In the last year, I have been reading and learning a range of things about marketing for books. It's confusing, and it's complicated. Every time you crack a code, a new update or hurdle comes along and changes client behavior.
So I was thinking this month about where an author can garner information about how to promote books, and I got swamped in the detail. As I trudged my way through another raft of webpages, books and promotional suggestions I came across the holy grail of marketing. Previous readers of your work. Which makes it hard in a sense, for a writer with only one book cannot leverage the grail for their own purposes. They must forge a path untrodden and try to not get distracted or tangled in the undergrowth. But for the next book, and the next, and the one after that, there is a guiding light. A path that you can follow to help propel you towards the next goal. So I am busy writing this year, to make my path next year a little lighter underfoot. I was keen to chat with my next two authors to see what challenges they were facing in their writing quest.
This month's authors:
Carol James Marshall
Carol is a lover of horror but that's not her only talent. She also has a memoir of her day's bartending in the middle of nowhere California desert. The memoir is titled Barflies: A Bartender's Memoir and it is her best seller. So I was keen to chat with Carol and find out how she got to where she is now.
What appeals most to you about horror and science fiction?
It’s often said that writers write what appeals to them. What thrills them. What interests them. What terrifies them.
I’m very guilty of that. I’ve loved horror, especially science fiction horror since I was a kid. My first taste of that genre was the Twilight Zone. The Twilight Zone gave me my first glimpse into a world that was different, scary different but different from the suburban Los Angeles where I grew up.
Before I talk about what I find appealing about horror I’d like to clarify that horror is a spectrum. By that, I mean that the horror genre has many branches to it. Many people put “horror” all in one box. That just isn’t correct.
I love science fiction, monsters, and vintage horror. That is the branch of horror that you’ll most likely see me swinging from. What appeals to me about that is subjective. It’s not one thing, it’s all of it mushed together into something that I consider a great time.
Yes, a good time. I think horror is fun. It’s fun to get jump scared then sigh with relief that you are not in that situation. It’s fun to cheer for Ridley has she battles the Alien queen. Horror and some of its subgenres can give the everyday Joe a scary thrill that will also make them giggle.
What is the biggest lesson (either positive or negative) you have learned in the writing process and why?
Learn to take a punch. By that I mean if someone criticizes your work either positively or negatively instead of getting defensive pay attention to what they are saying, learn from it, evolve from it.
How do you decide what to write next and what inspires you the most?
Believe it or not, I have notes for over 30 books. As new ideas come in, I write them down. Then I systematically go through the list. I’m not kidding. Once I finish a book/series, I will go to the next one on my list.
I will confess that some book ideas get bumped ahead of others. My current manuscript is a novel, but after that, I am writing a series I bumped in front of a series that was next on the list.
I wish I had an answer to what inspires my story ideas. Honestly, they just pop up randomly at different times triggered by many things. It helps that I have a very overactive imagination.
Of all your characters, who has been your favorite and why?
I’m a big Frankenstein fan. I’m a sucker for a monster that isn’t evil to the core and has some good in them. My favorite character so far is Ella from Ella Is One of Many. Ella is terrifying yet at her core, she only wants to love and be loved. Ella Is One of Many is a science fiction thriller with horror elements but it's really a story about love in many forms.
Carol loves to catch up with her readers via her website at:
She also encourages readers to email her, as she loves to hear from them.
I hope you can take a moment to offer support for her by checking it out, and I extend my thanks for being interviewed!
Mark is a talented multi-published author with a range of genres to his name. So I was keen to hear from him about his process of writing books ad this is what he told me.
How long to write a book and the process used to pick a story?
Well, that depends! I’ve written one of the Jamie Richmond stories (Fleeing Beauty) in about three months. Working a full-time job, I don’t have the luxury of spending eight hours a day or more writing. But I make the most of my free time. When I’m driving, I will put the stereo on low and work out details for a scene or dialogue. Then when I’m able to get to the computer its already at the top of my mind. Others can take longer, from the original idea to completion, if other projects demand more of my time.
I don’t work with an outline. It’s too restrictive for me. Instead, I’ll start with an idea for a story and one or two main characters. Then I turn them loose and see where it takes me. Often I’ll write scenes as they come to me, then go back later and figure out where they will fit into the story. When most of it is done, I’ll go back and write those that tie it all together.
Are there lessons you learned as a reporter that you still use today?
Be observant. Pay attention to the details. I may witness a couple across the aisle at a restaurant and watch how they interact. Do they talk to each other? Hold hands? Or are they both on their phones? When quoting someone as a reporter, you had to have it exactly right. Most people don’t speak in full sentences, so when I write dialogue, I keep that in mind. And you never know what I observe that might end up in a story.
What's the greatest compliment you have received lately, and why?
This was at an event last summer, where I had a booth at a big art festival. A lady approached who had bought “Why 319?” the previous summer. She told me it was the first novel she’d purchased in years and was intrigued about the story, where homicide victims are found in room 319 of different hotels, and the title message is written in lipstick on the bathroom mirror. When she arrived at the festival, it was her mission to track me down. She told me that she loved every---single---word and couldn’t wait to read the next book in that series. That’s a great compliment. It gives me the motivation to keep writing.
Who inspired you and why?
I was inspired at a young age by authors John D. MacDonald and Elmore Leonard. I had the good fortune to meet Leonard a couple of times and he was supportive of new authors. It was encouraging to hear. We talked for twenty minutes about characters and motivation. Nowadays, I’m inspired by John Sandford, Michael Connelly, and Robert Crais, all great mystery authors. Someday I hope to write as well as they do.
Mark writes a blog that he uses to engage his readers with updates on his projects, snippets from his books and ideas. He also loves music. So drop him a line at either his email or one of his many social media contacts, he would love to hear from you!
Amazon Page: http://www.amazon.com/-/e/B009P7HVZQ
I hope you can take a moment to offer support for him by checking it out, and I extend my thanks for being interviewed!
I wish to thank you for taking the time to read and engage with me! Happy reading everyone! VK Tritschler