Author Interviews – R. R. Virdi

Author Interviews – R. R. Virdi

I didn’t get a chance to interview Mr. Virdi before the release of Grave Dealings, but two other authors did. I’m going to post excerpts from their interviews, and then send you to their page. Both are successful authors in their own realm. First, the interview from E. A. Copen, author of the Judah Black series and The Beasts of Babylon:

E.A: First of all, welcome and  tell us a little about your new book. 

R.R. Virdi: Grave Dealings is book three in the Dragon Award-nominated urban fantasy series, The Grave Report. It picks up with Vincent Graves waking up in a new body in Queens, New York, and already hunted by the paranormal instead of doing the hunting. No reprieve for our free spirit and paranormal investigator. He’s got 57 hours to find who’s behind a string of devilish bargains that’s leaving a line of dead bodies.

E.A.: It was really exciting to read! Now, I don’t want to spoil anything, but this book has a really unique monster. Can you tell us how you decide which monsters to use and where you find them? 

R.R. Virdi: My passion of mythology. I love reading about it all the time anyhow. That gives me a near-encyclopedic knowledge to draw from, and then I just pluck what seems most fun to me, whatever I can twist.

The full interview can be found on Copen’s website.

The second interview was conducted by D. R. Perry, author of the Dragon Award nominated A Change in Time and the whimsical urban fantasy series about Providence Paranormal College.

D.R.- You’re ready to write and have your pen and paper or computer or microphone ready. What else do you need during your session?

R.R.- Music (without lyrics) really helps me focus. I’m ADHD, so the constant engagement without distracting lyrics helps me tune out other things and set a constant workflow/pattern. I prefer what some people call, “Epic music.” It’s bombastic, orchestral, evocative, stuff from movies, games, anime.

You can read the full interview on Perry’s website.

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Book 3 of the Grave Report is COMING SOON!!!!

I don’t think there’s anything more exciting for an author than a new book release. I shared my excitement about E. A. Copen’s newest book “Playing with Fire” and told you that two of my favorite authors were about to release new books. The next book to be released will happen on November 13 when R. R. Virdi releases the third book in the Grave Report called “Grave Dealings.” The kindle book is available to pre-order right now at the link to the book above. I’ll be releasing my review of the book on Tuesday, November 13, but I wanted to let you know that this book was coming.

Virdi has become one of my favorite authors. Were he to release a phone book, or a cook book, I would be one of the first in line to buy it. I can’t give you any details of his new book, yet, but I can tell you what Mr. Virdi said about Grave Dealings on his preview page.

Don’t make deals with the paranormal. They’re better at it than you, and they never play fair.

Paranormal investigator and soul without a body, Vincent Graves, did just that—a deal made in desperation. Now it’s coming back to bite him in the middle of a case.
He has 57 hours to investigate a string of deaths involving people who’ve made some devilish bargains. Too bad devils don’t deal in good faith. It’d be easy enough, if he didn’t have to deal with things such as:

  • Being hunted through the streets of Queens by a dark elf with a motorcycle fetish.
  • Ending up the target of a supernatural hit.
  • An old acquaintance dragging him to a paranormal ball where he could end up on the menu.
  • And having one of his closest guarded secrets brought to light…

    Not great for a tight clock, because if he doesn’t get to the bottom of this case in time, Vincent and company might just lose their souls.

    Dirty deals are never done dirt cheap. And the supernatural always collect—big!

Again, trying to avoid spoilers, but I can tell you that this may be Virdi’s best book yet. I can’t wait to share my review of this book with you. If you like Urban Fantasy, and I’ll be honest, I didn’t know I liked it until “Grave Beginnings,” if you like Detective stories with a twist, you need to pre-order this book now! And, if you want to get a head start on the deaths and lives of Vincent Graves, you can check out the series page here. Go ahead and order them all. You’ll be glad you did.

It’s Coming! Time to Get Fired Up!!!

Almost a year ago, someone pointed me to a series of books starring a hard-nosed, female, supernatural investigator by the name of Judah Black. Her job is to investigate crimes committed by or against supernatural beings: werewolves, zombies, vampires, fairies, etc. I had read the beginning of another series in the Urban Fantasy genre, more on that in a couple of weeks, so I was more open to the books than I might have been before.

I fell in love with the books almost immediately! I love seeing a strong female lead portrayed so effectively. Of course, before I saw how well E. A. Copen wrote the story of Judah Black, I was drawn to the setting: Paint Rock, Texas. “Where is Paint Rock?” you might ask. My standard answer is “Go to the middle of nowhere and take a left.” I know that because I used to live I Paint Rock when I was pastor of First Baptist Church there. For a small town, it’s a great place. The people are wonderful. Copen doesn’t deal with the people who live there, because of the nature of her books, but she does an amazing job of showing the physical attributes of the area and I have enjoyed reading about my old stomping grounds.

I’m bringing this up now because….insert drumroll here….Judah Black #4 is being released on October 31! This book is called “Playing with Fire” and I can tell you that Copen does an amazing job of continuing the story. I’m excited that this is coming out now! I’ve had the privilege of reading an Advanced Reader Copy, ARC, and I told my wife that she‘ll want to buy it the instant it comes out! (I don’t let her read ARCs when I get them, but she’s chomping at the bit to read this book.) I will be posting my review on the 31st.  If you haven’t read any of E. A. Copen’s books, let me suggest you check out the Judah Black series. You can find her Amazon page at E. A. Copen. You’ll notice a couple other books outside of the series. The Fairchild Chronicles is good, but, to be honest, her later work is much better. “Beasts of Babylon” shows how much she’s grown as a writer in a very short time. That’s an awesome book and introduced me to Western Horror – a genre that combine two genres I didn’t like before.

If you’ve read her books before and you just want a shot at “Playing with Fire,” the pre-order link is here. If you pre-order the Kindle version, it will be delivered as soon as possible so you don’t have to wait to read it. Order now….don’t get burned.

Indie Author E. A. Copen

One of the independent authors I really like is E. A. Copen. Her main series is an Urban Fantasy  look at a world where Supernatural Beings are herded onto a reservation in West Texas. The Judah Black novels are a lot of fun. Ann Shannon had a great interview with Copen on her blog. Rather than trying to recreate the interview, I’m going to share a little bit of the beginning and then send you over to Ann’s blog. Get to know E. A. and look into her writings! (You even have a chance to win a free Kindle version of one of her books!)

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

EA Copen is a time traveler who’s been writing since she was three. She exists, not only on our timeline, but also in Ancient Rome where she’s called Pompeia Furia.

Hi and welcome to the launch of the Indie Author BLT Spotlight. If you are here, you are helping to launch a brand new way to appreciate Indie Authors for all their hard work. I will be spotlighting a new author each month, they will always be Indie or small press authors, though my focus is on Indies. Each month you’ll get to know my featured author, how they came to be an author, how they approach their craft and many other exciting facts. You’ll also be eligible for a sweepstakes in which I’ll give away one or more of their books so you can sample their work! What could be more exciting than that?

Read all the way to the bottom to enter the Sweepstakes!

This month the sweepstakes winner will receive a Kindle version of Guilty by Association. Be sure your subscribed to take part in the sweepstakes and find out if you won!

EA Copen is a breakout Indie author of 2016.

She’s the author of four books with a fifth and sixth set for release later this year. In 2016 she published her first book on April 1, her second book on July 8 and her third on November 4. Let me reassure you, they are all powerhouses that will keep your eyes glued to the pages as you stay up long past your bedtime. I got a chance to chat with her for a bit and this is what I learned about her. Sit down, pour yourself a drink, wine if you want to join her in ancient Rome while you visit, and enjoy getting to know an Indie author that is well worth your time.

Head over to Ann’s blog to read the full story. 

Yes, I Really Want You to Support Your Author Friend

I posted another author’s blog on the idea of helping your friends who are authors. Here is the blog from E. A. Copen, author of the Judah Black novels and Fairchild Chronicles. She makes some great suggestions for people who have friends who are authors. Check it out.

How to Support an Author Friend

Let’s say you have this author friend and you’d really like to help her out, but you’re not sure what you can do or where to start. Well then, my friend, this post is for you. Yes, even if you have absolutely zero dollars to your name, no free time, and don’t read in the genre they write, YOU CAN HELP. Here’s how.

The first thing you should do is buy their books. That’s the #1 thing all authors want you to do. When you buy our books, feel free to post selfies with them all over social media. This spreads the word and tells potential new readers that you are friends with an author. How cool is that?

Click on the link in the Title to read the rest. It’s good stuff!

Life of an Indie Author

J. S. Bailey is an Indie author that I’ve had the pleasure of conversing with from time to time. She writes speculative fiction from a Christian perspective. I wouldn’t call speculative fiction one of my favorite genres, but I have enjoyed her writing. She wrote a blog post talking about the life of an Indie Author. I love her spirit. I hope you check her out on Amazon.

By this point in time, I have published four novels (one currently out of print) and sixteen short stories. It has been a wonderful journey, and I wouldn’t change it for anything.
But here’s the reality of being an indie author:
In 2016, I drove 4,927.2 miles to and from events promoting my books.
I had $4,560.41 in sales from my books.
I spent $5,317.47 on inventory purchases, editing, formatting, advertising, Square fees, shipping, and other book-related expenses.
Read the rest of her blog post here

 

 

Interview with Madeline Dyer – Author of Untamed

Madeline Dyer just re-released her breakthrough novel, Untamed, this week and I thought it would be interesting to get to know this remarkable lady. She signed her contract for Untamed at the age of 19. She released her second book in the Untamed Series, Fragmented, in 2016 (with a coming re-release with her new publisher soon), and will be releasing her third novel in the series, Divided, in July of this year. Do not be fooled by her young age. She is wise in the ways of this business and has some great help for people like me. I hope you enjoy getting to know her as much as I did.

Hello Madeline! It’s so great to have this chance to get to know you. Tell me about yourself. What do I need to know about you as a person and as an author?

Hi! So, I’m Madeline, and I live in the southwest of England. I have a strong love for anything dystopian, ghostly, or paranormal, and I own so many books that I’m slightly worried my floor is going to give way. (But you can never have too many books, right?). I’ve got an Honours degree in English from the University of Exeter, and I now write full-time.

Full time! Wow! That’s amazing. Tell me about your writing. What genre do you prefer? What books or stories have you published, or are about to publish? Tell me about your series that you’re working on now.

I’m a speculative fiction writer, and my work has been published by several small presses. My favourite genre within speculative fiction probably has to be dystopian fiction…though I do love fantasy—my Untamed Series (originally published by Prizm Books, and most released by Ineja Press) is a genre blend of dystopian and fantasy elements, and I’d say those books represent me as a writer pretty well.

But I’m also drawn to really dark stories…

I’m currently working on a secret new manuscript and Divided, the third book in the Untamed Series. Divided is scheduled for a July 11th, 2017 release, and at the moment I’m addressing beta-reader feedback. Soon it’ll be off to my editor.

Wow! I’m impressed. I ‘m still dreaming of that day for me. But as a full time writer, you can’t just sit back and enjoy that feeling for too long. It’s time to begin your next novel. Give me an outline of your work process from the beginning of the idea, to the research you may do before (and during) the creative process, the actual writing, the editing, the rewriting up until the day the manuscript is ready for a publisher.

Wow! What a question!

So, for me, I tend to start the whole ‘write a novel’ process as soon as a spark of an idea captures me. I don’t sit on ideas for weeks to let them germinate; I just grab a pen (or my laptop), and go. It’s only when I start writing that I get to know and explore an idea, and so writing a messy first draft is essential for me to actually discover the story and the characters. I literally write everything that comes into my head, and at this point I don’t let myself edit it. I might make a few notes separately, but for me the important thing is actually finishing the first draft. And I usually don’t know the characters truly—or the world they live in—until I’ve written an ending for that first draft.

And then I’m left with a very messy first draft that doesn’t make sense, and that’s full of holes. But this is where my rewriting begins—and frankly, the rewriting is my favourite part of it all. It’s taking my messy draft and making it into something readable. By this stage, I know my characters well—or If I don’t, I do loads of character work on them—and I can also see the manuscript as a whole, rather than just a chain of events that makes up the plot. I can see how things feed into each other, and where the pacing is off, or parts that lack tension.

So, I typically do a huge rewrite looking at structure and all the big issues. It’s here where I nearly always use Blake Snyder’s beat sheet, found in Save the Cat, to help with the structure and to make sure I’ve got all the necessary components. The other thing I look carefully at when rewriting is my main character. His or her voice needs to start coming through now, and the MC (main character) needs to be realistic and believable, needs to have flaws…but the protagonist also needs to be active (and not just reactive). He or she has to make the stuff happen, particularly in the latter part of the manuscript. The MC needs to take charge and make sure she meets her goal.

And that brings me to the MC’s goal… I typically do another rewrite to ensure that my protagonist has a clear goal or something that he or she wants to achieve, and that readers know what will happen if they doesn’t achieve it…what the stakes are. That sort of thing. This then becomes my characterization rewrite where I look really carefully at all my characters and their individual goals and backgrounds—and I make sure that my antagonist’s reasoning for his/her actions is also clear and logical in their head (as the antagonist is also the hero of his/her own story).

By this point, I usually find that my plot is changing a lot and my new draft is vastly different to that messy first draft. It’s more balanced and structured (and any scenes that don’t either move the plot forward or reveal something important about a character are taken out).

Next up, I concentrate on worldbuilding and really making sure that I know every single detail about the world I’m writing, and that readers know enough to understand the world I’m asking them to (temporarily) live in. And this also becomes the editorial round where I do loads of research. Alongside my earlier rewrites, I would’ve made many notes and questions about stuff I need to look up, so here is where I do it.

After this, the manuscript is usually in pretty good shape and once I’m really happy with it, I send it to my beta-readers and critique partners. About four to eight weeks later, I get their feedback and comments, often with loads of suggestions and highlighted parts that they didn’t understand. I then spend the next month or so addressing their comments in a new round of edits and really making sure the manuscript is as best it can be.

Before I query it with acquisitions editors at publishers, I also give it another read for grammar and spelling, and final checks. (But by no means will a manuscript be done, even now—after contracting, I expect to do at least three more rounds of edits with an in-house editor. But at this stage, it’s the best that I can make it.)

Every once in a while, I run into people seem to think that an author just has to write down a bunch of words and put it into a book. Thank you so much for all the details on all the work you do. That’s amazing. To be honest, I’m exhausted just reading what you do. It’s hard to imagine doing that. Seriously, though, I saw that you are involved with the “Lift 4 Autism” project for this year. How did you get involved with this project? Why is it important for you, or any other author, to be involved in projects like this?

I saw a call for submissions for a fantasy anthology raising money for Lift 4 Autism and I signed up to find out more info. I had to give quite a bit of info about myself as an author and my writing credentials—as well as links to my traditionally published works—and a few weeks later I found out that I’d been selected to write for the anthology. My novella, “The Curse of the Winged Wight”, is a gothic fairy tale retelling of the Sleeping Beauty story, and the whole anthology releases on April 1st 2017.

Writing shorter fiction is always something I find challenging (I’m used to writing novels that are around 100,000 words) and I think it’s important for writers to regularly step out of their comfort zones, so that’s why I wanted to be involved. Plus, it’s for charity, and it’s a really good cause. I’ve also become good friends with a few of the other authors involved in the anthology, and it’s always great meeting other authors.

That is a great cause and I want to thank you for being involved in it! Let’s get back to your books. You’ve done all that hard work. The book is published. The reader buys your book. When the reader finishes reading your book, what do you want to happen?

For him or her to buy the next in the series! And for the reader to have liked the book—that’s important! I want my writing to mean something to its readers. And it’s even better if the readers keep thinking about the deeper messages in the novel after they’ve finished the book—dystopian fiction is great for this as so often these fictitious societies interact and engage with today’s world on so many levels.

You’ve probably gotten lots of advice as a writer. What’s the best advice you’ve ever gotten about writing?

Write with your biggest fan in mind, and don’t read your reviews. If you come across a negative review, you’ll pay way more attention to it than you do all your positive reviews together, and it’ll disrupt your writing for days.

That review advice is awesome. I’m afraid I would be very tempted to read those reviews and would let bad ones bother me. So now it’s your time to dispense some advice. Right now, a thirteen-year-old girl who wants to be an author is reading this interview. What do you tell her to inspire her to follow her dream?

To keep writing! Write every day and get into the habit of writing. Even if it’s just a couple hundred words each day, it’ll add up. And no one can tell you that you’re not a writer. You ARE.

There’ll also be some criticism from others when they hear you want to be a writer. But don’t let that put you off. I was told I should be a carpet-fitter by a teacher (yeah, I know!), and that young people never get book deals. But I was 19 when I signed my first book deal with a traditional publisher, so I guess I proved her wrong…

The other thing is, when the time comes to look into publishing routes, research each publisher thoroughly. Unfortunately, there are a lot of scams out there. In short, if someone says you’ve got to pay them to get published (even if they say that you’d be paying for editing or cover art), then run. A legitimate publisher never asks their authors to pay anything, and a publisher should invest their own money in the author’s work.

Great advice! And obviously, there is a lot that an old man like me can get from that too. Writing isn’t easy, you’ve shown us that. What challenges do you face as an author?

I think the unpredictability of a writer’s career is the biggest challenge I face most of the time. You can’t really predict how your earnings will be in a year’s time, and so there’s the constant need to bring out new books. Luckily, I have this burning desire in me to write and I want to write…and write as much as I can. But I often feel like I can’t write fast enough and that I have too many stories inside me that are just waiting patiently in line.

Obviously, you are a full time writer, so selling your books is one joy you get as an author. There are others, I’m sure. What joys do you experience as an author?

My favourite moments are when I get emails from readers who’ve just finished one of my books and they tell me how much they loved a certain character, or what one of the novels meant to them.

So that any readers can tell you these things, what’s the best way for someone to contact you?

You can email me at Madeline [at] MadelineDyer.co.uk or find me @MadelineDyerUK on Twitter, Instagram, or Pinterest. My Facebook page is http://www.facebook.com/MadelineDyerAuthor

Let’s get back to the process. I just realized we left your book at the level of the best you can do. You’re ready for the publisher. Tell me the process you went through to get published, once you finished writing. 

Okay. So, Untamed was my debut novel, but it was the fourth manuscript that I completed. (Writing the others before it really shaped me as a writer, and if I hadn’t stuck to it and written them, I couldn’t have written the manuscript that became my debut. Lots of authors, including me, also believe that you should never publish the first manuscript you write.).

So, when I had completed Untamed, I sent queries off to many agents and acquisitions editors. Quite a few then requested the full manuscript, and at that stage, I got an offer from a publisher. However, at the same time, another publisher offered me an R&R (revise and resubmit) with detailed feedback about how they thought I could improve the book further and make it more gripping and slightly darker. After thinking long and hard, I decided to go with the R&R over the offer, and did another editorial round. Developing the darkness in the book was something that I really loved and I could tell immediately that it had made it better.

When I’d finished the R&R edits, I sent the manuscript back to the acquisitions editor. Ultimately, she decided not to offer on it then as it still wasn’t quite right for her house, even though she loved it (and she wanted to know which publisher it ended up with). But at this point, I had a much stronger manuscript. I started querying again, and within a few months, I had three more offers from publishers who all really wanted Untamed now that it was darker in tone.

And so, aged nineteen, I signed my first book deal and felt really confident in my manuscript.

I would assume that you are getting better in your skills. What do you do to improve your writing craftsmanship?

Read! I’m a firm believer that all writers should keep reading continuously to improve their craft, whether they read fiction or books on the craft. I tend to read more fiction (after all, knowing the current market and what’s popular is important), but I also have a core group of writing craft books that I regularly read alongside when I’m drafting a new manuscript.

Talking to other writers is also important, and I regularly swap passages of manuscripts with other authors. Critiquing each other’s work is so valuable, not only for the one getting the feedback, but also the writer assessing it and making the comments.

Last question. I promise. You began with traditional publishing. Now, because of circumstances, you are moving to independent publishing. Based on what you’ve experienced so far, what are the differences? Would you prefer to stay in a traditional publishing model or are you enjoying the Indie model?

Yes, the publisher for my Untamed Series closed, and when rights reverted to me, I decided to self-publish new editions of the titles to keep the books in print.

I couldn’t keep the formatting, covers, or ISBNs (as these were my publisher’s), but I still wanted my books to look as professional as they can, and so I made a list of all the things that I couldn’t do and that I’d need to outsource, such as cover art, interior design, and formatting.  With my first two novels, they’d already been professionally edited by an in-house editor, so I didn’t have to worry about editing costs–though, I’ll be releasing book three in my series independently right from the start, and I’ve already booked the same editor who edited my first two books in-house to work with me on this, as she now does freelance editing too.

The main difference between traditional and self-publishing is whose money is being invested. With traditional publishing, the publisher is investing their money in the production costs, whereas as an indie, it’s your own money. And so if you’re self-publishing (and if you’re writing for a living) you’ve got to be confident that you can break even (at least) with your books, and early on. That isn’t to say that you should only write for money—I’m a firm believer that you need to love writing (readers can tell if you don’t). But to make it into a career, you also have to see it as a business and understand the market you’re writing for.

So far, I’m really enjoying how much control I get with self-publishing. My cover artist, Molly Phipps, is amazing, and she’s also done the interior design for the ebook and paperback editions, as well as the formatting. I like knowing exactly what’s happening, and setting my own deadlines and release dates. I’ve also decided to set up my own independent self-publishing imprint, Ineja Press, for my Untamed Series, and I’ve bought my own ISBNs rather than use the free ones provided to self-publishing authors via distributor sites. My main reason for doing this is that I still want bookstores to be able to order copies of my books in, and some won’t look at a self-published book if CreateSpace owns the ISBN.

But I’m not ruling out traditional publishing, as both models have their advantages. Some books are better suited to the traditional route, and I’m working on a manuscript now that I’ll be querying soon. For me, starting to independently publish my work doesn’t mean that I’m only going to self-publish from now on. I like what both routes offer, and each can help me reach new readers. And if people are reading my books, then I’m happy.

Madeline, thank you so much for talking with me. You are a great role model for other writers. I have learned a lot and hope that I can use what I’ve learned to do a better job as I prepare for publication myself. Interestingly enough, the book I am working on right now is the fourth manuscript I’ve written. So, we have that in common. Good luck on this new release and for your new projects, including your secret manuscript. That intrigues me. Thank you.

Thank you.


Watch for Fragmented later this month and Divided in July. And don’t forget the Lift 4 Autism project releasing in April of this year.

Here is Madeline’s official Bio and a summary of Untamed (along with links to buy this great book.)

Madeline Dyer lives in the southwest of England, and holds a BA honours degree in English from the University of Exeter. She has a strong love for anything dystopian, ghostly, or paranormal, and can frequently be found exploring wild places. At least one notebook is known to follow her wherever she goes. Her debut novel, Untamed (first published by Prizm Books in 2015), examines a world in which anyone who has negative emotions is hunted down, and a culture where addiction is encouraged. Her second novel, Fragmented, released in September 2016, and will be followed by Divided in July 2017.

About UNTAMED

A fantastic dystopian tale. Highly recommended for fans of strong heroines and intriguing sci-fi worlds.
Pintip Dunn, New York Times bestselling author of the Forget Tomorrow series

As one of the last Untamed humans left in the world, Seven’s life has always been controlled by tight rules. Stay away from the Enhanced. Don’t question your leader. And, most importantly, never switch sides–because once you’re Enhanced there’s no going back. Even if you have become the perfect human being.

But after a disastrous raid on an Enhanced city, Seven soon finds herself in her enemy’s power. Realizing it’s only a matter of time before she too develops a taste for the chemical augmenters responsible for the erosion of humanity, Seven knows she must act quickly if she’s to escape and save her family from the same fate.

Yet, as one of the most powerful Seers that the Untamed and Enhanced have ever known, Seven quickly discovers that she alone holds the key to the survival of only one race. But things aren’t clear-cut anymore, and with Seven now questioning the very beliefs she was raised on, she knows she has an important choice to make. One that has two very different outcomes.

Seven must choose wisely whose side she joins, for the War of Humanity is underway, and Death never takes kindly to traitors.

Buy UNTAMED on Amazon (and it’s $1.99/£1.99 until the end of January 2017!) https://www.amazon.com/Untamed-Book-1-Madeline-Dyer-ebook/dp/B01MS5264O/

Other retailers:  iBooks  |  Kobo  |  Click here for the full list of retailers