Welcome back to this Week’s Writerly Wednesday with Fiona McGier!
1. What is your favorite marketing task that has resulted in a sale?
I have no idea what influences sales. I update my website (www.fionamcgier.com) regularly and send out info to lots of romance loops to try to get some reader traffic. Only rarely do I hit on a topic that gets readers to leave comments…like when I blogged about favorite Christmas movies. I do a blog on the 16th of the month on another author’s site, www.sweet’n’sexydivas.blogspot.com. Do comments translate into sales? Maybe. I’ve done contests with give-aways, usually of eBooks, and sometimes I get reviews. I’d love to do a book-reading, but I write erotic romance and live in a fairly conservative area, so not much chance of that. I do know what doesn’t work, and that’s paying big money for ads in print magazines. I did that once, and not only was it prohibitively expensive, I don’t think I got more than a minor bump in sales…barely 10% of what I spent came back in royalties!
2. What do you like about your publisher or why did you decide to Self Publish?
At the risk of sounding too starry-eyed, what I LOVE about Eternal Press is that I don’t have to pay for the print option for my books. I’m with 2 other publishers where eBooks are no-charge, but wanting your books in paperbacks costs you money. Since I have 2 kids still in college, and I can only find p/t work, and I work 2 jobs…I don’t have money to spare! That’s why only 1 of my 4 at one publisher have paperbacks…the other 3 are eBook only. Most of my friends don’t have e-readers, so unless they are willing to sit and read at their computers, they can’t read all of my books.And Eternal Press offers help with promotions also. That’s something new for me…having someone to help me get the word out about my books.I did self-publish one book, Prescription for Love on Smashwords, but I have it listed as a free download. There’s a link to it on my website’s main blog page. It’s the 4th book in a series of 6 called the Reyes Romances, about the romances of members of a large Hispanic family–most are inter-racial romances. My hope is that the free book will convince readers to buy the others, but it’s been downloaded thousands of times, with no discernible increase in sales of the other ones.All things considered, I prefer being with a good publisher. Yeah, EP! I mean you!
3. What do you have under your bed?
Our bed is a pedestal with drawers and cubbies under the mattress. We bought it with a waterbed mattress, but last year finally had to get rid of it because aging has not been kind to our backs. Now we have a memory-foam mattress and our backs thank us each night and morning! So there’s nothing much beyond clothing in the drawers that’s under our bed. Of course, if the bed could talk…the stories it could tell! Snicker…
(You have our bed. A waterbed frame with drawers under. We gave up our water mattress after our granddaughter poked a hole in it. We replaced it with a memory foam as well. No need for box springs as the container for a waterbed is already quite stable. However, I have a three step stool with a drawer beneath scooted up to the bed so I don’t have to climb so far.)
4. Are you a plotter or a pantser when you are writing?
Mostly a pantser. I get ideas for characters and let them “cook” a while in my mind. I think of them when I’m going to sleep or if I wake up during the night. I think of them when I’m not actively interacting with anyone else. I let them “show” me scenes in their lives. When I’ve got enough of an idea of who they are, what the conflicts are, and how things are going to develop, I begin to write. I usually write in a linear style, going from the beginning to the end. if I take a break, I re-read all that has come before, to recapture their voices in my head, before I dive back into their world.
5. Do you write in a bubble or do you prefer critique groups, writing buddies or other companionship during the process?
Usually I write without help of any kind. With my last 2 books, the paranormal Mayan vampires stories, I bounced ideas as they came to me, off of my 2 sons who still live at home. We are huge sci-fi fans in my house…all 6 of us! So they were more than willing to discuss how to proceed with the paranormal aspects of the stories…not so much the erotic romance part. I quote, “Ew, Mom!” That being said, my 3rd son is a voracious reader who has read at least 4 of my 12 books. He’s good at pointing out weaknesses and strengths. My friends who have known me for many years, and who have all of my books, tell me that reading them is like sitting and talking to me. They say they can “hear” my voice as they read. I guess that’s what’s referred to as an author’s “voice”.
6. When do ideas come to you and how do you capture them?
I often have dreams that become full-blown novels. I wake up with a story arc, let it germinate for a while, then when I sit to write, it flows quickly since I know where it’s headed. I’ve written at least 3 or 4 books that way. In fact, Prophecy of the Undead was the product of 2 separate dreams. The first dream gave me the heroine, Keisha Brown, a black scary-smart neurobiology researcher, and her quest to discover the hormone that increases intelligence before the Mayan “end of the world” time frame of December 2012. I got writer’s block after the second chapter and put it aside for a while. A few months later I had a dream with a tall, very pale, white-blond man telling me in a Russian accent that I was having trouble with Keisha’s story because I was giving her the wrong hero…it had to be him. Then he smiled and showed me his fangs. I told him I don’t write vampire romance because they’re too over-done. He grinned and told me to “research the Mayans.” I woke up the next morning and did just that, only to learn that all of their religious rites involved blood-letting. They bled into containers, onto paper or rags, etc. Why did their gods need so much blood? Well if they were vampires…the rest of the book poured out quickly, and the sequel, Mayan Prophecy Fulfilled, almost wrote itself.
7. What is your favorite word processing program and what other tools do you use, pen, notebooks, white board, index cards, finger on fogged bathroom mirrors?
I write all of my books on my laptop at my desk. I have such terrible hand-writing that sometimes even I can’t read what I’ve written! Besides, my hand cramps up from holding the pen too tightly. When I was little my Mom told me that someday I might need to support myself so I needed to know how to type. (eye-roll). Along with daily piano practice, I spent time each day working on learning how to type by feeling the keys without looking at them. That came in really handy when I was an English major and had to type 20+ page papers in one night on my old manual typewriter, using lots of White-Out. I can type on my laptop keyboard, but it’s not as easy since the keys are flat. So I have a wireless keyboard on the ledge under my laptop.
I’ve written notes on scraps of paper, but mostly for when I was writing my Reyes Romances series, because I had to keep track of how old each character would be in subsequent stories.
Final note: Why inter-racial romances? Because I love to imagine the characters being not only opposite from each other because one is male and one is female (I only write m/f romances), but also because they are from different cultures and races. I think it lends something extra for them to deal with as they try to decide if this one is “the one” that each character wants to spend the rest of his or her life with.And why erotic romances? My Mom used to drop-kick her romance books across the room, yelling that she’d invested all of that time in reading them, and there was no “pay-off”…no sex! She swore she’d never pick up that author again. So I write books that Mom would have liked to read and share with her sisters. They used to let me have a cocktail with them when I was younger, and they’d be sampling things like “grasshoppers” or “pink ladies”, or “Harvey Wallbangers”. Their talk would get really bawdy as they had a few cocktails. I thought they were so much fun to be with. I’d like to think I write for all of them.
Fiona has always had stories in her head, with characters telling her about their lives. She was astounded to learn that not everyone imagines themselves part of the action while watching movies or TV, or reading books. Now that she’s learned that other authors do the same thing, she’s not so embarrassed by the phenomenon. When her 4 kids were little, they kept her “in the present”. Now that they are all young adults, she works 2 p/t jobs to help with the bills, and writes and promotes whenever she can squeeze in the time. That pesky sleep-thing is so over-rated! But even when husband tries to force her to relax watching some TV with him, she crochets afghans for relatives so she’s not just “wasting time”.Find her at: www.fionamcgier.com, where the first page is the blog.
She also has an author’s page at Goodreads, Manicreaders, Amazon, RomanceReviews.com, and other sites. She has a Facebook author page, as well as pages for some of her books, but she doesn’t often visit there because she gets caught in the “time vortex” and has to fight her way back out, often hours later!
Blurb: Prophecy of the Undead
Keisha is a neurobiology researcher determined to discover the secret to intelligence to save humanity from itself. What she learns leads her to realize a bigger threat comes from beyond the stars. Yuri is a Russian vampire whose long-dead feelings respond to the scientist whose brain he admires but whose curves he can’t resist. Will his love reach the places in her heart that she has ignored for so long? And can they defeat the prophecy of the undead to find happiness sharing eternity?
Blurb: Mayan Prophecy Fulfilled As a gifted child she was given to the state by her Chinese parents, leading to a harsh life. Her un-dead existence has been worse. When other vampires urge her not to further the destruction of humans, they bring a blue-skinned alien Visitor. She never expected to discover her own humanity in the arms of an alien; he never expected to fall in love. Can their passion bridge the gap between their races? And can they join forces to face the return of the Mayan aliens and save humanity?
Scene: Keisha is bound and gagged in the trunk of a car. Her captors have returned with gas cans, then plan to drive her to a deserted place to kill her. Luckily she has drawn the attention of the Russian vampire, Yuri, who sought her heartbeat and has finally located her.
She felt the tip of a gun against her cheek as it stroked her face.
“Aw, she’s still out cold. That’s no fun.”
“Just feel her up then let’s get out of here. I’m getting a weird
feeling that we’re being watched…”
“By who? There’s no one else out in this God-forsaken…what
Keisha heard a swooshing sound and opened her eyes to see a
blur of movement. There was a snarling growl, combined with the
yells of real fear, coming from her two tormentors.
“Kill the bitch!.”
She felt the gun stuck into her ribs and held her breath, waiting
for death. The gun fired. The bullet tore its way through her skin
and chest muscles, burned through her lung, and severed arteries
as it lodged in her heart. She found it difficult to let out the breath
or to breathe in any more air.
There was the awful sound of breaking bones…then silence.
Someone leaned over into the trunk and lifted her gently
out as if she was as light as a child. She felt herself being laid on
the ground and fought to breathe as her blood pulsed out of her
through the chest wound, soaking her clothes and making them
stick to her. Her rescuer tore through the knots that she was unable
to budge. She tried to thank him with her last gasps of air.
“Tha…thanks.” She choked on her own blood and her head
“Keisha, look at me,” he commanded in a voice that sounded
vaguely familiar, but very distant, as if she was moving far away
She tried to focus her gaze but merely saw the outlines of a
man’s torso, with a face barely visible, topped with white hair that
shone in the dim moonlight.
“I had hoped to spare you this but I have no other choice now.
I can’t lose you…I won’t. You must choose right now, before it’s too
late. Do you want to live?”
In her mind she giggled but all that came out of her mouth was
a gargling sound.
“Um, yeah…don’t think…option anymore…”
“Yes, it is. But if I do this thing, you will be changed. You will
be alive, yet not alive. Are you sure you want me to do this?”
Her head nodded up and down as darkness descended, her vision
clouded by the blood that was everywhere now. She drifted
off and idly wondered if she was going anywhere or if she was just
going to lose consciousness and that would be the end of thought.
Suddenly her mind was invaded by a tall, blond man with an
intense look in his eyes that shone with a black fire in their depths. “What are you doing here? I’m busy dying…who are you?”
“You are dying but not in the way you expect. What I’m doing
is ensuring that you will wake up again tomorrow night. What
images would you like me to entertain you with as your body
She tried to shrug but was unable to move any part of her body.
She felt herself being held by strong arms, with the tiny hairs on
her neck standing at full attention while the lips on her neck created
a drowsy drugged feeling in her mind. “How about something erotic?”