Interview with Joleene Naylor

joleene naylor 2WM had the opportunity to interview author Joleene Naylor, author of the Amaranthine vampire series. She describes the series as “glitterless” vampires. When she isn’t writing, Joleene designs book covers and is an amateur photographer.

Word Museum (WM): Thanks for chatting with us today, Joleene. Can you tell us a little bit about how you got into writing in the first place?

Joleene Naylor (JN): Thanks for having me! My mother is a writer and poet, so writing always seemed normal to me, though I quit doing it for a few years. I got back into it so I could play with the “cool kids” in a Harry Potter Role Playing group. Jorick, the hero of the Amaranthine series, is actually based loosely on a side character – vampire ex-boyfriend of my main character – that I wrote in that RP group.

WM: What are some of your other interests? What do you do when you aren’t writing?

JN: Besides marketing my writing, I make book covers for other authors, illustrate a weekly web comic – The Terrible Turtle Conspiracy – and fancy myself an amateur photographer. And I’m supposed to be working on house renovations. When I’m not doing that, my ideas of fun include petting fuzzy cats, watching anime, or wandering around somewhere with my husband and taking a billion photos of the same thing from slightly different angles.

WM: Favorite season of the year and favorite thing about that season?

JN: Autumn wins, hands down. I love the temperatures, the gray cloudy days, the bright colors of the leaves, the misty rain, but most of all the damp, woodsy, dead leaf smell. It speaks of mysteries and hidden places.

WM: You call your vampire series “glitter-less”, which I thought was really clever. Tell us a little bit about your series…

JN:  Thanks! When I wrote the first book, Shades of Gray, in 2005 I’d read a bunch of books where plain Jane human meets a vampire, instantly believes in vampires (despite being a reasonable human being), falls in love in a minute, and becomes a kick-butt killer in five pages. Those stories annoyed me because it’s unrealistic. Sure, vampires are out there, but I’ve tried to add some realism into the world. Katelina meets Jorick and runs away with him (so to speak), but there are consequences: she loses her job, she loses her apartment, her mother reports her as a missing person, and when she goes to the hospital after a vampire attack the staff call the police.

While there is some romance, Amaranthine vampires aren’t tame romantic heroes – and none of them are going to high school. Even the nicest of the group is still a blood drinker and a killer. When life lasts forever, it becomes cheap.

1 - shades of gray - 250WM: You offer quite a few freebies and extras on your site for your readers. Can you tell us a little about some of those and what readers can find over at JoleeneNaylor.com?

JN: At the website readers can download wallpaper, print bookmarks, vote in polls, cruise through the character gallery (complete with artwork and bios), check out my author blog, and find the links for all the books and freebies. And yes, there are a lot of those. The Vampire Morsels collection features seventeen shorts about background characters. Heart of the Raven Mini-Prologue Collection sets the stage book five, Heart of the Raven. Tales from Island is a supplement to the sixth novel Children of Shadows and tells the stories of the characters while they’re on a tropical island vacation. And I’m currently working on theTales of the Executioners series. Right now it has stories available individually. Unfortunately most of the freebies aren’t on Amazon (because I want them to stay free!), but you can get the kindle versions from Smashwords.

WM: You mentioned that you also design book covers for others. What is your favorite thing about that type of work? Do you create your own covers?

JN: I think the best part is the authors I get to meet. I’ve made some good friends through book covers.

Yep! I do my own. They originally featured hand drawn characters, but I changed in 2012 to the current style. Since some of the fans liked the hand drawn covers better, I still make those for the Collector’s Editions of the paperbacks.

WM: How long does it take you to write one of the Amaranthine books from start to finish on average?

JN: If I were to knuckle down and just write – no DIYing in between, or book covers, or any of the rest of it – I could probably do it in six months including all the round of editing. But since that happy dream world eludes me, it’s usually about a year between books.

WM: What are you working on right now? What other projects do you have in the works?

JN: I have Patrick, a prequel, re-written and ready to edit. I have plans for more of the Tales of the Executioners stories, and there is a Jorick novel in planning stages, but at the moment I am doing to final touches on Masque of the Vampire, release date April 1st. When that’s done, I need to figure out Goddess of Night, the ninth and potentially final book in the series. And I need to get back to work on novels I’m writing with co-authors before they tar and feather me.

WM: What is the best advice you’ve ever received (writing or otherwise)?

JN: Use the delete key. As writers we sometimes think every word we pour out is gold, but it’s not. I find that if I delete at least 10,000 words from my final manuscript it’s much smoother. I can’t count the number of books I’ve read that would have been amazing if the author had deleted 12% of the useless fluff. Instead they were just “okay”.

WM: Do you have any favorite shows or books about vampires that you find smart and inspiring for your own work?

JN: Like many vampire lovers in my generation, Anne Rice’s Interview with the Vampire was inspirational. Laurell K. Hamilton’s early books in the Anita Blake series were as well. In a roundabout way, a lot of the movies/shows/books I’d term bad also inspired me because they showed me what not to do: like making one dimensional characters, for instance.

WM: Anything you’d like to add?

JN: Thanks so much for having me, and for such awesome questions! Interested readers can get the first book in the series, Shades of Gray, free from all ebook retailers, or they can dip their toes into the free short stories first. Links to all of them can be found on my website at http://JoleeneNaylor.com.

Thank you for the interview, Joleene. WM wishes you the best of luck with your series.

Author Spotlight on Lori Soard

cupidscrossingI’ve known Lori Soard for forever, so when she mentioned she had a new book out, I thought it would be a great opportunity to interview her. She owns this site and has spent untold hours interviewing other authors and featuring them so I jumped at the opportunity to interview her.

As long as I’ve known Lori, she’s always been writing stories, spinning tales. She is one of those natural born story

Jen: Lori, tell us about Cupid’s Quest.

Lori: This is the first in my new series called Cupid’s Crossing. It is a contemporary inspirational romance. I adore the characters in this book, particularly Libby Henderson, who is in her 80s. Libby is always getting into trouble and most of the time it is pretty funny.

Blurb from Cupid’s Quest

Here is the blurb from the back cover of Lori’s newest novel:

The only life Gracie has ever known has been the nursing home and the residents who are like family to her. Now, she risks losing it all and her friends scattering to different homes if she can’t come up with the money to save the business.

Between caring for his ailing mother and running the family farm, Brandt is stretched thin. Too thin. When his mother begs him to enter a local scavenger hunt, win the prize money, and convert the farm into an orchard, he knows he can’t refuse her anything, so he reluctantly agrees.

While seeking clues to the scavenger hunt, Gracie and Brandt keep bumping into each other. Gracie’s always had a crush on him that keeps her from stringing two coherent words together. Brandt doesn’t understand why she dislikes him so much she won’t even talk to him. If the nursing home residents would settle down and stop getting into crazy shenanigans long enough, the two might figure out that they have more than a little in common.

You can probably see why I was so excited to read this book and Lori didn’t disappoint me. I loved it!

Jen: I’ve asked you before what inspires you to write different books, but what specifically inspired you on this one?

Lori: Libby. I “met” her first. I was at the grocery store and I helped this sweet little old lady who couldn’t reach something on a top shelf. It got me to thinking about what would happen if a little old lady wasn’t so sweet in a grocery store. And, from that, Libby was born. You would think my main characters would be the heart of this series, but it is actually Libby Henderson. She will appear in future books, too.

Jen: What are you working on?

Lori: I am working on Book # 2 in the Cupid’s Crossing series. It is Sinclaire’s story. You’ll meet her in Book # 1. Sinclaire is broken and it is going to be tough for her to be healed enough to love again. Her book will be called Change of Heart. The theme of this book is all about redemption and second chances. It is about how much Christ can change a person, too.

Jen: I know you are a lover of animals. Tell readers about your pets.

Lori: I have a miniature dachshund named Maya. She is really my daughter’s dog, but when Caitlin went away to college she bonded with us very strongly. She is my baby. She lays by my side all day, sleeps with us, and even went on vacation with us recently.

Jen: What advice do you have for new writers?

Lori: Don’t give up. If you simply must write, just keep writing, keep sending your work out into the world, and keep telling your stories.

Jen: Any other thoughts?

Lori: My goal with each story is to reach some reader in some small way. I don’t write for the masses but for that one reader whose perspective can be changed. If God can use my writing ability to plant a seed, then I’ve fulfilled His purpose for me.

I want to thank Lori for agreeing to this interview. She was reluctant at first since she said she started this site to help feature other writers and get news to readers, but she has a lot of fans out there, so I know you’d all appreciate her perspective. She said to tell you all to connect with her on social media. She loves to chat with her readers.

Get your copy of Cupid’s Quest. I promise you’ll love it as much as I did.

Jen

Exclusive Interview with Jen Selinsky

reach up for the sunriseThis probably won’t surprise those who know me, but I first met Jen Selinsky at my local library. We struck up a conversation about ebooks and I discovered she was a writer as well. I’ve enjoyed reading many of Jen’s poems and the book shown to the left. I am thrilled to introduce this talented author to you.

Lori Soard (LS): Most people have that moment they can remember when they first discovered a love of the written word. What is yours?

Jen Selinsky (JS): Ironically, I did not even like reading until I’d reached my early adolescence – about fourteen years old.  I started to enjoy writing, however, when I was twelve.  It began with penning short assignments for school, and then my overactive imagination began to take over!  My “career” as a poet started at age fifteen, during the summer of 1994.  My work and interest in writing have nearly quadrupled since that point! 

LS: You work at a library and write part-time. How long does it usually take you to finish a book?

JS: It all depends.  Poetry books usually do not take as long for me to write, as they come most naturally.  Works with more substance, such as short stories and novels can take up to at least a few months.  Of course, after I finish a book, it has at least one or two revisions it must undergo in order for it to be completely finished before being made available for purchase.

LS: What is your favorite book of all time? Why?

JS: That is a really difficult question, as I enjoy many books from all different genres.  One title which I tell people all the time is Victor Hugo’s Les Misérables.  At that point in my life, I was really immersed in the classics.  Les Misérables embodied the elements of a nearly perfect classic work.  In high school, I’d started listening to the musical, and then I decided to read the book.  Since the unabridged version is epic and contains over 1,400 pages, I’ve only read the entire novel twice.  Some of the books I own I’ve only read once.  There are also others which I haven’t even started yet!

LS: What is the last movie you saw that inspired you?

JS: I generally only watch TV and movies when I am with my husband.  There are many films which we enjoy viewing together, but the ones which inspire me the most have characters which are writers.  Some examples include: World’s Greatest Dad, (Robin Williams) All About Steve, (Sandra Bullock) and Paper Man, (Jeff Daniels).  Those are just to name a few, as there are many more which I enjoy.

LS: I already know music inspires you, since you wrote a book of poems inspired by Duran Duran. Where else do you find inspiration?

JS: I draw lots of inspiration from music.  My favorite group is Genesis, but I’ve written many poetry books inspired by the music of the following bands: Duran Duran, Genesis, Pink Floyd, Deep Purple, The Doors, The Beatles, and The Who.  Another compilation includes poetry from eight other bands: The Rutles, Thin Lizzy, The Eagles, Aerosmith, The Monkees, Genesis, (same name, different band) Badfinger, and The Orange Alabaster Mushroom.  In case you haven’t noticed, I am very biased toward classic rock!

I also wrote a play/short story based on Pink Floyd’s album, The Wall.  I also am working on a Duran Duran memoir and plan on writing a Doors memoir as well.  Both will describe my experience(s) following those bands.  My husband and I have started working on a Genesis biography.

LS: You’re a very prolific poet. Any new poetry books in the works?

JS: I would say that approximately 70% of my books contain at least some poetry, if not books constructed completely of verse.  It seems I always have ideas for new poetry books.  Some of my most recent poems do not have a permanent home yet, as I have not created a new book for quite some time.  I’m hoping it won’t be much longer until I start working on it again.

LS: Are you working on a novel at the moment? If so, tell us about it.

JS: I’m actually taking a much-needed break from writing at the moment, as I am focusing on submitting my works to various magazines and publications.  I’ve also created a separate writer’s page on Facebook.   My mind is always churning out ideas, even though I don’t always write or type them out.  I have three new novels in the works, so I hope to put all the stories together very soon.

LS: The publishing industry is changing rapidly. I just got word today from one of my old publishers that they are shutting down due to authors self-publishing and pulling their books (one of the reasons they cited). What are your thoughts on the new trends with authors self-publishing?

JS: While I am very grateful to have the opportunity to self-publish my books in both print and e-book format, I do feel bad for all those who work at established publishers.  I have sort of mixed views on the whole subject.  On one hand, I am sorry for all those who have lost their jobs and their publishing businesses, but I am happy that writers, such as myself, have an opportunity to publish and share their work with the world.

LS: Do you think it is still important to offer books in a number of formats or is Amazon the way to go these days with its domination of the market?

JS: Amazon is terrific, but there are many other wonderful online publishing companies.  While I have five e-books and two print books available for purchase at Amazon, the majority of my work can be found on Lulu.  Through Lulu, my major prose works are also available on: iTunes, Barnes & Noble, and Kobo.  I think it’s very important for authors to publish in many different formats through different publishers if it is at all possible.  Smashwords is another DIY publisher which I might also consider in the future. 

LS: Tell us about Reach Up for the Sunrise…

JS: I started working on Reach Up for the Sunrise in spring 2005, when Duran Duran was my favorite band.  I got discouraged when I found out that another author was going to write a Duran Duran biography, so I put the entire project on hiatus for a few months.  I picked it up again and published the first edition in July 2006.  Ever since then, I have made updates and rereleased the current edition in April 2013.  I am planning on including updates since the band released their new album, Paper Gods, in September 2015.  To date, Reach Up for the Sunrise is my best seller.

 LS: Anything else you’d like to add?

 JS: I feel that I am a versatile writer who likes to explore many different genres, and I am very grateful that God has given me the drive and inspiration.  One other thing I like to do is support my fellow writers and give them encouragement.  Their success, in a way, is also my success because I feel that maybe I had a small hand in helping them along the way!

A huge thank you to Jen Selinsky for taking the time to answer a few questions for our readers. You can stay up to date on Jen’s writing on her Facebook page. Her books are available on Lulu, Amazon, Barnes & Noble and via several other formats such as iTunes and Kobo.