When it came to my author newsletter, I asked my subscribers what they wanted to hear from me. I also looked at other newsletters for ideas. It is a great way to formulate how you want your newsletter to look and to give you ideas on your content and frequency of transmitting it.
Tip: You can pre-write your newsletter and schedule it.
Make sure you are not mailing out your newsletter too frequently or it will become a chore. I send mine monthly (most of the time!)
Chose a name for your newsletter and stick to it.
Mine is Musings from Mandy Eve-Barnett – to distinguish each newsletter I add the month and a title.
Here is a list of possible content you can include: (it is by no means conclusive though).
Personal anecdotes and photos of your everyday life. You can include your writing space.
Behind the scenes peeks – what you are currently writing, ideas formulating etc.
Exclusive content like a cover reveal or a sneak peek at your next title
Launch dates of your new book
Events you are attending (due to COVID19 these will be virtual of course)
Your writing process
Request feedback on a current manuscript/project
Interviews you have participated in with links
Spotlights/interviews of guest authors
What you are reading
Your book reviews
The goal of any newsletter is to promote, so make sure to include:
Your author bio Links to your blog, social media sites and any interviews and your book sale sites
Tip: Even unpublished authors can create an author newsletter. The sooner you start to grow your subscription list, the bigger your platform will be when you have something to sell.
I started to write when I was 21 years old. I had completed my Associates Degree in Creative Writing then decided to put myself out there as a screenwriter.
2. Is poetry a self expression for you?
It is more than self expression. Its me finding the seedling that sprouted the roots of my emotions that run at high velocity. Once the ecstasy, dark or light, of my anxiety passes, I write a poem. Almost as if I took off the anvil that kept me in the depths of the salty water of an ocean, rose up for air, then anchored my darkness in the ocean while I make it to shore.
5. Can you tell us a little bit about the characters in the book?
Boone is a sarcastic, goofy, playful kid, who has a longer path to growing than his best friend Jacque. A foster child taken in by a rich snobby British family. He is articulate, polite, honest, an avid reader, can monkey his way from tree to tree, and loves to solve mysteries. Shammy, Boone’s love interest, is wonderfully weird, blunt, sweet, un-apologetically herself, loving and caring. Flint is a high functioning autistic boy who depends on Shammy and loves his mom.
6. How did you come up with the idea of the story?
When I was a screenwriter, I always wanted to write a series. I didn’t know what medium or what it would be about, but I knew certain things would remain the same. It’s like Stephen King once said: Good ideas stick around.
I wanted to write something that doesn’t involve much technology. I feel that if it is too modern, it creates too much convenience. A gripping story requires characters to rely on their wit and what is at their disposal. When your back is against the wall, you better know how to fight like hell. This series is about that. Testing the human spirit.
7. What is the theme of the book – the message you want to convey to your readers?
That we don’t need peers and parents to teach us everything. Sometimes the good and bad that happens in life, is what helps us grow. Test us on what we are able or not able, willing or not willing, too afraid or not at all to try. But I don’t want my readers thinking they don’t need guidance. We all need it. Asking for help is a sign of strength, not weakness. But who we get help from isn’t always who we expect or hope it will be.
8. Is this a standalone book or will there be a sequel(s)?
As mentioned earlier, this is a series. I’m not sure how many volumes. I go by how the characters grow. If they have gone where they need to go, and completed their life’s arc, then I’ve done my job. This is my third book of four. First two were unpublished by me because amazon has strict rules about using only one name for the author by line. It is Urban fantasy.
Volume 2 of Boone and Jacque will be available in October 2020. Subtitle is The Brothers’ Odyssey. Follow A.G. on his social media pages and message him for teasers.
Short stories have always been a way for me to test the waters of genres and styles that I’m interested in but may not necessarily be ready to write a full novel in. I’ve used it to release things like pure science fiction or perfect prose-style writing, and I’ve had a lot of fun doing it. It really lets me stretch my legs.
2. Does writing short stories need a separate kind of skill set than full length manuscripts? What is the difference?
For sure. The biggest and most obvious difference is that you as a writer have very little time to get the entire message of the story across. Whereas a novel will let you build characters and settings, you need to be quick and to the point with what you’re telling in a short story. I started with micro-fiction, and studying things like Twitter for ideas on how to slam a story home in a small number of words. I’m still not an expert, but the experience has been invaluable.
3. Have any of your ‘shorts’ become full length novels?
No, nothing like that. I’ve actually had the opposite problem where I take a story idea I’ve had and convert it to a short story in order to tell the tale I wanted to tell as quickly and succinctly as possible.
The first story in my new book is called ‘A Conversation: Alive Again’, and it tells the origins of Nixon Ash, the imposing Scottish phoenix-man first introduced in my ‘Catching Hell’ duology. Originally I wanted Nixon’s origins to be its own book. I had it plotted out and ready to get started on. However, as I started writing the stories that went into this collection I realized that Alive Again fit so well into the style and structure I had laid out, so I converted it and came up with a way to tell that same story in significantly less pages. Nixon is interesting enough that he can carry that kind of story and tell what needs to be told without a hundred thousand words.
Between Conversations: Tales From the World of Ryuujin is live! Coming September 25th
4. What drew you to fantasy & science fiction writing?
It was the ability to create whatever I wanted. The freedom to tell a story and the only limits were my imagination. I don’t consider myself skilled enough to write the kind of deep, intriguing stories that win Pulitzers, and I’m totally alright with that as well. It’s not who I am. But I can just jump right into an epic fantasy with magic flying around everywhere, or the endless possibilities of technology or the universe, or both combined! I’m not limited, and that is a very satisfying way to write.
5. When writing the Catching Hell series did you plan the two books prior to writing, or did they emerge later?
It came after it was finished. When I pulled my head up from my keyboard and looked at what I had created, it was 225k words long. Impressive, but wholly impractical when it comes to marketing or trying to get picked up by a publisher or agent. Someone early on said I should consider making it a duology. I resisted the idea for a while, but realized they were right. I found a very natural split about half way through, tweaked some of the story, and added the prologue to Part 2, and that’s how it was born. One day I may rejig it again and make it one big book, but that’s the kind of thing we dream about and likely never do.
6. Do you have a favorite character – and why?
Although I think Nixon has the most potential as a character, who can shapeshift and summon fire and have a sense of humor, (not to mention the masochistic joy I get from trying to write a Scottish brogue) my favorite will always be Crystal Kokouo, who is a main character in Catching Hell but who has circulated through my ideas since I was a teenager. She’s an infinitely powerful woman who was one of the first people born into a damaged and destroyed world. Her father was a great man and hero to millions, and she has always tried to achieve the goals he never had the chance to complete and that pressure has molded her into what she is now. There’s a level of complexity with her that the casual reader misses because they only know her from the one story. There’s a depth there that I can’t wait to let the world see, but it will take time.
7. Where is your favorite place to write?
At my desk in my office at work. I write best surrounded by the low thrum of business and work going on all around me. I can’t work at home because there’s a million things I’d rather be doing if I’m there. At lunch, at my desk in my little cubicle there’s nothing to distract me, and I can spend 45 minutes to an hour just off in my own little world.
8. What is your usual writing procedure – planner or panster?
Pants! Pants pants pants, all day long.
I don’t go through the steps I know some authors do, where they lay out pages of plot details and character sheets and all of that. Not that there’s anything wrong with that, but I let a story grow organically. I start with an idea of who everyone is, and I always know where I’m going, but I don’t always know how I’ll get there. It’s worked to my detriment, as shown with my 225k epic that was so large it needed to be cut in half, but its work to my advantage as well. My debut novel Death Dresses Poorly was smashed out very quickly because I had that general idea in my head right away, but when the comedy and heart started popping up unexpectedly I was just as surprised as anyone else. I still like to go back and re-read parts of it just to get that feeling back that I had when I first wrote it. I see a line and I remember coming up with it and the happiness I felt at making something I personally enjoyed so much.
9. Can you tell us about your new release(s)?
I would love to! My newest book is called ‘Between Conversations: Tales From the World of Ryuujin’. It is a collection of nine short stories (though calling some of them ‘short’ is a bit of a stretch. There’s some whoppers in there I admit) that take place in the same world as Catching Hell, however those books are in no way required reading to enjoy this collection. They all stand on their own.
The stories are a wide range of genres, going back to what I was saying about trying new things. There’s a pure-horror story, a YA-style adventure, a bar scene I like to call Tarentino-esque, a historical fantasy. It’s just all over the place, held together by the collective structure of the world. The stories are told chronologically, from the 1600s up to thousands of years into the future. I really want the reader to see the amount of fun I had putting this together.
10. Do you have a message for your readers?
I sure do: this is a crazy time where we are constantly inundated with news and scenes and images that shake our collective mental health. I don’t say this to sell my books or the work of my contemporaries, but when this world has you worse for wear, pick up a book and read. Escape for 5 minutes to someplace, or learn about something that interests you. Escape, and don’t feel bad about doing it.
Or, forget the book and garden, or go for a hike, or find your zen away from the things that are getting to you. Separating ourselves from the cacophony has never been more important than it is today. My motto is “Be a hero”, and that doesn’t just mean to other people. Be a hero to yourself as well.
Marc Watson is an author of genre fiction (primarily Fantasy and Science Fiction of all lengths). He began writing at the age of 15 with a pen and paper, and has never really stopped, even though until recently it was more of a background to him than his defining trait. He has been published on flash fiction site www.101words.org, as well as comedy site www.thecorrectness.com. Marc has been a student of the excellent writing classes at Athabasca University for a number of years.
Marc lives in Calgary, Alberta, and was spawned out of the depths of Southern Ontario. A husband, proud father of two, and can be sometimes found at an actual job. Marc is an avid outdoorsman, martial artist of some high repute, baseball player of very little repute, and lover of all Mexican foods. One day ‘World Famous Poutine Aficionado’ will be on his business cards.
You can also find Marc on Facebook at www.facebook.com/marcwroteabook, and on twitter at @writewatson. For public appearances and interviews, he is proudly represented by Creative Edge Publicity.
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.
Both my series actually started as stand-alones! Most of my projects begin as single novels and then I realize the story either has much more to be told (in the case of Nel Bently) or it needs a lot more room (Blood of Titans). I love slow-burn, complex stories, both when reading and writing, so I think I naturally gravitate toward characters and tales that won’t let me go easily.
You have two genres – sci-fi and fantasy. re both equally important to you? If so why.
My writing process and the pacing between the two genres vary wildly and I’m usually working on one tale in each genre at any given point. I don’t really have a favourite, though I think writing fantasy might come easier, as that’s where I started professionally writing. Science fiction, for me, is about hope and road-maps to those futures (even if they’re a bit dark too) and I need that to balance out the drama and scope of my fantasy worlds. Writing any genre, though, is about finding the truth of that particular story.
Where do you get your inspiration?
For Nel, a lot of the inspiration understandably comes from my day job as an archaeologist, though Nel started on academic sites and I do contract work. So many of the unique places I end up and the wonderful and bizarre people I meet inspire my settings and characters. I’m also a huge “what if” person and enjoy lots of solitude and instrumental music to rattle around in my mental card catalogue.
How long does it take you to write your first draft of an idea?
Since my process differs from genre to genre, it really depends on the project! With sci-fi it’s about four months and fantasy eight–the first half I spend dawdling and the second racing my deadline and speed writing. When not on deadline, though, I like to languish in my worlds. I’ll spend over a year fiddling with ideas outside of my main project. Once those ideas are promoted I usually have about 20% of what will be the final book (and many, many typos!).
How much plotting do you do for each series?
A huge amount. I tend to be a very organized writer, in part to make order of my disorganized internal world. When I’m doing in depth revisions on a novel, I have the outline of the next book or series overview open and I’ll jot down key things that need to be paid off, or little cameos I want to include. Many main series events or character arcs are laid out by the time I’ve finished the first book in a series, even if I don’t know exactly how we’ll get there yet. That said, I re-outline at the mid point in my drafting and again at the end, so while I have to have it organized, the content itself is subject to change!
Where is your favourite place to write?
While traveling! I enjoy writing on planes and trains and ferries! Movement helps me think, and a lot of my plot knots are worked out on my long commutes to project areas (don’t worry, I use voice-to-text to keep track while driving!) But honestly, nothing really beats my own desk in the early morning. It’s such a sanctuary for me.
If you were one of your characters, which one would you choose and why?
This is tough–mostly because I know what they’ll have to endure! But I think I’d choose to be Firas (Blood of Titans: Restored), the fun-loving bartender from the slums and love interest for the nation’s mercurial, not-quite-human king. I love his bar and sense of community, not to mention his dancing skills are fantastic! I also adore Azimir, but honestly, I’d just like to have him as a best friend. Everyone needs an Azimir in their life.
You are an advocate for disabled and queer representation in your work. May we ask what prefaced that decision?
Short answer is, of course, why wouldn’t I? I wanted to write characters, who are like myself–I’m gender queer, pansexual, and disabled. Growing up, especially as a teen, it was really hard to find books with characters, who loved and felt the way I do. Queer representation is something that is necessary for our communities and so much of it is tragic or stereotypes, or written for the straight, cis gaze. I wanted to actually write our stories from within. Then, five years ago I discovered that my “aches and pains” were actually a degenerative autoimmune condition that attacks my connective tissue. My way of navigating the world has changed drastically since then, but nothing sparks the imagination like being limited. I aim to write worlds and characters to show all we can do, rather than fall back on harmful tropes. Fiction, especially SFF, is a perfect medium for exploring how we want our world to look and how to make it more accessible and accepting.
Tell us about your new releases.
My newest release is Blood and Mercy, the final book in Blood of Titans: Restored. It follows two main characters: Rih, a Deaf former soldier plotting rebellion and Keplan a queer, teenaged god. Both face a political marriage and the aftermath of a divine war. He hopes the world ends, she prays it doesn’t.
My next sci-fi release is this October, Covid-willing, and will be the fourth Nel Bently book, Heretics. Nel and her space-girlfriend, Lin, embark on a global mission of connect-the-dots searching for the victims of a deadly radio transmission. Without answers, Nel’s own mother–and the few communities clinging to life–will be next.
How can readers contact you?
You can check out my website, www.vsholmes.com, and grab a free sci-fi or fantasy short to see if you like my work, read my FAQ, and send me an email. Plus, if you become an Explorer you’ll get exclusive updates, free books, and more. Of course, I’m also on various social media.
What social media sites are you on?
I’m most active and candid on Twitter and Instagram @VS_Holmes (if you don’t mind the occasional picture of bugs and bones.) I’m also on Facebook, Bookbub, and Goodreads.
Do you have a message for your readers?
I hope you enjoy reading my worlds and characters as much as I enjoy creating them, and I hope you’ve found someone in my work who speaks to you, or a tiny dream and the strength to hold fast.
V.S. Holmes is an international bestselling author. They created the REFORGED series and the NEL BENTLY BOOKS. Smoke and Rain, the first book in their fantasy quartet, won New Apple Literary’s Excellence in Independent Publishing Award in 2015 and a Literary Titan Gold Award in 2020.
When not writing, they work as a contract archaeologist throughout the northeastern U.S. They live in a Tiny House with their spouse, a fellow archaeologist, their not-so-tiny dog, and own too many books for such a small abode. As a disabled and queer human, they work as an advocate and educator for representation in SFF worlds.