"When it comes to authors,we may hide ourselves from others but within our pages, our true souls emerge." - Nicole Hill
"I want a Vampite of my very own. Until I find him, I'll just keep writing him into existence." -Nicole Hill
" I write like people talk. It may not be perfect but it's damn entertaining." - Nicole Hill

Sunday, June 23, 2013

#IndieSpotlight of Laura Oliva @writermama Author of All That Glitters


Laura Oliva

The Title of Your Work or Group: 
All That Glitters, with more soon to come!

Where are you from? 
San Francisco Bay Area, born and bred. Yes, I shave my armpits. No, I do not own Birkenstocks... well, okay, except for ONE pair in high school... 

In what genre do you write? 
Romantic suspense. Everything I've ever written has turned into either a mystery or a love story, so when I sat down to write my first book, it seemed like a good idea to just go with it.

In your own words, what is your book about? If you were not the author and trying to explain this awesome book you just read to a friend, what would you say about it? 
Okay, here's the elevator pitch: Two lifelong runners end up in Nome, Alaska, both looking to escape their troubled pasts. Instead, they find themselves- and love. Oh, and someone who's trying to kill them.

What is your writing style? Do you follow all guides and rules? Synopsis, outline etc. or do you just sit down at the computer and type to see what happens?
Gosh. I guess I follow the rules. Mostly. Kind of. There are rules? I'm a bit of a grammar nazi, I suppose, but other than that I play pretty fast and loose. If it reads right and gets across what I'm trying to say, that's how I write it.

As for outlining, I am a neurotic plotter. I've been writing for years, but had never finished anything prior to All That Glitters. My magic number was fifty pages. Everything would be amazing until I hit fifty pages, then I would fizzle. I never plotted any of these failed attempts. Correlation? Doubtless.

So now I plot everything. I do character arcs, story arcs, plot points, you name it. But I'm not so wedded to them I can't make changes. In fact, I've noticed the first major turning point usually sends the story careening off in some unexpected, awesome direction. 

Have you ever written anything and thought; "The world has got to see this!"?
That's how I feel about the book I'm working on now! It's the first in a trilogy, and it's darker, grittier, and sexier than All That Glitters (which I still love like my firstborn). Beyond that, mum's the word... for now.

Do you have an editor and Cover Designer or do you do this yourself?
I have excellent beta-readers, but alas, no editor. As of now, my budget simply won't cover it. But as soon as I get more financial wiggle room, hiring an editor is high on my list of priorities. Just recently, I went back over All That Glitters to correct a bunch of small, stupid mistakes I had missed the first time around. Yikes! So yeah, an editor would be nice.

The one thing I did spring for was a cover artist. I am lucky enough to have a friend -Zen Mateyka- who is a Graphics Design major and something of a savant. I told him what I had in mind for my cover -look, feel, brand identity, etc.- and he came back with exactly what I wanted. I hope our business relationship continues for a long, long time. 

Who is your favorite author. Not just someone that you read allot. I wanna know whose book you read that made you suddenly know that if you didn't do this for the rest of your life then you would never be happy. 
That's tricky. I don't know if there's just one. Here are a few of my favorites.

- Brian Jacques: author of the Redwall series. The books that made me fall in love with reading as a child.

- Janet Evanovitch: a fairly recent discovery. The Stephanie Plum Novels made me laugh so hard my husband thought I'd gone insane. She showed me just how dark, and simultaneously funny, books can be.

- Sue Grafton: her Alphabet books were my first introduction to detective fiction. They also warded me off the genre forever, because I'll never create a character that can compete with Kinsey Milhone.

- Raymond Chandler: The Big Sleep is both one of my favorite movies, and one of my favorite books. His descriptions of setting are some of the best in modern literature.

If I could plot like Brian Jacques, do humor like Janet Evanovitch, characterize like Sue Grafton, and evoke setting like Raymond Chandler, I'd probably win a Nobel Prize.

Is there anything you find particularly challenging in your writing?
Endings. Probably because All That Glitters was the first book I ever finished, I had a devil of a time figuring out how to close it out properly. I'm still having that problem, so I guess endings are just my Achilles heel.

Do you write your characters or do they write themselves through you?
I start out writing my characters, but I know I'm doing it right if about halfway through the book they start talking to me in the shower, at the grocery store, while I'm making dinner. There's no better feeling than when the people you pulled out of your head take on a life of their own. 

Case in point: I was recently doing some character development for the villain I'm currently writing, when all of a sudden he veered completely off-script and got creepy as hell.

Needless to say, I was thrilled! 

Do you ever write yourself into the characters? 
Frequently. I'm a closet-narcissist. 

Is writing your full time job or are you "Keeping your day job"? So to speak.
My day job currently consists of an uneasy balance between writing and being mom to an almost-two-year-old. Depending on the day, it also includes copious quantities of alcohol.

If you could go back in time and meet one famous person or legend in history, who would it be? 
Mae West. Because, I mean, come on.

There are millions of new books released every year. What in your mind makes yours stand out from all those millions in your genre?
Great question! Romance, especially, is a massive pool to wade into. There are a few things I think make my writing unique:

- Grit. As a genre, romance isn't known for being "gritty." I like to believe that's one thing that sets my work apart. My romances aren't about gorgeous, happy people falling in love over mojitos on a sun-bathed beach. They're about severely screwed-up people finding a way to love someone else in a messed-up world.

-Tough people. My characters are tough -the heroines and heroes both. They're good people, but they're not always nice people. So far, readers seem to have really responded to that. After all, aren't we all a little dark inside?

- Setting as character. I put a lot of time and effort into researching/describing setting, and when you read my work, you get an in-depth, full-immersion experience. The setting is as much a player in the story as the characters. That's not just me talking: everyone who's reviewed All That Glitters so far has said the same thing. 

- Quality. Indie publishing is coming out of the closet, but I think a lot people are still expecting our work to be sloppy. We need to prove them wrong. It's why I devour books on the craft of writing. It's why I'm so obsessive about editing. It's why I went back and fixed the first edition of All That Glitters, even though it was a pain. If we want the rest of the literary community to take us seriously, we have to take ourselves seriously first.

In the world of Indie, marketing is very difficult, especially if you don't have the funds to pay for it. Have you found a great free way to market your work that you think other Indies will benefit from? 
One of the more valuable lessons I've learned is that there is marketing, and there is publicity. Marketing is any exposure you pay for -like ads. Publicity is how much buzz you can generate for your work. As Indies, I think most of us focus on publicity, which is good, because all the research out there indicates paid marketing online isn't very effective.

When it comes to publicity, the main thing I focus on is name recognition. I'm still a new author, so it's important for me to let people know I exist, and write stuff they might want to read.

For that reason, I'm all over the Internet. Social media is huge for me. I started building my Twitter presence before I was even done with my first book. I have a Facebook page. I'm on Goodreads. I'm more active on some sites than others, but I try to have a presence as many places as possible.

I also have a blog where I opine on topics relevant to my writing. In addition to introducing people to the themes and style of my work, it's also really good practice. I get market feedback on what people find most interesting, and I've even made some friends! 

Links to find and follow Laura's work: