Today, I’m interviewing my partner in crime (fighting), in business, and in all things writing. Sharon Gerlach is an extraordinary writer and has always astounded me with her attention to detail and description, an area I’m severely lacking in when I write. Her character development is awesome, her sense of humor is quirky, and her love of tequila . . . oh wait, that’s the next book. *grins*
Let’s move on to the questions, shall we? Sharon has some wonderful advice for aspiring writers!
What types of books do you write; genre and such? And do you read the same genre you write?
I write contemporary romance bordering on Chick Lit, and paranormal romance. I read just about anything I can get my hands on—suspense, mystery, romance, fantasy, general fiction, horror, lots of YA (isn’t the YA these days fantastic?), the labels on shampoo bottles (seriously).
What was your inspiration for your book, Malakh, or how did it come about?
Malakh came about because I wanted to try my hand at a little urban fantasy, but I wanted to do something a little off the beaten path. I didn’t want my heroine to be your normal kick-ass half-human, trained in martial arts, currently possess supernatural abilities, or work in law enforcement of any sort.
So I thought, what if she’d once had supernatural abilities, but they were on loan from a supernatural being who was her lover, and she lost them when he left? That thinking of course led to finding such a creature who possesses supernatural abilities who could also mate with a human. During a random search on the internet, I saw the passage from the book of Genesis about the Sons of God—angels—taking wives among the human women, whom they found beautiful. Aha! I had my supernatural being.
Can you name any books that you absolutely MUST read the moment you see it?
Harry Potter was one such series; I couldn’t wait to get my hands on the next book. Right now, Julie Kagawa’s Iron Fey series has me impatiently waiting for the next book. (I did say I read a lot of YA, right?) There’s really nothing else right now that I MUST HAVE when I hear about it, but sometimes something will jump off the shelf at me, and after reading the synopsis, I simply have to take it home. Usually I’m not disappointed. Richard Russo’s Straight Man was like that—brilliant red cover with the picture of a goose on it, totally appealing blurb on the back. I can’t say enough good about the book. I’m a pretty eclectic reader—I can go from supernatural YA to general fiction to murder mysteries (I’m reading the rest of Patricia Cornwell’s Kay Scarpetta novels right now) to Harlequin romances (yes, Harlequin. Why not?)
Why do you write in general? What motivates or inspires you to write or is inspiration for your stories?
Haha—a loaded question. Why do I write. I often joke that I write to keep the voices in my head quiet and to stay off Thorazine. Sometimes I’m not so certain that’s not pretty close to the truth. If I don’t write, the stories are still there, knocking around in my head. The characters are still in there too, clamoring to be let out, and they aren’t quiet about it. If I don’t write, I’m still running dialogue between characters and building scenes and devising conflict—and I become a regular bear.
Then there’s venting the frustrations of life. Some people play racquetball to blow off steam; I knock off a bad guy in my books.
As for inspiration, sometimes it’s just a random line that occurs to me, and I write it down and build a story around it. Sometimes it’s a song, or a line from a song. Or an article I read. Or a dream I had. Or a personal experience.
Can you give any hints as to what’s in store for future books?
*grin* Oh, there’s so much coming in the future!
Two women’s fiction books to be released this year (part of a series)—there will be margaritas and romance! A paranormal series, the first of which is completed and the second is near completion—there are witches and werewolves and demons and yes, a bad guy so appealing you can’t help but fall in lust with him just a little bit. And I’m entertaining the thought of doing a bit more with the angelic urban fantasy. Whether that entails expanding Suzanne’s story or taking up another thread remains to be seen.
Tell our readers what books of yours are available and where they can purchase them.
Currently, Malakh is my only release. It’s available on Smashwords, Amazon, Amazon UK, and direct from Running Ink Press.
The release of my first full-length romance novel (Office Politics) is tentatively scheduled for late summer/early fall.
Any advice to aspiring authors out there on where to start in publishing?
Where to start wholly depends on each individual’s goals. I don’t think there’s a right way or a wrong way to publish in regards to choosing traditional publishing or independent publishing. I think authors like Amanda Hocking have proven that indie publishing can catch the eye of the Big Six publishing houses; anyone who thinks trad publishing has turned a blind eye to the whole indie movement is delusional. They watch, they take note of the successes, they read the samples offered. I think that’s a very important piece: samples. How else will someone know what kind of writer you are or whether they’re interested in following your movements in the writing field?
The best advice I can give is this:
- Polish your work. Proofread for typos, and proofread again. Read it aloud to find missing words and awkward sentences.
- Find a beta-reader or three. At least one should be a writer, and at least one should be an avid reader. Make sure they aren’t afraid to tell you the truth. If something doesn’t work, you not only should know—you need to know. And you have to listen to them—they’re your guard; they keep you from committing an unforgivable faux pas before your readership. I have three beta-readers who are writers, one who is an English major, and two who are avid readers. The advice I get from each covers everything from content to mechanics to plot plausibility to characterization, and is invaluable.
- Find an editor. Writers these days are generally a helpful bunch. I met my editor at an internet writers site, and she literally does not let me put anything stupid or unworkable into my writing. She questions things, marks things for rewording, even puts in comments like “Ummm….WHAT THE HELL ARE YOU SAYING?”
- Build a web presence. Get a Twitter account and start interacting with other writers, agents, and publishers. Get a blog, and blog about your writing. Post a few samples. Enter some blogfests—which are another way of gaining support from other writers. Get a Facebook and link your blog to it so your blog posts automatically post to your FB page.
- Shop your work. Don’t be afraid of all the negative press out there about the Big Six publishing houses or uncaring, unfeeling literary agents. Their jobs are hard, and they have to wade through a lot of crap. Go ahead and shop your work to them, see what they say. Sometimes you get some great advice when one of them has the rare time to respond to your work on a personal basis. It’s worth the experience, and you never know—you could be one of the lucky ones that get picked up.
- Don’t be afraid of going indie! It’s a big step, and there’s a lot of work that comes with it. You should know at least some basic HTML. You have to step out and pimp your own work. You have to make sure your work is as polished as it can be before you present it to the outside world.
- Be able to take criticism. Because it’s coming. Not every piece of writing appeals to every reader, and sometimes reader expectations fail to coincide with what you’ve penned, or their understanding of your writing is flawed. I know one writer who’s been dinged in some reviews because of strong language when the reader mistakenly thought the piece was YA. I’ve heard of others who received mediocre reviews because the reader simply didn’t like the story. Don’t go nuclear in the public eye like certain readers have recently; you’ll burn down your own career before it’s begun. Have your meltdown in private and then do two things: (1) Research the reviewer. I got a 3-star rating on Malakh from one reader, and my ego deflated really fast until I took a closer look at the average rating this person gives: 3.5 stars. So she rated me right along with everything else she reads, including famous traditionally published writers. (2) This is the hard one. Consider that the review has valid points. Did it point out plot flaws? Shallow characters? Great plot and finely drawn characters, but it’s like they’re walking through an empty world because you give no setting descriptions, or so few that the reader can’t form a visual of the story world? Listen to your reviewers—they’re taking the time to read your work and review it, and they’re usually avid readers who know what they like.
Who’s the best editor in the entire world? =)
Ha ha! Why you, of course! Who else?
For those of you who don’t know, Jinxie & I met almost five years ago at a writers website. We’ve read just about everything the other has written, edit each other, and are now business partners in Running Ink Press. And we’ve only spoken on the phone once!
That’s right, and we don’t need to go into why we spoke on the phone that one and only time.
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HE HUNTS, SILENT AND UNSEEN
The string of mutilated bodies points to a madman, but the police are stymied. Trace evidence yields no DNA, animal or human. Male, female, young, old—the victims fall without a struggle to the killer in the shadows.
HIS NEXT VICTIM HAS BEEN CHOSEN
For a brief time, Suzanne Harper wielded supernatural abilities and super-human athletic prowess, but that was while she had been the lover of an angel. The murders point to her former lover, and the trail of bodies tells a terrifying tale: he’s working his way to her.
PREY BECOMES PREDATOR
Icarus, an angel who hunts those of his kind who have fallen from grace, enlists Suzanne’s help to stop the killer, for only one as close as a lover can anticipate his next move. Now she must reconcile her heart’s longing for her lost love with her sense of justice and honor, and she must do it fast … because the next murder could be hers.
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Thank you, Sharon, and yes, I am the best editor in the world. ;p Kidding, Sharon’s actually better than I am.