Good morning, writer friends!
It's Saturday and I have a special treat for you. Instead of just one Six Question guest, I have two~ Amy Miles and Danielle Bannister!
Amy, you’ve always wanted to be a writer, while Danielle came into the writing world a bit *cough* later in life. Do you recall the first thing you wrote?
Amy: I sure do. I began writing in grade school and had dragons attacking a fair maiden, who of course was later swept off her feet by a dashing knight. Kissing always ensued.
Even at a young age, I was obsessed with danger, adventure and torturing my main characters. My writing did eventually progress into writing my own version Nancy Drew Mysteries and then into the fantasy realms when I was in high school, but my passion for make-believe began long ago.
Danielle: The first real thing I wrote, honestly, was the first chapter of Pulled. I went to school to act, not write. Once I caught the writing bug though, I was hooked. It does mean, however, that I’m behind the curve in terms of learning about the craft so I’m trying to play catch up!
At what point did you start feeling it was okay to call yourself a ‘writer’?
Amy: Calling myself a writer was never hard. Thinking of myself as an author was a different story. At what point are you considered an author? When you write “The End” on your first rough draft, trudge through countless edits, and finally hit publish on Amazon Kindle? Or is it when you complete your second book? Third? A series?
I think this question is answered differently for every writer. For me, I didn’t feel like an established author until after my third book recently came out. Probably had a lot to do with the fact that I take great pride in Defiance Rising, because it was technically my first book. Now, I feel proud to tell people that I am a full time indie author.
Danielle: It took me awhile, actually. I was enrolled in the Maine branch of the National Writing Project, and I still couldn’t call myself an author. It wasn’t until I got in the mail a little white cup that said ‘Writer’ on it that I actually felt like I had the right to call myself a writer. So lame, I know!
Can you bring us back to the first book you published on Amazon. What was it and what was that experience like?
Amy: Oh my, it was a nightmare! Probably not what you expected to hear, huh? Seriously though, it was pure torture to figure out how to properly format a book, upload a book cover and do everything in-between.
People sometimes get the idea that being an author is glamorous, and trust me it has it’s great moments, but learning how to publish a book for the first time is not one of them. I distinctly remember wanting to bash my head against a brick wall for days on end as I tried to wade through the complicated jargon. I’m not exactly your most computer savvy person!
My first book I released was Defiance Rising. It had a different cover and a completely different storyline. It didn’t take long for me to realize that what I thought was a good book was far from marketable, so I pulled it off, did some more research and began writing FORBIDDEN.
It was a great lesson to learn and I’m thankful I learned early on.
Danielle: Mine was Pulled. I didn’t know Amy at the time. I actually met her by asking her to review my book on her blog page.
We became friends on Facebook after that and started chatting everyday. But I digress; publishing for the first time on my own was terrifying! I really had NO clue what I was doing, to be honest and it took several months of tweaking Pulled before I was happy with the final product. I have learned a ton since that first publishing and will continue to learn with every book I write! There is a great support among Indie Authors who are, for the most part, eager to help new comer so that they don’t need to feel as lost as they did. At least, that’s how I’m seeing things.
With several novels between the two of you, what is some advice you might give those just starting out as an Indie Author?
Amy: The best advice I can give is to write what you love. Yes, it’s important to know your market, but you don’t have to follow the money train to stand out. Be yourself. Do your thing and people will notice.
I learned a hard lesson with FORBIDDEN on the importance of hiring an editor. In the beginning, I didn’t have the money to pay for an editor so I figured I’d do it on my own. Big mistake! Editors don’t just look for typos, they look for character development, holes in your plot and inconsistencies that you are too close to see for yourself. Find an editor that gets you and gets what you’re trying to accomplish and you will be thankful you did.
Another crucial point is your book cover. Pick something that captures the feeling of your book’s theme or character. I have met my fair share of “book whores” and they will be the first to tell you they only buy a book if the cover appeals to them.
Danielle: The best advice I ever got was summed up by writer Ron Carlson, who said that want-to-be-writers are often ‘distracted by things they put in their own way, all day, all the time: leaving the room to get coffee, checking the mail, get coffee, walk the dogs, go to the bathroom, get coffee, look something up, get coffee. The writer is the one who stays in the room.’ I never knew how hard just being at the computer and actively writing actually was until I had to do it!
You are currently working on a couple of projects. Can you tell us a little bit about them—spoiler free of course.
Amy: Oh my, I am always working on something. Usually more than one thing at a time.
I’m currently diving into the final draft of a new novella, FACELESS, that will jump start readers into my Cherished Hearts inspirational romance books. I’ve always had a passion for inspirational romance, but up until this point have always remained in the fantasy realm. It’s great to break out of that every once in a while.
I’m also obsessing over the completion of my Arotas Trilogy. REDEMPTION has a lot going on, with several POV shifts and tons of action so it’s kicking my butt right now! As soon as I finish with REDEMPTION, I will be jumping straight into the prequel, IMMORTAL ROSE. I hadn’t actually planned on writing this book but so many of my fans wanted to know Fane and Roseline’s tale, so I caved.
I’m also currently working with Danielle on NETHERWORLD. This joint venture has been a lot of fun, melding romance with fantasy and of course banshees ROCK! I’ve having a blast designing the underworld and playing around with some mythology. It’s a good thing Danielle loves writing about human’s cause there is no way I would give up working on the hot and steamy, Aed, god of the Netherworld!
Danielle: Amy and I came up with the idea to co-write Netherworld almost as a joke. A sort of ‘We should totally write a book together!’ But the more we chatted about it, the more it makes sense. We write in completely different genres, I do romance she does fantasy. So we thought what if we had a fantasy sort of character fall in love with a human character? We tossed out some ideas and soon the Netherworld was born. We’ve just started drafting the early scenes and I’m really excited about what we’re coming up with! The Netherworld puts us into the world of the Banshees, the mythical creatures sent to carry the dead to the other side. The Banshee’s are supposed to be unseen by the living, but one mortal sees a banshee. What happens when they fall in love? It’s soooooo cool! She writes the fantasy parts, I write the human parts! It’s perfect!
Between the two of you, you have a pretty large fan base. What would you say is the ONE question they want answered most, and are you willing to answer it here?
Amy: There are several burning questions that I hear quite often. Will Gabriel and Roseline end up together? Does Sadie live? Will Bastien return in the sequel to Defiance Rising? Am I Team Bastien of Team Eamon!
If you have read my books, you know that I don’t make romance easy for my characters. Life happens, people get hurt, hearts get broken. I love a happy ending just like the next gal, but I also like realism. If my characters are going to be happy in the end, they are going to go through some tribulation along the way. Also…I hate to be predictable.
Danielle: I think most people want to know if Pulled Back Again will finally deliver the happily ever after ending they are looking for. All I can say is…maybe? Ha!
You are both going to an event in Tennessee in January called UtopYA. Can you give the readers a little info about what this is and why it’s so cool?
Danielle: I’ll let Amy handle this one!
Amy: UtopYa is one of many conventions that are being held this year to enable readers to meet up with some of their fave authors.
For those of you who were lucky enough to get tickets before it sold out, you will get to attend panels, chat with authors, buy books and attend a fabulous award’s ceremony. I, for one, can’t wait to go dress shopping for this event!