Book review and author interview – Joleene Naylor

The book is Shades of Gray – and if you want to know what it’s about, go to the book page, haha! I’m not rewriting the blurb in my review. Ahem, well, where was I. Oh, yeah, the review. OK, first of all, I’m not a fan of vampires and I’m stuck to Ann Rice’s first 3 books (and I prefer the movie of Interview anyway, but I read also the Vampire Lestat and Queen of Darkness, then I had enough of the gore and quit). BUT Katelina’s “voice” is so strong and funny (and in third person, yay!) that I really rushed through this. The right amount of gore, sex and humor, so to speak. And I look forward to start the second book of the series and all the short stories I skipped so far. Maybe I’ll wait until the author makes a short stories collection, mmmh? I know I recognized the 5-year-old-vampire when I found him in the book, because I read the short story… anyway, I’m rambling, so I’d rather let the author speak and head for a couple of sites to leave my review…

Joleene was also kind enough to answer my usual nosy questions, so here she goes! (sorry the formatting isn’t prefect, but copying and pasting sometimes gets screwed…)

B: Where do you live and write from? Tell us a little about yourself.

J: We live in the middle of nowhere Missouri, and have for ten years now (ten years!?!?!) before that it was middle of nowhere Iowa – do you see a trend? I’m also married and support three cats, three turtles and a dog, none of which do any of the dishes or house keeping to earn their keep, though I keep trying to teach them.

B: Tee-hee! I’, single, but I hire somebody because I’m too lazy to clean the house myself (but I do the dish and the ironing)! ;-) When did you first become interested in becoming a writer? What was the deciding moment for you?

J: I’m not sure when I decided I *was* a writer, it was just always there as a normal part of life. My painted and wrote poetry, so it didn’t occur to me for a long time that being a writer was something different. Since we grew up  kind of isolated, there wasn’t much to do.  My brother and I did a lot of drawing and writing “games”. One of them was to make “books”. We’d drag out big piles of paper and crayons and write and illustrate a children’s book in a day or two. I still have some of those, somewhere.

B: Where do you find your inspiration?  Do you put yourself in your stories?

J: I can not tell a lie (okay, I can, but…) my main inspiration comes from anime. I’ve noticed that when I haven’t watched any for awhile I start to run kind of dry. I also get ideas from random conversations. I’m not above using other people’s suggestions ;) As for putting myself in my stories, not really. I mean there are parts of me in every character because if you can’t understand your character, then you can’t write them. I did put myself in a book I wrote when I was a teenager, so I guess that it got it out of my system. I’m not interesting enough for more than one story and, besides, it exposes too much of yourself when you’re the main character, like giving everyone a magnifying glass and letting them see through your skin. 

B: I’ve watched many anime too… and read manga and comics and French BD. And I do tend to put myself in my stories because it’s like acting a part – how many lives can I have, especially on other worlds, past or future? Anyway… What do you love most (and then least) about what you do?

J: I love  seeing the story unfold and then come together. There’s something magical about that. The best part is when I learn something new about the characters. When I first write it, I am usually just as surprised as the readers will be. What I like the least is advertising, marketing, and all of that stuff. I’d much rather just write , put it up and then go back to work. I lose so much time on what little marketing I do do.

B: Don’t tell me, I HATE marketing, hugh! :-( When and where do you write? Do you have a specific routine?

J: It used to be every day until I got into doing book covers/formatting etc and now it’s pretty much catch-as-catch-can. I prefer to be by myself, though, so it’s either before the hubby goes to work (and is sleeping) or after he’s gone to bed. I think better at night, though.

B: Do you have any other project on the pipeline?

J: I’m still toying around with the Vampire Morsel’s short stories, and am editing Ties of Blood, the third book in the Amaranthine series. I was hoping to have it out August first, but it may not make it. We’ll have to see.

B: Did you query agents/publishers before publishing? If yes, for how long?

J: I did query agents with Shades of Gray back in 2008/2009. No one seemed really keen on “more vampires”, and those that were wanted straight up paranormal romance, which this only sort of is. (it depends who you ask).Meanwhile I researched Indy publishing on the side and when it came time to submit to smaller presses or just do it myself, I decided to skip the small presses and go it alone, so I haven’t actually ever submitted directly to any of the publishers.

B: What was your overall experience with self-publishing so far?

J: I’ve been very happy with it. I use Smashwords, Amazon’s KDP and Create Space and haven’t had any real problems *knock wood*. As far as sales go, I’m not a “major” success. I don’t sell thousands of copies, but I don’t really care. As long as I have a few people who like it, that’s enough for me.

B: Anything else you’d like to add?

J: Self Publishing is like anything you do, you get out of it what you put in. Most successful indy authors are successful because they’ve worked their butts off to get there. Sure, there’s always the occasional “lucky break”, but those are few and far between. Write a quality story, edit it, edit it, edit it, and then edit it again. Put some effort into your cover and then advertise your finger to the bone and you’ll get there in time. Me? I hate the latter (and I don’t have time anymore, anyway) so I probably will never be huge. That’s the great thing about Indy, though. If I don’t become a super-book-star, it’s my own fault, no one else’s. I control how far it goes, or doesn’t go, and so do the rest of us. 

B: Words of wisdom! I won’t be huge either, because I write ADULT fantasy, and I don’t really care… Did you have some kind of editing done?

J: The first two books were edited by a friend of mine (who does a fantastic job!), and once I get this last round of editing done I am going to send the third book off to her, but I’m not sure she has time this year :(  having her do it, though, has made a major difference because now when i do my own editing I try to think like her. WWCD? (What Would Carolyn Do) LOL!

B: Haha! Happened to me with an Italian beta-reader (lost to the language switch, sigh)! Did you have to do the blurb and everything yourself ?

J: Well, on the first book, sort of. I had another friend who really encouraged me to do indy, and he did a mock book cover and a mock manuscript layout. I kept the essence of his layout (though I changed the fonts and made a new image for the chapter headings because he’d used one that was for another project I was working on, and also made it fit CS’s standards) and though I completely redid the cover, I did keep the last paragraph of the blurb he wrote for the back. Since then I’ve done it all myself.

B: For how long have you tried to find an agent/publisher before self-publishing?

J: Oh, it was probably six or seven months or more of querying agents. I worked on the query pitch in the Absolute Write forums. they were very helpful, and it was really very educational. For one thing you learn really fast that no two people agree. What one person would say was “punchy and nice!” another would say was “cliche and doesn’t work”. I also learned a LOT about condensing. I’m naturally long winded, and the query letter word limit forced me to keep rewriting and shortening over and over again. That’s something that has really come in handy since.

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  1. wordpress ate my comment!! :( I was just copying the link and happened to scroll down and I see it’s not here! well piddle sticks!

    • okay, I shall endeavor to remember what I said the other day :p

      Thanks so much for the kind words and the interview! it was a lot of fun to do. I’m so glad you enjoyed the book :)

      hee-hee, as to the short story collection i am actually planning to do that one of these days (yeah, I’m slow, I know ;) )

      thanks again!

  2. you’re very welcome… :-)

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