Fun covers, fun blurbs, and and even funner new author to me...
Okay, author and editor, so I should probably edit out that whole "funner" comment above, but I'm gonna go with it anyways.
Please help me welcome the amazing author, editor with Penmanship Editing:
Why did you first start writing? What was the inspiration for your first book?
I started writing poetry when I was twelve, and it helped me focus my emotions in a healthy and productive way. It helped me get through some tough times and I eventually realized that I wasn’t half bad. I started doing tons of research on forms, structure, rhyming patterns etc., and by the time I was sixteen, I was writing serious poetry. The first piece I ever wrote, at just twelve years old, is called Take Another Look, and will be featured in Man Vs Happiness. Once I reached 15-16, I decided that I wanted to try writing a book. I have written a few books since then and they are also due out next year. Once I graduated from University, I decided to take my writing life more seriously, and I ended up writing Man VS Happiness, Erimish, and A Gangster’s Playground. They’ll all be ready and available for a 2019 release.
Did you ever consider traditional/indie publishing? Was there a reason you chose the way you did to go about publishing your works? Do you have any insights for future authors trying to make the same choice?
I have chosen to go the indie route, and the reason why is rather complicated. For years I had my heart set on finding a publisher and I had dreams of grandeur, like all authors do at one stage or another. That was, until I became an editor. This changed my life, and the way I view the publishing world. I soon realized the publishing world isn’t all it’s cracked up to be, and I also realized that publishers are not easy to work with. I decided to take the indie route because I didn’t want to be paid pittance for years of hard work. I wanted to be in control of the cover art, the editor I hire, the prices of my books, and the stories I produce. I wanted to make the life I have chosen work for me, and I knew that was something I had to do on my own.
Do you have any books in the works at the moment?I’m still working on the Erimish series and wrapping up A Gangster’s Playground. I also have another work in progress, but I haven’t titled it yet. It’s set to release in Winter 2019. Most of my works are set in the same world, Ennea Vasilea, and the entire universe will span more than forty books, and over six separate series. So far, I have Erimish, A Gangster’s Playground, The Grecian Chronicles, The Zodiac Masters, and Do Svidaniya.
Man VS Happiness, however, is due out February 2019 and is a dystopian science-fantasy about mental health. I’m incredibly proud of it, mor so than any other piece of work, and I hope it can help raise awareness of mental health issues and help those in need.
Any advice you’d offer up-and-comers looking to find their place in the literary world?
Do your research. The author world is not what it used to be, it’s steadily changing, and if you want to find your place in it, do your research and discover what places exist. It can be a world of wonder, magic, and enlightenment if you let it.
What's a typical working day like for you? When and where do you write? Do you set a daily writing goal?
I’m an editor first and foremost, as that pays the bills. It’s a massive passion of mine. So, my days start at eight am, when I start answering emails and doing the business-y stuff. I then edit until 4.30pm, then I go to the gym, have some dinner, and write my evenings away. Sometimes, like today, I take the day off to get some writing done. I like those days the most.
Where do your ideas come from?
Man VS Happiness was inspired by my own journey through mental health, with some of the pieces in the collection being really old and from a darker time in my life. I decided to create more in retrospect and release the entire collection as a single narrative.
Is there a genre that you've been wanting to experiment with?
Crime Fantasy is a genre I’ve only recently discovered, and am loving it. It’s an experiment to write in, as I haven’t had much experience working on the genre or reading it. Hopefully, I do the fans of Crime Fantasy proud.
What is the hardest part of writing for you?
Keeping momentum while in the middle of a chapter. I sometimes find it difficult to stay in the flow, especially with so many works in progress going on all at once. I find that I can’t focus on one project, my brain is naturally scattered, but that means I sometimes hop between projects in a single writing session.
What do you think of book trailers? Do you have a trailer or do you intend to create one for your own book?
I intend to create a book trailer for Man VS Happiness. We’ll have to wait and see what my readers think before I place any judgement or value on them. I’m someone who likes to give things and people a chance before making any harsh judgement.
What do you consider to be your best accomplishment?
Sharing Man VS Happiness was a massive accomplishment for me. It’s a rather personal journey, and I was terrified to give it to betas; but, in the end, it turned out great. I made a massive change thanks to my beta readers and now I have a really interesting project that hasn’t really been done before: a collection that follows a single narrative.
Do you hand write or do everything on your computer?
I have handwritten Erimish, because it jumps POV in first person (chapter by chapter) and I find it easier to get into each character, but I usually type my projects out. It’s quicker and easier. I handwrite all my poetry, though.
If you didn’t like writing books, or weren’t any good at it, what would you like to do for a living?
I love animation, if I had to change to any other career, I would have loved to pursue a career as an animator, or working on animated movies and TV shows.
What is your least favorite part of the writing / publishing process?
Dealing with feedback. It can be so difficult to process, especially when people are rude or overly harsh, but it’s critical to my development, both for the book and my skills as a writer.
Does writing energize or exhaust you?
It energizes my mind, and makes me feel peaceful, though it does exhaust my hands and fingers.
Do you try more to be original or to deliver to readers what they want?
I try to do things in an original way, but I don’t focus too heavily on creating something that has never been done before. Just because it might have already been told, doesn’t mean it has been told by me.
What other authors are you friends with, and how do they help you become a better writer?
As an editor, I’m friends with lots of writers, and seeing their work go through each stage of the process has helped me accept that not everyone is perfect, and most people start at the beginning, where our skills are terrible and we have to improve.
If you were writing a book about your life, what would the title be?
Anxiety, Ice Cream, and Me.
How did you find/choose your cover?
I have a combination between homemade and professionally designed covers, depending on what I see on the market. If a designer has the right kind of cover for me, I’ll buy it, but if not I’ll try and make it myself. In fact, I’ve had some serious praise for some of my homemade covers.
What was the hardest novel/novella/story you’ve written so far and why?
Erimish, because it’s written in multiple first person perspective, which means I have to create a unique voice for each and every POV character. Luckily, I’ve capped that amount at four. It’s been tiring, and I’ll probably never do it again after this series, not unless I felt a story really needed me to.
Do you plan out your books in advance or just go for it, Muse Delight You, as she may?
I’m a massive planner, I only every pants the occasional short story. In fact, Demon Portal, a short story in Man VS Happiness, was completely pantsed.
How would you best classify your writing? So, I always say I write Fantasy romance, with a way capital F there, lol. If you were trying to describe your books to someone, how best would you describe what you write?
I try capture that concise writing that YA and adult readers alike both love, but I try to keep the beauty of descriptive and poetic prose. I’ve been praised by beta readers and on Wattpad for my ability to create beautiful language while keeping everything succinct and easy to read.
How do you handle writing both books and blogs and Facebook posts and so on and so forth and ad naseum!? Lol. Okay, I’m looking for help, lol, how do you manage your time so well?
I split my time up. I spent a particular amount of my day writing posts and blogs, some editing, and some writing. You can also get apps that schedule posts for you, which can be helpful.
What made you choose to write a novel?
The story demanded it of me. Erimish is a novel, as will most of my future series be. The stories are complicated and long-winded, and I wanted to give the reader time to get involved with the character.
What kind of research did you do for this book?
I spent years looking at medieval living, magical systems, origin of elemental magic, Greek mythology and so on. I have so many notes I might as well have done a PHD.
What do you think is most emblematic of your writing style/novel?
My concise and poetic writing style.
If you could pick your favorite scene out of your work, what would it be and why?
It has to be this one. I love the way to words come alive on the page in this scene. It’s an important scene from Erimish.
The rain plummeted down my face as I stormed through the streets—wanting to just run away—but my family needed me. As I got further towards the centre of town, more and more people began to show. Crowds gathered—all there to watch. I pushed my way to the front, shoving grown men and dodging children. My heart pounded as the need to get to them grew.
As I weaved around the next slew of onlookers, I could just see the green of Mother's cloak in the distance, with tissues strung out the end of her sleeve. I paused for a moment, and once again wished I didn't have to be here.
Mother turned around and gazed her big hazel eyes upon my tear-stricken face. They flickered with hints of orange and gold I always thought was rather beautiful, but today they were tainted by the red, swollen rims from nights of endless tears. A small pinch formed at her lips—an attempt at a smile.
Walking towards them, I weaved my way in and around the growing crowds of people. Without a word, I stood beside Felix and rested my hands on his shoulders.
"Bring out the accused," bellowed a plump old man. He was head of the council of Hule, and with hands as wrinkled as a dried prune, he signalled the prisoners into line. They lined up, one by one. And one by one the old man stated their name, their crime, and their punishment. Each time the guard pulled the lever, another person screamed.
Ruthert Belila, for thieving of the highest order, I sentence you to hang by the neck until death takes you," the old man shouted to the crowd. His eyes were a pale of emotionless space, devoid of any flicker of humanity—the gallows were his stage and the crowds were his audience.
As the executioner pulled his lever, I pulled Felix's head into my chest; his raking sobs soaked through my tunic.
Ruthert's eyes weren't sobbing, though, they weren't remorseful or regretful. Those brown, hazel eyes shimmered in anger under the dawn's watchful gaze. I met those eyes, the ones that belonged to my brother, and knew that one day I would meet my end the same way—crying tears of hatred.
What makes a “novel” to you?
Anything fictional that is written over 40,000 words.
How do you feel about novellas or short stories?
I love them. They have this beautiful way of fitting into your everyday life. They allow busy people, like parents and businessmen to read.
How long does it take you to write a novel?
Two-three months once everything is planned and researched, but it takes me years to plan a series.
Why not a full novel? Why a novella/short story?
The story wasn’t too large, it was just naturally shorter. Still a series though. I considered putting it as one book, but it has natural pauses that act great as endings.
What do you think is the best part about writing a shorter work as opposed to a novel?
It’s easier and takes less time to do so, but it also allows you to publish serials, which are really fun and engaging for the audience.
How long does it take you to write a novella/short story?
About one month, but a few months to research and plan for.
What is your favorite story and why?
My favourite short story is The Mirror World. It’s the first one I wrote and it’s really symbolic and beautiful. It’s featured in Man VS Happiness.
How much does word count/page count bother you when writing your story?
No, but I try not to make things too long for what I’m going for.
Would you recommend this medium for beginning writers?
Short stories are good practice for writers. They’re easy to find beta readers for, they’re quicker to get through, and they’re great for trying out new genres and writing styles.
In the context of a shorter narrative, what do you think is the most important thing to develop for the readers? (Everything, I know, but what is the thing you focus on in terms of the story?)
For shorter narratives, the importance lies in concise character development. Show us who they are without babbling on.
Can you tell me a bit about your series?
I have a multi-series world, called Ennea Vasilea. It has so far spanned five book series and over 40 books, the first of which will be released April 2019, called Erimish. The book in that series is called The Keepers’ Origin and focuses on the introduction to the world, the main character, and the magic system that permeates my fantasy world. The entire world is loosely based on Greek mythology, but I’ve twisted it and made it my own, having my own modern twist on vampires, shifters, varying species of human, gods, demons, and the Mythos (god-created beasts). I also have the elemental realms with their own inhabitants: elves, naiads, fae, and dragons. My world ranges across multiple types of fantasy: Crime Fantasy, YA Fantasy, Epic Fantasy, Dystopian Fantasy, and Vampire Fantasy, and hopefuly Historical Fantasy (shhh, don’t tell anyone).
Man VS Happiness is the first book in my Versus Collection Series, and stands alone from the Ennea Vasilea universe. There are four books so far, each taking on a different worldly topic. The first is about mental health issues, the second is about environmental issues, the third is about the lack of creativity in the world, and the fourth is about war. I have chosen to use Science-Fantasy to explain my emotions and viewpoints in a consumer-friendly way.
Do you have a favorite book out of this series?
Ohhh, good question. So far, Erimish is my favourite series out of the Ennea Vasilea collection. I feel it’s written in a unique way and has solid character development.
Where did you get the inspiration for your series?
It started as a dream when I was 15 years old, and then I just couldn’t let it go. I started planning, storyboarding, and I rewrote the first 20 thousand words nearly 50 times to practice my writing skills before committing.
Your Erimish series is what you started with as an author. Do you find that, even when you’re working on other projects, you always return back to them/it, like they’re your first love?
Erimish will always be my first first love, my baby of a book, and it will always have a special place in my heart. If not for that series, then the rest of my work probably would never have been born.
You have multiple different series in the works right now, can you tell me a little bit about them?
Erimish: Erimish is about four Elemental Keepers whose job it is to secure the ven and keep the nine realms safe. They’re the first in over a hundred years to be chosen, and magic hasn’t been seen for equally as long. No-one knows what to do with them, and they’re less than friendly with each other, but soon they realise things are not as they seem and they might have a war on their hands. They all have their own personal reasons for training in magic, but they soon have to abandon them to save the world.
The Grecian Chronicles: This is the first series that will explain the backstory and the logic behind my world. It’s about a young man named Jules, who realizes his girlfriend is actually the daughter of Zeus and that he is not quite human. In fact, he’s a god, a son of Poseidon and Aphrodite and he’s part of a future that has been waiting for him for nearly two-hundred years. Now that he’s part of this mysterious world, however, he’s not sure he wants to be a part of it. It’s about prophecies, magic, romance, the Greek gods, finding unity among your enemies, and is an epic magical adventure aimed at older young adults.
The Gangster Trilogy: All three of these books are coming out next summer (2019) and they’re about a detective who goes undercover in the world’s largest crime ring: The Crimson. Little does he know just how mysterious their world actually as is, however, but he soon learns that it’s run by a 12-year-old and that humans are not alone in the depths of London.
The Versus Collection: this is a series whose sole purpose is to just to make people think. It’s to raise awareness about particular issues and help people understand that doing the right thing is a good choice.
If you could live in any time, when and where would you choose?
I would definitely love to have seen the Victorian era, or maybe spend a day or two in medieval times. But honestly, I quite like our time.
If you could choose one author to sit down and have a cup of tea with, and yes, it has to be tea here, who would it be?
Well, as long as I can drink herbal tea we’re okay. I would love to sit down and chat with Philip Pullman. He’s my inspiration when it comes to writing and His Dark Materials were the first real book series I ever read and they are still my favourite 15 years later.
And we’re going random here, but do you like sushi? Hear me out before you go: WHAT?!?! I think it’s so interesting when looking at what people write and when and where they write and I don’t think any of my characters have ever tasted sushi before but I personally LOVE sushi. SO, do you, and your characters, like sushi? Or pizza? Have you found that the different cultures you write about influence you personally too?
No, I don’t like sushi, but I could see some of characters eating it. I love pizza, and so do some of my characters, but all my characters do have favourite food, ranging from grapes to cheese to pizza to caviar.
Dragons…or wolves? One word answer is not enough! We must know! What is your favorite supernatural creature?
Is there any other answer besides dragons? Dragons are amazing! Both feature in my Ennea Vasilea world, but dragons reign supreme, obviously. They’re awesome and breathe fire! What more do you need?
Where do you see the literary marketplace going in the future?
I honestly think that eventually Indie Authors will just take over. It’s already heading in that direction according to statistics, but it’s only a matter of time before Amazon have brick and mortar stores.
What do you see as the differences between self/indie publishing and traditional publishing? The pros/cons of either/or?
It’s not free to be successful either route, and I prefer self-publishing because of the higher royalty rates and the freedom, but traditional publishers can be useful in terms of a platform to market from and the ease of distribution.
Where have you chosen to release your books and why?
As many places as I can. I’m using IngramSpark who publishing to hundreds of places, including brick and mortar stores, Amazon, Barnes and Noble etc.
What’s your opinion on Amazon KU versus a wider marketplace for your work?
Although amazon do own most of the ebook market, I think it would be a mistake to rule other places out. You would be missing 40% of revenue if you only chose Amazon. But, they do have good schemes for published authors etc.
What do you think the key aspects of marketing are? What advice can you give for those who need help with marketing?
Get a good cover design done, do pre-release marketing, and start researching/learning at least one year before release.
How did you find your cover/cover designer?
Mine are homemade and pre-bought. I never hire a designer from scratch, it’s a large output of money that I don’t have. Most of mine were bought from TheBookDesigner.com.
Do you think using a publicity company is a good idea in terms of marketing? Do you have anyone you would suggest?
They’re not really financially accessible to self-publishing authors. Most charge $10k upwards. If you ever find a cheaper one, let me know.
Did you edit/format your work on your own or did you use an outside source? Any good resources you can pass along to others looking to do the same?
You should ALWAYS get an editor. It is impossible to edit your own work. I’m an editor and still hire an editor, because spotting your own mistakes is impossible.
Thank you so much Freida for taking the time to talk with me.
Also, make sure to take a look at Freida's editing company: Penmanship Editing. She offers great advice and services and is sure to be a help to authors and writers in all stages of their process!
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