Thursday, November 3, 2011

Blogger in the Spotlight...Splitter's World

This week I'm pleased to introduce Splitter of Splitter's World who will be starring in this week's Blogger in the Spotlight. Big welcome, Splitter. Splitter's blog is an author blog, so a little bit different than the other blogs I've spotlighted. However, I found this spotlight really informative and entertaining. And now let's get into the spotlight.

Splitters' author spotlight: 



I originally listed two favorite authors on my GoodReads page:  Jim Butcher and Michael J. Sullivan.  I need to add more, but those were the two that were in my mind when I created the profile.  For this spotlight, I would like to focus on Michael J. Sullivan because he is an indie writer that “made it.” 

I first found his series, “Riyria Revelations,” shortly after the first book was released.  I have been a fan of the fantasy genre since I read “The Riddlemaster of Hed” back in circa 1979.  Through the years, I have read most of the greats in the genre and, eventually, I found myself bogged down in disappointment at the recurring story lines.  I was tired of reading about scullery boys that were destined to be king or orphans with strange and undiscovered powers that would alter their world. 

The blurb on “The Crown Conspiracy,” Sullivan’s first book in his series, promised me that there would be no such trite story lines or characters.  The book delivered.  Hadrian and Royce, the main characters, had some familiar characteristics but were not cookie cutter fantasy characters. The series could easily be described as epic, but there is no ancient prophecy to be fulfilled. 


This is not a book review so I will leave Sullivan’s series right there.  It is wonderful, especially for those of us that remember the golden days when fantasy was first gaining its foothold on the market but who now need something a little different to keep our interest. 

Since I tend to promote his work so often, people have asked me if Sullivan has embarrassing photos of me from my foray into the world of mullets back in ’87.  Honestly, though, I just enjoy the way he goes about the business of writing. 

When I discovered his series, he was an indie author.  Again with the honesty stuff, I might not have bought his first book if I had realized that.  In 2008, I was still under the impression that indie authors were the writers who had failed to get picked up by a major publisher.  Hey!  Put those stones down.  I am an indie author now and realize the error of my previous ways, k? 

After I read and enjoyed his first three books, I decided to send him a message letting him know how much I appreciated his work.  He wrote back.  What?  A real author took the time to respond?  I thought he must not be that busy and got suspicious.  I went to do some internet research on him.

As it turned out, his wife, Robin Sullivan had started a small press publishing company to put out Michael’s books.  That brought me up a bit short…did I still like his books after learning that he was an indie who’s wife published him?  Of course I did, the stories and the writing were still good.

Both he and his wife had blogs and out of curiosity, I started reading them.  I will not go into their story of getting his books to market, they tell it better than I ever could.  You can check out their blogs for yourself:  http://riyria.blogspot.com  and http://write2publish.blogspot.com . 

  
Personally, I found their stories inspirational.  I think other indie writers would too.  Michael was a struggling writer who had failed to get his previous books (I found out that the Riyria Revelations was not his first attempt at writing) published the traditional way and had given up on writing.  Robin was a maverick who saw opportunity in the changing landscape of the publishing industry. 

All of what I have said thus far made me a fan of his writing and her chutzpah.  But those things did not make him one of my “favorite” authors.  Yes, his writing was as good as anything I had seen before, but still… 

What made the Sullivans favorites to me was how they gave back as they built their respective careers.  Michael does a WONDERFUL series of tips on writing and if you are a writer, you should be reading them.  Robin does an extremely informative series of posts on the business side of publishing.  For indie writers, her blog should be a must read. 

I have constantly seen Michael thanking his readers over the past couple year that I have followed his blog, me included.  He is genuinely thankful and seems to humbly pinch himself over his success.  Did I forget to mention that Michael’s Riyria series is no longer published by his wife’s company?  Well, it is not.  He got picked up by Orbit for a six figure contract. 

That’s right, a lowly indie writer went from having his wife publishing his work to being signed by a Big Six publishing company.  I even felt vindicated when I heard about the contract through their blogs. It was like going out to see a local band, thinking they were great, and then seeing them on MTV a few years later.  See?  I know what’s good. 


Never worry about Robin, however.  She didn’t fold her little publishing company. She has gone out and signed additional talented writers to her speculative fiction publishing company, named Ridan, and is doing very well from the sales reports that she posts for all to see. 

More than that, success has not changed her either.  A couple months ago, she asked if anyone had samples of contracts from other publishing companies.  As chance would have it, I had just received a feeler from a small publisher and sent her the contract to help her research (she is a whiz at research).  She contacted me and suggested we talk on the phone. 

Really?  She was going to take time out of her day to talk to me about certain points in the contract?  I am like…nobody.  Of course I said yes.  She called within two hours and spent an hour and a half on the phone with me going over the contract which I decided not to pursue. 

I have never told that story before because I thought it might sound like I was name dropping (I hate it when people do that).  Robin has never read my work and doesn’t even do my genre.  She was just nice enough, and cared about other writers enough, to take the time to give advice.  Ninety three minutes worth.  I learned more about the publishing business in that conversation than I had in months of research.  (Robin, if you read this, I hope it was alright to mention our conversation and I wanted to say “thank you” one more time.) 

As I said earlier in this article, Michael J. Sullivan’s writing made me a fan.  The way he and his wife go about the business of publishing and their compulsion to give back made him (and Robin) a “favorite” author.  You just have to root for people them them. 

If you want some tips on writing and publishing, follow their blogs.  If you want some inspiration as a writer or just want to read a darned good story, dig back into their blogs and read their history.  If you do not feel just a little inspired…well, let’s just say you would not like the movie “Rudy” either. 
 

Q & A with Splitter:

How long have you been blogging for?
I think I started my blog in May of 2011.  For the most part, it chronicles the life of an indie writer and what I go through to get books written and out to market.  Of course, as an indie writer, I throw in some shameless self promotion too.
On thing that the blogging world has also made possible for me is that I am now able to promote works done by other people be they authors, artists, editors, or other bloggers that I follow. There is some serious talent out there.
Why are you drawn to the Indie world of publishing?
I find coloring inside the lines to be very restrictive. I have never been successful at anything where I used the same old strategies and tactics that everyone else uses. I need that sense of freedom to stay motivated to write and/or market every day. The indie world is a great unknown and there is a certain allure to exploring it.
No one can accurately predict what is going to happen next in the publishing world.
What can you tell me about your book The Reluctant?
Tom Crayder is the All-American guy. He has a wonderful wife, a mortgage, a son in college, a struggling business, and a money eating hobby: flying. Tom is a private pilot, which is expensive, and owns his own plane, which is even more expensive. 
Not only is Tom under financial stress, he feels life passing him by and seeks adventure.  To help with the finances, he takes on odd flying jobs for the leader of a local outlaw motorcycle gang.  Nothing Tom does is terribly criminal, but he is doing just a little bit more than the law will allow.  Adventure shows up in the form of Lorena; an exotic seductress who tempts Tom into thinking of cheating on his wife.
As Tom finds out, not all things are as they seem, especially beautiful women, and he is drawn into the world of a shadow organization that forces him to make life altering decisions about his moral compass.
That all sounds very serious, and it is, but I also sprinkle humor throughout the story. Tom is a pretty typical guy with whom both women and men can identify.   
Why did you decide to write a thriller, action, suspense? Is there any romance in there?
The idea hit me like a bolt of lightning. 

I have always wanted to write fantasy but, honestly, I never felt like I had a good, original idea for that genre and after more than a decade of failed attempts, I gave up writing.
Then, at dinner one night, a police officer acquaintance stopped by and during the conversation he stated that criminals get caught because they make stupid mistakes and brag about their crimes. I had heard such things a hundred times before, but this time it set off a series of thought in my head.
What if a criminal took pains to minimize mistakes? What if they could keep their mouth shut? What if they had a little means?
However, I did not want to write about a stone cold criminal or a crime fighting cop who’s arch enemy was such a criminal. I wanted a conflicted character. I did not want a super hero, I wanted a regular guy put into hairy situations. I wanted moral dilemmas. Of course, I also wanted plenty of action and interesting characters too.
By the time we got home from that dinner, Tom Crayder and his first story was planted firmly in my mind. Then I just needed to get it down on paper.
There is a certain amount of romance even if it is not always intentional on Tom’s part and there is definitely some lust but, sorry, no explicit sex scenes.  My mother-in-law reads these books after all.
Why did you make your character, Tom, a private airplane pilot?
Because pilots are cool lol. That would be Tom’s answer.
The more precise answer is that pilots are interesting and flying is an adventure.  Think back to when you got your driver’s license; a whole new world opened up for you.  Then you got your first car and no longer needed to ask mom or dad for the keys.  The world got even larger.  Then you moved out and no longer had any restrictions on where and when you could drive and the world seemed to be at your disposal.
Pilots have even more freedom.  A destination that is five hours away for the driver might be two hours away for the pilot.  Their world is larger and with more freedom of movement.
Plus, when you hear pilots speak, it all seems very mysterious.  They use terminology that most people just cannot understand.  They also often characterize their experiences in a mysterious way.  A typical description of a trip from a pilot might sound like, “We slipped into a little airstrip north of Houston just before dusk, got a hotel room for the night, and snuck out right after dawn the next morning.”  A pilot said that exact sentence to me once and he and wife were only taking a vacation to New Orleans.
Pilots revel in their freedom of movement.  That was very convenient for a character like Tom Crayder.
How many books are you planning on having in the Crayder Chronicles series?
I know exactly how Tom’s story ends, I just do not know how many steps it will take to get there.  I write each book as a stand alone story that also contributes to the over-all story arc of the series.  I want each book to be a satisfying read on its own.  I hate to read a series where the middle books are just filler. 

How many books depends entirely on how many people are enjoying the series.  I could see at least ten books but I want to answer questions along the way so the reader is not slogging through a series of that length just to find the answers they seek in the final chapter of the final book. 

I want them to enjoy the ride. 

Please tell me more about your new Goodreads group called “Ask Tom Crayder?”
Tom is a likeable guy, but he has his own view of the world.  He can be a bumbler at times, brave at times, and even a bit offensive to some at times.  One of my reviewers once wrote that even though he occasionally offended her inner feminist, he became a guy she would want to go have a beer with. 
That’s Tom.  We all know him in our real life.  Women like him because he is real even though he makes them roll their eyes at times…just like the other men in their lives.
I think people enjoy Tom’s unique perspective on life and his humor.
So, I gave him a group of his own where people can interact with him as a real person.  The great news is that the group is growing steadily and remains active because it has some very creative fans.  These people crack me up too!
The group is actually called, “Ask Tom Crayder.”  Think of it as Dear Abby with real world twist.
What are you currently reading and what are you going to read next?
I cannot read and write at the same time lol.  Seriously, I find it distracting.  Right now, I am busily putting the finishing touches on my second book in the series called “The Willing.”
So, I have been in the middle of Jim Butcher’s “Ghost Story” for some time now.  I love his stories and now when people compare my style to his, I am flattered even though I do not see much similarity.
My next book will be “Percepliquis” by Michael J. Sullivan.  The guy is not only a good writer, but his series harkens back to the golden days of epic fantasy without following all of the trite plot devices. 

Why should readers follow your blog?
I am real and I do not pull any punches.  I talk about what goes through my head as I write and the struggles and decisions that face an indie author.  When I screw up, I say it.  When I do not know which way to go, I say it.  When something neat happens, I reveal as much as I can.
One thing I think readers enjoy is knowing that there is a real person behind the keyboard.  Other writers and reviewers can appreciate the details of the indie experience.  I know some authors put up a wall between themselves and their audience, but I LOVE interacting with fans.  Hopefully they get my jokes too. 

Anything else you think readers should know about you?
Book two in the Crayder Chronicles is due out on November 21st, 2011.  Print editions of both books will be out early next year but do not wait!  Buy for your eReader now lol.
I guess I might as well announce here.  I am doing a promotion on “The Reluctant” right now in preparation for the new release and it is only $.99 at Amazon and Smashwords.
Other than that, I would let people know that I am NOT Tom Crayder!  People think I am just writing “me” but, in truth, while Tom and I share some similarities, we are not the same person.  I promise.
Well that's all for this week's Blogger in the Spotlight. Thanks Splitter  for participating and posting such an interesting post on the writing/Indie process.  Like I mentioned earlier I enjoyed this post. Be sure to check out her writing writing blog.

 Also, if you're interested in being spotlighted, please see the Blogger in the Spotlight page.

Simply because I'm curious, what do you guys think about indie authors?
Love,
Danica Page

3 comments:

  1. What a great spotlight!! I loved the interview and Splitters answers, i have been following Splitter's blog for a while now and its definitely something special!

    ReplyDelete
  2. I REALLY enjoyed writing this! Thanks Cambria!

    Thanks for having me, Danica!

    Splitter

    ReplyDelete
  3. I'm glad Splitter. You are most welcome.

    ReplyDelete

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