Interview with Liz Coley

Describe your desk
Upstairs, in the room over the garage, I have a writer's garret, that is, a personal study filled with miles of my favorite books. And in this study, I have an antique library table under a window with a view across the Ohio River to Kentucky. Lofty. Inspirational. Is this where I write? Nope. I generally write on the laptop literally on my lap in front of the fire in the family room.
When did you first start writing?
I wrote my first sci-fi short story in graduate school and got to experience my first rejection letter shortly thereafter.
Do you remember the first story you ever wrote?
The very first story I remember writing was about this monster who lived in the deep and was called The Kraken. I thought I was terribly original. So clearly, at age 8 I was an accidental plagiarist or else the Kraken is part of the collective unconscious!
What is the greatest joy of writing for you?
My greatest joy in writing is when the story finds me, sits me down, and tells itself to me.
Where did you grow up, and how did this influence your writing?
I grew up in San Diego in a house filled with books. Becoming a passionate reader at an early age foreshadowed, but did not guarantee, that I would become a writer. I was a math and science whiz kid who always did well on English papers and loved science fiction and mystery and romance. It wasn't until much later, after getting degrees in biochemistry and management and working in hospital administration that I realized that I had my own stories to tell and set about learning the craft.
What inspires you to get out of bed each day?
I have to make a latte for my teenaged daughter to wake her up in time for school. That's what gets me out of bed.
What do your fans mean to you?
Fans give me smiles. And in this crazy, competitive, fickle business it is so lovely to have someone say, "Hey, I like what you did here." Validation.
What motivated you to become an indie author?
Out of Xibalba, based on the end of the Mayan calendar, had a freshness "sell-by" date of December 21, 2012. When traditional publishing gave the novel a pass, I knew I had to go out on my own because I loved the story and the characters too much to let them die as a series of ones and zeroes in my computer's memory.
How do you approach cover design?
So far, I have made all my own covers. I love Photoshop! And I get my stock images from Bigstock, generally.
How has Smashwords contributed to your success?
Smashwords gave me a platform for publishing the stories that weren't "big enough" for traditional publishing houses. It got my works out there in many formats. One stop shopping. I love Smashwords.
What book marketing techniques have been most effective for you?
I've networked like crazy to attend as many festivals, library events, professional conferences, and friends' signings as possible. Whenever I'm allowed, I hand sell my self-published books. If the event is traditionally published only, I hand out bookmarks and other swag promoting my self-pubs.
When you're not writing, how do you spend your time?
I read a TON, about a book a week. I watch TV and movies, all for STORY, of course. I play tennis three days a week, and I sing in a choir. I grocery shop and cook, and sometimes I knit or work in the garden, but much less so than in the past. In fact, you might ask, when do you actually write?
Who are your favorite authors?
Lois McMaster Bujold and Connie Willis. And I'm really enjoying some new SF authors like Hugh Howey.
How do you discover the ebooks you read?
I buy books by my friends, by authors I already follow, and those recommended to me by people I trust. I also tend to sample when I don't already know the author's work.
Do you remember the first story you ever read, and the impact it had on you?
Yes. See my blog post on "The Most Important Book Ever: Hop on Pop."
What are you working on next?
I've got three novels poised at the 50% mark. I'm going to finish them, maybe turn one of them in to a play. I have a theatre studio willing to workshop it if I can figure out this new skill.
What is your writing process?
I draft novels during NaNoWriMo (November, officially) or I choose a month to be my own LizCoWriMo. I use the rest of the year to finish and polish. I used to rely heavily for critiques/feedback on the Science Fiction and Fantasy Online Writing Workshop until I moved out of the spec fic genre in my YA writing.
Published 2016-02-10.
Smashwords Interviews are created by the profiled author, publisher or reader.

Books by This Author

The Captain's Kid
Price: $3.99 USD. Words: 81,210. Language: English. Published: December 1, 2017. Categories: Fiction » Young adult or teen » Sci-Fi & fantasy, Fiction » Science fiction » Space opera
When teenager Brandon Webb sets out on his first starship journey, he little suspects the fate of a failing colonial planet hangs in the balance. Someone wants the mission stopped at all costs, and as the captain's kid, Brandon is a target. With humor, danger, smart kids, awkward crushes, Greek drama, and guinea pigs, this is hard sci-fi with a soft heart, for teens and anyone who ever was one.
Tor Maddox: Mistaken
Price: $3.99 USD. Words: 64,130. Language: English. Published: April 25, 2016. Categories: Fiction » Thriller & suspense » Spies & espionage, Fiction » Young adult or teen » Thriller & Suspense
Eight leotards and a ball gown—that’s what Tor Maddox packed for her summer ballet intensive in New York. Pity she never arrived. Kidnapped once by the good guys and once by the bad ones, Tor finds herself involved in a high seas adventure featuring princesses and pirates, a wedding ring, and the guy she thougt she’d never be allowed to see again, junior man-in-black Rick Turner.
Tor Maddox: Embedded
Price: $3.99 USD. Words: 73,820. Language: English. Published: March 1, 2016. Categories: Fiction » Young adult or teen » Thriller & Suspense, Fiction » Thriller & suspense » Spies & espionage
Life feels way too quiet for Tor Maddox until agent-in-training Rick Turner reappears with an assignment—to embed herself as his eyes and ears in her own high school. When she agrees to keep tabs on state swim champ Hamilton Parker for the Feds, she is plunged into the deep end of a sinister plot. If observe and report becomes kiss and tell, Tor’s first mission may blow up in her face.
Tor Maddox: Unleashed
Price: $3.99 USD. Words: 74,060. Language: English. Published: February 9, 2016. Categories: Fiction » Young adult or teen » Thriller & Suspense, Fiction » Mystery & detective » Amateur sleuth
A new flu is raging and people are dying. Sixteen-year-old Torrance Olivia Maddox has figured out why. But she never figured that man’s best friend could become public enemy number one, that men in black might show up in her cozy suburban neighborhood, that she’d spend her sixteenth birthday as a teenaged runaway, and that her effort to save one dog would become a mission to save them all.
Tor Maddox: Disarmed
Price: Free! Words: 6,150. Language: English. Published: October 31, 2015. Categories: Fiction » Young adult or teen » Thriller & Suspense, Fiction » Thriller & suspense » Action & suspense
Tor Maddox's first summer job offers minimum wage and lousy hours. Who knew saving lives could be one of the benefits? This short prequel story by the internationally best-selling author of Pretty Girl-13 will introduce readers to Tor Maddox, a heroine for our times. Tor's adventures continue in the full-length novels TM1: Unleashed, TM2: Embedded, and TM3: Mistaken. Includes bonus material.
Practically Invisible
Price: Free! Words: 1,320. Language: English. Published: October 31, 2015. Categories: Fiction » Young adult or teen » Sci-Fi & fantasy
(3.00 from 1 review)
Some friends are forever. Some are left behind. A short story by the internationally best-selling author of Pretty Girl-13.
Sticks and Stones
Price: Free! Words: 1,580. Language: English. Published: October 13, 2015. Categories: Fiction » Young adult or teen » Sci-Fi & fantasy, Fiction » Young adult or teen » Family
Family is what we create when home is only a distant memory. A short story by the internationally best selling author of Pretty Girl-13.
Out of Xibalba
Price: $3.99 USD. Words: 70,540. Language: English. Published: June 28, 2011. Categories: Fiction » Young adult or teen » Sci-Fi & fantasy, Fiction » Romance » Time travel
(5.00 from 2 reviews)
December 21, 2012 - Is it really the end of the fourth human age? On family vacation in Belize, teenager Michelle Balam is thrown back in time into the ancient Mayan world of palace politics, bloody warfare, and human sacrifice. Mistaken for the goddess Ix Chel, she must figure out how to survive the loss of everything she knows and everyone she loves without also losing herself.