Interview with Just Charm Publishing

Published 2014-03-08.
When did you know that you wanted to be a serious writer?
I went back to school after my only child was school age and he decided I was no longer his best friend. I had always wanted to be a teacher, so I took classes at my local community college and began pursuing a career in child development. One semester, my speech class instructor encouraged me to enter a writing contest about Martin Luther King. My speech won second place, although I know my “writing” was actually better than the guy that took first place. I didn’t care because I realized that this was a “speech” contest and he had a much better delivery than I did. I smiled and happily accepted the $100 and 2nd place certificate. It was then that I knew I wanted to be a serious writer.
Where do you find inspiration as a writer?
Like most writers, I find inspiration in everything I see and hear. I love to people watch, animal watch, nature watch, and simply observe life in general. But I especially love it when a subject just speaks to me. That’s how is was with the subject matter of my new book. There are a lot of elements to it; adultery, murder, secret experiments, but the whole thing centers on MERMAIDS; something I've always been fascinated by.

“Experimenting With Murder” came into existence as a result of an idea I’ve had for years. It wasn’t until I saw the airing of the television program "Mermaids: The New Evidence" that I decided to finally start working on this project. I was impressed how The Animal Planet channel took a "docufiction" and injected a little bit of fact with fantasy. I decided to do the same thing with my book. In it, I reference an actual event that occurred several years ago in New Zealand’s Farewell Spit. Unfortunately, the massive whale beachings that I mention in this story are still occurring (as recent as January 2014). While the plight of so many whales is a sad thing, I think I've made a wise choice in subject matter for a book.
What was the hardest part about writing your latest novel?
The hardest part about writing my latest novel was making sure that every detail was in sync. That means checking and double checking, to make sure that there is continuity in the timing, dialogue, setting, and everything else. The best way to do this is to try and write what you know. That way, you have something to pull from when you’re fleshing out the details. If you don’t know for sure, you can still come up with a good story or great book; you’ll just have to do lots of research so that all the elements come together and sound believable.

For instance, in “Experimenting With Murder”, at first I wasn’t in the least bit familiar with New Zealand; the area where the remote island in my book is located. I ran into a problem with the teenagers in the story who were supposed to visit the island during the “summertime”, when they were out of school. Initially, I had them staying on the island three months during June, July and August, which is summertime in the U.S, but NOT in New Zealand. I discovered that New Zealand summers run from December, January and February. In order to make the story work, I had to have my teenagers visiting during their school’s Spring Break in February. Otherwise, they’d be visiting the island in the winter months, and by that time of year, the climate on the island wouldn’t work well with the story. Making the pieces fit together like a puzzle is essential to a good book. The last thing you want your readers to do is get to the end and there’s a piece missing!
When you're not writing, how do you spend your time?
When I'm not writing, I spend my time with books, literally. My son runs an online book business and I help him process, package and mail books out on a daily basis. I also enjoy reading and sharing my thoughts about the awesome titles I find when I look for new writers. As time permits, I help others to promote their books and obtain those "oh so hard to get" reviews.
Do you remember the first story you ever wrote?
The first story that I REMEMBER ever writing (at I'm not sure what age) was about a young high school couple. The two young lovers had an argument before school started. On the lunch break, instead of meeting to eat together like they usually did, the guy leaves the campus and drives to a fast food joint for lunch. The school is near a train crossing and an accident occurs. The remainder of the story is about how the young girl has to wait to find out if her boyfriend was the one in the accident. She spends time regretting the argument and remembering all the good times with him. Of course, by the end of the school day, she finds out it wasn't him in the accident. They kiss and make up and that was the end.

Now that I think about it, I guess I must have been pretty young myself when I wrote that. When you're young, you think everything has a happy ending.
What is your writing process?
My writing process is simple: Write and don't stop writing until I've made myself and everyone around me CRAZY! When I'm in the middle of a project, I don't want to do anything; eat, sleep, or even groom myself (Yep! Things start to get pretty ripe!).
What do you find to be the best time to write?
I find the best time to write is when I'm up alone in the wee hours (between 1am and 4 or 5am). I'm more productive because I have fewer interruptions, however, my thoughts seem to be more fertile the first thing in the morning (7am - 10am), especially after my morning walk.
How do you approach cover design?
I've taken the cheap, I mean "inexpensive" route and designed my own covers up until now. While they are clearly not professionally done, I feel like I've gotten better and better with each one :-)

With "Experimenting With Murder", my son wouldn't let me do my usual "do it yourself" job. I purchased some stock photos and he helped by putting together a really cool cover for me. He's not a professional, but he does think he knows it all!
What is your e-reading device of choice?
My sister is an avid reader and she has a Nook. While she's busy listening to her audio books on the MP3 player, I'll generally take a peek through her library. She also helps me review books on my Free Book Review Network website, so I like to know what she's reading.
What book marketing techniques have been most effective for you?
The book marketing techniques that have been most effective for me so far are: Website promotion and content writing. I create simple and quick ad images, that I post on the website about my books. I also write articles that contain content that is somehow related or relevant to my book. A good example is the recent article I wrote titled: New Zealand Whale Beachings Help Author Promote “Experimenting With Murder” Book.

Another great marketing strategy that I take advantage of is the use of press releases. I not only link press releases to my book, but also to related articles "about" my book, such as the article mentioned above.
What motivated you to become an indie author?
I was motivated to become an indie author because it seemed to be the next progressive stage in the online writing process. I started writing at a time when snail mail was the only method of submission. Back then, it was totally acceptable to display all the Rejection letters you received on your wall of goals. We wore them like a badge of courage because it meant that you were serious about your craft. But after awhile, rejection starts getting old. Indie authors get the opportunity to reach audiences that they may have never been able to reach while waiting around to be published by traditional means..
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