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Archive for January 22nd, 2008

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Welcome to The Dark Phantom Review! It’s nice to have you here.

Why don’t you start by telling us a bit about your book, and what inspired you to write such a story?

Hi Mayra,

Thank you for inviting me to share your blog space and your readers. Part of the reason for my writing Small Town Secrets is the dynamics of small towns where I have lived. Each one is different, yet the same. Everyone knows everyone so when anything happens to one person it affects the mesh of the whole town.

Sometimes, someone’s past comes back to haunt them. Sometimes the gossip mongers dredge the sludge to come up with something to try to ruin, or at least make life miserable, for someone they have a grudge against for whatever reason. I had some composite characters running around in my head from all the places I’ve lived – plus a set of twins who I promised to put into one of my novels. As luck would have it one day NaNoWriMo [National Novel Writing Month] came along and I needed a story to write – so I began to put these characters on the page—Small Town Secrets is the result. I think the story was writing itself in my mind much longer than just that brief month of frantic writing though.

How would you describe your creative process while writing this novel? Was it stream-of-consciousness writing, or did you first write an outline? How long did it take you to write it?

For Small Town Secrets as with all of my work so far — I start out with in depth character sketches. By the time I have the sketches done for the main characters the plot is strong and has an end goal. I do the character sketches before the NaNoWriMo so I will have access to all the pertinent information I need about my characters and where they live so all I need to do is write toward the story-worth-telling-goal. Then, on November 1 I begin and literally write like the wind of a Northern Wisconsin blizzard. I wrote over 54,000 words of this story in that month. Then I took a long deep breath and went back to the chapters that needed expansion or other work and did that. So in the end I had an 80,000 plus word novel to submit. It probably took me three months to write – and edit a couple times (I am my own worst enemy when it comes to edits – I read what I thought I wrote not what is actually on the page. So normally I will let a novel rest before I check it one more time and submit it.) When it finally comes back with edits from my editor, I *see * those errors I missed even if they aren’t all caught by the first editor.

Have you ever suffered from writer’s block? What seems to work for unleashing your creativity?

I honestly must say I don’t allow writer’s block. I’m not sure if it’s because I always have several projects going at once, or if I should attribute that to writing my morning pages every single day. It’s to the point that after my husband leaves for work in the morning I sit down with a notebook, and immediately begin to write. Even if I need to get ready to go to work that 15 minutes to ½ hour that it takes to get those pages down seems to serve my muse for the day. If I am hung up on one project I move on to a different one. Sometimes that will be non-fiction, or it could be an article, or a poem. Maybe it is the routine and I must admit that my writing routine is pretty strict. I never thought it was, but I think I missed something, because even if there is snow to shovel (and I love doing that) or garden weeding (I love that too) I write those pages and try to do one chapter at least of my current WIP fiction project before I allow myself to move from my writing table. Aren’t you glad I’m not your mentor, coach or mother? {smile}

How was your experience in looking for a publisher? What words of advice would you offer those novice authors who are in search of one?

Every time I tell this story I thank my lucky stars because I fell into a perfect situation. A friend told me her cousin had received a contract from Wings ePress, Inc. and loved them; perhaps I should check them out. They were a fairly knew publisher. I did. I submitted my first manuscript and they accepted it. I have published nine books with them since and have two more under contract. They, of course, are not the only publisher I have. I had to try several other publishers just to prove to myself this was not a fluke and I really could write.

I think the single best piece of advice I can give a new writer is – don’t ever give up your dream. Keep submitting until you get that yes! There is room in any publishing house for that story that tugs at an editor — the right time, the right place, the right editor. I believe it’s all in the timing providing you have a story-worth-telling and you tell it well.
So never quit reading other writers to learn the craft. Take classes, read books on writing and your turn will come. I just know it!

What type of book promotion seems to work the best for you?

I’m an introvert so I don’t really get out there and promote like I know I should. I’ve resorted to post card mailing (which works well), online chats, finding reviewers to review my books, stuffing every piece of outgoing mail with a business card that tells about a book, complete with ISBN and my contact information – I get these and postcards free from Vista Print, the only charge is postage and that’s nominal.

I use pens and pocket planner calendars that I get from National Pen for very reasonable prices.

I hold contests and try not to make the prizes my books – if people think they are going to win a book they will not as readily buy one. OR if I give a book away I will offer to give them any book of their choice if they purchase the book and then win a copy —so that they can have their pick of my books, that encourage them to buy first.

If I give a book I use one I’ve made like a cook book tied to my book specifically. I did this for Bed and Breakfast Murders – at the end of the cook book I give information about preparing for a blizzard and how to stay safe, since the characters in Bed and Breakfast Murders were trapped with a killer in their midst in a bed and breakfast by a blizzard. I have done it again for Small Town Secrets since the protagonist owns the Golden Kettle Café her recipes are in the cookbook. Everyone who comments on your blog will get a download copy of The Golden Kettle Café Cook Book that Chaneeta Morgan (the protagonist) and I have complied for Small Town Secrets. [As long as we have an email address where we can reach them.]

Those are some of the ways I market and promote. I make up bookmarks to leave with a tip at a restaurant, or the local library—they love to have give aways for their customers. This winter I took a stack of pocket planner calendars to the library along with some pens for them to give to their patrons.

Another essential promotion is a web site and a blog. Both of these are becoming increasingly more important. On your website, be sure to have a page of freebies – things that your visitor can grab while they are there. A recipe, a small report, or article, a e-book download. I have a number of freebies on my website that may give you some ideas for your own. I have one small e-book that tells how to write a book report aimed at the kids. I have a 17 step book for designing your own website on the free Yahoo Geocities. I make these booklets using PDF995 a simple to use program similar to Adobe Acrobat only its free – you can pick it up at www.PDF995.com . I use this same program to format my books that I want to print at lulu.com it makes the conversion so simple. And you can add a link to your website so that the person can download the PDF file instantly.

I am currently working on a Marketing and Promotion book if anyone has any questions I’ll try to answer them or steer them to a couple good tools such as Janet Elaine Smith’s Promo Paks (now out in print format from Star Publish) or Carolyn Howard Johnson’s Frugal Book Promoter ,another book from Star Publish.
If you have some marketing hints you’d like to share I will try to use them in my book and if I do, I will give you space for a signature line to advertise your books, website, blog etc.

What is your favorite book of all time? Why?

I struggle with this question constantly. I have so many favorites – I remember reading The Diary of Anne Frank when I was about ten or eleven…I recently bought that book again because it has hung in my mind all these years. Is it my favorite? Not the only favorite for sure. My frame of mind, what I’m working on in my own writing has much to do with what I want to read at the moment and thus what comes to mind as my favorite, for the moment.

So many writers have such unique talent that sparks things in me, I read Jude Devereaux and Francis Hodgson Burnett for the pure joy of their words, the beautiful way they create a vision in my mind.

I read Stephen King or J. Gayle Kretschmer for characterization.

I read Janet Elaine Smith for the simple joy of her fun loving and endearing characters. Ron Berry gives me humor, Joyce Anthony gives me depth and spirituality, Barbara Williamson-Wood and Tony Hillerman give me Native American spirituality. Barbara Kingsolver and John Steinbeck give me people and the nuances of class and life among them. Dean Koontz, John Grisham, James Patterson, Patricia Cornwell, Mary Higgins Clark, Nevada Barr, they all sit on my shelves because they are a great read to get me in the right frame of tone, or mood for what I’m trying to write. If you’ve never read Nathalie Goldberg I encourage you to do so immediately – start with her Writing Down the Bones and you’ll read everything she’s ever written, she’s amazing.

Do you have a website/blog where readers may learn more about you and your work?

I certainly do Mayra. My website is www.billiewilliams.com ( a free serialized novel is available there under the bookclub tab http://billiewilliams.com/BOOKCLUB.html )or http://www.pensinmotion.com (a free 5 week writing course is available at Pens in Motion) I have two blogs http://printedwords.blogspot.com (all about writing) and http://onewomansgarden.blogspot.com (organic gardening articles)

Do you have another novel on the works? Would you like to tell readers about your current or future projects.

I am working on the book that is currently being serialized at my bookclub http://billiewilliams.com/BOOKCLUB.html a chapter a week until the novel is finished, the title is The Capricorn Goat ~~ January Flannel. It is another mystery/suspense January Flannel the protagonist is another of my accidental sleuths who solves crimes with wit, wisdom and chutzpah. I began this project this year at NaNoWriMo got over 55,000 words done then and it will continue until I finish I believe about 80,000 to 100,000 words this time. She is embroiled in a plot that is murder by poison, her friend Echo owns a catering business and someone has poisoned a pair of her clients and made it look like it was her. She is to cater a New Years Eve party and an avenging lover is determined it will be her last before she is put in prison. Can January stop this from happening, especially now that someone tried to put her out of commission by running her down with his car?

I am also working on another book in the writing series I have out this one is Mystery, Muse and Manuscript about writing the mystery. (the three former books Writing Wide, Exercises in Creative Writing and Characters in Search of an Author are available from Filbert Publishing at http://www.filbertpublishing.com) the third is Spice up Your Writing! Write to Entice, and is available from http://www.lulu.com/content/1349866

I also have another couple novels in the works. Tracker, a mystery suspense about a young woman who raises and trains blood hounds for search and rescue teams. Her life may depend on how well she has managed to train a young pup in the methods and means to find her. And a new, for me, Romance that is a romantic suspense – titled Skye’s the Limit set on the Isle of Skye with a Scottish background. So I have plenty to keep my muse stimulated for the time being. I have so many stories I want to get to. Time to knuckle down and just ‘do it’!

Thanks for stopping by! It was a pleasure to have you here!

Thank you so much Mayra for allowing me to visit and share your space, your time and your engaging questions with your readers.

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