It is always exciting, as an author, to announce a book launch, an event or a new narrative idea. Today, I can elude to upcoming changes to my current novels.
There will be a new cover for Life in Slake Patch – watch this space for the reveal or subscribe to my newsletter for a special early reveal.
Also, all my current novels will have (if not present already) BOOK CLUB questions added. If you need copies of the questions for your book club, please message me and I am happy to send them to you. I am also available for virtual book club interviews via Zoom or in person locally. I can organize a giveaway to coincide with the event too. Let’s connect – message me on the contact form.
My narratives include feisty heroine’s, as well as great world building, romance, mystery and adventure. Immerse yourself in a time and place of my imagination – you will love it.
We met in 2007 on an online writing group where you share short stories, poetry and life experiences. We became fast friends.
2. When did you begin writing?
Cristal- I began writing in grade school. In 1976, in second grade, I won a writing contest. The prize was three silver dollars. I was hooked. I also published multiple special interest stories in the local newspaper. I typically wrote in journals growing up and started a couple novels, but they were never published.
Andy- I have always had a love for books and a vivid imagination. It wasn’t until later in life that I decided to put my imagination to work.
3. Where did this quote come from? It’s not about tolerance, it’s about acceptance.
We were both bullied as children and always felt we were not accepted the way we were. Tolerance is only allowing someone to be themselves and not genuinely loving them and encouraging them to never change. We prefer the be accepted.
4. How did this quote bring about your book series?
We created imperfect, quirky characters that are relatable to everyone. We threw them together because each one is unique, different or weird. It allowed us to show you can form friendships with all types and if you do, magical transformations can happen. We wanted to make readers think about their preconceptions of the deaf kid, the geek or even the bully. We want to show that digging deeper can produce an understanding and lifelong friendships by just being kind.
5. What age range are your books aimed at?
We consider the books to be young adult/adult paranormal mystery genre. However, we have had ten-year-old advanced readers love them. There are some intense and scary moments plus a little gore that could affect younger readers, so we ask parents to use their own discretion.
6. Can you give the readers an idea of the messages within Secret 8 and The Wandering?
We have found that our readers all relate differently to the books. What might resonate with one person may not with another. It might be easier if I give you key words to describe what our readers have experienced and relayed to us. Secret of 8- adventure, self-discovery, confidence, trust, courage and inclusion. The Wandering- grief, guilt, first love, teamwork, closure, second chances.
7. How many books will be in the series?
We are currently working on the third book in the series, “Freaks to the Left” which is to be released in the Fall 2021. We have plans for at least eight books.
8. What is the fundamental message you wish your books to convey?
Whether you are being bullied, went along with it so as not to be bullied yourself, or maybe you ARE the bully, there is always a choice to change that behavior. No one is perfect and we all make mistakes. You have a choice to look at the behavior and get to the root of why. By simply being kind, you can influence others to do the same.
9 What are the subjects you will cover in your books?
Our books hit on many aspects of growing up. Awkwardness, low self- esteem, love, loss, social class, racism, disabilities, sexuality, prejudice and addiction to name a few. So many books for young adults only skim over sensitive subjects. Our books approach them head on but tactfully and through the eyes of our character’s first-hand knowledge.
10. Has your own background contributed to the stories?
Yes, very much so. We both have life experiences that are sensitive and meaningful. By including these in our books, it makes our characters more realistic. They say to write about what you know. If you have never experienced it, how would you explain it? How would you capture the emotions? Sure, you can research it, but will it come off as authentic?
11. Where do you prefer to write?
We wrote the first book entirely through email. Andy lived in Pittsburgh and I lived in Erie. Once we married in 2016, we published the first book and built an office in our home. The office has shelves filled with everything that inspires us. Andy likes to write on the laptop there, but I tend to write chapters in paper notebooks whenever the urge hits.
12. Do you feel a writing group is an important tool for writers?
Absolutely! Chatting with fellow writers, reading their works, asking questions and encouraging one another is the best kind of support. Writers are unique in that they do not compete; they are fully supportive and celebrate with you.
13. What is your writing process – punster or planner?
We have never used outlines with our books. They have evolved as we wrote. We often wondered where it all comes from, but it seems to flow freely and eventually make sense in the end. The last chapter takes the longest though, as we tie up loose ends and make sure the climax is exciting.
14. Can you share your social media and book links
Bio: Cristal Underwood: Born and Raised in Erie Pennsylvania, She is the mother of one Daughter Megan Grace, and an extra Mom to Andy’s for children. She has always had a passion for writing and has been writing stories and poems since elementary school. Writing books that encourage inclusion, anti-bullying and acceptance is her life long goal. She enjoy’s baking custom decorated cakes and delicious cupcakes.
Andrew Underwood was born in Salem Utah, he is the father of four wonderful kids, and newly became a grandpa this last week. He is an avid paranormal investigator, loves to read, build things in his woodshop and daydream. He has always had an active imagination and a love for the outdoors. He always considered himself a geek and a little different which fits in well with his message in the books they write.
Once we transition from writer to published author, there are many things that change. No longer can we sit in isolation, hide from the world or pretend it’s a ‘hobby’. Words we created are available to the public and so begins the promotion bandwagon.
Our writing becomes a business – expenses and income need to be reported for tax purposes, we create a ‘store’ whether virtual or real, and we become a public entity. We are no longer completely anonymous.
Over the last nine years (since publishing my first book), I have gathered information, advice and ‘tricks’ on how to promote myself and my books. At first, it felt foreign to ‘be out there’. Now-a-days, I utilize all my social media and this blog to promote my books, events, interviews and my freelance writing business.
However, promotion does not come easy! It is a constant workhorse of creating posts, commenting, liking and linking. It is not enough to have two weeks of posts when your book first comes out. You need to continue promoting forever! Yep – that’s right – forever.
You can’t discard your previous creative efforts once a new novel comes out. It’s like ignoring your first born when another child arrives. They all need the same amount of love.
Look at each book – it’s concepts, genre, theme, topic and utilize any and all social media posts – far and wide – to mention that book. For example, I have a children’s picture book called Rumble’s First Scare. It is set at Halloween so I create posts before then to create awareness. And usually hold a colouring contest. I also use any ‘monster’ mentions as a link back to it.
You have to be creative and think how you can make a comment or post refer to your book(s). If it is set in a specific historical era – find similar posts, articles about that era etc. Join social groups on the many platforms that would be interested in your story’s genre.
Always assess what you can use for promotion. Yes, it is time consuming but so was writing your manuscript! Put the same amount of effort into the ‘business’ of selling your book. You wrote it to sell it didn’t you?
Create contests around your book – give prizes, such as a physical gift basket or a free/discount on your book.
Do you have any tips for other authors on promotion? Please share them, after all we are one big community.
With the restrictions on events and social gatherings, it is difficult to launch a new book in the traditional way. However, there are ways to promote your newest novel.
Make sure to announce the book title, it’s genre and date of publication and issue date on online sites. This can be through subscriber emails, on social media or local newspaper editorials. Or a combination of all three!
A great way to get your new novel out is a virtual book tour. You can utilize your social media platform and post dates you will be answering questions about the book. There are many options to choose from: Instagram Chat, Facebook chat, Zoom or your own YouTube channel.
If you have fellow authors willing to post your book announcement on their blogs that would be great too.
Offer blog subscribers and/or local book clubs a virtual book reading with a Q&A session afterwards.
Depending on your book’s genre (children/YA) you can create an interactive activity based on your narrative theme.
If you have a local bookstore – offer to have several signed copies available in store.
Be creative and think outside the box! What can you utilize from the story to showcase the book?
Have you launched a new book during COVID19 – how did you do it?
My own steampunk novel, The Commodore’s Gift is set for release 26th September, so I am planning a virtual launch. I have already shared steampunk images on my social media and a few teasers. I even created a steampunk bird, which was a lot of fun. Not sure if I keep him or include him in a gift basket. We will see. Of course there will be a book cover reveal as well.
Now I have to create the six week pre-launch campaign.
What is your motivation for writing? There are as many reasons to write as there are genres. We may want to persuade, catalog or inform on ‘real’ events or topics but many of us (fiction authors) want to entertain. It is an author’s purpose, to bring to life a concept.
So let’s look at each scenario for motivation:
a) Money – we would all love to be a best seller and have fame and fortune like the ‘big’ names, such as Stephen King, J.K. Rowling and the like. However, we need to be realistic – firstly can we manage to get a publishing contract with a big publishing house? How many years are you willing to wait for that? If you use the self-publishing route how much of your time (unpaid) can you sacrifice for promotion? Should you give your work away? Is the income enough to live on? Could your writing supplement your lifestyle?
If you determine that the net income (we all need to report it in tax season!) is a nice bonus for a treat here and there, rather than your sole income – it will take the stress out of the equation.
b) Success – once again we should temper our expectations. Global sales are a dream we want to make real but maybe measure our success on more of a local level. Do you have your books in local bookstores, the library, offered at local events? The more you attend and promote within your own locality the more your ‘success’ becomes tangible. Articles in the local newspaper could have people approach or question you in regard to your being an author. Social media allows us to expand our locality, of course, but starting small will give you a firm basis from which to start. Never under estimate the power of word of mouth for promotion.
c) Satisfaction – Although this is third on the list, I feel it is the most important of all, as having your words, ideas and stories readily available for people to read now and for future generations, is the penultimate success. Our narratives will be enjoyed and relayed long after we are gone. It is our legacy.
Obviously, in an ideal world, a mixture of all three of the above would be the perfect scenario.
What is your motivation?
What do you consider the most satisfying part of being a writer/author?