Tuesday, September 7, 2010

A Writing Process ~ An Interview with Laurel-Rain Snow

 

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Some Questions Around a Writing and Publishing Process with ~ Laurel-Rain Snow

Today we have an interview with author Laurel- Rain Snow. An amazing self edited and published writer of several novels. One of which includes – Chasing Stardust. Which I have just finished and loved. (Review coming next week.)

That this book has no errors, I was frankly amazed. Additionally, Laurel has multiple blogs. So numerous I keep discovering new ones. I often wonder how she does it. 

Here I’ve asked her a few questions, which I have been pondering around her process with her writing and self publishing. It will be my hope that they will be of interest to a few of our readers since we do have a number of authors and writers.

Now for our interview - where I would like to extend a very warm welcome to Laurel.

Welcome Laurel!

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When did you start writing? Why write?

I remember that I started my “scribbles” (like Jo March!) at a very young age—eight years old, perhaps. Those early scribbles were stories in my scrapbook. Later I would type stories (in high school and when I was on the newspaper staff); the question would more likely be: why NOT write? It felt like a burning need that surged up from some deep place inside (maybe a bit dramatic, but that’s how it felt!). I used to imagine stories in my head while I was doing various boring chores (I grew up on a farm).

What is your process for writing, and what works for you? did you have any stumbling blocks which you could have avoided?

Nowadays, my process is different than it was when I wrote the five published novels. Then I would begin writing very early in the morning and would lose myself in the story. Sometimes I would only stop at noon or so when I needed to get up and move around. Often I would listen to music while I wrote, especially the music from the sixties and seventies when I was writing about those eras.

Now I do a lot of blogging first, and then I write for awhile. I finished the first draft of my current WIP, and now I’m “tweaking,” but sporadically. I’m not sure if I’ve “run out of steam,” or if I’m just fascinated by the blogging experience, which offers immediacy—something that is lacking when writing books. You know, the comments, the feedback…I love that!

As for stumbling blocks, perhaps I could have approached marketing in a better way. At the suggestion of my publishing consultant, I took up blogging as a forum for networking. And created a website. But I could have more actively sought ways to market, but I’m basically a shy person who communicates better through writing…in the past couple of years, I’ve connected to a writing group in California’s Central Valley, and we put on book sales and signings a couple of times a year. But I should be out there seeking my own venues. That would be a recommendation for other writers…network aggressively.

What would you suggest to new writers when they are first starting out?

Join writers’ groups. Seek out connections in the community, and open yourself to the critiquing experience. It’s intimidating, but having others read what you’re writing can be invaluable. I had two “readers,” who were colleagues, and each had very different experiences and tastes. I e-mailed chapters to them regularly, and then read their feedback. Sometimes I didn’t like it! But writers have to develop a tough skin in order to survive.

I didn’t join an actual writers’ group (I’m not much of a group person), but I think I could have benefitted from this experience.

I have noted that you are self published? How was that experience for you?

I was reluctant at first, having seen that some people look down on self-published authors. I had submitted various manuscripts to a wide variety of publishers and went through that whole “nice rejection letter” experience. Then a small publishing house in St. Louis, Missouri, offered me a contract for Embrace the Whirlwind. We went through editing, which basically was me creating a shorter manuscript (too long, they said!), which I did. But then years went by, and I discovered from others that they were running out of money.

Then someone told me about Booksurge (Amazon subsidiary, now Create Space), and I liked the fact that they were Print on Demand and that the books would be on Amazon. By then, I had also been reading about many authors taking this route (in Writer’s Digest, for one), and that the stigma was not as great as it once was. Moving away from the Vanity Press image, new self-publishing seemed like an acceptable alternative to someone like me whose days are numbered (lol). At my age, I didn’t have all the time in the world to go the traditional route.

I really loved my team at Booksurge; the consultant and all the other team members offered such a user-friendly experience that felt almost seamless. I subsequently published all five books with them.

Why did you self publish? Would you recommend this to other writers? You also chose Book Surge/ Create a Space/ Google/ and your book is gorgeous. How did that process go for you?

Thank you, Shellie. I explained a bit about that in the previous question: the traditional route was time-consuming and discouraging. Someone recommended Booksurge to me, and after I spoke to the consultants several times, I decided to give them a try. I liked the process, and as I got better at it, I enjoyed the freedom that came with it. I had a lot of choices not offered by traditional houses. For the brief time that I had one of my books with a small press, I was frustrated by how little my input mattered to them. For example, I had no control over the cover.

Is that the company you have used for your other books? and still are using? Any suggestions for would be self publishing authors?

I did use this publishing house with all five books. I haven’t decided about the one I’m working on currently. I enjoyed the process, but it did require that I pay for certain services. My funds are depleted now to the point that I’m not ready to do this again. So I may explore other options. However, if someone is producing one book and has a couple thousand dollars to spare, this could be the way to go.

Why have you not been conventionally published? did you try to with any large or small publisher?

Yes, I did, and as I mentioned earlier, I had a contract with a small publishing company in Missouri. It was difficult working with them, as the publisher often didn’t answer calls or e-mails on a regular basis, and because I eventually found out that they only produce one or two books a year and had run out of funds at the time that my book was languishing there. I had done my part, but they had not. If I had a lot of time to play the game, I might have chosen a different route. But I felt it was important to me to see the books in print.

Chasing Stardust is perfect, I have not found a single error. This is not the case for many self published authors. How did you do this?

Thank you , Shellie. I have always been a bit of a perfectionist, and I was relentless in reading and rereading the manuscripts. I sent chapters to two “readers,” who caught a few things I missed. I didn’t “buy” editing services, which might have saved my eyes (lol), but I felt that I could do the job as well as anyone else. That may sound arrogant, but all through high school and college, I was the one who got the A’s and who was chosen by instructors to proof other people’s work, so I had the confidence to go that route.

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The cover did you create that yourself?

Being an active part of the cover design process is one of my favorite reasons for choosing this venue (self-publishing). I worked with a cover design team, and completed a questionnaire describing what I envisioned for the cover. They then sent me possible images they had created for my cover, which I either accepted or rejected. With each submission, I had input as to what I liked or didn’t and what I would change. This actually took a few back-and-forth efforts before we came up with each cover. I think the Chasing Stardust cover is my favorite (but then again, I love Miles to Go and Web of Tyranny).

My publishers chose Chasing Stardust for the book I would take to BEA in 2008, where I did a signing.

I really like the covers for your other books too.

How exciting about the BEA. I bet that was a blast.  I am dying to attend.  Perhaps we can have a chat around that in another post?

This has been fun for me as well as insightful.  Thanks so much for sharing today. 

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Author Bio:   Laurel-Rain Snow is the pen name for Lorraine Frost Sandone, who was born in California's Central Valley. She has a BA in psychology, and worked in the social work profession for over thirty years, specializing primarily in child welfare cases. She also has a MA in counseling. Now retired from social work, she is the mother of four grown children and proud grandmother of seven. Recently Ms. Snow turned to an old dream – writing, and has published five novels, available on Amazon.com.  For more information about Laurel you can connect with her on her Goodreads page, Twitter, Facebook, and her Web Page, and one of her blogs.

LAUREL-RAIN SNOW'S STARDUST DREAMS
http://chasingstardust.wordpress.com

For more information on Chasing Stardust see Layers of Thought’s preview. Please stay tuned for its review, in the next several days, as well as a guest post from Laurel about this specific book.

Thanks for reading Layers of Thought.

6 comments:

Laurel-Rain Snow said...

Thanks, Shellie...You did a wonderful job bringing our "chat" to your readers!

Shellie - Layers of Thought said...

Laurel -
Thank you too!
I had a lot of fun and now feel a bit more enlightened about your/the process.

J. Kaye said...

Great interview! Laurel-Rain Snow is simply a wonderful human being. She has been a marvelous support for me this year.

Shellie - Layers of Thought said...

J. Kaye -
Thank you... and thanks for the support. I was so curious about self publishing and her process.

Both as writers and blogger you two have a lot in common. And I do agree she is amazing.

Sheila (Bookjourney) said...

I dont know how I missed this interview but so glad I found it now. It was fun to learn a little more about Laurel. being a cover snob I liked learning that you were able to have some input in that part!

I am writing this year and appreciated learning more about your experience.

Shellie - Layers of Thought said...

Thanks for commenting Sheila -
I hope you had a chance to read the other posts about Laurel and her book(s).

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