Monday, March 26, 2012

Indie Insider - A.C. Ellis

How many words do you do write a day? Where do you do it?
I try to write between 1,500 and 2,000 words per day, but quite often don't do that. Life quite often steps in and re-arranges my schedule. Get the car fixed, baby sit the grand-daughter, you know, that kind of thing. Oh well....
I write on my laptop at home, and also download whatever I'm working on to my Nook Color to write when I'm out. Coffee shops, book stores with coffee shops. That sort of thing.
Do you think that people judge a book by it’s cover? Who makes yours?
Yes, readers do judge a book by its cover. I have done some of my own covers, and I have had others done by professional artists. My favorite cover was produced for my mystery/suspense novel, In Pursuit of the Enemy, by an unknown artist at Infinity Publishing for release in May, 2007. I had described what I wanted to my contact at Infinity, and when I opened the envelope containing the first copy, I literally gasped. They'd hit the nail on the head. I love that cover.
I also very much like the cover produced by iUniverse for the 2007 edition of my science fiction novel, Worldmaker, although it is just a bit less successful in execution than the Infinity published book. I'd told them I wanted the disembodied hands coming out of deep space and grasping planet Earth, but told them I wanted the planet divided up like a Rubik's Cube (that's a major element in the plot.) They didn't do that last part. But it is still an extremely good cover. Much more so than the one I did for the eBook version of the novel. But even that one isn't bad.
The covers for my two Booklocker produced books, Soldier of 'Tween and Shadow Run, were done by me. They're not bad at all, and I don't think they have hurt sales.
I did the cover for my short story collection, Spaceships & Brass Knuckles, as well. It was recently released as an eBook only. It's very tongue-in-cheek, and I think just right for the collection.
In short, I like the covers for all my books, and I think they have helped sales.

What do you do when you get writers block?
I don't believe in writer's block. We all make a conscious decision to either write, or not to write. Sometimes I don't write, but that is a decision I make, either because something else has to be done, or I'm feeling lazy, or whatever. No matter what, I decided not to write. I'll own up to it.

How much time do you spend on social media per day? What do you concentrate on?
I probably spend more time than I should on social media. I do probably three or four hours a day. I know a writer in today's world must do some of that, especially if he concentrates on eBooks, as I do. But I have to be careful that it doesn't cut in to the time we should be dedicating to writing. Remember, the best promotion you can do is to produce more books.
I concentrate on Twitter. I have it set up so that everything I do there goes to Facebook. There are a few blogs I check in on, on a pretty much regular basis. And I do half an hour to an hour a day on the Kindle Boards. Let's face it, that's where most of the eBooks are being sold.
Of course, that's on top of keeping my own blogs current. I don't do as good a job at that as I should, but I try.
Which narrative form and tense do you think is the most difficult and why?
I don't think I've ever used a tense other than past. I don't think I ever will. As for the use of first or third person, the project dictates which I use. I'm just as comfortable using either.

Do you use a professional editor, critique partners, or beta readers? What is your process?
Again, it depends on the project. I have used all three. My work is usually pretty clean; For many years I was the editor for a large technical writing group. I do pretty well in that area. It's simply a matter of separating myself from my work.

How important is it for an indie author to use a professional editor?
See above. Errors slip through. Errors slip through in the best traditional publishing houses, and they definitely have professional editors. Our job is to make sure it doesn't happen more often that at the traditional houses. Nothing's perfect, but we want to make it as close to perfect as we possibly can.
How long does it take you to create a book from start to finish?
Again, this depends on the project. I've written a novel in less than a month. I've also taken a couple years to finish a novel. It all depends on what else is going on in my life. During the break-up of my marriage and through the divorce, I got very little done. Let's face it, life happens. 
Please list three unique blogs or web sites for writers that you read on a regular basis. 
Lawrence Block's blog (LB's BLOG - Telling Lies for Fun and Profit)
Lawrence Block is my all-time favorite mystery/suspense writer. His novels rock! In particular, his Matthew Scudder books.
John Locke's blog (JOHN LOCKE BLOG)
John Locke sold more than 1,720,000 eBooks for the Kindle in 2011. Definitely doing something right. Probably more than one something.
Dean Wesley Smith's blog (The writings and opinions of Dean Wesley Smith)
Dean Wesley Smith has written more than ninety popular novels and well over 100 published short stories. He has become one of the leading gurus on the world of indie publishing.

Is there anything else you would like to share?
Indie publishing is much more fun than the traditional publishing I did for many years. There are better opportunity for the writer to get closer to readers. There is more interaction between reader and writer. That's healthy.
Link to my Books on

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Strong Female Characters

Strong Female Characters

By Sheryl Steines

I am always amazed to hear that, in the year 2012, women are still talking about strong female characters.  It’s funny that we’re always surprised when one comes along.  Even in Hollywood, actresses still can’t find roles to sink their teeth into.  As a reader, I look for characters that I can relate to in some way; a character who is more than a damsel in distress but less than an unfeeling, mean, witch.  I’m putting it gently, but I’m looking for someone, who when facing a problem, doesn’t necessarily need a man to bail her out--a woman who can take care of herself in spite of her vulnerabilities.  Because in reality, women are multi-layered and complex.  We don’t fall to one end of an extreme or the other.

When I was younger, I started reading Danielle Steele, but I couldn't read her for long. Her female characters were far too needy and always put themselves in a position of requiring a savior. Even as a child, I couldn't help but wonder why these characters always needed a man to improve their lives.  Why couldn’t they simply take care of themselves?  It seemed as though female characters fell into two camps, and only two. They were either villains, witches, someone to be hated and despised, or they were weak, pathetic, your classic damsels in distress.  Why is fiction lacking real women, women who can simply be human and celebrate all that they are?

As I got older, I found myself drawn to shows like Buffy the Vampire Slayer.  I saw in Buffy a strong character.  Yes, she could kick ass, kill the vampires and fight the demons.  She also had a brain, could plan, and could save the world each week.  But she wasn't uni-dimensional. She also has a side that liked clothes, shoes and boys, a side that was feminine, a little vulnerable; a side that, okay, sometimes needed to be saved.  She was a complex female character, real and human, a character with whom I could definitely relate.

The strong female character isn’t a caricature or stereotype.  She’s not a total wimp like Snow White, and she’s not a total monster like the evil queen.  She falls somewhere in the middle.  She’s reactive, emotional, human, sexual, confident and sometimes unsure of herself.

When I originally wrote my character Annie Pearce in The Day of First Sun, I wrote her as a no-nonsense person, strong and smart, the girl who could survive on her own.  But she didn’t feel genuine.  As the story unfolded and changed, I rewrote her, gave her friends and family with whom she could interact.  I gave her feelings, gave her stress.  I let the other characters take charge once in awhile and offer some support.  I melded two halves into one woman--a strong woman, who can take care of herself and ask for help when necessary.  We’re not perfect, so why should our characters be?  Instead, why can’t we make them simply authentic?

Charlize Theron made a really compelling comment regarding her character in the movie Young Adult. She said, "Women are usually either really good prostitutes or really good mothers. Maybe women are finally getting the chance to play more honest characters," Theron said. "We usually don't get to play bad hookers or bad mothers -- or anything in between." Maybe it’s time to be a little more real and a little more honest.  

Please enjoy this guest post by Sheryl Steines, author of the urban fantasy novel, The Day of First Sun. Then read on to learn how you can win huge prizes as part of this blog tour, including $450 in Amazon gift cards, a Kindle Fire, and 5 autographed copies of the book.

As part of this special promotional extravaganza sponsored by Novel Publicity, the price of the Day of First Sun eBook edition is just 99 cents this week. What’s more, by purchasing this fantastic book at an incredibly low price, you can enter to win many awesome prizes. The prizes include $450 in Amazon gift cards, a Kindle Fire, and 5 autographed copies of the book. All the info you need to win one of these amazing prizes is RIGHT HERE. Remember, winning is as easy as clicking a button or leaving a blog comment--easy to enter; easy to win! To win the prizes:
  1. Purchase your copy of The Day of First Sun for just 99 cents
  2. Fill-out the simple form on Novel Publicity
  3. Visit today’s featured social media event
Help my blog win: The tour blogger who receives the most votes in the traffic-breaker poll will win a $100 gift card. When you visit Novel Publicity’s site to fill-out the contest entry form, don’t forget to VOTE FOR ME.

About the book: A vampire, a rogue wizard and an army of soulless zombies are par for the course for Annie Pearce and Bobby “Cham” Chamsky of the Wizard’s Guard. But when the non-magical princess, Amelie of Amborix, is murdered by magical means, a deeper plot unfolds.

Get it on Amazon.

About the author: Behind the wheel of her ’66 Mustang Convertible, Sheryl is a constant surprise, using her sense of humor and relatable style make her books something everyone can enjoy.

Visit Sheryl on her website, Twitter, Facebook, or GoodReads.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Indie Insider - A B Potts

How long does it take you to create a book from start to finish on average?

That's not an easy question to answer. Imperfect Weapon is the first full-length book that I've published and it's taken years to get right, but I think that was because the story has been with me since I was six years old and it has grown and evolved over those years. I tried to write it about ten years ago—in fact, I did—but it wasn't very good. It was too disjointed so I shelved it in despair. Then, nearly two years ago, it suddenly all made sense to me. I knew what was to happen when and where, and that's when I seriously started to write it. It's taken the best part of those two years to finish and publish but I'm happy with the quality and content now. The sequel, though, Black Dog, has only taken about six months and a third book is also underway, so I seem to be getting faster with each book. I think that's due to the fact that my grammar, spelling and methods have tightened up over the years.

How many hours a day do you spend writing? Editing? Procrastinating?

Ah! Now that depends on the writer's block! If I'm on a roll, then I spend anywhere between an hour and four writing each evening. I'll also quite happily spend the entire weekend tapping away at the keyboard, given half a chance. Sometimes I have to remind myself that I have a partner and really drag myself away from the laptop to give him the time he deserves. Editing is a chore that is a continuous project. I'll wake up in the middle of the night realising that a chapter bothers me—it doesn't quite work—and then I know it'll need changing. The amendments come to me and the pen and pad come out along with a torch. At three o'clock in the morning, you can find me huddled under the bedclothes scribbling away and then, come the morning, I'm trying to type them up before going off to work and before I can no longer decipher my writing! As for procrastinating, I never procrastinate about writing, only marketing!

How are your book covers designed?

From a very early age, I learnt that if I wanted something 'just so' I'd have to do it myself. I am dreadfully independent and very demanding. In order for something to meet my exacting standards, I usually have to tweak and fiddle with it to the point that I annoy those around me. That's not fair on the creators so now I tend to do my own covers. I have some graphic design experience and I have the right software, so I put that to work. The downside is that I have to spend hours shuffling through thousands and thousands of images, looking for the right one. I know I'll find it eventually. I just need to be patient.

What do you do when you get writers block?

Do something else! I am a self-employed bookkeeper and I have a home and family that need time dedicated to them, as well as writing. There is always something else to do so I don't worry about it. I know it'll come soon enough—and, lo, I'll be lying in bed at night and I'll start to daydream when suddenly the next part of the story comes to me. Then—yes, you got it—out comes the pen, pad and torch. I bury myself under the bedclothes and scribble like mad, hoping not to wake Dave. And if it gets really bad, I get up, come down stairs and fire up the laptop.

Which narrative form and tense do you use and why?

I always write in the third person, past tense simply because that's what comes naturally to me. I've never even considered writing in any other way and I don't think I could.

Where do you get your ebooks formatted?

I do it myself. I'm very particular about formatting. Presentation is of paramount importance, be it a book or a Balance Sheet. I'm very fussy and have found that only I can tolerate my high demands and fulfil my exacting standards.

Do you use a professional editor, critique partners, or beta readers? Briefly describe your process.

I am really lucky. I have a fantastic team behind me. After the book has been written and I have my first draft, I put it away for a few weeks. That's really hard to do, but I need to distance myself from it a little bit before I can do my first proof. That's the stage when things get tweaked or completely rewritten. If it doesn't feel right, if it doesn't read right, if I find a fatal flaw... all those things must be addressed.

A second proof starts to focus on grammar and spelling and often there's usually a third proof after that. In between times, things get mini-proofed too. Only when I'm happy with the product does it go to my independent proofreader, Willber G Force. He's a great guy and we share a sense of humour. He makes his suggestions, which I then consider. We don't always agree on things, but we rarely disagree.

After that comes the beta-reading. This is the toughest hurdle of all because my partner, Dave, does this. He's a big Stephen King fan so if I can entertain him, well, that means a hell of a lot to me. Finally, after that and if I'm happy with everything, I'll publish.

Which is the most important social media platform and why? Twitter, Facebook, Goodreads, Google+, LinkedIn, or any other one you use.

I can be found on FaceBook and Twitter. I love FaceBook as it's kept me in touch with friends and family from when I was in junior school. You can have extended conversations with friends, family and other authors, too. Twitter is also great because it is better at allowing you to expand the circle of people you interact electronically with, although the 140-character tweet limit can be a bit challenging! I'm also available at Goodreads, but suspect I don't use that as much as I should. As far as Google+ and LinkedIn are concerned, I don't have a presence there yet as I need to leave time to write.

What are three unique web sites or blogs that you follow on a regular basis? (related to writing etc.)

Just three?!

The Indie Writer Zone (of course)—

Readers' Retreat— and I spend a lot of time on the Amazon forums, in particular, trying to promote eReaders and eBooks.

Is there anything else you would like to share?

When I was at school, I was told that you should map out the entire story before starting to write it. I don't and I can't. As I write, the story unfolds before me. It's like the story is being told to me and I'm just writing it down. Things happen and I think: blimey—I didn't see that coming! I then wonder how the main character is going to 'get out of that one' and, somehow, he always does. It never ceases to amaze me and the pleasure it brings is phenomenal. If my readers get half the pleasure I do out of my stories, then my work is done and I'm a happy bunny.

Contact Links for A B Potts: 

Imperfect Weapon available from:
Amazon UK: