I cornered Jane recently and forced her to answer the questions. It wasn’t really under duress but then again, history is written by the conquerors… Of particular note I have personally read her book, Vengeance, and it was a very captivating read. I highly recommend it (and her others).
Tell us about your books – share some of your misery with other would-be writers to give them hope.
My publishing journey has been a bumpy rollercoaster ride to say the least. I started writing in 2007 and by this, I mean every waking moment when I wasn’t at my day job or attempting to feed my kids and get them to their activities – I wrote. For eighteen months, I plunged head down into this alternate world of fiction, fantasy, sex, violence and crime.
When I submerged from my writing stint, I had eight novels – eight full-length novels. Of course, those first drafts sucked. But I didn’t know that – I thought they were the next best selling phenomenon – the best thing since sliced bread, you know – I thought they rocked. Wrong! So very wrong!
I also didn’t know the first thing about querying agents. So, by the time I had figured out the right way to approach the query-go-round, I had burned the bridges of my “most wanted agents” list and I just wanted to hide under the dining room table in embarrassment.
After a litany of rejections and some shrewd advice from a wonderful writing group I joined, I took some writing and editing courses and honed my craft, applying what I learned to my manuscripts. Then I started searching for a home.
The first three books I wrote were not mainstream. Nope, they were edgy erotic thrillers. A serious blend of steamy scenes and violence along with a paranormal twist that no one expects. The first book in the series – Survival Games – either people LOVE it or they can’t get through it. There’s no middle ground on this one and I was floored when I got a publishing contract from a small erotic press and Survival Games went on to get great reviews and even a Grade A Select rating from Romance At Heart.
So my next hurdle focused on getting my FBI thriller series out the door. The first in this series had the original title of Mirror Lake and I attempted the agent route again, getting a couple full manuscript requests that really didn’t lead anywhere outside of some decent feedback. I took what those agents said to heart and dove in with new edits. I also rebranded it under the title Dark Reckoning. So with the re-tooling of both the book and the blurb, and re-branding under a more appropriate title that fit more readily with the other two in the series, I started getting more read requests from agents. But by this time, my erotic publisher announced the opening of a sister company that would focus on mainstream fiction. I veered from the agent search and jumped at the opportunity – and Dark Reckoning – the first in the Steve Williams series – found a home.
Well, after going through the publication process for the Games Series as well as Dark Reckoning and Vengeance, and working for my publisher formatting and uploading to distribution sites as well as editing manuscripts for the better part of a year, I decided to step out on my own for Hunting Season. About that same time, my publisher announced she was reverting to a co-op, which meant they’d still collect a cut off the top – but offer no other services. The author’s were on their own for cover art, editing, formatting and uploading as well as requesting reviews. I didn’t see an upside to this and I had enough experience under my belt, so I opted out and pulled my books with me.
About that same time, another author under the same publishing umbrella approached me about a venture – starting our own publishing house. Novel Concept Publishing, LLC was born and you guessed it – my partner in crime is none other than Jason Halstead (Editors note: Jason Halstead is a great guy).
And my latest release through our publishing house is the fourth book in the Steve Williams series: Georgia Reign.
What advice can you give to other writers trying to be published?
Here’s a check list that may help you before you begin the submission process:
- Do you have too much back-story in the beginning?
- Back-story dumps can slow the pace and bore the reader, so make sure your back-story is limited to what the reader NEEDS to know. You as the author should know far more about your character – but limit the information to a need to know basis. If it does nothing to move the story forward, kill it.
- Do you have a consistent point of view?
- If you head hop – it will dilute the impact of the story and create an emotional abyss between your characters and your reader. They won’t connect and will likely put the book down. Think of Point of View this way – what can you see, hear, feel and think? – you’re not seeing things behind you – unless you’re an alien with eyes on both sides of your head – so your characters shouldn’t be able to see someone rolling their eyes or approaching them from behind. Sounds of someone approaching – yes, but sight – no. Unless your character is a mind reader – he can’t know for certain what anyone else is thinking – but he can deduce it from the other character’s body language, which means showing the reader the body language too.
- Do you show your readers your character’s physical reactions to stimulus?
- Visceral reactions – someone jumps from behind a tree and yells boo – do you tell the reader that your character is startled? Or do you show them the sudden jar to the heart, the gulp of breath – or yelp that escapes, the step back – or in some cases, stumbling fall back and then the startled expression or the shift in emotional state when they realize it’s someone they know just trying to scare them. If you don’t show the reactions – go back and fix this – especially in the scenes that are pivotal in your story where emotional hits make or break the scene.
- Have you gone through every sentence, paragraph and scene and validated that it moves the story forward or gives the character more depth?
- If it does not add to the story, take the sentence, paragraph or scene out. Objectivity is one of the hardest things to come by with your own work – but it is a necessary evil. Do the right thing and trim the fat.
- Do you have a great hook/blurb/pitch?
- This is necessary to get an agent or publisher to look at your work – this is your foot in the door and without boiling your book down to a marketable slogan, you’ll continue to have a hard time selling your manuscript. This takes practice and some feedback, so find a writers group like the Backspace forum or a Yahoo group in your genre that offers feedback and put the blurb you have up for comment.
I think that’s enough of a start for those writers trying to publish.
Ebooks vs. print books, your preference for writing AND reading?
E-books lately, especially when I’m at the beach.
Kindle, Nook, or something else altogether?
Kindle – and loving it.
How do you find your readers and how do you interact / relate with them?
The main places where I’ve connected with readers are my networking sites: facebook, Twitter, Goodreads, Kindle Boards to name a few. I also have a website and people are free to contact me on any of these platforms to let me know what they thought of my books or to say hi in general.
I know you’re a busy girl, what’s your near to mid future road map look like?
Publish. Publish. Publish. J Not just my novels, but those of authors that we’ve taken under the Novel Concept Publishing wing.
Finally – share a little dirt. I know you figured out a way to balance family, day job, editing, and writing, so what’s your kryptonite?
5 Hour energy drink. Not kidding.
Actually, I haven’t figured out a practical way to juggle all my obligations. Something always has to give. In the past, it has been the family. Sure I’m sitting in the family room with the lap desk – in the middle of the action, but I’m not really here – and this year, the kids have given me a little grief about it. Balance is key – and I’m still searching for the perfect balance of business and family life.
Where can anxious readers find you on the web?
Facebook Page: http://www.facebook.com/pages/JETaylor/190872939774
Twitter Page: https://twitter.com/#!/JETaylor75
Goodreads Page: http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/3153969.J_E_Taylor
Kindleboards Page: http://www.kindleboards.com/book/?asin=B004WOY07E&sample=N
Amazon Author Central Page: http://www.amazon.com/-/e/B003FER8M6
Smashwords Page: https://www.smashwords.com/profile/view/JETaylor75
To learn more about Jason Halstead, visit his website to learn about him, his books, sign up for his newsletter, or check out some free samples of his books at http://www.booksbyjason.com.
As promised, my saga of cover art research continues. In this part I unveil the new cover for New Beginnings, Vitalis book 1. It’s a hell of a lot prettier than the original – but don’t believe me just because you should, believe me because I show you and prove it!
The old cover:
The moral of the story? Well there isn’t one yet, but I’m willing to wager there’s not a soul reading this who won’t agree that I stand a far better chance of attracting interest and generating a sale. Plus it just makes you wonder what happened? Did she survive that crash? Did she cause that crash? Is that skinny girl really tough enough to do either? There may be a few other questions the picture prompts but I won’t cover them here. So my fellow writers, perfect your craft and edit your work until you’re sick of it, then spend just as much time on making sure you’re cover art is top shelf quality.
And now since I’ve proven myself right in this regard, clearly you should do everything I tell you – for example, Jason says go and buy his books then tell your friends, family, and the guy on the street to do the same.
To learn more about Jason Halstead, visit his website to learn about him, his books, sign up for his newsletter, or check out some free samples of his books at http://www.booksbyjason.com