The interview series with authors in my Twitter community continues with Patricia E. Paris. Enjoy!
Q: What is your genre? Why did you choose it?
PP: My genre is Romance. I write long Contemporary and Romantic Suspense. I am a romantic at heart and I love a happy ending. I've tried my hand at mystery and paranormal, but I always come back to romance, it's what I do best.
Q: How many books have you published? Legacy published, self-published, or a combination?
Q: Tell us more about LETTERS TO GABRIELLA, the sequel to THIS TIME FOREVER! How did this story idea come about?
PP: LETTERS TO GABRIELLA is book two in my Cedar Cove series. The hero, Justin Morrison, is the twin brother of my hero, Blake, from THIS TIME FOREVER. Justin was introduced in book one, as a secondary character, but I knew early on that he would be a favorite with readers. I believed they would want Justin to have his own story as much as I wanted to give it to him. That was when I decided I would write a series. I'm happy to say, one of the first things people who read THIS TIME FOREVER ask me is: Will there be a book about Justin?
I completed LETTERS TO GABRIELLA in November and plan to publish it in February/March of 2012.
Q: Do you sell copies of your novel, or other works directly from your website?
Q: How much time do you spend on Twitter each week? Do you have a Facebook Fan Page?
PP: I spend about one to two hours a day combined on social networks, including Twitter and Facebook. I have found Twitter, especially, to be good for marketing, and I have met some terrific people there. I enjoy these relationships, and the support I get from people who a few months ago were strangers has been amazing.
I don't have a Facebook fan page yet, although I will be making one at some point soon. In the meantime, people can find me on my author or personal pages.
Q: Do you blog? How often? Strictly professional or a blend of all things?
PP: I blog every two or three weeks. I usually write about topics related to writing and the writing life, but on occasion I will blog about boating, cooking, gardening, or travel.
Q: Do you have a motto or favorite quote you turn to on tough writing days?
PP: When I decided to write full time a number of years ago, we turned the small mudroom of the house we lived in at the time into my writing space. As I was organizing my desk, my daughter, who was about nine at the time, came into the room and gave me a card she had made for me. On the front in large, colorful letters that were surrounded by hearts, she had written: We Believe In You! (insert dozens of hearts here!) I still have that card today, and it serves as a wonderful source of motivation.
Q: Have you outsourced editing, cover design, formatting, web design, marketing, etc?
PP: My son has had a lot of experience creating web sites and graciously agreed to do one for me. I haven't outsourced other work to date, although I do have some trusted friends who provide a second and third set of eyes on my manuscript and can always be counted on for good feedback. I used to do a lot of editing in a past life, so I do most of that myself. As an aside, for anyone who edits their own books, or when doing a final read through before sending it off to someone else, a trick I learned that is useful is to start at the end and read your manuscript backwards. It makes catching double-typed, repetitive, and misspelled words a lot easier.
I am currently in the process of outsourcing work for the print version of my books and will be anxious to see the results so I can use them as a comparison.
Q: Do you work with a writing group?
PP: I was part of a critique group for almost six years, until we moved and the distance was too far for me to continue attending. It proved to be one of the best things that could have happened for my writing. The group members were seasoned writers, a couple of them best-selling authors, and I learned more in that group than I had in all my writing classes combined! I was fortunate to have found this group, and believe the right group or critique partner can be very beneficial. I know writers who weren't as fortunate as I was and had bad experiences with groups, so one needs to choose carefully. Being part of a negative and unsupportive critique group can be damaging and hurtful and I wouldn't advise staying with a group you don't feel good about.
Q: When did you first decide to publish? How much time did it take to get from an idea to a book on Amazon?
PP: I first published on Amazon about six months ago. I had already completed two manuscripts, so once I made the decision to take the plunge it went quickly. I spent about a month doing some final editing, checking everything, formatting, and then was able to publish without much difficulty.
If I'm starting from scratch with an idea it can take me anywhere from six months to a couple years to complete a book to the point I'm satisfied with it.
Q: Have you published any of your work for free? Why or why not?
PP: I have published a few articles for free, but none of my books. I write long books, and because they require such a time commitment, it isn't financially feasible for me to offer them for free at this time.
Q: What tips or advice would you offer to writers who are about to have their first work published?
PP: Regardless of how an author is published, I think it's important to have realistic expectations. You will build a readership, but it takes time, and it requires a lot of hard work on your part. Marketing, building an author platform, networking, all these have become important parts of an author's job. Even traditionally published authors are now expected to take an active role in their book promotion. There is some excellent information available on the web that can help you devise a plan, as well as numerous author networks and support groups willing to share their stories and offer advice.
So don't get discouraged, instead, get started on your next book to keep yourself psyched. When readers do find your work, if they like it they'll want more, and if you've got another book in the works you'll soon have something more to offer them.
Q: Is there another writer (or two) in the Twitterverse that you would recommend newbies follow?
PP: Wow, there are so many people I could recommend. Two that quickly came to mind though would be Shelli Johnson and Melissa Foster. I recommend Shelli because, aside from just being a lovely and supportive person, she is a master at her craft. Her work is worth reading, not just for the enjoyment of it, but also from the perspective of seeing how it should be done. She really is that good!
I recommend Melissa because in my opinion she is, in addition to being a wonderful writer, the most supportive, other-centered person on Twitter. Melissa doesn't just cheer on other authors, she goes far beyond, taking time for her own super busy schedule to create vehicles to try and help them succeed. She founded the Women's Lit Café, which helps connect authors with readers, and which has grown into a vast network of supportive authors helping one another on their journey. Melissa is the real deal, with a heart of gold, and any author, not just newbies, can learn a lot about what it means to give back by following her.
Q: What is coming up for you in the next few months?
PP: So much! I will be publishing LETTERS TO GABRIELLA in early 2012. I have two other books, RUN RACHAEL RUN, which is the sequel to A MURDEROUS GAME, and RETURN TO CEDAR COVE, book three in my Cedar Cove series, both of which I'm hoping to publish in 2012 as well. I have two other completed manuscripts that need to be edited, but I don't plan on getting to those until after the books in my series have all been published.
Q: Do you have (or are you planning) any audio books?
PP: Not at this time, although I wouldn't rule it out in the future.
Q: Have you done a blog tour? Any advice or cautions?
PP: I'm looking at doing one at the end of December and think it will be fun. I also think it is a great way to reach out to connect with people. I can't offer any advice or cautions since I haven't done a tour yet, but I'll be happy to share my experience when I do.
Q: Do you create an outline before beginning a new book?
PP: I usually always follow the same process. When I get an idea for a story I pull out a legal pad and start writing in longhand. For some odd reason I like to begin this way, scratching things out, writing in the margins, etc. By the time I've written about fifty pages I'm starting to get a feel for where the story is going and who the characters are. At this point, I go back and do a loose outline and use this as a roadmap to keep me moving forward. My outline evolves and changes with the story, sometimes taking unexpected turns, which is okay. If I get stuck on a scene, I can look over my outline and jump ahead to work on another one I have more clarity around. This can also help me work out issues with earlier scenes that I can then go back to and rework. Everyone works differently, but for me a rough outline keeps me from roaming off into the hinterlands and losing my direction of the story.
Q: Do you work on more than one manuscript at a time?
PP: I try not to do this. That said, when I first wrote THIS TIME FOREVER, I had a real stumbling block with one of the primary characters. She was integral to the plot, but I didn't like her, and she was always getting in the way. I kept trudging through, never really satisfied. I loved the story otherwise, but couldn't figure out what to do with this character. I ended up putting the manuscript away for more than a year, and started working on something else. When I did go back to it, I realized there was no need to keep this character, so I killed her off, made her part of the back story, and with newfound energy was able to complete the book to my satisfaction.
Q: Do you use specialty software?
PP: No, I'm horribly non-technical, and just the thought of having to use a new computer program sends me searching for the Excedrin Migraine. I tend to stick with what I know and admire those technically adept among us from afar with much awe.
Q: Tell us about some of the hurdles you've cleared on the path to becoming author. Did you have any idea at the start what the process really entailed?
PP: Aside from the aforementioned technical stuff which is the bane of my writerly existence, the two biggest hurdles I have had to overcome are lack of time to write and guilt.
I used to design and deliver skill based training programs for a large corporation. I loved it, but it involved more travel than I liked because it took me away from my family for days at a time. If I wanted to write, it had to be done late at night after the family was tucked into bed and I was usually so tired I couldn't focus. This was resolved when my company went through a merger and I decided to resign. The company hired me back as a consultant, which worked out great because I was able to do a program or two a month for them and for the first time in years had time I could devote to writing.
The other biggie for me was finding a balance between family time and writing time. I feel guilty if I don't refill the birdfeeder for more than three days, and my feelings run a whole lot deeper for my family than the birds, so I really struggled with how much time my writing was taking away from the hubby and kids. My family has always been super supportive, so this one was self-imposed. My children are older, and I've gotten better at dealing with the guilt, but I doubt I'll ever be able to eliminate it. There'll always be family I want to spend time with, and birds to feed, and laundry piling up, and…
Q: What is the best comment/compliment you have received about your work?
PP: There are two I hear consistently that give me pride. The first is that I'm good at character development. The second, and the one that gives me a warm, happy feeling inside, is that the reader didn't want the story to end, that they wanted to spend more time with the characters. The two probably go together, and these comments tell me the reader felt connected with and were able, if only for a brief time, to live in my character's world. That makes all the hard work that goes into a book worth every se
Q: Let's flip things around for a moment. As a reader, which of the following do you take into consideration when deciding whether or not to purchase a book?
PP: Reader reviews: I don't always read reviews, so this isn't a major decision factor for me. A book might get bad reviews for any number of reasons, including it just wasn't that particular reader's type of book. I'd rather use other, less subjective criteria to make a final decision. That said, If I notice a book has all 1's, for example, and it's a work I know nothing about, I'm probably going to buy something else I know I'll like.
Book cover: An interesting cover can definitely draw me in and make me curious about a book. I'm not going to buy it on that aspect alone, but they've piqued my interest, and that's the first step.
Word-of-mouth: This is probably one of the leading considerations for me. If a book is recommended by someone I know, or if there is a lot of positive buzz about it, I'll be more likely to take a look to see if I want to buy it.
Book summary: This can play a part in my decision if it's a book I'm not otherwise familiar with. Aside from getting a sample, which I rarely do---I usually dive in head first or not at all---this is where I hope to get an idea of what the book's about and if I might like it.
Author's blog: I've bought several books by author's whose blogs I read and enjoyed. If I like their style on their blog, I'm likely to enjoy their work.
Author's Facebook, Twitter, and other social media: Yes. I have bought a number of books by authors I've met through social media, especially those I've met on Twitter. I'm a huge supporter of Indie Authors, and there are so many wonderfully talented writers in their ranks. If I want to load my Kindle, I'll always look at my author friend's books first now to find something I can enjoy and help support them in the process.
Book price: Rarely. If I like an author I'll pay the price. If I'm taking a chance on an author I'm not familiar with though, I'm more likely to do so if their book is $3.99 or less.
Thank you, Patricia, for sharing your publishing experiences with us! We wish you continued success, and hope you'll come back and share updates with us in the spring!
It was my pleasure! And thank you, Ashley, for inviting me and for being so gracious.