In Survival Mode

In Survival Mode

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As of last Thursday, I had a published novel (February 2015) and two manuscripts in the works. My first book, ‘A Decent Woman’ was doing well, still on several Amazon best seller lists, and I’d hoped to offer the completed manuscript of ‘The Lament of Sister Maria Inmaculada’ to my new editor at Booktrope in a few months time. The sequel to ‘A Decent Woman’, called ‘Mistress of Coffee’, was to be published next. My kids were well, my best friend was visiting me from North Carolina, and life was good. By late Friday evening, my life was turned upside down. I was in a real panic, sick with worry, and heartbroken after reading the opening statement of an email I’d received from Booktrope:

“We are deeply saddened to share the news that Booktrope will be ceasing business …”

I am deeply saddened for all my fellow Booktrope authors and our supportive author community which includes editors, proofreaders, cover designers, and book managers, many whom are authors, who must now find jobs and are scrambling to find homes for their wonderful books. As am I.

You best believe I had a mini pity party Saturday and Sunday, while keeping in mind that Booktrope took a chance on me in 2014, and that I have one month before my book and ebook are removed from Amazon, except for third party vendors. I don’t have a lot of time. I have a lot to learn. I’m rewriting my query letters and researching publishers and agents.

My mind, body and soul are in recovery and regroup: survival mode.

Once again, I find myself facing a new mountain after hoping I’d found a home for two more books. God knows, I’m no stranger to mountains, but this learning curve is steep and the timing sucks. But maybe not. I’ve grown and learned important life lessons over the past years; maybe I’m due another life lesson. But anxiety is in place as I research other publishers and look into self-publishing. We shall see. I am not giving up. I will see my book republished and will publish more books in the future.

My deepest thanks to my fellow authors, writers, readers, friends, and family who have bought my book, read and reviewed, and shared with me during my writing/publishing journey. I am very grateful for your love, support, and encouragement. I am blessed to know you.

Best of luck to all my fellow Booktrope authors around the world. Any information about self-publishing and small press publishers will be greatly appreciated!

If you are interested in buying ‘A Decent Woman’ on Amazon, please do so before May 31, 2016. On June 1st, it will not be available, unless I decide to self-publish in May. I may wait to republish at a later date.

I don’t know what will happen after June, but of one thing I am certain–my writing career isn’t over by a long shot. I will keep you posted on my journey.

Thank you for reading!

ABOUT ELEANOR

ellie

Puerto Rican-born novelist, Eleanor Parker Sapia, was raised in the United States, Puerto Rico, and Europe. Eleanor’s careers as an artist, counselor, alternative health practitioner, Spanish language family support worker and refugee case worker, continue to inspire her stories.

Eleanor’s debut novel, ‘A Decent Woman, set in turn of the nineteenth century Puerto Rico, was selected as 2015 July Book of the Month for Las Comadres & Friends National Latino Book Club. Eleanor is featured in the anthology, ‘Latina Authors and Their Muses’, edited by Mayra Calvani, and in the soon-to-be released anthology, Organic Coffee, Haphazardly Literary Society, edited by Allie Burke. Eleanor is a proud member of Las Comadres Para Las Americas, PEN America, The National Association of Professional Women, and the Historical Novel Society. She is a contributing writer at Organic Coffee, Haphazardly Literary Society. When not writing, Eleanor loves facilitating creativity groups, reads, and tells herself she is making plans to walk El Camino de Santiago de Compostela a second time.

Eleanor adores her two adult children and currently lives in West Virginia, where she is happily writing her second novel, ‘The Lament of Sister Maria Inmaculada’.

http://www.amazon.com/Decent-Woman-Eleanor-Parker-Sapia-ebook/dp/B00TUP47W

 

The Writing Life: Interview with Anna Belfrage

Welcome to The Writing Life. Today I am thrilled to welcome the talented and lovely Anna Belfrage, author of the acclaimed The Graham Saga, a series of eight novels, many of which have received well-deserved awards from the Historical Novel Society, six BRAG Medallions, and a RONE Honorable Mention.

Anna-B-höguppl-300x206Had Anna been allowed to choose, she’d have become a professional time-traveller. As such a profession does not exists, she settled for second best and became a financial professional with two absorbing interests, namely history and writing.

Presently, Anna is hard at work with The King’s Greatest Enemy, a series set in the 1320s featuring Adam de Guirande, his wife Kit, and their adventures and misfortunes in connection with Roger Mortimer’s rise to power.

When Anna is not stuck in the 14th century, chances are she’ll be visiting in the 17th century, more specifically with Alex and Matthew Graham, the protagonists of the acclaimed The Graham Saga. This series is the story of two people who should never have met – not when she was born three centuries after him.

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Welcome, Anna.

What is your book’s genre/category?

I’m fast approaching the publication of my tenth book, but the nine I have out there all have in common that they belong under the Historical fiction umbrella. I would add that there is a considerable amount of love – not so much “classic” romance, as my protagonists quickly conclude they’re meant for each other and therefore present a unified front to their future adventures.

Please describe what your books are about.

My first eight books are all part of The Graham Saga, which is the story of two people who should never have met, seeing as she was born three hundred years after him. A heady mixture of action, adventure, history, passion and time-slip, The Graham Saga is set in the 17th century, both in Scotland and the American Colonies.

Anna Belfrage book coverMy most recent release, In the Shadow of the Storm, is the first in a new four-book series and set in the 14th century. It tells the story of Adam de Guirande and his wife, Kit. She was coerced into marrying him, he has no idea she isn’t who he thought he was marrying, and things between them become a bit dicey. Until Adam’s lord, Roger Mortimer, rebels against the king, dragging Adam with him. Domestic quarrels become immaterial in the larger perspective…Adam is a man of honour and integrity, torn apart between his loyalties to his beloved lord, his king, and his wife.

How did you come up with the title?

For my latest book, I just had this image of a knight riding towards a brewing storm. In general, I spend a lot of time choosing my titles – also, when writing a series, the titles must sort of go together, and as I have most of the series written before I consider publication this gives me time to play around with titles.

It’s a great cover. What inspired you to write this book?

I’ve always been fascinated by the tumultuous end to Edward II’s reign – and the role his wife, Isabella, played in it, together with her lover, Roger Mortimer. The real-life story is an impressive mix of passion, intrigue and political maneouvering.

What is your favorite part of writing?

The first rewrite. I generally get a first draft down in a month or so, and then I start the truly fun part, which is adding flesh to the bones, if you will. Not that the first draft is all that bare to begin with – the first rewrite will generally slash like 30% of the words and add 15% – but it is during the rewrite that the story acquires colour and smells.

I’m still stuck on the one month for a first draft! That’s incredible. What is the most challenging aspect of writing?

The editing. I use professional editors for a final edit, but before I turn anything over to them, I have done numerous edits. I still find it very difficult to slash scenes I love just because they are “unnecessary”. Sometimes, I indulge myself and leave them in, but mostly out they go and I spend some time feeling a bit depressed.

I know what you mean; it’s tough to cut scenes. Who are some of your favorite authors?

Where do I start? I read a lot of historical fiction, and Elizabeth Chadwick and Sharon K Penman are among my favorites. I enjoy Barbara Erskine and Diana Gabaldon, I’ve read a lot of Bernard Cornwell and am a big fan of Venezuelan hist fic writer Francisco Herrera Luque. I don’t think any of his books have been translated, which is unfortunate as not only is he meticulous in his research, but he also writes about larger-than-life people.

I don’t only read hist fict. I read a lot of romance (love Amanda Quick and Lucinda Brant) and quite some crime/thriller, where I have a tendency to while away hours in the company of Mr Reacher. Plus, I love fantasy – blame it on Tolkien, a very early love of mine.

Being an indie writer myself, a huge chunk of my reading is other indie authors. Not that I give them free passes: I have a restricted amount of time, and books that do not meet basic standard when it comes to editing and formatting are quickly discarded (whether indie or mainstream. Quite a few mainstream lack good editing…) and unless the story hooks me the first 50 pages, I set it aside. (Once again: happens just as much with mainstream as with indie). Great indie authors are Alison Morton, Helen Hollick, M J Logue, Derek Birks, Steve McKay and Matthew Harffy – all of whom have written series. I obviously like series…

What authors or person(s) have influenced you?

When it comes to my writing, my mother is undoubtedly one of the main influencers – not because she writes, but because she instilled a love of the written word in me from the age of one or thereabouts. She always read to me, and once I could read, she welcomed me to read whatever I wanted to read in her extensive library. Her tastes are eclectic, and so I found both Emmanuelle and Sartre on the shelves, although there was an overrepresentation of English writers – and particularly English poets.

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Do you have a favorite place to write?

At my desk in our country house. I turn my head, and I see a sloping meadow, beyond it the expanse of the lake. Now and then, an osprey soars upwards, I see kites and buzzards, swallows and swifts, and, in summer, a sea of blue lupines. Not bad.

Tell us something personal about you people may be surprised to know?

I know a lot about dogs – I think I recognize most breeds around, seeing as I’ve worked as ring secretary at various dog exhibitions.

What surprises or learning experiences did you have during the publishing process?

It’s much more work than I expected it to be. Okay, so I’m indie published, and I knew that would mean more work than going mainstream, but all the same, it takes a minor tribe to get a book out there – especially if you’re aiming for quality. The cover, the editing, the proof-reading, the type-setting – all of it a lot of work. And then, once it is out there, the true slog starts, namely PROMOTION. All authors have to do it, most authors find it difficult and resent it because it impinges on writing time. But it has to be done, and it requires a lot of creative effort.

Looking back, what did you do right that helped you with this book?

I wrote the story I wanted to tell. Sounds simple, but is fundamental. As a writer, you must burn with passion for your Work in Progress. If you don’t, no one else will.

Any advice or tips for writers looking to get published?

I’m biased here, seeing as I am a big advocate of doing things the indie way. But whether you opt for the traditional route or the indie route, there are no shortcuts: your book has to be edited and revised and edited and revised. And if you’re going indie, you need to invest in external services – editing and cover design must be done by professionals!

Website and blog?

My blog: https://annabelfrage.wordpress.com

My website: www.annabelfrage.com

Where can we find your books?

For my latest release: http://mybook.to/ISOTS

or, for The Graham Saga: http://myBook.to/TGS

What’s next for you?

More writing 🙂 Other than my present series, I am working on a ninth book in The Graham Saga, and then I have a trilogy more or less ready to go – this time contemporary with a paranormal touch.

Thank you for visiting The Writing Life, Anna! I enjoyed learning more about you and your wonderful books. I admit I’m trying to wrap my head around writing a draft of an historical novel in a month, so perhaps you’ll consider writing a blog post on your writing process? Whatever it is, it works like a charm! Thanks again and happy writing to you.

ellie

 

Puerto Rican-born novelist, Eleanor Parker Sapia, was raised in the United States, Puerto Rico, and Europe. Eleanor’s careers as an artist, counselor, alternative health practitioner, Spanish language family support worker and refugee case worker, continue to inspire her stories.

Eleanor’s debut novel, ‘A Decent Woman, set in turn of the nineteenth century Puerto Rico, was selected as 2015 July Book of the Month for Las Comadres & Friends National Latino Book Club. Eleanor is featured in the anthology, ‘Latina Authors and Their Muses’, edited by Mayra Calvani, and in the soon-to-be released anthology, Organic Coffee, Haphazardly Literary Society, edited by Allie Burke. Eleanor is a proud member of Las Comadres Para Las Americas, PEN America, The National Association of Professional Women, and the Historical Novel Society. She is a contributing writer at Organic Coffee, Haphazardly Literary Society. When not writing, Eleanor loves facilitating creativity groups, reads, and tells herself she is making plans to walk El Camino de Santiago de Compostela a second time.

Eleanor adores her two adult children and currently lives in West Virginia, where she is happily writing her second novel, ‘The Lament of Sister Maria Inmaculada’.

http://www.amazon.com/Decent-Woman-Eleanor-Parker-Sapia-ebook/dp/B00TUP47W

 

 

 

 

 

Author Interview with JD Byrne

Me 2Today, The Writing Life is pleased to interview fantasy and science fiction author, JD Byrne.

JD Byrne was born and raised around Charleston, West Virginia, before spending seven years in Morgantown getting degrees in history and law from West Virginia University.  He has practiced law for more than 15 years, writing briefs where he has to stick to real facts and real law.  In his fiction, he gets to make up the facts, take or leave the law, and let his imagination run wild.  He lives outside Charleston with his wife, a one-eyed dog, and a black cat.

The Last Ereph and Other Stories is his first book.

Ereph Cover (KDP) (1) What is your book’s genre/category?

The stories in The Last Ereph . . . are fantasy and science fiction, with a couple that probably snuggle up close with horror.  The science fiction stories are all set in times close to our own, while the fantasy ones tend to take place in very strange locations.

Please describe what the story/book is about.

The Last Ereph and Other Stories, as the title suggests, is a short story collection.  There are ten stories without any common theme, aside from the fact that I wrote them.  Here are some specifics about a few of those stories.

“To Watch the Storms” was inspired by a thunderstorm that rolled through Richmond, Virginia, where I was staying at a hotel, getting ready to go to court. Even the average summer thunderstorm can hold untold wonders, if you’re patient enough to see them.

“The Dragon of the Bailey” is about a dragon who is being held captive, and who seizes help when it comes to him from an unlikely source.  I wrote it after I read about the ravens kept in the Tower of London.  Legend says so long as they stay there the kingdom will thrive, but they clip their wings so they can’t fly away.  Seems like a stacked deck, to me.

“The Mask” is a flash fiction story about a creepy-looking artifact that turns out to be more than it appears.

“Jury Duty” is the only story that ties somewhat into my legal life.  It’s about a guy who gets called for jury duty, finds a stumbling block, and runs with it.  He gets dragged into court, required to be there, then finds out he isn’t modern enough to be a part of the trial.  It was fun to be able to play around with a courtroom setting, given my day job.

In “the Missing Legion” a hunter in pursuit of big game stumbles into a ritual he was not supposed to see.  This is set in the world of The Water Road, a fantasy trilogy I’m working on.  Book one should be out early in 2016.

Finally, “The Last Ereph” is about a thief in a distant land. After stealing a precious gem, he seeks sanctuary and finds a treasure of an entirely different sort.

How did you come up with the title?

The title of the book is the title of the final story, the title track if you will. It’s an older story, one that I started writing between sets at a music festival in North Carolina. I thought it was a good encapsulation of what I do. Also, it allowed me to put a made up word – “ereph” – on the book cover, which I hope will resonate with readers of fantasy and the like, make them want to find out what it means.

Several of the other story titles come from songs, although most people probably have never heard them – “To Watch the Storms” (Steve Hackett), “Memory of Water” (Marillion), and “Elephant Talk” (King Crimson).

What is the reason you wrote this book?

Short stories are where I started writing seriously, since they are, in a way, easier to manage than novels.  I slid over into working on longer things (some of which will be coming out soon), but always had these stories that I wanted to share with readers.  When I decided to jump into independent publishing, that was a great chance to go back to them, revisit a few, and send them out to the world.

What is your favorite part of writing?

I think my favorite part is when things don’t go as planned.  I try to lay things out fairly well before I start something, so I’m not flying completely by the seat of my pants.  Nonetheless, times come when I find I need to add a new character or a new scene to get something accomplished.  Those moments, when I’m really creating on the fly, are really fun. I had that happen with a story that should come out next year.  I needed someone for the main character to interact with in a particular scene and wound up creating this completely new character that I fell in love with.  She might get a spin off!

What is the most challenging aspect of writing?

Getting started, I think.  It’s one thing to plan, it’s one thing to think about all you want to do with a project, but it’s really another to sit down and start writing.  Once I get started, I tend to get on a roll, but sometimes the initial phase of spilling (virtual) ink onto the page can be daunting. It’s a cliché, but there is something daunting about the blank page.  Once something has started, it’s easy to sit down, pick up where you left off, and keep going. There’s a momentum that develops.  But when you’re just starting there’s nothing like that to ease you into it.

Who are some of your favorite authors?

With the caveat that favorite doesn’t necessarily mean I wind up writing anything like them, one of my first favorites was Douglas Adams.  My brother introduced me to him.  I had no idea that science fiction could be so funny, yet still get at deep truths about what makes humans tick.

More recently, I’ve come to love Neil Gaiman (to whom I was introduced by my wife).  The worlds he creates, even in his short fiction, are so rich and alive.  I also appreciate his desire and ability to skip across genres without any real care about whether readers follow him. Other favorites are John Scalzi (for his non-Old Mans War stuff), Margaret Atwood (glad she’s finally come around on admitting that she’s written science fiction),  Kurt Vonnegut (what needs to be said?), and George RR Martin (made me rethink what epic fantasy could be).

What authors or person(s) have influenced you?

Outside of any author of any book I’ve ever read, I’ve always drawn a lot of inspiration from music.  I admire musicians like Frank Zappa or Brian Eno, who have been determined to do their own thing, critical and popular reception be damned, and wind up breaking through anyway. I also draw a lot of inspiration and have a lot of respect, for musicians I’ve listened to for years who aren’t big names, and can only do what they do because they love doing it (such as 3rDegree, echolyn, Thinking Plague, and The Tangent).  As an independent author, that determination rings very true.

Favorite place to write?

I don’t really have one.  I can’t write legible longhand to save my life (ask my coworkers!), so I generally have to do it at a computer.  I do most of my work on the computer in my studio, which also serves as the hub of a music production setup. So I write surrounded by synthesizers.  It’s kind of surreal, at times.

Something personal about you people may be surprised to know?

Before I met my wife I was not an animal person.  Never had pets, had even developed a dislike of dogs from days delivering newspapers.  But she had a dog and two cats and that was that.  I’ve gone so far the other direction that on our recent trip to Cambodia, I took more pictures of critters than of people!

Any surprises or learning experiences with the publishing process?

Since this is my first book and I published it independently, the entire process has been a learning experience.  I’d never really played around with issues like layout or cover design before.  I think my biggest surprise was how many little issues come up along the way, from the proper running order for the stories, to getting all the formatting details right across the various platforms.

Looking back, what did you do right that helped you with this book?

I think the biggest thing that helped me was making the decision to do it myself and stick with it.  Before that I felt like I was in this kind of literary limbo, producing this material that wasn’t going to have a home anywhere.  Now if feels like I can see the end of the process for each project and that helps keep things moving.

Any advice for writers looking to get published?

Do it yourself! No, actually, do your research and think long and hard about how you want to publish, and what you want to get out of publishing.  In the end, the most important parts for me were keeping control of the material and being able to set and keep my own deadlines.  But every writer is different and what works for me might not work for others.  Listen, learn, think.  Always good advice, I hope.

Website?

My website is www.jdbyrne.net  There you can find my blog, info on The Last Ereph . . . (and future books), and links to my homes on Facebook, Twitter, Librarything, and Goodreads.

Where can we find your book?

The Last Ereph . . . is available online in paperback and Kindle versions from Amazon and in eBook format from Barnes & Noble, iBooks, Kobo, and Inktera.  It’s also available at select independent bookstores, like Empire Books & News.

What’s next for you?

Up next is a novel that I’m finishing called Moore Hollow.  It’s about a disgraced English journalist who is sent to the West Virginia coal fields to investigate reports that a politician back in the early 20th Century raised the dead so they could vote for him.  It plays off a bit of West Virginia’s reputation for less than savory politics and “dead people voting” in some spots. I hope to have it out by the fall.

Beyond that, I have a three-volume fantasy series, The Water Road, that is about an uprising of an oppressed people and the ramifications of that.  I hope to have it out, at least the first two volumes, by 2016.

Anything else you’d like to share?

I’m giving away a free copy of The Last Ereph and Other Stories in paperback or ebook forms.  For paperback, visit Goodreads and enter the giveaway, running March 27 to March 30.  For ebooks (Kindle, ePub, or PDF) visit Librarything and enter the giveaway, running until April 6.

Thanks for visiting today, JD. Best of luck with the books!

About Eleanor

Puerto Rican-born novelist, Eleanor Parker Sapia, was raised in the United States, Puerto Rico, and Europe. Eleanor’s life experiences as a counselor, alternative health practitioner, a Spanish language social worker, and a refugee case worker inspire her stories. When Eleanor is not writing, she facilitates creativity groups, and is making plans to walk El Camino de Santiago de Compostela a second time.

A Decent Woman is her debut historical novel. Eleanor is the mother of two adult children, and she currently lives in West Virginia.

A DECENT WOMAN available now on Amazon 

Ponce, Puerto Rico, at the turn of the century: Ana Belén Opaku, an Afro-Cuban born into slavery, is a proud midwife with a tempestuous past. After testifying at an infanticide trial, Ana is forced to reveal a dark secret from her past, but continues to hide an even more sinister one. Pitted against the parish priest, Padre Vicénte, and young Doctór Héctor Rivera, Ana must battle to preserve her twenty-five year career as the only midwife in La Playa.

Serafina is a respectable young widow with two small children, who marries an older wealthy merchant from a distinguished family. A crime against Serafina during her last pregnancy forever bonds her to Ana in an ill-conceived plan to avoid a scandal and preserve Serafina’s honor.

Set against the combustive backdrop of a chauvinistic society, where women are treated as possessions, A Decent Woman is the provocative story of these two women as they battle for their dignity and for love against the pain of betrayal and social change.

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