Interview: Vahe Arabian @ State of Digital Publishing & Seek An Audience

Happy Monday, readers!

It’s been a while since I’ve interviewed someone in the business (publishing), and Vahe Arabian actually reached out to me first to be featured as a digital publishing expert in an interview on his site. You can read my interview by clicking HERE. And since I felt so honored, I wanted to respond in kind and feature him and his work on my blog.

It’s an exciting time, as ever, in digital publishing, and Vahe is taking advantage of the ever-changing landscape by building a network for those in the industry and interested in joining it. So, check out my interview with him below, and then go check out his site and join the growing network!

 

Tell us about your startup–State of Digital Publishing & Seek An Audience. Why did you start it and how did you start it?

 

When I was in university, I had the opportunity to intern at a startup comparison site (now Australia’s leading one that has also expanded overseas) and it excited me to see how they were building their audiences and brands.

Deep down, I knew I wasn’t as passionate in the topic(s) they were publishing, and so I continued my career in SEO & Content strategy consultancy within startup agencies. After 8 years, I’ve decided to pursue my digital media/publishing career and business through the inception of the State of Digital Publishing Network.

The State of Digital Publishing Network consists of State of Digital Publishing, an online publication which aims to provide professionals perspectives and actionable news/insights within the digital media and publishing industry, whilst Seek An Audience is the community supporting discussion, collaboration and discovery of new media and technology.

State of Digital Publishing originally started out as a blog, and I decided to start it for self-development purposes, but since switching to it full-time, I am genuinely trying to build it as a dedicated digital media/publishing editorial brand. Other brands also focus on media and advertising or just digital publishing (book publishing and design), but there are enough developments within this space worth covering it alone.

Within the first few months of State of Digital Publishing, I was surveying people for feedback and came to the conclusion that people were going to dozens of sites in order to find practical information for their day-to-day issues or skill gaps. In addition, the respondents were keen to having a network of contributors where they could ask advice 24/7. And from this, Seek An Audience was born.

 

Why do you feel it’s important to share the State of Digital Publishing and Seek An Audience?

I know how editors and digital media/publishing professionals are under-resourced and “time poor” (Going through the ropes myself currently!), so now, more than ever, it’s important to slow down and really focus on being practical in your audience development efforts.

The skill gap is widening between leading and smaller-sized digital media/publishing brands and startups, due to historically relying on paid media for growth. There are many things each side is doing that the other isn’t across, so it’s important to have an intersection where both sides can meet.

It’s not there yet, but I strive for the State of Digital Publishing Network to be this intersection.

 

You interview many people who are involved in digital publishing in some way. What are some takeaways or even common threads you’ve found so far?

 

It’s really interesting to learn about the interviewees’ background stories and how they got to where they are today.

What I found some of the common threads and takeaways to be are:

 

  • How people can similarly shape their careers based on lifestyle factors or prioritising on family first. This was especially apparent with female editors who have families.

  • The creativity and flair of responses from professionals working in larger media publishing companies and how their networks charged up engagement on State of Digital Publishing.

  • There are so many niches that people specialise in that I didn’t reaslise i.e. Gay Travel. So awesome!

  • The majority of respondents work remotely with basic tools and workflows (particularly Slack). So anyone can do it–it’s all about mastery and persistence!

  • In terms of the passionate problems professionals are trying to address, professionals who work in media publishing companies tend to focus on audience growth or team management problems, whilst remote/self-employed based editors focus on self-promotion or a passionate product or writing project they are working on.

  • The majority of respondents advised professionals starting out in the industry to get their work out there and practice writing ASAP!

 

These people are genuinely passionate in what they do and I’m fortunate to have profiled them (and you as well, Tamar!), especially considering that I have no prior history in working with any of them.

 

What would you say the state of digital publishing currently is?

 

It’s a mix of publishers trying to genuinely find the right content subscription model, with a focus on properly executing media distribution strategies (catering and publishing unique content on platforms instead of pushing it out) whilst automating basic roles and site features that can strengthen the overall content/product quality. All of this is aiming to to develop more sustainable businesses that rely less on advertising.

Last year gave publishers a shock in the system as advertisers experienced further decreasing revenue from advertising with the rise of ad blockers and fake news, but more platforms are providing publisher centric features to help build subscribers within their environments and encourage premium publishing. Snap, AMP and Facebook Instant Articles distributed media strategies have seen mixed results. There are also innovators like the Washington Post who already have AI written 800 general news stories and The New York Times creating an editorial bot to moderate user comments, removing once-required roles.

It’s an exciting time to be a publisher, and I anticipate to see proper segmentation of media brands based on their revenue models within the next few years.

 

How can readers support The State of Digital Publishing & Seek An Audience? Where can we find you?

 

Providing feedback in the type of answers and case studies you are looking at will be absolutely key, as this will allow The State of Digital Publishing network to build a long-term solution for our existing and new readers.

You can find us on the State of Digital Publishing and Seek An Audience sites, respective social media profiles and speaking with other editors and publishers all the time!

 

Is there anything else you have to share with us?  

We’re excited to be building new features and resources within the Seek An Audience community that will help existing users gain better opportunities with finding vendor solutions and network with other professionals within the space.

State of Digital Publishing will also be going down the path of covering unique stories whilst continuing our featured interviews.

So, watch this space 🙂

Vahe Arabian is the Founder and Editor in Chief of State of Digital Publishing and Seek An Audience. His vision is to provide digital publishing and media professionals a platform to collaborate and promote their efforts, and his passion is to uncover talent and the latest trends for all to benefit.

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Book Release: Palindrome 656 by CF Waller

Happy 2016, all! This is my first post of the new year, and I find it appropriate that it’s spotlighting not only a new book release, but one of my favorite authors as well. ANDDDDDDDD I happen to be the editor for this new edition of: Palindrome 656. 😉 

If you don’t recall, or if you’re new here, I hosted C.F. Waller, author of Free Dive, in this previous post. I am a huge fan of his work and had the privilege of editing Free Dive when Cosby Media Productions acquired it. You can grab a copy of Free Dive by clicking HERE. I actually bought a copy for my grandma for Christmas (she reads cool books, obvi).

But I digress. Today’s post is about the latest and greatest release from Waller: Palindrome 656. Below is everything you need to know about this book.

P656

Genre: Science Fiction/Fantasy/Thriller/Dystopian

Publisher: Cosby Media Productions

Editor: Tamar Hela

Publication date: 1/12/16

Age recommendation: 17+

Blurb: SECRETS TELL LIES
When a ghost ship turns up in orbit after a half decade of silence, the powers that be are going to want answers. And when you are the only person still breathing, you can expect an interrogation. Hannah, the Empire’s leading lady of counter-intelligence, is about to go head to head with the Union’s best interrogators in a life or death battle to find the answers to some seemingly simple questions. As she decides what to answer and what to leave out, none of the stories she is about to share will paint her in a positive light, but in her case, they rarely do. It’s said that the “winners” write the history books, and while the Union continues to demand answers, it seems Hannah, whose greatest victory is managing to stay alive, is the only one holding a pen.

Grab your copy from Amazon by clicking HERE.

 Where can you connect with C.F. Waller?

Stalk him on Google (click this link for a laugh)

Website: Cfwaller.com

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/wallercf

Twitter: @wallercf

Amazon (book links/author page): Click HERE

 Goodreads: Click HERE

About C.F. Waller

Charles published his first science fiction novel at age forty-seven, after a flight on an ill-fated commercial airliner over the Atlantic Ocean, that nearly became an episode of Why Planes Crash. This experience illustrated for him firsthand that writing about exotic or dangerous locales was safer than traveling to them. Since then, he likes to think his meticulous research and storytelling gives readers a clear sense of their grandeur, without the inherent risk of flying.

After narrowly escaping the academic death-grip of several universities, Charles worked in nightclubs, took a turn as a new car salesman, and also as a hurricane shutter engineer. His favorite authors include Oscar Wilde, Kurt Vonnegut, Jr., and Michael Crichton. The latter being especially close to his heart, as Crichton epitomizes the techno-thriller genre and and the failure of humans to interact with technology.

Though he will forever be a Midwestern boy at heart, he now lives on the gulf coast of Florida with his wife, Tina, and one fuzzy feline companion. If he’s not working on a new novel, you can find him volunteering at church, playing overly competitive Yahtzee with his spouse, or indulging in an unhealthy addiction to competitive cooking shows on television.

Author Interview: Janet Elizabeth Henderson, Romance Writer Extraordinaire

So…I’m totally fangirling right now. *biting nails* I have the honor and privilege of hosting one of my very favorite authors, Janet Elizabeth Henderson. I discovered her through a Goodreads ad one rainy day in January 2014. The blurb for her book, Lingerie Wars, sounded like the story would be my cup of tea, so I took a risk and bought a copy. Once I started reading, it was hard to stop. But, you know, I had to work and eat….and shower, I suppose. In the span of two days, I finished the book and was hooked.

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What was so great about it? (Besides everything, of course?) It made me laugh, like, every other page. Out loud. I hadn’t laughed that much (in a good way) while reading a book in a long, long time. And I had been rooting for the characters from the get-go. It was just hours and hours of awesome/love/funny/great characters packed into one book. 

Click HERE to read my review of Lingerie Wars on Goodreads.

Does this talented lady have more books for me to read? I asked myself. I started Internet-stalking her and found her Goodreads Author Page and perused all the other books she had written. I ended up purchasing ALL of them, reading them within a few days, and impatiently waiting for the followup to Lingerie Wars to come out. Do I believe in love at first sight? Yes, when it comes to books, yes. And I fell in love with Janet’s writing in Lingerie Wars and have continued the affair ever since.

In fact, Janet’s the one I can blame for my obsession of all things romance in literature. Sure, I liked the YA romance here and there—being that, hello, I AM a YA writer—but I had always scoffed at readers of romance. And now? Well…I’ve probably read about 100 romance novels THIS YEAR. *looking sheepish*

Now that you have the backstory, allow me to introduce to you Janet Elizabeth Henderson, romance writer extraordinaire. Enjoy the interview!

Q&A

Tell us a bit about yourself—what’s your background and how did you become a writer?

Like most writers, I’ve done a bit of everything in my life—from working as a hospital cleaner to travelling the world, taking photos for a UK based charity. I studied fine art at college, then years later, when I couldn’t get employed as a sculptor (funny, that!), I did a postgrad in teaching. I taught at high school for a couple of years before going to work as a marketing manager for a charity.

In between all of this, I’ve been a portrait artist in Amsterdam, a volunteer worker in the shanty towns of Peru, a camp counsellor for Camp America, a cleaner of a drug addict’s drop-in center, and shoe sales person—amongst other things! I always wanted to be a writer but went to Art College because it seemed like a good idea at the time—seriously, teenagers should not be allowed to choose a career!

I wrote my first novel at 22. It was a kid’s book that was so bad it had the potential to become a cult classic. The story was a cross between Star Wars, Monsters Inc., and Lassie. It still shocks me that no one wanted to publish it! 😉 It took me a long time to find my own particular voice for writing and the genre I wanted to write in.

Before writing romance, I tried to write crime. All that happened was I gave myself nightmares! Once I read my first romance novel, I felt like I’d come home. I knew that all the stories in my head, the ones that had been rattling around for years, were romance stories. Once I understood this, everything fell into place, and writing was a lot easier for me.

What books have most influenced your life most? 

The Bible, definitely. Though it might be an obvious choice,  it’s not just influenced my life but how I think about writing. The story of Ruth is a fantastic romance—probably the first romance ever written!

Other books that have had an influence on my writing are The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath because it has amazing depth and great imagery, Judas Child by Carol O’Connell because she is a seriously good writer who writes slightly oddball characters, and Kresley Cole’s books because they are easy reads, which means they were super hard to write.

Kresley Cole manages to combine humor, pacing, great romance, and intricate plotting in all of her books. I’m rereading them now and am seriously envious of her skill. I also found Get That Novel Started by Donna Levin really helpful when I was starting out.

What is the genre in which you write?

Contemporary romance with humorous elements. I don’t mind calling it romantic comedy, but I’m worried that people think romantic comedy is full of silly humor, and I don’t want to be silly! 😀

What is the book you recently published? What is it all about?

Calamity Jena, Invertary Book 4, came out on the 16th of June. It’s part of a series that’s set in a fictitious small town in the Scottish Highlands. This one tells the story of Jena Morgan, who’s a famous Atlantic City go-go dancer looking for a new start in life. Jena is a really sweet character. She is totally accident prone, has an optimistic outlook on life, and makes decisions that no sane person would make! After she catches her cheating boyfriend in the act, Jena gets drunk and buys a house in Scotland—sight unseen. When she turns up, she discovers it’s a dump, but she doesn’t let that get her down; instead she works hard to learn DIY and fix the place up.

Meanwhile, her ex-boyfriend follows her to Scotland and is intent on winning her back. Seeing as he’s a wannabe member of the New Jersey mob, Jena ends up under the protection of Matt Donaldson, the town’s only cop. Matt is everything Jena isn’t. He’s sensible, slightly pessimistic, and a stickler for order. Jena’s chaotic life both fascinates and terrifies him. As he protects her from her ex, the attraction he feels towards her grows into love, and they end up helping each other to deal with the difficult things life throws at them.

Janet Elizabeth Henderson

Click HERE to get the book on Amazon.

Have you published or written any other works?

Yes! Calamity Jena is book number seven. There are three more Invertary books, all stand-alones set in the same Highland town. There are also two connected books that tell the stories of best friends: Mad Love and Laura’s Big Break, and then there’s The Davina Code. The Davina Code has possibly the worst title and cover of any of book ever written! People don’t have a clue what to think about it. I have a real soft spot for Davina’s story though, she’s probably the character who’s most like me!

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Name your favorite characters you’ve written into existence and explain why they’re your favorites.

My favorite is always the one I’m working on right now. Or the one I’ve just finished. I have a soft spot for Davina and Jena, who are quite similar. Of the boys, I love Grunt. I love that he’s a taciturn, behemoth of a man who is brought to his knees while dealing with Claire—their story is in Calamity Jena. Also, I enjoyed poking fun at the Alpha Hero stereotype while writing Grunt.

I also love Mitch. He’s Josh’s best friend in Goody Two Shoes, but I know what’s coming for him, and it takes a lot of effort not to cackle with glee when I think about it.

Do you ever get writer’s block? If so, how do you deal with it?

Not really. When something sticks in my writing, it usually means there’s a major problem with the story, or that the characters aren’t behaving ‘in character’. Your subconscious often picks up things your conscious misses. When this happens, I go back over everything, rewriting until it flows again. It’s hard work, frustrating and sometimes demoralizing, but at least it keeps going forward.

Do you write an outline before you write a book?

I don’t know…no…yes…kind of! Does that answer your question?! 🙂 I have two whiteboards in my office, and I map out the characters, themes, and story ideas on them. This is one of my Calamity Jena boards. As you can see, sometimes my kids help with the planning!

CJ Planning

This was quite early in my process for Calamity Jena, and a lot of the ideas on the board didn’t make it to the book. There were other ones that cropped up while I was writing did. It’s a very fluid process. Basically, I try to really understand my characters, then I stick them in a situation and ask myself continually what they would do in that situation—and that’s where the story comes from.

What inspired you to write your first romance novel?

My youngest daughter was born with a severely clubbed foot and problems with her leg. From the day after she was born, she was in a full leg cast to try to stretch it into the correct position. This is one of the standard, non-invasive treatments for this condition. Unfortunately, it’s also uncomfortable and painful. She had her cast changed every couple of weeks for over two years. In that time, she never slept for more than 40 minutes at a time before she woke up crying in pain.

I spent those first few years awake all night, caring for her. There was no point trying to nap in the short space that she was asleep, so I read romance novels to pass the time. I read fast, so I ran out of books pretty quickly and thought why not write my own? So I did.

I wrote Mad Love in short bursts during the night while my daughter napped. I wanted to write something light-hearted, something with a happy ending, and something that didn’t have any angst in it at all. Basically, the kind of story that kept me going when things got hard.

How long did it take to finish your first romance novel?

It took about six weeks to write Mad Love. I should say that it took eight years to write the crime novel I wrote before Mad Love!

What were the challenges you faced when getting your first book published?

Lots! I tried the traditional route first. I had an agent for my crime fiction, and when I swapped to writing romance, she didn’t really know what to do with me, so I sent my book to Mills and Boon in London. They had it for two years.

In that time, they lost it three times and the editor changed several times. With each new editor, I started right back at the beginning in dealing with them. Meanwhile, my agent wasn’t helping, so we parted ways. I was just about to try lots of other agents and publishers when a writer friend suggested self-publishing. That’s what I did. And I love it!

How do you market your work? What avenues have you found that work best for your genre?

Argh! I hate marketing. Okay, I tend to promote my work in wee bursts. For Lingerie Wars, I tried NetGalley, press releases to newspapers, advance copies to bloggers—all the usual stuff. I didn’t advertise Goody Two Shoes or Magenta Mine at all—apart from on my Facebook page, running a Goodreads giveaway, and putting them in my newsletter. I have to say, Goody Two Shoes did just as well as Lingerie Wars sales-wise, maybe even better.

I haven’t found that mythical place that’s perfect for marketing my work. I’m not sure it exists. I find it helps to realize that there isn’t a lot of influence you can have over sales and reviews. The only thing you really control is your story. And that’s where your effort should go.

I find the best marketing you can do is to try to write the best book you can. Don’t cut any corners. Try to improve with each book you write. I think if you do that then the books sell themselves. Eventually, people will find you, someone will tell them about you, or the blurb will attract them. The best marketing you can ever have is word of mouth, and you only get that if you put in the work and write as best you can.

What does your writing process “look” like?

A big, chaotic mess!! As I said above, I use white boards to keep track of what I’m thinking. On one, I concentrate on characters, what their motivation is, what they want, what they’re going to get! I use the other board to keep track of plot ideas and timelines. I also have an excel spreadsheet to keep track of characters, otherwise their eye color and hair would change randomly throughout each story.

Usually, I get an idea for a book, or a set of characters start having a discussion in my head at night when I really want to sleep. From there, I write down the basic idea, let it ferment, then start working it out on my board. I like using boards as things change for me as I write, and this way, I can easily wipe off and start again. Also, I like sitting, staring at my boards for long periods of time, hoping that the story will write itself!

What projects are you currently working on?

Right now, I’m working on Bad Boy, Invertary book 5. It tells the story of Flynn Boyle who’s the bad boy of European soccer. When he’s injured, he returns home to Invertary, but has no idea what to do with himself. Flynn is the older brother of Harry from Magenta Mine, and the cousin of Matt, from Calamity Jena.

Flynn gets to fall in love with Abby, who we met in Calamity Jena. She’s a widow with a five-year-old daughter and some business problems. I haven’t quite worked out where the story is going yet, or I would tell you more. 🙂

I’ve also got another couple of books in the works that I can’t talk about yet because I’ve no idea what I’m doing! One is the start of a new contemporary romance series. The other is a paranormal romance.

What has been the toughest criticism given to you as an author? What has been the best compliment?

I get bad reviews now and then, like any writer, and they can be hard to stomach. I’ve also had a lot of feedback over the years from editors and agents—not all of it encouraging. The thing I realized a long time ago is that all criticism is just personal opinion. What one person likes, another will hate. You have to remember that when you get feedback.

I try hard to listen to people who really know their craft. They often see things others don’t because they have insight into the underlying structure of a novel. If someone who knows how to write tells me how to make my plot or pacing better, I jump on their advice. All criticism should go through a filter inside your head before you let it affect your work. You should ask yourself if it is in line with your aims, and if taking it on board will make you a better writer.

As for compliments, the greatest one I receive is when someone buys one of my books and goes on to buy another. That’s mind blowing! I find it hard to believe people want to read one of my books, let alone two or more!!

Also, years ago, an agent told me she thought relationships, dialogue, and humor were my strengths. I got a second opinion and found that more people I respected agreed with her. That helped me to hone my voice. It’s always a good idea to work to your strength while you improve your weaker areas.

What advice can you give to aspiring authors?

Write good books! Whatever your genre, or sub-set thereof, make sure you are writing the best book you can for it. Don’t ever stop working to improve your writing. Forget about marketing seminars and increasing your Facebook likes; instead, work on your craft. Make each story you write better than the last. Listen to your instinct. If something is telling you that a scene isn’t right, then it probably isn’t right.

Never wait for inspiration to strike; just wake up and get your bum in your chair, ready to write. That way, inspiration will know where to find you. Develop a very clear sense of what you’re trying to achieve. That will help you to cope with the overwhelming amount of well-meaning advice that will come your way.

Be generous with your knowledge and experience to other writers. Support others in the community in any way you can. Writing isn’t a competition. You don’t do yourself any favors by spending time comparing your work/success to others. Instead, concentrate on writing a good book and encouraging other writers.

Never take your readers for granted.

Most of all, write. You can only learn to write by writing. You can only improve your writing by writing. You can only find your voice by writing. You’re only a writer if you write! (Which means all the hours you spend on writer’s forums, and talking about writing on Facebook, don’t count!)

When can we expect to see another publication of your work?

Later this year. If all goes well, October or November. If it all goes to hell in a hand basket, who knows when…

What’s a cool (or nerdy) fact about you that you’ll share with us?

I’m not sure I would recognize cool if it smacked me in the face. But I can give you odd. Here are some odd facts about me:

I attract trouble wherever I go. I’ve been “detained” by authorities in Dubai, Bolivia, Ethiopia, Nepal, Uganda, and Scotland—all over misunderstandings or stupidities! I’ve been stranded in the desert and in the jungle after managing to miss my plane on both occasions. I’ve been trodden on, spat at or attacked by various animals—including monkeys, baboons, a donkey, a swan, a warthog, a camel, and a very angry highland cow.

I’ve just missed being blown up twice, once by the IRA in London and once by the Shining Path in Peru. I’ve been witness to crimes and testified three times. One of those times, the court date changed, and the police had to track me down. I was in Nepal, and the hotel thought I was wanted by Interpol! I was in a motorway crash in India when my motorized rickshaw ran into the rear end of an elephant. My driver was irate because the elephant was out at night without any lights…

I seriously believe you can learn everything you need to know about story telling from watching Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Die Hard! I can quote massive amounts of dialogue from both and would probably pass out from fan overload if I ever met Joss Whedon.

I’m slightly OCD, and take my own cutlery and glassware wherever I go. Don’t get me wrong; I don’t pass out if I have to drink out of a ceramic mug instead of a glass cup, but I don’t like it. I really don’t like it. It’s just wrong!


Janet’s bio (from her website): I’m a Scot, living in New Zealand and married to a Dutch man. I write contemporary romance with a humorous bent – this is mainly due to the fact I have an odd sense of humour and can’t keep it out of anything I do! If I wasn’t a writer, I’d like to be Buffy the Vampire Slayer, or Indiana Jones. Unfortunately, both these roles have already been filled. Which may be a good thing as I have no fighting skills, wouldn’t know a precious relic if it hit me in the face and have an aversion to blood. When I’m not living in my head, I’m a mother to two kids, three pet sheep, one dog, three cats and an escape artist chicken.


Huge, huge, HUGE thanks to Janet for letting me host her on my blog! I learned lots more about her that I didn’t know before. I hope that you will give her books a try if you haven’t already. Learn more about Janet by visiting her:

website

on Facebook

on Goodreads

Author Interview: Cris Pasqueralle, Author of Destiny Revealed

Happy Wednesday, dear readers!

This week, I have the pleasure of hosting Cris Pasqueralle, author of Destiny Revealed. Before we get into the Q&A, here’s some information about Cris’s debut novel:

Title: Destiny Revealed

Publisher: Cosby Media Productions

Genre: Middle Grade Fantasy Fiction

Amazon link: Click HERE

Goodreads link: Click HERE

And now, let’s get to it! Time for some Q&A:

 

1. Tell us a bit about yourself—what’s your background and how did you become a writer?

My name is Cris Pasqueralle, and I am Long Island born and raised. I currently live in Levittown, NY with my wife, Tricia, and my two daughters, Toniann and Deanna.  I am a retired NYC police officer, and I have always wanted to write.  I began writing stories while in high school, and it was my daughter’s love of fantasy fiction that led me to write The Destiny Trilogy.

 

2. What is the genre in which you write?

I write middle grade/YA fantasy.

 

3. What is the book you recently published? What is it all about?

My most recent work is Destiny Revealed, book one of The Destiny Trilogy. It follows the story of 13-year-old twins Jack and Maddie Austin who, during their birthday celebration, see their parents kidnapped by the evil wizard: Tardon. Then, they are whisked away to an unknown, magical realm by their Uncle Benny, where they learn they are wizards with a great destiny. They embark on a rescue mission to save their parents, and learn the truth about who, and what, they are.

 

4. Have you published or written any other works?

Destiny Revealed is my first published work.

 

5. Name your favorite characters you’ve made up and explain why they’re your favorites.

My favorite characters are Jack and Maddie, and Connie, from Destiny Revealed.  I like Jack because he is a lot like I was at 13, and Maddie and Connie because they are modeled after two of my favorite people: my daughters.

 

6. Do you ever get writer’s block? If so, how do you deal with it?

I will get a lot of backlash for this answer, but I don’t think there is anything such thing as writer’s block. I believe that it’s simply the characters telling us they are not ready to move on.  I keep the flow of writing by stopping when I am on a roll. This way, when I return to writing, I already have something to work with and I’m not staring at a blank page.

 

7. How long did it take to finish your first novel?

My first novel took nearly a year to get it to the point where I thought it would be presentable.

 

8. What were the challenges you faced when getting your first book published?

Initially, I wanted to go the traditional route, get an agent, and shoot for one of the big publishing houses. But after many, many form letter rejections, I found that I could self-publish direct to Kindle, which I did. Then, my luck changed, and Braxton Cosby, from Cosby Media Productions, saw Destiny Revealed, and thought it was a good fit for CMP. We pulled it from Kindle, reworded and copy-edited it, and re-released it—with much success.

 

9. How do you market your work? What avenues have you found that work best for your genre?

I market mostly through social media and found that Facebook readers’ groups, as well as Google+, and Twitter help me to target directly to fans of fantasy fiction.

 

10. What does your writing process “look” like?

My writing process is old school: a notebook, a pen, a cup of coffee, and usually a baseball game on in the background, or some music from the golden oldies.

 

11. What projects are you currently working on?

Currently, I am working on book three of The Destiny Trilogy, but I have some ideas for a couple of stand alone novels, and two other series I’d like to get going on.

 

12. What has been the toughest criticism given to you as an author? What has been the best compliment?

The toughest criticism has often come from people I know who say, “You’ll never make a living doing that.” I’ve also had a couple of reviews that said they had trouble connecting with the characters and wouldn’t want to continue with the series, but those have been few, thank goodness. 

The best have been two reviews that have compared my work to the Harry Potter books. One said: “The next up and coming Harry Potter and Percy Jackson,” and another said: “Move over, Ms. Rowling; there’s a new fantasy author in town.” Still, another called Destiny Revealed “Something akin to, but different from, Harry Potter.”  Those types of comments I find very encouraging and flattering.

 

13. What advice can you give to aspiring authors?

The advice I give to aspiring authors is to read everything, and keep at it. I tried for nearly thirty years to get published, and it finally happened. So, keep writing, no matter what anyone says.

 

14. When can we expect to see another publication of your work?

Gook two of The Destiny Trilogy, Paths of Destiny, will be available as an eBook later this summer.

 

15. What’s a cool (or nerdy) fact about you that you’ll share with us?

I’m not very cool, so there aren’t many cool facts about me. But a nerdy one is that I still enjoy cartoons; they crack me up.

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To learn more about Cris, visit him at these sites:

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Author Interview: CF Waller, author of Free Dive

Please excuse me while I fangirl a bit. Today, I’m hosting C.F. Waller, author of Free Dive–hooray!! And, if you can’t already tell, I am a big fan of his work. I had the privilege of editing Free Dive last year when Cosby Media Productions acquired it. (YOU REALLY NEED TO READ THIS BOOK, OKAY??) Since then, I’ve become giddy any time I get to read something by Waller. (In fact, I’m editing one of his next releases, Palindrome 656, which will be released this year by CMP.) But let’s move on to the good stuff—my interview with Mr. Waller. Enjoy!

Free Dive Cover

Q & A

When did you first realize you wanted to be a writer? Growing up, my house was book shelves—one on almost every wall. I was reading novels in the third grade during recess. I used to grumble about the plot lines as if I had a better idea. It wasn’t until the last six years I had the time to write, but I always wanted to do it.

What inspired you to write your first book? Michael Crichton: The first adult novel I ever read was The Terminal Man. In my opinion, his techno-thrillers are the best example of that genre ever. I also have a soft spot for Oscar Wilde.

What genre do you consider your book(s)? I have been exploring a few. I never want to write the same subject matter twice. So far, I’ve written one Space Opera, one Time Travel, one techno-thriller, one Paranormal and my new work in progress is about Immortals. I always change the locations so I learn about a new thing.

What is your work schedule like when you’re writing? I walk in the morning, have lunch, and then have all afternoon to write. I never write if I am not in the mood. Forced page counts or writing through a block produce a bad end product. Sometimes I go a week and don’t work, but when the stories come, I will write 6-7 hours a day.

What would you say is your interesting writing quirk? For the most part, I over-research locations. Sometimes you have to make the ideas fit a timeline or a place fit a scene, but I try to be spot-on as much as I can. I can sit down to write and get lost in research, winding up with no words at the end of the day.

Do you have a specific writing style? Lots of dialogue, less describing.

How did you come up with the title? Every book gives me a title as I write it. Oddly, my new project is the first one that has gone to beta readers with no set title. I do adhere to a two word title rule. If I can’t come up with a two word title, something is wrong with the book for me. Possibly, it’s over complicated.

Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp? I never start out with one. I have had readers tell me they got the message. Often, several readers get different messages. People all have different brains and they fill in the blanks from their own experiences. Good for them, as they become part of the story.

How much of the book is realistic? As much as possible. On the Everest climbing book, I went so far as to talk to an actual climber who made the summit. On Free Dive, I watched a dozen documentaries on the subject. It’s important to me to be as real as the plot allows.

Are experiences based on someone you know, or events in your own life? Not ever. I don’t write about myself or people I know. I do use places I have been or general stereotypes on actual people. Most often, I cast the movie in my head before I start writing, and then use characters from many movies jumbled together. It helps me create actual people, thus helping me decide what they might do in the book.

How long did it take you to write this book? Free Dive took five months, which has been the case for my last three books. The new one might be a hair longer, and the first book took over a year. I have a step-by-step process now. Research, write, beta, re-write, beta, re-write, edit, publish.

What books have most influenced your life most? The story of Dorian Grey – Oscar Wilde, One Second After – By William R. Forstchen, and anything by Michael Crichton.

If you had to choose, which writer would you consider a mentor? Re-occurring answer . . . Crichton.

What book are you reading now? Michael Connelly – The Drop.

What are your current projects? Book about immortals, unofficially titled The Calling Tree.

If you had to do it all over again, would you change anything in your latest (or first) book? Way too many things. I understand why Stephen Spielberg can’t resist changing things to his old movies. We all evolve and learn. Never plot lines; mostly semantics and mechanical things.

Who designed the covers? CMP did a wonderful new cover for Free Dive, but I have had original art done by people in the UK, Romania, and Bulgaria. I go where I find the perfect thing.

What was the hardest part of writing your book? Cutting myself off of re-writes and letting go. The first book I re-wrote for a year before publishing it. An author can sometimes mess with a beautiful idea if they let it cook to long.

Do you have any advice for other writers? Be original at all costs. I avoid whatever is in vogue. If the movie theaters are bursting with movies about certain subject matter, then I put it on the Do not write about that list. Sure, readers might be buying those type of books now, but I don’t want mine lumped in with a pile of books that appear to be knock-offs. This might rub some authors the wrong way, thus this is my personal feeling. Other authors, please write what you feel passionate about.

Do you have anything specific that you want to say to your readers? Thank you for your time and please contact me with feedback (good or bad).

Do you ever experience writer’s block? Rarely, but I don’t write in those circumstances. If you don’t have any good ideas to write, better to write nothing at all.

Do you write an outline before every book you write? Nope. I take long walks daily (2-3 hours) and let my mind watch the idea as a movie. I watch it over and over ’til I have it how I want it and then sit down and let fly.

Have you ever hated something you wrote? Every writer does, don’t they? I sometimes take an entire chapter and remove it. This can sometimes be good, as the deleted sections often become unseen backstory that I use to help my characters make decisions in the rest of the book.

While you were writing, did you ever feel as if you were one of the characters? Nope. I keep myself out of the books.

What do you like to do when you’re not writing? I’m active at church, serving in several areas. I watch too much television, especially reality cooking shows. My wife and I play very competitive Yahtzee.

What does your family think of your writing? My wife is very supportive, but the subject matter is not her thing. Mother seems to enjoy it, and I don’t think my brother has read any of the books.

What was one of the most surprising things you learned in creating your books? Everyone is like a crash course in the subject matter. It’s been like a masters class in space travel, time travel physics, deep sea diving, and mountain climbing. I suppose it helps me when I watch Jeopardy.

Which actor/actress would you like to see playing the lead character from your most recent book? The first two books … probably Katee Sackhoff. Free Dive would be Shane Carruth (a Canadian director/actor), and South Face, more than likely Charlize Theron.

What is your favorite motivational phrase or positive saying? Every day’s a school day. Thank you, Brian Stierle, for giving me that one.

What advice would you give to your younger self? Tie down the ignition wire on the 1995 state finals car, don’t buy a motorcycle, don’t bet into a flush draw with trips, and never use 100 words when 5 will do. That won’t make sense to anyone, but that’s what I would say.

Free Dive Cover

THIS OR THAT

Reading or writing? Reading my writing (egocentric much?).

Writing during the night or writing during the day? Daytime for most; night to make sure you finish your idea from the daytime.

Reading an eBook or print? Print.

Buy books online or buy in a bookstore? Online, as it’s cheaper by far, but go to bookstores, if only for the smell. My local big box bookstore has a yogurt shop, and I love frozen yogurt.

Writing from home or someplace else? Always home, and never when anyone else is home or awake.

Weather: Hot or Cold? I live in Florida for a reason. Hot and full of palm trees.

Music or Silence? When writing, silence.

Classic Fairy tales or Fairy tale retellings? Classic. No Zombie Pride or Prejudice or Vampire presidents, please. Be original, not a piggy-backer.

Chocolate or Vanilla? Vanilla.

The Beach or the Mountains? Beach.

The world being taken over by zombies or blood-sucking vampires? Neither. How about an EMP Apocalypse?

Time Travel to the future or past? Always the past.

Facebook or Twitter? I don’t understand Twitter????

Being able to fly or being able to go invisible? Invisible; airplanes fly already.

Bookmark or Dog-eared? Finish the book all at once and you don’t need either. I do bookmark in the Bible, however.

City or Country? In between.

Pen or Pencil? Pen.

Pancakes or Waffles? Waffles.

Books or Movies? Movies.

Coffee or Tea? Diet Pepsi.

 How can readers discover more about you and you work?

Stalk me on Google (click this link for a laugh)

Website: Cfwaller.com

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/wallercf

Twitter: @wallercf

Amazon (book links/author page): Click HERE

 Goodreads: Click HERE

About CF Waller

Charles published his first science fiction novel at age forty-seven, after a flight on an ill-fated commercial airliner over the Atlantic Ocean, that nearly became an episode of Why Planes Crash. This experience illustrated for him first hand that writing about exotic or dangerous locales was safer than traveling to them. Since then, he likes to think his meticulous research and storytelling gives readers a clear sense of their grandeur, without the inherent risk of flying.

After narrowly escaping the academic death-grip of several universities, Charles worked in nightclubs, took a turn as a new car salesman, and also as a hurricane shutter engineer. His favorite authors include, Oscar Wilde, Kurt Vonnegut, Jr., and Michael Crichton. The latter being especially close to his heart as Crichton epitomizes the techno-thriller genre and and the failure of humans to interact with technology.

Though he will forever be a Midwestern boy at heart, he now lives on the gulf coast of Florida with his wife, Tina, and one fuzzy feline companion. If he’s not working on a new novel, you can find him volunteering at church, playing overly competitive Yahtzee with his spouse, or indulging in an unhealthy addiction to competitive cooking shows on television.