Posted in Willow's Book Chat

Willow’s Book Chat: Series VS Stand Alone

All book lovers have preferences. Some prefer a certain genre to other genres. Some prefer a specific point of view over others. Some prefer to read books that come in a series over stand-alone. Most of us will read out of our comfort zone and dab into everything anyways.

Today I’d like to talk about book series and book stand-alone novels. They both have their benefits. I used to not see it that way. I used to only read books that were in a series. I was a horrible book snob. Once I fully embraced the book community and all that it had to offer, my point of view changed. I will always prefer book series to stand alone novels, but I do enjoy stand alone novels now.

Reading a book series has many advantages. To start with, you have more than one book in order to read all about the characters and their world. To me, book series are like television series. You get to digest a little part of the story with each book. You can even binge read a series if you’d like. I guess length of series does need to be taken into account. I personally don’t mind how long a series goes on as long as it stays consistent. If it’s obvious that the series has come to its end, please end it. Other than that, the series can have 50 books and I’m cool with it. I’m sure this is a pretty unpopular opinion.

Now, I’m not an expert at stand alone novels. I don’t really read much of them. I do read them though. I can say that the stories are amazing. I can see the point that there are some stories that are meant to be told, but not in a series. The point of the story can be wrapped up in one nice little book. I do wonder if some books can be broken down. The first book that comes to mind is Gone With The Wind. Would it have been better as a duology? Or is it good as it is? I see stand alone novels as a movie of sorts.

In the end, both book series and stand alone novels are to give us book lovers a story to love and gush over. They are meant to entertain us and tell us a story. In some cases, they are intended to tell us several stories. I just recently discovered book series that are a collection of stand-alone novels that take place in the same world. I thought I’d hate that, but it’s really refreshing.

What are your thoughts on both? What are your preferences? When do you feel an author should stop writing in a series? When do you feel a stand alone novel should be turned into a series? What are your thoughts on duologies and trilogies?

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Posted in Book Reviews, Willow's Book Chat

Willow’s Book Chat: Book Reviews

It would seem this would be a pretty straight forward topic, but it’s not. Well, not entirely anyway. There are many factors that can be talked about when it comes to reviews. The types of reviews. The authenticity of reviews. The amount of reviews.

Types Of Reviews

If there’s anything I’ve noticed is that nobody reviews the same way. There are all different ways to review. I used to feel embarrassed of my reviews. I thought that they were stupid and very juvenile. I’d see these elaborate reviews that I loved. It discouraged me greatly.

After awhile, I learned that I am writing the way I’m comfortable with. I’m getting the point across in a way that fits for me. That’s what matters in my opinion. As long as you’re reviewing the book and giving your honest opinion, you’re helping the author. Right?

Review Authenticity

I read a lot more reviews than I used to. Some reviews just make me so angry. It’s so obvious that they aren’t authentic. And the sad part is, people take their review seriously. That takes away a potential reader. I once read a review that gave a book a 1 Star Rating. The review stated that they didn’t read the book because the cover model looked like a serial killer.

Let’s look at this from another angle. I have been blessed to have been given many free books through my review years. I’ve always given my honest review. Yes, I have a huge list of books I still need to read, but I’ve reviewed every book I’ve finished. I once rated a book 3 Stars. I liked it, but I didn’t really enjoy it that much. I stated why in my review. The author messaged me and requested I rewrite my review and change the rating to 5 Stars. I haven’t accepted any more books from this author.

Final Thoughts

While reviews may not mean anything to me, I know they mean the world to authors. If I could find a way to encourage more people to review the books they read, I would. In a heartbeat. I can’t stress enough how easy it is to review a book. You’re essentially telling the author and those who read the review what you liked about the book and why, and what you didn’t like and why. It can take a few sentences or several pages. Whatever you’re most comfortable with. Just make sure it’s honest and comes from the heart.

What are your thoughts on reviews? How often do you write reviews? What’s your review style? I look forward to your answers and opinions!

Posted in Author Interviews, Willow's Book Chat

First Book Chat With MK Mancos

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How long did it take you to write your first book?

My first book was written in about 1993 (that’s nineteen ninety-three – the font looks wacky here) on a word processor that only showed maybe four or five lines of type at a time. It had a cartridge and ribbon in it and held I don’t remember how many pages of text before I had to put a piece (single) into the carriage and hit print. It was more of a glorified typewriter. So, given that it took me longer to write than you can imagine. I wrote it, but knew it wasn’t good. Nowhere near ready to publish. I completed it in about 3-6 months, maybe. Then stuck it under a bunch of stuff in a drawer and started on the next book. By this time, we’d purchased our first computer that ran Windows 95. What a revelation that was to my craft. I actually could correct as I went and print later. LOL. Flash forward many books and programs later – to about 2004 (?) I was at the New Jersey Romance Writers annual conference and was going to pitch to TOR books. Well, I hadn’t planned to pitch the book I did, but when I got my pitch envelope it said they wanted PNR. I had planned to pitch and epic fantasy. I had to switch gears and fast. So, I pitched that first book I wrote with the understanding that I had to dust if off and rewrite it. And I did. I started from the first sentence, first word and rewrote the entire book in 3 months. I switched things up and condensed a few characters together. That book was passed on by TOR but I ended up signing it with Samhain. It was released in 2006, I think, and was titled By A Silken Thread. It was a mystery/PNR about near-death experiences.

What inspired you to start writing?

I’ve always been a storyteller. To myself, to pass the time. On break between summer and fall I’d sit in my room and type out short stories in junior high and high school. It’s been a dream that I made come true. When I first mentioned it to my fiancé (now husband of 26 years) he encouraged me to make it happen and I haven’t looked back.

How many drafts did you do before you felt it was ready to publish?

That first book – 2. I wrote that first horrid copy, and then the one I sent to the publisher. There had been about a 10-year gap between revisions and I learned so much in that time and had honed and worked on my craft with other books, so it’s hardly a fair comparison.

How did publishing for the first time ever make you feel?

Oddly, the first thing I had published wasn’t the first book I wrote. In between writing By A Silken Thread first and second drafts, I read all kinds of writing publications. Writers’ Journal used to do these writing challenges where they printed the first slug of sentence and the author had to come up with the story behind it. I decided to give it a try. First prize was $50 and first print of your story. The slug I used was “Cars were still going by…” Well, me being me, I couldn’t make that be anything other than dark, so I finished the sentence with, “on the way to the cemetery.” – Thus, the short story “Grave Dancing” was born. I had no idea I’d won the contest until I found a free copy of the magazine in my mailbox one morning. I opened it and there was my printed story with my byline. I was so excited. You’d think I had won a Pulitzer or something. After that I sold an erotic romance novella to Red Sage Publishing.

How different would you say the writing and publishing process is for you now than it was then?

I used to be more of a plotter than pantser. Now, I’m an amalgamation of them both. Publishing has changed completely, since I’m mostly publishing indy now and have only 3 pubs I still have books with. I’ve gotten all my rights back to the other books I had with other publishers.

How many books have you published since then?

Somewhere in the 30s. I lost count. Too many coming and going and republishing and such. I have no head for that kind of accounting.

Interview with MK Mancos aka Kathleen Scott, Kate Davison, and Cassie Sweet

Posted in Author Interviews, Willow's Book Chat

First Book Chat Finale

If anybody knows me well enough, they will know that I’m always inspired to help and uplift people. I am also known to have random ideas. Over a month ago, I had an idea to interview five people at random about their first book. I was going to put all five interviews in one blog to highlight how each one was different. I even wrote out five questions to ask them.

Two things happened. I got a remarkable response and I no longer wanted to pick just five. I also realized that five interviews in one blog would be a very long blog. So I posted all the responses as their own blog. They are listed here for anybody who wants to read them:

Author’s First Book Chats:

  1. Delta James
  2. H. Gorlitz Scott
  3. P.S Bartlett
  4. Laura Hawks
  5. Gryffyn Pheonix
  6. Kyra Dune
  7. Golden Angel
  8. Casey Hays
  9. Christina Lanier
  10. Evelyn Lederman
  11. Artemis Milchon
  12. Cheryllynn Dyess
  13. D.L Pitchford
  14. Lannie Sheridan
  15. Amber Anthony
  16. Lily Wallis
  17. MK Mancos

Writing a book is hard. Publishing and marketing is harder. Feeling under pressure because you think it has to be a certain way or you have to do it a certain way makes things even worse. So seeing the responses and how different they were is a comfort to me. And I hope others find comfort in it as well.

In the end, if nothing else is taken from this experiment, I hope that you realize there is no time line. If you get it done in a week, great. If it takes you years, awesome. Go at your own pace. If you need to put it down for awhile, do so.

There is no amount of drafts you have to write. If you find it perfect after the first draft, good. If it takes you many drafts, that’s fine too. In the end, if you can’t be happy with your work, nobody else can either.

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Olive Ann Burns started her career out as a journalist. She never expected to write fiction, but that changed when she was diagnosed with cancer in 1975. She had begun writing notes about her family history in 1971 that helped fuel her book Cold Sassy Tree. The book was released in 1984. Olive Ann Burns was sixty years old.

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Olive Ann Burns was already working on the sequel to Cold Sassy Tree when her cancer relapsed in 1987. Through her treatments, she kept attempting to finish the book. She passed away in 1990 with the novel unfinished.

If you stick with it and you put your passions into it, it will show. Sometimes great work takes longer to come out than others. Never feel discouraged or overwhelmed. If you do, please take a break. That way you can come back with a clear head. Remember, the power is in your hands and in your mind.

I hope you’ve enjoyed this series. I hope that it’s inspired the writers to go on. I also hope that readers have found new authors through this. There will always be hope and inspiration everywhere you look.

*I found the images and quotes on Google Image Search*

Posted in Author Interviews, Willow's Book Chat

First Book Chat With Delta James

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How long did it take you to write your first book?

My first novel began the night I recognized that somewhere along the way, I had lost the part of myself that lived without fear.  I got up off the couch, fired up my computer and opened myself up to the possibilities.  My first heroine stepped forward and said, “I have a story to tell.”  Two weeks later I submitted that story for publication.  Within two months, I saw my first novel appear for sale on Amazon.

What inspired you to start writing?

The recognition that as a younger woman I had adopted the creed that fortune favors the bold, but that somewhere along the way, fear had dulled that edge.  I made a decision to banish fear-based decisions from my life.  That thought was almost immediately followed by the abandoned dream of becoming an author.  I let go of the fear and embraced the possibility of living a dream.

How many drafts did you do before you felt it was ready to publish?

One of the ways I’m kind of an odd-ball is that I edit as I write.  Each day when I begin to start to write, I re-read at least the previous chapter and edit.  Once I have completed the first full manuscript, I re-read the entire thing and send it to my beta reader who sends me suggested edits.  I make those and then re-read it before sending it to an editor.  I get those edits back, make them, re-read the entire manuscript and then return to the editor who either has additional suggestions or forwards to the line-editor.  Once the line-editor is done, I re-send to my beta reader and then I will re-read a final time once she is through.  A long-winded way of saying five to eight times … and still once it’s published you find things!

How did publishing for the first time ever make you feel?

My first book went live about 11:30 PM the night before it was scheduled to be released.  Seeing it appear on Amazon was a thrill.  I squealed loud enough to wake up my three basset girls who were napping in the office.  I was beside myself … they just thought if I was going to be excited and wake them up, I needed to get them a cookie!

How different would you say the writing and publishing process is for you now than it was then?

The writing process is about the same, although I believe I’m a better writer. The publishing process is far different.  I changed publishers. The second/current publisher has a far more extensive and involved editing process, which I just love.  That’s another odd-ball thing about me – I love the editing process.  I always learn things and new skills to improve my writing and my process.

How many books have you published since then?

This Friday, August 2nd, I will release Warlord:  A Dark Shifter Romance, which will be my twenty-first novel (under two pen names) since my debut novel in January 2018.  I published six novels under the pen name Willa Bradley with Blushing Books.  In July 2018, I published my first novel (Brought to Heel) under the pen name Delta James (which I now use exclusively) with Stormy Night Publications.

Posted in Author Interviews, Willow's Book Chat

First Book Chat With H. Gorlitz Scott

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How long did it take you to write your first book?

So, this can get a little complicated to answer, so I’ll preface this with the fact that I started off doing independent comics. My first was a web-comic, which took about a week for each “page.” After that I went to doing printed comic issues, which took me about a year to produce (scriptwriting, then drawing takes a lot of time, ya know?).  My first words-only/no pictures novel took me about 3 years to write.

What inspired you to start writing?

My husband got me into comics with his weird concepts, but the overall story of Sivoa came about because of long-lost childhood days of playing “pretend” at my parent’s house.

How many drafts did you do before you felt it was ready to publish?

About a million. Then I went crying to a wonderful freelance editor because I couldn’t shake the nagging feeling that I was doing everything wrong. There were about three more rounds of edits before we felt it was ready to send off.

How did publishing for the first time ever make you feel?

This question is why I brought up the comic stuff before, as that gave me prior experience with releasing my works into the world. “Hitting the publish button” wasn’t really anything new to me by that point.

Marketing it for the first time as a new author wound up being a whole different story and, frankly, I was terrified. Honestly, I never got  over that; marketing still scares me.

How different would you say the writing and publishing process is for you now than it was then?

I take a little bit more care with the outline and the first draft now. No more “[insert name here]” or blanks as I write anymore. Filling those in later was practically impossible due to my not being able to recall my thoughts when I went back to them. It really bogged things down.

How many books have you published since then?

I only published one book since then – an anthology of shorts about the characters that do not transition from the first book to the second. It’s thin, but it has also been illustrated and made into a functional calendar. 😉

Posted in Author Interviews, Willow's Book Chat

First Book Chat With P.S. Bartlett

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How long did it take you to write your first book?

If I remember correctly, all in all about three months. The actual writing took about a month but add in all the research, editing, rewrites etc. and three months sounds about right.

What inspired you to start writing?

The voices!

Yes, the voices is what I tell people but as writers, we know what that means. It isn’t like we hear actual voices but more like our imagination is speaking to us in the voice of a character. Mine was Ennis, a little boy who had a story he wants me to tell about his life. I was on a treadmill at Planet Fitness and he wouldn’t stop “telling” me his story. I finally agreed and FIREFLIES was born.

How many drafts did you do before you felt it was ready to publish?

About three—four if you count the professional editor’s suggestions and changes.

How did publishing for the first time ever make you feel?

I felt so accomplished. I’ve always been the type of person who commits 100%. When I decide to do something, I dig in my heels and don’t stop until it’s done. With writing, to see your book right in front of you, your name on the cover, your beautiful cover design that you chose from the artist, then to open it and see your dream come true is something like a miracle. It’s like Christmas morning when you’re a child.

How different would you say the writing and publishing process is for you now than it was then?

It’s ten times easier. Back then, I was with a boutique publisher and granted, she did all the heavy lifting for me but even now that I self-publish, the hardest part is writing the story, editing and finding a good professional editor and beta readers. The best part about now is I have learned so much. All I want to do is top myself with every book. Getting better with every line is all that matters.

How many books have you published since then?

At the moment, I have a total of seven published. My eighth book is complete and currently going through the editing process. I’m hoping for a Christmas release, but things are going so well that is might be Halloween!

I’d also like to thank bloggers like you for being such a wonderful support system to independent authors like me. We definitely couldn’t get our work out there without you!

Posted in Author Interviews, Willow's Book Chat

First Book Chat With Laura Hawks

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How long did it take you to write your first book?

Two months (I sorta cheated, as some of it was already written for a story on FB and I just reworked it)

What inspired you to start writing?

I run a FB role playing group and some members of my group were published and encouraged me to submit for an anthology. Long story short, it was refused by that company, but one of the authors showed it to another small press who wanted the short story turned into a novel. Readers seemed to like the book and asked for more and that has inspired me to keep writing. Now I have stories I just need to get on paper.

How many drafts did you do before you felt it was ready to publish?

Five

How did publishing for the first time ever make you feel?

Shocked (that anyone liked it) excited. Thrilled.

How different would you say the writing and publishing process is for you now than it was then?

A complete 360. I started with a small time press who planned to do everything, marketing, editing, cover.. and now I do it all. I was unprepared for entering this world, but have had a lot of help from other authors. I admit I’m still floundering sometimes, especially with marketing and promoting, but the thing about writing and publishing it’s a never-ending learning experience.

How many books have you published since then?

11 books, one photo-souvenir booklet, one word-search with 28 other authors.

Posted in Author Interviews, Willow's Book Chat

First Book Chat With Gryffyn Phoenix

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How long did it take you to write your first book?

Verity and the Haven/Helm kids were born when my parents dropped me off at college. I was 16. Verity and my journey were pretty much the same, learning to see things through my own eyes and not my friends or family. When I went to write down Verity’s tale, many many … many years later it took me 10 days.

What inspired you to start writing?

I was eleven years old before I found out everyone didn’t have a movie theater in their heads showing new stories. In other words, I don’t think I was inspired to be a writer, I just was one.

How many drafts did you do before you felt it was ready to publish?

My first book … I was lucky. I had a number of professional editors in my life who taught me by working on it with me. It was a great way to get started.

How did publishing for the first time ever make you feel?

Euphoric. Anyone who does drugs or likes alcohol should try finishing a book they’ve written. Best feeling EVER.

How different would you say the writing and publishing process is for you now than it was then?

When I started it was just to help chill me out. Drain out some of the frustration I felt with my life. So basically a weird kind of hobby. After it was done, and in my hands, WOW! I mean, as a manuscript it feels like your baby. Once it’s published, you get this baby isn’t yours anymore.

How many books have you published since then?

There are three books in the Haven Awakening series, and one omnibus edition. Now I’m launching a new series based on the Aguane. Historically, the Aguane were fashion loving, kick ass fairies who lived for each other and avenging crime against women. The Roman legion recorded their existence warning their soldiers to not engage, how cool is that? So Rise of the Night Goddess will be the first installment in this girl power saga.

Posted in Author Interviews, Willow's Book Chat

First Book Chat With Kyra Dune

How long did it take you to write your first book?

It took me about a year in total.

What inspired you to start writing?

When I was in fourth grade, our teacher let us sit quietly at our desk and do whatever if we finished our assignments early. Me, big old nerd that I am, always did, so I’d have a book to read. I’ve been a big reader since forever. One day, I finished my book, I didn’t have another one, so I just took out my notebook and started writing one. I’ve been writing ever since.

How many drafts did you do before you felt it was ready to publish?

Three. That always seems to be my magic number.

How did publishing for the first time ever make you feel?

When I opened the email and saw my book had been accepted for publication, I cried.  It was just the most amazing feeling ever.

How different would you say the writing and publishing process is for you now than it was then?

I don’t have as much free time for writing these days, so it goes a bit slower. As far as publishing, I now self-publish all of my books. I like the control and, honestly, I’ve made more money off my self-published books than I ever did off the traditionally published ones. Granted, I’ve only worked with a few small press publishers, and not any real big houses, but I definitely like self-publishing better. Of course, if one of the big boys in New York ever came knocking on my door, I wouldn’t slam it in their face.

How many books have you published since then?

I have 40 published novels to date.

Links:

Amazon

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