About Writing, New works

Ready to Gamble?

Today I am super excited to have fellow author V. J. Allison on my blog. She’s here to talk about her latest release Eternity’s Gamble. This story holds a special place in my heart because she, two other friends, and I wrote related tales. But I’ll let her speak for herself.

Sit back while V.J. spills some tea.

What are your top 10 favorite books/authors?

Nora Roberts, Aaron Allston, Timothy Zahn, K.L. Slater, and Stephen King top my favorite authors list.

Favorite books include:

The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood

The Clan of the Cave Bear by Jean M. Auel

Carrie by Stephen King

Splinter of the Mind’s Eye (Star Wars Legends) by Alan Dean Foster

Heir to the Jedi (Star Wars canon) by Kevin Hearne

The Thrawn Trilogy (Heir to the Empire, Dark Force Rising, The Last Command – Star Wars Legends) by Timothy Zahn

The Charm Bracelet Series by Jane Feather

Birthright by Nora Roberts

Crystal Flame by Jayne Ann Krentz

Ritual of Proof by Dara Joy.

How long have you been writing?

I’ve been writing on and off since elementary school, when I realized it was an escape from the real world, and my friends liked my stories.

Do the characters all come to you at the same time or do some of them come to you as you write?

I like to have the two main characters somewhat settled upon before starting a book, but the side characters like to come in on their own, unless it’s an already established storyline, like the Feathered Tartan series. Most of the extras are already set – like the Campbell family – but their love interests’ families will come in as needed.

What kind of research do you do before you begin writing a book?

If it’s in an area I’m not familiar with, I always research said area. However, I prefer to write stories set in towns and cities I’m familiar with, hence the small town feeling in all of my books. I love to have photos handy so I am able to describe the area perfectly, and if possible, describe the feeling, smells, and sounds one will get while at any particular spot.

If I decide the mains have a career I know nothing about, I will research it. I have two extremely thick files of printed out information on the Nova Scotia Real Estate trade and laws from about six years ago stashed somewhere, for reference.

If something comes up during the writing process, I’ll do research on it for a few days and continue writing after I feel I’m up to date on it. 

Do you read yourself and if so what is your favorite genre?

I love to read. I prefer romance but with a hefty storyline. It can’t be all about hopping in bed. There must be hurdles for the main characters to go through in order to get their happy ever after or happy for now. I also love a good mystery, and if it has romance in it, all the better. Same with paranormal, a romance in it makes it better. However, I also love horror books by Stephen King, general fiction and women’s fiction.

Do you prefer to write in silence or with noise? Why?

I prefer silence, no distractions. Any noise makes me lose my train of thought and I get frustrated, which makes me give up on writing so I can calm down. Writing with an autistic teenager in the house is a challenge. I’ve done it before, but I prefer not to do it too much.

Do you write one book at a time or do you have several going at a time?
I prefer to have one going at a time, but lately, I’ve had at least three on the go at once, two are in the same series. I’m scared I’ll get mixed up if I have more than one going on at once.  

Pen or type writer or computer?

I prefer writing on a desktop computer. I like the freedom of editing in a word processor, and how I can easily change things without having to type out an entire page.

Advice they would give new authors?

Write. Keep writing until you turn blue, and keep going. READ. Read a lot, from your own genre to ones you normally avoid.

Listen to constructive criticism, especially from experienced editors and authors. They know what they are talking about, and if someone says something isn’t working, take it into account. Take a few steps back and try to see your story as a reader, not a writer. Don’t discount what they say because it’s about your work. They’re trying to help you, not hinder you. Giving constructive advice and critiques show they want you to succeed. Don’t forget to thank them for their help.

Always get someone to critique your work, that way if you miss something like a huge glaring mistake, they will catch it for you. Plus they will catch inconsistencies, passive areas, tangents, and a lot of other things you may miss when you go over it.

If you go Indie, have an editor or someone else help you with edits and proofing. The cleaner the story is, the better your intended audience will like it.

If someone doesn’t like your work and gives a solid reason why (not their cup of tea as a reader for example), don’t get upset. Not everyone will like your books. Don’t expect everyone to blow sunshine at you. Everyone has different opinions, and likes different things. A lot of people class the “I wasn’t the right audience for this book” 1 Star Review as a badge of honor, it means you “made it” as an author.

What is your writing process? For instance do you do an outline first? Do you do the chapters first?

I like to start with a general idea of where the story will go – the main characters, and how they get their happy ever after at the end of the story. After that, I tend to just let the characters run with it, and if something doesn’t work, it’s axed and something else put in. I find if I just write without planning too much, things fall in to place much easier.

Eternity’s Gamble was an exception to my pantsing rule. I actually did a full synopsis and had the rough draft of the blurb written before I wrote the majority of the story. Normally, I do things the other way around.

What are common traps for aspiring writers?

One of the biggest ones is thinking they have a “best-selling idea” or story, when in reality, it’s probably not even a blip on the radar.

Another one is thinking that if they have their own distinct style that goes against the grain of grammar and writing period, they’ll get noticed by a big name publisher and again, have a best-selling book.

Some think that once the writing is done, the work is too. It’s the exact opposite. Once that story is drafted, the work is only beginning. Whether you go the traditional route or the self-publishing one, you still have to edit the story several times to get it as perfect as possible, get it proofed, have a cover made, and after it’s out there, promote it to death.

Some also think that others should do their work while they do nothing. Not true. If you want to be successful, you have to work your butt off to get anywhere in this business.

What is your writing Kryptonite?

Noise. Distractions of any kind. They’ll throw me off so badly that I lose track of things, get frustrated and have to stop for the day. Ugh!

If you could tell your younger writing self anything, what would it be?

I’d tell myself to ignore the naysayers, and keep writing… I’ll have a few problems and some road blocks at a few points, but I made it, despite everything. Keep going. Never give up… And check out an independent publisher out in British Columbia. *wink*

How long on average does it take you to write a book?

It depends on many things – if I have a lot of alone time and my chronic pain issues are not acting up. If Hubby works day times while my son is in school, and I am deep into a story, I can sometimes clear 6K a week. I’ve written books in less than 3 months while writing only a day or two a week.

On average, I’d say it is about six months to a year. If I can put out a full novel once a year, I’m happy.

Sexy romance, Nova Scotia style.

V.J. Allison was born and raised in southern Nova Scotia, Canada, and her work reflects her strong Maritime roots. She is a stay-at-home mother to a son on the autism spectrum, married to the love of her life, and “mama” to a rescued Maine Coon cat named Marnie. She has been writing various stories of novel length and short stories since her school days, and sees writing as a vital component to her life.

When she isn’t writing, she loves to read romance and science fiction novels (notably Star Wars); listen to music (heavy metal, rock, alternative); and do graphics design. She runs her own graphics design company, Veridian Rose Designs, specializing in book promotional posters and Facebook cover photos.

This self-proclaimed geeky rocker chick is a warrior and advocate for various chronic illnesses including Occipital Neuralgia, Trigeminal Neuralgia, Diabetes, Migraines, and Glossopharyngeal Neuralgia. She is also an advocate for the prevention of animal cruelty and is a voice for Autism Awareness.


2 thoughts on “Ready to Gamble?”

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