Thursday, June 30, 2011

Thursday Focus: T.R.Graves talks about, "Warriors of the Cross..."

TRB: Tina, are you still active in nursing or have you transitioned into writing full time?

TR: I am an RN administrator within a public healthcare system for one of the nation’s most populous counties. I’m disclosing my administrator position because there are those who believe I am no longer a ‘nurse’ because I don’t perform direct patient care. Of course, I disagree. I work tirelessly at being a business office advocate for patients while making sure the system gets paid for the excellent care provided to the people of our community. Almost every ounce of my nursing career has been devoted to hospitals caring for people who can’t afford their needed healthcare. For that privilege, I am honored.

I work AND write full-time. A typical week for me is tiring. It consists of me commuting 10-12 hours, working at my administrator job 40-60 hours, editing Guardians of the Cross while marketing Warriors of the Cross around 40 hours, and raising an active seven year-old son and a driven seventeen year-old daughter before falling exhaustively into bed for sleep with the remaining few hours. Without my devoted husband, I would not be able to do any of this.

TRB: What made you choose to go Indie?

TR: In the beginning, I had no idea I had options. I assumed the only path included traditional publishing. I sent Warriors of the Cross to a handful of literary agents. Each query was instantly declined without any information that would help me understand what the query letter (or book) was missing or what I could do better. I won’t lie: there were hours after each generic "thanks-but-no-thanks" when I wondered why I was putting myself through the rejection ringer.

Last year, I discovered CreateSpace, and I realized there may be other options for authors. A few months later, I bought Switched by Amanda Hocking. When I saw she published her book through Smashwords, I realized there definitely were other options. On that site, I found a whole population of people who had "taken the bull by the horns" and accomplished their goals without literary agents or traditional publishers. Instantly, I was fascinated and began my extensive research into the Indie Publishing movement. As they say, the rest is history.

TRB: What is your advice to other authors that don't wish to go the “legacy publishing” route?

TR: I would encourage them to research both options extensively. Then, they need to go with the one giving their book the best chance of succeeding. I’m sure you can attest that Indie Publishing is not for the faint of heart. As you can see by my schedule listed above, Indie Publishers have to be willing to pretend this is a full-time job no matter what other obligations they have. 

TRB: Amen, sister... 

TRB: Where did you get your idea(s) for your novel, Warriors of the Cross?

TR: First, I'm a nurse by profession and choice…and passion. I spent years working in pediatric/cardiac/medical/surgical intensive care units. During those years, I took care of the sickest of the sick. For the rest of my life, I will vividly remember every man, woman, and child dying on my watch. I recall each tear shed (mine and theirs) while I stood by and watched the families grieve for their loved ones. These extraordinary patients and families impacted me and made me the person I am today. They sparked a desire in me to want to change the world into one where people can be healed with the touch of a hand and the merging of souls. I get excited when I think of a universe where this power is a possibility.

TRB: What type/style of a writer are you? Seat-of-Your Pants? Outline Queen? Master Plotter?

TR: I am definitely a fly-by-the-seat-of-your-pants kind of gal. I tried outlines and realized they squelched my creativity. It prevented the story from flowing naturally because I was trying to make it fit into a predetermined place. The write-as-you-go method is wonderful when you commute as many hours as me. I’ve spent hours in traffic mentally planning and plotting what I would write the second I made it home. I bet the great people driving through Houston with me wondered what in the world was going on when I worked my way through a challenging spot…while dealing with rush hour traffic. You can’t help but get excited when you think of a unique storyline.

TRB: Did you model any characters after real-life people? Is there a character that resonates with you?

TR: I embedded the interesting and endearing mannerisms of my friends and family into the characters of this fantasy. Besides The Sisters, there are no, one-to-one matches. Instead, the individuals of the story are layered with lots of peoples' characteristics in order to make them more dramatic. Because of this, I truly love reading Warriors of the Cross. It makes me feel like I have just had a homecoming visit with wonderful friends/family (dead and alive) by the time I make it to the end.

Without a doubt, Allison La Crosse is my hero. She’s an independent, strong, and powerful woman who wants to take care of the world. When she loves, she loves unconditionally. She is a role model for young women.

TRB: What is your hope for readers to experience by reading your novel?

TR: I truly hope it helps them to escape from their everyday troubles for a few hours while they become enthralled in this very exciting story. Most of all, I hope they love the story and its characters as much as me.

TRB: Is there a playlist that you listen to that inspires you while you're writing?

TR: While there are many, many singers that I admire, there is something about Kings of Leon that is critical to my ability to write. In fact, it is almost impossible for me to type without their songs humming along in the background. You can see from the Warriors of the Cross book trailer, I love Beautiful Design by Trading Voices. I adore Just Save by Sarah Reeves so much that I used that song in the Guardians of the Cross book trailer. Other recording artists I respect include Diane Birch, Sheryl Crowe, Eminem, Macy Grey, Alanis Morissette, Alison Krauss, Audra Mae/Curtis Stigers and The Forest Rangers, and U2.

TRB: Who is your favorite author? Is there a certain genre you read [in] exclusively?

TR: While I could fill your entire blog page with Indie names like Amanda Hocking, Tamara Rose Blodgett, Jayde Scott, Addison Moore and Beth Harris, there are a few writers who inspired me to begin my writing career. Those role-models include but are not limited to: J. K. Rowling, Cassandra Clare, Richelle Mead, Charlaine Harris, P. C. & Kristin Cast, Stephanie Meyer, Melissa Marr,… 

TRB: Thanks for including're such a gracious person, Tina... 

As you can tell, my favorite genre is Young Adult Paranormal Romance. I’ve read lots of books from all sorts of genres, but this is the one preferred by my seventeen year-old daughter. I use our common interest as an opportunity to open the lines of communication between us. She is very supportive of me and loves Warriors of the Cross. After she read the book the first time, she told me she loved it, and I was very creative. Because she is my toughest critic, her honest review will forever be one of my proudest moments.

TRB: Are you a DTB (Dead Tree Book) reader, or do you use a dedicated reader? What do you predict for the future of these two formats?

TR: I’ve been conditioned to love holding a book in my hand. At the same time, I’m addicted to technology. After I found I could buy a book anytime/anyplace with my Nook/IPAD, I was instantly "e-hooked." The author in me loves the immediate gratification of providing an e-book to someone who wants a copy. A bonus is the fact that I never could have given paper copies away by the hundreds like I have with e-books.

TRB: When can we expect the exciting sequel, Guardians of the Cross, to publish? What are a few things the reader can expect from book two?

TR: Guardians of the Cross is written. I am editing it now and hope to have it released by the end of the summer. I’ve started Enemies of the Cross and should have it completed by the end of the year or early next year.

In my very subjective opinion, Guardians of the Cross is more exciting than Warriors of the Cross because the reader already knows the characters. I didn’t have to spend a lot of time introducing each character and detailing their connection to Allison. With Guardians of the Cross, there are going to be some heart stopping shocks at the end. It will have everyone thinking: "What in the world? When can I get my hands on Enemies of the Cross?"

TRB: Who was responsible for your eBook cover art? Also, what a FANTASTIC blog and trailer you have. Can you tell us a little about how you went about choosing and constructing such and appealing site?

TR: Phatpuppy Art designed the book covers for both Warriors of the Cross and Guardians of the Cross. Landing Claudia (the kindest person ever) was one of those things I will forever be grateful for. It is as if her designs were meant to be on the cover of my books. Even more amazing is the fact that she does Amanda Hocking’s covers and still has time to devote toward me and my humble story.

Thank you for complimenting the blog and book trailer. The trick is to find sites that will do the work for you. For the trailer(s), I used Animoto. I’d spent hours trying to create a trailer worth posting. Nothing worked. Finally, I found Animoto. All I did was: decide on the back ground, download pictures, add words, and select a song from their library. Once finished, Animoto produced the video. The ease of the process was amazing given the hours that I had spent trying to do it on my own without having anything to show for my efforts.

Blogger makes the creation of blog sites as easy as it can be. Even then, it took hours and hours to design something visually appealing. During the creation process, I had to educate myself on gadgets, widgets, RSS feeds, hyperlinks, clouds, and graphics. Amazon associates gave me the tools to create wonderful carousels and slide shows to showcase books/songs that my site visitors can purchase with a click of a mouse. I’m pleased with it - so far - but realize it is still a work in progress.

TRB: I absolutely LOVE Blogger and feel the same about what they've provided for me as well~!

Now, Tamara, I want to take a few minutes to thank you for doing this interview, for supporting me, and for being my virtual friend/follower/fan. You are a wonderful mentor for authors. Since you have done this interview for me, I will make sure to pay it forward in the true spirit of Indie Publishing. What a wonderful community to be a part of. 

TRB: You're so welcome, Tina, you've been a gracious and responsive guest. As you know, I'm a fan and think you've been a savvy marketer as well as a terrifically talented author. Thanks so much~! 


Author Bio~ 
 T. R. Graves was born in North Louisiana. She currently lives near the coast in Texas with her husband of twenty-four years. Together, they raise their seventeen year-old daughter and six year-old son. Besides being the author of The Warrior Series, she counts her eighteen year career as a registered nurse in not-for-profit hospitals among her most fulfilling accomplishments. She enjoys embedding realistic medical emergencies within a world filled with paranormal fantasy.

Connect with T.R. Graves:

Like/Follow/Friend/Fan Me:

Links mentioned in article:
Phatpuppy Art:

Catch T.R. Graves Trailer~!
Warriors of the Cross~ Click HERE 

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Thursday Focus: Tiffany King talks about, "Meant to Be..."

A .99 cent title on
Paperback: $8.99
TRB:Tiffany, you're just finishing your education. Now that, Meant to Be, has been met with TERRIFIC success, have your plans changed?
TK: It's funny how much my plans have changed. For four years the plan was to finish school and get a better paying job with good benefits. Meant to Be has changed all that, LOL! The new plan is to hold off on switching jobs until the summer is over. Depending on how Meant to Be and the sequel, Forgotten Souls are doing; [that] will determine which direction I will head.

TRB: What made you choose to "go Indie?" What is your advice to other authors that don't wish to go the “legacy publishing” route?

TK: I chose the "indie" route because it fit my plans the best, which was to get my books in the hands of readers. The marketing aspect is tough but the idea that I was the one that got my book in the hands of readers is pretty cool.

TRB: Where did you get your idea(s) for your novel, Meant to Be?

TK: Meant to Be came from the desire to create a love story that my daughter and her friends would enjoy reading. The paranormal angle I took is one that has always appealed to me, I was curious to see what I could do with it.

TRB: What type/style of a writer are you? Seat-of-Your Pants? Outline Queen? Master Plotter?
TK: I'm a mostly a Seat-of-My Pants kind of writer. The only plotting I do is when I step away from my WIP and analyze my next scene in my head before I go to sleep at night.
*I feel you there, Tiffany! TR

TRB: Did you model any characters after real-life people? Is there a character that resonates with you?
TK: Krista and Sam are both a mix of me. I get embarrassed easily but I'm also a huge jokester. Krista's love of chocolate is all me though hehehe.

TRB: What is your hope for readers to experience by reading your novel?
TK: My hope is for them to fall in love with the characters like I did and to go to bed thinking about the story that they have read.

TBR: Is there a playlist that you listen to that inspires you while you're writing?
TK: I have come to realize I can't write to music :o(. For, Meant to Be, I wrote with the Harry Potter movies playing quietly in the background. I guess you could say HP inspired me the most.

TBR: Who is your favorite author? Is there a certain genre you read [in] exclusively?
TK: JK Rowling's is my favorite author, I'm a Potter geek all the way. That being said, I read lots of different genres so there are many other authors that I admire greatly also. 
*The flogging shall begin...I have never read HP! TR

TRB: Are you a DTB (Dead Tree Book) reader, or do you use a dedicated reader? What do you predict for the future of these two formats?

TK: I love my Kindle!! I love the fact that it holds all my favorite books and that I can also link it to my iPhone. Yes, it means I miss out on seeing beautiful book covers but truthfully I don't miss lugging book around with me at all. The only drawback for eReaders lately is that most mainstream eBooks are crazy expensive. I am also sad that Harry Potter is not yet available on any eReader.

TRB: When can we expect the exciting sequel for, Meant to Be, to publish? What are a few things the reader can expect from book two?
TK: Forgotten Souls, the sequel to Meant to Be, will be out in July 2011. Readers can expect more interaction with characters that were introduced in Meant to Be, and a lot more of the paranormal aspect.

TBR: How has your experience as an author been different from what you expected?

TK: My experience as author has been different than I expected, in the aspect that it is a non-stop, roller-coaster ride with lots of ups and downs. The ups are seeing your book move up on the charts and knowing that people are actually enjoying what you wrote. The lows are the times you feel the pressure to get your next book out there and when you find out that someone hated what you wrote. It is a crazy ride but so very worth it if you choose to get on.

  Author Bio~
Hi, my name is Tiffany King, the author of the Paranormal/Romance YA novel "Meant to Be" and I'm practically a native Floridian. My family and I have been here for the last fourteen years and have gotten quite used to the mild winters and scorching summers. I went back to school when I turned 31 and will finish up this spring. I wrote my book, "Meant to Be," two years into my degree program and put it on hold while I finished school. Of course my degree has nothing to do with writing *drat* but that doesn't mean that I'm not going to keep writing. During this process with, "Meant to Be," I discovered just how much I love to write and I have many story ideas tucked away.

Tiffany is super-active in both the author and reader communities; connect with her at the following places:





TRB: When I've mentioned, "authors giving back," it has never been truer than with Tiffany; she gives more than she gets and is deserving of whatever great things happen in her writing career~! Congratulations and good luck, Tiffany. Thanks so much for visiting my blog!

Margaret is *slaying* me on her blog...check out the sense of humor~!

Yeah, baby...all over that~!

Saturday, June 18, 2011

"Death Whispers" #60 top-rated for YA Love & Romance!

Thank you readers! Your ratings have propelled "Death Whispers," into the top 100 for "highest-rated" under Children's Fiction, Love and's all because of you. :D

Friday, June 17, 2011

Giveaway for your choice, "Death Whispers," or "The Pearl Savage"

This giveaway begins TODAY; don't miss it for a choice of either of my YA novels! My debut urban fantasy novel, Death Whispers or my paranormal romance, The Pearl Savage~!

darkangel188~ click HERE

Read a review of The Pearl Savage ~ click HERE

Read the most recent review (6/16) of Death Whispersclick HERE

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Publishing Schedule *tentative*

Hey everyone~!

Thanks for stopping by my blog. Recently, I've had a few readers ask when I plan to publish future books in the (different) series' I'm writing. And while it's not "cast-in-concrete," I think it will be pretty close to the following:


The Pearl Savage Book 1, Savage Series, June 15
Death Speaks Book 2, Death Series, Sep 1

Death Screams  Book 3, Death Series, winter 2012

The Savage Blood Book 2, Savage Series, Thanksgiving 2011

"Bloodsingers:" Book 1, 2012
Book 4, Death Series, Death Weeps

Book 3, Savage Series

Thanks for your interest and support in my stories!
My readers *rock*!

Thursday, June 9, 2011

"Death Screams," (Book 3 Death Series)

New Book Cover: Death Screams (Death Series Book 3)

Expected Release Jan./Feb. 2012

Thursday Focus: "Bone Dressing," by Michelle I. Brooks~

 Bone Dressing is a .99 cent title!

$8.99 Paperback

TRB: Michelle, you have an interesting background and are highly educated as well, what made you choose to go Indie? What is your advice to other authors that don’t wish to go the “legacy publishing” route?

MIB: It would be nice to pretend otherwise, however I tend to be honest to a fault. My “choosing” the Indie route was due primarily to two factors: 1. I simply couldn’t find an agent on the face of the planet to represent me and/or Bone Dressing. 2. At exactly the right time, my Aunt Dianne forwarded an article to me about Amanda Hocking and her success in the Indie publishing route.

As for advice to authors, I don’t necessarily feel qualified at this point of advising anyone to do anything other than what I have been truly successful at … namely, breathing oxygen in, carbon dioxide out, rinse and repeat. After that, follow your heart in most everything.

TRB: Where did you get your idea(s) for your novel, Bone Dressing?

MIB: The central theme for Bone Dressing came from a dream in the middle of one very stormy night while I was spending a month bedridden from a serious injury. The details followed thereafter. I am a scientist by trade, so research, research, research, is the name of the game.

TRB: What type/style of a writer are you? Seat-of-Your Pants? Outline Queen? Master Plotter?

MIB: Great question! I outline, then I plot, then I write … And when I write, everything else takes a backseat to where the characters take us. So I guess I’m an outlining, plotting, seat-of-my pants writer!

TRB: Did you model any characters after real-life people? Is there a character that resonates with you?

MIB:Well, yes and no. Syd is me in my most base form. The other characters are really other sides of me - ones that help Syd find herself. The peripheral characters in the story often remind me of certain people in my life, but what I’ve come to realize in writing Bone Dressing, is that even the “side guys” and the “bad guys” are really just parts of me in disguise. I think we all have it all inside of us … the good, the bad, the “I’ll think about it another day” …

TRB: What do you want for readers to experience by reading your novel?

MIB: Best question ever! I want readers to judge away … at the beginning. Judge Syd, judge her choices, judge her decisions, judge everything ... Then I want them to stop and think about those judgments they so quickly made. Perhaps, just perhaps, this life we’re living is about something more … maybe it’s about just living this moment, loving it, to the absolute best of our ability.

I like to tell my kids that life is essentially simple. Look at everything as if you lived in the year 0 A.D. No electricity, no public school system, no running water. What would be important? People tend to try to make life complicated, but it’s not. Not really. It’s pretty simple. Love. Be lovable. Enjoy. Be someone to be enjoyed. Make the world a better place because you are a part of it. That’s a hard thing to pull off if you spend every minute of the day judging others, regretting decisions, worrying about tomorrow, or the next day, or the one after that …

TRB: Is there a playlist that you listen to that inspires you while you’re writing?

MIB: God, yes! I’m trying to find the time to link a list to my website, but it includes a wide range of music … just about everything but bluegrass, no offense to our neighboring Arkansas natives, it’s just not normally my thing. Although, I must say, there were a few songs in “Oh, Brother Where For Art Thou” that I truly enjoyed. Keep checking the website for a full list, but it includes everything from Evanescence and Godsmack to Brio and B-Tribe.

TRB: Who is your favorite author? Is there a certain genre you read [in] exclusively?

MIB: Hmm, my favorite author … Well, I went to Poe Elementary, as did my kids. So, Edgar Allen Poe is a big one, as are William Shakespeare (been to his house, and The Rose and The Globe), J.R.R. Tolkien (can recite the Hobbit word-for word, for that matter, I’m pretty good at regurgitating Poe and Shakespeare, as well), J.K. Rowling, J.M. Barrie, Laurell K. Hamilton, Charlaine Harris (whom I have seen in person at a book signing at the library downtown), and about a thousand others. I can remember buying V.C. Andrews’ Flowers in the Attic the day it came out … I was in junior high at the time.

These days I look for others on their days of release, but my kids and I have pictures at Border’s of the last Harry Potter book release party … it was beyond anything I could have imagined! Hagrid even stepped on my toe, and I could have sworn I heard Hermoine giggle in the background!

I love poetry in music as well for that matter, the Eagles, Aerosmith, Matt Nathanson, Jim Morrison, Louis Armstrong … and poetry in and of itself, Eugene Field, Ernest Thayer, Robert Frost … Words are a big part of life in our house, my kids can even spew lines from many of these – the serious, the funny, music, movies, singing and reading are big for us.

As a matter of fact, my great grandmother, Mimi (not a nickname), was a real hot number in her time down in Columbus, Mississippi. Well, a certain William Faulkner certainly thought so. He had a huge crush on her, even wrote her a poem on a dinner napkin, along with a few love letters. Mimi was not the least bit impressed though, and promptly threw them all away. Later, whenever anyone would ask her about him, she would simply say in her soft Southern drawl, “Oh, that Bill is just such a jerk!” So, while writing may not be in my blood, it’s at least in my genetic garbage can!

TRB: Are you a DTB (Dead Tree Book) reader, or do you use a dedicated reader? What do you predict for the future of these two formats?

MIB: Up until the time Bone Dressing was published, I have to say I was quite definitively a Dead Tree Book reader, although I must admit I've never heard it phrased quite that way before. Sounds terrible!

I didn’t really feel terrible, and of course, I certainly don’t think badly of people who still prefer books. My house is filled with them. To get lost in the pages of a book is a moving experience. There is something about how a book feels, in my hands, how the pages turn, the hardness of the cover when you read the softer parts.

So, when my brand-spanking new husband bought me a Kindle so I could see what Bone Dressing looked like on it, I thought, “Oh, well isn’t that nice.” And he quickly took the Kindle over. Then I started to notice how easily he could mark sections he wanted to share with me, or that he found interesting or profound. He could read anytime, anywhere (with the cover’s built-in light). It would even give him the definition to words, keep his place, and never get crinkled pages or a torn cover. Then, perhaps the best part, he started ordering more e-books, at a fraction of the cost, with no felling of a single tree … and still, all he carried around was the one Kindle with not a single bookmark or sticky note hanging out.

So, now he’s gotten me another Kindle, one that I’ll be keeping. I think e-readers will eventually be the primary format for publishers and readers alike. Not this day, but one day. Authors make substantially more in profits, environmentally they are magnificent, and for true book-o-holics, they are a dream come true. I’m even considering using e-publishing as the sole platform for my books down the road, not the next one, but sometime …

TRB: Is there a plan for a sequel to Bone Dressing? Is so, when do you expect to have that ready for publishing and what are a few things the reader can expect from book two?

MIB: Definitely! Syd and Beau and the gang are literally clawing their way out of my head day and night! I hope to have the next book in the Bone Dressing series out by December of this year, with seven books in total. Then Syd’s story will be done and hopefully I’ll have another story banging around inside me.

As for what to expect in book two … Wow, how to answer without answering?! I can tell you Syd and Beau will be traveling to Australia by boat. I can tell you there will be love and laughter, a sprinkle of magic, some tears, and, of course, those big, bad fears …

At the end of the day? It will be another step towards Syd’s ultimate destination, a journey unlike any other, a journey unlike that in the first book, or those yet to come in the final books. There will be more details about Syd and company, and some questions will be answered … others won’t. Then, there will also be brand new questions left dangling for you to chew on. There are things in the first book that won’t, and can’t, be answered until the end of the last book of the series. Wish I could tell you more, but that will have to suffice for now ...

TRB: Who was responsible for your eBook cover art?

MIB: I had an idea of what I always wanted on the cover, every day I sat writing away. What you see is exactly that. Having said that, my husband and my daughter both played a role, as did Emlyn Chand (our Novel Publicity liaison) and Lee Libro (the actual cover artist) over at Novel Publicity. They were absolutely amazing. Emlyn is a bonafide mind reader, and Lee has to be the most dedicated artist on the planet. Big thanks for their patience and ability! Wouldn’t change a thing.

 Author Bio~

Michelle was born in the pre-dawn hours of a crisp February morning in 1966 in a little one-bedroom apartment behind the Alabama Theater in Montrose in the heart of Houston. She first saw the world as Brian Westworth Brooks until her grandmother informed Michelle’s mother that the number of protruding body parts had been drastically miscalculated, that her grandchild was a she, not a he. As it turned out, Michelle’s mother had been much too busy counting fingers and toes to bother with other jiggly bits. So, Brian Westworth became Wendy Lynn, another fine name which served Michelle well for all of two days. Upon signing the birth certificate, Michelle’s father surreptitiously changed her name one last time, ultimately introducing the world to Michelle Irene Brooks, one little girl big enough to have already lived the lives of three.

While being totally Texan and living in or near Montrose the majority of her life, Michelle has traveled the world and lived a life rich with love, laughter, heartache and adventure. She came into the world seeing it through different eyes and carries with her to this day a rich, unique perspective of the life breathing all around her and within her.
Connect with Michelle~
I've had a great time hosting Michelle author with brains that's a straight-shooter; terrific combo! Thanks Michelle!

Saturday, June 4, 2011

The Pearl Savage to Publish June 16~!

Enter the review/giveaway graciously hosted by A Book Vacation  beginning June 9 for a free (domestic) paperback copy and (international) eBook of my new Young Adult paranormal romance, The Pearl Savage.

"The Pearl Savage," will be a .99 cent eBook title and $8.99 for hardcover-sized paperback~!

paranormal romance* dystopian* futuristic* steampunk* Victorian

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Author Interview with Steven Montano: "Blood Skies..."

Learn about "Blood Skies"~

Available for purchase now:CLICK HERE to purchase
$2.99 eBook
$10.99 Paperback

TBR: You're an experienced writer, what made you choose to go Indie? What is your advice to other authors that may not wish to go the “legacy publishing” route?

SM: That’s always the big question, isn’t it? I honestly got somewhat bored and disillusioned by traditional publishing routes. I did the whole routine – careful adherence to submission guidelines, query letters, try to get an agent, wait 6-8 months for a response, rinse, repeat – and after a few years of not getting anywhere with that, I had pretty much given up on trying to make anything out of my writing.

This was after I’d written 3 novels, but also well before the notion of being an Indie author was really a viable option. For a time, the only way an Indie author could make it was to front the money to print their own books, which was never really an option for me. I sort of lost touch with the industry for awhile, but then I heard about Amanda Hocking.

Now, I never thought to myself “I can sell 40 billion books too!”, but hearing about what Amanda accomplished did open my eyes to the world of Indie publishing. This is something that even a few years ago wasn’t even possible, and now has been made pretty accessible.

Take care and make sure that your book doesn’t add any fuel to the misconception that Indie books are low quality. Take your time. Edit. Edit again. Edit some more. Even after you’ve thrown your book away and taken up drinking, edit it again. You’ll be glad you did.

Also, listen to the advice that successful Indie authors give. Don’t assume that any one person has all of the answers, but be willing to listen. We’re all making this up as we go here, and we have to learn from each another.

TBR: Where did you get your idea(s) for your novel, Blood Skies?

SM: Nothing in, “Blood Skies,” came from just one place.

The central magic system – wherein a witch or a warlock bonds with an arcane spirit – actually derives from an incredibly vivid dream I had a couple of years ago. (Most of the interludes in Blood Skies, in fact, are snippets of that same dream.)

The post-apocalyptic landscape came from another, older dream that I was never able to fully shake. (I don’t remember many of the dreams that I have, but the ones that stick with me are usually pretty creepy.)

The world in Blood Skies came about as a result of an event called The Black, wherein Earth merged with other worlds during a magical catastrophe. The notion of several worlds fused into one was an idea I came up with when I decided to discard my original plan of making Blood Skies a steampunk novel. I wanted a world where I could use some modern elements of Earth (the weapons, clothing, language, etc.) and place them in a fantastic setting, but I still wanted the setting to make some degree of sense. World-building has always been one of my strengths, but I was particularly pleased with the way this setting took shape.

The addition of vampires as the primary antagonists in Blood Skies was largely because I wanted to see some vampires who weren’t automatically starring in a paranormal romance (not that I have any trouble with that genre, per se). Vampires have pretty much been taken out of horror, and while I don’t consider Blood Skies a horror novel, I wanted to give bloodsuckers a chance to be truly frightening again. I’ve always loved the Vlad Teppich imagery from Francis Ford Coppola’s film version of Dracula, and I imagined what Dracul would have looked like decked out with exotic firearms and riding a giant wolf. I’m a bit strange, that way.

TBR: What type/style of a writer are you? Seat-of-Your Pants? Outline King? Master Plotter?
SM: I’d have to say I’m somewhere between all three. For me the greatest joy of writing is the creation process, the thrill of carrying along with a story when you don’t necessarily know where it’s going to end up. I need to have a fairly set plot (“Soldiers chasing traitor witch”, for example), and I’ll brainstorm specific scenes or images that I’d like to see appear in the novel. I’ll use those scenes and then jump right in, writing and adding outline notes as they come to me. I usually have the major events mapped out by the time I’m a quarter or a third of the way through the novel, but I’ll still improvise and add things as I go.

I don’t like excessive outlines. Even if I know the Beginning, Middle and End of the story, I want the freedom to fill in the gaps with other stuff that will surprise me as I write it.

TBR: Did you model any characters after real-life people? Is there a character that resonates with you?
SM: I try not to model characters after real people, but there are certainly traits I steal away from both myself and people I know and have known. I do tend to steal dialogue from real conversations I’ve had or overheard, which was a habit I developed in college.

There’s probably a bit more of me in Eric Cross than I’d care to admit, but not necessarily in a bad way. Cross’ primary character arc involves him having everything stable in his life ripped away, at which point he’s forced to come to terms with what he’s really made of when his world comes crashing down. I’ve had that happen a few times in my life (I’m sure everyone has), so Eric is a bit of a reflection of me in that sense.

TBR: What do you want for readers to experience by reading your novel?
SM: I read for enjoyment, and to be sucked off to another place. I like to be emotionally drawn into a story, and I like to leave with a sense of visual wonder. I like to leave everything behind for a while, and imagine that the world in that book is someplace I can go back to.

I hope I can accomplish even one of those things for my readers with Blood Skies.

TBR: Is there a playlist that you listen to that inspires you while you're writing?
SM: Yes. I spend WAAAAAY too much time messing with playlists. The Blood Skies playlist on my ITouch is 61 tracks long. The songs are mostly Gothic/Industrial/Synthpop, with some alternative thrown in for good measure. Lately I’ve really been into Imperative Reaction, Panic Lift, Miss FD, Faderhead, Crystal Castles and Birthday Massacre.

TBR: Who is your favorite author? Is there a certain genre you read [in] exclusively?
SM: I don’t have a single favorite author, but I have a few I gravitate towards again and again. The early work of Clive Barker and the horror work of Tanith Lee are what drew me into writing in the first place. I’ve always been drawn to evocative prose, dark storytelling and strong world creation.
My current favorite authors are J.V. Jones, China Mieville and John Meaney, dark fantasy/sci-fi authors who exhibit a lot of those same traits. Whether I like it or not, my writing almost invariably takes on some traits of one of these writers.

I tend to read dark fantasy and some horror, though I do dabble in high fantasy and *some* paranormal romance. I read a shockingly small amount of hard science-fiction, and I need to remedy that.

TBR: Are you a DTB (Dead Tree Book) reader, or do you use a dedicated reader? What do you predict for the future of these two formats?
SM: Lately I’ve been enjoying Kindle for the ITouch. It’s terribly addicting to download entire books at the speed of light!

Because I grew up reading DTB, I’ll always have a fondness for it, and there is something to be said about being able to pick up and read through a book. Unfortunately, I see DTB’s continue to slide in popularity with the rise and ease of e-publishing. I don’t see traditional books ever going away completely, but I won’t be surprised if in the next ten years we see them fade to more of a novelty item.

TBR: Is there a plan for a sequel to, Blood Skies? Is so, when do you expect to have that ready for publishing and what are a few things the reader can expect from book two?

SM:Blood Skies is intended as an ongoing series. Right now I have fairly solid plans for Books 2 and 3, and tentative plans for Books 4-6.

I’m working on City of Scars (tentative title to Book 2) right now, and I’m roughly a quarter of the way done with the rough draft. I’m hoping for a December release, but that may be a bit unrealistic, so I should probably say it will be available sometime in early 2012.

I can’t give too much away about the plot without giving away elements of the first novel, but I can say that City of Scars will explore some elements and regions of the world that I couldn’t get to in Blood Skies, and the story will prominently feature the corrupt prison wardens called The Revengers (who are currently being featured in the Tales of a Blood Earth serial fiction series on my website). I’ll be introducing some new characters who will become regulars in the series, and much of the book will take place inside one of the vampire’s elusive Ebon Cities.

Author Bio~

I’m Steven Montano, an accountant who thinks he’s a writer, based mainly on the fact that I managed to get a few D&D adventures published roughly 2,000 years ago.  I’ve been writing as a hobby for almost 20 years.

I’m currently hard at work on the “Blood Skies” project, a post-apocalyptic dark fantasy fiction series.  It has magic.  And guns.  And vampires.  Really, what more could you want?

I also run a D&D campaign that wantonly steals ideas from the “Blood Skies” material (or vice versa), work out far too often for my aging bones to handle, father two medically challenged but extremely wonderful children, and lend love and support to my insanely fantastic wife, who also happens to be the mastermind behind Liberty’s Yarn.

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It's been my absolute pleasure hosting this Author-Interview with Steven Montano: a succinct and talented author~!