Sunday, August 24, 2014

Smashwords Interview

Recently, I discovered the joys of Smashwords, an e-book distributor offering several formats for interested e-book readers. I'm still working on getting my whole list of books uploaded there, but I'm settling in nicely, making myself comfy, rearranging the furniture and whatnot. One of the things I've done is complete an interview, which I've posted here for those curious folks. For anyone interested in exploring my new Smashwords home, check this action out:
O'Leary's Smashwords Page


When did you first start writing?
I was always a reader and scribbler of ideas, but when I was about twelve I started writing in earnest--right after I read Tolkien's "Lord of the Rings" trilogy. My imagination exploded! I haven't been able to shut that thing off since.
What is the greatest joy of writing for you?
Can you keep a secret? I swear, I'm not sure it's actually me writing these things! When I sink into my creative zone, it's like a valve is turned on in my brain and words rush onto the page. Later, I'll read over my work and think, "Dang, where'd that come from??" The greatest joy for me is watching this new creation grow and change, becoming something I never imagined at the beginning. I don't write outlines, because it either kills the creative flow or I don't stick to the outline anyway. So there I sit, watching this story unfold under my fingertips and wondering (with all the trepidation and excitement of a kid on a rollercoaster ride) just what's going to happen next. Honestly, it's the most fun I've ever had.
What's the story behind your latest book?
My latest release, "DeeDeck Design," started as a chapter book I posted bits at a time on my website. The idea was to give readers something more dynamic to do on my site (rather than read boring facts about me ;) and give them a taste of my work. Since I'm not the fastest writer in the universe, I wrote each chapter with an edge, hoping to create enough tension that readers would revisit weeks even months later to find out what happened next. The end result, when I finally finished and condensed it all into a whole book, is an action-packed, suspenseful murder mystery that rockets full speed from beginning to end. That fast-paced tension is also reflected in the interaction between the two main characters, Jackson Coltier and Moira Bannen, a couple of sarcastic wits who entertained me enormously in their creation! I hope they'll do the same for readers.
What are you working on next?
I have about a thousand projects (only a slight exaggeration) waiting impatiently for me to finish them, or zipping around in my head looking for the exit. The one closest to being finished is actually a detour from my usual sci-fi romance, a paranormal/fantasy romance titled, "Vessel of Power." In this story, the Elemental king sends his son in search of the Vessel of Power, an item that supposedly holds the power of the gods and would make the king invincible. But the prince runs into a disconcerting obstacle--a gorgeous changeling determined to stop his search by any means necessary.

I'm anxious to finish this book! I hope readers will enjoy the story as much as I've enjoyed writing it.
What motivated you to become an indie author?
Impatience. Seriously, I tried the regular book publishing route. At the rate I was going, I'd see my first book in print roughly when I was a hundred and ten. That's if any publisher or agent actually noticed me among the bazillion other writers clamoring for their attention. The process was achingly slow and demoralizing. I wanted to see my creations out in the world, to share them with others, to meet wonderful readers and find other like-minded authors. I discovered self e-book publishing and presto! An indie author was born.
How do you approach cover design?
Hey, good question, because I used to try and design my own covers, thinking "cheaper is better." I've since discovered I have little talent for it and readers respond much better to a professionally designed cover. As do I, actually--seeing my work dressed so beautifully puts a big, mom-is-proud smile on my face! So unless a writer has the software, know-how, and creative talent to generate their own professional cover, I recommend finding a designer who can translate their work into a satisfying visual.

Does that mean writers have to spend loads on each cover? Hardly! Pre-made covers can be very cheap while still giving a book that professional polish. And I know there are designers who will create custom covers for a very reasonable price, because I've found one myself. The trick is to find someone who can take a genre/story/characters and create the right engaging cover for it, a visual that will make readers pause and hopefully stay a while.
What book marketing techniques have been most effective for you?
Reviews! I've done lots of different things to market my work, but for all my dancing around singing, "My books are great!" the best response I've gotten is to the word of other readers. Which makes sense to me as a reader--unless I know an author well and have them on auto-buy, I'm more likely to respond to the honest opinion of another reader than any advertisement/marketing gimmick. As a consumer, I don't like being "sold" to (I mute TV commercials), so if something catches my eye, I'll look for proof that the content is worth a purchase. Book samples are also great, but require a time commitment. If a story has enough hot reviews, though, I might just spend the time.

So the next time you read something you really like, please write a review! You'll be doing some lucky author a huge favor.
What do you read for pleasure?
Fiction. I'd narrow that down, but I really would read anything if the story was interesting enough. My favorite genres tend to be romantic sci-fi/fantasy (shocker, I know), but I've enjoyed most genres, from historical to hard sci-fi, romance to horror. It all depends on the story and how it's written.
What inspires you to get out of bed each day?
My son! He's utterly awesome, the best kid in the universe. Raising him is even more of a joy and an adventure than writing, and for a word-addict like me that's saying something. It's a privilege to teach that child and learn new things from him every day.
Why are you so obsessed with chocolate?
Chocolate is the food of the Gods. It's the most important food group. It is the element that binds the fabric of reality...okay, I might be exaggerating a smidge there. But not by much. Life would be pretty drab without chocolate. Speaking of, I hear it calling my name! It's been a pleasure spending time with you, but I really must go. Lots of love and chocolate to you, Dear Reader!

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