The Indie Author: A Jack of all Trades by Jill Edmondson

If you’re filthy rich, you can skip reading this post…

I often wonder if people really really really know what goes into being an indie author, what it takes to be self-published.  I suspect that in many cases, aspiring writers don`t fully understand just how much more there is to do than just writing the book. In fact, writing the book is probably the easiest part.

Some of the additional tasks are obvious, such as editing and proofreading, but those tasks are just a couple of steps in a very big, very long process.

What people sometimes miss is that it is not of case of spending the time doing a given task, it’s a case of how much time you have to invest in LEARNING how to do a task before you can do that task proficiently.  If you’ve got some cash, maybe you can just hire freelancers to do things for you.  But if you don’t have a bucket of cash…

frisky businessLAYOUT and FORMATTING

Ugh.  I bought some software and thought I could do this.  I was wrong.  I spent about a day and a half trying to learn it. By that I mean just learning the basics.  I’m not even talking about learning it to a high standard.   I suppose I could have figured it out if I had tons of time, but why?  Why not let a professional do it?

COVERS

Can you design it yourself?  Really?  Is it worth spending the time trying to do so?

Okay, maybe you’ll just pay someone.  What if you put out a call to a few designers and three of them respond by sending three samples each.  That’s nine covers.  How do you choose?  And don’t just pick the one you like best.  Consider what readers may think of it.   The cover for my first book was chosen by my publisher.  It was a good cover, but not for what was inside.  Some of the responses from readers regarding the cover were quite negative, but negative in a way that none of the people involved in the design had anticipated.

BOOK TRAILER

As the release of my first book approached, the topic of making a book blood and groomtrailer came up.  Once again, the how-to and technical side of things was a skill set I did not (and still do not) have.  So there is that side of things – figuring out how to fade one image into another, how to add text or sound, etc.  But beyond that, what about the actual content?  I had no idea what to try to show in a two minute video.  Should it be informative?  Funny?  Should I be in it?

COMMUNITY

Okay, you already know that you need to have a social presence.  Yup, that’s a given.  But again, where and how will take some time to figure out.  Every new author marketing dot.com or every new author support site promises to be the best, to have the most pageviews, to have the most subscribers… I think I have now become a member of/created a profile for/registered in no less than 9,300,289 sites all promising that THIS is where I’ll connect with readers.

As to the where:  Yikes, that’s hard.  There are a million, no wait, a zillion blogs, chatrooms, discussion boards, aggregator sites, curator sites, share sites, retail sites, review sites and so on and on and on…  Which ones are most effective for you?  For your genre?

As to the how: You need to spend time learning the rules and conventions of each online place.  By this, I do not mean general etiquette for Twitter or Facebook.  I’m talking a little more specifically.  I once innocently/stupidly posted on a discussion board about an upcoming promotion for one of my books.  DOH!  I should have read the guidelines (pages and pages, or I guess I should say screens and screens) more carefully.  Turns out I had violated a rule and other members raked me over the coals for it.

ADVERTISING

Okay, so yes, you say you’re willing to spend a few bucks to advertise your book.  Great!  Maybe you’ll make a banner ad.  Great!  Do you know how to?  What should it say?  What will inspire people to click on the ad?  What kind of image might you use (if not the book cover)?  I once spent 8 hours (yes, really, 8 hours!) trying to get an ad image to work.  In hindsight, I wish I had simply paid someone to design it for me, and spent those 8 hours doing something else.

WEBSITE

You don’t need me to tell you that you have to have a website.  And there are lots of ways you can do this yourself.  You can do it very cheaply, if not for free.  But if creating a website were as easy as tying your shoelaces, then colleges wouldn’t offer diplomas in web design.  Workopolis and Monster wouldn’t have lots of job postings for web designers.

If you think about the points I’ve just discussed (and there are many others ro be considered as well),  you’ll realize that many of the skill sets an author needs are quite far removed from telling a story.  Yes, there is a certain amount of creativity in all of them.  Yes, many people are multi-talented.  But but but… It wouldn’t make much sense to expect the graphic artist who created your ad, or the web designer who developed your site to sit down next week and write a novel would it?  Maybe when it comes to indie publishing, you shouldn’t try to be a Jack of all trades.

* * *

For more info on Jill, check out her:

Website www.jilledmondson

Blog www.jilledmondson.blogspot.com

Other titles on Amazon

http://www.amazon.com/Jill-Edmondson/e/B006Y0YWUO/ref=ntt_athr_dp_pel_1

Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/sashajacksonmysteries

Follow her on Twitter @JillEdmondson

Interview with Anthony Caplan

What first got you interested in writing? What has kept you doing it?

I always loved reading, and my parents both held writers in very high regard, so it was always in my mind as a goal. Then in high school I had a teacher who encouraged me to think of myself as a writer, but he thought fiction writing was a lower sort of calling, but I admired some writers and I wanted to be like them. That got me going. What kept me going was some early encouragement from writing teachers, and words of praise from a publisher who told me to keep writing even though it would be tough to get published.

Do you have the support of your family and friends? Has that support always been there, or has it changed since being published?

My family supports my writing because they know it helps keep me centered and is important to me. The support has grown recently with the publication of my latest book, because they see it now as something real, not just a crazy pipe dream.

What would you say is your most interesting writing quirk? Strangest habit? Is there anything you have to do before you start writing?

I write all my first drafts in journals, and for my latest book I started dictating into an MP3 player on my hour long commutes to and from work every day. Then I transcribe into the computer using a dictation program that works pretty well. The one thing I absolutely must do is have two coffees before I can write or edit. Editing for me is where the magic happens.

What advice would you give to a new writer?

Read everything you can. Aim high. There’s no sense thinking you’re going to get rich quick and write what you think is going to be a best seller. Look at writing as a high calling and think about what your aims are. What kind of world do you want to live in? How can you improve the world with your writing? Then sit down and write every day.

What has been the biggest challenge of your career so far?

Keeping going past my fortieth birthday and thinking of myself as a writer, having faith that what I was doing was valid, for the many long years that my writing was being rejected by mainstream publishers.

Has a reader ever complimented you on your writing? What was the best thing you ever heard, and who told it to you?

A recent reviewer said my book Latitudes – A Story of Coming Home left the reader with important questions still unanswered, but that they were important questions to consider about family and belonging and the way relationships change over time. I thought that was a well-considered point and a great compliment.

What are you working on now? Could you give us a little taste?

I don’t like to talk about what I’m working on. That might be the answer to number three.

Tell us about your latest book.

Latitudes is about how a boy struggles to become himself, and it isn’t until a death in the family that he realizes all his running away has led him back to the need to reconcile with his past.

How can people find out more about you?

Check out my books:

Amazon  http://www.amazon.com/Anthony-Caplan/e/B004C6F15W/ref=ntt_athr_dp_pel_1

GoodReads: http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/633215.Anthony_Caplan

And don’t hesitate to get in touch on:

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Anthony-Caplan/348326781857597

Twitter: @anthonycaplan1

Interview with Larissa Hinton

I have a fellow WLC author on my blog today. She’s interviewed a few questions for me.

Enjoy.

What first got you interested in writing? What has kept you doing it?

Well actually my eighth grade teacher started me on the path of writing with one simple assignment: Write a poem. I haven’t stopped ever since.

Do you have the support of your family and friends? Has that support always been there, or has it changed since being published?

To be frank, my family has never been very supportive of my writing. The only person in my life that has been very supportive is my ex-boyfriend. He was there during every up and down of my writing career and I can never thank him enough for it.

When I decided to self-publish and tell my parents, they were at first unsure about how self-publishing worked. However, as time progressed, they grew to accept the idea. They still struggle with writing as my career, but they are warming up to the idea.

What would you say is your most interesting writing quirk? Strangest habit? Is there anything you have to do before you start writing?

I hate to say this, but I don’t think I have a writing quirk. I outline, I write the story, then I edit the story. The only odd thing I can think of I do is I constantly twirl my hair as I write and think. I think it’s specifically a writing quirk, but more of a whenever-I-think quirk. So that’s the only thing I can think of that could be described as a possible writing quirk.

What advice would you give to a new writer?

The first piece of advice I would give to an newbie writer is to never give up. I really cannot stress this enough to writers.

It seems like defeat is fate for writers. Traditional publishers and agents are dishing out rejection slips as if it’s the new hottest trends. Self-publishing seems like giving up on your dreams altogether.

But reconsidering your options, doing research on your plans in publishing and joining a support writing group makes all the difference.

Throughout your writing career, just remember to never give up. Never give up and believe in your talent, and from there you’ll know where to go.

What has been the biggest challenge of your career so far?

Self-publishing. Straight up. I cannot tell you how difficult it is to balance my business mind with my writer mind. They are constantly at war with each other. The one part of my business mind is to constantly market, constantly keep my eye out for the next best thing in the publishing industry. My other brain is focused on finding the time to write, coming up with ideas, and taking breaks in between books.

Has a reader ever complimented you on your writing? What was the best thing you ever heard, and who told it to you?

Absolutely! The best compliment of my writing is the fact that they couldn’t get enough. I’ve heard this in several different readers, and in several different ways. Some reviewers say it in a negative tone that my short stories were not long enough. Some reviewers say it in a positive light that they can’t wait to read Everblossom 2. So I find it interesting to say the least.

What are you working on now? Could you give us a little taste?

Angel Diaries, YA paranormal romance, is my latest work. Here’s a sneak peek of the rough blurb:

Lindsey’s life couldn’t have been any more ordinary. So, she had two guys fighting over her, a psychic friend and a school dominated by Goths but, other than that, life was good. That is until horrible nightmare start about her mother being ripped apart by a monster changed her life from the inside out. Literally. Her whole world was full of lies. She’s not even human. She’s an Angel.

This book is recommended for 16 years or older due to adult scenes and situations.

Tell us about your latest book.

Everblossom: A Short Story and Poetry Anthology is a collection of short stories and poems that explore the three stages of a flower that correlates to the human different stages of life but with a paranormal and fantasy twist. Here’s more information about it in the blurb:

 An anthology that will quench your thirst for more than the ordinary.

Everblossom is a journey through poems and short stories that may seem ordinary on the surface but dig a little deeper and the world not only shifts . . . It changes.

The author who brought you Iwishacana/Acanawishi, now brings you a dash of everything from dark fantasy to the paranormal to romance. So prepare yourself to delve into the three stages of the flower from bud to blossom then back to seed; you’ll go through them all with a whole new perspective on what it all truly means.

How can people find out more about you?

They can visit my blog here:

http://teacherwritebookaholicohmy.blogspot.com/

And they can read my latest book, Everblossom: A Short Story and Poetry Anthology at these websites. That’s a fabulous way to get to know me better.

http://www.amazon.com/Everblossom-Short-Poetry-Anthology-ebook/dp/B005H5GKIY/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1313954227&sr=1-1

http://www.smashwords.com/books/view/80600

http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/everblossom-larissa-hinton/1104907595

 

Interview with Darlene Jones

I’d like to welcome author Darlene Jones to my blog today. Why not take a few minutes and read through her interview?

What first got you interested in writing? What has kept you doing it?

Hm, good question. I remember wanting to write when I was young and taking creative writing courses, but not really knowing how to go about the whole novel thing. I started seriously playing around with writing about 12 years ago. It was joining the provincial writing guild and getting into a critiquing group that really got me on the right track.

Do you have the support of your family and friends? Has that support always been there, or has it changed since being published?

My family have been great. They don’t mind the hours I spend on the computer or the time at writers’ conferences and that makes my writing time really guilt free.

What would you say is your most interesting writing quirk? Strangest habit? Is there anything you have to do before you start writing?

Most of my novels are written on yellow stickies – yes, you read right. I jot down notes when I’m sitting at red lights, and when I can’t sleep. The problem with writing the notes in the dark is that I often can’t read my scribbles in the morning or I find I’ve written one note on top of another and that’s impossible to decipher.

What advice would you give to a new writer?

Don’t give up and do get yourself into a critiquing group. You need other sets of eyes and other perspectives that will be impartial. You can’t evaluate your own work objectively—you’re too close to it. Also, you know what you are thinking, but that doesn’t always come across clearly on the page. You need to know how a reader will see it.

What has been the biggest challenge of your career so far?

Marketing!!!!!! It’s almost more work than writing the book. Time consuming and no magic answers to get people’s attention.

Has a reader ever complimented you on your writing? What was the best thing you ever heard, and who told it to you?

Many people have said nice things. This one from a male reader stands out. “Darlene, I cracked the back of Embattled two nights ago and I am captivated. Cool construct.” I really liked that I “captivated” a male reader with a female heroine.

What are you working on now? Could you give us a little taste?

I’m getting book three of the series ready for publication and have to finish book four. Here’s a snippet from book three.

Abby propped the microphone above the bowl of Rice Krispies, turned the recorder on, and poured milk over the cereal. She listened to the resulting recording a dozen times. Yes, the snap and crackle resembled what she heard in her teeth, or rather in her fillings, every night. The pop not so much. But, so what? She slapped her forehead. “God, I’m stupid. Whatever made me think Rice Krispies would lead me to an answer?” She sighed. Yet another failed attempt to identify the sounds. She dumped out the cereal, rinsed the bowl, and left it on the counter for morning.

What the hell were they anyway—these snaps and crackles that jumped from one side of her jaw to the other like soggy Morse code? Stupid teeth. If she didn’t have so many fillings to carry the signals…

Signals? Why did that particular word keep coming to mind? Because she believed something out there was trying to contact her? “Jeez, girl, get a grip. But, what if aliens did really exist? “Like they’d be trying to contact me of all people.” It could be possible. Couldn’t it? Nah! The universe was a damn big chunk of stuff; suns and planets and moons and whatnot all swirling about out there. Earth couldn’t be the only inhabited bit of rock. But…, if the clickings were signals from some alien, shouldn’t she be scared out of her wits?

Tell us about your latest book.

In EMPOWERED, a young woman is convinced she is invincible. The visions she experienced as a child told her so. But, where will these wild beliefs lead? To love? To danger?

How can people find out more about you?

My website is www.emandyves.com and the best place to find out more about the books, links to buy and how to contact me.

Theresa, thank you so much for this chance to talk about my work. I hope you and your readers enjoy my novels.

You are more than welcome, Darlene.

Interview with Sarka-Jonae Miller

I would like to welcome a fellow member of the World Literary Cafe today, Sarka-Jonae Miller.

What first got you interested in writing? What has kept you doing it?

In elementary school our teachers would sometimes tell us to write stories. I remember being in 2nd or 3rd grade and just writing pages and pages for this one story even though the assignment only need to be a page or 2 long. I just loved sitting there and coming up with more details. I even enjoyed going back over it and trying to make it better. All my classmates seemed to dislike the assignment or want to finish as quickly as possible. I guess I realized then that there was something unique about enjoying creative writing as much as I did then. I still love it that much.

Do you have the support of your family and friends? Has that support always been there, or has it changed since being published?

My family and friends are very supportive. Many of them went through my book chapter by chapter with me to make it as good as it could possibly get. They often gave me criticism and even more often disagreed with each other. Their feedback was invaluable. Now that the book is out everyone is helping me to promote it. People are buying copies for friends and writing honest reviews. They prod me to finish the sequel, which I am working on. They’re all really great.

What would you say is your most interesting writing quirk? Strangest habit? Is there anything you have to do before you start writing?

I don’t know that there is anything I have to do before I start writing or a particular odd habit, but I do think I write better when I have a soy mocha and I definitely cannot write at all if I am cold. I’d wear a ski jacket and ear muffs inside if I had to to stay warm enough to write, even if that meant everyone else thought I was insane. It’s come close to that a couple of times when I’ve tried to write at coffee shops that keep their AC on full blast despite the fact that the female customers are shivering and covered in goose bumps.

What advice would you give to a new writer?

Just write. Many new writers get hung up on thinking up the perfect story before they start writing, and then they never start. Experienced writers already know how to organize a story but newbies are going to have to make a lot of changes as they figure out what it takes to make a book work. I think new writers are better off just putting something on paper (or onscreen) and seeing where it takes them, then going back and making changes to a first draft. I also highly recommend that writers take a class or two in editing. If you choose to self-publish you may have to edit the book yourself, which is nearly impossible to do well. If you take a proofreading course or learn basic editing at least you are less likely to have all the dreaded copy errors that readers understandably complain about from self-published books. Also, if you submit your book to literary agents riddled with copy errors they will almost definitely reject it, even if you have a good story.

What has been the biggest challenge of your career so far?

Finding time to write while still having a day job is really tough. Fortunately for me, my day job is writing articles, mainly about health, fitness and wellness. It isn’t the same type of writing I use for my books but at least it keeps my basic writing skills sharp. Still, freelance writers don’t make a lot so I have to work a lot and that does not leave a lot of time for writing novels.

Has a reader ever complimented you on your writing? What was the best thing you ever heard, and who told it to you?

Everyone who has ever commented on “Between Boyfriends” has complimented my writing, except one person, but if enough people read your book someone eventually is going to hate it. I think the best thing anyone has told me is that my book is both hilarious and full of emotion. It is hard to find a balance between being funny and bringing up tough, emotional issues and situations.

What are you working on now? Could you give us a little taste?

I am currently working on two books, mainly. One is the sequel to “Between Boyfriends.” Jan does study abroad in Thailand and what happens in Thailand stays in Thailand, or does it? The other book I am writing is a one off that takes place split between San Francisco and Paris. I spent a week in Paris doing “research.” I also spent two months in Thailand. I think I may have an addiction to traveling for inspiration.

Tell us about your latest book.

“Between Boyfriends” was inspired by people I knew in college. We all have that one friend who jumps from relationship to relationship. She changes for every guy and bends over backwards to make him happy, even to the point of screwing over her friends. The relationships never work out because you can’t be happy when you are trying to be someone else. I wanted to write a book from the perspective of one of “those girls.” However, because those girls drive us all crazy I thought I would see what would happen if someone like that did what we all wanted them to do: STOP DATING. Just stop going from guy to guy and be single for five minutes. Figure your life out and why you act like this. So that’s what the book is about. Jan is a true relationship addict who gets her heart broken one too many times and adopts the extreme view that dating is insane and she is better off not doing it. She also gets the rug pulled out from under her when her mother cuts off her financial support because Jan decided a traditional college education wasn’t for her and she wanted to try massage therapy. I actually was a massage therapist for a couple of years so I know how struggling to pay for college, looking at how much debt you’d be in, realizing how terrible the job market is even with a degree, and hating having to take classes outside of your major that you are not interested in can make alternatives like massage school quite appealing. Though I did get my undergraduate degree first.

How can people find out more about you?

I have a blog on Goodreads and Word Press. I post a lot to my Facebook page and have two accounts on Twitter, @boyfriendsnovel and @sarkajonae. I update all of those pretty frequently with updates on my novels, my most recent articles and other random stuff in my life, plus tips on publishing and free book alerts. My Amazon profile has more about my past if anyone is curious how many countries I’ve been to, what music videos I have been in or how many rescued pets I have. Riveting stuff, I swear :)

Interview with Amanda Bretz

I’d like to welcome Amanda to my blog today. She’s a member of a wonderful organization I recently became a part of called World Literary Cafe. Great place for writers. Why not go and check it out? But not before you read through Amanda’s interview.

What first got you interested in writing? What has kept you doing it?

I can’t remember a time when I didn’t want to write, so this is a little hard to answer. When I was in third or fourth grade I begged my parents for a typewriter for Christmas (yes, I’m showing my age). I knew then that I wanted to write books. What has kept me writing is the feeling I get when I write, even when I write something that is strictly for my eyes only. I don’t feel complete or like “me” when I’m not writing regularly.

Do you have the support of your family and friends? Has that support always been there, or has it changed since being published?

Yes, I’m very lucky to have the support and encouragement of family and close friends. I can’t say their support has changed since being published, but I think it made a few people realize how serious I am about writing, and understand that for me, it’s more than just a hobby, it’s my career now.

What would you say is your most interesting writing quirk? Strangest habit? Is there anything you have to do before you start writing?

I love writing in a loud environment. I think this comes from being a journalist. I got used to working in a noisy newsroom. My brain just doesn’t function as well without something else going on in the background. If I write in public I do my best work in a noisy cafe and when I’m writing at home, I listen to music.

What advice would you give to a new writer?

1. Read as many books as your schedule allows. 2. Edit, edit, edit and edit some more. 3. Writing is complex; it’s creative and analytical at the same time. It’s an art form and a skill. Study it, practice it and never stop learning about it. 4. Find a critique partner you trust and work well with.

What has been the biggest challenge of your career so far?

As far as my career goes, I’m still a newbie, but the biggest challenge so far has been overcoming my own self-doubt. It took years for me let someone else read my writing.

Has a reader ever complimented you on your writing? What was the best thing you ever heard, and who told it to you?

Yes, a reader wrote up a wonderful Amazon review about my two published books, Finding Justus and Love in Greener Pastures. The best thing this reader said was that I write with an intelligent, witty voice, through characters that are fully developed and easy to like. That meant the world to me because when I read a book, that’s what I look for, a character that resonates with me, and one that feels like my friend by the end of the story.

What are you working on now? Could you give us a little taste?

I’m currently writing my third book, with the working title of Love, Simplified. My favorite part of a love story is the moment when boy meets girl, and that’s what I’m sharing today. My character has just arrived at her family’s old, abandoned cabin at the Lake of the Ozarks after travelling across the country. She’s tired and ready to turn in for the night, but she gets a surprise visit from her hunky neighbor.

 Cecile’s black Hummer took the steep incline to her parents’ cabin as though it were a mere dip in the road. After fourteen hours in the car, Cecile was glad to be on the gravel drive leading up to the house. As she heard the crunch of rocks and pebbles beneath her vehicle’s mammoth wheels she felt her heart rate speed up in anticipation. The cabin was almost in view.

Just as swiftly as her heart had accelerated, it quickly sunk to the bottom of her stomach. Cecile flipped on her high beams to get a better look at the building’s dilapidated exterior. Time had not been kind to the small bungalow. Pieces of wood peeked through and marred the white paint like liver spots on an old woman’s face. The shrubs were nearly as tall as a grown man. The wood planks on the front porch rippled and bowed in many places.

Okay, so I’ll need to make a few repairs, that’s what my Denver money is for, she told herself optimistically.

Cecile lifted her eyes and looked out the moon roof in her SUV. The celestial sky was pure onyx, with only a sliver of a silver moon. She reached into the glove compartment and pulled out a flashlight, then cut the engine and slid out of the tall vehicle. The weeds were so overgrown, she feared she may see a snake between her short walk from the car to the house. With a fear of the creatures that bordered on text-book phobia, she walked along the flagstone path and up the few steps to the porch moving her hand from left to right, causing the flashlight’s beam to spray out in a wide arc across the lawn.

If I see a snake, I’ll kill the slippery little bastard, she thought. The wooden porch creaked and groaned with each step she took. Relieved that she’d made it to the front door without seeing one of the reptilian creatures, she inserted the key into the lock and turned the handle. At first it didn’t budge. She had to give it a hard shove before the door would open.

The moment she stepped over the threshold into the dark, dank cabin, Cecile was overtaken with the smell of mildew. She knew it was due to lack of use and held her hand over her nose. She deposited her suitcase in the middle of the kitchen floor, flipped on a light and began the task of prying open the windows. The place needed fresh air.

And, she thought as she eyed the interior critically, a lot of elbow grease.

As she walked toward the window, Cecile spied cobwebs with dead spiders ensconced in their netting. She pushed with all her might and forced the window open, the weathered wood scraping against the window frame. As outside air poured into the cabin, a cloud of dust flew into Cecile’s face. She coughed and sputtered and looked down at the countertop covered in several inches of dust and dirt. She ran a quick index finger through the grime and was revolted at the amount that latched on to her. Ick.

She turned on her heel and walked the short distance from the kitchenette area to the living room. She opened the French doors that led out to the deck in an effort to clear the musty atmosphere inside. That was a mistake, she thought. The screens had holes in them the size of half-dollars. Good thing it was late October, with winter coming she wouldn’t use the doors much anyway. Oh well, I’ve got until next spring to worry about replacing those, she reasoned. She shut the doors and resolved to inhale the dusty, musty cabin air for the time being.

Cecile eyed the living room sofa, which was covered with a tattered old bed sheet. She pulled the grimy sheet off and plopped down onto the couch. Aside from the filth, the interior of the cabin hadn’t changed. Cecile gazed at the large, cast-iron potbellied stove that served as a heat source for the cabin. She and Camille had spent many cold winter evenings on the wood floor in front of the stove with a steaming cup of cocoa and books or puzzles to entertain them. Occasionally their father would play a game of checkers with each of them in turn. Cecile sighed to herself as she indulged in a moment of melancholy and nostalgia and remembered those family evenings.

The time the family spent at the cabin always seemed so fun. Looking back, the four of them never did anything extravagant or special while at the cabin, but instead indulged in simple pleasures like cooking together, reading and playing games during winter and swimming in the lake during summer. As she reminisced about the past, Cecile felt her eyelids getting heavy, and unless she wanted to sleep on the couch, she’d need to get up and finish unloading her SUV so she could get to bed. In preparation of the dark unknown, Cecile grabbed her flashlight and headed toward the front door.

Cecile made one more trip out to her utility vehicle to grab her pillow and a few blankets she’d brought with her. The house was grungy, but it was the warmer, and not to mention more comfortable, choice than sleeping in her car. She’d simply put one of the clean blankets down on top of the bed and use the other two to cover herself. A shower before bed sounded heavenly, but she lacked the energy to drag her shampoo and conditioner out of her bag. Cecile had been up for almost twenty-four hours. At this point her need for sleep far outweighed her need for good hygiene. Tomorrow morning, she’d make an inventory of the supplies she needed and head into town to pick up groceries and some basics. Luckily, after talking to her sister, Cecile had decided to bring all her cleaning supplies and household items with her.

Cecile made her bed and quickly shut and locked the kitchen and living room windows, leaving only the bathroom and bedroom windows open. Although it was probably pointless, she double-checked to make sure both the front and French doors were locked. Calm down, it’s not like you still live in the city, she told herself. She’d spent her entire childhood coming to the cabin and had never felt scared. The same families had occupied the neighborhood of five cabins for as long as she could remember. Unlocked doors and open windows were common place at the Lake.

She could probably leave her doors and windows unlocked and would be perfectly safe, but it wouldn’t be smart, she was a single woman alone in a cabin that hadn’t been occupied in years. Times may have changed since her last trip to the Ozarks. Cecile was in the master bedroom kicking off her tennis shoes and was about to change out of her travel clothes and into pajamas when she heard a knock on the front door. She paused, momentarily alarmed. Who could be knocking on the cabin door at nine-thirty in the evening?

Should she answer it? If she didn’t, maybe they’d get the hint and just go away. As she weighed her options, she heard a second knock. Her visitor was certainly persistent. After she heard the second rapping noise on the wooden door she knew she had to answer it, if only to get some peace and quiet. She wished she had some sort of weapon. A gun or a switchblade. She’d even settle for a baseball bat or a golf club at this point. She looked around the kitchen and living room for something she could use in self-defense, just in case the neighborhood had went to hell in the past few years.

“Who’s there?” Cecile called to the door.

“Ethan Morgan, I live a few cabins down. I’m head of the neighborhood watch. I saw the lights and thought I’d check things out. Make sure everything is okay.”

Cecile flipped the kitchen light on and grabbed the first weapon-like object she could get her hands on and wrenched the door open. This wasn’t the kind of story that a mass murderer would make up, she was fairly certain, but better safe than sorry.

“Surely you’re kidding?” Cecile asked skeptically. “I’m sorry if I’m crabby, but I’m trying to get some sleep here. I just drove eighteen hours and I’m exhausted,” she said to the darkness. Cecile couldn’t make out any features of the hulking figure on the front porch. She flipped on the switch to the porch light and was displeased when nothing happened. Evidentially the bulb was burned out.

“Everything is fine, but thanks for checking,” she made to close the door and at the same time he stepped forward out of the shadows and into the wedge of light that had pooled onto the dark front porch. As he did, the light from the kitchen illuminated his face just enough so that Cecile could clearly make out his features. She stopped herself just short of gasping in surprise.

Ethan Morgan might have been the head of the neighborhood watch by night, but Cecile was fairly certain he was some sort of male model or an outrageously good-looking lumberjack by day. He was six foot tall, at least, and had the kind of broad shoulders and brawny arms female fantasies were made of. Dark hair, a square jaw and Roman nose rounded out his jaw-dropping features.

“Sorry to bother you at this hour ma’am. I haven’t seen anyone in this cabin for years and then I saw the lights. I just wanted to make sure everything was okay,” he looked at her with a wry smile. “Awfully late to be making waffles,” he said with a slight chuckle as he looked at what she clutched in her right hand.

Cecile dropped her eyes to the clunky, 1960s-era waffle-maker she’d grabbed in a moment of desperation. The metal monstrosity might be heavy, but she realized in her haste she’d selected a poor choice of weapon. If Ethan had been an axe-murderer, she wouldn’t have been able to fend him off with a kitchen appliance, no matter how bulky.

“Oh, this,” she said with a laugh and a shake of her head, causing her glossy brown hair to sweep across her shoulders, “I was just…tidying up before bed.” Cecile felt idiotic. What an absurd lie.

“Is that right?” he asked in disbelief as his eyes briefly travelled into the dusty kitchen and the spider-infested cobwebs clinging to the walls. “So I noticed you have out of state plates. I guess you’re here on vacation?”

“You could say that, yes. I’m sorry, I’m Cecile Day,” she said as set the waffle-maker on the counter top. She opened the screen door and extended her right hand. Ethan returned her handshake with a warm firm grasp. At the touch of his large hand, Cecile felt a bit faint. He’s so…masculine, she thought. She garnered her composure and continued.

“My family owns this cabin, but like you said, none of us have used it in years. I just got in from Denver, long drive.”

He took this as his cue to excuse himself. “Okay, I won’t keep you from your rest. Sorry for the intrusion. Have a good evening,” he called to her as he headed down the front steps.

“You too,” she replied for lack of anything better to say.

Cecile closed and locked the front door, although knowing a man like Ethan Morgan was the captain of the neighborhood watch committee gave her more peace of mind than any lock ever could. With his Paul Bunyan-like proportions, she didn’t doubt he could take on an intruder without breaking a sweat. That’s enough of that, she thought. For all she knew the man could be married. Cecile didn’t want to drool over another woman’s husband. Ordinarily she made it a habit to look at a handsome man’s ring finger upon meeting him, but it had been dark on the front porch and she had been too mesmerized by his face, arms and shoulders to notice his left hand.

Tell us about your latest book.

My work in progress, Love, Simplified, is due out in the fall of 2012. Here’s a brief synopsis:

When workaholic Cecile Day realizes, (through a couple of unfortunate events), she isn’t living the life she wants, she uproots herself and moves across the country to her family’s ramshackle cabin in the Lake of the Ozarks. Leaving behind a wealthy fiancé, high-powered career and life of glitz and glam won’t be easy, but what she gains is peace of mind, sense of self and lasting happiness. All things money doesn’t buy.

Upon her move, Cecile meets local handyman Ethan Morgan who helps her with cabin renovations. Over time the two begin a relationship, but when Cecile’s ex-fiancé Parker Stone appears in her life again, she must choose between the two men. One can promise her a life of riches and comfort while the other can provide love, companionship and a simple, country life.

Cecile must decide if she wants to go back to Parker and her affluent lifestyle, or continue seeing Ethan and live with the most basic necessity of all: love.

I think this is the most personal book I’ve written so far. I’m not sure how I’ll categorize it. I may wait and see how my beta readers respond to the story. Love, Simplified is a romance in that a love story is at its core, but there are other aspects to the story, like self-discovery and personal growth. I think a lot of readers will identify with Cecile, while she may go to unorthodox measures, I think everyone comes to a point in their life where they realize something isn’t working and they need a change and that’s where we find her when Love, Simplified opens. Cecile’s living the life she thought she wanted, she has a high-powered career, the flashy car, the luxurious home, the “perfect” man, yet there’s this real void. The story feels timely because in the past few years, due to the recession and other events, more and more people have shifted their priorities. There’s a growing understanding that money and material goods, can make things a bit easier, but they don’t necessarily mean a better life.

How can people find out more about you?

I’m an avid social media user, and I have a blog. Readers can follow me on Twitter: https://twitter.com/#!/realamandabretz  Like me on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/authoramandabretz  Circle me on Google+: https://plus.google.com/101025002317752988095/about I’m also on Goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/4092326.Amanda_Bretz

My blog is at: http://authoramandabretz.wordpress.com/

 

 

Interview with Allison Merritt

I’d like to welcome Allison Merritt to my blog today. Why not take a few minutes and find out more about her?

What first got you interested in writing? What has kept you doing it?

I always feel kind of like a faker when I answer this question. When I was in sixth grade, my best friend said she wanted to become an author because she read all the James Harriot novels. I announced I wanted to be a writer too and set about writing a really bad novel about dinosaurs. She moved on to other interests, but writing stuck with me. I wonder where I’d be if she hadn’t gone through that phase?

I start and quit a lot of crazy projects, but when I get stories in my head, they won’t leave me alone. And from time to time, one of the minor characters from one will want a story of his or her own, so it spawns something else. And there’s always something new to learn about writing or a writer giving an inspirational speech that makes me want to go on, because they’ve all run into the same roadblocks I have.

Do you have the support of your family and friends? Has that support always been there, or has it changed since being published?

Most of my friends are writers as well. I got in with a great local writing group and they always offer support and advice—we’re all facing the same struggles or looking forward to the same victories. It’s a wonderful network. My family has always been there for me. It was apparent to my parents I was never going to excel at math, so they encouraged me to write.

What would you say is your most interesting writing quirk? Strangest habit? Is there anything you have to do before you start writing?

I have the really bad habit of arguing with my spellchecker. Deep down, I know the spellchecker is probably right, but just once, it would be nice if I was right. I tend to be a face maker while I’m writing. Eye squinting, brow furrowing, lower lip poking out. I really get into the scenes sometimes and totally vanish from the real world. I understand it’s pretty comical.

What advice would you give to a new writer?

Find a critique group right off the bat. Even if you don’t have enough courage to submit your own works right away, read other critiques and try to learn what they’re doing. Ask questions and store up knowledge. Also, build a writing platform as soon as possible—you’re going to need those network connects if you want to reach readers.

What has been the biggest challenge of your career so far?

I’m an introvert, so being brave enough to submit or pitch or self-publish has been pretty nerve-wracking. All the time I put into learning to format is a piece of cake compared to actually talking about my book to people face to face and in some cases, via social networking.

Has a reader ever complimented you on your writing? What was the best thing you ever heard, and who told it to you?

When I was in high school I wrote a short story for a competition. It only placed fourth, but I’d written other things that were awarded, so I wasn’t too bummed about it. My English teacher told me that I’d been accused of plagiarism by one of the judges because she didn’t believe a teenager could write that well. I was furious, but he said I should be flattered because that was actually a compliment in disguise.

What are you working on now? Could you give us a little taste?

I’m working on a sequel called The Sky Pirate’s Wife and the hero, Captain Alwin van Buren, is a character from The Treasure Hunter’s Lady. He was involved in a terrible accident that left his face scarred and his airship business on shaky ground. He’s decided to seduce an heiress in order to keep his business afloat–literally.

“Sophie.”

The sound of her name in his accent caused her to jerk toward him like a puppet on strings. “Yes?” Was that her voice that sounded so breathless?

Van Buren’s eyes crinkled at the corners and the scar wrinkled a bit, but the light shining down on his face made him look as handsome as one of Da Vinci’s statues. Sophie’s heart pounded against her ribs so hard she was sure he’d see it.

He leaned across the space between them and caressed her cheek. She gave in to his touch, melting against his hand.

Tell us about your latest book.

The Treasure Hunter’s Lady is set in 1884 between Boston and what was then Dakota Territory.

For years, Romy Farrington traveled at her world-famous archeologist father’s side, exploring new lands and uncovering ancient secrets. It was everything she ever wanted, until a near-fatal encounter with hostile natives forced her and her father into a life of retirement in Boston and an undesired advance into proper society.

Everything changes again when she’s saved from an accident by a brash Texan in a back alley. Abel Courte may act like a care-free cowboy, but he’s harboring a secret—he’s searching for the Diamond of Uktena, a legendary jewel that can cure any disease known to man. He needs information Romy’s father has in order to get to the jewel. When he traces the origin of the Diamond to Dakota Territory, he sets off to claim the treasure, only to find the archeologist’s fiery redheaded daughter stuck to him like a bug in sap.

In a race against time, Romy and Abel must learn to trust each other as they undertake a cross-country journey that will expose them to lands uncharted by white men, a deadly battle against the fearsome creature in possession of the Diamond and a fight to return to civilization where they might make the greatest discovery of all—love.

You can buy it at AmazonBarnes and Noble,  or Smashwords.

The Treasure Hunter’s Lady has kind of a crazy story behind it. A few years ago after a long break, I decided to start writing again and I was researching a historical romance set in Australia. I fell in love with everything I learned about that country (unfortunately, I’ve never been) and around the same time I was re-watched The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen. I thought, wow, I would love to write a story with crazy paranormal elements and cool technology set in Australia. So the first draft, which is way shorter than the finished MS is set in Australia. When I started pitching and trying to get an agent, they all seemed repulsed by the idea of setting it out of the country and I ended up writing a version set in America.

How can people find out more about you?

I’m all over the net. Blogging, Tweeting, goofing off on Facebook. Here’s how to reach me.

Blog – http://havenovelwilledit.blogspot.com

Facebook Fan Page – http://facebook.com/allisonmwrites

Twitter – http://twitter.com/allison_merritt

Goodreads – http://goodreads.com/allisonmwrites

Kindlegraph – http://kindlegraph.com/allison_merritt

Amazon – http://amazon.com/author/allisonmerritt