Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Interview with Kristie Cook ... author of PROMISE

This is my first author interview, and I am ever so proud that it is with Kristie Cook, author of newly released PROMISE. I was fortunate enough to win an ARC of PROMISE in a contest, which leads me to say...always enter contests, you never know the interesting people you will meet.

PROMISE will be released July 30, 2010. Be sure to order and read it. I promise (no pun intended) you will not be disappointed.

Easy stuff

Tell me a little about yourself...

I was born in Phoenix and have lived in 10 different states and Germany. My dad retired from the Air Force, so I was a military brat. I finished growing up in Arlington, VA, which is what I call my hometown. I'm now in Southwest Florida with my family and think I'll be staying here a while. There's a reason they call it "Paradise Coast."  I love writing, reading, cooking (when I have time), going to the beach and riding on my man's motorcycle. I have three teen sons who rock and they always have someone over, which is why I refer to them as "the herd." They crack me up and I love them.

What ignited your love of books?

I started reading when I was 4 years old, thanks to my mom. So I guess you could say she ignited my love. She's always been a big reader, much more than me, even. I wasn't very athletic growing up, I mostly was raised as an only child (I have half- and step-siblings, but I never lived with any of them for long) and I was shy. Combining all of that with moving around a lot meant I spent a lot of time alone (yes, Alexis is a bit like me in this way). But when I had a book, I didn't feel so alone and I could "go" anywhere.

What is your favorite young adult book?

While growing up, probably the Judy Blume books. Right now, The Hunger Games series. I cannot wait until August 24! I absolutely love the Harry Potter books, but I'm not sure that they fall under YA.

What is your favorite adult book?

Um…Promise.  Does that count? LOL Otherwise, I can't name one specific book. There are just too many.

When did you first realize you wanted to write?

When I was 8 years old and in the second-half of third grade, I had moved to one of the top school districts in the country. I was used to being at or near the top of the class and there I was pretty much average. We had to write a short story for school (mine was a contemporary fantasy about gnomes) and not only was I the only one who got an A, but I got an A+. I decided then that I loved writing and figured I must be good at it (I beat all those alleged geniuses, after all! LOL). I've been writing in some capacity ever since.

Can you tell us a little about your book PROMISE?

Promise is basically a prologue that kicks off the Soul Savers series. It tells the story of how two souls meet and unite nine years ago, all a part of the Angels' preparation for the war for human souls to enter the human realm. In it, we learn the love story of these two souls, as well as some of the mythology, and we experience exciting and important events that lead to major points in future books. We find out what brings the main character, Alexis, to who she is in the next book, Purpose, which picks up in present day.

What inspired you to write PROMISE?

Heh…starting to write the second book (which was the first book at the time). I didn't get very far before realizing that I needed to know what happened before. I needed to understand her (she was just a "her" at the time, no name) connection with this soul-mate. What made them soul-mates and not just "regular" lovers? What happened or what was it that bound them tighter than any other souls? So I went backwards and after a long, winding road, there was Promise.

Where did the ideas for the characters come from?

Many years ago, I had the thought of writing about angels and demons and real, action-packed fighting for human souls. But that's all. No actual story to go with it. But when I decided to start writing fiction again, I went back to the idea of an angel. I started with a pivotal scene and very vague ideas of the main characters. They grew from there, kind of like real children – sometimes slowly, when little things come out as I'm writing, and sometimes in big growth spurts.

Will there be sequels?

Yes, but I don’t know how many. Name? Book two is called Purpose. The rest are yet unnamed, but they will be similar one-word titles (but I’m hoping NOT P-words, it’s confusing even for us! LOL).

Quick but oh so satisfying...

Vanilla or chocolate? For reelz??? Chocolate! Duh!

Cupcakes or cookies? Brownies

Vampires or Nephlim? Hmm…I never heard of Nephilim until now, but after looking it up, I definitely want to learn more. So I can’t intelligently answer this, but I’m almost thinking Nephilim. But I do love vamps!

Johnny Depp or Hugh Jackman? Johnny Depp

Wine or beer? Usually beer, but I like a glass or two of wine every now and then that we know a little about her, back to the interview...

From what I understand, you didn't go the traditional route. Can you tell us a little bit as to why and the process?

I tried the traditional route, but not intensely or for long, like many who go indie after finally flipping the finger to the big industry. I have little patience, especially when I have to rely on subjective opinions of others. There's that long, arduous, rejection-filled way, but it's no longer the only way. So when I was told my book wasn't marketable, I didn't really show them the finger. I shrugged. "If that's what you think," I thought, "but I disagree."

There were many things that all came together to lead to this decision of going indie – the state of the economy which affects the publishers and how much money they put into debut authors, the influx of ereaders and ebooks, the ease and low cost of self-publishing with print-on-demand (POD), my marketing background, my business partner's sales background and contacts…and we were both already in business together.

And then there's the fact that most books are purchased because of word-of-mouth. A few noisy people can generate at least as much buzz as a publisher with a measly marketing budget for a new writer. Debut authors, especially, have to do 95% of their marketing (including paying for it). Even James Patterson does his marketing and pays for it. If we could figure out the rest – the ISBNs, printing, distribution, etc. – why give up a large percentage of a tiny profit margin to a publisher and agent? So, we're giving it a shot and so far, so good. We've had to learn a lot…which we'll get to apply to the next books.

What avenues did you use for self-promoting?

Mostly social media – it's the cheapest, easiest and fastest way to spread the word all the way around the world. We've used email for personal and business contacts, a book trailer, handing out bookmarks and flyers, asking book bloggers to read and review the book, giving it away for more early readers and reviews, and sending out press releases to the media. Next is looking into indie bookstores, fairs and festivals and the like to do a signing tour.

Overall, what is your experience with this?

Definitely positive. I could still be waiting to hear on that partial I sent in last November (no kidding!!) or on other queries, worrying about what exactly it is they want and driving myself crazy. Or trying to fix something that ain't broke because someone said it ain't marketable. Instead, my book is now in other people's hands. And everyone I know has been so excited for me and incredibly supportive, making the experience even better. And guess what? It is marketable. People want it. They like it. Most love it. And that makes me happy.

Would you recommend the publishing route you chose to take?

In all honesty, yes. Six months ago, I would have said, "Well, it's not for everyone." But I think, whether good or bad, it will have to be for everyone within the next five years, if not sooner. At least, for every debut author. Publishers just don't have the money to invest in new, unproven writers. Even established authors are risky, but someone without a track record? The risk is incredible. I just read a stat that 7% of big-publishers' books earn 87% of sales, which equates to 93% of their books sell fewer than 1,000 copies (I wish I could remember the source…sorry).

So where are publishers going to put their money? It's all business. I think in the near future, they won't take the risk with new authors. With POD and epublishing so easy and cheap these days, authors can now prove themselves on their own. Once they build a readership, then the publishers will take notice and decide whether they're worth the risk of investment. The question for the author then becomes, "Do I want to share all these profits with you?" Oh! And now look who's in control?!  I'm all about more power to the author. *hit Play button on Uprising by Muse*

Any closing comments?

Um…did I not say enough? Is anyone still even here, reading my verbosity?

There you have it. A great author and a great book. After reading PROMISE, I can't wait for PURPOSE to come out. I'll be waiting impatiently.

Thank you so much for stopping by and visiting my little blog, Kristie.

Thank you so much for having me. You are such a gracious hostess! (Seriously. She served me brownies and coffee! How did she know???) I'd gladly visit you any time. But I do expect a return visit. 

Be sure to visit Kristie for her virtual release party going on ....NOW! Contests and prizes and fun. Click here

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

The query process

As promised...

After much: writing, revisions, critiques, revisions, whining, revisions, crying, revisions, I have included my final query for you all to view. Please leave a comment whether you like it or not. I'm interested in your opinions.

If you are interested in seeing the first ones, they are listed somewhere below. Scroll down and you'll see them. :)

Dear Super Agent,

Based upon the concept of Aryan purity, Ellyssa is genetically engineered to be the perfect soldier: stronger, intelligent, unemotional, and telepathic. Her purpose? To eradicate inferior beings. A task she's spent her whole life training and conditioning for under the strict guidance of her creator.

Then she runs into the epitome of inferiority--a dark-haired renegade. He speaks to her by pushing his thoughts of a place she's never visited into her mind. An inconceivable possibility since she is the one who usually does the psychic picking. Not only that, but he's clearly not from her society. A substandard person who should not possess such an extraordinary gift.

Yet he does, and his unspoken words initiate a catalyst. Ellyssa finds herself questioning her indoctrination and, even worse, feeling emotions. Confused and afraid her creator will discover her mental breakdown Ellyssa runs away from her life and embarks on a journey that leads to the realization there is more to her than what she was bred to be.

Unfortunately, her creator has other plans.

PERFECTION is a young-adult dystopian complete at 99,000 words.

Thank you for your time and consideration.


Monday, July 5, 2010

Contests---Should You Enter Them??????

The answer is rather easy. Yes.

Many author's, agent's, and editor's sites often host contests and help; such as for queries. Some are first lines contests, pitch contests, secret agent contests, and so forth and so on.

These contests open a great opportunity for published and unpublished authors alike and give you a great opportunity to have a variety of people offer advice and writing help. Which, in turn, gives you a different perspective.

As you know, part of the writing process is learning. A perpetual Ferris Wheel ride where you are always stuck going round and round and never getting off.

Sounds dreary? Horrible? Unimaginable?

Impossible! Surely, one becomes a master at writing; only to one day construct the world's best novel ever.

Too bad. That's not the way it works. You will never ever become a master at the craft of writing. Sure, you will get better, you will make better word choices and sentence choices, you will find better ways to express the pictures in your head, but you will never master.

Now back to the point......

Take for instance--the time you spend on editing your story. You finish your story, read through it, send it to beta readers, revise, edit, read through it, sent it to beta readers, revise, edit...rinse and repeat. How often have you come across a sentence that can at least be written differently like a hundred times. The sentence says the same thing, but it can say it in different ways. How do you know which one is the best way for your novel? How do you choose?

You most certainly have your beloved writing group, your beta readers, your family. But getting help from people you don't even know, never had communicate with over the phone, internet, in person, gives one a completely different perspective. And a great way to come across such people is by joining different contests where readers, agents, and such get to offer tidbits of advice.

And even better is the fact that a lot of these contests offer priceless prizes. Maybe a critique, or a chance to submit your work, or other writing related things. Things too good to pass up. Things that might really help you improve.

You will be putting yourself out there, because most of the contests post your entries on their blogs. Yes, complete strangers will be reviewing and critiquing your work. Yes, some comments might feel heart breaking heart wrenching like someone is digging into your chest with nothing more than the tips of their fingers and yanking your heart out through a tiny hole.

But as I said before...Writing is a non-ending learning process. Take whatever advice works for you and use it.

A super cool contest with a chance to win lots of super cool books. Actually, I want to win them so I really shouldn't be sharing with you, but it is part of the rules, so here is the link.