Interview and an Excerpt is a weekly feature that explores the process of writing and indie publishing through interviews with self published authors. The aim is to demystify the process for those who are aspiring to become indie publishers themselves. This week’s guest is Allie Burke.
1) How long have you been an indie author?
I went “live” with Violet Midnight this past January. The book was “published” on Lulu in late December, but no one knew about it until it was alive and breathing, on my terms. So it’s been a few months now.
2) How many books have you self published?
To date, I have self published one book, Violet Midnight. Emerald Destiny, the second installment of The Enchanters Series, will be published within the week.
3) Are you a pantser or a plotter?
Its how I wrote my first book. I had no idea what I was doing. All I had was this thing, this thing five minutes before I sat down, the moment when I saw this red-headed woman standing in my living room in a purple sundress, staring at me intently through perceptibly bright green eyes, like she was waiting for something. All I had was her unmistakable beauty. The power she wielded.
And I wrote her story. As she dictated it.
And then… I wrote Christian’s story. Evan’s. Abby’s. Daniel’s. Elias’s.
Amber Passion (the third and final installment to the series), which is not yet finished, has succeeded to surprise me. Though I went into it with some idea of how the series would end, the story had other plans for me, apparently. I will, as I have in the past, continue to rely on my own belief that every book in The Enchanters series is entirely different. Themes change. Elements (in the literal sense and beyond). Style. Violet Midnight and Emerald Destiny are not even written the same.
But, this… journey, that Amber Passion has embarked on, is unrelated to anything I ever dreamed that would bleed from this writer. I’m… intrigued. I’m excited. I’m also not so excited, because I don’t want it to end. But it will, and I think when it does, I might cry. An Epic cry, as one fellow writer and very good friend of mine would say.
My current WIP… no outline. No plans. I’m just writing. And, so far, I’m really connecting with the story on a level that, starting the novel, I’d assumed impossible. Really, I’m just going with it, and it’s… working. I’m loving it.
I mean, sure, there is some “thinking” involved. Which usually occurs in the car, or on my “inspirational walks” I take like, five times a day. I talk to myself. To the characters or my “imaginary friends” as I call them. But I like to think that any specific plan, where my writing is concerned, is pretty useless. Writing, for me, is like interpreting. I only translate the words for those without a voice. I don’t know from where they emerge, only that, that which they have to say, I cannot ignore.
4) Can you tell us a little bit about your writing process? Feel free to be as detailed as you like, this stuff is fascinating.
My process. Do I have a process? I don’t know. If I do… it’s nothing exceptional, I don’t think.
I write. I sit down and I write. I try to get as much down in as little time possible, not because I’m in a rush to finish a book or a story, but because I have a fear of forgetfulness which gnaws at me constantly. I am afraid of my mind’s will to bury its thoughts, a fear so profound that I tend to repeat things out loud to myself as a reminder. Write it down, you might suggest. Yeah, I do that, too, but then I forget to go back and look at what I wrote and end up forgetting all about it until I’ve written the whole book. Yeah, I’m a little deranged, sometimes. Or… a lot… of the time.
Like I said, I just write. It comes together as it will.
5) What is the best writing advice you’ve ever come across?
Trust the process. Lol. After I just said I don’t even know if I have a process.
Whatever the process is, whether you’re like me and your process isn’t really a process at all, whether you outline every minute detail before you even think about writing, whether you have an idea of what will come of your story or if you have no idea at all, trust the process. Whatever it may be, you know your process. And if you don’t, you will. Trust that process. Because whatever it may be that works best for you, will work best for your writing, too.
6) If you were going to mentor a new writer through the publishing process, what pitfalls would you warn them against?
Discouragement. Overall, it comes with the territory. But, watch out for it. Discouragement, if you give into it, will beat you down until there’s nothing left of you.
Don’t get discouraged. Don’t BE discouraged.
“Easier said than done.” Yeah, I know.
It will happen. I’ll tell you right now. Writing can be overwhelming as it is. Add in the self-publishing process, the potential of bad reviews, lack of sales on any given day… it will get you to thinking… Why bother? If you’re like me, you might cry sometimes. (I cry about everything. Really, I do.)
Just don’t let it absorb you. Have faith. There is a reason you believed in your book at one time or another. And if you didn’t, you should. Because it’s yours. Because you’re a writer, and you have a story to tell. Because we, as your fellow Indies, as readers and as your friends, want to read it.
Be proud. You’re a writer! I’m proud of you. You should be, too.
7) Are you currently earning a living with your writing?
No. I work full time as an International Case Manager.
When I sat down to write for the first time ever, it was for fun. I never planned to publish a single word. But, people liked it. Friends and family deemed it worthy. So, I published it. Shared it with the world. And I will continue to share my imagination, for as long as it loves me.
Then, it was for fun. Now, it’s something I can’t live without.
I’m a writer. It took a long time for me to realize this. To believe it. But, it’s what I do. Even if I can’t “make it” as a successful writer. I’m a writer. It’s what I am. Nothing… no one, can take that away from me.
8) What are your writing must haves? Music? A quiet table at a coffee shop?
Music. Though its’ more of a “living” must have than a writing must have, still, music. I don’t really—exist—without music. Truth is, I spend more time with my iPod than I do with my husband. Sad, but so undeniably true. But, yes, there are specific bands that I listen to while writing. And I’m not talking about hard rock during fight scenes, or alternative during the lovey stuff. While I agree this is a great strategy for many writers, I don’t do that. I listen to albums. As I write, I listen to a music genre that, the character from which perspective I am writing from, would listen to.
Other than my music, I usually have coffee or tea somewhere near. But I can do without it. Writing, for me, is writing. Regardless of the circumstances, I just… write. I have to.
9) What tools or software do you use to write?
Ordinarily I write at my desktop computer at home. But, sometimes, I really write. You know, with, like, a pen.
Yeah. A pen.
I like to go outside with my notebook and my favorite pen, sprawl out on the grass with my music and write. To me, this is an amazing experience. As my love for the outdoors seeps from me and into my writing, to experience the rich scent of earth, the breeze in my hair and the colorful landscape as I write, deeply inspires me. Though I realize this is possible with a laptop, it is not the same. There is a certain personal touch incorporated into my writing as those words, doodles and scribbles appear on the page in my own hand. Almost like… a signature. Even if at some later time I do have to type the words out, I can always go back to that personal touch and be inspired all over again.
10) What kind of promotion have you tried? What do you find to be the most effective?
I don’t think that there is one promotion that is most effective. It’s all promotions, really.
Twitter. Facebook. Goodreads. Reach your audience.
You’re a writer. So, write! An active blog is really important.
Give away some books. It’s not gonna kill you.
And don’t just promote your own books. You wanna be an Indie? Then be an Indie. Be an Indie, and support your fellow Indies! They are your audience, too. They read. Just as readers will, if writers like your book, they will spread the word. Why shouldn’t you do the same?
11) About how long from start to finish did it take you to finish your book(s)? About how many hours a day do you spend writing/editing?
How many hours I spend a day writing or editing truly varies. Some days I don’t write at all. Others, I write for twelve hours straight. I’m very spontaneous with all my ventures, which includes my writing.
Having written a book, and having finished a book, are two very different things. I would say it was a few months, maybe, to “write” each of my books. Editing, is a different story.
When you go back and read the book you have written, do you like it? Do you love it? ‘Cause if you don’t, then that’s a rewrite. You haven’t even started editing yet.
Editing can be daunting for a lot of people. I have noticed, throughout my journey, that most writers despise it.
I don’t mind it.
I don’t know if I’m just weird, or what, but editing does not bother me. Spending the time to perfect the message, the insight and intellect that is your story and is you, is part of being a writer. Of writing.
Editing is writing. This is the moment that your style compels your story. The moment YOUR writing emerges. You emerge. And, as a bonus, you get to disappear into your story like you did the first time it entered your mind. Isn’t that why you wrote it in the first place?
12) How much of the process did you do yourself and what did you pay someone else to do?
I didn’t pay… anyone… to do… anything.
I did it all myself. I do it all myself.
I write. I edit. I format. I design my own covers. I promote and I do… everything.
Admittedly, the computer programming certification under my belt and the graphic design experience I have… helps. However, even for those without this advantage, the book world is changing. Self publishing web sites provide templates. They have cover design software. E-books are converted for you.
This is not to say its easy peasy. It can be difficult. Frustrating, even. But, we’re here to help. I’m here to help. We’re Indies. Ask. Whatever it is that is giving you trouble, someone has done it before. Someone out there, has the answer you seek.
13) Violet Midnight explores the themes of love and destiny. Can you tell us a little bit about your book?
Oh, wow. Um. This is so hard to do with a suspensish paranormal fiction without blowing it wide open.
Violet Midnight explores the world of The Enchanters. If you’ve seen the cover or read the blurb on the back, odds are you have no idea what an Enchanter is.
The Enchanters are a group of supernaturals that thrive off the element that shapes them, a gift passed on to only those who are deserving of their family’s energy. Elements like Wind. Fire. My own personal favorite: Earth.
But then… there’s Jane.
The story begins with Jane Wildes, a beautiful, very powerful Enchanter who lives in Jasmyn Lake, California, an area of Dare Forest that no human dares to step foot into. The trees are scary, and the water there has a bad attitude.
Waking up from the same erotic dream that never fails to invade her sleep, within hours Jane is thrust into the human world of Elias Linden, the celebrated painter who instantly falls deeply in love with her despite the frustrating fact that he cannot see her. He hears her melodic voice, smells the rosemary scent that accompanies her, feels her cool skin that soothes him with every touch, but he cannot see her. He cannot see her, until he does. For Elias, that moment was a definite turning point. There was no going back.
“Elias could not have prepared himself for the moment that he walked into that cottage and laid his eyes on her. Her emerald green eyes—the way they gazed upon him like there were no surroundings or time or sounds to distract her, like he was all that existed.” –Violet Midnight
And so there’s love and romance and sex and hate and jealousy and power trips and family relationships and death and grief and art and… destiny.
“Mysterious Paranormal Suspensey Romance Fiction That’s Sometimes Kinda Funny” as I like to call it.
I like it. I hope you do, too.
14) Violet Midnight is the first of a trilogy. Do you mind sharing a little bit about what you’re working on right now? The sequel perhaps?
The sequel is Emerald Destiny, and is set to release May 31st.
I’m actually working on two projects at the moment.
I have Amber Passion, the third and final installment to the series, about halfway done, and… waiting for me.
And then… there’s this other thing.
The WIP. Also known as, ThatBookWithNoName-Yet. Its official title at the moment.
The genre, is also unknown at the moment. Most likely, it won’t fit anywhere. But that’s okay. I’m used to it.
The story is told from the perspective of Brendan Tanner, a talented guitarist who makes his living as a studio musician by day and, with his best friend Will Young, indulges in the passion of his alternative rock band by night.
Enter Aline West. Beautiful. Talented, in more ways than one. And… a genius. Quite possibly the most intelligent person in existence.
And as Brendan yields to his desire for her and dives head first into her world, he finds there are, things, about Aline. Unnatural things. She can do, things, which are unexplainable. She is one of a kind.
Or… is she?
The book is about halfway done. And to think that I am in the process of writing a book that, in its entirety, has the potential to be unique and unlike anything I have ever read—I’m just, so excited.
You can find Allie online here:
The Prologue, from Emerald Destiny
He stood in the cold, wet room, across from a cluster of angry Enchanters, each dying to get their hands on him. Really, his beating heart, his lively soul, every passion, every memory and desire that was his life, was not relevant to them. He was just a body, only an obstacle that so stubbornly stood in the way of their impractical need.
A wooden door banged shut behind him, enclosing the room, and his foot reached back, blindly stepping his body against it. A few more seconds was all he needed to wait, as that impractical need, along with the most beautiful, talented, enchanting woman in the world, and the only man strong and spirited enough to take care of her–the man that he himself would look up to even as he embarked on a world that was out of the scope of this earth–got away. Those crucial seconds that would equal distance, just enough distance for them to escape the chaos that would take place within these very walls.
Thankfully, his precious seconds were granted before the dark-haired leader charged at him. His arms lifted not out of fear, resistance or protection, but out of life’s habits. His aura shimmered around him. The woman’s body crashed to a halt as his bright protector electrocuted her, and she fell to the hard word floor with a thousand violent shudders wrecking her body.
His perseverance forgot her, and he zoned in on the rabid energy that charged through his veins. A live explosion burst through him as the color of his aura glowed vibrantly, its bright sparks flashing into his vision. He looked up at the shocked faces in front of him as they realized that his aura was better than theirs. A dark, evil smile tugged at his lips, its wrath instantly deepening the shock in each of their expressions.
He conceded to the fall of his eyelids, and unified his senses with the scent of wet dirt buried under the floor. The earth methodically filled his head, overpowering any thoughts or memories occurring before it. The ground below rattled slightly, but then, as if she herself realized she was weak, the earth shook herself into colossal tremors, jerking the structure side to side. His eyes lazily opened; his every sense unable to resist his well deserved vision of justice as each Enchanter’s aura flickered away.
He resigned himself to the power of his vigorous energy, let it pull him to his knees. One last time, the ground lurched savagely, whipping the structure and demolishing it into sharp, deadly fragments. He rolled from his knees to his back, disconnecting his soul from his body before this brutal end swallowed it.
Nature abandoned him, fire replaced it. His nose basked in the overpowering scent of smoke, imaginary heat burned his eyes, a silent roar charred in his ears.
He spoke softly. "Her heart belonged to you all along. I never meant to steal what was yours to keep." He inhaled deep in his chest, welcoming the blaze to fill what was left of him.
"I’m sorry, Elias," he said, and he closed his eyes.
by Allie Burke
Copyright 2011 by Allie Burke