Thursday, July 18, 2013

Interview With Author, T.J. Loveless

 Here's my interview with the author, T.J. Loveless. If you would like to see some of my previous interviews, click here and here.

Please tell us about The Fortune Cookie Diaries and how you got the idea for them.

The Fortune Cookie Diaries is a series of six novellas, located in New Orleans, and a look at how we would react if something were to put myth into our modern world. Add in a duck that gets out of a padlocked enclosure, various holidays, and let the chaotic hijinks ensue!
I got the idea over a few months. I’d been talking to a hybrid author who self-published all of her novellas. She talked about the way commuters liked the shorter read time, enabling them to get from point A to point B (in real life and in a book) quickly.

My daughter, Teen Extraordinaire, asked when I was going to write about myth coming into our reality. She thought it would be funny to have a pet unicorn.

The idea really formed when a friend, married to a SWAT officer and she’s in a high stress position in the medical field, asked when authors were going to put humor in Urban Fantasy – her favorite genre. Then we proceeded to talk about our, uh, exploits in NOLA during Mardi Gras.
The Fortune Cookie Diaries was formed.

Pretty cool. :) Your blog is called "Writing From the Padded Room” (Nice blog name, by the way). Why did you decide to call it that? And while you're at it, could you tell us about your blog?

My grandmother, Stella, was a huge influence in my life, along with her older sister, Judy. The two women used to say life was like a huge padded room, and the only way to keep your sanity was to be insane. It was their favorite saying when crazy things happened. Considering the size of our family, it happened quite often.

Before my grandmother died, she made me promise to pursue a dream from when I was little, to be a published author. Made me promise to be myself, to quit worrying how others saw me, and doubting my abilities. She said, “Find your padded room, and write. For heaven’s sake, child, write.” My blog is a salute to them both.

For the most part, a lot of my blog has been aimed at other writers, with the odd blog about something off the normal path. But as I’ve grown, and now with fans of Lucky Number Six, I’m pushing more towards readers. I also like spotlighting self-published authors, as I see so many great books that should be read for various reasons.

Can you tell us why you decided to self-publish your work? I did as well, and was just interested to know what led you to the decision.

I wasn’t sure at first, I won’t lie. It’s scary, no matter the route you take towards publication – traditional, indie avenues, self-pubbing.

I have one book, Going Thru Hell, out on query. But The Fortune Cookie Diaries is another monster all together. I knew they weren’t going to be full length novels, making them extremely hard to have published traditionally, or even by small pub houses. Not to mention, Humorous Urban Fantasy is unheard of.

But I wanted people to laugh. Good grief, we’ve forgotten how to laugh with everything happening and it seems like we are getting hit right, left and center all at once. Since that is the point of TFCD – to make people laugh – I really wanted to get it out there. My only option? Self-publishing. Could I take on everything? Was I willing to? Did I really believe in the option?

Yes. I had several friends who’d already ventured into the arena, and were more than willing to talk and answer some of the dumbest questions ever. I researched, researched and researched. Read articles, looked up the numbers, created a game plan. And jumped in.

What's it like being a mother, a wife, and a writer?

In one word: crazy. It helps the family is always willing to help with brainstorming, talk about plot holes, and put up with rapidly procreating dust bunnies. They don’t even look twice when I yell at a character on the computer screen. My daughter thinks it’s funny. Hubby says I’m just plain happier when I have a story brewing. Both are used to me saying, “Oh, I so could turn that into a storyline …” We could be walking through the grocery store … although I recently found out they bet on how long we can be in a new place before I’m tapping a note in my Razr Maxx about a possible story/plotline. Daughter is up $122.

I have to force myself sometimes to put aside the writing. It’s so easy to get lost in other worlds. But my family does come first, as it does for all of us, I think. The juggling act can be pretty hard, whether you’re a mother, father, single, with or without kids. The days of a writer huddling over a keyboard, pulling a Hemingway never really were. Most of us have lives outside of writing. I have one friend who travels the world, several still in school, more with second and third jobs – all while tapping out the stories in their heads. I have great respect for all of them.

Can you please tell us what you do at Cliffhanger Editing?

I’m co-owner with Robin Alexander. I worked for a small publishing house as a copy/content editor, and learned a lot about what publishers want their books to look like. As I began the journey to jump into the self-published arena, I realized, there are a lot of editors with no real world experience, but are dang good at finding plot holes. At the same time, they miss quite a bit, and the author gets hit in reviews. Robin and I are line editors and proofreaders, we are specifically trained to find the overuse of pronouns, redundancies (the BIGGEST issue I’ve seen), grammar, punctuation, rules of writing, etc. We decided to take our knowledge and experience outside of the publishing house.

One of the things we decided to do was partials. I’d volunteered my services for a few auctions, to do the first fifty pages. The feedback I received told us a lot of authors would love a service of just seeing how to start their own editing and revising.
[End Self Plugging Commercial Here]

Two part question. If you could have any super power, what would it be, and with this power, would you be a hero or a villain?

Oh a superpower? Oooh. Only one? Fly? No, I’d likely run into a building. Superstrength? Bad idea being the klutz I am. See the future? Ack no! Take all the fun out of life. Oh, I know –talk to animals. Especially spiders. I could tell them – “Please don’t spook me anymore. It’s just not funny when I run headfirst into a door trying to get away.”

And I’d definitely end up a mischievous hero with villainous tendencies. I think I just scared my family with that thought.

Nice. I'd likely be a villain, too. Is there anything else you would like to talk about or plug?

First - if you need help with navigating your way through self-publishing, I have friends at Black Firefly who can help – with everything. Most are from various publishing houses, and know just how to help. Even Courtney –marketing guru for a popular, mid-sized publishing house - is part of the crew.

Second – don’t give up. Please. So many do. Writing is hard, and that’s the honest truth. But in the end, it’s worth it. To see your book on virtual/real shelves. To see people pick up your words, read them, sometimes nodding in agreement, or thinking in a whole new way. The writing community, for the most part, is more than willing to help you keep going, to reach your next goal. Don’t be afraid of failing. Be more afraid of never trying.


T.J. said...

Thank you, so much, for having me! Great questions, and I had a good time :)

Rich Knight said...

Glad to hear it. You're welcome, and thank you! :)

Julie Luek said...

What a great interview with a fantastic writer and person. I, ahem, happen to be lucky enough to be a beta reader for Tonya sometimes. It's like brushing elbows with fame. In fact, as long as I'm name-dropping, she and I have had coffee together. I can vouch for her fun sense of humor, great writing skills and sincere desire to see writers succeed. Her imagination is amazing! Thanks for hostin her, Rich. This was awesome.