Wednesday, May 16, 2012

REV UP WEDNESDAY: A weekly booster shot for inspiration... CATCHING UP WITH EVE PALUDAN

Hello world!

My esteemed guest today is a lovely, lovely lady and an author of substance - EVE PALUDAN. Eve is friendly, warm, and is not afraid to share information. So much so that this has turned out to be one of the best interviews I've ever posted because Eve's answers are so detailed and informative. If you are a writer, you cannot miss reading this... and if you are a reader, you'll get a very clear idea of the quirky life of an author and the desperate decisions we sometimes make to follow our dreams. Perhaps the next time you hold that book or e-reader in your hand, you will wonder, at least a little, what it took for those words, for that story, to make it there. 

Now I'll shut up because Eve has so much to say and it's worth reading, truly! :)

Welcome to my humble home on the web, Eve...

How long have you been writing? 

I've been seriously writing since the late 1980s when I got my first personal computer. I had a series of three nonfiction books published by Prima in the 1990s, The Romance Writer's Pink Pages: The Insider's Guide to Getting a Romance Novel Published. Two of the editions became #1 bestsellers for Writer's Digest Book Club. The series is out of print. I've also worked at a newspaper, in the software industry as a content editor, and at a state university as an editor of scholarly work. 

When did you decide that you wanted to write for a living (that "aha" moment)? 

That aha moment was when I got eyeglasses in first grade. When I got my first pair of blue cat's eye glasses, I fell in love with reading and writing. I wrote my first short story in first grade and the dream of writing fiction for a living was a little seed that was refined over the years to become who I am today.
What did your family say when you told them you wanted to be a writer? 

There were varying degrees of support over the years. Early on, there was polite enthusiasm but not a total understanding of my career vision. Eventually, the enthusiasm for my chosen career waned to a quiet acceptance as the children left the nest to make their own lives and I worked full-time jobs, came home to cook dinner for my husband and clean up the kitchen, then write fiction until the wee hours. I did this for years, existing on 4-6 hours of sleep a night and catching up every once in a while. Sometimes, it was hard to choose whether I would lock myself away in a quiet place to write or spend time with the people I loved. It was quite a balancing act and as the years went on, the fallout was that I unintentionally alienated the people I loved as I persistently chased my dream. I skipped many family vacations or trips over the years because I wanted time to myself to write or was even on a contract deadline. The bottom line is that being a writer steals time from the people you love and if you are serious about being a writer, many times you will have to sacrifice what you want in order to keep your relationships from collapsing. I was married for 24 years before I made the decision to put my career first. I am now single and I work as a freelance editor and novelist. I am still good friends with my ex #2. We talk all the time because we have kids and grandkids together.

What is your preferred genre both for reading and writing? Romance, mystery, paranormal, or a combination of those. 

A combination. I like straight mysteries or mystery and suspense in my romance, for both reading and writing. I like ghost romances, and also angels, vampires and werewolf romances. I also read contemporary Western romances and traditional contemporary romances. It is rare for me to read a historical romance and although I started writing a couple of them, I found that I just don't have the patience for writing historicals and am not willing to invest hundreds of hours of research that each historical novel would require. In my case, writing what I know works best for me.
Did you start by writing full time or did you have a day job? 

I had day jobs, some of them conducive to honing my writing and editing craft, such as working at a newspaper and as an editor at a university. Although there were several years where I worked exclusively as a full-time writer, because of a crushing medical debt in our family, I had to get a day job and stop writing books when I was really at the top of my game, with a fourth book contract in hand from Prima, one that I reluctantly declined to take a job in a call center. It was downhill from that dark place for about 14 years; once the medical debt was paid off, there was a tremendous amount of pressure for me to work in the software industry, which I did. I made good money doing it and learned a lot, but my writing dream suffered. Later, when the national economy took a dive and our software business ultimately did, too, there were times when I had to work at jobs which completely crushed my soul in order to put food on the table and pay rent or a mortgage. I did what I had to do for my family, but I can safely say that my jobs as a motor vehicle agent, telephone operator, payroll clerk, and tech support at a call center for a national shipping company not only delayed my goals and development as a writer, they almost contributed to my demise as one. There comes a point in a writer's life when you decide that you are just going to go for what you want before you lose your passion for it. So I did that, in June 2011. I decided to quit my day job as editor of scholarly work at a state university to write and edit for a living, as a freelancer.

Did you take any writing courses or did you just sit and write a book? 

I took writing and editing courses at Mesa Community College, Arizona State University, University of Arizona, and many other places. I think the workshops at writer's conferences and book festivals are the best education because they are highly focused on narrow topics. I also went to a mini-workshop, The 90-Day Novel, by Alan Watt and bought his book. It was very good.

Did/do you have a crit group or mentor to guide you?

I have, over the years, had wonderful mentors and critique partners when I belonged to Romance Writers of America, most notably, Connie Flynn (writing teacher) and Linda Fensand-Style (aka Linda Style, Harlequin author), who was my critique partner for some years. My current mentors are a trio of bestselling Kindle authors who have mentored me with incredible patience and wisdom. In my head, I call them the Three Wise Men.
Do you use a/several pseudonym(s) and if so, why did you choose to have one/them?

I'll take the Fifth Amendment.

How long did it take you to make your first sale? What was your first thought when you did?

Evan Fogelman, my first agent, sold The Romance Writer's Pink Pages to Prima Publishing in about 30 days. My first thought was, "Yippie! I'm on my way!" That was in the happy golden years of publishing in print and I had a pro in charge of my career. Before the internet, as we know it, even existed, the print book business moved much faster than it does now. I kid you not.

Did you sell the first story or novel you wrote?

Almost. It was a little ahead of its time, in theme, but it got all the way to the editorial board at a big romance publisher. I'm now retooling it into a vampire novel. There was a time period when I sold every single magazine article I ever wrote. A writer's magazine once paid me four figures for a three-part series of articles on self-publishing. It was incredible money for the times and it led to that same company picking up my nonfiction book series for their book club, where it went on to become a #1 bestseller for two years in a row.

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?

My agent had me revise it 11 times. I revise a lot more than that nowadays. I'm kind of a perfectionist. The Man Who Fell from the Sky was three years in the making. I am sure that I have at least 30 versions of it on my hard drive.

Do you read industry or writing-related blogs? If so, can you share some useful links?
Did you get an agent first or did you submit directly to publishers?

I got an agent first. That was back in the 1990s. I also had an agent in 2011 and no sale resulted from the representation. That was then. This is now. Only you can decide what is best for your career in today's market.

If you signed with an agent, how did you go about the process of finding your agent/publisher?

I sent out queries to a two dozen agents and a dozen print publishers, based on the advance amounts as reported by Brenda Hiatt  (, for whom I have a tremendous amount of respect for even making this information available.

Epublishers list and commentary:

Did you ever get rejected? If so, how did you handle it?

Sure. In the past, rejection letters were common. Now, I think that publishers and agents rarely even reply if they aren't interested. A few will, but most, you will never ever hear back. I just heard back from the Knight Agency, two years after the initial submission. My query was in their spam box. Oh well! I get disappointed, but I try to learn something from the experience, and move on. I either try again with another agent or publisher, or I try something completely different. If you would have asked me this question a year ago, I am sure that my answer would have been different, but now that the market is more open to indie authors, since January 2012, I have quit sending out my work. As far as I am concerned, in today's market, it just puts one more obstacle in my way to send my work to agents and publishers. Nowadays, I just hire an editor to go through my manuscript and then I publish my work on Kindle when it is ready for readers. I am only publishing in digital format, so far. It's been a rewarding experience and sales are going up. I'm thrilled that I am getting my work out there. If I sound annoyed, it's because the biggest romance publisher in the world wanted an exclusive on my manuscript and had me revise it twice for them and then neither offered a contract nor a rejection. They pretty much held my manuscript hostage for close to three years and refused to get back to my agent with a definitive answer, but kept asking for revisions. After that amount of time, I just got fed up when I heard that it was sent to an outside reader for comments and possible revision requests when I was ready to hear that I had a contract offer. I have an amazing track record in publishing (both books and software) and a story that they loved and invested time into by asking for such picky revisions. I did extreme revisions for that publisher and never even got the courtesy of a reply to my top NY agent. He called them every week so that was not his fault. Due to the nearly three years that the publisher expressed interest in my manuscript (yes, the one you are reviewing), I completely lost faith in the traditional print publishing process. If the biggest romance publisher in the world dropped the ball, what the heck is going on in the industry? Meanwhile, my friends and colleagues were enjoying great success on Amazon Kindle and convinced me to take a leap of faith. I did and it's been great so far, with sales and great reviews of my book and much more success to come!

What, in your opinion, do agents/publishers look for in a new author in the current market? Is it all to do with talent or with trends? 

As you see, I have become fairly cynical about the current commercial publishing market because of the financial collapse of several bookstore chains, the closure of many independent bookstores, and the $29 million in print revenue lost last year by the world's biggest publisher of romance novels. In this economy, it is harder and harder to get a print contract, though digital contracts abound, both for self-publishers and for authors who publish through the many royalty-paying publishers who offer decent contracts. 

What do you think of the changes going on in the book industry (e.g., e-books vs. print books, and big publishers getting involved in digital publishing)? Where do you see the industry going?

More brick-and-mortar bookstores will vanish. More print publishers will fail or they will offer lower advances and cut their midlist authors and/or just not renew their contracts. Lower advances will be offered for print contracts to new authors. In order to offset the enormous losses in the print industry, print publishers will rely on digital sales to keep their companies in the black. I see many authors who have been published by print houses moving to Amazon Kindle and with their old work, to which they have the reverted rights, as well as their new work that was rejected by their current print publisher. New authors are doing the same thing, skipping the agents and the publishers and taking their work straight to Amazon Kindle and other electronic venues. The business of electronic publishing is flourishing, whether it is royalty-paying publishers, work-for-hire publishers, or self-publishers. It is a far different world than the one when I wrote The Romance Writer's Pink Pages series. People have less disposable income in 2012, and they are more apt to spend it on a digital book than a print book because of the cost, ease of purchase, environmental impact, and convenience of reading devices. 

Do you think writers should consider self-publishing?

I highly recommend digital self-publishing, especially on Amazon Kindle and through I do not recommend self-publishing in print -- most people cannot take such a financial risk to manufacture tangible inventory. 

How do you feel about so many bookstores closing across the US? Do you think this trend is similar in other countries?

It's an utter travesty. It is much worse in other countries. Publishing is global, not local. What one country experiences in the publishing business, other countries experience the same issues.

Are your books available in print or in digital format?

Only digital. For now. One mature pine tree supposedly equals 160 500-page books, not to mention the water that grew the tree nor the water used during pulp processing. And I live in a tiny apartment. I don't really have room for boxes of books. Also, something rather dark is going on in the industry. Allegedly, Barnes & Noble was going to ax all CreateSpace titles from their catalog, as CreateSpace is an Amazon company. A bunch of that kind of stuff is going on, in various guises. It is not a good idea for me to start printing books. Long live ebooks!

What advice do you think aspiring authors should heed today?

Don't give your money to a vanity press (also called co-op presses or boutique publishers) where you put up the money to print your books and you don't even own the finished printed books. Don't give money to a literary agent. Hire an editor for proofreading and to catch continuity errors before you even send your work to agents or publishers or before self-publishing.

What are you working on now?

I am currently at work on a sequel to The Man Who Fell from the Sky (Angel Detectives Case #1). It is entitled, TheMan Who Rose from the Sea (Angel Detectives Case #2). I am also writing Ghost Fire, a contracted mystery novella for a popular new series called The Ghost Files, which was created by Scott Nicholson and J.R. Rain. I have an outline for an unnamed sexy vampire trilogy that is set in west Los Angeles. And I am revamping some of my old unpublished work for release on Kindle. That's it for 2012.

What is/are your favorite book(s)? Do you read only books from the genre you write in?

I read all kinds of books. My favorite books are by indie authors on Kindle. Some of them are my editing clients and they are all very important to me. Almost exclusively, I read romance genres and cross genres of romance novels.
Do you read when you are plotting or writing a story?

I read all the time.

What book inspired you to write romance (or whatever genre you write in)?

I write what I love to read. So many books inspire me to write romance. The ones with the happy endings are the ones that keep me reading and writing them.

What hero/heroine/character was the most fun or challenging to write for you?

An angel's character in my latest book, The Man Who Fell from the Sky (Angel Detectives Case #1)

How do you juggle work, writing, chores and family/personal life? Do you have a secret to time management that you want to share with readers?

Because I am single and live in an apartment that is about 14 X 16 feet, I don't have any significant chores. It takes me maybe 10 minutes a day to clean my place. I don't even have to get dressed if I don't want to. I can eat popcorn for dinner or eat a mango over the sink. Most of my family lives in another state so I don't have anyone to take care of but myself and I no longer have to answer to anyone. The number one thing that I did to free up time for writing was to quit my day job. I don't recommend this drastic course of action in any way. I just know what I needed to do for myself. I was dying inside, every day that my writing career slipped further and further from my grasp. At my last day job, all I could think of was how I wanted to be working on my novel instead of editing scholarly work. I even took about 5 weeks of paid vacation off from work to write but it wasn't enough. I wanted it to be forever. Finally, I made the leap and here I am! At that happy place!  I have a modern version of the artist painting in a garret and being ecstatic about it. Okay, so I live near the beach and it isn't a garret but it is small and there is no heat, no parking spot, and no oven. It sort of feels like living in a motel room, but my books keep me company. I also have a best friend who lives close by. Every Monday or Tuesday, we have inspiration day, and we get out and do creative projects together in some fun place.

Do you have a ritual that you follow when it comes to writing?

Shower, dress, eat, sit at computer and write. I go for walks when I remember to get up and do it. I walk to the grocery store for bagels, fruit and vegetables. I hang out on Facebook when I am not writing or taking a walk. That's pretty much the daily routine. 

Where do you see yourself, careerwise, in 5 years time?

I see myself as a successful indie author on Kindle. In 5 years, I may only be editing for one client who has expressed an interest in partnering for some writing projects. Right now, I edit for a lot of novelists to supplement my income from book sales. I love my life now, so much. I am doing everything I can to achieve my goals as an author. I have a lot of creative freedom as a self-published author with a track record in traditional print publishing. I even do ghostwriting. I believe in myself and I have a lot of support from the community of authors who help each other perfect our craft. Every day is an adventure, not just on paper, but in real life. I am loving every moment!

And some info on latest and upcoming releases... 

I am currently at work on a sequel to The Man Who Fell from the Sky (Angel Detectives Case #1). It is entitled, TheMan Who Rose from the Sea (Angel Detectives Case #2). I am also writing Ghost Fire, a contracted mystery novella for a popular new series called The Ghost Files, which was created by Scott Nicholson and J.R. Rain. I have an outline for an unnamed sexy vampire trilogy that is set in west Los Angeles. And I am revamping some of my old unpublished work for release on Kindle. That's it for 2012.

What's your website URL?

Are you on Facebook? 

How do you connect with readers?

Most of my connections are through Facebook and Twitter.

About Eve:

Eve Paludan's first print book in the 1990's, The Romance Writer's Pink Pages: The Insider's Guide to Getting Your Romance Novel Published (Prima), went on to become a popular series. Two of the editions became #1 bestsellers for Writer's Digest Book club. She also has worked as a content editor and as a web designer for software companies; as an editor of scholarly work at a state university; and as a small-town newspaper employee. Previously a long time Arizonan, in June 2011, she moved to the west side of Los Angeles, California. Her move was to escape snow and high altitude, but especially to pursue her writing in a big city with a beach, and a large creative community.

Now a full-time author and editor, she writes novels and publishes them on Kindle. She also edits for other novelists: including bestselling authors H.T. Rain. Her newest book is, THE MAN WHO FELL FROM THE SKY(Angel Detectives Case #1). Her other fiction works include more romances, Taking Back Tara and Letters from David. In addition, she was the editor for Vampires, Zombies and Ghosts, Oh My! (and other Creatures of the Night STORIES) Anthology. It contains 16 stories from 13 authors.

Eve lives in a tiny apartment with four laptaps, books, and a Kindle. Besides books, her passions include: walking at the beach; and in her west LA neighborhood-exploring art museums; learning outdoor photography; and research of the supernatural and the spiritual-including angels, ghosts, and God. If you can't find her on the beach in Santa Monica or Venice, or ghost-hunting in haunted Hollywood, just follow Eve Paludan on Facebook, Twitter and her website.

The Man Who Fell from the Sky, Excerpt:
After everyone else left the Velvet Antlers, Mariah and J.R. cleaned up the kitchen and the table area.
“J.R., I couldn’t have pulled off this fifties-themed party without you.”
“My pleasure. I had so much fun.”
“Me too. I loved seeing the look on Nicole’s face, that tonight was all for her.”
“No, no! Nicole’s not spoiled in the least.”
Mariah shook her finger at him. “Hey, watch it. That’s my niece you’re talking about!”
He chuckled.
“That’s it for tonight. Oh, what a night!” She hit the main light switch. The string of white tube lights were still on behind the bar. Otherwise, the place was dark.
“Hold on. There are still fifteen minutes left of tonight.” He walked to the old Wurlitzer jukebox then turned back to her. “You danced with everyone tonight, except me.”
Mariah put down her coat. “All right. Ya got a quarter?”
“I do. That’ll buy us three songs.” He scrutinized the song titles, his eyebrows furrowed in thought. “Joe said he used to update the records but he hasn’t since the late nineties.”
“My grandparents used to close up the place by dancing a slow dance every night before they went home. Emily and Aaron.”
I remember. “Your grandparents were onto something.”
She walked to the Wurlitzer and looked at the titles, her expression wistful. “Even when they were old, you could still see it in their eyes, how they looked forward to the end of a night, to that last dance.”
J.R. put his arm around her. “What would you like to dance to?”
“You choose. It’s your quarter.” She walked onto the dance floor.
His quarter thunked in and he pressed the letters and numbers of the songs he chose. When the record dropped, he walked toward her and held out his hand. The music of the Platters filled the dimly lit dance floor as the Platters’ “Smoke Gets in Your Eyes” surprised her. It was her favorite song of all time.
J.R. held his body apart from hers as they glided over the dance floor, taking up all of the space as if they had always danced together. Cody used to do the same thing.
His eyes searched hers and she sighed and closed her eyes, the velvety caress of his cheek against hers sweeping her away. She let the music carry her closer and felt the heat and strength of his body close to hers as they danced. In the pause between the end of the song and the beginning of the next, Mariah’s eyes met his intently. She was flushed. With a
gentle finger, he brushed her bangs from her eyes. That one finger was electric against her skin and she drew in her breath sharply, her mouth quivering. The Righteous Brothers’ “Unchained Melody” filled the room.
He moved in closer than cheek to cheek. She gave up the pretense of friends dancing together and wrapped her arms around  his neck.
“My grandparents. This was ‘their’ song,” she murmured.
“They apparently knew how to pick ‘em, didn’t they?” he murmured against her hair.
“J.R., how are you picking these songs?” Her voice trembled.
He didn’t reply but twirled her over the dance floor. She felt emotion welling up, feelings she’d locked away for months. But she wasn’t feeling them for Cody. She was feeling them for J.R. She was falling in love.
The third record dropped. Elvis’ voice was joined by J.R.’s own sweet tenor in, “I Can’t Help Falling in Love with You.”
Tears spring to her eyes as she heard the slight tremor in his voice. Mariah leaned into his chest, feeling the reverberations in her breasts as he sang to her.
“J.R., this is going too fast for me.”
“I’ll dance slower.”
“That’s not what I mean and you know it.”

~ Natalie ~ 
No Rules. No Formulas. Just Love, Mystery... and a world of surprises in between!