Monday, September 24, 2012

Artie Margrave kicks off my busy week.

Tons to do in preparation for next month. So, I will be stepping aside and asking some people to step in and introduce themselves to you. Play nice.

You have been at this for a little while now, what are some of the best and worst things about being an author?

Being an author has been like a dream come true for me. Though I’ve been writing, almost ceaselessly since before, I never saw myself as an author till January of this year when I published my first book, a novelette titled Hunted: Jake The Ripper. And I haven’t looked back since. Being an author is something I’ve always wanted to be, even though I have the expertise and IQ to be something else. Every letter I pen down, every string of words I make in a sentence, every sentence, paragraph, chapter brings satisfaction to my belly like having chilled soda under a tree in the Sahara. And every completed work brings extreme happiness and fulfilment. I’ve always considered authors sentinels of stories that the world gives limitless. And there’re tons of them waiting to be told. It’s like a privilege when I think of people that have done the world proud in that aspect. Too, the reactions have also been pleasant and encouraging. They make my writing worth it.
I guess the only really bad thing about being an author is that many people don’t take writing as a—vocation to be proud of, at least in my own part of the world. I hope worldwide agrees to this point. But then, football is another vocation that parents would be happy for their wards to be a part of—and what’s football other than people kicking roundly fashioned leather around? The thing is people love it. I love it too. But I find reading and writing more worthwhile and even less stressful.
Due to that, there’s the inadequate supply of support for authors (but thanks to www, I think things have gotten way better).
Also, there’s the tension I get after publishing a book, even though I know it is good enough to be valued. You always hope you’ve written a good book, especially if you’re self-publishing it.

What are some of the lessons you have learned as a writer that caught you off guard?

First, it was the exposure. When I published my first book, I was swept away by the amount of downloads I received in a week and then the week after that. If you’re a new author, not previously heard of, very few readers are likely to check your books out. It was encouraging though I got my first review a month after, and then some.
Also, I was unprepared for the hunger of readers and I had to be on my hands so that I could satisfy them the best I could. There are so many, virtually about 70-something % of hungry readers out there and not enough authors to accommodate them, satiate them.
If there’s anything I’ve learned, it’s that I have to keep writing, keep writing and to be prepared.

What can you share about your writing process with new or up and coming writers?

Create, plan, take notes, fashion your story, write, write, write. It’s all about creating an idea and developing it to a rich finish. Just like sculpting. Like I said before, the world doesn’t run out of stories, fiction and non-fiction alike. The moment an idea for a book ‘lightbulbs’ in my head, I use whatever I have on hand (pencil, pen, phone’s notepad, a scrap of paper) to put it down so it doesn’t recede from my mind. Then the moment the opportunity presents itself I write and write. That’s the primary focus there—just keep writing. Then I do research where needed and use the knowledge obtained to embellish my book, give it more suitable substance. I also lookup writing tips based on the nature of what I’m working on. When I’m done I read my book over, twice, and I also give a close friend to read before finally publishing it. And after that comes marketing—the most important aspect and believe me, it’s important for every work you do, even the free ones.
Currently, Smashwords does a fantastic job of getting my books to a wide coverage of readers and helps me worry less but if you want something done properly, you have to do it yourself.

If you were to up and change genres, what would be your next choice?

I write horror and if I was to change genres, it most certainly would be fantasy. It’s the only other genre I prefer to read to sf and adventure. I just love the rich imaginations fantasy writers dream up when creating fantastic worlds; the lands, the fascinating creatures, the epic and magic; the character names are just delicious. I always feel enthralled when I hear names as Baggins, Dumbledore, Hogwarts, Galadriel, and so on. It’s just pleasant. Like a golden light to my usually dark and twisted thoughts; the Yin to my Yang. Of course, there has to be balance.

What could traditional publishing learn from the Indies? And how about the other way around?

Traditional publishing should try and see every written work as special and not attach any more importance to big name written books than to books from up and coming writers. A bestseller can come from any hand and with self-publishing now taking the centre stage of book publishing, they might’ve to step up the game to keep themselves in reckoning and contention. Even now, many indie authors are taking to online publishing to reach a wider range of readers. Of course, the world is becoming more digitalized and they should make use of this avenue effectively.
An advantage of traditional publishing is that there’s an editor who proofreads, edits a work to readable taste for the readers. So far, so bad, I’ve read many self-published books in which the grammar is just unacceptable and the spelling errors are just too pronounced than the wrinkles on the belly of a centenarian. Authors who practice in self-publishing should strive to make their writing more suitable to the public. It’s, to me, the one edge that traditional publishing has over Indie that the reader will feel more inclined to put his money on. Paying for what’s worth.

The writing community can be its own worst enemy at times. What are some of the issues you see cropping up in the Indie world? Solutions?

Probably a lot, but at the moment, one takes the whole of my mind. Poor book structure. I’ve read books by indie authors that has left me disappointed and disgusted. Many of them couldn’t even pass as an eBook. They didn’t start with any real titles, was improperly formatted, was riddled with errors aplenty, grammatical, spelling, punctuation and paragraphing, you name. Sometimes it was difficult to decide if they were books or stuff from third graders learning to use the word processor. And we indie authors are all ambassadors to one another, so if a reader finds these irritating mischances within a book written and published by an indie author, I wouldn’t be wrong to put it past them to expect to find the same, at least similar occurrences within other self-published books by other indie authors; which means a defamation on the rest of these other serious, talented and hardworking individuals. This problem is committed usually by up and coming writers. It’s wise to advice that if you’re new in the publishing industry (and this goes to the older ones too) and you’re unsure about your work, have an editor, at least a honest friend that can help to detect these errors and enrich you with more vivid ideas on improving the quality of your book.
And everyone’s going to be happy and satisfied.
Then, yes! Now this one comes to mind. The other day I was looking through a book’s reviews on (all of them were negative reviews too, and some reviews weren’t even followed up with ratings) and took note of the reviewers. If you scroll towards the bottom of the page there’re the reviews given by that author to other works and I stumbled upon the review of a book by an author who’d given a negative review to the former’s work. The former had also given a negative review to the latter’s work in retaliation where the latter’s book was actually quite good and was generating acceptable responses and ratings. There shouldn’t be any beef if a fellow author says our work isn’t good enough. It’s just an advice, one we need to look into, one we need to learn from.

The social media is…

The social media is like ‘a net’ on the ‘net’. It’s a fantastic place to get, not only with family and friends, but the readers as well. It’s also a huge opportunity to advertise your books, market them. And it allows easy feedback from your readers in terms of reviews and ratings.
As a reader, it gives me the opportunity to know the trend, the latest books out there and quality.
As an author, it’s a big marketing tool; as a reader, it’s a big market, for buying and Windows-shopping.

Share some information about your work with us: (feel free to be as in depth as you like)
I write horror. I just love the genre, the extreme dark and grisliness. The slashing and tearing and brain-harvesting. As an author, I’ve published 5 works: a novelette, a novella and short stories. But like I said, I’ve been writing before then a blend of fantasy and horror.

My first work was a novelette titled: Hunted: Jake the Ripper. I was proud of that book, loved it totally. It was about a hunted vampire, the last one of its breed, and the strides it took to achieve redemption. It gave me my first review on Barnes & Noble. You’ll find it on Smashwords and other book retail outlets online, save Amazon.

My second work was a novella: The Curse in the Chest. A rural fisherman, Moses Royston, tired of and disinterested in life, stumbles upon a heavily jewelled chest in a part of the river that he fishes, that just shouldn’t be there and against his psyche’s warnings, he lifts it out of the water and brings it to his home, to the shed in his backyard. He believes it to be the solution to his miserable and misfortunate life and opens it to be subsequently possessed by an ancient demon, devourer of wills. And the demon seeks to make a mother of The Many from his daughter, a pure one. But help also appears on the way when a journeying exorcist is supernaturally directed to stop this menace. It was a good book too.

Probably the best I’ve written is the last I published: Ready... and Action!! A group of individuals decide to carve exploits for themselves by going out of sanctuary zone into the undead world to film a reality movie. Only one returns, the one not overly expected to make it. I got my best review ever from Michelle Callaghan of I’ve written two other good ones too: Body Parts for Hire and The Burnt Refuge.

What is one question you are sick of being asked—not in interviews, but by individuals who know you write?

“Are you writing?”
I get this question anytime I’m outside, writing (not advisable, fellow writers) and someone I know comes over and checks what I’m writing, looks at it, interrupts and holds me back, flips a few pages back and forth curiously.
Dumb question, which I usually reply with a dumb answer as well. “No, I’m just painting words on this paper to see if they work.”
But surprisingly, some reply, “God, that’s cool.”

How do you deal with negative reviews?

Nobody is above mistakes. Remember Einstein. For every written work, there’s always an avenue to develop and the writer doesn’t easily see this until a reader points it out to him. I view negative reviews as a platform for me to better my next work, fix what was wrong with my writing and make sure my next work comes off good. I support the motion that the customer (the reader in this case) is always right. They say something is wrong with my writing, so it is. And I’m always grateful for them. I look forward to them as much as I look forward to the positive ones. Positive ones encourage me; negative ones develop me. Putting them in balance and using them to your benefits is the pathway to being an understanding, successful author.
Although, I have to add that some reader reviews are quite abusive. Viewed a couple of them on works by other authors.

How much reading do you get in, and can a writer excel at his or her craft if they do not read?

I read a lot, practically every day, even more than I write. And no, a writer cannot excel at writing if he does not read. I read whenever I get the chance to. When I’m on a novel, I set a target of at least a hundred pages per day everyday until completion, and after I’m on the next in line. It doesn’t only help in improving my knowledge on facts, words, diction and gives me ideas, but it’s also good for the health—a proven fact. It’s refreshing and dismounts pressure.

When does self-promotion cross the line and become a nuisance?

When I do too much, especially for my free works, when I have a filled shelf of unpublished works praying with fervency to be unleashed. If you’re a good writer, if your works are good and easily acceptable, why, your readers will be your automatic marketers; they might spread word of your books even faster than a traditional publishing company’s wide network. (Remember, social networking).

What projects are you currently working on?

A lot. In fact it’s making me look like I’m trying to do too much, accomplishing little. I was working on a novel earlier in the year, an undead novel titled When Demons Bite but I haven’t gotten around to finishing it. And there’s another one, Strangers which is a pentalogy. The first, that I’m also working on, is Genesis.

But at the moment I’m on a novelette titled Unexpected Repercussions which is going to be one of the books in an anthology Tales from the Graveyard: 8 Creepy tales from the dark side of life. I’ve drafted other books in explicit details in this anthology: How to rob a corpse; The easiest way to survive the undead; A grave for the unburied; The darkness within and; Payment of the Field Guard.

What is one thing about you that would surprise the readers who do not know you personally?

I’ll be 22 this October, I have polio on my right leg so I’m disabled, for a present lack of a more encouraging word and my house and I appear in any of my books that have houses in them, save Body Parts For Hire.
And I’m yet to read Fifty Shades.

If you could team up with another Indie writer…who would it be and how would you work? (Alternating chapters, total co-op, etc.)
Oh yeah, there’re two actually that I would love, that I’m dying, to be given a glorious opportunity to work with: a male and a female author.
Male: Joshua Scribner. Remove Stephen King, Dean Koontz and Chris Pike from the list. R. L. Stine too and Joshua Scribner would be my favourite, most read author. His writing are always entrancing, his lettering attractive and fast-paced. But I notice I’m not as fast as he is so I would prefer alternating sections and chapters, the type where the story is coming from two faces or from two (or more) unacquainted characters to meet somewhere in the middle and the sort.
Female: Mary Ann Loesch. I got an opportunity to read her novel Bayou Myth and I was impressed with its overall presentation. Her writing’s easy on the eye, fluent. And she’s a budding writer, I think. This means that we can exchange ideas and learn a lot from one another. Co-op would be cool.
There are also Lori R. Lopez and Bruce Clothier too but I would sooner be giving too many dream team-ups next. But their works are a joy to read, that’s for true.
They all write in the horror genre.

Is there anyone you’d like to give a mention?

IRMA WHEELER! She’s usually the first reviewer of any of my works, but she hasn’t been around castigating me yet, which means I’ve been doing very well. And I’m happy having her around. She has been instrumental, really instrumental in making me pleased with my writing and she’s my beacon of encouragement. Sadly, I’m yet to dedicate any of my works to her, but that’s just a matter of time and writing.

What is in your “to be read” pile right now?

Umm... how do I go about this? Ok.
eBooks: A couple of Stephen King’s (Under the dome, It, etc), The Death Gate Cycle series by Margaret Weis, Tracy Hickman (a heptalogy. I’m through with the first two—Dragon Wing and Elven Star and I’m currently reading Fire Sea), Blessings of a curse by W. E. Clarke, Chosen by Jolea Harrison, Amanda Ackers and the deep forest elves by Glenn and Sasha Gabriel... it’s going to be a long list if I am to keep listing them.
Paperbacks: A couple of Nora Roberts. I’ve exhausted the Dean Koontz I have as well as Weis and Hickman.

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  1. I was reading this, finding it quite interesting and impressive, happy to learn more about Artie, and what a nice surprise to be mentioned! You made my day (again), Artie! Thank you for the honor.

    Great interview, Todd and Artie. Solid and articulate points on writing, also indie works. And you have some intriguing tales, Artie! I look forward to enjoying them when time permits. :)

  2. It's always a pleasure, Lori. And I hope you get to enjoy them.

  3. You are awesome! keep up the good work Artie! Blessings!! i can't wait to read more of your work!!