Today I’m pleased to be able to welcome mystery author Anne R Allen to the blog. Anne is the author of ten books, including the bestselling CAMILLA RANDALL MYSTERIES and HOW TO BE A WRITER IN THE E-AGE, co-written with NYT bestseller Catherine Ryan Hyde. Her latest is SO MUCH FOR BUCKINGHAM, a humorous mystery about Internet trolls.
Did you always want to write? Were you inspired from an early age from the books you read as a child? I’ve been a writer pretty much since I could hold a crayon. I used to write stories in the margins of my coloring books to go with the pictures. My parents were both PhDs who taught literature at the university level, so I was born into a house full of books. My parents read to me every night. Books were always part of my life. I was especially inspired by the Wizard of Oz series. I think because the hero was an independent little girl.
How quickly did you become involved in the ‘Kindle Revolution’? Could you see the potential from the beginning? I wasn’t one of the first to join the Kindle crowd. I’ve always been with small presses and let my publishers make decisions about format. But as soon as they put my work on Amazon as ebooks in 2011, I saw my sales soar, so I knew they were onto something. I already had a blog, and it was easy to see how my online presence could influence online sales, so I made a point of learning to use social media.
I think I learned the most about online marketing from the fantastic women of the Indie Chicks Anthology. They invited me to join because I was with an “indie” micropress, even though the rest were self-published. They taught me the ropes.
You write both fiction and non-fiction. Do you enjoy writing one more than the other? I probably write a lot more non-fiction than fiction—if you consider the amount of time I spend writing blog posts—but my heart is still with my fiction. Writing fiction is hard, but I love it. Writing non-fiction is easier, but it doesn’t give me the same sense of joy.
Today I’d like to welcome mystery and historical fiction author Mike Billington to the blog. Mike is a Vietnam veteran and was a journalist for 50 years before writing fiction. He has 7 books published and is working on 2 more. Thank you Mike for taking part in this interview.
If you had to pick one, which event that you’ve reported on has been the most influential on your fiction? That’s a hard question to answer because over the course of nearly 50 years as a reporter I covered a wide variety of stories and many of them had a real impact on me and my writing. I covered the Love Canal environmental disaster, for example, and learned a lot about how ordinary people can rise to great heights when their families are threatened. I spent time living undercover with white-power extremists and learned a lot about how irrational fear can drive people to commit outrageous acts. I think, however, that if I had to choose one event I’d say it was a series of stories that two other reporters and I did on police abuse of the Florida contraband forfeiture law. We started on the project one Sunday night when a guy walked into the newsroom and told us that the police had stolen his boat.
The contraband forfeiture law allows police to confiscate money, property, airplanes, boats, cars and personal possessions from people who are not charged with a crime. To get their stuff back they are forced to sue the police and to win their lawsuits they must prove they are innocent of wrongdoing. That’s a complete perversion of the American concept of justice; it’s also both expensive and time consuming. Over the course of our investigation we learned that cops were taking boats, for example, and using them to go fishing, hold parties, etc. They were taking classic cars and driving them for personal use and they confiscated billions of dollars which they used to buy new equipment and, in one case, to install lights at a church playground. The law was supposed to stop drug lords from using their wealth to hire slick lawyers to beat criminal charges but it was never really used to do that. What is was used for primarily was to, in essence, steal from the public with complete impunity. Of the hundreds of cases we reviewed, not a single “drug lord” had his house or other property confiscated. That project taught me a lot about how both the police bureaucracy and the political system really work and how innocent people can be severely impacted by bad laws. It also taught me how readily societies willingly surrender their rights in exchange for what they consider “security.” That series has had a big influence on the topics I pursue in my novels and how I write them. Continue reading →
This week I’m rounding up the top 10 author blogs that I’m subscribed to and/or read regularly. They all offer a great variety of content whilst letting readers get to know the authors and their books.
Maggie James Fiction.
This week my author friend Maggie James asks her readers who their favourite fictional psychopath is. Maggie loves writing her bad guys and wants readers opinions on who the best bad guys are and why. She’s going to pick one lucky person to receive a free ebook copy of her current novel, The Second Captive. So, head over to Maggie’s blog and tell her what you think!
Steve Robinson is very pleased to inform his readers that his first two books are about to be translated into Czech after the first one has also been translated into German – congratulations Steve. He also updates his readers on the progress on his 5th book in the Jefferson Tayte series. If you have Steve’s books, who do you imagine Jefferson to look like? Let Steve know, there’s a signed book up for grabs.
Tales of The Neverwar.
Colin Rutherford is currently working on the third in his series, Tales of The Neverwar. Dragons feature throughout the series and an imaginary one named Claude writes Colin’s blog. Claude discusses Colin’s writing progress and reviews books for him. Claude has a fiery sense of humour and he writes a very entertaining blog.
Self-publishing authors have a fair bit to do: Write, edit and format books, design covers, learn how to use Kindle Direct Publishing (and other publishing outlets) and explore how to best make use of social media to market their work. The following is a list of resources which I found to be the most helpful with the self-publishing process:
The Book Designer is put together by Joel Friedlander, and it covers all aspects of self- publishing. The site is easy to navigate and has popular posts grouped together on the home page with articles put into categories. Personally, I’ve learned a lot from Joel’s site and from the authors who guest-write posts on his behalf. Take a look at the ‘Start Here’ section on the home page to introduce yourself to the scope of articles which are available.
You’ll find more than 2,000 blog posts and articles, hundreds of learning tools, and lots of free advice on how to tell your story to the world on Joan’s site. If you’re having trouble deciding how best to market and promote your book, then there are numerous articles here that will help. Joan is also great at blogging and shares tips to help you improve your author blog posts Continue reading →