First, I’d like to thank Jeri for giving me this opportunity to share some of my writing experiences. For me, it’s hard to connect with writers, and it’s rare to find someone also dedicated to other writers.
Jeri is one author I had the pleasure of connecting with online, and since then, I am amazed at her resilience and perseverance regarding other authors and her devotion to her current WIP, Lost Girl Road. You know how when you meet someone, you feel a click or a hesitation? With Jeri, I felt a click, and although it might be awkward for her, I have to recommend Jeri’s book, Popular Poe Stories in Plain English. I lost many years of being unable to read Edgar Allan Poe’s works, but thanks to Jeri, I got the opportunity to appreciate Poe. Now…onto my interview.
Giveaway: Two randomly drawn commenters on today’s post will receive a free electronic copy of Denise’s book.
1. Please provide a brief synopsis of your book.
Net Switch is a dark, psychological suspense thriller set in Chicago and Seattle in the present day. Told in journal form, Net Switch is about Sydney Hayes, a lonely woman who meets a man in an online chat room. In a short period of time, their online encounter turns into a real life relationship. After chiseling away at her independence, he takes her against her will and plays with her life, situations becoming more sinister than the last one. Sydney abandons her life in Chicago to assume a new identity. She rebuilds her confidence, reclaims her life, and befriends a neighbor. Time and exposed secrets bring them close, but the man she is running from begins to show signs he is near. Feeling as though she has no other choice, Sydney is determined to destroy him before he destroys her, unaware that her journal holds the key. Will she discover the secret before it is too late?
2. Tell us a little bit about what motivates or inspires your writing.
For the longest time, I had no idea what I wanted to do with my life. I felt like I had Peter Pan Syndrome battling puberty. I worked full-time and went to college part-time with a direction in English. It wasn’t until my last trimester in college when a novel idea popped into my head, and I wrote my first unpublished novel, that I decided this is what I wanted to do with my life. Through the years, I continued to work on the craft of writing and found my own voice. I want to be a great writer—to offer new worlds and a distinct voice to readers. I believe a writer’s purpose is to continuously master the craft of storytelling, and invite the rest of the world in, so they can take a break from their everyday life and get lost in another. Words hold truth and power, and breathe emotion into our lives.
3. It’s hard to pick just one, but what do you consider your favorite novel and why?
This is tough because I have a list of favorites. I’ll go with The Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafon. I have so many favorites after this book, but this was the first book, after I decided to become a writer, that captivated me—made me want to move people through words like this book did to me. For me, what makes a good story is constant forward movement in a book, and an end. I don’t want to get to the end of a book and find there’s no resolution, or read a predictable book with a predictable ending.
When I’m looking for a read, I first check the genre, synopsis, look for comparisons, and then read a few pages to see if I like the author’s writing. Sometimes I even read reviews. This process helps me learn about genre (even though I’m still baffled); it shows me what type of synopsis captures interest; and the writing helps me learn what to do and what not to do.
4. What is the name of your blog and what can readers expect to find there?
The name of my blog is Skipping Stone Memories. I started it in 2008 without fully understanding the blogging world, but I wanted to get into the groove of writing a few times a week. My blog is about life, my travels, writing, publishing, reviews, and about other writers. At one point, I featured authors through Pay It Forward. I didn’t create it to be solely about writing. I wanted splashes of everything—to reflect life.
5. Are you traditionally published or self-published?
I am a self-published author. At first, I thought it was important to query and get representation from a big house publisher, but as time went on, the appeal diminished. When I’d go into a bookstore or receive emails from Simon & Schuster for top books, they were mostly celebrity books. In a way, I feel like the big traditional houses gave up on authors in exchange for the almighty dollar.
I originally had an Indie publisher, which was my editor’s company, but we both had different visions for my book and parted ways. By that time, I did mostly everything, such as blurb, website, bookmarks, and book trailer. I formatted my book for both paperback and electronic format. It was a bit difficult, since I had to figure it out myself and then insert images/pictures throughout the book. I’m just glad I know HTML. The sketch on the front of my book was designed by my cousin, Brian Baer. I thought it would be nice to collaborate and have my own cousin’s drawing on the cover. The rest of the cover was done by my editor, which needed tweaking for my own ISBN and bar code.
6. Can you offer one or two helpful tips for fellow writers when it comes to marketing and publicity?
Oh, I’m not sure I’m one you can take advice from in this category. Marketing and publicity are not my strong points. I didn’t do much of it when Net Switch first came out. My mother passed away a few weeks before I published, so I didn’t have the desire to go full force into marketing my book. I’m sure it hurt me in the end. I’m also not very good with public speaking, so I didn’t seriously pursue brick and mortar places for readings or to sell my book.
Most of my marketing and publicity has been online, which I do not advise writers to only do. Because I focused online, I joined as many writers’ groups on LinkedIn and Goodreads as I felt fit into my taste and genre. I find that it’s important to participate in discussions and/or play games on both these sites. It allows readers and writers to get a glimpse of me. I also created an author website, book trailers, and promote my book on social networking sites. The one thing I didn’t do, which I think is very important for an author, is to learn about the Amazon discussion boards. I’m lost when I go on there, but I learned, from Jamie McGuire, the author of Beautiful Disaster that her book spiraled toward success because of a discussion on those boards.
7. Describe your writing background.
Aside from having a Bachelor of Arts in English, even though it didn’t focus on writing, I’m self-taught. I remember one of my professors rudely asking me in front of others if I was dyslexic. I was so embarrassed. I was never diagnosed with dyslexia, but during revisions, I notice my sentence structures are flip-flopped. It takes me longer to edit and revise because I have to rearrange the sentences.
8. What does your drafting and/or editing process entail?
I’m not a disciplined writer, nor am I a typical writer. I don’t have a muse and I don’t believe you have to write everyday to be a great writer. Sometimes I’ll sit down to write without the urge, but for the most part, I write when I find inspiration. Right now, I have writer’s block with my current WIP, so I decided to take this time to read. When I read good books, I find inspiration to write.
I mostly self-edit. I tried the writer’s forum thing to find beta readers or an editor, but a few beta readers and the forum’s owner ignored me after I sent them my first unpublished novel. I expected some kind of feedback, and I prepared for negative criticism, but I received nothing. They wouldn’t respond to my emails or IM’s. The experience left me skeptical about trusting people I don’t know.
I did hire an editor for Net Switch, and do plan to hire one for my current book, which will most likely be Jeri.
9. What future projects can we look forward?
I am working on a romantic crime novel with a cross genre in chick-lit. The working title is Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Sarcasm, but it will definitely change as I go through the editing process.
10. Is there anything else you want your potential readers to know?
I’ve also published a poetry e-book, Sipping a Mix of Verse. It’s a collection of poetry arranged by traditional and free verse about life themes, and I incorporated photographs from my travels.
Any ‘likes’ and visits to my sites are greatly appreciated and reciprocated, and I hope to connect with more readers and writers. To end this interview, I’d like to post a few quotes from Net Switch:
- “There was a familiarity to his voice—an old song.”
- “I thought back to last night’s conversation–picking it apart like a turkey carcass.”
- “Out in the distance I could hear an animal wailing as though the air curled around the sound and flipped it around.”
You can connect with Denise via her blog.
Is there anything else you’d like to know about Denise Baer?
Please share responsibly. Jeri Walker, 2013