harder to break into the traditional publishing industry, or I could try a different tactic and self-publish my books. Needless to say, I chose self-publishing and never looked back.

What’s your favourite part of indie publishing?

My favorite part of self publishing is having the ability to make major decisions. I get to decide where, when and how I will publish my books. I also get to pick the interior design and the book cover of my books. That’s complete freedom for me especially since I am super picky about cover design.

Additionally, I love the fact that I can write in whatever genre I wish. I know for some traditionally published authors that once they start with one genre, the publishers like for them to stick with that one genre. I love the freedom of being able to choose whatever genre I want whenever I want.

What’s your least favourite part?

My least favorite part is how all of publishing business detracts from the writing process. I would love to write more or at least have more time to write but between work and marketing, I barely have more time to spare. So that’s the constant battle I have to deal with everyday.

Summarise your writing style (or books) in 100 words or less:

If I had to define my writing style as: unique, sarcastic, and poetic.

If you were offered a book-deal would you take it?

I would definitely consider it and start sending off letters to agents who might be interested in reviewing the contract. But would I automatically sign the dotted line without double checking with the terms? No. Would I shove it away and snub it in their face? Absolutely not. I am willing to give all opportunities an equal and fair chance.

What formats is it/are they available in and where?


Everblossom: A Short Story and Poetry Anthology is available at:
Amazon US
Amazon UK
Amazon FR
Amazon DE
Amazon ES
Amazon IT
Smashwords
B&N
and in paperback at Createspace

If you’re interested in finding out more about me you can also visit my website.

Posted in Interview with an indie author | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments