Author Interview – Annabelle McKinnes

Today on the blog I have my dear friend Annabelle McInnes, whose debut book releases today! Please welcome her!

  1. Tell us about yourself!

From the age of sixteen, I lived in a youth refuge while I remained committed to my education. I spent two years within a section of humanity that society overlooks. My experiences are the foundations that drive my stories and my characters. Outside of my love for reading and writing, I spend my free moments with my husband, son and poodle named Serendipity. I drink my Whisky neat and am known to scour the local markets for blue cheese and home-made jam.

  1. And tell us about your book!

True Refuge and the Refuge Trilogy is a tale that is interwoven with concepts that explore the extremes of the human condition when civilisation as we know it has imploded, and along with it, any promise of a benevolent future for the human race. The story moves past simple notions of good vs evil, love conquers all, or overcoming the past. These books delve directly into themes of grandeur, of epic undertakings that see the characters strive to rise above personal interests, reject societal constraints regarding sexuality, masculinity, femininity, and battle against the formation of an institution that threatens to swallow what is left of humanity. The characters fight for love, they fight for freedom, and they fight for the human race.

 

  1. What drew you to writing dystopian/speculative fiction romance?

I grew up reading high fantasy novels including all of J. R. R. Tolkien’s books, The Riftwar Saga by Raymond E. Feist, and the early books by George R. R. Martin. These books influenced my imagination and my dreams. But the inspiration for the first draft of True Refuge came from The Road by Cormac McCarthy. It was this book that truly made me appreciate dystopian and speculative fiction novels and how my experiences could shape these fictitious worlds. I adored the tension that McCarthy created with very little action. I also appreciated how he didn’t spend time explaining the “before” or the “after” of his world. I write about love and hope, about characters that overcome adversary to triumph over evil. Speculative Fiction, specifically Speculative Romance give me an environment to explore these facets of our humanity.

 

  1. You’re a debut author, what’s the experience been like so far? From writing through to pitching to getting The Call?

It has been incredibly humbling, overwhelming and exhilarating. I can only liken it to the getting the call on a dream job that you have been wanting and working towards your whole life. But like any new role, there are times that you feel out of your depth, that you feel as though you might fail. But with each day I become better at my craft, more comfortable with personal promotion and more adept at planning and routine. I have worked with some brilliant people, I have also made some great friends, so it has overall it has been a wonderful experience.

 

  1. What’s the best thing and hardest thing about writing romance, do you think?

In romance the most important element is the development of the character’s relationship. For me, the best and hardest to write are the scenes where this plays out physically. They’re the hardest because I find them tremendously draining. Writing the details surrounding the physical placement of the bodies while ensuring that the emotion and tone is perfect, is taxing. The Refuge Trilogy is a ménage relationship and often has three people intertwined in the act. The scenes must ensure that each character develops and that their individual journey is articulated, also that each individual’s quirks, mannerisms and physical limitations are detailed appropriately, and finally, that the relationship between the three of them progresses. It is a mammoth task. These scenes are always integral to my story, so the pressure to ensure that they are accurate makes them even harder to write. They are also some of my longest chapters.

But they are my favourite because of many of the same reasons. I relish writing the love that develops between my characters, the importance they place on each other, and highlighting the devotion and dedication that they share for one another. These scenes are often the most beautiful, and I really enjoy letting go with extravagant words for the right moments.

 

  1. How about dystopian fiction? What are the challenges there? And how much research did you have to do?

The Refuge Trilogy takes place three years after humanity was decimated by a plague-like virus. Thus, it’s often the technical elements I struggle with. How do catch small game to eat? What is the effectiveness/implications of antibiotics after their expiration date? What are the risks when shooting a soiled handgun? What type of maintenance would a solar panel require? Google offers a little guidance, but I am often asking ex and current servicemen/women in my friendship circles long and unusual questions.

  1. Would you ever write in a different genre? (Even a different sub-genre of romance)

I think most writers struggle with containing ideas, and I have many that rattle around in my head. I would enjoy writing thrillers. Though I would have to get a lot better at planning my novels to ensure I captured all the clues early on in the right context. I often struggle with this and need to double back throughout my manuscripts to ensure I picked up all the threads I left behind.

 

  1. What’s your favourite trope in romance?

Tortured hero, hands down. No second thoughts. There is nothing more delicious than an alpha male dealing with inner demons, just waiting for the right woman (or man) to pull him out of the darkness and save his soul… Sigh…

 

  1. What are some of your favourite genres or authors to read?

My tastes change as regularly as the Canberra seasons. It’s just one of the reasons why I love reading romance. No matter my mood, I can always find a book that suits my wishes. As I write, I tend not to read too much speculative fiction. However, when I am in a break between books I often enjoy reading this genre to ensure my own ideas/storylines are current with the trends. Pam Godwin, Charlotte Stein and Joey Hill are my auto-buys. I often enjoy spec-fic interlaced with dark elements. Alpha antiheros, confinement, abduction and fated mates are my catnip. Cari Silverwood, R. Lee Smith and Addison Cain are just to name a few of my most recent purchases. My contemporary tastes run a little more mainstream with Kristen Ashley, TJ Klune and this fantastic author I just adore named Aislinn Kearns.

 

[Aislinn’s note – thank you for the kind words!]

 

  1. What are some of the most valuable things you’ve learned in the process of publishing so far?

Patience. Publishing is a long road. Writing the book is hard, but I’ve found it the easiest part of the process. Finding a publisher, surviving rejection letters, the editing, cover design, all the individual promotional work. Reviews? If only all I had to do was write! Even if the process of writing the book is quick, it can still take years to publish a traditional book. This is a career that requires dedication, grit and determination, because there are no quick wins in this business. I’ve also learnt that I love this. That writing feeds my soul. That right now, there is nothing I would rather be doing. I don’t have to be on a beach to achieve my dreams. I just have to have a computer and a chair with good back support and I’ll be the happiest woman on earth.

 

  1. If you had to do one thing over in your writing career so far, would you? And what would it be?

Hard question! I tend as a rule not to have regrets. I’m not hard on myself in that way, knowing that I did the best I could at the time. When I re-read my manuscripts, there are always things I want to change, but I think that is part of the learning process. With each book I get better, and I try to look ahead, rather than back.

 

  1. What’s your writing process like? How often do you find the time? Do you outline first? Do you listen to music while the magic happens? Give us some insight.

I write from 6am to 8am minimum five days per week. I have found that this is when I’m my most productive. I don’t let social media distract me and, once I’ve made my coffee, I can meet my word could per day. I use a simple algorithm to work out what my word count should be and stick to it, regardless of how good/bad/easy/hard my writing is that day. I don’t believe in writer’s block but I do believe in writer’s fatigue. So I try to make sure I calculate downtime and breaks into my daily word-count equation. I have attempted to write outlines but my books never go the way I originally plan so I don’t waste time on them now. My first draft, usually around 40k words, I often use that as a basic structure and then my edits/rewrites/embellishment happens from there. I have a playlist of twenty-four songs that I listen to on repeat. They range from Disney cartoon classics, to 80s rock ballads, to modern pop chart toppers. But they all tend to have the theme of unrequired love.

 

  1. Where do you get your ideas?

They say that reading is so important to writing, and it’s true. I get inspiration from the books I read. The wonderful thing about romance is there you are able to align themes to other books. That’s the whole point of sub-genres and tropes. It means I can find ideas and concepts that I’d like to explore in my own writing. It’s important to be fresh and relevant, which I strive to be, but I’m intrinsically wired to find inspiration from others, and as writing tends to be a very lonely business, so it makes books often my only opportunity for the development and moulding of new ideas.

 

  1. How do you recharge your imagination when you can feel your creative well getting dry? (Or is it just me that happens to!)

Nope, not just you! I ground myself. I’ve discovered that immersing myself in nature, while trying to get a little bit of exercise is the best thing for my creative soul. Social media drains me, so I often have to limit myself from it during down times. I also suffer from anxiety which impacts my creativity and writing. But if I can go for a walk by myself in nature, I can often get thing back up and running in no time.

 

  1. What are you working on now?

I’m currently working on the structural edits for the third book in the Refuge Trilogy, Eternal Refuge. I keep expecting this process to get better, easier, and though in some ways it has, there is still plenty to learn from each book.

 

  1. What are your plans for the future?

Another Speculative Romance is on the cards. What it looks like yet I’m still unsure, but there are plenty of ideas that I can’t wait to explore!

 

Just for fun:

  1. Sweet or savoury?

Sweet, totally and utterly sweet.

  1. Hot weather or cold?

My skin is so sensitive to the Australian sun and I often get burnt and overheat in the summer. However, winter in Canberra can get very cold, and so as I grow older, I’m enjoying the warmer months more.

  1. If an apocalypse comes, what would be your most valuable skill?

I would be a terrible survivalist. I’m not very practical or a fast runner. I’m not good with blood either… to be honest, it’s unlikely that I would survive. Make sure you’re faster than me.

  1. Which celebrity would you choose to be stranded on a desert island with?

Keven Sorbo, from the 1990’s TV hit Hercules, obviously. Who wouldn’t want to be stranded with him? Long blond hair, a dusting of chest hair that peaked through an open shirt, piecing blue eyes. I was in love with that wannabe romance novel cover model before I even knew what romance novels were.

  1. Dream vacation spot? (Other than the island with the celebrity, naturally)

Scotland. I love that rugged, windswept country. It’s not just its towing mountain ranges and centuries old castles, it’s also the people, the food, the hospitality. Beautiful, with or without the Highlanders.

  1. If you won a million dollars tomorrow, what’s the first thing you’d buy?

The first item I would buy just for me would be a bespoke, custom made writing desk. I love the thought of having something feminine and unique, yet fictional and ergonomically sound. And a lamp. As a writer, you can never have too much light.

Thanks for stopping by, Annabelle!

If you want to pick up True Refuge, it’s available here at Amazon and at all good retailers! (I’ve already grabbed my copy!)

If you want to connect with Annabelle, here’s where you can find her:

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/authorannabellemcinnes/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/akmcinnes

Website: https://www.annabellemcinnes.com/

 

Author Interview: Carole P. Roman

Here is the second in my series of Author Interviews. You can check out the one I did with R.L Jackson here!

And, now for my interview with Carole P. Roman

1. Tell us about yourself and what you write:

I write children’s books all ages. I have five different series. My first series was Captain No Beard which is an adventure series for both boys and girls. In the ten books, young pirates battle imaginary foes and learn to work as a team. My second two series are non-fiction. If You Were Me and Lived in…has two ages groups. The first is for ages 4-8 and is an introduction to culture and customs around the world. There are 23 books in this series in you include If You Were Me and Lived on…Mars- a fun trip to a Mars colony in the year 2054. The other half of the series is ten books for ages 8-12 that are a trip to different time periods around the world. All ten books traverse the globe visiting Ancient Mali or Greece, or take a trip to the American West, or even the Middle Ages. Both series puts the students into the shoes of a child living there and gives them a fun way to learn about life. I have a nursery series that tackles coping and self-worth and lastly, my newest is an Early Reader Chapter book called Oh Susannah: It’s in the Bag. Oh yes, and I forgot a self-help book called Navigating Indieworld.

2. You’ve published books in a few different genres now—mostly children’s books, but now an advice book called Navigating Indieworld, as well. What’s the best thing about publishing in the areas that you do, and what’s the most challenging?

Writing and putting together a book is both fun and fairly easy. Publicizing any book is the most challenging part. It’s getting harder and harder to gather those much-needed reviews. You spend time and effort to publish and you don’t want your book to fall into the dark pit of high rankings. If it disappears from the public, nobody will buy it.

 

3. Why did you choose to be an Indie Author?

I think being an indie author chose me. My kids dared me to write a book. I did, never expecting the book to become an award-winning best-seller out of the gate. When the first one fell into place so easy, I decided to develop a brand. It’s been a lot of fun and very rewarding.

 

4. What are some of the most valuable things you’ve learned since publishing?

I learned that I can pretty much do things I never thought I was capable of doing. I wrote a book, finished it, polished it. I have been on Youtube, panels, Forbes has interviewed me twice. I am sought after as a strong voice in indie publishing. I have my own blog radio show. I have met great friends in the chat rooms and every day is a learning experience.

 

5. If you could give some advice to any authors just starting on this journey, what would it be?

Get onto a good thread on Goodreads and Bookworks. Be vocal. Ask questions. If the other authors shut you down, find another thread. You will learn so much by talking to the people who forged ahead of you. They will help guide you better than any seminar.

 

6. You seem to be growing a bit of a publishing empire! What’s next for you and your team? Will you be expanding into other genres?

I started a YA novel and then abandoned it. Julie, my social media partner and beta reader, reminded me about it yesterday. I may go back to it. I would like to expand the Oh Susannah series if it takes off. I will be promoting my son who has made the leap from indie to traditional publisher. They have asked to work together on promotions.

 

7. If you had to do one thing over in your writing career so far, would you? And what would it be?

Buy my own ISBN’s. I finally understand them now and whatever I’ve learned, I discovered the information in our chatroom on Goodreads. I think it is smart to own your material.

 

8. What’s your writing process like? How often do you find the time? Do you outline first? Do you listen to music while the magic happens? Give us some insight.

I can write in an office full of people. I have that ability to talk to someone and read at the same time. I write anywhere in the house, can stop to make dinner or answer the phone and go right back to the story. I usually write every night from nine to eleven, then I spend an hour or two reading other people’s books.

 

9. Where do you get your ideas?

They just happen. Sometimes, like with Captain No Beard and the Aurora Borealis, one of my family members stands as a muse from a conversation. Susannah was based on a remark that an exhausted working mother said. The books are born from my life and when you read them, in some way you are reading about my home and family.

 

10. How do you recharge your imagination when you can feel your creative well getting dry? (Or is it just me that happens to!)

Never gets dry. It’s too active and always has been. Give me an issue and in five minutes I’ll have five solutions. Our family is solution oriented, so we are always brimming with ideas.

 

11. You seem to have worked with a few different illustrators. For those that don’t know, what’s that process like?

I have worked with remarkable illustrators. Bonnie Lemaire who did the pirate series must be telepathic, because she nailed my characters without ever speaking to me, but for a few sparse emails. Kelsea Weirenga who did the cultural series has the patience of a saint and embraced the series with her entire being, working hard to get everything as accurate as possible. Mateya Arkova is a gift from Europe. She approached me to illustrate and is the hardest working artist I’ve ever met. I love them all dearly and count them as my friends. They never took ownership but served as silent support to make my dreams comes to life. They are wonderful women.

 

12. What are you working on now?

Just finished If You Were ME and Lived in…Cuba and Oh Susannah: It’s in the Bag.  Have to work on promoting them now.

 

Just for fun:

 

13. Sweet or savoury?

Sweet.

 

14. Hot weather or cold?

Both!

 

15. If an apocalypse comes, what would be your most valuable skill?

I would remember our past for the future generations.

 

16. Which celebrity would you choose to be stranded on a desert island with?

Brad Pitt- Guess why.

 

17. Dream vacation spot? (Other than the island with the celebrity, naturally)

Vegas, baby. I have a home there and am a celebrated craps player. (It is true.)

 

18. If you won a million dollars tomorrow, what’s the first thing you’d buy?

Ice cream to celebrate. Ice cream for everyone.

Thanks so much for stopping by!

Visit Carole at the following places!

Author Interview: Me!

So, a while back I did an interview with Tara Woods Turner. And it’s finally live! If for whatever reason you’ve ever had a burning need to hear my voice or see my face (I had thought it was a podcast, so sorry not sorry about the lack of makeup!) then, firstly, whyyyyy? My voice is horrible. And secondly, you’re in luck!

I can’t listen to it back because I get the heebie-jeebies listening to my voice, so if you do watch/listen, be sure to tell me if I said anything super embarrassing. (Also, they spelled/pronounced my name wrong, but I get it’s a tough one 😉 )Thanks!

Author Interview: R.L Jackson

Please welcome R.L. to my blog for my first ever Author Interview!1

  1. Tell us about yourself and what you write:

A Bahamian-born native, R.L Jackson writes fiction and enjoys reading Romance, Fantasy, Dystopian, YA, and everything in between.
Her first novel “Crashing Into Me” was released on Feb 14, 2017 and is available on Amazon in kindle format as well as in paperback.

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  1. What’s the best thing and hardest thing about writing romance, do you think?

The best thing for me is creating new people, new experiences and the journey they take to find that love. The hardest is finding interesting and unique ways to tell stories that haven’t been told before.

  1. Would you ever write in a different genre? (Even a different sub-genre of romance) 

I write in different genres already, just none that I’ve published yet.

  1. What’s your favourite trope in romance?

I use a mix of different tropes, it just makes a story more realistic to me. I don’t believe in instant love, in novels because in real life that is a rarity, outside of middle school aged “love” lol.

  1. What are some of your favourite genres or authors to read?

I don’t have a favorite author, but genres are Thriller, Romance, Paranormal, Dystopian, and some Fantasy depending on what it is.

  1. Why did you choose to be an Indie Author?

I chose it for the freedom of controlling my own creative process after reading up on the pros and cons of both from the mouths of trad and indie authors, I decided indie was the best for me.

  1. What are some of the most valuable things you’ve learned since publishing?

The real work starts after you press publish. I wish I had a marketing plan in place before I did it to be honest, as well as the marketing budget. There aren’t many places that will promote your book for free unless it is free or discounted, which makes me roll my eyes because it’s frustrating. Or if they do promote your book, the cost is huge. From what I can tell indie Publishing may have taken the decision to publish their work out of trad publishing hands, but simultaneously given others (bloggers, promotion sites) the power to decide if and how they will promote them, thus creating brand new hurdles and hoops to jump through.

  1. If you had to do one thing over in your writing career so far, would you? And what would it be?

Marketing plan, marketing budget, virtual assistant to handle social media etc so I can focus on writing.

  1. What’s your writing process like? How often do you find the time? Do you outline first? Do you listen to music while the magic happens? Give us some insight.

My process starts with the concept, plot, then outline. I write my ending first and work backwards. I outline and listen to music when I get blocked or need inspiration for a particular scene.

  1. Where do you get your ideas?

Sometimes they hit me out of the blue, others are based on my personal experiences.

  1. How do you recharge your imagination when you can feel your creative well getting dry? (Or is it just me that happens to!)

I watch a movie or binge watch Netflix to get out of my head for a while. Then I go back and read what I wrote making changes as I see fit.

  1. What are you working on now?

Book two of my ‘Crashing” series and a few surprises I can’t mention yet.

 

Just for fun:

  1. Sweet or savoury? Both
  2. Hot weather or cold? Cold
  3. If an apocalypse comes, what would be your most valuable skill? Fighting
  4. If you won a million dollars tomorrow, what’s the first thing you’d buy?

Is this 1mill before or after taxes lol. Seriously though, I’d pay off my outstanding bills, start a charity I’ve been wanting to start for a while, and purchase my first home.

 

Thanks so much R.L. for stopping by my blog!