My Writing Life: Melody Anne

melody_anne_author_photoMelody Anne is an Author of both Romance and Young Adult Books. Her Newest Release is The Lost Tycoon and is now New York Times and USA Today Best Seller.

Melody Anne is also the author of the popular series, Billionaire Bachelors, and Baby for the Billionaire.  She’s been writing for years and published in 2011. She hold a bachelor’s degree in business, so she loves to write about strong, powerful, businessmen.

When Melody isn’t writing, she enjoys spending time with her family, friends, and pets. She lives in a small town that she loves, and is involved in many community projects.

We asked Melody Anne a few questions about reading, writing, and publishing.

When did you first discover a love of writing? Is there a particular book that made you want to become a writer?   

When I was in 6th grade. We did a poetry book and one of my poems was published. I was hooked! Sneaking my mother’s romance books from her shelf and hiding beneath my covers while I read them is what led me to want to write my own book someday.

What’s your favourite book? What was your favourite book as a child?      

Too many now to pick a favorite. I love Romance, YA, Fantasy, Horror. “I’ll love you forever” is my absolute favorite children’s book.

Where do you get your story ideas?

Everywhere! That’s why I love romance. For example, I was at a friend’s house the other night and when I left I told her “thanks for the story ideas.” Seriously, romance is everywhere you look. Whether it’s just listening to people talk, or watching the way they act around each other. It’s great!!

What is the best piece of advice you’ve ever received as a writer?

Don’t give up!! There are so many times that I’d love to crawl under the covers and hide from the world. But, as much as we are in a fishbowl and everything we do is analyzed, the best advice has been not to give up. When I feel overwhelmed, I just have to remember that I’ve finished 21 books so far. I never thought I’d finish the first one, let alone 21. :)

Do you believe in Writer’s Block?

Yes!! Yes!! Yes!! I have times where I can’t write at all. I don’t push myself when that happens. I take a break. I love puzzles, so I will get out my iPad, watch a fun show on it and do a puzzle. It usually clears up within a day or two, but sometimes will last for a week. That’s my brain telling me I need a break.

What’s your favourite literary genre? Any guilty pleasures?

Romance! Of course. I don’t have guilty pleasures cause I think it’s our right to read what we want when we want to. That’s the great thing with bookstores, libraries, and now ereaders!!

What made you decide to self-publish?

I am an impatient person. To publish with a traditional company, it takes about 2 years from start to your book being in the store. With self-published, I can write it, edit it, and then load it immediately.

What do you see yourself doing in 5 years?

I see the world in my fingertips. :) I have a beautiful family, a career that I love, and live in the most perfect town. I hope and pray to still be writing, and to still be successful. I plan to have been to a lot more places around the world in the next 5 years.

Thanks so much for having me for this interview. I love to answer these questions because it always takes me a minute to really think about what I’m doing.

Melody Anne looks forward to hearing from you and hopes you enjoy her stories.

Order Melody's newest release: The Lost Tycoon

Order Melody’s newest release: The Last Tycoon

 

 

Visit Melody’s Website at: www.melodyanne.com  She makes it a point to respond to all her fans.

You can also join her on facebook at: www.facebook.com/authormelodyanne or at twitter: @authmelodyanne.

My Writing Life: Liliana Hart

20130211_at_150300Liliana Hart is a New York Times and USA Today Bestselling Author in both the mystery and romance genres. After starting her first novel her freshman year of college, she immediately became addicted to writing and knew she’d found what she was meant to do with her life. She has no idea why she majored in music.

Liliana is an avid reader and a believer in all things romance. Her books are filled with witty dialogue, steamy sex, and the all-important happily-ever-after’s her romantic soul craves. Since self-publishing in June of 2011, she’s sold more than 2 million eBooks all over the world.

We asked Liliana a few questions about reading, writing, and publishing.

When did you first discover a love of writing? Is there a particular book that made you want to become a writer?

I’ve been writing for as long as I can remember, jotting down quick stories in spiral notebooks that my mother still has in a box in the attic. But I didn’t discover romance novels until I was sixteen years old. I’d been reading Mary Higgins Clark and Dean Koontz, so my fascination with suspense started early. But when I was 16, my dad brought home a box of garage sale novels and inside was TRUST ME by Jayne Anne Krentz. My dad specifically told me I shouldn’t read that book because it was inappropriate. So being a 16 year old girl, I immediately snuck it out of the box and read it under my covers. From that point on I made twice weekly trips to the bookstore to find more “inappropriate” books. By the time I started my freshman year in college I’d decided I was running out of books to read and that I’d just have to start writing my own. I haven’t looked back.

What’s your favourite book? What was your favourite book as a child?

Outlander by Diana Gabaldon

Where do you get your story ideas?

Everywhere! I do a lot of people watching and eavesdropping. Story ideas are everywhere. I also read a lot. I love to read epic fantasy and big plot books, and then I’ll brainstorm on spinning them into stories romance readers would love.

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View one of Liliana’s Latest Books

 What is the best piece of advice you’ve ever received as a writer?

To ignore the rules. Just tell the story. The story is the only thing that matters. If you tell a good one, then readers will find you.

Where do you usually write?

Huddled on the couch wrapped in a blanket with my headphones on.

What’s your favourite literary genre? Any guilty pleasures?

I’m a huge reader and genre really doesn’t matter to me. I’ll read anything and everything except for hard sci-fi. Probably my most read genres are historical romances, thrillers, and epic fantasies. As far as guilty pleasures, I’m not going to lie, I love 1980s bodice rippers. Those books are amazing.

Crave

Want to Pre-order Liliana’s Next Book

What made you decide to self-publish?

Ultimately it was because I had stories to tell and I wanted people to read them. I’d gone through the traditional hoops for several years, but things weren’t happening the way I wanted them to. I knew I could write and that there was a market for the stories I wanted to tell. So I started self-publishing and have loved every minute of it. Now I love the control and the freedom it gives me to tell the stories I want to tell without limits or rules.

Are there any self-publishing tricks of the trade you’d like to share? What rules of craft or promotion do you live by?

Ha! There are so many! I’d say the biggest thing is to keep producing books. Every book will sell more books. It’s the best promotional tool there is. I think once you have the product, then things like social media and connecting with readers becomes really important. The #1 most important thing to my career is my readers. I’d be nowhere without them and I know that. So I answer every email I get and I respond to tweets and Facebook posts.

The only rule of craft I live by is to tell a great story. You can fix the prose and sentence structure if the core of the story is there to begin with.

Check out Liliana Hart:

at her website!

on Facebook!

on Kobo! View Liliana’s Books

on Twitter!

My Writing Life: Bella Andre

Bella Andre at koboBella Andre is the New York Times, USA Today and Publishers Weekly bestselling author of “The Sullivans” series. Her books have been Cosmopolitan Magazine ”Red Hot Reads” twice, have been translated into nine languages, and her Sullivans are already Top 20 bestsellers in Brazil. Winner of the Award of Excellence, The Washington Post has called her “One of the top digital writers in America” and she has been featured by NPR, USA Today, Forbes, The Wall Street Journal, and most recently in TIME Magazine. She has given keynote speeches at publishing conferences from Copenhagen to Berlin to San Francisco, including a standing-room-only keynote at Book Expo America.

We asked her a few questions about reading, writing, and publishing.

When did you first discover a love of writing? Is there a particular book that made you want to become a writer?        

I’ve always been a huge romance reader — I devour a book a day whenever I possibly can! But before I began writing books, I was a songwriter and touring musician. Ten years ago, I was surprised when two fictional characters started to have a conversation in my head. I wrote it down and when the conversation continued the next day I just kept writing until I had finished my first book. I love it and soon decided to stop touring and write books full time!

What’s your favourite book? What was your favourite book as a child?          

Bet Me by Jennifer Crusie

Where do you get your story ideas?           

Everywhere! Talking with people. Observing. Dreams. And, most of the time, the story magic comes to me while I’m writing. That’s when I truly discover the story I want to tell.

Where do you usually write?          

On the couch in my office or outside on my deck in the sun.

What’s your favourite literary genre? Any guilty pleasures?

I love romance and I always have! I also read quite a bit of non-fiction. I love books on gardening and cooking and traveling and writing and, well, pretty much everything!

What made you decide to self-publish?      

I had been traditionally published for 7 years when, in 2010, a friend of mine suggested that I give self-publishing a whirl. She knows I’m entrepreneurial by nature and guessed that I would really enjoy all the aspects of running my own publishing business. She was right — and it’s been an absolutely amazing journey so far!

Are there any self-publishing tricks of the trade you’d like to share? What rules of craft or promotion do you live by?   

Write. Write. Write.

That’s the #1 thing I focus on as a self-publishing writer.

We’ve heard you listen to one or two songs over and over while you’re writing each book. Is that true?

Yes! Maybe it’s because I come from a songwriting background, but I find music to be a really important cue for me for each book. Once I put my headphones in and start playing the song on repeat, I can (usually) quickly enter my writing zone.

 

bella_andreCheck out Bella Andre:

My Writing Life: Barry Lyga

barry lygaBarry Lyga is a bestselling novelist, short story writer, and recovering comic book geek. He can now add “hybrid author” to that list—he recently ventured into self-publishing with his first adult novel, Unsoul’d, which he describes as, “a Kevin Smith or Judd Apatow movie in novel form.” Kobo Writing Life is sponsoring an exciting event for Unsoul’d at WORD bookstore in Brooklyn on Wednesday, December 4th at 7:00pm. If you’re in the area, we hope you’ll join us!

Tell us a little bit about Unsoul’d.

Unsoul’d is the story of Randall Banner, a middling mid-list author who lives in Brooklyn. His whole career — his whole life, really — he’s wanted more of everything: More readers, more fame, more money. Everything. Then one day he meets the devil in a coffee shop and sells his soul in exchange for a hit book. Hilarity, horror, and sex all follow, not necessarily in that order. I call it “a dirty little fable” and that’s exactly what it is.

When did you first discover a love of writing? Is there a particular book that made you want to become a writer?

I wish I knew. I wish I could tell you. I really do! I’ve always wanted to write, ever since I was a little kid. But I have no idea where that came from. I’m not even sure when I first understood that “being a writer” was something to aspire to. I’ve just always wanted to tell stories. It’s one of the painful ironies of my life that I get to do what I love, but I have no idea how I got started on this path.

What’s your favourite book? What was your favourite book as a child?

It’s tough to talk about a “favorite book” because the books I love all push different buttons in my brain. I am, though, obsessed with the book Replay by Ken Grimwood. I read it as a kid and I re-read it on a regular basis. Really amazing stuff and so skillfully done. As a child, I was obsessed with The Girl With the Silver Eyes by Willo Davis Roberts. Fortunately, I was too young and too self-absorbed to know that boys weren’t “supposed to” read books about girls. I loved that book. Still do — I think I have three copies of it!

Where do you get your story ideas?

It’s almost impossible to answer that question. Different ideas come from different places, and some of them just bubble up from the subconscious and announce themselves, leaving me slightly stunned and babbling, “But…but…”

The best explanation I’ve been able to come up with is this: Imagine you have a magic blender. And you carry it with you all day as you go about your life. And stuff falls into it: Sounds, names, words, smells, people, actions, everything. And every now and then, you stumble and hit the puree button and whatever’s in the blender at that moment gets pulped into one big, chunky mass. That’s an idea.

What is the best piece of advice you’ve ever received as a writer?

“Just do it ‘til it’s done.” A screenwriter friend told me that when I was struggling early in my career. Basically, it’s just… Don’t be too precious about what you’re doing. Don’t think about it too much. Just plow through until you’re done and then go back see what you have. Turn off your internal critic until you actually have something to criticize.

I used to have “Just do it ‘til it’s done” posted over my computer, but now it’s so ingrained in me that I don’t have the sign any more.

Where do you usually write?

Usually at my desk, at home. I have a nice big iMac screen and a keyboard I’ve used for close to fifteen years, so it’s comfortable. Occasionally, I’ll take my iPad and a Bluetooth keyboard and head to a friend’s house or a coffee shop, but most days it’s just me, the desk, the iMac, and that keyboard.

The keyboard has magic properties. When it breaks, my career is so over.

Do you believe in Writer’s Block?

I like to say I’m a writer’s block atheist. I think most of the time when people speak of writer’s block, it’s just a way of saying they’re uninspired or tired, without having to admit it. “Writer’s block” sounds so much more romantic than, “I’m bored with what I’m writing,” doesn’t it? Writer’s block is usually a result of just that — being somewhere boring in your own story. The solution is easy: Find the last place where you weren’t bored and pick up from there — strike off in a new direction. If your story is boring you, it’s sure as hell not going to thrill a reader! So back up and try again.

If there was one writer (alive or deceased) that you would love to meet, who would it be?

Bruce Springsteen! I know, he’s not what most people think of when they think “writer,” but he’s probably my biggest influence.

What’s your favourite literary genre? Any guilty pleasures?

I’ve never really been much for breaking books out into genres. I guess it comes from all of the comic books I read as a kid, where genres were crossed, broken, re-mixed, and generally abused. I tend to like stories that don’t self-consciously restrict themselves.

Guilty pleasures? I love John Grisham novels. Seriously can’t get enough of them.

What made you decide to self-publish?

It was a combination of factors. Mostly, it was curiosity. I’ve been in publishing for about eight years now, and I’ve always been fascinated by the behind-the-scenes stuff. I’m constantly annoying people by asking questions about their jobs and how they do things. I think they think I’m questioning their ability or commitment, but honestly — I’m just curious! So I wondered: What would it be like to do this on my own?

And I’ve always enjoyed alternate business methods, alternate means of publishing. I love noodling around with short fiction, flash fiction, hypertext, all kinds of stuff. So this was a chance to play around with a new way of getting a story out there.

Finally, there was the fact that Unsoul’d is very much a weird beast of a book. It crosses multiple genres, it has lots of sex in it, and it’s a combination of horror, humor, and satire. Most publishers have no idea what to do with something like that. What’s the reader demographic for a Kevin Smith or Judd Apatow movie in novel form? I dunno. Neither do they. So it made sense to do this on my own.

 You recently ventured into “hybrid author” territory for the first time. How has the experience been so far? In what key ways has self-publishing differed from traditional publishing?

The biggest difference is the complete lack of a support system. If I screw something up, there’s no one there to backstop me. On the flipside, once I make a decision, it’s made — no one can second-guess me or override me.

So far, the experience has been fun. I know that’s a weak adjective, but it’s just been a lot of fun. I wrote this book and then I put it out there. No meetings. No months’-long wait. No endless dickering over covers. It was cool.

Are there any self-publishing tricks of the trade you’d like to share? What rules of craft or promotion do you live by?

I’m so new at this, I would never presume to know any tricks of the self-publishing trade, much less offer them as wisdom! In terms of rules of craft: Find your story and tell it as honestly as you can, with little or no compromise. For promotion: I am the world’s absolute worst promoter. I’ll turn this question around — if anyone has any thoughts, share ‘em in the comments!

Check out Barry Lyga:

EVENT DETAILS

Unsoul'dWORD Bookstore, Brooklyn, NY

Wednesday, December 4, 7:00pm

Featuring free snacks, drinks, giveaways, and more!

My Writing Life: Maya Banks

MayaBanksMaya Banks, bestselling author of the Breathless trilogy, Forged in Steel, and the newly-released Theirs to Keep, among many others, hails from Texas and loves the colour orange. We caught up with her and got her take on everything from inspiration to writer’s block to what every self-published author should keep in mind.

When did you first discover a love of writing? Is there a particular book that made you want to become a writer?

I’ve written from a VERY early age and I wrote purely for my own enjoyment. I crafted stories I KNEW I’d love so I’d have something to read that appealed to me on every level. Often I’d read a story (I also started READING from a VERY early age and was reading “advanced” novels by the time I was ten.) and there would be certain aspects of the book that DIDN’T appeal to me and so I’d write my own story, making sure to incorporate the tropes and themes that were missing from the books I was reading.

There wasn’t a specific book that I read that made me say “I want to write” simply because I’ve been writing stories for as far back as I can remember. I would fill five subject notebooks front and back and write long hand. In fact, even today, I find I get fatigued with working on the computer all the time and it’s not uncommon for me to pull out a notebook and a pen (I LOVE paper!) and take a break from the laptop and write longhand. Then I just type it all into a Word document at a later date.

What’s your favorite book? What was your favorite book as a child?

Many authors won’t admit this, even if it’s true, but my favorite books are MY books. It’s quite simple. I only write stories that I myself love to read. So I derive a lot of enjoyment from my own books and I often go back and reread my books when I’m in the mood.

As for my favorite book as a child, I read EVERYTHING I could get my hands on. I was a voracious reader. My family didn’t own a television until I was in my junior year of high school so most of my time was spent reading.

Where do you get your story ideas?

This is a question I’m asked often and my answer is always the same. I don’t really KNOW. That sounds absurd but a storyline can come to me out of the blue. For instance, the Breathless trilogy came to me while I was on vacation with my family in the mountains of New Mexico and we were making the two day road trip back home and the idea just struck me out of the blue. I pulled out my laptop and typed furiously, taking notes, and by the time I got home, I had a fully formed trilogy outlined and I called my agent the next day. She loved the idea and immediately called my editor who also loved the idea and we had a deal in a few weeks.

Sometimes I get inspiration from the news or current events. Watching a movie or a television show. The oddest most obscure things can strike an idea with me because I say “what if” a LOT. And then my brain kicks into gear and a story is eventually born.

What is the best piece of advice you’ve ever received as a writer?

I don’t recall a specific piece of advice I’ve received but there are certain mantras I live by. Writing isn’t art and shouldn’t be treated as such, sitting back and waiting for the muse or “inspiration.” It’s a JOB and it requires the same level of dedication and motivation that any other job involves. In order to be successful, you first have to get the book DONE. Nothing can happen for you if you sit staring at a blank story waiting for inspiration to strike. You have to MAKE it happen.

Where do you usually write?

I rotate spots because I get bored and burned out if I stay in one place too long. So it’s a steady rotation for me between my office, my bedroom, the living room, the kitchen bar. My latest “comfy spot” is outside on my deck where I have a huge fan to keep me cool AND to provide “background” noise. Complete silence bothers me a LOT.

Do you believe in Writer’s Block?

Nope. If I’m not writing or producing it’s because of one of two reasons. Either I’m being lazy and unmotivated OR something is wrong with the story. Once I go back and read through what I have written and figure out where I went wrong with it, once I get back on track and going back in the right direction, the story starts flowing again.

If there was one writer (alive or deceased) that you would love to meet, who would it be?

At one time I would have said Julie Garwood but I actually got to meet her this year at the RT convention and she signed a book for me. I went completely fan girl crazy when she said she’d heard of me and couldn’t wait to read one of MY books and then asked for one of my historicals. Very thrilling moment for me!

What’s your favorite literary genre? Any guilty pleasures?

Romance definitely. I’m a reverse literary snob. I have NO interest in other genres that don’t include romance. Period. I love and revere my happily ever afters and I have NO interest in reading anything that ISN’T romance. As for guilty pleasures, I don’t believe in that term because I darn sure don’t feel an ounce of guilt over what I enjoy reading and I don’t care who knows what I read and I definitely don’t care if they approve or not!

What made you decide to self-publish?

My roots are in digital publishing and I’ve already self-published another title before Theirs to Keep. For me it’s about keeping my fingers in as many aspects of publishing as possible. I like the variety. I like switching it up and keeping it fresh for me. I love new challenges. So it was a natural evolution of my career that I’d branch out into self publishing. I plan to continue self publishing along with maintaining my current publishers as well. It opens a lot more options for me and that’s always a good thing in this line of work.

Are there any self-publishing tricks of the trade you’d like to share? What rules of craft or promotion do you live by?

Just to put your best foot forward. Don’t get so caught up in “I have to publish this book” and stop and think a moment if the book you’re publishing is the absolute best it can be. Because it’s not a matter of whether readers will buy your FIRST book. And you have to decide what your goals are. Are you satisfied with being a one hit wonder? Or do you want a career steeped in longevity. Because if it’s the latter then you always want to make sure you give readers your absolute best effort because you want them to remember your name and you want them to come BACK and buy your NEXT book. If you put out an inferior product, that’s not likely to happen.

Check out Maya’s books on Kobo!

My Writing Life: H.M. Ward

HM WardH.M. Ward is the bestselling author of Young Adult paranormal romance, and enjoys writing novels and novellas with twisting plot lines and unexpected turns.  Her ability to shock the reader has grown a following of over 70,000 fans, and a social reach of over 17 million people.  She has strong marketing skills and became a full time writer less than a year after her first novel appeared on the market.

Her series include Demon Kissed, Vampire Apocalypse, The Secret Life of Tystan Scott, and Damaged.

When did you first discover a love of writing?

I’ve always loves writing and creating new things. I’m an art nerd. If I’m not writing, then I’m painting, or drawing, or shooting (photography, not people), and other things that allow me to flex my creative brain. Peter & Wendy by JM Barrie is the most awesomesauce book ever.

Where do you get your story ideas?

From life. That spray start-car in THE ARRANGEMENT–yeah, that was real. I took it and threw it in the story. I do that with things I liked, hated, or places I used to go when I lived in New York. There are lots of places on Long Island that I refer to, and the people who live up there love the local references. It makes the story more real, and more fun!

What is the best piece of advice you’ve ever received as a writer?

Don’t sell your manuscript for less than what you could earn in four years. I almost sold DAMAGED 2. It out earned all offers I received in ONE WEEK. Shut up, right? Self publishing is awesome.

Where do you usually write?

In the closet. It sounds like I have issues. I probably do, but my closet has a chandelier so it’s all good.

Do you believe in Writer’s Block?

No, I believe in bear attacks. Need to get over writer’s block? Bear attack–add one big WTF moment and you can write right around it. No more block, and it adds additional layers of awesomesauce, so why not, right?

If there was one writer (alive or deceased) that you would love to meet, who would it be?

J.M. Barrie. That was the first book I read, that I liked, that was worth the headache. I have dyslexia coupled with Irelen Syndrome, so reading kills my eyes. But it’s totally worth it, but I didn’t know until I read Barrie’s book. It caught my attention and held it, plus the story was worth the headaches.

What’s your favourite literary genre? Any guilty pleasures?

Young Adult Paranormal Romance Dystopian. HAHAHAHAHAHA!!!! Someone, quick! Write more! There’s like 20 books in that genre and I read them all already.

What made you decide to self-publish?              

Control freak. Me. Yeah, hello. I happened to spit that out to a reporter and it ended up in a FORBES article. I like to do everything and want total control over the cover, story, and content. Writing a book by committee sounds like hell to me.

Are there any self-publishing tricks of the trade you’d like to share?

Make your book easy to find/easy to buy. That’s one of the best things you can do when you get started with your 1st book and after you write your 50th book. Easy to find/easy to buy.

What’s your favorite color?

PURPLE! It’s in everything I write. DEMON KISSED cover, purple. Ivy’s demonic hair flames purple in that series. Purple cars, purple socks, purple Chucks, purple stones, purple eyes, etc. I’m subliminally making everyone love purple because it’s the coolest color out there!

Visit HM Ward’s official website!

My Writing Life: Sherrilyn Kenyon

Sherrilyn KenyonThe New York Times bestselling author has claimed the #1 spot sixteen times, and has more than 25 million copies of her books in print in over 100 countries.  Since 2004, she has placed more than 50 novels on the New York Times list in all formats including manga and has not only helped to pioneer, but define the current paranormal trend that has captivated the world.

Sherrilyn has been a traditionally published author until now. She has self-published her latest book, Cloak & Silence, via Kobo Writing Life. It’s the newest in her The League series.

Given her huge success as an author, we wanted to know more about her writing life. Here’s what she told us:

When did you first discover a love of writing? Is there a particular book that made you want to become a writer?

From the moment I was born. Literally. In my Brownie manual it has my shaky handwriting that says: When I Grow Up, I Want To Be: A writer and a mother.

What’s your favorite book? What was your favorite book as a child?

Theogony for both.

Where do you get your story ideas?

Hmm… I’m not sure. The stories are just always there and I know I have more ideas than I will ever have a chance to write. I think that’s what keeps me going. I want to put down as many on paper as I can before I expire

What is the best piece of advice you’ve ever received as a writer?

Sign every contract with the expectation of signing another one after it. Make sure you don’t sign away rights you might need later or give away rights that the publisher will never use. Expect the best in your career and prepare for it.

Where do you usually write?

In my office.

Do you believe in writer’s block?

I believed in it once and then I drove a truck through it.

If there was one writer (alive or deceased) that you would love to meet, who would it be?

Plato.

What’s your favorite literary genre? Any guilty pleasures?

Fantasy. My only guilty pleasure is Cheetos.

What is the first thing you ever wrote?

A horror novel about a little girl who murdered her brothers and got away with it. I swear it wasn’t based on any fantasy I had at the time. Really. (And Steven, if you see this, I really mean what I said- no basis in reality, at all.)

Check out Sherrilyn’s books on Kobo!

My Writing Life: Anne Trager

anne_tragerAs August approaches and many of our minds turn to travel, we thought of Anne Trager, an American translator and editor now based in France. Anne is the founder of Le French Book, an editing and translation service that brings French titles to English-speaking readers. Some of her recent translations include thrillers The Paris Lawyer, Treachery in Bordeaux, and The 7th Woman. She talks about the decision to become a translator and the process of expressing another author’s ideas in a new language.

When did you first discover a love of writing? Is there a particular book that made you want to become a writer?

I have been translating and writing ever since I first moved to France in 1985. I love French culture and I love writing, so the two combine well in literary translation.

What makes the French angle of this venture so interesting?
A lot of people out there love France, so this is an entertaining way to bring parts of that culture to readers. But more than that, France has a lot of great writing voices for readers to discover. What is interesting is that I am an outsider looking at France not from the outside in, but from the inside out. It’s like Peter Mayle’s A Year in Provence. What made that book work? In part, it was his British perspective on French culture. Le French Book is like that. I have lived in France for a very long time, but I’m an American. And the choices of the books we translate comes from there.

Where do you get your story ideas?

As a translator, my ideas are the original writer’s ideas. I have to get into that writer’s head and into that writer’s style. It’s a very interesting exercise. I’m part chameleon, but I also have to find a way to bridge two cultures.

Do you believe in Writer’s Block?

When translating and when writing my own stuff, the page always looks as blank as my mind feels when I begin, and that feeling can last a while, but I just have to put words down on paper and eventually they flow.

What made you decide to self-publish?

What if you could discover France while reading the best French crime fiction in English? This simple question sums up the whole project behind Le French Book, the digital-first publishing venture I founded. It probably also my vision of life as an American living in France for so many years. I always loved crime fiction and thrillers and, I must admit, this is almost the only genre I read. After several years in France, I started to discover French crime fiction novels and was amazed by the richness and creativity of a great number of French authors. So I read, I read, I read. Then, I realized that only very few of these books were available in English and the idea dawned on me: these books need a larger audience and I must help English-language readers to discover them. Digital-first publishing is a great opportunity to bring these voices to new readers.

Are there any self-publishing tricks of the trade you’d like to share? What rules of craft or promotion do you live by?

As the keynote speaker at the London Book Fair said this year, “Try everything.” I would add be patient. Do not dwell on failures. Just move on and try something else. I also have what I call my Ninja Publishing creed. When you practice martial arts, you practice and practice until each movement becomes automatic. And sometimes you practice in slow motion, which is a particularly difficult exercise. It forces you to do each movement perfectly, to position yourself just right, and then, ultimately when you pick up speed again, you are more precise, faster, and much more effective. How does this apply to publishing? Well, everything takes twice as long as you’d expect it. Don’t fight it. Each step needs to be positioned just right. Unhurried, but exact. The rest will follow.

My Writing Life: Catherine Ryan Hyde

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Catherine Ryan Hyde is famous for writing Pay it Forward, the touching novel about a chain-reaction of kindness that was made into one of the most inspiring (and cry-inspiring) films in recent memory. She is the author of numerous other acclaimed novels, as well as the recent, KWL-published The Long, Steep Path: Everyday Inspiration from the Author of Pay it Forward. She talked to us about the creative and business challenges she’s faced in her career, and about why she decided to try self-publishing.

What is the best piece of advice you’ve ever received as a writer?

Years ago, I was waiting for my first novel, Funerals for Horses, to hopefully be picked up by a publisher. This was in 1996, long before ebooks, and before indie publishing was the viable option it is today. Authors needed publishers back then.

The book had been at Grove Atlantic for over a year. There was one editor there who just loved it, but was having trouble getting enough in-house support. But she kept stringing us along, thinking she could still make something happen.

Then my very small agent found a very small start-up press who wanted to bring it out the following spring. But what if I could still have sold it to the venerable Grove Atlantic?

I called my mentor and asked him what I should do. He said my agent should write to Grove Atlantic and tell them Funerals for Horses was no longer on the market, but that she hoped we could work together in the future on a project they could meet with more enthusiasm. Of course, this was not the advice I expected, or wanted. So I asked why. Well, it was whinier than that. I asked, “Whhhyyyy?”

He said, “Because the way they’re treating you now is the way they’re going to treat you after signing.”

That was the best piece of advice I ever got, and not a bad advertisement for indie publishing.

Do you believe in Writer’s Block?

Yes and no. I think to call it writer’s block gives it far too much power. I think it’s undeniable that the work sometimes stalls. But I have found there’s always a reason why it stalls. I’ve taken a wrong turn, or the work just is not working at some level. When I unlock that mistaken direction, the work moves forward again. So I’ve come to see it as a useful tool that keeps me from going miles in the wrong direction.

In fact, in Anne R Allen’s and my “How to be a Writer in the E-Age…And Keep Your E-Sanity,” (which is available on Kobo) I have a whole chapter entitled, “Is Writer’s Block Trying to Tell You Something?”

What made you decide to self-publish?

I had a string of novels that were being traditionally published in the UK. In fact, one of them, Love in the Present Tense, broke the top ten, spent five weeks on the national bestseller list, was reviewed on a major TV book club, and shortlisted for a Best Read of the Year Award at the British Book Awards. And yet I couldn’t find a new publisher here. Doubleday had dropped me because the book didn’t do as well in the U.S., and didn’t justify the big advances they had paid. The industry was contracting and going through its shake-up. Novel after novel was coming out to good reception in the U.K., yet my US readers couldn’t get them.

My agency offered to help shepherd me through the indie publishing process, and we’ve enjoyed amazing success. So much so that it’s made me wonder why publishers couldn’t sell as many copies of these books as I can on my own.

My Writing Life: Kate Perry

When did you first discover a love of writing?

I always made stuff up as a child, but it never occurred to me to be a writer. I wanted to be a gypsy. I was going to have my own cute little red wagon with a bull named Philippe pulling it. Turns out, you don’t get paid for being a gypsy, but you can get paid to make stuff up and write about it, especially in cafés wearing pajamas, which is almost as cool as having a bull.

What’s your favourite book?

I have a long list that I love. I can’t get enough of the Sookie Stackhouse series. I hear the next book is going to be her last, and I just put my fingers in my ears and say, “La-la-la-la-la!” Also on my must-read list:

The Lightbearer by Donna Gillespie

The Lymond Series (all the books) by Dorothy Dunnett

See Jane Score by Rachel Gibson

Where do you get your story ideas?

My Laurel Heights series sets itself up for more ideas. Each heroine is a business owner or lives in this adorable San Francisco neighborhood. I know the value of close friends, so I give the women in my books tons of girlfriends, and then I find myself wondering… when’s the girlfriend going to have her day with a hot guy?

A few weeks later, after endless pestering from my editorial team, a couple nights tearing my hair out, and a lot of glasses of champagne, another book pops out.

What is the best piece of advice you’ve ever received as a writer?

The writing advice I ever received came from Nike. Just do it.

Where do you usually write?

When I’m home, I write in a few favorite coffee shops and bars that are within walking distance to my house. I live in one of those rare sunny San Francisco neighborhoods (sun in San Francisco—not just a myth!), so sitting in a coffee shop almost feels like vacation.

But I travel a lot, so I’m often sitting in cafés, bars, and museums all around the world. I just had my honeymoon, which I timed with a book deadline (when am I not on book deadline?), so I wrote poolside in Thailand. My new husband kept the mai tais coming, which I’m pretty sure was one of our wedding vows.

Do you believe in Writer’s Block?

I believe in deadlines, peer pressure, and whips. And what was that about mai tais?

If there was one writer (living or dead) that you would love to meet, who would it be?

Gerard Butler. I’m pretty sure he’s written something. A diary entry, maybe? A tweet? That counts, right?

What’s your favourite literary genre? Any guilty pleasures?

Romance! Read it. Write it. Live it. But don’t feel guilty about it.

What made you decide to self-publish?

I was traditionally published with some achievement. They (marketing, sales, editorial…) told me what to write, and how often I could publish it. I didn’t like being at the mercy of people who didn’t care as much about my career as I did, so I took the plunge and haven’t looked back since. Now I’m in control of my career and my work.

Are there any self-publishing tricks of the trade you’d like to share? What rules of craft or promotion do you live by?

Shh—don’t tell anyone, but the key to being a successful writer is to actually write. Also, it helps to write things that people want to read.

Wink.

Seriously though, my biggest trick is to write a quality book as often as I can. My publication schedule is demanding, with a new novel out every other month. I write what I love and tell the best story I can. As it turns out, people seem to like them.

Make up your own question and answer it here. (Be sure to include the question!)

Q: Are you related to Katy Perry?

A: Yes. She’s my younger sister. We’re still waiting for her to come into her own.

 

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KatePerry_2Kate Perry is the bestselling author of the Laurel Heights novels, as well as the Family and Love and Guardians of Destiny series. Her books have been translated into several languages and she’s big in Slovenia. All her books are about strong, independent women who just want love.

Most days, you can find Kate in her favorite café, working on her latest novel. Sometimes she’s wearing a tutu. She may or may not have a jeweled dagger strapped to her thigh…

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