Howdy gang! I'd like to introduce author L. Carroll to the Open Vein. It was a real honor to be able to interview her as part of the "400 Hours to 400 Days" blog party. You can learn more about it HERE. We talked about her newest book, Four Hundred Days, her experiences as an Indie author, and writing/publishing in general. I think you're going to easily see why I'm now one of her biggest fans. (She's a Harry Potter fan, need I say more?) Enjoy!
E.J. - Welcome to the O.V., L.C.! :-)
L.C. - Hello E.J., and thanks so much for having me! I'm honored to be here on The Open Vein blog and want to sincerely thank you for taking your time to host the "Four Hundred Hours to Four Hundred Days" blog party!
E.J. - The good stuff first. Tell us about your books, Lor Mandela – Destruction from Twins and the forth coming Lor Mandela – 400 Days (July 15).
L.C. - Well, let's see… "Destruction from Twins" is about the far away world of Lor Mandela which is facing full-scale obliteration, due to the selfish acts of a twin enchantress. There is only one person able to save it -- a young girl named Audril Borloc -- but when she vanishes shortly after her fourth birthday, all hope seems lost.
In a desperate effort to save themselves, a group of Lor Mandelan spies travel to Earth in search of the little girl with black hair and blue eyes, traits that on Lor Mandela are exclusive to Audril's ruling family. Instead, they find sixteen-year-old Maggie Baker. While the age difference between the girls is obvious, Maggie has the Borloc traits, so the spies conclude that she MUST be Audril. Following a strange incident at her bedroom window, Maggie begins bouncing back and forth between her boring hometown of Glenhill, Iowa, and the not-so-boring lands of Lor Mandela, where she comes face-to-face with a ferocious two headed monster, is abducted by a lawless clan of Shadow Dwellers, and falls head-over-heels for the son of an evil dictator. As Lor Mandela nears death, Maggie discovers that uncovering the truth about Audril's disappearance and stopping the destruction of this mystical world may depend entirely on her.
Book #2 in the series, "Four Hundred Days" continues Audril's story later in her life. (I suppose that's a bit of a spoiler…yes, she gets found in the first book). She goes to Earth to save one of her dearest friends from a power hungry tyrant who has begun systematically obliterating towns and cities to get her to turn herself over to him.
On Earth, she meets a wildly eccentric old lady named Teedee Venilworth whose imaginary butler/fiancé supposedly holds the key to her success. But how can someone help if he doesn't exist?
This book is an action-packed whirlwind of intrigue and fantasy that takes the reader to the haunted corridors of Alcatraz Penitentiary, an ancient castle on the cliff shores of Ireland, and to the picturesque Northern High Forests of Lor Mandela, where friends can become foes; enemies can turn into allies; and just because someone dies, it doesn’t always mean that they’re dead.
The series is technically listed as Young Adult Fantasy, but I've received some very nice compliments from twelve year olds as well as sixty-five year olds, so the young adult classification is a little loose.
As to my inspiration…it began as a dream about an epic battle where a young woman was kicking some major booty, despite being heavily outnumbered. Just as the battle turned ugly, she raised her sword into the air and yelled out a cryptic phrase, and everyone around her disappeared. The battle now only encompasses one chapter, and it's not even the first one in the first book, but that was the starting point for the Lor Mandela Series.
E.J. - Sounds like my kind of story, which is to say unbelievably fun and exciting! Most of The Open Vein's audience are writers or are interested in the craft. Can you tell us about your writing process, and maybe some of the writing challenges/successes of the Lor series?
L.C. - If you've ever read my blog posts, you've probably gathered that I'm slightly wacky. (E.J. - So are all of my followers, so you're in good company!) There are a couple of quirky things I do when I write. First of all, if I'm in a blasé or grumpy mood, I have to put on my "crazy lady glasses". They're these absolutely horrible, plastic-rimmed, white, pointy things with no lenses. They always make me feel goofy and light-hearted. I can't write unless I'm in a good mood…even the dark chapters!
The other thing that I do (which my kids all dread, especially if I'm wearing the glasses) is act out every scene before I write it. I do this to make sure that the story flows in a believable, realistic way. Let me tell ya, this does wonders for writer's block!
My biggest challenge, I think, is finding the exact, perfect word that I'm looking for. It's so frustrating to me to know what I want to say, and not be able to say it. Thank heavens for thesauruses! I don't know how any author can write effectively without one, (and/or "crazy lady glasses")
As far as successes go, every time someone tells me that they enjoyed reading my book, it's a success. There's nothing better than a glowing review. I had one that even likened "Destruction from Twins" to the Harry Potter books! That was a great day!!!
E.J. - I think it's very cool that you're so into your process. I've said many times that I think it's important to be able to conjure the writing mood if you're truly serious about getting better. Great authors don't write when the feel like it. Tell us a little about your reading and writing background. What are your favorite reads? How did you get into writing?
L.C. - I have such eclectic tastes; I enjoy books from several varied genres. I adore the classics… Austen, Lewis, Lawrence and Bronte (both of 'em). I devoured the Harry Potter Novels, and that's just the first time I read them! I love a good ghost story (as long as it's believable), and I read a lot of great motivational non-fiction as well.
I've never really had any formal (beyond high school) writing instruction, but I've always been a story teller. The dream that I mentioned before is really what started me writing. When I woke up the following morning, I remember thinking, "That dream would make an awesome movie scene…or a great basis for a book." The very next thought to pop into my head was, "I wonder if I could write a book." As they say, the rest is history.
E.J. - More proof that the great writers are great readers! Many of my followers are very interested in the booming Indie author scene, and the massive change the publishing industry is undergoing. (Let's talk about the 500 lbs gorilla in the room, shall we? :-) Tell us your thoughts on the shift from the traditional publishing method of write/query/agent/editor/publish/rinse/repeat to the DIY method.
L.C. - I think it's terrific that self-publishing is taking off. I've gone down the traditional road of querying agents until I was blue in the face. The fact of the matter is that these poor agents (and publishers) can't keep up with the demand.
I'm guessing that the story of a homeless gal who wrote seven books about a boy wizard, and who now holds a spot on Forbes' list of billionaires may have contributed. With success stories such as this, is it any wonder that there are so many authors now? As long as there are tales the likes of J.K. Rowlings' and Stephenie Meyers' I doubt this trend will slow. True, their both traditionally published, but one of these days (no doubt soon), the story will belong to an indie author…I'm positive!
Yeah, there are pros and cons. The first pro to self-publishing is that you retain the rights to your work. This is a big one, and the reason I ultimately chose to self-publish! Manuscript changes, movie or television rights, available formats…as a self-published author you make the call.
Typically, royalty percentages are better as a self-published author, and you'll see your finished book much quicker than if you go the traditional route.
On the flip side, because you're in charge, you are your own marketing/publicity department, (unless you pay to hire one). If selling your book is your objective, you must be prepared to pound the pavement and the computer keys…a lot!
The other drawback to self-publishing is one that I hope the current trend will smash. It is the general perception that indie authors are "rejects" or sub-standard authors. Many indie authors are phenomenal at what they do, and I've read some traditionally published books that weren't worth the paper they were printed on. I think we'll know when the trend stops being a trend and becomes the norm when indie author isn't a term we use anymore. If someone has a published work, they'll simply be called an author, regardless of the road they took. (E.J. - PREACH IT, SISTER!)
E.J. - Can you offer any tips for writers who might be considering a career as an Indie author?
L.C. - Absolutely! First, get a great editor! Even if you’re a spelling stud or a grammar guru, you'll miss stuff. Not only that, you've developed your story and it makes perfect sense to you, but will it make sense to someone who is looking at it for the first time? In my opinion, a good editor is the difference between a polished, professional book and one that looks homemade. Traditionally published authors have editors, and so should you!
Second, do your research! There are plenty of companies out there that will take your money to turn you into a published author, but if you haven't done your research, they might just take a lot of your money! You can spend anywhere from a few dollars to a few thousand dollars to self-publish. (I prefer the first option). Check with other authors and get their feedback. Find out what services companies offer, (ebook publishing, distribution channels, royalty percentages, hard cover availability, printing options, etc.) to make sure they fulfill your needs. Oh, and if a self-publishing company (sometimes called a vanity press) says they'll market your book, be leery! From what I've heard, (and experienced *blush*), you're not going to get much of a bang for your buck where that's concerned!
E.J. - Back to the good stuff! Tell us where we can find the Lor Mandela books, and give us three reasons why they should be the next books on our TBR (To Be Read) list. (Hey, we ask the TOUGH questions here on The OV! :-)
L.C. - Oh my goodness! You certainly do! Right now, "Destruction from Twins" is available in paperback at http://www.amazon.com/Lor-Mandela-Destruction-Twins-Book/dp/0615481752/ref=sr_1_3?ie=UTF8&qid=1309238407&sr=8-3 or https://www.createspace.com/3602036
It's available in ebook formats at http://www.smashwords.com/books/view/55880 or http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/lor-mandela-destruction-from-twins-l-carroll/1031162349?ean=2940011287046&itm=1&usri=lor%2bmandela
"Four Hundred Days", will be available on July 15th at both CreateSpace.com and Smashwords.com, and will be available on Amazon, B&N, and a bunch of other websites about 2-3 weeks later.
Here are the reasons you should read "Lor Mandela - Destruction from Twins" and "Lor Mandela - Four Hundred Days"!
Reason #1 (Amazon Review) "It has romance, action, adventure and so many twists and turns all rolled into one. What a great book!"
Reason #2 (Goodreads Review) "Lor Mandela is a captivating world that I enjoyed escaping into. Everything this world has to offer is something I loved being a part of."
Reason #3 (Goodreads Review) "I was drawn in from just reading the summary and then when I started reading the book, wow. Let me tell you this is such a wild ride from beginning to end."
Hopefully you'll forgive me for cheating a little here! When I say these things, it's bragging. It just sounds better coming from someone else. From my heart though, I hope you enjoy reading any and all of my books! Thanks again for this interview! It's been a pleasure!
E.J. - Thank YOU for sharing so much with us! I truly wish you all of the success in the world, and I know you've made a few more fans today!