Happy Wednesday! Last night I worked into the wee hours and still trying to find my bearing as I post this. I do it, though, with a smile on my face because I always love to welcome new guests and learn their stories. The lovely Skye Warren is visiting my blog today. Skye writes dark erotica, the really hot, molten stuff that leaves you both blushing and emotionally scarred. She has had an interesting journey with self-publishing so far, and from this interview I confirmed how much hard work is involved in this decision. Yet, one has to find a balance between marketing and writing - but I do believe that ultimately, quality writing speaks for itself.
And now I let Skye give her two cents...
How long have you been writing?
About a year. I know! I’m supposed to say: “I’ve been writing since I was a little girl” and all that, but it’s just not true. I have always been an avid reader, staying mostly within the romance genre, progressing from YA to paranormal to historical to erotic. I just love romance.
When did you decide that you wanted to write for a living (that "aha" moment)?
I was finally moved to emulation (aka. writing) when I realized I wanted more broken people in romance novels. I don’t mean broken like “quirky” or “avoids commitment”, I mean broken like truly and utterly damaged. What I mean is people who are, excuse my language, fucked up. These are the tortured heroes and abused heroines, but more. And once I started writing characters like that, I realized why I couldn’t find so many of them. Not only are they hard to write, but they’re not always well received. I’ve gotten responses like, “don’t make her too broken that she can’t be redeemed.” And it’s a valid concern. But at the same time, that’s why I got into this game, to show that even people who’ve had horrible things happen to them, who’ve been beaten down by circumstances and reacted in strange or unsavory ways to survive, still deserve a happy ending.
What did your family say when you told them you wanted to be a writer?
They said, huh? Because, like I said, I hadn’t written before. But they were open to me “dabbling” and believed in my work once they read it. I’m not sure I’ve had the moment yet where I say, “I want to be a writer.” I am a writer, because I’m writing. Putting my stuff out there was nice, but not as big of a turning point as you might think. It’s fun to get reader feedback, but it doesn’t change what happens between me and my laptop at night. (Or it shouldn’t.)
What is your preferred genre both for reading and writing?
Romance! I’ve skipped around to pretty much all the sub-genres at this point, and made the occasional dip into literary. But romance is my love. Right now I focus on historical and erotic romance, but I read a lot so it helps to diversify.
Did you start by writing full time or did you have a day job?
When I started writing I had a full time job, but I got laid off. Since then I started doing contract work in my professional field, but it’s actually hard. Since I’m home and I can work on writing or marketing, it’s easy to slip into that and not get enough contract work.
Did you take any writing courses or did you just sit and write a book?
First I sat down to write a story, then another and another. I had a few book ideas, but I knew my skill level wasn’t up to writing them. A certain story I wrote resonated with me, so I decided to turn that into a book.
Did/do you have a crit group or mentor to guide you?
Thankfully, yes, many of them. I got a writing buddy early on, who worked with me on my first draft. It was okay, but something big was missing. I was just too experienced to know what. I bought a critique from an author who I really respect at one of those charity auctions and it was amazing! She pinpointed exactly what was missing, and based on her direction I did a lot of reading (it was a story structure problem). I also joined two other online critique groups, where I regularly exchange with 4-6 other romance writers. I highly, highly recommend participating in critique groups.
Do you use a/several pseudonym(s) and if so, why did you choose to have one/them?
As I worked on my manuscript, I wanted to go online and interact with other writers and readers. But I knew from day one that I wouldn’t use my real name, so I picked a pen name. I had a few novellas I wanted to get out there, sort of as a self-publishing experiment. Without any promo at all, I put up a few novellas and free short stories. It turned out really well, and now I think I’m going to make that my primary (and only) pen name when I eventually publish my full-length manuscript.
Why did you decide to self-publish?
I kept hearing about self-publishing, and how big of a deal marketing was. Hell, marketing is a big deal even if you are published. But it was all very theoretical, because I didn’t know how much money we were talking about. I interacted with a pretty famous author on twitter who joked that one day she would make a full time living from her writing. I said, what? I understand that a hobbyist may not make enough, but she had several popular books out already! So I conducted my experiment, by putting stuff out there. I didn’t do any promo, not even to my existing twitter account or blog. It was based on discovery only. What I found was that people do find you based on tags and descriptions alone. I’m only now starting some promo to see how that affects things. But it gave me hope.
How many drafts did you write of your first novel before you felt you got it right? What about now - do you still write several drafts of a story?
Usually a couple of drafts. I’ve started each book with the idea that this one will be the one where I finally get it done in one draft. I do outlining, planning, but in the end, you have to do what the book needs. And, for me, it usually needs another draft. And by the way, this is referring to big changes in plot. Small changes like line edits happen all the time.
Do you read industry or writing related blogs? If so, can you share some useful links?
Oh gosh, so many! I’ll skip the blogs since those seem to make the twitter rounds and are more easily discoverable. Instead I’ll post a few of the Yahoo groups I’m a part of. One of my online critique groups is http://groups.yahoo.com/group/Rom-Critters. And for those interested in self-publishing, http://groups.yahoo.com/group/IndieRomanceInk is invaluable.
Did you get an agent first or did you submit directly to publishers?
My novel is out on submission with agents. My novellas and shorts are self-published.
Did you ever get rejected? If so, how did you handle it?
I’ve gotten rejected and also just negative feedback. Save all the good feedback you get somewhere and go back and read through it when you’re feeling low. The other thing is take a book that you LOVE, that you think is amazing, epic, etc, and go check out the 1 and 2 star reviews for it on Amazon and GoodReads. The point is, your writing has value even if someone doesn’t see it. And even the very best writing gets horrible, raving reviews.
Do you think writers should consider self-publishing?
Sure. It’s a lot of work, but I have fun with it. My background is in web development and design, so making a website, covers, formatting my books were all either known or easily learned. Plus I’m a bit of a control freak, so this was great. But you’ll have to learn these things and/or pay someone to help you do them. It’s definitely an investment of time and money.
What are you working on now?
I have a book release coming on February 15th, so I’m working on wrapping it up and some promo. I’m doing a small blog tour for that through Sizzling PR, so that’s something new for me. I have my writing plans lined up for the next 6 months at least, but it seems that new ideas are always popping up!
What is/are your favourite book(s)? Do you read only books from the genre you write in?
Oh gosh, seriously? Just one!? For erotic romance, try Broken by Megan Hart or Generational Sins by Samantha Blair. For historical, try Not Quite a Husband by Sherry Thomas or The Shadow and the Star by Laura Kinsale. Okay, I didn’t follow directions. That was the best I could do.
Do you read when you are plotting or writing a story?
Oh, of course. I’m always writing. And I’m always, always reading.
What's your website URL?
How do you connect with readers?
I love it when they email me.
Skye Warren writes unapologetic erotica, including power play or erotic pain and sometimes dubious consent. There’s struggle in the sex. There’s pain in the relationships. Her books are raw, sexual and perversely romantic.
Below the Belt
Black belt Abe Montgomery is focused on one thing: winning gold. All he has to do is dominate the competition at the national tournament, and the sponsorships will make his dreams of owning a Taekwondo school come true. But at the opening ceremony, Abe finds Paris, a beautiful, mysterious woman with the power to threaten his drive and his dreams.
Paris Rivera has sworn off men and martial arts. After all, her black belt cost her more than years of dedication and sweat – it was the reason she was attacked. She’s only at nationals to support her sister, and then she plans to go somewhere, anywhere, so long as she never has to see another uniform again. The uniform looks awfully sexy on Abe, though, so maybe a small fling wouldn’t such be a bad thing.
As Abe and Paris heat up, the fight of Abe’s life looms ahead. His livelihood hangs in the balance, with the power to destroy his future with Paris. But when the time comes for them to part, he may not be able to let her go.
BELOW THE BELT is a 30K-word novella of erotic romance, featuring explicit sex, graphic language and lots of story. Not for those under 18 years of age or those uncomfortable with the subject matter.
~ Natalie ~
No Rules. No Formulas. Just Love, Mystery... and a world of surprises in between!