Interview with Rachelle M. N. Shaw

When you're not writing, how do you spend your time?
I'm an avid reader, so I often spend my evenings curled up with a good book and some hot tea. When I'm not chasing my little ones, I like to paint, sew, and bake cupcakes. I also love photography and gardening, so both are big hobbies of mine in the summer.
How do you discover the ebooks you read?
Most of the books I discover are through recommendations from family and friends or a search on Goodreads or Amazon. I'm particularly fond of short stories and series books. I read anything from YA and adult sci-fi, fantasy, and horror to nonfiction books about the craft of writing. I love to learn, so I'm constantly splurging on books.
Do you remember the first story you ever wrote?
Yes, definitely. I think I wrote two about the same time, both when I was in early elementary. The first was about ghosts who visited a school during Christmas. The kids were terrified but realized the ghosts only wanted to come inside to learn and bake Christmas cookies. The second book I wrote was a short story about a young boy who wore glasses (I didn't have them myself until I was a teenager, but I always loved how they looked). He and his father had to go on a search for them after he lost them. I definitely had an early love of writing and reading fiction stories—particularly ones containing paranormal elements.
What is your writing process?
I don't really have a set process, but I do make a point of writing every single day with few exceptions. Even if it's just a blog post or a quick journal entry, writing is part of who I am, and it's very much part of my daily routine. The only time I don't write is if we're traveling or we're dealing with illness.

When it comes to crafting my books, I have two different approaches. Some books come to me in bit and pieces—mostly like flashes of a scene. Others come to me as an entire idea all at once. No matter which way I'm inspired by one though, I always make sure I have a solid outline in place and do research as I go along. I find that planning, even if it's a little bit at a time, makes for a much better crafted book and one that's more professional.

The last stage in my writing process is heavy editing. That is by far the longest but most rewarding process. I tear my writing into pieces and then rebuild it a few times before I'm happy with it. And I can't stress enough how invaluable investing in a professional editor is. I'd be lost without mine. She makes my books better than they'd ever be on their own.
Who was your favorite author growing up?
I think I was influenced by a few authors during my childhood, but I always loved Bruce Coville, Shel Silverstein, and Eric Carle. They each had a very unique style and voice, I was always hooked on their books from the beginning. Bruce Coville in particular has been a big influence. He's probably the main reason I love writing stories with supernatural elements.
How do you approach cover design?
That's definitely a tough one. Though I have experience in graphic design, I always doubt myself when it comes to making covers for my own work. I usually start by pulling a central idea from the story and combining my Photoshop skills with my camera. Luckily, photography and design mesh pretty well, so many of my ideas come from the photographs I take. Then I hammer out no fewer than six different designs, get input from others, and then rework them until I have a nice selection. I work on narrowing down my choices and adding the final touches after that. I actually really enjoy doing some design work on covers, but for my series publications, I'll probably leave it to an expert and just hire someone to professionally do my covers.
What are your five favorite books, and why?
I can't say I have just five favorite books, a few of them include the Harry Potter series, The Hunger Games series, anything by Edgar Allan Poe, The Blue Nowhere by Jeffrey Deaver, and Great Expectations. If I had to name all the nonfiction books I love as well, it'd be quite an extensive list.
What do you read for pleasure?
Mostly horror (psychological thrillers), fantasy, sci-fi, and anything dealing with the paranormal.
What is your e-reading device of choice?
I prefer the Kindle Fire that I have, but I can't say I really have much experience with other readers except cheaper ones, which I don't recommend. I've heard good things about Nooks and wouldn't mind trying one of those.
What book marketing techniques have been most effective for you?
Word of mouth and social media have been by far the most effective. And that's the way I'd prefer it to be honest. I've run a few ad campaigns here and there, and they haven't been unhelpful, but nothing beats interacting with people and building connections and friendships. No one likes a pushy salesman, including me, so I see no point in spamming other people with promos. I chat with them. Retweet them. Like their stuff. If they become interested in reading my books, great. If not, I've still connected with someone, and that's very rewarding to me. There's no point in having readers if they aren't genuine or they can't relate to you as a person.
Describe your desk
My desk is literally my couch. And the counter. And the kitchen table. And my lap. Anywhere my computer goes, that's a desk for me. I'd love to eventually have a dedicated work space for writing, but for now, wherever I can find peace and quiet and time to write works. Wherever I'm working is also usually littered with notes, pens, books, and whatever else I tend to grab to hammer out ideas and conduct research. Oh, and there's always some kind of food involved. Can't think on an empty stomach! Nor can I think without a cat on my lap—at least as the fluffballs see it.
Where did you grow up, and how did this influence your writing?
I grew up in a small town in Indiana, surrounded by cornfields. You'll definitely see some of this as an influence in my writing, because I tend to include secluded areas quite a bit, and oftentimes those include a cornfield or two. I can't stand big cities (though I've been to NYC twice), so I very rarely incorporate cities into my writing.
When did you first start writing?
I first started writing at the age of six. That's when I got my first journal, and I've been filling notebooks and computer documents ever since. My first story was written when I was eight or nine—early elementary. My first poem came when I was in middle school. My first novel came about when I was in high school. I also picked up short story writing about then.
What's the story behind your latest book?
The story behind my latest book stems from a childhood fear of mine. I've always been creeped out by porcelain dolls, and I think a lot of people are, quite truthfully. But when an idea occurred to me to make them lifelike—but with an unexpected twist—I knew I had to write it.
What motivated you to become an indie author?
At first the thought of becoming an indie author came to me after trying to publish my latest short story through several magazines and getting repeatedly rejections that were very positive. They all seemed to really love the story itself, but each time, they responded with praise for my writing but an overall rejection based on the genre or word count. After a while, I got really disheartened in my search and decided to consider self-publishing. Before that point in time, I never would have considered it. But as I did more and more research, I realized that the indie publishing world had actually become quite a viable option, particularly for newer authors. There were quite an incentive to it—everything from full control of the process to higher royalties. For me, it was the right choice. However, having said that, I'm not completely turning down the idea of traditional publishing. I think both are very good options, but it depends on the book and the author. It's not a one-size-fits-all choice.
Published 2016-02-10.
Smashwords Interviews are created by the profiled author, publisher or reader.

Books by This Author

The Ballerina's Gift
Series: The Porcelain Souls, Book 2. Price: $0.99 USD. Words: 15,380. Language: American English. Published: July 1, 2017. Categories: Fiction » Horror » Ghost, Fiction » Fantasy » Paranormal
When Marley's parents buy the infamously spooky Whitson house, she comes face-to-face with the startling truth about its past. Torn between her escalating popularity and protecting those close to her from the looming danger that surrounds them, Marley must choose if the risks of her new social life are worth it.
The Eyes That Moved
Series: The Porcelain Souls, Book 1. Price: Free! Words: 5,900. Language: American English. Published: September 12, 2015. Categories: Fiction » Horror » Ghost, Fiction » Fantasy » Paranormal
Kendra, a young girl who has a knack for spotting unusual trinkets in abandoned houses, meets Adam, a fellow sleuth and collector. When they embark on their biggest adventure yet, the Whitson house, Kendra discovers a deadly secret and learns Adam isn't at all who he claimed to be.