Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Bribery with Chocolate: Interview with Author Kelly Simmons

Today we interview one of my favorite people, writer Kelly Simmons.  Kelly is a member of a group of authors known as the Liar's Club of Philadelphia. I first met her at the Writers' Coffeehouse, a monthly gathering of writers sponsored by the Liar's Club. Her third novel has just been released.

Congratulations on your new book, Kelly. Your first two novels fell into the category of "women's fiction," but One More Day is a thriller. Why the change?

Well, the publisher and agent consider One More Day to be women's fiction with thriller and paranormal elements.  So theoretically, I haven't switched categories. But it WAS a shift for me -- because there is a crime at the center of the book, and because there may or may not be ghosts appearing to help the main character solve the crime --  these were genre elements I had never dealt with before. ​
 My agent felt very strongly that even though she liked the two other manuscripts I'd given her -- that the concept and early pages of One More Day were very exciting -- and would make a bigger splash than the other two books.  

​ ​
You've also switched publishers. Standing Still and The Bird Ho​use were published by Simon and Schuster, but your new book is from Sourcebooks. Would you like to tell us why you've switched publishers?

​My original publisher would have wanted to re-launch me more drastically -- with a book that went in a completely different direction -- or possibly under another name.  It was a game I wasn't sure I was ready to play, but I did submit a historical fiction manuscript to them before I went out with One More Day -- and they didn't love it.   So to punish them  (evil sarcastic laugh) we didn't include them on the round of submissions with One More Day -- because who needs more failure in any given quarter?

And Sourcebooks specializes in women's fiction, and functions completely differently than other publishers -- given the choice between them and a larger house it was an easy decision to make.

Like most authors, you support yourself and your family with a day job. You've worked as a reporter and in advertising, correct? Some authors prefer to have a day job that has nothing to do with writing, so they don't get tired of spending hours at the computer. Has it been a problem for you, making yourself get back behind the computer after you've already spent a full day doing that?

​It's true that I spend many days just sitting at the laptop.  Although advertising also requires filming, editing, recording, and going to meetings, so that breaks things up a bit.  Some times I do feel like my brain hurts, and my wrists -- but advertising has been a relatively lucrative choice. So many people write half the time and teach school the other ​
​half -- and I'm like, why would you choose TWO low-paying jobs?  :) 
Good advice!
My favorite publishing story of yours concerns your first book, Standing Still. If I recall correctly, your agent wanted you to add a sex scene, but you did not.  How did that issue get resolved?

Tony, when a girl says no, she means NO.  Even a publishing whore knows that!​

Let’s finish up with a process question: how to you write?  Do you do it in the same time and place every day?

A long time ago I got in the habit of getting up early and writing before sunrise, before my day began to spiral out of control.  The quiet helps. But now that the kids are in college, there is a lot of quiet -- I can pretty much write any time of day that works with my schedule or deadline -- but I don't love working at night.  I have to many times, but I have to bribe myself with chocolate.

We’ll look forward to your next book.  Thank you for your time, Kelly.

Kelly Simmons' books can be purchased at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Books-a-Million or your local bookstore. You can o​rder personalized autographed copies here:  http://www.mainpointbooks.com/kelly-simmons   

Follow her at:

Monday, February 8, 2016

Author Michael Bradley and the Supernatural Thriller

Today we interview Michael Bradley, author of a new work of supernatural thriller titled Sirens in the Night.  We are both members of the Wilmington Writers Group (that's the Wilmington in Delaware, not North Carolina).

Congratulations on your new book, Michael! Tell us about Sirens in the Night.

Sirens in the Night is a supernatural thriller that asks the question, what would happen if myths were real? The novel focuses on the efforts of police detective Samantha Ballard as she investigates a series of unusual deaths in the city of Philadelphia. As she embarks on her investigation, she is forced to face a reality that tears down the very framework of what she believes is possible. Jack Allyn, a radio DJ in Philadelphia, just wants to reignite his floundering career, but he is drawn unwillingly into Samantha’s investigation when his friend becomes the next victim. The two must team up together to take on a force that is as malevolent as it is beautiful.     

Sirens in the Night was published by Amberjack Publishing. How did you come to work with them? 

I had been in the midst of sending out submissions to agents and publishers when I came across an article in Writer’s Digest about Amberjack Publishing, announcing that they were now accepting submissions. I decided to give it a shot, and the rest, as they say, is history. They liked what I had to offer, and wanted to negotiate a contract for the publishing rights. With this being my first publication offer, I have to admit that I was a little cautious because I wanted to make sure that I wasn’t signing up for something I would regret. The last thing I wanted was to allow the excitement of getting a book deal to blind me to reality. But, in the end, everything worked out for the best, and the book was released last year in November.

I believe that Amberjack Publishing wanted you to change the title for your book, correct? 

The book’s working title had been Beware of Greeks, a take on the old saying “Beware of Greeks bearing gifts”. It had been one of those titles that, when it came to me, I instantly fell in love with it. So, I was a bit heartbroken when my publisher asked me to change it. There was a great deal of “weeping and gnashing of teeth” before I succumb to my publisher’s wishes. But, in the end, the new title has grown on me, and I’m happy with it.

You previously self-published a book.  How does self-publishing compare with your experience with Amberjack Publishing?

The big difference is that you’re not alone. A publisher brings resources to the table that I might not otherwise have had access to with self-publishing. I had an editor who was fabulous to work with, and a graphic designer to take care of cover artwork and book formatting. It gave me, the writer, the opportunity to do what I do best, which is write. When you self-publish, you often have to play all of those roles, and it can take you away from moving on with writing the next book. On the flip side, my royalty percentages are lower than if I had gone the self-publishing route. But, I think the sacrifice was worth it.

Very good.  What's next -- a sequel to Sirens in the Night?

Not at the moment. I have an idea for an indirect sequel for Sirens in the Night, but I haven’t developed it enough yet. I’m currently working on a new thriller with a more psychological angle this time. I just finished the first draft. The working title is Follow You Down. I don’t want to give too much else away about it yet.

Let’s finish up with a process question: how to you write?  Do you do it in the same time and place every day?

I usually write at a small desk I’ve got down in my basement. It’s small, leaving little room for distracting adornments. As for time, my intent is to write every night for a few hours, but you can pave a lot of road with good intentions.

We’ll look forward to your next book.  Thank you for your time, Michael.

Michael Bradley's books can be purchased at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Books-a-Million

You can follow Michael Bradley at:

Twitter - @mjbradley88