Author Spotlight: Danielle Rose

Howdy, howdy!  My friend, fellow Stonecoaster, and partner in writerly mischief, Danielle Rose, recently released the first of her Blood Books trilogy, Blood Rose, through Oftomes PublishingBlood Magic (book two) drops on August 1st as well.  So, I thought I would take a chance to do a little interview with Danielle.

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The cover of book one!

Q: Can you tell us a little about yourself for those who don’t know you?

A: I’m Danielle Rose, author of the Blood Books trilogy, which is being released back to back by OfTomes Publishing in 2017.  I’m also the owner of Narrative Ink Editing LLC, an independent editing company that assists in the preparation of independent authors’ manuscripts.  Sometimes, I teach composition at the university level.

Q: You seem to do so much: you own an editing business, you market your new releases, you’re writing a new book… how do you do it all?  Can you offer any tips and tricks?

A: It’s hard work, but I have a support team, including a personal assistant and PR goddess, as well as a writing group.  It’s important that I have someone there to hold me accountable.  Goal setting is a major aspect of my writing group, and that really helps me (and my horrible memory!) check-off things on my to-do list.

Q: What is your all-time favorite thing to write about?

A: The human condition.  It’s truly fascinates me.  In all of my books, I explore what it means to be human and the choices we make because we’re human.  I like to put my characters in some pretty tight situations and see what they would (realistically) do to get through these tough times.  I think my fascination stems from the digital era we live in.  With the click of a button, we have access to witness awful things, and we are quick to judge.  Sometimes, I wonder what we would truly do had we been in these positions.  I explore these themes in my writing.

Q: What’s the one genre you are dying to write?

A: Psychological thrillers.  I would love to write those!

Q: What is it like to begin your career as an indie author and then become traditionally published?

A: It’s been an interesting journey.  I’ve had to learn to sit back and let someone else take control, which is difficult for me to do.  I’m used to controlling every aspect of my career, from release date to cover design.  Thankfully, my publisher truly cares about my opinions, and he asks for my input on just about everything he does.

Q: Do you prefer self-publishing or traditional publishing?  Why?

A: Comparing self-publishing to traditional publishing is like comparing cats to dogs: there are similarities there, but in truth, they’re two different species.  In self-publishing, the writer experiences the entire weight of the publishing process.  A traditionally published writer has a support team.  Because I have the get-it-done mentality, it’s natural for me to take control, especially if it’s regarding my career.  Because of this, self-publishing works better for me.  However, I absolutely adore my publisher, and I can’t imagine releasing my Blood Books trilogy without them.  With that being said, I can’t say that I like one better than the other.  They’re two completely different experiences, and I wouldn’t be the writer I am today if I hadn’t gone through both methods.

Q: What is the single greatest piece of marketing advice you can offer emerging writers?

A: Offer advance reader copies (ARCs) of your books and require readers to post a review on release day.  This is such an important step to the launch of a book release, because it knocks out many birds with one stone:

1. Readers often flood social media with pictures and posts of their advance copy. (Everyone loves a bragger when it comes to the pre-release of a book!)

2. Readers post a review to platforms, which help to establish your book with new readers in an oversaturated market.

3. Many platforms, like Amazon, will help promote your book for free once you reach a certain number of reviews.

Q: Which writers do you fangirl over?

A: SO many!  I met Meredith Wild (Hacker) recently, and I could barely speak.  (Ha!)  I also love Richelle Mead (Vampire Academy), Chloe Neill (Chicagoland Vampires), and Lauren Blakely (anything, really).  Honestly, I’d fangirl over anyone who wrote a great romance novel.

Q: Join the debate: should emerging writers get a degree in writing before embarking on this journey?

A: Yes.  Because the market is so oversaturated now, I think it’s important to learn how to write before diving in.  You only have one chance to make a first impression.

Q:  And last, but not least, if you could temporarily change into any creature (real, mythical, alive, extinct, etc.), what would you choose and why?

A: First choice: vampire (the immortal kind)!  Second choice: a witch with powers.  I’ve always been attracted to vampires.  They’re immortal, powerful, sometimes magical, and emotional.  I also love witches, but they’re not immortal.  That’s the only reason they’re in second place.

Thank you so much for your time, Danielle!  I know great things await you.

If you haven’t already checked out Danielle’s work, I suggest you do so right now.  Her website is linked above (click on the blue font), along with the publisher’s website.

Finding Your Genre

Hello, hello!  When submitting to agents, one of the most common questions a writer has to answer is what genre they write.  Sometimes, this is a really difficult thing to explain, especially if you’re not quite sure yourself.  Granted, I know some writers who can tell you what they write down to the subgenre’s subgenre.  But, I’m not one of them.  And honestly, they kind of freak me out (but I still love them).  I never really understood how people could stick to such narrow categories in order to be a specific type of writer.  It always seemed constrictive to me.  But I eventually fell into a genre and it felt good to know where I belonged, even if I do have a tendency to wander away from it.  So, I thought I’d share how I found my genre.

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A genre map… and this is just the basics, not including YA and the like.

When I first got into Stonecoast, I had people asking me what I wrote and my go-to response was horror.  At the time, it’s what most of my writing vaguely (and not so vaguely) fell under.  But the truth was, I was still searching for what I was most comfortable writing.  I liked dabbling in all kinds of genres, and still do.  It was always fun for me when I stepped outside of my comfort zone, so I never really felt right restricting myself with genre labels.  Don’t get me wrong, horror was and will always be my true love, but it’s not an entirely accurate description of my writing.

It wasn’t until my fourth semester, during my first half workshop with Nancy Holder (who had also been my mentor my first semester), that I started narrowing in on what genre I felt most comfortable in.  When I was on the chopping block, Nancy said my story was “vintage Shawna.”  She went on to explain that in her time working with me, she noticed that I tended to write about younger (usually teenaged) protagonists who stumbled upon hidden worlds.  She wasn’t wrong.  Apparently, I had fallen into the YA (young adult) realm when I wasn’t looking.

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I admit this is totally what I thought of when I was accused of writing YA.

It wasn’t exactly my genre of choice, but YA chose me, so I couldn’t argue with it.  Granted, I’ve managed to keep my horror leanings even in most of my YA work.  Demons and psychological torture and all of that still play big roles in my writing, but there’s also a stronger thread of good old-fashioned fantasy as well.  Now, I mostly tell people that I write supernatural YA (not to be confused with paranormal romance) or just YA fantasy.  It’s closer to the truth for the majority of my work.  Though, I do have pieces that don’t fall anywhere near those genres, because writing is hard enough without restricting yourself to one genre.

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It really is sometimes.

So, I found my genre when I wasn’t even looking.  Actually, I guess it found me.  But I will always suggest stepping outside your genre, whether when reading or writing or both.  It’s fun and challenging and you can learn a lot when you’re working outside your comfort zone.

What about you?  Have you found your genre yet?  If so, how?  Do you like working within super specific boxes or do enjoy the freedom of vagueness and blurred lines?  Share your thoughts and comments here or on my social media pages!

Father’s Day Is Coming

Hello, hello!  Since Sunday (the 18th) is Father’s Day over here, I thought I’d tell y’all about my dad, Gary.  If you’re friends with me on Facebook, you’ve probably heard a lot of this before, so sorry in advance for the repetition.  Anyway, I’m not really good at the whole sappy emotional thing, so I know I don’t tell him how much I appreciate him enough.  So, I thought I’d give it a shot in writing (because I’m better at putting words on pages than I am at speaking).

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Dad and I at the MDA Christmas party in 2015.

Since Mom died in 2011, Dad has dropped everything to become my sole caregiver.  He learned to take care of me basically from scratch and my less than perfect instructions.  Yeah, he had an idea of what to do from watching Mom, but since she did everything before, he didn’t know all the ins and outs.  It’s one thing to see what has to be done with me, but another thing entirely to actually do it, to learn my limitations and how to work around them.  But he did it, and we’ve got a good routine going.

We compromised on a sleep schedule (I used to stay up until four or five in the morning and sleep all day while he was usually in bed by ten and up around six).  He always asks my opinion before doing any remodeling around the house.  I’m always in the loop about major purchases.  When it comes to things like life and the house and all that, he treats me like an adult and an equal because that’s the kind of person he is.

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The nightstand and part of the bed he built for me.

On top of all of that, he custom built all of my furniture to hide all of my medical equipment.  Who would guess there’s a ventilator hidden in that nightstand?  It started with a desk that comes out in a point, like the corner of a table, so I can get to it more easily than a regular desk.  You can see it here.  That’s nestled between two armoires.  The one on the left has a special drawer that used to house my Xbox at a reachable height back when I could still game.  Then came the bed, because I didn’t like the looks of my hospital bed.  And finally, the nightstand to hide the vent and for storage.

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That time he made a stack of panaffles (waffle inside a pancake) with Nutella and raspberry puree.

He’s also the best cook I know.  He makes a pastrami from scratch, smokes all kinds of things (including mac and cheese once or twice), and that’s just his bbq skills.  I’ve been spoiled by his Italian, since I’d rather he cook it than go out for it.  He also likes to experiment with new things.  Yeah, I’m definitely spoiled.

Okay, maybe I’m just bragging now, but these are just a few things I appreciate about him.  So, happy (almost) Father’s Day to my dad and all the other dads who might be reading this!  Feel free to share something about your own father figure here or on my social media pages.  I’d love to hear some of your stories.

Chase Them Up A Tree…

Howdy, howdy!  I was recently talking to a friend about putting our characters through hell (whether literally or figuratively).  He was a little worried that people would be upset and accuse him of torturing his young female characters simply as a catalyst to turn them into “strong, empowered women,” as if that’s a bad thing (the torture as a catalyst thing, not the strong women thing).  We talked about the story and that certainly doesn’t sound like the case, but so what if it is?  What’s wrong with strong female characters having a tragic background?  A lot of male characters have it pretty rough before becoming heroes, so why should female characters be any different?  It got me thinking about some of the most common writing advice I’ve heard: chase your characters up a tree, then throw rocks at them/make them walk through the fire/etc.

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What does that even mean, chasing them up a tree?  Well, it means that you should put your character in a bad situation, then pile on some more trouble.  Nobody wants to read about a person who goes to the beach, where it starts raining, and they immediately find shelter in a dingy little restaurant where they have a nice meal, then they go home.  For genre readers, make the restaurant haunted or infested with pixies or run by some super attractive person who seduces the protagonist.  If you’re more into literary fiction, throw in some existential angst or a discovery of some lost love or an awkward conversation with a guy who knows the protagonist but the protagonist can’t remember him or whatever.  In other words, it means you need to keep things interesting.

Another piece of advice to new writers, usually used as an explanation for running characters up a tree, is to make them walk through the fire.  This kind of thing is especially easy to understand if you’re into genre fiction, because the Hero’s Journey often requires entering an unknown world (sometimes actually made of fire) and having the hero traverse the treacherous land.  Whether they come out unscathed or not is really up to you.  Either way, they’re forced to face numerous obstacles or trials along their journey and it transforms them into the people they become.

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In my humble opinion, I don’t think we should really worry about whether or not people will approve of our stories.  If your character needs to be tortured physically or mentally to move the plot along and help them develop into who they need to become, whether male or female, go for it.  That’s not to say that something so drastic is always needed.  Maybe your character grows up in a loving home and stumbles upon an adventure randomly.  After all, one of my own characters is surrounded by supportive and caring family throughout her adventures.  That’s great too.  Trust your story to tell you what it needs, not judgmental people who think violence has no place in literature.

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Disclaimer: I am by no means endorsing gratuitous violence or anything that’s done “just because.”  It has to move things forward and serve some sort of purpose.  That being said, don’t worry so much about what people might think and just write your stories.  If things feel a little excessive, that’s what revision is for!  You can always change things up later on.

What about you?  Do you find yourself worrying about things like this or are you all about running characters up trees and pelting them with rocks?  Share your thoughts here or on my social media pages!