Tag: Book

Author Interview – E. V. Jacob

A few weeks ago, I wrote a review post for the new book The Shadows by E. V. Jacob. It’s a book that’s one of my favorite books that I’ve read in 2017, as well as one that I definitely think you should pick up. If you haven’t read the review, I would encourage you to do so.

I was fortunate enough to have a chance to chat with E. V. Jacob a bit about her new book, her experience as a new author, as well as about some other authors that she sees inspiration in. The transcript of our chat is below. Responses have been edited solely for the purposes of fixing typos. For ease of reading, my questions are in bold, with the responses unbolded below each question.


Tim (T): I’m going to start off with what might be the most obvious question — how does it feel to be a published author?

E. V. Jacob (E): It’s twofold: On the one hand, it feels like everything you want it to and more—I’m proud, excited, grateful, happy, and having a blast. But on the other hand…you’re still you at the end of the day, you know? Nothing about you, or who you are, has ultimately changed. Because the road to publishing, as any published author knows, is so long, that the changes happen over time. There’s no sudden shift; there’s long-term growth. And that’s honestly a great thing, it’s just not as immediate as I think most people would assume. At the same time, it still all feels like a whirlwind and I can’t believe that it’s already done. This simultaneously took forever and happened in the blink of an eye. It’s weird.

T: As a newly published author, what was the your favorite part of the writing/publishing process? What was the most intimidating part of the process?

E: I love it all. I do these wild plotting sessions with outlines and timelines and character profiles. I pin up notecards and scatter papers all over the floor, and do that murder wall thing you see in investigations. Then I hand-write the first draft. After it’s done (and boy is it a hot mess when it’s done), I type it up and get to editing. Each and every stage is incredibly fun but also incredibly daunting in its own way. I get stuck, I get frustrated, but the whole time you love what you’re doing, and that keeps me going. But really, I think the best part—and this could just be the novelty of it—was finally getting it out there into the world, and being able to say “I am 100% done writing that book. Time for something new”.

T: From the outside looking in, you seem to be a very motivated, very driven writer. What keeps you motivated during your creative slumps?

E: I appreciate that, because I don’t usually feel like a motivated or driven writer. But what keeps me going is just how badly I want to tell these stories. I have over 70 books planned, and that can sometimes seem like an impossible task, so I am just trying to tell as many of these stories as I can in the time I have. Writing is also a great refuge, and cathartic, so often it’s as therapeutic as it is productive (and other times it’s a damn chore, but I get my friends to yell at me and demand the next chapters, and that helps me churn out words on the bad days).

T: Who are some of the author — or even some of the works — that inspired you? Do you think any of those inspirations show through in The Shadows?

E: My first love, at the ripe old age of six, was the Animorphs series by K.A. Applegate. I still have every single book and read them from time to time. They definitely influenced me. As I grew older, I read anything I could get my hands on, so figuring out exactly has been the biggest influence can be tricky. I’d be lying if I left off obvious contenders, like J.K. Rowling, Neil Gaiman, and Rick Riordan, but I think every single book I’ve ever read has motivated me to write and tell my own stories. Even books I didn’t like, because I’d think, “If this can get published and have fans then my book should definitely be out there.” One I always think of is Douglas Adams—he’s so funny and absurd and I so admire the odd, casual manner in which he is completely ridiculous.

T: Let’s take some time to talk about your book now. If someone walked up to you on the street and asked you about your book, how would you explain The Shadows to them?

E: I’ve just been describing it as a young adult paranormal sci-fi as of late, but if someone wanted a more in-depth description, I’d tell them it’s about tragedy, and loss. It’s about mental health struggles, and figuring out who you are, apart from what you’ve been raised to be. It’s also about ghosts and some other entities that I don’t want to spoil, but…yeah, things get weird. That’s a phrase I use a lot when describing it, too: “Things get weird.” Which is hilarious to me, since this is arguably the tamest of all my books.

T: The Shadows is your debut piece, however it’s evident that it’s intended to be part of a longer series. Has this always been a series in your mind or did it start out as a book and become something more?

E: This is kind of tricky. See, years and years ago, there was a stand-alone novel that I discussed with my mother about a teen girl named Roz, her eccentric artist neighbor, and some dark secrets. I fiddled with this a bit, but it never fully evolved into anything. And there was another stand-along novel about Derek and Emily—two characters in this book—that was mostly an exploration of Derek’s personal struggles.

Fast-forward to about five years ago, and I’m again kicking things around with my mother, and a new idea blossoms: A series, with a more supernatural feel, taking Roz from her book, and Derek and Emily from their book, adding some other characters, throwing in some mysteries and mystical entities, and creating a series that could unfold over several books. So it almost started as two separate stand-alone books that have been combined into one longer series.

Fun fact: Both Roz and Derek’s original stories will be told over the course of this series, so very little was lost; just assimilated and reworked. I’m excited to still get to share those concepts in this bigger framework, because I loved them both, but they needed the rest of the story to shine.

T: Are there any characters in The Shadows that you like or feel more attached to than others? Any reason why?

E: I mentioned Derek having come from a previous story, and he is actually the character I’ve had the longest out of all others in this series, so he’s rather dear to me. His role in book one is smaller, but that’s mostly due to his reserved nature. He’ll feature more in coming books, and I hope others will come to care about him like I do. Ford is also special, mostly because he’s so easy to write it’s almost like he’s writing himself. I never have to sit there and think about what he’s going to say or do, he just does it. It’s great fun, and he brings out sides of the other characters I like. Roz, I relate to in more ways than I realized I would, and in fact I didn’t see it until the book was almost published.

T: Going into the book as a reader, I knew there was going to be a good bit of paranormal and supernatural content in the book. That said, the detail you went into with the ghost hunting and the paranormal shows was more than I expected. Was there a lot of research that you put into this book — be it in the paranormal realm or otherwise? If so, what was the strangest thing you found yourself researching as you were writing this book?

E: So much research. I mentioned my mother helping out before, and I should say: She loves to research, so I’d recruit her help and she’d find some amazing stuff. Also, I have an affinity for physics and scientific study, so I always liked the idea of explaining the paranormal in logical terms. A lot of research went into “ghosts from a scientific standpoint” (which I’m sure isn’t surprising to anyone who’s read the book), and I built from there. I need to know how things work in order to write them, even if it never makes it into the book, so when I wrote my first ever ghost story—a short story requested by a friend back in 2012—I found myself puzzling over the physics of ghosts. I spent way too much time thinking about how it all worked. So it’s been building for quite some time now, and I’m likely going to continue adding to my eclectic knowledge.

T: Being from Southern Nevada, how much research did you have to do into the setting for the story and how much came from memory?

E: I was born and raised in Las Vegas, so almost all of it was from memory, though I did use the book as an excuse to “research” locations a few times. I’ve been going to Red Rock Canyon all my life, and I actually lived up on Mount Charleston (just outside of Echo, the area mentioned in the book) when I was a teenager. Most of the restaurants and other locations I mentioned are real, or are based on real spots around town that I like to visit. I actually went up to the mountains and hiked around, deciding exactly where I wanted the final scenes of the book to take place. It was a lot of fun, getting to use my hometown as a backdrop to a story, especially when so many of my other projects take place in different countries, time periods, or even on different planets.

T: You’re working on the second book in the Dark Sentinels series now. There’s a nice, albeit short, excerpt that appears at the end of The Shadows as to what’s going to happen in the second book. Anything else you can share about the next book in the series?

E: Some questions will be answered, more questions will be posed, and Rosalind (and her friends!) are going to find themselves dragged even deeper into this mess. Relationships will be strained, and Roz will have to work very hard to keep up with her new abilities. I’m trying not to give anything major away, but things get a lot more intense as the series progresses, and it happens pretty rapidly. Book one, as you know, was a lot of set-up; books two and beyond won’t be slowed down by setting the stage—full speed ahead into the weird.

T: What new, upcoming, or little-known authors would you recommend to others to read?

E: One person who’s writing I love and was fortunate enough to get to read before it was published is Ryan Dalton. He’s the author of the Time Shift Trilogy, which anyone who loves sci-fi and time travel should absolutely check out. Another, with a completely different style, is Abigail Johnson. She writes these complex, deep real-world stories about people taking the raw hand they were dealt and turning that into something magnificent. And she, as a person, is hugely inspiring. I also know that there’s a book coming out Fall 2018 by Candice Montgomery, Home & Away, which I think a lot of people are going to love. And me, of course. I have a lot of projects in the works—some solo, some collaborative, all awesome.


If you haven’t already, go pick up The Shadows by clicking on any of the links below. Additionally, you can learn more about E. V. Jacob by going to her website or by following her on Twitter.

Amazon – Hardcover | Kindle | Paperback
Draft2Digital
Kobo
Smashwords

And Then Something Peculiar Occurred

The life of a self-published author is difficult and strange. This is especially true when you’re acting as a self-published author who doesn’t keep an incredibly interactive social media presence. I understand that being more active on social media platforms could certainly help my writing career. I made a choice a few years ago not to be active on most social media. At the time, the decision was based out of fear and frustration, though now I’ve chosen to keep that stance because social media just isn’t interesting to me.

I say all of this to talk about how my free book event that occurred this week went. I did a free book event back in July of last year, giving away 10 copies of the book across three days. Extrapolating that out to five days, I expected to give away somewhere in between 5 and 20 copies of the book. I had no reason to expect anything else.

Through 4pm or so on Monday, my expectations were pretty accurate. I’d given away 2 copies of the book, putting me on pace for somewhere in the middle of that estimate range. Considering most of my friends had a copy of the book — either a hard copy, a digital copy, or both — I figured my best hope was someone randomly scrolling through the free Kindle books and buying because they liked the cover art[1].

And then something peculiar happened…

I got home from work and saw the number had tripled. Six. Took a nap because I felt like death. Woke up twenty minutes later to find the total at 11. My wife got home, bringing dinner for her as well as my congested and feverish self. The count was up to 17.

So the night went. In a feeling I had never experienced before, I was able to refresh Kindle’s publishing reports and literally watch as new downloads of my book posted to the account. The day ended with An Epilogue to Innocence being downloaded 56 times. That’s not a giant amount, but it’s 5.6 times the number of downloads of the entire Kindle event I ran near launch.

When I woke up the next morning, I was able to grab this picture off Amazon.

Category Rank

I had risen to #64 in free Kindle books for Single Author Fiction Short Stories. Is that a super specific category? Yes it is. Did I care? No I did not.

By the end of the week, my rank had tailed off a bit. I went from that #64 rank in category to the mid 200s. My overall Kindle rank had fallen from ~3,500th to ~8,000th. I really didn’t care though. After all, I couldn’t explain where the sudden burst in downloads had come from. I still can’t explain it. I had three people who I know personally reach out to me letting me know they got the Kindle version of the book. Still doesn’t explain the other 77 copies that were downloaded last week.

On one hand, I know there’s not a ton of reasons to get excited about 80 free copies of my book getting downloaded. It’s not like I’m making money off of them. On the other hand, this is my Kindle sales report for the last 30 days.

units-ordered

Those 80 free copies that were given away in the last 5 days? That’s literally 1.6 times the number of books — free or paid — that I’ve managed to get out there since July. For all months combined. 80 free copies given away in 5 days is 61.5% of all copies of my book in the world today. That’s why 80 free copies is a big deal. That’s why I’m celebrating this.

I don’t know who did this or how I managed to get so many copies out there. To the three people I know downloaded the book because you mentioned it to me — Kait, Jenn, and Stephanie — thank you. To the other 77 of you, thank you too. Here’s to hoping this influx of new readers means some new, positive reviews on Amazon and Goodreads.

 

Oh…and if you want to actually buy the book and help me out that way, that’d be awesome too. Go pick it up from Amazon or Createspace.

AETI: Free Kindle Book Promotion (#2)

Oh hi. From February 20th through February 24th, 2017, you can pick up my debut book, An Epilogue to Innocence, for free on Kindle. For a more detailed explanation as to why I’m doing what I’m doing with this event, keep reading.

If you got An Epilogue to Innocence from this event, please consider writing a review on Goodreads or Amazon. Also, regardless of if you picked up the book during the event, please share this post with your friends and encourage them to get the book for themselves.

Around six months ago, I did a free Kindle book promotion for my book, An Epilogue to Innocence. Seeing as it had been almost a half of a year since the last one I did, I figured now was a great time to do another giveaway. I’d been wanting to do one for a while, however a recent piece of polling[1] that came out made me feel like now was as good of time as any.

A Pew Research study released in November 2016 found that about a quarter (26%) of Americans haven’t read a book in the last twelve months. That number goes up if you’re specifically looking at black Americans (29%), rural Americans (32%), Hispanic Americans (40%), and Americans with a high school diploma or lower (40%).

I’m not saying my book is the best book for people to read. There are amazing authors out there that write great, inclusive, thoughtful fiction that everyone should read. Hell, I need to do a better job of representing people of color, those with disabilities, the LGBTQ community and other marginalized groups in my work going forward. While I made an effort with An Epilogue to Innocence, there’s definitely a long way I have to go.

That said, it’s hard to continue a career in writing if I cannot fund it. While the free book event will not provide me any profit, my hope is that it can help drive paying customers who want to buy my book to the places where they can buy it. I’ll keep writing — and keep working to both improve my writing and make my writing more inclusive — regardless of the outcome of this event. I’ll do the same regardless of my book sales prior to now or going forward. But any help that you, or others, could give me, would be greatly appreciated.

Charity Drive Update – 22 Days Left (Plus NaNoWriMo Talk)

Alright. Now that Thanksgiving and all of the shenanigans surrounding that are over, it’s time for another update on the charity drive I’m doing with my book. It wasn’t good well with the last update, with the drive on pace for a $50 donation at the end of the drive. So. Where are we now.

Yeah. About that.

I have to admit, I’m pretty upset about how it’s going. Not that it’s come out in any of my posts or anything. The short version is that the total of $9.98 raised as of last time is now at $12.24. That means that in the 21 days since the last update, one copy of the book has sold[1].

One.

I had hoped this would go over much better. I was very, very wrong. It’s upsetting to say the least. There have been some of you who have been extremely helpful in promotion for the drive — a fact for which I’m externally grateful. But the end result looks like it’s going to be putrid.

I’m going to be putting money to the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention regardless. The work they do is exceptionally valuable. I just wish that more of the money going to an organization whose mission I really care about could have come from a project I really care about. Hopefully the next 22 days will go better, but I’m a realist. The best case scenario I can hope for is that the current total doubles.


On a related, yet not so related note, I wanted to talk a bit about NaNoWriMo. The annual November writing project just ended, and while I chose not to take part this year, I always love reading about those who choose to take on the arduous project. I finished NaNoWriMo in 2011 and 2015, and attempted it two other times (2009 and 2012) as well. It’s a fun project, not to mention a challenging one as well.

The one bright side to being as frustrated with the charity drive experience as I have been is that it’s given me a lot of emotions which have led to story ideas. Long, quiet morning drives have helped flesh out these thoughts a bit, and I think I know where I’m going to go with the story, at least at a very high level.

With that said, I’m looking for 2-3 readers to read the story as I write it. My goal is to be able to start writing the story by the first of the year — which will mean having my ideas storyboarded to the point that I can get the first chapter or two done on or around New Year’s  — and then to have roughly a chapter a week done from there. I honestly have no idea how long the story will be, however I’m thinking it’ll end up somewhere in the novella range (17,500 to 40,000 words)[2]. We’ll see though. It may be longer than 40,000. It definitely won’t be shorter.

If you’re interested in being one of the readers who reads and gives feedback, leave a comment. I’ll probably pick people some time shortly before Christmas.

Book Update

Remember that I’m writing a book? Well, some of you remember at least. Those of you who are a bit newer…hey! I’m writing a book.

Hey, I'm as surprised it's still happening as you are. Image credit: memegenerator.net
Hey, I’m as surprised it’s still happening as you are. Image credit: memegenerator.net

Let’s rewind for a moment.

In 2013, I wrote a pair of short stories for my old blog. The first was a standalone short story called Soma which dealt the loss of a loved one. The second was a dark series of short stories based off of Plutchik’s Wheel of Emotions originally titled Ode to Tori. Both tales were very well received by readers of the blog. I’d like to believe that the strength of writing displayed in Soma helped me make it to the semifinals of Twenty Something Bloggers’ Bootleg Awards.

Around the time I finished up the Plutchik series (whose name had changed at least once by this point), a couple of my readers became very vocal in encouraging me to publish my short stories in a book. I’d considered it previously, however I wasn’t sure that my work was good enough. I had a couple of people try to encourage me to do the same thing with the NaNoWriMo story in 2012, but I didn’t feel like it was time for a myriad of reasons.

In late 2013, a pair of ebook related items helped to motivate me towards making my decision to publish. First, a fellow blogger, Amanda Osborn, published her first ebook, One Word Says it All: Stories From My Year Abroad in ChinaNot too long after, Jen Glantz of The Things I Learned From wrote a guest post for my old blog talking about how she wrote an ebook. After both of those items came to fruition, I decided to put together stories and self-publish a book.

I had this grand plan of being able to edit and self-publish the book before the start of spring of 2014. Work got in the way — frequently. I spent quite a bit of time planning out other things. Not to mention I got engaged((Which actually was pretty heavily related to that whole planning out other things item)). Needless to say it was a busy time. But mid-summer of last year, I had a book file ready to edit.

I got the bright idea to do editing through a peer review process. My original batch of people I sent the book was seven people strong, including a published author of dark fiction((Considering the content of my book, this is right up my alley)). A few people (I’ll save most of the thank yous to the end of this post) provided wonderful feedback on my work. That said, I ran into a bit of a problem of some of those who had offered to peer review my book not doing so. Everyone was reviewing out of their own free will, it was to be a bit expected. With that said, it was still pretty depressing. Combine that with feedback from one reviewer that completely contradicting everything else I was hearing, and the process became fairly depressing.

Over the course of the next three months or so (bringing us to November of 2014), additional reviewers took a look at my book and gave me their feedback. One of those individuals was Kat Argo of A Red Rover. She provided me wonderful feedback on the book, which would have been fantastic on its own. That said, when she said she enjoyed the book enough that she’d make her publisher aware of the book and see what they thought, I was ecstatic.

A couple of months later and here we are. I have great news. My book is going to be published by an actual publisher.

Visual approximation of my reaction when I got the email back letting me know the publisher was interested. Image credit: giphy.com

I don’t have a ton of information to share at this point. More of that will be coming over the next few months. Here’s what I’m comfortable telling at this point.

  • Said book is going to be published in either late 2015 or early 2016. As soon as I know more about dates, I’ll be sure to let everyone know.
  • My book is currently in the hands of an editor with the publisher, so I wait a bit more at the moment…but with good reason.
  • The book is a collection of short stories and short stories series including the two that I mentioned above.
  • There will be 10 short stories in the book, 5 of which are completely new across the board. 4 of the remaining stories were published in part on my old site, but have been pretty heavily edited from their original versions as I worked to improve them. The tenth story, Soma, is (currently) nearly identical to its original form due to the near universal love for that story.
  • When I was originally considering self-publishing, there were two people who won free copies of the book via various methods. This will still be the case even though it’s being published by someone other than me (I’ll even pay for the books myself if I have to).

That’s all the more I have at the moment. I do want to give a thank you to the following people for all their help at various points in the process.

  • Erin V. from Coma Diary, Samantha from Jill of All Trades, Kat from A Red Rover, Stephanie of Music School Dropout, Erin M., Anna, Mike, and my fiancee for all their feedback and assistance at various points in the editing process. I’d also like to thank another editor who shall remain unnamed for showing me that not all feedback should be taken seriously.
  • Thank you again to Kat for giving me the opportunity to work with a real publisher.
  • Erin M. and Samantha are owed an additional thank you for their assistance in rewriting parts of my book (particularly dialogue).
  • As mentioned above, thanks again to Amanda of Musical Poem, Jen of The Things I Learned From, and Tim for their (likely unintentional) inspiration towards me actually writing a book, as well as Erin M.’s very intentional motivating me to do so.
  • There were a few people instrumental in planting ideas in my head that later became stories in this book. To which I’d like to thank Erin M., Krista, Karolina, and my fiancee. I’m sure there are a handful of people who gave me ideas for lines/characters, however I’ll thank them in the book itself.
  • Finally, a quick thank you to everyone else who has been reading my blog, whether that be for 4 days or 4 years. Your support, commentary, and visiting has helped keep my motivation going.

So…woo! Yes. I used an exclamation point non-sarcastically((Really.)).