Interview with New York Times Bestselling Author, Yasmine Galenorn

Today we’re talking with New York Times Bestselling author Yasmine Galenorn, the author of over 30 novels, including the Otherworld series.

Q: Yasmine,  can you tell us a little about your road to publication.  Did you always want to be a writer or were there a few bumps along the way?

A: I always wanted to be a writer, since I was three years old, but that doesn’t mean there weren’t bumps along the way. I wrote seven novels (in the closet now), and received over 600 rejection slips before I got my first book contract in 1996. I also was with a man who couldn’t handle the idea of me ever being a success and that impeded me a lot. But I kept going, and even though at times I was discouraged, I did not let the bumps and rejections stop me.

Q: You’ve said in the past that you write for yourself and your readers. Can you explain what that means to you and how it impacts your writing?

A: That means I don’t write to market. I don’t take suggestions from readers. The only person who has a voice on what I’m writing is my editor—and she and I work very well together. So, I write the books the way I need to write them. I write to my vision and my books find the audience they are meant for. If you try to shift your work to match anybody else’s expectations, you will fail. The book will read stiff. You have to write to your own vision for the book to ring true—and trust me, readers can feel when you aren’t writing from your heart/gut/instinct.

Q:  Can you explain a little about the differences between  urban fantasy, paranormal and straight fantasy stories?

A: My definition is: ‘straight’ fantasy is more like Tolkien, fully sent in an alternative world. Paranormal can be contemporary but with paranormal aspects like a ghost or werewolves, etc., and can be standalone or a series. Urban fantasy is more contemporary, with magical/paranormal aspects as a strong factor, and usually will be a series, and most often—not always but usually—has a strong female lead with a group ensemble of characters.

Q: What drew you to writing  dark urban fantasy novels?

A: I love the genre, I love dark faerie tales, I love writing mystical, magical books set in alternative contemporary settings. The paranormal aspects are so engrained in me that I can’t imagine writing anything else, for the most part.

Q: I love hearing about the research you’ve done for your novels.  What do you think research has added to stories about the weird and unusual?

A: My research in mythology allows me to know what’s out there, and where I need to create new creatures that I can’t find and/or switch up. Sometimes my research takes me into very dark and/or bizarre areas and I’ll sit here, staring at the screen, thinking What the hell, people really DO this kind of stuff? You would not believe some of the odd fetishes people have! ~laughs~

Q: What do you wish you’d known starting out that you know now?

A: You have to take promotion into your own hands. Don’t wait for the publisher to do it. I knew it would take time to find an agent/publisher, didn’t know how long but I knew I had to pay my dues first in time and sweat. But the promotion thing? BIG mistake in waiting for others to help. I also wish I’d been quicker in getting on Twitter, etc.. But—authors MUST remember: do NOT spam people on Twitter, etc. I see so many authors who…all they do is pimp their books and sorry, that’s just a turn off. I unfollow people who beg me to buy their books/promo their books but never ever show any sign of doing the same for other authors, or who never say anything other than “BUY MY BOOK!”

Q: Can you tell us a little bit about your next release [which is always on my MUST BUY list]?

A: Night Vision, book four of the Indigo Court Series, comes out on July 2, 2013.

Night Vision:

Eons ago, vampires tried to turn the dark Fae in order to harness their magic, only to create a demonic enemy more powerful than they could have imagined. Now, even with Myst, the Queen of the Indigo Court, temporarily out of action, the new Queens of the Golden Wood finds themselves facing incredible danger…

Destined to become the Fae Queens of Winter and Summer, Wind Witch Cicely and her cousin Rhiannon are eager to assume their roles and marry the loves of their lives. But while Myst hides in the shadows, seeking to regroup her forces, a closer danger is lurking. Renegade vampires Geoffrey and Leo manage to free the Blood Oracle and set him upon New Forest, Washington. Not satisfied with wreaking havoc on the town, Leo ups the ante by kidnapping Rhiannon. Now, Cicely must lead her forces in a bloody battle to save her cousin before everything they’ve worked for crumbles to dust.

Q: Any final words of wisdom for other writers?

A: Not every word you write will be worth publishing. Don’t ever insist your work is set in stone—everything can be edited and revised. Every author NEEDS an editor. A good one. Don’t be afraid of the time it takes to pay your dues—if you expect this gig to turn into your day job from the first word you write, you’ll be sorely disappointed. Network wisely. Remember: the author you dis in public today may hear about it and refuse to give you much needed help tomorrow. Learn with each book—remember what your editor tells you and apply it in writing the next book. Nobody owes you anything—a contract, a blurb, a sale. Earn them by writing a great book, by being a cooperative author, by networking and being friendly, by learning how to wisely promote. Never engage with reviewers—never argue about bad reviews. Learn the business side of the industry and learn it well—and don’t be lazy, do the legwork yourself. You have to learn how to research anyway.

Every single author I know on a personal basis, who has succeeded in this industry, works their butts off. I work 60-80 hours a week. This is not a career for the faint of heart or the thin skinned. We earn our success. So roll up the sleeves, sit in the chair and get those hands on the keyboard. Because while I cannot guarantee success, I can guarantee that if you quit, you will fail.

Bio:

New York TimesPublishers Weekly, and USA Todaybestselling author Yasmine Galenorn writes urban fantasy for Berkley: both the Otherworld Series and the Indigo Court Series, and will soon be writing a spinoff of Otherworld, called the Fly By Night Series.  In the past, she wrote mysteries for Berkley Prime Crime, and nonfiction metaphysical books.

Yasmine has been in the Craft for 30+ years, is a shamanic witch, and describes her life as a blend of teacups and tattoos.  She lives in Kirkland WA with her husband Samwise and their cats.  Yasmine can be reached via herWebsite, on Facebook, and on Twitter.

Interview with Theresa Meyers

Q: Theresa, can you tell us a little about your road to publication.  Did you always want to be a writer or were there a few bumps along the way?

A: My road to publication was a bit more like crawling up the Himayalas and less like a smooth highway. All told I spent 20 years seriously writing before I published with Harlequin, then Kensington and now also with Entangled Publishing. I actually got my first New York agent in 1996 and after eight years together we still hadn’t sold anything because I was writing historical romance and the market for it had tanked. I had two manuscripts that went to revisions with Harlequin editors only to be ultimately rejected. I let my agent go and did some serious thinking about what I wanted to write. I sold a book on my own to a small publisher, did all the promotion and marketing for it, only to have the publisher go bankrupt, with no warning, three weeks before the release date of my book. That was devastating. By that time I felt like I’d been sitting on the fence of almost published so long I had a permanent crease in my butt. Two years later I went on the great agent hunt again and was lucky enough that my top pick wanted to work with me. We had a sale to Harlequin within a few months for their new paranormal line. I’ve been writing like a madman ever since. When they say it takes a magical shift in the universe for everything to come together just right in publishing, they aren’t lying. Publishing, no matter if you do it yourself, or you want to work with a smaller house or one of the biggies in New York, is always a luck of the draw. You never know how things are going to turn out.

Q: At one time you wore a book publicist hat. How has that impacted your approach to being published yourself? Any words of advice that you as a publicist have given you as a published author that you’d like to share?

A: I’m very grateful that while I was working away at becoming published myself, I spent a decade being a book publicist with some of the biggest publishers out there and for numerous authors, including many New York Times bestsellers. It gave me tremendous insight into what careers at the top of this industry look like and entail. I’ve gotten the opportunity to go on a national book tour. And let me tell you is that grueling! Imagine a different airport and flight every morning at 4-6 am just so you can make it to the next city for the morning talk shows. Being a publicist made me more realistic about what to expect, how to attain what I wanted, and underscored the critical importance of always being professional. As for advice I’ve given myself? That’s harder. I’ve had to learn to let go of things and find people that I know do outstanding work to accomplish marketing and publicity activities. I had to realize that I couldn’t expect from them the kind of things I’d done for my own clients because every firm is different. But on the up side, it’s helped because I also know that every author is different. You can’t do the same kinds of things and expect the same results. There’s just too many variables. That allows me some measure of sanity when I start thinking, “hey I should do this and this, and this” to calm down a bit and realize that just because I can, doesn’t mean I should. I’ve learned to pick and choose and constantly tell myself that there’s only one thing no one else can do for me—and that’s write the book.

Q: Can you talk a little about the transition from unpublished to having three different publishers? How did that change your writing life?

A: It made it a lot busier! LOL. I’m very grateful to be writing such different material for my publishers. It allows me the opportunity to build different worlds and explore a lot more in my own writing. Overall it changed things in that now I have to be very disciplined about the writing. I always set myself deadlines before, but now there’s very little flexibility to them because I know that if one thing gets bumped, it impacts everything else down the line for up to a year. It’s also made it harder to jump on opportunities that pop up. I was invited by Harlequin to be part of a wonderful holiday anthology, but fitting that into the schedule made writing the next four books harder because it compressed my time schedule.

Q: What drew you to writing  paranormal romance and steampunk?

A: I’ve always been kind of predisposed to the supernatural. My mother always did things with us kids like talk about the elves and fairies in the woods as if they were real things. When you grow up with that sense of the otherworldly being real, it seeps into your work. As for the steampunk, well, I was kind of born with that too. I’ve always been a Victoriana nut. Other kids asked for calendars with puppies and kittens. I wanted the one with the Victorian houseplans so I could dream up families to live in them. When I got paper dolls they were the Victorian ones. Until age 13 I grew up in the Bay Area where there was a lot of Victorian architecture around. My first novel I started at age 17 was set in Astoria, Oregon in the 1880s. I loved writing historical romances. To find that there were other people just as enamored with the time period as I was, and welcomed imagining it differently with fantastical inventors or possibilities for women in society, who loved to create costumes and gadgets was just a huge bonus! So really I kind of fell into writing steampunk only because I didn’t realize that’s what it was called.

Q: Since you were published with children hitting the active years in school can you offer advice to writers who are juggling family demands with writing demands about how you coped?

A: You mean how I’m still coping? LOL. Yes, I have very active kids. There isn’t a day where I’m not driving to two, sometimes three different things. I also work a day job part time because writing doesn’t come with health benefits or retirement programs, so it’s a challenge to write and fit in life, family, chores, kids, and still be human. I keep a notebook with me all the time. If I have five minutes, I’m writing, not playing games on my phone. If for some reason I just need to scribble down a bit of dialogue or a scene note, I’ll use EverNote on my phone. I use my laptop at lunchtime at work. I use scene sheets based off of my plotting board so I know where I am in the story at any given time and can just go to whatever scene I can get down at the moment if I get stuck. But not every person is the same. I find new places or changing the environment gets me moving again in the story. Some people need the same space and time everyday to make the words happen. My best advice? Do what works for you. If it isn’t working, try something else until you do find what works for you. Learn how to set boundaries with your family and stick with them. You deserve the space and time to write.

Q: I love hearing about the research you’ve done for your novels.  What do you think research has added to stories about the weird and unusual?

A: I think research adds that textural feeling to a novel that allows you to immerse yourself in a time or place and feel like you’re there with the character. Normally the research in my writing isn’t just laid out in a lump. It’s woven into the context of the story, like a special color of thread in a tapestry. How much research I do completely depends upon the story. I do a lot more for my steampunk than I do for my fae or vampire worlds. For my latest steampunk, The Chosen, there was quite a bit of research because it spanned a trek from Tombstone, down through Mexico to the coast, then travel by submarine, until they get to the Aztec ruins and finally end up flying by airship to Krakatoa. That meant I needed to research not just Tombstone at this time period (complete with street maps and images of actual buildings), but also travel routes from Arizona through Mexico to the western coast. I loved being able to use Google Earth to actually see some of the areas I was describing. You’d be amazed how many pictures are out there! I also needed to research submarines from the Civil War era through the 1880s and see what was available and what my inventor character could have added on to existing technology at the time. There was research on the Aztecs and the Spanish Conquistadors. And research on the Aztec temples in the area and their construction. I did research on Krakatoa and the huge eruption that happened there. I even did research on slime molds that live in sulfuric acid in underground caves. It’s crazy what goes into a story to give it some solid grounding in reality for the totally fictional, paranormal world I’m creating.

Q: What do you wish you’d known starting out that you know now?

A: I would have liked a time line! LOL. Seriously, if someone had told me, look, you’re going to be working for 20 years at this without a paycheck, I might have been a little more creative about my financing and put more away from the day job early on into retirement accounts. I wish I’d known that the whole idea of writing what you love is nice, but not realistic. You have to write what readers want to read. No one tells you it’s all about the reader, not about you, so you need to get over yourself. I spent a lot of years just writing whatever my little heart wandered to at the time. I also would have liked to have known how to handle the prejudice better. You go to school to get a degree in Mass Communications and Journalism, and then when you do publish, even multiple books, you find out that academia doesn’t see that as worth anything. It’s fiction. It’s not even literary fiction in their eyes. Once you realize that it doesn’t matter, you find a space of freedom. You realize that the impact of your work is at the grassroots level, reader by reader. That’s where you are making a difference. Your books may not be touted as pivotal to society, but when they impact readers, that’s all that truly matters.

Q: Can you tell us a little bit about your next release [which is always on my MUST BUY list]?

A: Thank you! My next release is the third book about my Jackson brothers in the Legend Chronicles series. The Chosen, deals with middle brother Remington Jackson, who’s an attorney by day and a Hunter whenever it suits him. Out of the three books this was by far the most difficult to write because it involved dealing with a relationship triangle between Remington, his younger brother Colt, and the shape-shifting thief China McGee who is not only Colt’s former lover, but also archdemon Rathe’s daughter. Talk about family issues! Remington and China have to locate the last missing piece of the Book of Legend and I send them on a daring journey through the deserts of Mexico, into the jungles, fighting Viperanox (snake demons), giant jaguars, Aztec bone warriors and much more only to end up at the mother of all battles at the gates of Nyx against Rathe and the Darkin on his side and our three brothers, their supernatural women, and a host of our favorite characters (including Le Renaud the female airship pirate and our intrepid inventor Marley Turlock). It’s a true showdown in Western style.

Q: Any final words of wisdom for other writers?

A: Keep writing. Only you can write the book. And to say you’ll do it someday isn’t going to get you there. Start now. Do a little every day if that is all you can manage. Just a few paragraphs a day can turn into a book over a year.  The stories are locked inside you and no one will ever know, or enjoy them, until you set them free.

 

  

Writing Active Settings

Mary Buckham Photo

Remember the last novel you read where you were so deep into the world of the story you didn’t want to leave it? Where you felt you could hear and taste and touch what the characters heard, tasted and touched? I call this Active Setting and something that some writers do so well and others, not so well.

What is Active Setting and how can it make a difference in our novels?

Setting can add so much to your story world or it can add nothing. When creating Active Setting we’re looking to add subtext in our writing, a deeper way for your reader to experience your story. Instead of simply describing a place or thing for the sake of description, look closely at how to maximize what we are showing the reader.

It’s amazing what Active Setting can do to enhance a story or, with the lack of it, flatline your novel.  Elements of Active Setting can include:

*  Details that matter. Don’t focus your reader on something that isn’t pertinent to your story.  Setting should show characterization, or conflict, or emotion, or foreshadow, or be there for a reason, instead of simply to describe placement of objects in space.

*  Our role as a writer is to create the world of our stories so that the reader not only sees it but experiences the details that matter.

*  As writers let your POV characters interact with the setting, move through it, pick things up and brush past them, etc.

* Whenever there’s an introduction of a setting that’s different for the POV character, or for the reader, spend a few words of description to orient  the reader, don’t make them guess where the characters are.

Make your Settings matter and your whole novel can benefit.

So what about you? What does Setting mean to you as you write?  As you read?  Feel free to comment and out of those who do comment one name will be drawn for a free Kindle copy of WRITING ACTIVE SETTING: Book 1 Characterization and Sensory Detail.

For more information on the book it’s available now on Amazon for less than the cost of a latte, or Mary will be teaching a two-week course on WRITING ACTIVE SETTING in February through www.WriterUniv.com .

Mary’s BIO:

Mary Buckham is an award-winning fiction writer,  author of the recently released WRITING ACTIVE SETTING: Book 1,  co-author with Dianna Love of BREAK INTO FICTION: ™: 11 Steps to Building a Story That Sells from Adams Media, co-founder of www.WriterUniv.com and a highly sought after instructor both on-line and at live workshops around the country. To find out more about Mary, her workshops and writing projects visit www.MaryBuckham.com

Discovering Story Magic

by Laura Baker

Writers often ask why it’s so important to pay attention to character development when plotting. What they’re really talking about are character arc and story arc, and here’s the thing. Plot–story arc–is about “doing.” Plot is about making choices, doing things. Plot is where the action is. And because of all this, it can seem that plot is where the story is, and therefore we better worry about whether we have an interesting plot, enough of a plot, enough things happening.

But this kind of thinking is equating story with plot, when in fact story is character. Let’s say you ask someone what her story is about and hear something like, “So, it’s the story about this guy and he finds the body of a woman in his apartment. And the cops, they think he’s the killer. So, he’s got to find the killer, right?”

Now, we can actually see the possibility of complications, stuff happening, chases, double-crosses, ambushes. We can see events and plot. We have the external struggle. What we don’t have is the internal struggle and the insight. What we don’t have is any idea of who this guy is or what the point is of the struggle. What is the purpose? What is at risk? What will he learn? What we don’t have is the character. We don’t know why this struggle even matters.

The plot may be where the struggle is. But character is where the story is. Character is what a story is “really” about.

A problem I see a lot is that events occur to writers and they pile on  motivations and pasts for the characters in order to make something happen. But all this does is muddy the characters instead of clarifying them. There is also the pitfall that adding plot and motivations feels like upping the conflict and, in a sense, even layering the character, when in fact the result is that the reader doesn’t know what to care about because the motivations keep changing.

The mistake really comes from thinking of story as plot instead of thinking of story as character. Story is not a string of events, even if they are increasingly dire to the hero or heroine. Action doesn’t drive a story. Action drives emotions. And it’s emotion that drives a story. And emotion is all about character.

Your story–just like a sports game–forces your character to strive to win and to risk losing. And where we see these forces at their most powerful is within the turning points. Turning points are really the scoreboard for your reader, helping her keep track of where the hero and/or heroine are at in facing and overcoming their obstacles–and most importantly, the turning points are landmarks in the story of how the hero has changed.

~~~~

Laura Baker has over two decades of experience as a writer, teacher, and coach. Her national award nominations include the National Reader’s Choice and the RITA, and her articles have been published in the Writer’s Digest and newsletters across the country. She’ll be teaching“Discovering Story Magic” from January 3-February 13 atWriterUniv.com.

Are You Ready To Be A Social Media Superstar?

lisaby Lisa Pietsch

Writers are generally introverts, yet they feel comfortable with the safe distance that communicating through social media provides. You’d think it would be a natural fit and yet, writers are the ones with the greatest complaints about social media.
The two things I hear most from writers about social media are:

  • I don’t need a social media platform if I don’t have a book published
  • Social media takes up all my time and I can’t write

Let’s discuss the first one: I don’t need a social media platform if I don’t have a book published.

Not true!

If you are writing then the smartest thing for you to do is to assume you will be published.  As a multi-published author I can tell you that first contract comes when you least expect it and once you have it, you will be swimming in edits and deadlines that will make it virtually impossible for you to have any time to establish a social media platform.

Another thing to consider is that prospective publishers will check you out before they offer you a contract.  If they have to choose between an author with a social media platform and a solid following and an author who does no form of self-promotion through social media, they’ll pick the promoter every time.

If you are unpublished, now is the perfect time to set up your social media platform. The setup can be time consuming and involve a steep learning curve. If you can take advantage of someone else’s expertise in social media specifically for authors, you can avoid the hard knocks of a steep learning curve. That’s one more reason to get a jump on your social media now, so you only have to concern yourself with basic maintenance when you get that big contract.

That leads us to the second complaint: Social media takes up all my time and I can’t write.

As writers, we become accustomed to working in the flow. Social media flows so well it’s like a raging river. Before you know it, you’ll have wasted those two hours you thought you had for writing just by getting involved in a fun conversation online. They don’t call it a conversation “stream” for nothing!

However, social media need not take up all your time. In fact, once you have your platform built, it should take you no more than thirty minutes per day to manage your social media and still have the opportunity to interact with friends and fans.

Can you give social media a quick try when others have been struggling with it for years? That’s not the important question to ask yourself. The real question is: Can you afford NOT to?
~ ~ ~
Lisa Pietsch is a USAF veteran, a multi-published novelist and freelance writer, and a social media marketing consultant who specializes in authors and small press publisherss. She has a passion for foreign languages, world travel and hot guys with guns. Lisa will be teaching “How To Be A Social Media Superstar” from January 14-25 at WriterUniv.com.

Welcome to WriterUniv.com

pencil resting on page

Laurie and I are delighted to see you here at the updated and enhanced WriterUniv.com site! You asked and we listened as to what can help YOU become a stronger writer.

Coming this year will be more classes, including a track of classes specifically to navigate the world of Indie Publishing. (Look for the *IP* next to class descriptions.)

We’ll have new teachers and popular veterans to help you learn the craft and the business of writing. You’ll also find webinars, interviews with authors & industry professionals, and even a bookstore with some of our favorite craft books.

bookstore photo

Now that we’ve expanded onto Facebook and Twitter, you can click the top-right icons on every WriterUniv page to keep up with the latest news and inspiration. Also on every page, feel free to sign up (if you haven’t already) for our monthly newsletter describing the next month’s courses, so you’ll never have to miss the class YOU need.

photo of hand writing

We’re excited to have you here and hope you stop back often.

Cheers ~~ Mary Buckham and Laurie Schnebly Campbell