Mar 18, 2013

Bright Lights #9 - Melodie Ramone - After Forever Ends

I'm biased, I admit it. Despite having lived in the US for *counts on fingers* several years, I still consider myself Scottish. I like to promote all things Scottish, whether its the proper pronunciation of words or reminding everyone of the fact that everything was invented by the Scots, I'm there.

(NOTE: Everything WAS invented by the Scots. That's no idle boast. We can argue about that later...)

So, when I was introduced to Melodie and found out her book contained a Scottish character and that she herself had some Scottish blood running through her veins, I had to interview her. Fortunately, she agreed and so without further ado...I give you Miss Melodie Ramone

Melodie Ramone

Q - Hello Melodie, tell me a little about your book After Forever Ends. 

After Forever Ends is the life story of a simple, yet extraordinary Scottish girl who meets an anything but average Welsh boy that changes her world forever. The book is really about a lot of things. It’s a character driven story about how life deals surprises. It’s about faith and love, strength, and loss. Mostly, it’s about surviving in a world that isn’t always fair and having the courage keep laughing in spite of it all. And learning how important it is to believe in things that cannot be seen.

Q - You self-published because you were determined to do it all your way. Will you continue to self-publish your stories or are you going to try pitching one of your future works to an agent/publisher? 

Oh, my God. You have no idea. I am such a rebel. I mean…really. I actually wear combat boots and walk around in a denim jacket that has a Sid Vicious button on it. No joke. Tell me what to do and I’ll do the opposite. Ask me nice and maybe I’ll play along. Hee. I’ve dealt with the traditional publishing industry for years and what I’ve learned is that Corporate America and I do not get along. Hahaha! They HATE me! So, my intention is to always self-publish, but for various reasons. For complete freedom of expression, YES! For total control of my work, finances and my time, YES! (I have never really understood why I should share my money with somebody who didn’t do any of the work, but that’s a different story.) And, yet, I can’t say if someone approached me with a book/movie deal that I wouldn’t jump straight off my soapbox and tear the paper with my pen signing on the dotted line. So, I’ll be self-publishing until that little fantasy comes true. That is potentially a really, really…really…long time.

Q - After Forever Ends caught my attention immediately when I read the blurb and it talked about Scotland and Wales. What made you choose these locations, is it because these places resonate with you or was it just more suited to the story? 

I’m Scottish on my Dad’s side and Welsh on my mother’s. Even though I haven’t been back in years, the UK, in general, is just like home for me. I’ve never been anywhere where I felt like I was supposed to be except for there. When I wrote After Forever Ends, I wanted it to encompass all the amazing joy and crushing pain I have known in my life. To embrace that joy, the location had to be the happiest place I have ever known, which was in Powys, Wales. And Scotland! Ah! Home again! My heart is Scottish and home is Edinburgh, so Silvia, the main character, had to be Scottish as well or I could not have put as much into her.

Q - As a self-publisher, how do you go about handling editorial and cover duties? Do you have reliable Beta Readers to help you weed out errors or do you work on all of it yourself?

Well, everybody needs an editor, that’s for sure. You’re making a huge mistake if you don’t get one. I tend to read my book out loud to myself about 10 or 12 million times, then force my husband to sit while I read it to him 14 or 15 million more times. I fix things as I go along, because I write in first person and if the “voice” is not that of the character, none of it is true. After that, I’ll chuck it out there for Beta Readers, but I have to admit that I am not ever in a hurry to put something I’ve written out for the world to see. To me, my work is very personal, so I’m careful about how it’s displayed. Oh, and I do my own covers. Just because I’m a control freak and I’d rather spend my money on sour Skittles and Starbucks.

Q - You and I have something in common: shyness. My Spartan guise on Twitter is more outgoing than me in person. How do you deal with self-promotion and marketing your story to your audience? Does the relative anonymity of the internet make it easier for you? (It does for me)

It is much easier for me to deal with people from inside a box than it is face to face. I HATE talking on the telephone. Seriously, it sends me into fits. I’m not much better face to face, either. I am terribly shy and I have a mean face. Haha! It’s true! If I’m not smiling everybody thinks I’m angry and if I smile too much they think I’m mental! Plus, when I’m serious or thinking really hard, I scowl. My eyebrows knot together, my lips purse and I glare. That, combined with the red hair, gives off some kind of demonic vibe that frightens a lot of people away. So, yeah, the internet makes it easier for everybody! That way when I’m thinking before I answer nobody runs away.

Q - You've had moments in your life when you've stopped writing for one reason or another but you've come back to it, what is it about writing that draws you back?

I can’t NOT write. I write all the time. Whether it’s in my head or on paper, I’m always writing. I’ve tried to be a normal person with a normal job and I was terrible at it. Really, I got fired. A lot. I’m not normal by any means. I’m creative and smart-assy and sassy and a little wild by nature. Very much out of the box. You know, some people are healers and some people are good with machines. People like me are storytellers and if we don’t tell stories, we get a little crazy and things…dishes, pencils, job relations, and even personal relationships…get broken. A lot of people don’t get that, but with any artist, you either love us or you leave us alone. Both are all right with us, we’re busy building universes either way.

Q - How often do you write? Is it difficult for you to find time to write or do you have a set "writing time"?

Lately, I sit down and write only in small spurts. When I really get into my groove, though, the whole world goes bye-bye. I’ll write from seven in the morning until after midnight. My family throws sandwiches at me and occasionally reminds me that they have a piano lesson. Other than that, I’m o-u-t until it’s all written down.

Q - Do you have a favorite place to write?

Not really. I can write anywhere, except with violent television going, like gunfire, or if there’s music. Not music I choose, mind, but something somebody else is blaring. I get all evil when that goes on. I mean…that IS why Physicists invented headphones. Duh! Rude much?

Q - What kind of story interests you? Do you read the same stories you like to write?

Uhm…I don’t AT ALL write the kinds of books I like to read. I actually love fiction, but I don’t read a whole lot of it because I’m obsessed with Science and History. Most of what I read is historical biographies and books on Physics. I’ve actually tried to write some historical fiction and some science fiction, but it never works out. I get too detailed and it gets really boring. Sigh.

Q - Where do your ideas stories and characters come from generally?

The characters in After Forever Ends are mostly real people. A couple are a compilation of different people. But After Forever Ends is a mostly true story, so that stands to reason. As far as my other characters from other books I’ve written…I have no idea. Sometimes I think I channel inter-dimensional beings because they are so different from I am.

Q - The common mantra given to writers is "write what you know", does this apply to your writing in any way?

Yes. Only my mantra is “Write what you know and then make shit up.” That, and, “Write it quick while it’s hot and check facts later”.

Q - What do you think are your particular strengths as a writer? Dialog, action, description...what are you most comfortable with?

I’m very comfortable with dialogue…usually, anyway. I’m best conveying an emotional situation, though. Probably because I’ve led a highly emotionally charged life.

Q - What is the reaction to those around you, family and close friends, about your writing?

I’ve always written. They’re just like, “Yes, she’s at it again. Nobody speak to her and somebody toss her a sandwich before she passes out.”

Q - What are your thoughts on the uses of Social Media (Facebook, Twitter etc) for writers. Has it helped in your development as an author? 

God, I love Twitter. Almost my entire platform is based on Twitter and it’s been ultra-successful in helping me meet the right people and make sales. I don’t use Facebook. It’s a long story. But Goodreads is wonderful, too, and I’ve enjoyed using that site both personally and professionally.

Q - You talk about having a love of words on your blog, give me one or two of your favorite words and tell me why you like them.

Some of my favorite words are very, very un-PC, so I can’t go telling you them. They’re not racist or mean or anything, but they’re not nice either. I just think they’re funny. Other people do not. Oh, well. So my favorite nice words? That’s really hard because I love all sorts of words. Lemme think…OK. I like the word “Celestial” very much. I like the meaning, I like the sound, and I even like the way it looks written down.

Q - Do you have any current favorite authors/books?

I have authors that are very special to me, who wrote books that changed my life. I’d have to include Louisa May Alcott, SE Hinton, Isaac Asimov, Margaret Weiss and Tracy Hickman in those. And too many poets to list. But I’ve had hundreds of favorite books, books that made their way into my heart and stayed there. The latest two that touched me deeply were written by independent authors. The first was “Watching Swifts” by RJ Askew and the second was “Invisible” by Jeanne Bannon. Every once in awhile, somebody reaches in and grabs your soul and you just go, “Oh, my Gosh! I GET this!” Both of them managed to do it to me.
Q - How important is it for a writer to also be a reader? 

I think it really depends. Sometimes reading can really influence your style. It happens to everybody. You read a book and a bit gets caught in your head, you write your own book and somebody goes, “Uh…Twilight, Anybody?” D’oh! It’s a subconscious thing, really, and happens easily. I honestly try to avoid anything on the best sellers list for at least five years. But, what’s important for a writer is to be SMART. You don’t learn a thing in school. You learn in from living life and from reading books. So, yes, it’s important to READ, but it’s not so important to be trendy about it. Man, I hope any of that made sense.

Q - Library or Bookstore? 

Both, but if one had to go and another stay, I’d choose library. Nobody should be denied a book because they’re too broke to buy it.

Q - Do you listen to music when you write? If so, what do you listen to? 

Sometimes I listen to music. But it has to be perfect and it’s usually the same song over and over again. Keeps me in a groove.

Q - How do you choose your next story? 

My stories choose me. I never know what’s going to come through my fingertips. I just listen to the disembodied voices and type as fast as I can.

Q - Do you have any advice for newbie writers? Those who are yet to start on their journey? 

The best advice I can give any writer, newbie or not, is just to write. Write, write, write and then write some more. Never stop writing. Never give up, never surrender and never, ever listen to the people who discourage you or say that you’re not good enough. Wanna know a secret? Nobody’s good enough. But we all have a voice and every soul has a story to tell. So use your voice and tell your story. And there will always be somebody who thinks you stink, but as soon as you get a kick in the pants from them, somebody else is going to love you. There is always somebody who will get it. And that’s who you’re talking to, not the others. So just keep going and…shine on, Baby. Shine on and shine bright.

And finally - You're going to be stranded on a desert island (for a wee while) but I'm going to allow you to take 1 book, 1 piece of music, 1 movie, a bowl of your favorite dessert and 1 person you'd like to share the island with for a while (alive, dead, fictional or matters not) What are your choices...and if you want to elaborate...tell me WHY? 

1 book? Really? OMG. I’m on a desert island…wow. OK, well, I don’t know a title, but I want a book on how to survive on a desert island, complete with details on what you can eat safely and how to find clean water. 1 piece of music? I’m going to take the liberty of saying this is an album and tell you it has to be The Cure, Japanese Whispers. I don’t really do dessert, but if I had to have one it would be chocolate chip cookies. And who to share the island with? I’d have to tell you I’d take another Indie author called Carey Heywood (@Careylolo) because we’d have each other laughing the whole time and I don’t think we’d ever run out of something to talk about.

My thanks to Melodie for stopping by. Please check out Melodie's links and pick up a copy of her book AFTER FOREVER ENDS. Available right now!  

Mar 11, 2013

Bright Lights #8 - Pippa Jay - Terms and Conditions Apply

I'm a huge fan of science fiction so, I'm delighted to have the colorfully coiffed Miss Pippa Jay swing by my blog. Pippa hails from drizzly old Blighty, knows her Sith from her Cybermen and is a published author of sci-fi with a little smooching.

Read on and find out more... 

Pippa Jay

Q - Hi Pippa, tell me a little about your new book Terms and Conditions Apply

Terms & Conditions Apply is a science fiction romance short with a somewhat controversial HEA. (Spartan says: HEA=Happy Ever After) I wrote it for an anthology call that unfortunately never went ahead, but the original owner gave me permission to use the premise and publish it. The story was a personal challenge as it specified 'hot' romance, and keeping my word count low was a struggle! It was also the first time I'd written something where I didn't get to chose the setting.


Q - You're the first of my interviewees who writes sci-fi (with a touch of romance), can you tell me a little about how you got into the genre?

I've always written and read science fiction. My parents were scifi fans so there was no escaping it as I child, although I'll admit I wrote more fantasy at first - until I saw Star Wars televised for the first time. Then I was hooked. As for the romance...I blame my two main characters in my debut novel. They got all smoochy on me behind my back!

Q - As a former resident of the UK, I'm aware of the healthy influence of shows like Dr Who, Blake's 7 and more comedic stuff like Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy and Red Dwarf. Did those shows influence you growing up or did you take your cues more from literary sources?

In terms of scifi, yes, those things had a massive influence on me. I've had my first book compared to Doctor Who by some readers, and I can't deny there wasn't some aspects of that influencing the story. But I would say my writing style comes more from my reading - Anne McCaffrey, Tolkien, Ursula Le Guin, David Eddings - I could go on!

Q - You've got several projects lined up, is this part of an over-arching plan or do you just write them as they come to you?

I just write. I'm a total pantser, so I rarely plan anything. Although a couple of projects have been written either for sub calls or with a specific destination in mind, whether that's a publisher or an intention to self publish.

Q - Terms and Conditions Apply isn't your first published work. Have you found the process easier this time around or are you still finding the same difficulties?

Hmmm, some areas of it I find easier but other problems came up so I'm always learning something new. T&CA was my second self published work, but the first one I put a price on. With my debut novel, obviously my publisher sorted most things out in terms of formatting, getting it onto retail sites etc. Doing it myself involved a lot more work, and fun things like tax forms!

Q - What made you want to be published?

I finished my first novel at the end of 2009 and thought 'what now?' I could stick it in a drawer and forget about it, or try to get it published. I decided it wouldn't hurt to try, but the further I got into the process, the more I wanted to be published and the more determined I became. I wanted to share my story with everyone.

Q - With so many projects on the go and being a busy mum, how do you make the time to write? Do you set a schedule or grab the moments when they come?

I used to get up about 5am for some quiet time to write, then fit anything else around my family. It was tough. Sometimes it was like a battle between them and my muse, with me in the middle. Now youngest is at school full time I have more of a balanced schedule I can work to. I still have to fit the housework in somewhere though. Yuck!

Q - Do you have a favorite place to write?

Once upon a time it was at the main computer in our dining room. Now it's curled up on the sofa with my notepad pc on a lapdesk. Much more comfy.

Q - Do you read things outside of sci-fi?

I used to read a lot of fantasy, particularly Terry Pratchett, but this last year I've concentrated on scifi romance as that's where I write, plus some hard scifi. I've also bought some nonfiction on things that interest me or are related to writing - a book on knights, an encyclopedia of mythical creatures, writing advice, and the odd book on self promotion.

Q - Where do your ideas stories and characters come from generally?

Anywhere and everywhere! Honestly, the smallest and/ or weirdest things give me ideas. Books, films, science news, dreams, a bit of paper hitting my car windscreen - anything.

Q - The common mantra given to writers is "write what you know", does this apply to your writing in any way...since you have a sciencey background? Yes, sciencey is a word! (maybe)

Lol! I do stick with that mantra in most ways, although obviously I don't 'know' what it's like to visit an alien planet or use telepathy. You just have to take your personal experiences and expand from them. I don't use my chemistry knowledge a lot, but I've always been interested in science, which is probably another reason I write scifi. My stories are tech light - I don't want to weigh the reader down with lengthy explanations - but I use real science facts or new innovations as a basis for any technology.

Q - When you're writing, how much do you feel you have to adhere to certain limitations based on the genre you're writing in and how the book will sell to your audience?

If I'm writing scifi romance for a publisher, the industry requirement is generally 3rd person POV, and always a HEA/HFN (happily ever after or happily for now) ending. I prefer 3rd person anyway, but I had to cut a lot of omni POV from my debut novel. For the things I self publish, I don't feel that constraint so much, so those stories tend to be a little more controversial. I've also had to cut a lot of the purple prose I had a tendency for. It has changed my style over time, and in some ways I miss it, but I don't think it sells as well, unless you're aiming for classic fantasy fans who like the almost poetic style of Tolkien.

Q - Do you use Beta Readers? If so, could you explain what you're looking for from them?

I have a range of beta readers and crit partners, and I expect different things from each, depending on the person. For example, one like to write down her thoughts as she reads - her reactions to parts of the story. Another will just give her general impression of the story as a whole, while others might pick at the fine details. Generally I'm looking for their feelings on the flow and content of the story. Does the opening hook them? Does everything make sense? Any gaping plot holes? And is the ending satisfactory?

Q - How involved are you in creating the covers for your books?

For those with publishers, it's varied. For my first, I filled in a cover art form, but the final cover was nothing like I expected, and my editor had to press for the guy on the cover to have some tattoos, as that was an essential part of the story. I loved it though. For my upcoming release Gethyon, I was lucky enough that the cover designer I worked with also happened to be a close friend, so I was able to send her images and ideas (but I wasn't allowed any sneak peeks). The final cover was very close to what I had in mind. I did my own cover for my first self published work, but my editor and cover designer Dani Fine presented me with a new one that just had all the right elements (and no involvement from me) so I used that one instead. For T&CA I had a strong idea of what I wanted, and Dani matched it perfectly and improved on it.

Q - How does it feel putting your work out there into the world? Do you get nervous?

It's terrifying! And exciting. You have to brace yourself for the fact that not everyone will like it, no matter how well written and edited it might be. But generally my feedback has been good, which compensates for the odd negative review. If only a few people get some pleasure from my books, it's worthwhile.

Q - What do you think are your particular strengths as a writer? Dialog, action, description...what are you most comfortable with?

I've been told I'm great at world building and descriptions, and those are my favourites things to do as a writer. I've been working hard at action scenes, and I think I'm better at those now.

Q - What compels you to write, drives you to keep going, even on the days you'd rather just throw in the towel?

I just can't stop. And I'm incredibly stubborn. I've seriously considered not having anything else published, but I think I'd go mad if I didn't write at all. Oh, hang on, listening to the voices in your head IS mad... :P

Q - What is the reaction to those around you, family and close friends, about your writing?

My hubs regards it as some kind of insanity that he hopes I will get over. I don't think he realises it's incurable. :D My kids used to complain 'Oh, mummy's doing her boring book stuff again', until my eldest's teachers showed an interest. Then suddenly I was cool! The two older ones are looking forward to Gethyon now, as I've said they can read that one - it's a YA scifi, and a couple of the characters are actually based on them. Most of my friends are impressed but because they've all known me before I was published, it doesn't seem to have made them all awestruck or anything, which is a relief!

Q - Now that you're a published author, do you think of yourself as a proper AUTHOR? Is that how you'd introduce yourself if someone asked you what it is you do?

Yes. Although I was a bit hesitant to begin with. Once I had my first contract, it still took me three months before I used it as an introduction, and when I did the person asked me what I wrote. Scifi, I said. What, like Twilight? she said. O.O

Q - What are your thoughts on the uses of Social Media (Facebook, Twitter etc) for writers. Has it helped in your development as an author?

They've helped enormously, especially with my confidence (I didn't have any) and my knowledge. I met a fellow scifi author on Facebook very early on, and he really inspired me, and challenged my ideas about writing and publishing. I also met and friended a paranormal author who was incredibly generous with her advice and support. These days I hang out on Twitter a lot. It's a great place to chat with my friends, and a hugely useful place for information on anything you could imagine. Got a publishing/writing/technical question? Ask the hive mind on Twitter! As for using them for promotion...well, I try not to promote too much. They really are more a social and networking thing for me.

Q - Have you had much interaction with your readers? How have you found that?

I've had some, usually good. There's nothing that makes my day than a tweet or FB comment telling me they enjoyed my book. It inspires me to keep working.
Q - Do you have any current favorite authors/books?

I adore Jaine Fenn and Neal Asher. But my three favourite books from last year were Even Villains Fall in Love, Unacceptable Risk and Ambasadora.

Q - Have you ever suffered from writer's block? If so, any quick cure advice?

I've got stuck. Best cure? Housework. Seriously. Or go for a long walk or a drive. But the housework seems to provoke my muse the most.

Q - How important is it for a writer to also be a reader?

I would say quite important but maybe not essential. I was always a prolific reader, but just lately I haven't had any time to read at all. Hoping to rectify that soon!

Q - Library or Bookstore?

Bookstore. I hate taking books back.

Q - Do you listen to music when you write? If so, what do you listen to?

All the time. Currently my playlist includes The Rasmus, Linkin Park, 30 Seconds to Mars, Nightwish, Within Temptation, Lacuna Coil, My Chemical Romance, Hoobastank, Elliot Minor and The Dirty Youth.

Q - How do you choose your next story?

It chooses me. Unless I see a submission call or I have a deadline. Usually I have several WIPs on the go and swap between them as the mood takes me.

Q - Do you have any advice for newbie writers? Those who are yet to start on their journey?

I always quote Galaxy Quest's Commander Taggart - "Never give up - never surrender!" Seriously, this is a hard business and you have to be determined, pig-headed even. Also read, write and research - three keys to making progress, especially the last. Always check out the people giving you advice, offering services, or that you want to submit to, to be sure they're qualified and/or reputable. Go to Writer Beware and Preditors & Editors for publishing info.

And finally - You're going to be stranded on a desert island (for a wee while) but I'm going to allow you to take 1 book, 1 piece of music, 1 movie, a bowl of your favorite dessert and 1 person you'd like to share the island with for a while (alive, dead, fictional or matters not) What are your choices...and if you want to elaborate...tell me WHY?

Hades, I detest limitations! Er, book - A Wizard of Earthsea, one of my earliest writing influences. Music - a cover of Muse's Hysteria, played by my friends in essens:1. Dessert - um, anything chocolate, but it would have to be the killer chocolate brownies my husband makes. Person? If I can have a fictional one, then I'll take Keir from my own book. For one thing I know he's handy at living on a desert island since I made him do it.

Thanks for having me! No, thank you!! :0)

Please take a minute to check out Pippa's Links ~~>



Twitter: @pippajaygreen

Facebook: Pippa Jay - Adventures in Scifi


Mar 4, 2013

Bright Lights #7 - Laura Oliva - All That Glitters

If you don't know what a "SQUEEEEE!" is then you don't talk to many writers on the internet. SQUEEEEE is the sound you'll hear if you catch a new writer in the wild. Oftentimes the sound is accompanied by the another sound: excited hand clapping and the visual emotifest of a wide range of emoticons. This is the sound of a new writer debuting a cover, or a new book to the world. And this is mostly what I heard when I was wandering Twitter one day and bumped into Laura Oliva!

This week marks the release of Laura's debut novel - All That Glitters - and so, while she's giddy and in a blethering mood, I decided to join her SQUEEEEing and ask her a few questions along the way. And, despite her excitement, she was able to give some fantastically in depth and insightful answers. My thanks to Laura for stopping by the blog. 

Laura Oliva

Q - Hello Laura, tell me a little about your new book All That Glitters

A -
Hey Gus! Thanks again for having me over.

All That Glitters is a contemporary romance/ romantic suspense novel set in the rough-hewn gold dredging community of Nome, Alaska.

Ava Faraday has spent her life running- from love, from her past, from herself. Now she has only one place left to go: home. She arrives in Nome determined to make a fresh start. With no other options available, she joins the crew of her estranged father's dredge, and does her best to learn her new- and dangerous- job before she dies trying. The last thing she needs is to fall in love.

Gold dredger Ethan Calhoun has struggled to put the ghosts of his own troubled past to rest. After five long years as an outsider in Nome, he's finally made good. When Ava comes to town, she stirs up feelings in him he can't control, and isn't sure he wants to. The closer they become, the more Ethan wonders: will those feelings destroy everything he's worked for?

In Nome's dredging community, loyalties change, and trust is anything but guaranteed. When they are faced with a common threat, Ethan and Ava realize they must work together to survive. Can two lifelong runners trust each other? Can they convince each other- and themselves- that love is worth the risk?

Q - What was your decision process like that led you to self-publishing? 

A - This is going to sound crass, but it started as a financial decision. I started working on this book when my son was about three months old, with an eye towards making writing my career. I initially considered going the traditional publishing route, but the more I learned about what that entailed, and the more writers I met who had self-published, the more self-publishing made sense for me.

Time was a huge factor in my decision. I wasn't interested in killing myself writing the best book I could, only to have it end up in someone's slush pile. With my husband working two jobs to support this venture and a young son at home, I felt like I was working on stolen time already.

Self-publishing has come such a long way since its somewhat inglorious beginnings. Amazon and Smashwords have made it straightforward and accessible, and there are myriad resources out there to support authors every step of the way, from proofreading and editing services, to cover artists, to marketing experts. Self-publishing is now a viable option.

Of course, it's not for everybody. It's a stupid amount of work, and you have to be willing to be a businessperson as well as a writer, which is definitely not everybody's ball. But I'm finding I enjoy the business aspects of it all almost as much as I enjoy the writing. So it works for me.

I suppose I have a bit of a rebel spirit. I don't like the idea of some guy-in-the-sky handing down edicts about who is worthy or unworthy to be published. Sure, there is some really atrocious self-pubbed work out there. But the final judgment on that work should be made by the reader. Free markets, people!

Q - This is your first book, so you are entering new territory with each step you take. Self promotion is huge part of what lies ahead. Is this something you are confident about or is it part of your learning curve? 

A- Everything is part of the learning curve!

That said, I'm pretty comfortable with self-promotion. I think the biggest trick is to not come off like that's what you're doing. My self-promotion consists in reaching out to other people, supporting their work and efforts, being my own brand of funny, and sharing what I've learned about writing. There is a time and place to be a shill, but it's not every time, or every place.

Q - Will you self-publish again or attempt to take the traditional publishing path? 

A - For my next few books, I'm planning on self-publishing. I love the process, I love the control, and I have a cover artist I adore. Beyond that, though, we'll see. I'm not against traditional-publishing per se. If the opportunity arose, I would have to do some soul-searching. Would traditional publishing offer me more/better opportunities than I could obtain on my own? Would I have to surrender too much creative control? Would the money offered be worth it? These are just a few of the things I would have to consider before making that decision.

Q - As a self-publisher, how do you go about handling editorial and cover duties? Do you have reliable Beta Readers to help you weed out errors or do you work on all of it yourself? 

A - I am a HUGE proponent of beta readers. There really is no possible way for an author to see everything that is wrong with their own work. I was fortunate to have a couple great beta readers who pointed out holes in the plot and things that just didn't make sense or flow properly in my first draft. I'm pretty decent at editing, but the reality is I was just too close to it to see everything. I will say, though, the more time I spent editing, the better I got at it.

As for my cover, I am hugely blessed to have a good friend who works in graphic design. We met once and went over my expectations for the cover, and he came back with a product that was better than anything I could have hoped for. Thank you, Zen Mateyka!

The cover to Laura's debut novel...

Q - Your blog is called "Writing in the Night". Is this when you actually get your writing done? How often do you like to write? 

A - Haha, sometimes it feels like nighttime is the only time I won't get interrupted! Seriously, though, I write whenever I can. As a new mom, I know there is never going to be a perfect time to write. I've taken the time whenever it presented itself. I wrote the majority of my first draft with my baby asleep on my lap, and edited it with him playing on the floor around my feet. At my house, writing is a communal activity.

Q - Do you have a favorite place to write? 

A - Wherever I happen to be when my son falls asleep! When I'm at home, I write at the kitchen table (I live in a fairly small apartment). When I need to get some work done without being disturbed, I strap my son into his car-seat, drive until he falls asleep, then pull in anyplace with a decent view and write with a notebook and pen balanced on the steering wheel. The truth ain't always glamorous, folks.

Q - You describe yourself as a hopeless romantic. Is this what brought you to writing? Do you write the type of stories you want to read? 

A - I don't know that being a hopeless romantic is what drew me to writing- it's always been more of a compulsive disorder. But hopeless romanticism definitely drew me to romances. It seemed like everything I ever wrote turned into a love story on its own, so I figured that was a sign.

I absolutely write what I want to read! Many times, romances veer off into the realm of fantasy. That's one of the reasons so many people love them. Me, not so much. I love romances about tough people, people I can relate to, who have problems and complications and shit to deal with. These kinds of romances seem to be few and far between, so I wrote one. And I'll be writing more. I consider it a form of public service.

Q - Where do your ideas stories and characters come from generally? 

A - Voodoo. No, but really, I think writers' brains work differently than most people's. When we look at the world, we see it from two perspectives: the way it is, and the way it could be. Ideas come from everywhere, from that new show on TV, to the person sitting at the bus stop, to that mouthy kid in philosophy class. Oftentimes, my stories stem from something I observed or heard someone say.

But it's mostly voodoo.

Q - The common mantra given to writers is "write what you know". Does this apply to your writing in any way? 

A - So funny you should ask this, because it's the subject of one of my recent blog posts! In a word, yes. And no. I write from my emotional experiences. I don't have direct experience with many of the things that happen in my stories- although I believe it's part of my job as a writer to accrue as much life experience as possible. However, the core of my stories always revolve around an emotional truth I have personal knowledge of.

Q - What do you think are your particular strengths as a writer? Dialog, action, description...what are you most comfortable with? 

A - I love dialogue. I've always been comfortable writing how people talk, possibly because I'm an incorrigible eavesdropper. I love the ebb and flow of conversation, the different rhythms, how you can manipulate those rhythms to reflect emotion, awkwardness, education, social class. I am a dialogue nerd.

I also enjoy descriptions. There are so few places in writing where the writer can flex their literary muscles without coming across like an ass. Description is one of those places. They're a challenge. There are so many cliches out there, it's the test of the writer to paint a picture that is original and evocative without sounding kitchsy or contrived. It's a test I enjoy.

Q - What is the reaction to those around you, family and close friends, about your writing? 

A - They've all been very supportive, at least to my face. I wasn't really going anywhere with school, which had them all concerned for a long time. To be honest, I think they're all just secretly relieved I didn't end up dealing drugs.

My husband has been my staunchest supporter. As I mentioned earlier, he is currently working two jobs to enable me to stay home with our son and see where this writing thing goes. Through it all, he still manages to be an amazing father, and the kind of man I'm looking forward to getting old with. I couldn't have done any of this without him.

Q - What are your thoughts on the uses of Social Media (Facebook, Twitter etc) for writers? Has it helped in your development as an author? 

A - How do I love thee, Twitter, let me count the ways... Since that's where we met, Gus, you can attest to my appreciation for and love of social media. Twitter, especially, and Facebook to a lesser extent, have been crucial to my author platform. I have reached so many people, and made so many friends, who I never would have had access to otherwise. In the world we live in now, abstaining from social media does authors no favors.

However, I think a lot of authors approach social media the wrong way. Everyone always says this, but Twitter is for connecting with people, not hawking your wares. Nobody likes spam, yet there are so many authors out there who seem blithely content to tweet nothing but links upon links upon links to their work.

Twitter has the potential to be a valuable and powerful tool. But don't misuse it. You'll wind up in an online black hole of your own making.

Q - What's your favorite word? Why? 

A - Histrionic. Because in spite of my best efforts, I often am.

Q - Do you have any current favorite authors/books? 

A - I just read the first eight books of the Stephanie Plum Novels, by Janet Evanovitch. In two days. They are hilarious and brilliantly written.

Q - How important is it for a writer to also be a reader? 

A - Very! I guard my reading time carefully. If I feel myself starting to dry out creatively, nothing helps recharge those batteries like a well-written, amusing book. Or a hot bath. Possibly both simultaneously.

Q - Library or Bookstore? 

A - Bookstore. I'm a collector, not a renter.

Q - Do you listen to music when you write? If so, what do you listen to? 

A - Yes! Dear god, yes. Every time I start a new piece of work, I create a personalized playlist for it. I choose songs that reflect the characters, the tone of the writing, and events in the story. I then listen to that playlist ad infinitum until that piece of work is finished. I listen to it while I'm writing. I listen to it while I'm cooking dinner. I listen to it while I'm driving. It's my own little form of DIY brainwashing. It seems to help...

Q - How do you choose your next story? 

A - I don't know if I choose my next story as much as my next story chooses me. I have a long list of ideas in my notebook. I look over it and wait for something to jump out at me. I hope that doesn't sound like a cop-out answer. That really is how it works!

Q - Do you have any advice for newbie writers? Those who are yet to start on their journey? 

A - A few things:

1. Nobody is going to give you time to write. You have to find a way to give it to yourself.

2. Not everybody is going to like what you write. My mother is never going to be one of my fans. Don't worry about it. Some people just aren't your audience.

3. Always be working to get better. This is what separates writers from authors.

4. Be your own champion. There will be people who support you in your efforts, and that's great. But you have to support yourself first, last, and always.

5. Don't let anyone dictate what or how you write. Traditional ideas, genres, and styles are becoming more and more subjective. Write what's inside you...

6. ...But remember that good writing will always be good writing, and bad writing will always be bad writing. There is a lot of room to play within the bounds of good writing. By all means, play. But don't mistake bad writing for being anything but what it is.

And finally - You're going to be stranded on a desert island (for a wee while) but I'm going to allow you to take 1 book, 1 piece of music, 1 movie, a bowl of your favorite dessert and 1 person you'd like to share the island with for a while (alive, dead, fictional or matters not) What are your choices...and if you want to elaborate...tell me WHY? 

Nice. Okay, here goes:

The Book: "We The Living", by Ayn Rand (does that make me weird?)

The Music: "Hot-Blooded", by Foreigner

The Movie: To Have And Have Not, with Humphrey Bogart and Lauren Bacall

The Dessert: My homemade flourless chocolate cake. Affectionately known as The Black Beast.

The Person: At the risk of inducing gagging, my husband. Because we've been together for nearly six years, and he still thinks I'm funny.

Laura can be found chilling out on Twitter here: @writermama

And, for information and updates on her book release, please check out her links at: