Interview with Sherri Fulmer Moorer

Published 2013-08-23.
Where did you grow up, and how did this influence your writing?
I grew up in Columbia, South Carolina, where I still live. Obviously, spending your entire life in one place has a huge influence on the characters you create and the settings you put them in. Being a state that's mostly rural with what's classified as "small towns," I create a lot of people that are simple yet complex, living in areas where "everybody knows everybody else." But doesn't the simplistic beauty of small town gossip make for the most interesting stories?
When did you first start writing?
I've been writing my entire life. Before I learned how to write, I'd draw pictures in my books to "expand" on the stories that my parents read to me. I always liked writing short stories, but I didn't seriously pursue writing and novels until my husband and I got our first home computer in 2001.
What's the story behind your latest book?
Move is my latest novel, and it's about a thirty-something woman that's stuck in a life rut, and doesn't know how to get out. After being passed over for a promotion, she's so discouraged that she unknowingly makes a deal with a djinn - and the consequences create bigger problems than she already had! It was inspired by a recent life transition I went through, where I played the old "what if" game with myself - what if I made this decision differently? What if I made that decision differently? The ideas started coming and before I knew it the supernatural element that I tend to throw into my stories entered the picture and I had a novel.
What motivated you to become an indie author?
I tried the traditional route for years, with no success. In 2010, I read an online article about how ebooks sales were growing and had outsold hardbacks during June 2010. It got my attention. I started looking into it and thought, what do I have to lose by trying? Then my brother asked me why I kept wasting my time with traditional publishing when a new way was developing. It was the encouragement I needed to strike out and become an indie. I love it so much that I've never even thought about traditional publishing again.
How has Smashwords contributed to your success?
First, by allowing me to publish pieces that were too short for consideration by ebook publishers. I put a lot of work into Quarantine and Resonance, but they're in the long story to novella range, and there aren't many outlets for that. Smashwords gave me a perfect place to offer them. When I completed Move, I decided to try doing a full length novel here, and I'm so glad I did. Move is doing as well as my other works that have been published through e-publishers. (In fact, my e-publishers are starting to offer books through Smashwords too!)
What is the greatest joy of writing for you?
I'm a storyteller, so naturally I enjoy writing the tales that flow through my mind. It's exciting to create a world that's all your own and to see where it takes you. I find I'm also enjoying the publicity part of it too. I love hearing from readers to see what they got out of my work, and to hear what they liked about it. I've always wanted to share my stories with people that would enjoy it, and ebooks are giving us indie authors a perfect opportunity to not only share our work, but to get on the front end of the changes taking place in the publication world as well.
What do your fans mean to you?
A lot. I share my stories because I want people to be entertained and inspired by the stories I've been blessed with. Reading is a great escape from the trials and stress of life, and I hope that my stories are not only entertaining people through those breaks with reality, but inspiring them to live their own lives better. I love hearing from fans. I think social media and places like Smashwords are great, because it allows authors and readers to interact, which they really need to do. I need to know what my readers do and don't like to become a better writer, and their feedback means a lot to me.
What are you working on next?
I've bravely entered the world of science-fiction. I wrote an apocolyptic sci-fi novel titled "Splinter" during National Novel Writing Month in 2010, and it's being published through Whiskey Creek Press in November 2013. I'm also working on a novella titled "Incursion," which takes place in the year 3150 and is about how interstellar development influences political rivalries. I plan to self publish "Incursion" here on Smashwords when it's complete, probably in the spring or summer of 2014.
Who are your favorite authors?
I have almost too many to name! I like P.D. James, R.A. Salvatore, Ben Bova, Kim Stanley Robinson, C.S. Lewis, J.R.R. Tolkein, Christopher Paolini - the list goes on and on!
What inspires you to get out of bed each day?
The fact that the alarm clock isn't going to shut up if I don't. And if it goes off for too long, my parrots will join the "music" and my house will be chaos in T-Minus 10 seconds and counting.

Seriously, life is a gift, and every day holds blessings. Whether it's the excitement of developing a new story, a review or interview published, feedback from a reader or fellow writer, adventures at my "day job" (I work full time in professional licensing for design professionals), or just the simple joys of family, home and friends, there's always something to enjoy. I mean to have a life of joy and to live it abundantly, and to do that, I must boldly face each new day.

Before the alarm clock and the parrots drag me up, that is ...
When you're not writing, how do you spend your time?
I work full time as a program assistant in professional licensing for design professionals in the State of South Carolina, so you know where a certain portion of my time goes! Seriously, though, most writers have day jobs, and I think it's good because it broadens your life experience and gives you inspiration for your creative endeavors. I'm also married and we have three birds - two sun conures and a budgie, and they add a lot of fun to our home. Plus, both of our families live nearby and we're active in our church, so our lives are very full!
How do you discover the ebooks you read?
I usually search by category and read the book descriptions. Yes, it's a slow process, but it works for me!
What is your writing process?
I try to plan with outlines and brainstorming, but the outline always meets the "delete" key within the first few chapters. I just start writing and it usually flows. Most of the time I write sequentially, but occasionally I'll skip around and have to do copy and paste tricks. Once a rough draft is done, I usually sit the manuscript aside for 4-6 weeks before I begin the process of rewrites and edits. I'll typically review it about once a month for 4 months after that, then ask someone else to read over it for their feedback. After I get their feedback, I sit it aside for another 4-6 weeks, then do another 1 or 2 rounds of edits before I release it to the world.
How do you approach cover design?
I won't lie - I'm no artist. I rely heavily on the help of graphic artists and designers to do my covers. For my novellas, I managed to find some cheap covers online, but for Move I did hire an artist to do the cover from Mark's Smashwords List. We worked well together, and I anticipate that I'll continue to work with this artist for future novels.
What are your five favorite books, and why?
I like The Bible, because I'm a Christian and it guides me through life. I do a reading from it every day.

The Lord of the Rings (J.R.R. Tolkein) was inspiring to me, because I liked how the small person saved the world.

The Screwtape Letters (C.S. Lewis) was interesting, because it gave me a look at my faith from the other end.

The Mars Trilogy (Red Mars, Green Mars, and Blue Mars by Kim Stanley Robinson) was intriguing because it was sci-fi with a humanitarian element. I love how he got just as involved with the characters and their interactions as he did with the terraforming of Mars.

Original Sin (P.D. James) was a great mystery that spoke to my heart because it took place in a publishing house.

I know that's more than 5 books because it covers 2 trilogies, but the system hasn't kicked me out yet, so I kept on typing.
What do you read for pleasure?
The same things I write - mystery and science fiction. I also like to read fantasy occasionally.
What is your e-reading device of choice?
I just got a Nexus 7, and I love it. I downloaded the Kindle and Nook apps, and the resolution is phenomenol on it. I also read books on my iPhone, but the Nexus has a bigger display and it's easier to read on it.
What book marketing techniques have been most effective for you?
Mix and match. Really, it varies. Social media has helped the most, especially Goodreads and Twitter. Good book reviews, blog hops, and author interviews have also helped. I think blogging is a very effective tool, because it helps build up interest in recent releases and works in progress - people like to see a story develop as you work on it. I just joined The Independent Author Network too, so we'll see if/how that helps with book marketing.
Describe your desk
Spotless, because I hate paper. I do all of my writing on my laptop. You don't want to know how may programs and Internet tabs I have open at any given time.
Do you remember the first story you ever wrote?
Unfortunately, no. I've been at it for so long that my memory fades me. I do recall a story I wrote once in middle school about a little girl that kept seeing eyes under her bed the day she and her family moved in a new house. It turned out to be the family cat. My teacher loved it.
Do you remember the first story you ever read, and the impact it had on you?
Again, that's an unfortunate no. My parents always read to me and from the time I learned to read, I had a bookshelf of my own. I do remember as a child that I loved fairy tales - Cinderella and Jack and the Beanstalk were my favorites because of the adventure and elements of uncertainty to them.
Ebooks or Paperbacks?
Ebooks, although I admit that I do still occasionally read paperbacks. Hardbacks aren't even a consideration for me now that I can carry my books everywhere I want with my phone and tablet. Who needs to lug around that heavy stuff?
Do you believe blogging is important to independent authors?
It's absolutely vital. Being successful as an author depends on connecting with your audience, and the best way do that is by taking advantage of the Internet. Every writer should have a website and a blog that they add to at least twice a week. I speak from experience - my website hits were 10 times higher when I added a blog to my site. Readers like to see where the stories come from, what inspires them, and to watch the process from idea to publication. I even post sample chapters from time to time when I'm writing a new story. Blogging is, without a doubt, the best way to reach your readers.
How does your day job inspire your writing?
Truth is stranger than fiction! Really, it broadens your life experience and as you grown and learn as a person, so does your muse. I think it's great for writers to have jobs outside of writing, because it puts them in touch with people, places, things, and situations that they'd never see if they were a "stay at home." That being said, I certainly don't knock the full time writer. I'm just saying that having a job doesn't hurt your writing. In fact, it can help.
How do you find time to write?
Any way I can. Nights and weekends, obviously, but I also carry my laptop to work and I'm well known for working on writing projects during my lunch hours. You can get a lot more done in an hour than you realize, and those hours add up. If I write during three lunch hours during a week, that's the equivalent of good writing session at night or on the weekend. It's literally a days worth of progress!
Have you always written fiction?
No. I started out as an inspirational writer and failed miserably. My first book was published through PublishAmerica in 2004, and although it sold well in my community, I just couldn't seem to get any traction in that area. It fizzed out shortly thereafter, and I decided to turn back to my childhood passion, which was fiction. It was a good move, and with the advances in technology and ebooks, it's building well. I pray it continues to grow because I love writing and sharing my stories with the world, and I'd love to reach a good niche market of readers that will appreciate my work and find it encouraging, entertaining and inspiring.
Smashwords Interviews are created by the profiled author or publisher.

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