How many unpublished and half-finished books do you have?
Steph: I have three right now. I started a “sweet” ghost story about two and half years ago. It takes place in New England on the seacoast. I’m about halfway done. It was meant to be a short story, but I might go a bit longer.
My next story was a romantic suspense that takes place during Christmas time in Germany so I take you to the different Kris Kringle markets. The heroine is a German museum curator and the hero is an American Lieutenant in the army. They are looking for a lost Monet that the Nazi’s stole. I’ve written about one fourth of the story. It was meant to be a full length novel. I started that one about two years ago.
My third I started recently. This one is going to be my “opus.” Lol. It’s about an advanced society who has to relocate to a world that’s less advanced. I’m kind of writing the prequel and story at the same time. If you read my story, “The Green Rose,” that’s the basis for this saga.
These stories were basically delayed because I had to “step up” and get more involved in scouting. Recently, I was able to step back from one of my more demanding roles, but time is still at a premium. I am slowly getting back into writing as time permits. My goal is to finish the ghost story sometime in the upcoming year.
Do you Google yourself?
STEPH: I used to, but the last two years, not as much. I haven’t had the time. Lol!!
How do you select the names of your characters?
STEPH: I consider a variety of things. I consider the time period and the place/setting. I go over names that were popular during the time period. I also try to select names that go with culture/ethnicity of the character. I do a lot of research for a name before I decide to use it.
What’s the most difficult thing about writing characters from the opposite sex?
STEPH: I really don’t find the opposite sex hard to write. I used to be in the Army so I kind of get where a “man” comes from most of the time. They have their pride. I understand the mindset of an Alpha male and a Beta male well. Men are protectors and providers and each character needs to have their weakness and strength. I find that most of the time, my male characters come together very well.
What kind of research do you do, and how long do you spend researching before beginning a book?
I usually spend about a good two-three weeks researching a story before I start writing. First I’ll come up with the “germ” of the idea. Then I’ll research the setting and history of the setting. Google maps has really help give me a visual on places I’ve never been. I’ll research the seasons of the setting. I’ll develop character bios and “cast the characters” so I have a visual of them. I plot out a “basic” plot, with a beginning, middle and end, but that actually changes as I go along. The “basic” plot allows for flexibly to change should needed.
What’s your favorite under-appreciated novel?
STEPH: That I wrote? I would say I have two. “The Wolf’s Torment,” and “Sunrise Over Brasov.” Both are out of print now, since the publisher went out of business. “The Wolf’s Torment” was a paranormal romance, but there was a lot more character development with the main four characters (Mihai, Theresa, Sonia, and Viktor) and while there is a “happy” ending it’s not quite what you expect. There’s a lot of sadness involved as well. When the novel was in release, it received fantastic reviews, but it never really took off commercially.
“Sunrise Over Brasov” was the 3rd book in the series (The Wolf’s Torment was #1) and again, it got great reviews when in circulation but it never really was commercially successful.
I’m very appreciative that Prairie Rose Publishing has given me a new home with my writing.
What’s the best way to market your books?
STEPH: I suppose I haven’t really hit upon that because my books never really took off commercially. My best seller was “Journey of the Heart.” It was a short novella at approximately 11,000 words and it took place right after World War II in California wine country. During its peak, it sold approx. 11-13 books a day on Amazon, but then Amazon changed its algorisms and it went from 11-13 books a day to maybe 2 books a week.
I’ve tried blog tours, I’ve tried engaging readers with my blog, I’ve tried Facebook and Twitter and Triberr, I’ve tried “Author Shout Out” and “Fussy Librarian” but I haven’t had much success with them. I’d love to do public appearance and book signings, but it’s really hard when I have to work a full time job to pay the bills.
Ultimately, I think the best way to market books is word of mouth, be it in person or a recommendation from a reader. Again, hard to do for me due to me needing to have a full time job.
Does writing energize or exhaust you?
STEPH: It energizes me. If I can’t write then I’m out of sorts. I need to do it to balance my equilibrium. If I can’t write, then reading will “hold me over” until I can write something.