Tag Archives: mystery

From trad to indie: Interview with Alicia Rasley

I’ve “known” Alicia Rasley since the early nineties, when we were both active on the writing discussion groups (called RoundTables) of the now defunct online service GEnie. I was a rank beginner at the time, while Alicia had already been traditionally published, but she was always gracious and helpful. We bonded over Aphra Behn, and she was one of the first people to read (a very early) version of Chameleon in a Mirror. So it is with great pleasure that I welcome Alicia to my blog.

Alicia Rasley, Tryst at the Brighton Inn

First off, please tell us a little bit about you and your work.
I write Regency romances and mysteries. I keep threatening to write a small-town Indiana series featuring regular people living regular lives (I live in Indiana and have a regular life myself), but for some reason, no one seems interested!

Do you have a writing routine?
I try to write an hour a day. But I’m still working full-time as a writing teacher, so some days I don’t get the hour in. I also always seem to have several projects going at once, so I spend time everyday trying to figure out which I feel like working on. So… answer is, I say I have a routine, but it’s not a very routine routine.

What made you decide to become an “indie” author?
I was traditionally published for 20 years, and suffered most every horrible offense and injury possible — lines closing just after I pledged them a book, editors getting laid off just after they expressed interest, agents with serious issues who only pretended to submit my books to editors…. And after all the work and rejection and revision and editorial interference, the book would be on sale for three weeks, and then disappear — and the publisher, just for the heck of it, would keep the rights to the book for seven to ten more years. It was the worst system ever, but it was the only one available back then… until a few years ago, when indie publishing became viable and affordable. And I’m never going back to traditional publishing (unless one of those companies offers me a million dollars, but I don’t think we need to worry about that happening).

What have you already published?
I had about 12 books traditionally published, and most of those I’ve republished as an indie author. I also have some novels and some writing books published independently. My Regency romance-mystery just came out in February, Tryst at the Brighton Inn. It’s kind of a hybrid, as I’m publishing the print version myself, and the Kindle Scout program (an Amazon imprint) is publishing the ebook.

What are you working on now?
I’m working on revising a few of my old books slightly to make them fit together better in a boxed set of Regency romances. It will be called Lords of the South Coast. And I’m just starting a new series of young-adult novellas set in the period of the French Revolution, about a group of children and teens who run away from the danger and become the wards of a mysterious noblewoman with a rambling old manor house near London. I like to think that young people will enjoy historical stories about plucky teens overcoming terrible odds to find peace.

I think you may well be right. 🙂 Do you make your covers yourself or do you hire a cover artist?
I am not at all visual, so I rely on a cover artist. Kim Killion did a wonderful job on the Tryst cover. It’s traditional and yet striking.

What do you think are the advantages of indie publishing? Of traditional publishing?
Indie publishing is great because it offers so much control and freedom. For a battered and bruised vet like me, it’s almost a miracle to think I can write what I want, and reach my readers directly without some huge international conglomerate publisher acting as the “gatekeeper” (and usually slamming that gate right on my foot). The downside is that I have to do all the work myself, but I never made enough money for a traditional publisher that they did any marketing for me — so it’s nothing new for me to sell my books myself.

As for traditional publishing, if you are a bestseller and stay that way, you’ll probably be treated well by the publisher. No one below bestseller status has any real assurance of good treatment, but I think the weather is pretty sunny in the highest-selling group. Otherwise, the big advantage of traditional publishing is the prestige. You have some supposedly independent affirmation of your skill as a writer. I think that’s fading (the ultimate judge of our skills is the reader now), but I do think many writers feel more validated if they’ve experienced traditional publishing.

What advice would you give to an aspiring author?
If you’re trying to get traditionally published, give yourself a deadline, after which you’ll indie publish. Traditional publication can move glacially slowly, and sometimes you’ll spend a year trying to get an agent and then the agent will spend a year trying to sell your book, and then there’s a year between the sale and the publication… and three years have gone by. Consider having one book on the traditional publishing treadmill, and in the meantime, publish other books yourself. That way you might well end up with the best of both worlds!
But if (as so often happens) your books never seem to fit the lines of a traditional publisher, give it up and go all in to independent publishing. The readers might love all the stories the trad publishers rejected.

And if you’re planning to go indie, take the advice everyone keeps giving me — to conceptualize a series of stories rather than five “one-offs”. Readers love connected stories with a common theme or set of characters.

Good luck on all your projects, and thanks so much. Alicia! I think you’ve given new authors a lot to think about. 🙂

Getting in touch with with Alicia Rasley:

Blogs
Regency Escapades: http://aliciarasleybooks.com/?page_id=32
Edittorrent (writing and editing): http://www.edittorrent.blogspot.com

Facebook – Alicia Rasley, Author:
https://www.facebook.com/Alicia-Rasley-author-718519868222011/?ref=hl

Twitter – @aliciaregency

Changing horses in the middle of the stream – or, changing projects in the middle of Nano

So, I’m doing something which is probably very stupid, but I’m also hoping to learn more about myself as a writer in the process. I mentioned a couple of posts back that A Wasted Land has been coming along more slowly than I had hoped. Mostly this has to do with me needing to do more research and related brainstorming. I thought I had the plot pretty much mapped out, I had a synopsis and the first chapter with me at the last Villa Diodati workshop and I got some good feedback on it — but I also had a bunch of big, gaping holes: the progress of the battles in this novel, the secondary characters (who are still like ciphers), the settings I haven’t used in previous books. I was doing more research than writing, getting no more than 600-700 words done a day.

So I stopped. Not completely, of course. I’m still adding notes to my Scrivener file and reading some new (to me) books on the Dark Ages. Right now it’s The English Settlements: English Political and Social Life from the Collapse of Roman Rule to the Emergence of Anglo-Saxon Kingdoms:

I’ve often wondered if I could write faster if I didn’t (almost) always write such research-intensive stuff. So couple of days ago, I started to think about the kinds of plots I enjoy that aren’t fantasy, historical, or science fiction, something I could set in the here and now, in places that I know fairly well and won’t have to be researching two hours for every hour I write. I hit upon escape plots where the protagonist is running from a mysterious threat. Think The Fugitive, Terminator, that kind of thing. I figured I could set the story in the Pacific Northwest where I grew up. But if my protagonist is running, she could start out someplace else that I know pretty well, the Raleigh/Durham area where I spent a lot of time over the years for IBM.

And I started writing. I don’t have a title yet, nor do I know what the mystery is going to be, but I do have over 6,000 words already. Even though I didn’t do any pre-writing, I’m now at about 1200 words a day on my unnamed thriller. Those still aren’t Nano levels, of course, and I know I’m not going to “win” this thing, but it’s turning out to be a lot of fun writing something where I don’t have to do as much prep. And I’m not trying to imply that this genre is any easier to write than historical fantasy, it all seems to come down to the time factor. I’ve had to look up a few things, of course — what are the most popular cars in the US, where are the superstores in the Triangle and are they open 24 hours, how to get more money than your limit from an ATM — but it isn’t every little detail. And I can find the answers to my questions a lot faster. Besides, for the settings I can rely at least in part on memory. Those are huge time savers.

So if I can come up with a decent mystery for this thing and finish it, I may be in the market for a genre pseudonym. 🙂

For the above reasons, you’re getting something completely different from me this week for WIPpet Wednesday, from my unnamed fugitive novel. WIPpet Wednesday is the brain child of K. L. Schwengel. If you’d like to participate, post an excerpt from your WIP on your blog, something that relates to the date in some way. Then add your link here — where you can also read the other excerpts. 🙂 My math this week goes like this: 11+2+0 (11/20) = 13. So I’m giving you thirteen short paragraphs from the first scene I wrote a couple of days ago:

Then she heard Rick bellow at the top of his lungs, “Help! I’m –”
And silence.
No! Amber felt as if all the air had been pressed out of her body. She rose again slowly, gazing sideways into the room for confirmation of what she was afraid to see. Rick, slumped forward on the chair, arms limp at his sides, blood pooling on the floor beneath him.
“Do you think anyone heard him?” one of them said.
There was a brief silence and footsteps, going and coming. “No changes in the lights on the houses nearby.”
“Good,” Griffith said. “When the wife gets back, we’ll make it look like a murder-suicide. The police won’t ask too many questions — we have that covered. Then the secret will be safe.”
Amber knew that if she sobbed her pain it would be her death sentence. It was an act of will the likes of which had never before been required of her. But even as she fought with her grief, an important detail had not escaped her — she couldn’t go to the police.
But what was the secret these people thought was important enough to kill for? What could she possibly know that was worth that? She was only a high school drama teacher, after all.
And on the other side of the wall, Rick was slumped dead in their dining room. For what?
For a moment, Amber considered stepping in front of the window, making herself known, allowing them to murder her and lay her beside her husband. What did anything matter, now? And if they had someone from the police on their side, what chance did she have anyway?
Then anger came to her aid, a wave of it so strong, she was sorely tempted to storm through the door with her wimpy hammer and the element of surprise and take at least one of them out. She knew what the odds of that were — very nearly zero.
On the other hand, what were the odds of her ever avenging her husband’s death? With Griffith having the police in their pocket, and her not even knowing what it was they had killed him for? Also very nearly zero.
But better than if she too were dead.

Very rough first draft, any and all comments welcome. Especially if you have any cool ideas what kind information or cover-up or whatever could be going on here. I have NO experience writing mysteries! 🙂