Join Me at Next Chapter Books and Art Store in New Bern, North Carolina. I will be teaching a class on Fast Drafting Your Novel: The Process of Layering Your Writing.
The art or technique of layering your story is nothing new and neither is fast drafting. There are several versions of both premises. There is even a version of layering that helps with self-editing. So how is my version unique and why should you attend my presentation at Next Chapter Books and Art Store Saturday, June 17th, 3 pm? https://thenextchapternc.com/home/whats-happening/
In trying to find the magic trick that would help me write faster and create more books I have taken several classes, read many books and watched an abundance of videos on writing techniques. Most of them were geared towards plotters. I cringe at the thought of plotting. I have tried to outline and plan my stories. If my brain doesn’t freeze and I actually manage to plan out an outline, I don’t stick to it. It’s a waste of time. Time I could be using to write more books. BUT planning your books helps with the writing process. How can I plan my stories and still be a pantser (or as some people prefer, a discovery writer).
Many of you have heard the story of my first NaNoWriMo. I knew I needed to do something different in order to write fifty-thousand words in a month. My friends Kate Parker and Hannah Meredith gave me a couple of ideas for planning my novel. Kate had a large whiteboard in her house that she used to write plot ideas and when she used the idea, she would check it off. Hannah suggested I do something similar using sticky notes. Author Sarra Cannon uses colorful sticky notes and note cards to plan her books, assigning different colors to each character. While the sticky notes worked well for NaNoWriMo but they aren’t convenient if you don’t write in an office.
I developed my version of fast drafting when I realized I was overwriting and had to cut a lot of my story to make the novel read better. The editing was difficult. The process was even more time-consuming than the original writing. I wanted to be able to write at least two books a year with time to write other projects. I began playing around with different writing styles with different degrees of preparation and success.
Everyone writes differently. Finding your own unique style of prewriting and planning is as important as finding your own writing style. The layering plays a huge role in my fast drafting. While writing faster happens organically with practice, with layering the writing is cleaner and thus getting to the finished product is quicker. If you are interested in learning more, join me and Michelle Flye at The Next Chapter Books and Art Store Saturday, June 17th, 3 pm until 5 pm. You must preregister.
Bio: A lifelong freelancer, Phil Bowie earned his chops selling 300 articles and short stories to magazines. One article, about deaf Hollywood stunt woman Kitty O’neal, came out in The Saturday Evening Post and was reprinted in Reader’s Digest, reaching 26 million readers in 23 languages. Several of his short stories have won awards, including a first-place contest winner, “The Cat From Hell,” a yarn begun by Stephen King.
Phil began writing novels in the 2,000s. His debut, GUNS, about the world black-market weapons trade, earned Honorable Mention at the London Book Festival among 400 entries, and was endorsed by Lee Child, number one NY Times international best-selling author of the Jack Reacher series. (One hundred million copies sold to date.) Three more novels in Phil’s suspense series have followed: Diamondback, about a lost Great Smokies Cherokee gold mine, KLLRS, featuring a deadly outlaw motorcycle gang, and Deathsman, set against the illegal synthetic drugs trade.
Phil also has two stand-alone thrillers: Killing Ground, about African elephant poaching, and Dawn Light, starring a yacht delivery captain and his rebellious teenage mentee aboard a boat carrying a lethal secret in her belly.
Phil has been a pilot with his own Cessna, a Coast Guard-licensed boat captain, a draftsman, co-owner of a graphics business, a fiddler, an inventor, and a motorcycle rider. He lives with his partner, Naomi, and their cat, McKenzie, in a cottage he restored on a shore of the Neuse River.
Sherri: Welcome Phil, it’s great to have you on my virtual café. I wish it was a real place we could hang out and have a drink, talk books and writing but maybe someday that will happen. It sounds like you have had a fun and interesting life so far and I’m excited to learn more. In your bio you said you were a lifelong freelancer; did you make your living as a writer? How did you get started writing? Have you always written? Was there a point in your life when you said, this is what I’m going to do or did you just kind of fall into it?
Phil: Thanks for having me, Sherri. I like your café atmosphere.
It’s been a somewhat checkered life, some would say, but yes, fun and most interesting. I went to a rural high school in the Berkshire village of Williamsburg, Massachusetts. There were only 22 in my class, so we got spoiled. My English teacher, Lulu Smith, I guess saw a spark in me and offered lots of encouragement. My mother, Edith, an excellent newspaper reporter who once interviewed Eleanor Roosevelt, instilled in me the power and beauty of the language. At Clemson, I was fortunate to have a tough creative writing professor we called Flunking Felder, who got my first short story published in the college literary magazine, and I’ve been writing on and off since, most often as a sideline to a variety of bills-paying jobs.
Sherri: In your article about Kitty O’Neil, did you get to interview her? What is your process for writing articles and how does that differ from writing novels?
Phil: I’d long been interested in the World Land Speed Record, so in the late seventies, when I heard of an upcoming record attempt at Bonneville in a three-wheeled rocket vehicle, I raided my meager savings, grabbed my photo gear, and, on pure speculation, drove a borrowed tin-can Fiat 2,400 miles to cover it. I was the only journalist there, because historically most attempts had failed, and nobody else was going to cover it until it looked like a record might actually be broken as the hydrogen peroxide-powered rocket car built up speed in ever-faster trial runs over several days. Kitty was going for the female record and stunt man Hall Needham (who wrote the Smokey and the Bandit script), a buddy of actor Burt Reynolds, was driving for the male record.
Although she was deaf, Kitty had already been an Olympic diver and a motorcycle racer and had set several records like water skiing at 104 miles per hour. She’d stunted as Wonder Woman and in several other movies. She was part Cherokee, beautiful, and fearless, the first woman admitted into the Hollywood Stunts Unlimited organization. I interviewed and photographed her at length and wrote a piece for the Post, which was reprinted in Reader’s Digest. I like to think I gave her career a modest boost. No record was set during that attempt for technical reasons, but she did later set the female record at five hundred and twelve miles an hour on a dry lakebed in Oregon. They eventually did a movie about her called Silent Victory. She’s gone now, but it’s no coincidence that the love interest in my suspense series is beautiful, part Cherokee, and named Kitty.
All riveting fiction and non-fiction is based on conflict, and the more intense the conflict, the more interesting the story, real or imagined, will be, so the basic approach for either articles or stories has always been similar for me. I mostly look for subjects with an unusual aspect of adventure or danger or human endeavor against odds. In articles, I’ve covered everything from angling for blue marlin in the Gulf Stream, to a jet-powered show truck called Shockwave (which I took a 200 mph ride in at Cherry Point) to bottlenose porpoise communication research, to the last builder of wooden Chesapeake Bay sailing Skipjacks, to Dolly Parton and her Dollywood, to how to pilot a plane for skydiving. Short stories have varied widely in a variety of magazines, and a while back I put out a collection of 17 of them called Dagger and other tales.
Sherri: Your debut novel, GUNS, was endorsed by Lee Child? Now that’s impressive. Did you get the opportunity to meet Mr. Child? Do you feel his endorsement has helped your sales? How can an author set themselves up for such an endorsement or other opportunities that would aid in their marketing?
Phil: Yes, the Lee Child endorsement was a nice boost. He’d been an idol of mine, so I sent the raw manuscript to him through his agent. Lee read it, liked it, and got back to me. On their dime, my then-publisher, Medallion, sent me to the Sleuthfest conference in Fort Lauderdale to meet him. He was the guest of honor and keynote speaker for the 500 attendees. Like his protagonist, Jack Reacher, Lee is a big guy, six-five. He came up to me and shook my hand, which made my year. That night, we sat out by the Hilton pool talking about life and writing into the small hours.
I’d advise any budding writer to try for best-seller author endorsements through their publishers or literary agents. Nothing to lose by trying. I’ve garnered endorsements from best-sellers Ridley Pearson and Stephen Coonts (Flight of the Intruder) using the same approach. The top gun authors I’ve met at conferences like Killer Nashville and Bouchercon in Baltimore have been gracious and friendly. At that same Sleuthfest, for example, I had breakfast with the prolific and enchanting best-seller Heather Graham and her pleasant daughter.
Sherri: Do you read the reviews of your books, if so, do you learn from them, or do they affect your attitude? As creatives, it’s often difficult to separate ourselves from our work. On days I feel objective I can read my reviews and say, okay, I need to work on this, or I can see why they said that and it’s fine, it’s how I do things, but there are other days when they can be a boost or a devastation depending on the review.
Phil: Reviews from respected sources like Publishers Weekly, newspapers, magazines, and some of the online bloggers and critics are well worth soliciting, and they’ve certainly helped me by giving me a boost and occasionally by stinging me. A Publishers Weekly review of GUNS, for example, did both. While praising the book warmly overall, the reviewer berated me for including pages of lyrical material that did not advance the plot, so I hung my head and revised an updated version of the novel to tighten it up.
You’re always going to hear from those few who roam the Net putting everything and everybody down while never accomplishing much of anything themselves, so you can’t ever let those people get you down. You’re less likely to hear from those readers who’ve liked your work (except through respectable royalty figures), though it’s always nice to get an email or a website note from somebody who does like your stuff. I admit to keeping a file of those and it’s thick enough to be of some comfort on a dark winter night when doubts assail.
I’ve always just tried to concentrate on researching and writing the absolute best I can, and that seems to have paid off okay over the years.
Sherri: From some of your reviews one of the comments was your political bias showing in your stories, especially GUNS. We as writers often have a difficult time taking our own voice out of the story and letting the characters’ point of view shine. Do your characters represent or echo your own voice, or do they vary in their opinions? When choosing the characters, themes and topics for your novels, how much of real life enters into your work? What influences or inspires your stories?
Phil: You’re right that we should be invisible to readers. The story is always paramount, and the trick is to immerse readers in it thoroughly while staying behind the scenes, much like a movie director.
I suppose some of my political feelings have bled into my fiction at times, but it’s never a good idea to let that happen, because no matter what your views are, you’re going to make enemies.
I do firmly believe it’s important to write what you know, thus much of my work is themed on some conflict or other I’ve been somehow involved in or am at least familiar with, and I’ve drawn on my own sometimes crazy experiences—piloting, parachuting, riding motorcycles, and so on—to lend realism to plots and characters. The protagonist in my suspense series and in one of my stand-alone novels is a pilot, for example. An elderly couple in the series is based largely on my maternal stonemason grandfather (one of my enduring idols) and his good wife, and readers seem to especially like the couple. Other characters in any novel or short story may begin as ethereal figures, but they soon become as real to me as anybody I’ve known, and they can only perform on my stage as who and what I’ve molded them to be.
I also use story settings that I’ve either spent a lot of time in, like the Great Smokies, or that I’ve researched extensively enough to give me confidence, as in the novel about African elephant poaching.
Sherri: When you are writing, do you plan or plot your books ahead of time or do you just sit down and write? What is the most difficult part of writing and how do you overcome it? Where do your ideas come from?
Phil: Each short story or novel begins with a theme that I think has enough inherent conflict to build an engaging story on. GUNS, for example, is about the black-market trade in weapons. I had a friend who’d spent a career in naval intelligence, and he helped fill me in on that.
For a novel, I’ll spend weeks just digging and jotting the occasional plot idea. Copies of all my research materials go into a dedicated file box for easy reference. I’ll sketch out a rough plot longhand on a legal pad (old habit), and then launch into the story on the computer with some intense and vivid scene meant mostly to hook the reader. Then I’ll just forge on, letting my characters guide me. If I get stuck along the way, I’ll often take a long walk, which seems to break up the logjam. I rewrite and revise a lot as I go.
This is a tough, solitary business, as I’m sure you know. Weeks and months of sitting behind the screen trying to fill those blank pages with a hundred-thousand-word story that will engage and reach out and touch a reader. It’s at once a long, long slog and a wonderous and rewarding experience. I’m hopelessly hooked on it.
Sherri: I saw your publisher was listed as Bowker. Are you independently published or is this a small publishing company? What has publishing been like from the first book to the most recent? How have things changed? What do you wish you’d known in the beginning?
Phil: That’s an Amazon glitch I need to fix. Bowker was only the provider of that book’s bar code.
Over the years, much of my article and short story writing has been on pure speculation. I’d write something and then try to sell it. Early on, my work was rejected a lot, but accepted and paid for just enough to keep me plowing onward while learning and honing the craft. That led to working on assignment for several magazines at much better pay and without the marketing hassle.
If I had it to do over, I think I’d have a lot more confidence in myself and would be more aggressive.
Writing has changed in many ways since I began decades ago. I once had to research laboriously through libraries, write on a typewriter, and take photos on several kinds of expensive film with a whole heavy bag full of gear, never knowing what exactly I had until the transparencies came back from the lab. It’s so much easier now to research, write, edit, and correspond on a computer, and my digital Canon camera is amazing.
The advent of the Net, of course, has changed the whole business profoundly. Back in the day, editors filtered submissions, only buying and publishing those books they figured would earn their way. Now millions of books get published on Amazon, and it’s easy for your work to get buried in that constant avalanche. A whole generation of readers expect to get Kindle books dirt cheap or even free. Many out there are lost in Smartphoneland and don’t read books at all.
I sold my first three novels to Medallion Press under traditional advance/royalty contracts. They treated me well, but lack of distribution became an issue, so I finally asked for all rights back, added a fourth novel to the series, and self-published as Proud Eagle Publishing, which comprises me, my best friend, editor, incisive critic, and life companion, Naomi (who is also part Cherokee) and our cat, McKenzie. I write and edit, rewrite, create my own covers, put everything up on Amazon myself, promote myself, and sell through a number of indy stores I’ve set up. The six novels have sold more than 150,000 copies to date in print and Kindle, so people seem to like them.
As long as they do, I’ll keep on writing.
Sherri: Phil, it’s been a pleasure having you at Creekside Café. If you all enjoyed our interview you can learn more about Phil from his links below, order his books or come out to our Book Festival at the New Bern Farmers Market, Sunday, November 20th from 1 to 4 pm and meet him there. Remember, books make great holiday gifts, and they can even help you survive them. We hope to see you there.
Natalie Singletary is a local author from eastern North Carolina. Aside from writing, she also enjoys multiple other art forms, including stitch work, mixed media, and making handmade and printed journals. She has a love for dance and theatre, always looking for a reason to perform with the silent jukebox in her head. She is published in Down in the Dirt magazine and Scarlet Leaf Review as well as several self-published books in both print and eBook. Natalie has a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in Creative Writing from Full Sail University.
Sherri: Welcome Natalie to my virtual café. If I ever win the lottery, I’ll open a coffee shop on the river where we can sip drinks and talk about books and writing, but until then, I can only dream. As a kid my friend and I played a game while walking down country roads, she’d say something that made me think of a song and I’d start singing and then I’d say something, and she’d start singing. We sang everywhere we went. We even put on shows for our neighbors. You mentioned in your bio the jukebox in your head, do you have a soundtrack for your life? How about for your books?
Natalie: Thank you for having me, and I hope that I can help you in some way move closer to your dream of owning your coffee shop. Its funny that you mention a soundtrack of my life. I actually used to write down my soundtrack every couple of months. Now I have access to streaming services to make playlists. I prefer independent artists and music and have recently been caught up in a band called Nightshift.
I do have a playlist for the Diamond Trilogy posted on my Spotify. I believe there’s a link to it on my website. The book itself started out as a jukebox musical and I replaced the songs with poetry and small blurbs. The chapter titles in the book are actually the titles of the original jukebox songs.
Sherri: Do you make a living with your art? I am always envious of anyone who can do something they love and support themselves. I’m still hopeful that my writing will be part of my retirement plan.
Natalie: I currently do not make a living on my art, but it is a goal within the next 6 months to be a full time author and business owner.
Sherri: I was looking at your website and I saw your essay on vulnerability. Sharing your truth has to be one of the most difficult things you will have to do other than survive. When I see someone like you stand up and take charge of their lives after dealing with trauma, I am inspired. Your daily courage to face each day gives hope to others who are struggling with similar stories. Is the theme of your work about your survival and hope?
Natalie: It is. Even The Diamond Trilogy was a coping mechanism, as well as Dirty Laundry. I wanted to get rid of The Diamond Trilogy, burn the physical copies and delete the typed version, but I couldn’t bring myself to do it, and I didn’t know why. Then, within two weeks, five people in my circle(s) passed away. The Trilogy hits on a good number of hard subjects, including suicide and overdoses, and I knew that it could be a segway to help others to find help.
Sherri: As chairperson of the Pamlico Writers’ Group, one of the things I tell new members is that sharing our work is like standing in the Walmart parking lot naked, yelling “Look at me!” It’s not easy to share our work with others. Especially as a self-published author we have to promote ourselves. What is the most difficult thing for you about self-promotion?
Natalie: Talking about myself, lol. Thankfully, my sister loves talking about me and that helps. She’s my biggest cheerleader, for sure. I’ve been working on getting better with letting people and socials know that I do have art out there and that it is available to be purchased.
Sherri: Your covers are interesting and unique; do you create your own covers? I do my own covers and often have to rethink my ideas to match my genres. Do you have any suggestions for creating eye- catching covers?
Natalie: I appreciate you. I did create them, though Remnants is the first one I drew by hand and put on a cover. The others I actually used Canva.com for most of my covers, outside of The Diamond Trilogy. A good friend of mine took a photo for the Trilogy in my old apartment.
Canva.com is a free service that has plenty of resources to create great backgrounds, invites, and covers. I came across it during my time at Full Sail and I absolutely love it! I would definitely recommend it! they have templates or you can start from scratch, and while they do have elements that you can pay for, there is plenty to use that is free.
Sherri: What was the hardest thing you faced when you first published your books? What would you tell a new writer preparing to publish for the first time?
Natalie: I initially started with a vanity press, and quickly discovered that I didn’t go about it the correct way and ended up canceling my contract. Vanity presses aren’t evil by any means. Many of them are a great investment, as they offer a good number of services that take a lot off of the authors’ plates, including editing and advertising. For myself, I wasn’t the best with my finances at the time, and decided to go about it solo. It was a lot more work, but I didn’t mind, as I did like having control over the editing and the story.
Sherri: What are you working on now?
Natalie: I’m currently working on my first novel, Gemini, the first in a three book series. It is a fantasy about two sisters who were cursed by their parents to be slaves to the sun and the moon. I also just finished up a writing Inktober, a new dual poetry/journal that will be available at the beginning of 2023.
Sherri: If you enjoyed this interview, you can meet Natalie at the New Bern Farmers Market, Sunday, November 20 th at our upcoming Book Festival.
Natalie: Thank you so much for having me, Ms. Sherri!
The Diamond Trilogy – https://www.amazon.com/Diamond-Trilogy-Dramatic- Mini/dp/B0B3JD37DT/ref=sr_1_3?crid=3STJGKOLGZXT2&keywords=Natalie+Singletar y&qid=1667752443&sprefix=natalie+singletary%2Caps%2C156&sr=8-3
Jo Anna Dressler Kloster is a veteran elementary teacher, an author, a volunteer with the River Bend Community Organic Garden, and a Humane Policy Volunteer Leader with the Humane Society of the United States.
Her middle-grade novel, LILY UNLEASHED, is a coming-of-age story. It focuses on an underdog whose love inspires one girl to speak up for this puppy mill rescue and all the other dogs locked in puppy mill cages.
Ms. Kloster attends animal welfare events with her educational table and her book to inform others on how to end the puppy-mill-to-pet-store-pipeline.
Her message: Adopt don’t shop for puppies at pet stores. Wonderful dogs await you at your local shelters, rescues, and with reputable breeders.
Sherri: Welcome Jo Anna. It is so nice to have you visit my virtual café. As a dog owner, I know this book is a labor of love. Why don’t you share what inspired this book?
Jo Anna: My family had just adopted a small white puppy mill rescue dog. We had no idea what a puppy mill was. I started reading about them online and was appalled. During this time, Cagney started exhibiting behaviors I was reading that many puppy mill survivors have. So, during writer’s workshop, as I modeled the writing process for my students, I started writing about a topic I was working with every day: Cagney’s behaviors. All the while this tiny Maltese quickly became my shadow and my Velcro boy. He never left my side. And over time Cagney became my heart dog. I have never been so loved by another living creature. My husband is okay with this, too.
Well, the more I read about the inhumane treatment of dogs at puppy mills, being locked in cages 24/7, the more I fell in love with this little dog that endured such cruel treatment. Never being touched, never leaving his cage, never playing or walking on grass. His experience of living in such harsh conditions inspired me to write a book to teach kids why you don’t want to buy pet store puppies because it condemns their parents to lives locked in cages pumping out litter after litter.
Sherri: Your book is written for a younger audience, but it is a message that everyone needs to hear. Why did you choose to write a middle-grade story?
Jo Anna: Funny you should ask. My goal was to simply write a good story. And then I realized how much kids want to make a difference and feel they have the power to be the change they want to see in the world. I could not find a book that talked about the problem of pet store puppies and the inhumane treatment of puppy mills. So I decided to write one, and make it a middle-grade novel. Though, I’ve had as many adults read Lily Unleashed and felt they learned a lot. It certainly kept their attention. So I guess I achieved my goal.
Sherri: What can a fictional story do that preaching the truth cannot? Why is this the best medium to get your message out?
Jo Anna: That’s a great question. In this fictional story, I am able to flesh out the problem and a solution wrapped in characters that, hopefully, face challenges to overcome that the reader can identify with. This fictional story allows me to add more drama and problems that will grab the reader.
Sherri: What was the hardest thing you faced when publishing this story?
Jo Anna: I’d say the hardest things was not sounding too preachy. I had to step into the shoes of a twelve year old again. And it was actually fun. Getting lost in that world. But I had to ask myself all along this story…how would 12 year old Lily say this? Or how would Renzo handle that situation?
Sherri: Do you have plans to write another story? What are you working on now?
Jo Anna: I am thinking about writing a sequel – on another issue about animal welfare. Possibly the problem of people not spaying or neutering their pets and how that contributes to overcrowding at animal shelters. Or possibly the topic of factory farming and the treatment of pigs, chickens, and dairy cows and how they are treated.
Sherri: Jo Anna, thank you for writing this story and joining us at Creekside Café. If you all enjoyed this interview and would like to get Jo Anna’s book and talk to her in person, you can find her at the Book Festival, Sunday, November 20th, 1 to 4 pm at the New Bern Farmers Market.
Bio: Veronica Krug, an active member of Carteret Writers, North Carolina Writer’s Network and Seascribes has lived and worked in Eastern NC for the past seven years. She has four self-published titles as well as a calendar showcasing her work as a sand artist on the beach of Emerald Isle. Originally from Akron, Ohio, Veronica taught Middle School art and reading for over 25 years and was a director of recreation for ten years before that.
Sherri: Welcome Veronica to my virtual café. My dream is to one day have a place where I can meet and greet authors, drink coffee or tea and be surrounded by books and the river. As chairperson for the Pamlico Writers’ Group, I have had a lot of interaction with members of the Carteret Writers, we are sister groups I feel and support each other. I wish I could attend more events. Maybe when I retire. You are a retired Middle School teacher, are your books written for that age group?
Veronica: Two are for eighth graders and up; Good Beasts Bad Creatures, and The Siren and the Crow. Mainly because there are some scary parts in them. A bit of gore as well, but I know middle schoolers dig that kind of thing. They showcase North Carolina folklore and are educational without being pushy about it.
Sherri: You mentioned your calendar of your sand art, I look forward to seeing it at the book festival. How did you get into doing sand art? Do you photograph it? Are you also a photographer? What other art projects do you enjoy, and have you considered writing about them or using them for a calendar?
Veronica: Well! Being an artist, I saw a huge canvas of sand in front of me at low tide. A California artist, Andre Amador, inspired me and thought I’d try it. He uses a rake. When I tried that on our beach, it looked terrible. My husband had a PVC pipe he used for holding his fishing pole up. The end of it looked like a pencil, and bam…beach art. It’s really a Zen thing for me when I’m doing it. I never dreamed so many folks would like it so much. I incorporate my love of writing into my photos by inserting a quote; and no, I am not a professional photographer. I have been a watercolorist for over 40 years and mainly work on them when I take a break from writing.
Sherri: Tell us a little bit about your novels and the characters. This is a fantasy series based on North Carolina folklore. I love folklore and often enjoy reading young adult fiction.
Veronica: Both of my low fantasy novels include a group of four friends, Kayla, Jerry, Sarah, and Nick, who have a mystery to solve. The first, Good Beasts Bad Creatures, focuses on Kayla, Jerry, and Grimalkin; a panther who escapes a farm and is the progeny of the Beast of Bladenboro. The Beast of Bladenboro was a creature who terrorized the town in the 50s.
The second story, The Siren and the Crow, features Nick and a dog named Shep. They camp by the French Broad River in Asheville. Nick is kidnapped and his friends must solve a murder before he becomes the next victim. In the process, Nick discovers his heritage. The story is based on the siren, Tzelica, who pulls men to their deaths…but she is not the murderer.
Sherri: You are published through Lulu. I have seen their advertisements but I’m unfamiliar with the company. What was your publishing experience with them like?
Veronica: Good. I believe it’s the best way to publish for little money. It’s a print on demand company, but it only takes 10 days to receive your book after ordering. It’s a learning process at first, and they have switched book cover design to Canva. But, after some practice, Canva is really good. eBooks are pretty easy. They take any word document, but for paperbacks, you must save your word to a PDF. The only charge is to purchase a book at cost to make sure the layout and print is correct. I learned about it at Carteret Community College before Covid hit. I would imagine the class will return. It is really worth it.
Sherri: Have you always been a writer? When did you start writing and when did you decide to publish your first novel?
Veronica: I’ve always loved writing, and had many articles published in magazine and won competitions. My favorite was an all-expense paid trip to New York City for me and a friend. The contest was to write about a special friend. Man, did we have fun. We even had a driver whenever we wanted. We just called down for him. I didn’t get serious about writing a novel until about 15 years ago when my students told me I should write about Lorenzo DiMedici. His story really intrigued my middle schoolers. Back then, there wasn’t much about him, and I had to go to the Library of Congress to get any real information. When Assassin’s Creed came out, my students were so excited, because they knew all about the DiMedicis. I wrote A Magnificent Man first as a screenplay and actually won an award for it, but nothing happened, so I wrote the book. I finished it in 2017 and had retired by then. So much about him is out now.
Sherri: Who are some of your favorite authors?
Veronica: I loved Stephen King so much so that when I was in college, the professors compared my style to his. I also love Erma Bombeck’s humor. I used to go straight to her columns in the paper. She was relatable. Now, I enjoy Fredrick Backman books; my favorite being A Man Called Ovi, which will soon be a movie called, A Man Called Otto starring Tom Hanks. He has humor mixed with the challenges of getting older. His work inspired me to write my newest title, Toasted Marshmallows. It’s about a summer camp for senior citizens, and a bear named Rizzy. I’m in the process of editing and looking for an agent. This is totally adult humor. A break from my YA tomes.
Sherri: What advice would you give to beginning authors?
Veronica: Keep at it. It helps to join a group suffering the same as you. LOL Also it helps to remember it takes time. Expect to make several edits of your stories before you can put them out there. Listen to helpful critiques. Thank you, Sherri, for talking to me. I enjoyed answering your great questions.
Sherri: If you enjoyed my interview with Veronica Krug, you can meet her in person at the New Bern Farmers Market Author Sunday Book Festival, November 20th, from 1 to 4 pm. Books make excellent holiday gifts or escapes from the chaos of the season.
If you are unable to buy Veronica’s books at the festival you can purchase them online, the links are below.
The novels I am featuring at the fair are Good Beasts Bad Creatures and The Siren and the Crow. Both Young Adult mystery thrillers take place in North Carolina based on folklore in the state. In Good Beasts, it is the progeny of the Beast of Bladenboro; and in The Siren and the Crow, the story is based on Tzelica, the siren of the French Broad River in Western NC. Both novels feature the same group of friends, their efforts to survive these creatures, and solve a murder mystery at the same time. The paperbacks are a special festival price of $15. each.
You can purchase Veronica’s books on Lulu.com and through her website, www.krugbooks.com.
“The pacing in Veronica’s stories are impressive, and it keeps them moving forward at a strong clip.” -International Screenwriters Association
I submitted Red Steel to the Kindle Book Review 9th Annual Reader’s Choice Awards
Red Steel is a suspense thriller set in a small town on the North Carolina coast. Things heat up when a vigilante turns to arson to purify the town of Leeward. Firefighter Billy Grimes and reporter Tracy Harrell cast a few sparks of their own when they are thrown together as this story becomes explosive. Who will survive when the dark secrets of the town’s past are cast into the fiery light?
Now through October 15th, 2020 you can vote. Go to Kindle Book Review to vote, leave a comment at the bottom of the page and don’t forget to sign up for the raffle. You might win a Kindle Fire!
Click on YOUR preferred genre box below. (Red Steel is a Thriller!)
Scroll through the book covers in your preferred genre. If you see your favorite book in that list, VOTE for it. IN THE COMMENTS (you must put the information in the comments.) If you see a book that draws you in, read it, and if it’s your new favorite, VOTE for it.
Vote MUST include book Title & Author name.
Finally, enter the easy entry Rafflecopter form below for a one (1) entry to WIN an 8″ Kindle Fire.
So without further ado, we present this year’s categories. Please click on your preferred genre, and then VOTE for one of the books in your preferred genre after scrolling through all the book covers on that page. Please VOTE for ONE BOOK ONLY.
North Carolina is known as the writingest state. There are a large number of authors from the mountains to the sea. As the chairperson for the Pamlico Writers’ Group and a member of the Heart of Carolina the local Romance Writers of America, I have met some fantastic writers from self-published authors, those published with small or independent publishing houses and traditionally published authors.
I was surprised by how many Harlequin authors live and work in North Carolina. One, who I met at a HCRW conference just before she published her first book, Jo McNally has recently returned to her home state of New York. Her Harlequin Super Romance books are set in upstate New York and have a hometown feel that reminds me of North Carolina. Jo may have been influenced by her years living in eastern North Carolina.
At another HCRW conference, I met Karen Booth known for her millionaire romances which she writes for Harlequin Desire. Karen is a Midwesterner transplanted to North Carolina. She loves big cities, strong women and breathless kisses intertwined with a bit of family drama.
Reese Ryan is another author for Harlequin Desire. While she too is a transplant to North Carolina, this Chicago lady has embraced her southern home with several of her books. Her Pleasure Cove series is set on the Outer Banks of North Carolina and several of her other books mention North Carolina. Reese Ryan is known for her strong, dynamic characters. She gave a presentation for the Pamlico Writers’ Group on characters that was one of the best I’ve attended.
Do you read North Carolina authors? Do you like to read about places you are familiar with? I plan to search for more North Carolina authors and share with you a few of fantastic stories I find. If you have a few favorites, feel free to share your North Carolina authors with me.
“The best laid plans of mice and men often go awry.” A quote from “The Mouse” by Robert Burns.
In the fall of 2019, my friend Tammera sent out an email to see who would be interested in joining her at the NC Book Festival 2020 in Raleigh. I’d never heard of it but as an Indie-author I’m always looking for ways to get my name out into the public, so I said yes.
In October, we divided into two groups, Alison Paul Klakowicz author of Mommy’s Big Red Truckhttps://www.alisonpaulklakowicz.com/ and Tammera Cooper author of The Water Street Chronicles https://www.southernromanceonthepamlico.com/brackish-blogging, and Adrienne Dunning author of several sweet romances https://adriennedunning.com/ and I would have two tables at the festival. I went to the website and posted and reposted anything I saw to help drive traffic to their website and to the festival. Tammera made us lovely banners to put on our social media. We posted, Tweeted, chatted and blogged about it, and still people did not know about it. From October to February there was very little traffic on their website. I saw no advertising on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram except what I or my friends posted but I hoped since they charge so much for a table, that they had at least put out signs and advertised locally.
Then the snow came. We had had a lovely winter with temperatures averaging in the seventies until the week of the festival, then we get twenty-degree weather and snow. I know, you cannot plan for these things. I was hoping that like the hurricane that came when I went to Murfreesboro for a writer’s retreat that everything would turn out just fine. Well, the weather warmed, the snow and ice melted, and everything went off without a hitch…mostly.
Without proper advertising and publicity, people were unaware that we were even there. My friend was on the same block as the book festival and had no idea it was even going on until she returned home and saw my posts on Facebook.
It wasn’t a total waste of time. I had a nice weekend away with my friend although the weather derailed some of our plans. I met some fantastic people at the festival, promoted the upcoming Pamlico Writers’ Conference and made some connections for future interviews on my website but I only sold two books.
It is difficult to balance the cost of the table, hotel, gas and food, not to mention the books and bling we bought to attract people to our tables with the number of books sold.
While I am trying to remain upbeat and positive, I know that I blew my budget on this weekend and have little to show for it. Will I do it again? Not if I’m paying for it. Do I think it’s a waste of time? Not for a group like the Pamlico Writers who wanted to promote their conference but for an individual author, yeah, it wasn’t worth the cost.
I think the NC Book Festival could be a profitable and fun event. It needs to be in a central location instead of spread out to so many different venues, and it needs more marketing behind it. Every writers’ group or organization, publisher and agent in North Carolina should have been contacted as well as all the libraries and bookstores. There should have been signs up around town and especially at the venue alerting people that something cool was happening. I feel like this was a missed opportunity and for an Indie-author with a small budget, this failure hurts the pocketbook and sets me back.
But I did have a good time. As I was setting up my table the man across the way greeted me and we exchanged information about ourselves and our books. Come to find out, we have a friend in common, my mentor, Marni Graff. Thomas A. Burns, jr. author of Stripper, Revenge and Trafficked also deals with the darker side of life, especially sex trafficking. I am presently reading his first book and Tom and I have plans for an interview. It will be interesting to compare notes.
I also met two lovely ladies sitting behind me, a lady who’d written a biography and has ties to Washington, a lovely British woman a former history professor who is now writing young adult time travel adventure novels. The day was filled with lovely people, authors, publishers, poets and even a handsome economist.
While financially I don’t feel as if I can recommend this event, culturally and for the connections, it was a lovely experience.
sherrilhollister.com/Suspense She Writes Bookstore Dismiss