Let’s Talk about Author Interviews

You may remember that cranky interviewer who was here a while back. He conducted my first book Imageinterview, and I thought it went well. I was able to get the message out about my newest book with its 101 exclamation points, but I haven’t sought any other interviews. I’ve been torn between my thoughts as a consumer and those as a writer.

When I was a consumer only, here is what I thought about author interviews: I don’t care. It wasn’t personal; I simply didn’t care about the author. I never read the jacket flap information about an author. I skipped over author interviews in magazines, and I didn’t read about the author at Amazon or B&N when I bought books.

Janet Evanovich is a favorite author or mine. As a consumer, I don’t care about her writing process or her personal life. I care about Stephanie Plum, and I’m rooting for Ranger, but I’m thinking it will be Morelli, because he is most likely to offer the happily ever after to the series.

But now that I am an author, my mindset is changing. Here at WordPress, I’ve come to know some really great people, and I’m building personal relationships with other authors. How cool is that! A few have been interviewed by other bloggers, and I loved their interviews.

I kind of still don’t want to read about Janet Evanovich, but I do want to read about my friends and other aspiring authors here at WP. The interviews put an author’s name and their book(s) out there for more people to see. In turn, more followers may be gained, more relationships built, and along the line, some sales of books will be made.

All interviews aren’t created equal, and based on my own feelings, past and present, I think it’s important to appeal to the consumer first, so if the reader doesn’t stick around long enough for the personal information, they at least have the information about the book.

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Valerie Clarizio

For an example, I chose fellow WordPress author, Valerie Clarizio to interview. Her book, Cookies for Santa, debuts tomorrow, November 5 at Melange Books (also Amazon and Barnes & Noble).

I already know I like Valerie, but before I decide to buy her book, there are some things I want to know, because no matter how much I like Valerie, I’m not buying gruesome horror and lying awake at night with the lights on for a month. These are basically the same things I want to know before I see a movie, and here are her responses:

Genre / Audience: Romantic Suspense / Adult female. Heroine is 28. Hero is 32.

Content Warning: Cookies for Santa does contain some adult content. There is some minor swearing and a consummated love scene that is both sensual and emotionally satisfying.

Synopsis: Detective Spinelli’s life is tossed sideways when he is reassigned from the Homicide Division to assist in the Child Services Division of the Social Services Department for the holiday season. From the beginning, Spinelli and caseworker Shannon O’Hara generate their own kind of fireworks, causing more than the normal workplace stress. … Shannon moonlights as Santa Claus’ little helper at the mall, and when Santa and an elf turn up dead, Shannon appears to be next on the killer’s list. Spinelli is placed back on homicide and goes undercover as Santa to help capture the killer. He catches a great deal of grief along the way, but will he capture the heart of his little Santa’s helper as well?

Book Length: 38,000 words / 130 pages

The above information is all I need to know to make a decision to buy or not. I don’t need to read a Imagesample, and I don’t need to read anything about Valerie. She has a great cover, and that would draw me in as well, but a cover is never a deal breaker for me. The consumer side of me is now satisfied.

But let’s move on to some questions I would like to have answered from my standpoint as a writer as well as in my effort to continue a personal relationship with Valerie. There could be many questions, but I’ve chosen just a few.

Because of some of my own experiences when writing, I was curious to know Valerie’s answers to the following three questions:

What prompted you to sit down and start writing your book? I had just finished reading the most recent novel of my favorite author and was waiting impatiently for her next one to come out. In the meantime, I had a dream about Spinelli, and I woke up thinking, Wow, my favorite novelist should write this story. After giving it more consideration, I thought to myself, Wow, I should write this story.

Is anything in your book based on real life experiences, or is it purely imagination? It’s all purely imagination. Though I wouldn’t mind if a couple of the scenes actually would happen in real life. 🙂

What was your favorite chapter to write? I especially liked writing chapter twelve. The chapter contains another scene of Spinelli playing Santa Claus at the mall. In this scene, Spinelli/Santa is visited by a couple of kids that he and Shannon had previously removed from their home and placed in foster care. The oldest child’s Christmas wish really got to Spinelli, and you can see this tough homicide detective soften before your eyes.

As an author, I wanted to know the answers to the following two questions:

How long did it take to write Cookies for Santa? It took me about five months to write Cookies for Santa, and about eighteen months to finally get it in print.

Why did you choose traditional publishing over self-publishing? How many queries? I was afraid to self-publish. I wanted someone experienced in the business to do things such as edit, design the cover, and help market the book. I’m a newbie, still trying to figure this all out. … I sent out six queries, and of the six, two publishers took a serious look at the MS.

The next three questions are in the fun category and give me a little more insight into Valerie as a person and a friend:

Who would play Shannon and Spinelli in the movie version? Molly Quinn would play Shannon, and Anson Mount would play Spinelli.

What does your family think of your writing? Since I write outside of my day job, I spend many evenings in the home office. That said, my husband has washed more dishes in the past year and a half than he did in our first 20 years of marriage, and he has sole control of the TV remote. J Seriously though, he’s been very supportive. Each of my brothers think they are the hero…they are mistaken, and as for my cat, as long as her food dish is full, she doesn’t care what I do.Image

What is your favorite cookie? White chocolate macadamia nut!

Of course I had to ask her favorite cookie, and if chocolate wasn’t in the answer (even though it’s white chocolate), I would have had to find another person to interview. And look! She used an exclamation point at the end of her answer.

There you have it. A little information to help you get to know Valerie if you would like to follow her here at WP, and enough information about her book to make a decision to buy when it comes out tomorrow. A big thank you to Valerie for being a good sport and allowing me to do a less-than-typical interview.

As for the rest of you, do you read about the author before making a decision to buy a book? Do you read about the author after you know you like their work? Or were you like me and ignored them completely while simply throwing money their way and devouring their books?

If you have any questions or comments for Valerie, feel free to leave them for her in the comments section.

To Behave or Not To Behave, That is the Question

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Writers create a brand, yes? Do you work on your brand?

For some authors, their brand has become them, plain and simple. You see their name or their face, and there is nothing else you need to know. The emotional attachment from the reader to the writer is wrapped up in personal recognition. When I see a favorite author’s name or headshot on a book, I don’t need to read the blurb before I buy. I know the brand, and I know what I’ll get.

I suppose I’ve started working on a brand. My brand is pink. My brand is breezy. Wow. That’s impressive. /sarcasm

My brand is blonde. She runs amuck, as opposed to amok, but I think I should stop using that word/phrase. The connotation is messy. Things go haywire for Susan in every book, but I need a better catchphrase or line. The books don’t specifically revolve around the racquetball club or the weight loss center, so there isn’t anything to draw from either location.

I know from reading all of Janet Evanovich’s books that Stephanie Plum is a bounty hunter with attitude. Janet, of course, has name and face recognition with her brand, but any fan also knows the name Stephanie Plum is synonymous with bounty hunter (and Ranger and Morelli!).

Who is Susan Hunter? In every book, she does something innocuous, ultimately putting her life in danger. Susan Hunter, Unintentional Blonde. That doesn’t work. Susan Hunter, Blonde Impulsive. Yikes! Susan Hunter, Trying to Get Killed One Book at a Time. … Susan doesn’t swear outside of one or two uses of the word crap in the books. Her exclamation phrase is always, “Oh my gosh!” … Susan Hunter, Oh My Gosh! … I admit, I have nothing.

Then we come to me personally. I’ve allowed enough of my personality to show that I think followers of my blog already know we’re a silly family. Humor brightens our days.

Yesterday was a lightning and thunder day. My husband rode his motorcycle to work. I won’t share my email messages to him throughout the day, but the final one was in all caps and expressed my enjoyment at his certain soaking to come. He was sure he would make the half hour ride home without running into rain. When he came through the door, I was delighted to see his shirt was soaked. “Five minutes!” he whined while laughing. “If I would have left five minutes sooner, I would have made it.” It was a fun moment for us, and my competitive nature chalked up a win for me.

That story is fine. I don’t mind some personal branding showing the silly side of my life. But how far would be too far before it hurt?

I wrote a blog post earlier in the week, and I liked it; it made me laugh. It was about playing a computer game, how maddening it was, and my continual reaction to the game. The game is, after all, what I choose to do when I don’t want to write. The post would have fit in with my blog theme.

I ran the idea for the post by my husband and asked, “What if some day my books take off. (Don’t laugh! Stranger things have happened.) What if someday Susan Hunter is known to an audience? Do I really want someone coming back through my blog and reading this type of post?”

We both agreed it needed to hit the trash can. Just as I don’t share the negative, depressing things that might creep into our lives at times, I don’t want to share the more crass side that raises its head every now and then – no matter how funny it may be. There are certain aspects of our lives that aren’t necessary to my developing brand, and I realize I don’t want them creeping in.

Are you cautious while developing your brand? Do you behave – or not?

Blogging Freaks Me Out

In a few days, I’ll have been blogging for a month. I think I like it. There are some things that freak me out though.

I liked it when there were less than twenty visitors to my blog each day. Just a few people peeking in to see what I was doing while I try to write and publish a few books. I sort of panicked when 52 people showed up one day this week. Yikes! Where did they come from? And why?

My mind went on a freak out thinking that the new visitors were other authors shaking their heads. Who in their right mind would write three books in two months and then think they were good enough to publish? … Well, I guess I did.

People spend years honing their craft and agonizing over their words wanting to put out the very best work possible. I understand that, but when I found the Smashwords site, something went off inside me, and it just came out – three books in two months. I had to do it, and I had to publish them. When I look at my books on my Nook, it delights me to no end. And the fact that the few people I know who have read the books liked them; well, it’s just that much nicer.

I’ve been visiting other blogs and enjoying the time spent blog-hopping. I love fashion, photography, music, books, poetry, and so much other stuff. I find myself following people as they lose weight. I’m sad for people who share their struggles and wish I could hug them. I love the humorous blogs. This is a wonderful new world. I’ve purchased two books from indie writers. I want to put my money where my mouth is and help others who are finding their way as well. I won’t really stop following authors; there’s a lot to learn from them.

I was nominated for an award by lightningpen. I was kind of embarrassed, and didn’t really know what to think about it. I didn’t mean to ignore you, kind blogger, but I was so new to blogging and didn’t have a clue who else to nominate. I don’t understand everything about the blogging community yet, and I may revisit that nomination one day (unless it has an expiration date).

So, even though I’m not really comfortable yet with blogging, and there are days when it freaks me out, I’m pretty sure I like it and will keep plodding on for a while.