Today, I’m delighted to welcome Samantha Warren to my blog. Samantha is a fantasy author who says that she spends her days immersed in worlds of dragons, spaceships, and vampires. She milks cows for fun and collects zombie gnomes.
Q: Samantha, what are you currently working on?
A: I’m working on two things at the moment. The first is the rest of season 1 of Space Grease & Pixie Dust, my sci-fi/steampunk serial. The other is the second book in my zombie western series, tentatively titled Blood and Dust, book 2 of Massacre at Lonesome Ridge.
Q: Khaled Hosseini says that he feels he is discovering a story rather than creating it. Are you an avid plotter or do you start with a single idea and let the novel develop organically?
A: I used to be a total pantser, but then I discovered Rachel Aaron’s 2k to 10k post. After reading her post and the subsequent book, it changed the way I write dramatically. Now instead of plodding along, I plot ahead and I can bust through an entire chapter in an hour.
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Q: Some writers need silence, others like the buzz of a coffee shop or their favourite music. Which type are you?
A: I need either dead silence or nondescript background noise. Since I generally don’t like working around other people much (I’m easily distracted by people watching), I use an app called Coffitivity. It simulates the sounds of a coffee shop without actually leaving the house.
Q: Do you use any writing software such as Scrivener, ByWord or Mars Edit?
A: When I first started writing, I found yWriter and used that exclusively. I can’t use Word or the like because I tend to think in scenes instead of linearly. I need to be able to see the scenes and chapters to keep the whole thing straight. I tried Scrivener twice (and hated it both times) before reading Write. Publish. Repeat. After reading that book, I decided to give Scrivener another go. This time, it clicked and I can’t remember how I got along without it before.
Q: Do you have pieces of work that you think will never see light of day?
A: My very first attempts at writing a book haven’t seen the light of day and I’m not sure if they ever will, but anything I write nowadays is intended for publication. I’ve heard people say that you should write fan fiction and whatnot, just for fun, but who has the time for that? I know I don’t.
Q: What advice would you give aspiring writers?
A: It’s okay to suck. First drafts are never fit to see the light of day, no matter who writes them. I’d love to see the first drafts of some books that are big sellers to compare how much they changed before they were published.
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Q: Is there a phrase or quote about writing that you particularly like?
A: I think it was Chuck Wendig that said “You can edit a bad page, but you can’t edit a blank page.” It doesn’t matter if the writing sucks, as long as it’s done. You can always fix it later.
Aside: Or it might have been Jodi Picoult. Check out the writing habits of famous authors in this blog.
Q: Are there any books on writing that you find useful and would recommend?
A: The two books I would recommend to any writer are Write. Publish. Repeat. By Sean Platt and Johnny B. Truant, and Rachel Aaron’s 2K to 10K. Those two books changed the way I write so much and I love them completely.
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Q: What were the key factors that influenced your decision to become an indie author?
A: When I wrote my first book, Blood of the Dragon, I sent it out to maybe 4 or 5 publishers.* At that point, I wasn’t thinking about self-publishing at all. I knew very little about it. While I waited to hear from the publishers, I purchased my first Kindle. That set the whole thing in motion. I discovered a few books that happened to be by indies, and they were amazing books. Some of the best I’d read. I started looking into self-publishing more and when I received three rejection letters that all said about the same thing — “It was good, but we don’ think we can sell it” — I decided to go down the route of doing it myself. And I’m so glad I did. It’s been an amazing experience and I love being an indie.
* Aside: Before submitting your work, always check to see if publishers invite open submissions or if you must submit through an agent.
Q: Which professional services won’t you skimp on?
A: The one service I absolutely won’t skimp on is cover design. It’s the first thing anyone sees, so it needs to be good. I have done a couple of my covers myself, and they’re not too bad, but most of my covers I outsource to an amazing designer, Kalen O’Donnell. I’m also commissioning artwork for the second book in my zombie western series, Massacre at Lonesome Ridge, from Rob Sacchetto, who is a fantastic zombie artist.
Q: Have you ever bought a book for its cover?
A: Absolutely. The cover of Dragon Dawn is gorgeous and I bought it for the sole purpose of being able to look at it on my Kindle. I’ve yet to read the book, and really don’t know what it’s about, but it seems to have good reviews, so someday I’ll give it a go.
Q: At the beginning of 2013, Smashword’s Mark Coker predicted that ‘Global’ would be the year’s biggest story. Do you have a readership in a country other than your own?
A: Some of my biggest fans are in Australia. They are some of the most loyal ladies I’ve ever met and I’ve become friends with them as well.
Q: And, finally, where can we find you when you’re not writing?
A: I live on a small hobby farm, so when I’m not writing, reading, or promoting, I’m usually outside playing with the animals, especially our three-month-old goat who thinks I’m his mommy. He’s my little baby. Right now, we have 2 goats, a pony, a bunch of dogs and cats, a bird, 2 chinchillas, and 2 rabbits. Oh, and 32 chickens.
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