Thursday, September 29, 2016

Interviewing Bestselling Author Elle Casey - Part Two

Last week I had the pleasure of introducing you to bestselling author Elle Casey in part one of her interview (read HERE). This week we continue our discussion about life and writing within the world of self-publishing.

DAB:  Have you written stories your whole life or only recently when deciding to pursue a novel writing career?

EC:    I have written stores my whole life, unofficially. I remember writing a romance for a girlfriend of mine in seventh grade who had an unrequited crush on a boy. It featured her as the main character and him as the boy pursuing her. She begged me for new chapters everyday. That was fun to do, but we were always panicked someone would get their hands on it. I also did a lot of letter writing when I was very young, as a teenager, and in my 20s, before computers and printers were in every house. In those letters I told stories and many people have saved them because they liked them so much. I’m an attorney (one of those many work lives I mentioned) and there's an awful lot of writing included in that career field, although it’s mostly non-fiction. I decided to try writing novels in November 2011. I had read an article about Amanda Hocking and that inspired me to try.

DAB:  Inspiration well channeled, I must say.  Going from being an attorney to a teacher and now an author, did those around you support your career decision or did you struggle with detractors?

EC:    Anyone who knew how well I was doing was absolutely supportive. Other people who were kind of clueless about self-publishing probably thought I was a weirdo, but I didn't pay any attention to them.

DAB:  Not so easy to do sometimes, but good thing your husband and family were firmly in your corner.  That had to make you breathe a little easier, but what were some things you researched before diving into this crazy new self-publishing world?

EC:    When I read about Darcie Chan and Amanda Hocking and how they were publishing directly to readers without the middlemen, and how they did it almost immediately after they were done writing and editing their books, I decided this was something I'd like to try.  My goal was to sell my first book to a single stranger who liked it, and I figured if I was able to accomplish that goal, it would mean that I had a possible future as a writer. I achieved that goal in my first month of publishing.

DAB:  Ha!  What would you say to those detractors now?

EC:    I don't feel the need to say anything. My success speaks for itself. Some people are just negative by nature, and I don't waste my time on them.

DAB:  And what a success it is too, with so many books published in such a short time.  So what steps do you take to get the word out about an upcoming release?

EC:    My assistant gets in touch with my ARC team, we run ads, use social media and my newsletter to let as many readers know about the new book as possible. I sometimes will run contests for free or reduced price books. I will also do cross-promotions with other authors where we share each other's work with our readers to help spread the word. When I have a release with Montlake, they do price promotions, use NetGalley to get reviewers on board, Goodreads giveaways, and other promotional levers that only Amazon has access to.

DAB:  Ah, I've seen some of this implemented in your newsletter (sign up for Elle's newsletter HERE).  How far ahead of release do you begin your marketing campaign, and how does publishing a book every six weeks or so affect planning?

EC:    Not far, since I publish so frequently. I finish a book, get started on a new one, and my team starts the marketing machine going as we release the new book. That goes for my indie books. My trad books with Montlake follow their plan, which is marketing months out.

DAB:  After a new release, is there a process you go through when deciding what novel to work on next?

EC:    Usually I will work on the books fans most want me to work on, and I try to spread myself out among genres. For example, my fantasy readers have been waiting for the next War of the Fae books for a loooong time. They’re next. But sometimes I have contractual obligations that decide which book I’m working on.

DAB:  Waiting for more DRIFERS' ALLIANCE here.  I just love Captain Cass and the Ginger Twins (hey, sounds like a music group). So who is your favorite created character thus far, and why?

EC:    Probably Tim the pixie in the War of the Fae series. He’s a blast. Whenever I’m writing his dialogue or have him in a scene, my spirits are soaring. It’s impossible not to love that little guy.

DAB:  Okay, you've convinced me.  Now I'm gonna have to try your WOTF fantasy series.  Speaking of fantasy, have your travels and life experiences bled into any stories you've written?

EC:    I took a trip to Scotland and the Isle of Skye a couple of years ago, and I stumbled upon some information about the McKenzie clan. That’s what sparked my novel Shine Not Burn which made the New York Times bestseller list. I also used the setting in my War of the Fae books. Scotland and the Isle of Skye are magical places. I think it's impossible not to be inspired there.

DAB:  Sounds heavenly!  I'll have to depend upon your imagination/inspiration there.  Settings aside, how do your characters/plots come to you?  Dreams?  Situations?  An amalgamation of people you know?

EC:    Life. My past. My future. Things I see on the street or daydream or nightdream about. Sometimes weird stories on are fodder for good books too.

DAB:  Isn't that the truth?  Life oftentimes is literally stranger than fiction, but that doesn't stop us from reading about it, eh?  What is your preferred reading medium (paper, electronic, audio), and what are you reading right now?

EC:    I read in both paper and e-book form. I don't like audiobooks very much. The narrators usually sound very different than the narrator in my head and I find it distracting. I also read really fast and audiobooks take too long. I have very little free time right now, what with my writing, family, and animals, so I have to cram the books in as fast as I can. Right now I’m reading a book for book club called Extraordinary People by Peter May. I didn’t choose it, but he’s a great writer, so it’s a pleasure to read.

DAB:  I don't know how you find the time to read, what with your prolific output of writing.  What would you say then is the most satisfying thing about being a bestselling author?  The most difficult?

EC:    The most satisfying thing is getting messages from my fans telling me how much they like my work. Especially when people tell me how one of my books helped them through a hard time or made them laugh so hard they peed their pants or woke their spouse up in the middle of the night when they were reading in bed. I know about that experience from a reader's perspective, so it's really flattering to hear somebody saying it about my work. The most difficult part of becoming a more popular writer is that it tends to bring the online trolls out to play. They can be very unkind which is demotivating for a writer. Writing is a creative endeavor, and if your heart isn’t in it, it's almost impossible to do. Trolls kill creativity_; at least, that’s how it is for me.

DAB:  Unrelentingly true.  When life becomes difficult, writing becomes impossible.  How does your mood/emotional state affect your writing (life situations, bad reviews, etc.), and how do you deal with the down times

EC:    Well, the most critical thing someone’s ever said is that I’m dead stupid and should never even think of writing another book for the rest of my life, but that kind of garbage isn’t helpful and really isn’t about me so much as it’s about an angry, mentally unbalanced person with free access to the Internet. As silly as those kinds of reviews are, and even though I can rationally tell myself that it’s just a person blowing off steam, it still makes it difficult for me to work after reading one. What I’ll do nowadays is read all the negative reviews on a certain day, prepare myself as best I can for the anger and vitriol, and then take a couple days off to cry and hate myself before I get over it and go back to work. lol. (not kidding, but lol anyway) I do, however, get helpful writing tips from reader reviews, those that are actually discussing the book and not me as an author: things like a romance happening too fast, not enough description of a character to get a good picture, cliffhangers (I ignore any complaints about those, haha), etc. If enough people tell me something they didn’t like about a book, character, or series, I am definitely thinking about it as I write the next book, assuming I agree with it. Sometimes I think a reader just didn’t get what I was trying to do with a certain character or scene, so I just let it go. But if I think their gripe is legit, I work to be better next time.

DAB:  Oh yeah.  I've had my fair share of reviewers angry about cliffhangers too.  However, it's good to hear you've learned to take those in stride and kept on plugging away.  Now that we're here at the end of our interview, do you have any further advice you’d like to offer the authors in our audience?

EC:    Ignore the haters. Even the most amazing authors in the history of writing have them, and none of us should expect to be different or allow those jerks to define who we are as authors. It was my readers who gave me that advice.

I’m often asked to give advice to to aspiring authors. Here’re my 2 cents: Write. Don’t just dream about writing, or talk about wanting to write, or read about writing, or do practice exercises designed to help you learn how to write. Just write. And then keep doing that. You can’t have a career as a writer if you can’t finish writing a book. Then, once you’ve done that, edit over and over until it’s the best you can do. Then ask for feedback from trusted, gentle sources. If you have problems with your writing, read a book or two on writing and edit again. You’ll never be a good writer if you don’t WRITE. Also, if you don’t read a lot, you should probably read at least 50 books in your preferred genre before you even start to write in it, because you have to know what readers of that genre will be looking for. Reader expectations must be met always and exceeded whenever possible. If you’re not a big reader, I don’t think it’s possible to be a big writer.

Sage advice, Elle, though I still wonder where you find the time to read what with all the writing you do.  Keep at it, though, and we'll keep reading.

If you haven't had a chance to read any of Elle Casey's work, dear readers, she's got plenty of material to choose from in a wide variety of genres to satisfy your tastes.  I can personally recommend her sci-fi space opera series DRIFTERS' ALLIANCE.  Now I'm off to sample the first in her ten book series WAR OF THE FAE so I can see why Tim the pixie is such a favorite character of hers.

Happy reading!

Elle Casey's Bio:
ELLE CASEY, a former attorney and teacher, is a NEW YORK TIMES and USA TODAY bestselling American author who lives in France with her husband, three kids, and a number of furry friends. She has written books in several genres and publishes an average of one full-length novel per month.


By Degrees
Rebel Wheels (3-book series)
Just One Night (romantic serial)
Just One Week
Love in New York (3-book series)
Shine Not Burn (2-book series), also available as an Audiobook
Bourbon Street Boys (3-book series), also available as an Audiobook
Desperate Measures

All the Glory: How Jason Bradley Went from Hero to Zero in Ten Seconds Flat
Don’t Make Me Beautiful
Wrecked (2-book series), Book 1 also available as an Audiobook

War of the Fae (10-book series) *Book 1, The Changelings, is a free ebook at most retailers*
Ten Things You Should Know About Dragons (short story, The Dragon Chronicles)
My Vampire Summer
Aces High

Drifters’ Alliance (ongoing series)
Winner Takes All (short story prequel to Drifters’ Alliance, Dark Beyond the Stars Anthology)
The Ivory Tower (short story standalone, Beyond the Stars: A Planet Too Far Anthology)

Apocalypsis (4-book series)*Book 1, Kahayatle, is a free ebook at most retailers*

Duality (2-book series)
Monkey Business (short story)
Dreampath (short story, The Telepath Chronicles)
Pocket Full of Sunshine (short story & screenplay)

A personal note from Elle ...
If you've enjoyed any of my books, please take a moment to leave a review on the site where you bought this book, Goodreads, or any book blogs you participate in, and tell your friends! I love interacting with my readers, so if you feel like shooting the breeze or talking about books or your family or pets, please visit me. You can find me at ...

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Friday, September 23, 2016

Interviewing Bestselling Author Elle Casey - Part One

Have I got a real treat for you today, dear readers!  I stumbled upon Elle Casey during one of her freebie promotion days for her sci-fi space opera adventure series DRIFTERS' ALLIANCE (read my review HERE).  It was such an enjoyable read, I quickly downloaded books two and three in the series and devoured them.  Her characters are rich.  They're flawed.  They have pasts, presents, and are dreaming of futures yet to be realized - and I can hardly wait to jump back on board the spaceship DS Anarchy for additional adventures with Captain Cass and Company.

While I was in full geek-out mode, I took a chance and contacted Elle through her website ( to see if she'd be willing to let me interview her for the blog - and she graciously agreed, answering not just some but all of my questions.  Thus, please join me today for part one of this interview and get to know bestselling author, Elle Casey.

DAB:  Welcome, Elle!  You’ve been an attorney, a teacher, and now a bestselling author.  Tell us a little of what the progression was like through your various careers, and how it prepared you for the life you’re living as an author today.

EC:    I’m the kind of person who gets interested in a particular topic or subject and then I research the heck out of it. And if it interests me beyond that, sometimes I turn it into a career. I've done that several times, in fact. (stock broker, insurance sales, restaurateur, medical devices, etc.) But I'm also the kind of person who, once I have mastered something, I get bored with it. That goes for jobs and it also goes for places where I live. So I guess you could say I've been a bit nomadic in both my work and private lives. Most of my life, the people who love me would make offhand comments about me being flaky (“She can’t settle down, she’s always starting something new.”) But as it turns out, this kind of life can turn a person into a great storyteller. I've met many kinds of people, I've worked in a lot of different environments, and I've lived in a lot of places. You will see bits of that in all of the books I write.

DAB:  Well here's one reader that hopes you won't give up this particular writing career anytime soon.  You’re an American living in France.  How did you arrive at the decision to make the move, and did moving to France influence your decision to pursue a novel writing career?

EC:    My husband and I decided to take a one year timeout with the kids so that we could all learn about another culture and take a break from the rat race. But once we were here, we didn't want to leave. So that put me in the position of having to figure out a way to make a living here. At first, I was working as a teacher, but as everybody knows, teacher salaries aren't so great. Self-publishing came along at just the right moment.

DAB:  I come from a family full of teachers, so I can definitely appreciate that aspect.  Was it exciting, frightening, nerve-wracking, or simply business-as-usual to move from the corporate/business environment to self-publishing?

EC:    It was just plain exciting! I did it while I was also working as a teacher, so I had nothing to lose and everything to gain by trying.

DAB:  So I guess we could say teaching was your transition career between being an attorney and an author.  So at this point, which of your novels is your favorite?

EC:    They all take a piece of me to put together and they all pull from my life or my history in one way or another. My favorite might be Apocalypsis because I dreamed of a post-apocalyptic world often as a teen, wondering what I’d do to survive. I also love War of the Fae because the characters are so crazy and I adore supernatural stuff. There will always be a part of me that believes vampires, witches, elves, and fairies exist here with us. No one will ever be able to convince me they don’t.

DAB:  Maybe they're all part of that world in a galaxy far, far away. Speaking of other galaxies, I’ve read your DRIFTERS’ ALLIANCE series and loved the three books thus far.  Where did the germ that sprang into the idea for this series come from?

EC:    I’m a big fan of the television series Firefly. My husband and I were always looking for something similar on TV, but there's not much out there. So, I decided to write my own story. I would love to see it on television one day.

DAB:  Me too!  Total Firefly geek. Personally, I'd love to see your DA novels become the next space opera TV series.  Now who would play the ginger twins???

But sci-fi aside, you write in a broad category of other genres such as romance, mystery, etc.  Have you experienced unexpected challenges to writing under and juggling so many hats?

EC:    I write in several genres including action-adventure, contemporary urban fantasy, romance, romantic thriller, paranormal, paranormal romance, science fiction, and post-apocalyptic dystopian fiction. I really believe there are no genre or subject matter limits to what indie authors can publish. Indies can write in any genre, and that work will be accepted by readers around the world. In fact, I believe that indie writing lends itself to a much broader spectrum of fiction than what has been accepted by the traditional publishing world.  Right now indie authors are setting the trends, and traditional publishers are playing catch-up.  But there’s a valid reason for it. It’s all about the cost of doing business. Traditional publishing companies like to make sure that their marketing money is being spent as efficiently as possible, therefore they limit their authors to a specific genre so that every dollar they spend can be focused on a single group of readers that’s very easy to find and identify and “speak" to. If an author were to write in several genres, that marketing money could be wasted, in that they’d be talking to the wrong people sometimes and they’d have to build up and attract a new audience for each genre. I’m sure they see it as re-inventing the wheel over and over. It’s true to say that reader-fans don’t always cross over and read other genres written by their favorite authors. Many of my readers have told me that they will read all the romance novels I write, but they won't touch the other genres that I write in; and, on the other hand, I have readers who will only read my fantasy or paranormal work and nothing else.  From a marketing dollar perspective, it's very expensive to have to build new audiences for each genre, but indie authors don't really worry about this kind of thing, in general. Indie authors write what excites them, write what they're interested in reading, or write what they think their readers are looking for. Indie authors are not limited by a company head above them telling them what they can and cannot do. Personally, I like to read in all these genres, and I also get bored writing in the same genre all the time.

DAB:  I second that.  It's nice as an indie to be able to write what we enjoy without all of those restrictions. You've mentioned many different genres in which you write, so that's got to translate to quite a few books.  How many total books written/published are you up to now?

EC:    I currently have 44 published works (this includes full-length novels, serials and short stories).

DAB:  In three/four years as an author?  That's incredible!  Have you found certain genres perform better than others?  If so, what’s your take on the reasons for this genre performance?

EC:    The romance genre performs better than any of the others because the market is so big and readers of romance tend to be very voracious. They read more books in a the year than any other genre reader, I’m convinced of that. A close second would be mystery/thriller readers, but that genre is more popular in the UK than the US. Lately, science fiction has started to jump, and I'm really excited about that. It's one of my favorite genres to watch on television and in the movies. My Drifters’ Alliance science fiction space opera has been really well-received.

DAB:  Uh, big fan here if I've yet to make that clear.  What project(s) are you currently pounding out that we might see later in 2016/2017 (please say DA4)?

EC:    Yes! DA 4, 5, and 6 actually—they’re coming next year. I have more War of the Fae coming this year. I also have a 4th book in the Bourbon Street Boys series in process right now. You can check my website for my full publishing schedule:

DAB:  Okay, here's something I ask every interviewee who visits the blog, and I get some very interesting answers sometimes.  Are you a plotter or a pantser (i.e. to outline or not to outline, that is the question)?

EC:    I don’t use outlines to write; I’m a total Pantser. I’m never in control of my stories. Never ever. I just take dictation of what I see and hear them doing/saying in my head. My stories go wherever the characters take them. When I try to outline it ends up being a waste of time.

DAB:  I'm so glad to hear you say that!  I'm a Pantser as well, but most Plotters shake their finger at me and tell me they get a much higher output when they outline.  However, your reported word count output per day is astounding.  Tell us what word count you’ve been running lately, and advice you would give other authors on how to increase their daily volume.

EC:    It totally depends on how close the deadline is. If I set a short deadline, I can do as much as 10k a day for several days in a row. I can do more than that but it’s mentally exhausting and then I need a break. 5k a day is very reasonable for me. I would say that practice makes perfect. Getting into the swing of writing is like anything else; you have to do a lot of it before it starts feeling natural. I’ve also started doing dictation using a dictaphone and uploading to Dragon. That makes it much easier to hit my targets.

DAB:  Hmm, I might have to try that too.  To get all of this writing done, do you keep a regular writing schedule or do you write all hours of the day and night as the muse nags?

EC:    I have a schedule but it’s flexible. I write at all hours of the day and night depending on what else is going on in my life.

DAB:  Do you ever write to music or do you prefer silence?

EC:    I need either silence or white noise. Anything that can distract me, will! So anything with lyrics is out, anything I can hum to, etc.

DAB:  Uh-oh!  The writer's death knell.  That reminds me - I've read references on your site about what you call ‘squirrels’.  Care to explain this term to our audience and how to deal with these pesky critters that plague us as writers?

EC:    Squirrels are, quite simply, distractions. The reference comes from that movie Up where there's a talking dog who’s having a conversation with somebody and then stops and whips his head to the side and says, “Squirrel!” Most dogs are distracted by those little critters. And writers are distracted by Facebook, Twitter, email, laundry, spouses, kids, etc etc. The list of writing squirrels is endless and ignoring them is a daily battle.

DAB:  Which is why my desk is covered in notepads.  Squirrels are an insanity-inducing challenge some days.  Speaking of which, did your husband and children ever question your sanity when you told them you were going to quit your day job and write novels?

EC:    Never, because I think it had been pretty well established already that I wasn't sane in the first place. Haha. Ask anyone who loves me. . . they’ll tell you I’m a little crazy. My husband’s favorite line is: “Life with you is never boring.”

DAB:  Well, hey - if life got boring, what would you write about?  So that brings us to another big question.  You could've gone the traditional route and spent time writing and sending out queries to agents and publishers instead of taking such a big risk and publishing on your own.  What advice would you give someone considering traditional publishing versus self-publishing?

EC:    My advice to other people considering self-publishing is to absolutely jump in there and do it. Nobody's going to come knocking on your door asking you to write a book for them, but there are plenty of people out there who want to read what you have to write, I promise. And they’ll pay you for it! Also I wouldn't bother with the traditional publishing process because it takes so long, and the market is flooded with people doing that. Besides, you really don't need a gatekeeper between yourself and your readers. Let the readers decide if you're a good writer. Let the readers give you the very valuable feedback you will need in order to improve your skills; and then, after you've had some success as a writer to the real people who matter—  that is the readers —  go ahead and send a query letter out if you still feel the need. At least following this path you will have the confidence you need to push through the closed doors you’re apt to find. The most pleasing aspect of self-publishing for me has absolutely been the reader response to my work. I suspect that had I sent out query letters to agents, I would have run into a lot of closed doors. I never had to deal with that as an indie writer. I love being able to speak directly with my readers about my work and to share in their enthusiasm over it.

As I mentioned before, Elle was so gracious to answer every question I posed to her, I decided to break the interview up into two parts.  Stay tuned next week for some additional insight into the world of Elle Casey, self-publishing, and what it takes to become a bestselling author.

In the meantime, happy reading!