Author Interview – Jo Michaels

jo1Bio: Hi, I’m Jo. Let’s forget all the “Jo Michaels is blah, blah, blah” stuff and just go with it. I’m a voracious reader (often reading more than one book at a time), a writer, a book reviewer, a mom, a wife, and one of the EICs at INDIE Books Gone Wild. I have an almost photographic memory and tend to make people cringe at the number of details I can recall about them and/or their book(s). My imagination follows me around like a conjoined twin and causes me to space out pretty often or laugh out loud randomly in completely inappropriate situations.

1.What got you into writing / what made you sit down and actually start something?I wrote my first novel because I was doing a research paper on the awesome Mongolian, Genghis Khan, for a World History class in college. His real-life story was so captivating I just had to answer an unanswered question and create a whole story around his relationships. I’d say 95% of the 96k word novel is truth, and the other 5% is what my crazy writer brain came up with to explain certain events. Ha! It was just too compelling. The ironic thing? I hated history before that class.

2.What is a usual writing day like for you, how is it structured?
My writing days fluctuate lately. I used to shut everything off and just write from 8-2 unless I had an editing or formatting job to do, but things have taken a strange turn since I got sick last year. I need to get back to my routine so I can produce more books. Daily, my word count used to be 8k-10k, now I’m lucky to get a 10th of that done. To be fair, the books I’m about to spill the details for have taken up a huge chunk of that time. I’m hoping to be back to myself by the end of this year. Several things will be cut altogether. 

3.Do you get writers block? If so, how do you overcome it?
I don’t. I’m not sure writer’s block is even a thing, really. I find that if I know where the story is going, that’s when it flows. I think “block” is just the inability to see past the current page. Once a writer figures out what comes next, the words will take over from there. Sometimes, backing up and changing the last few sentences will fix the pause. 

4.Are you a plotter or pantser when it comes to writing a story?
I’m a plantster. I like to know how my story is going to end before it begins, and I tend to make mini-scene guides as I go along so I don’t lose my words. So, I plot a little bit, but I let the rest flow like the Nile. 

5.Are you traditionally or self-published?I’ve chosen to self-publish all the things. I can’t see giving 70% of a 35-70% royalty to someone else for letting me put their name on my book as publisher. Unless one of the big five comes a calling, I’m not doing it. Even then, they’d have to have some pretty damned good terms. 

6. What was the publishing process like for you? Any advice to aspiring authors?
I tore at my hair and banged my head like anyone else. It was frustrating and annoying as hell the first time around, but it’s gotten easier the more I do it. My only advice is: DON’T give up. If there’s one thing that will separate the writers who’ll be successful from the ones who won’t, it’s the word drive. Stay hungry, even when you feel like a failure or imposter, and you’ll be a winner no matter what. 

7.What has been your highlight since becoming a published author?
Meeting some of the authors I’ve looked up to for a long time is the best of the best. Of course, I could’ve done that as a fan, but private dinners with several highly regarded ladies was something I could only have achieved as an author and blogger. In October, I get to be a keynote speaker at Ozarks Indie Book Fest, and I’m going to be an honoured guest at Great Lakes Book Bash a week later. I think those events might be the highlight of 2017. Not even sure I can nail it down to just one. There are so many amazing things that’ve happened to me. 

8.Can you share a little of your most recent book with us, including genre and targeted audience? I do a project each year with a few other ladies, and my next thirty releases are due to those collaborations. We just launched a companion coloring book, and the first book in the rather massive serial series is up for preorder right now. Our title is: War and Pieces ~ Frayed Fairy Tales, and they’re centered around princesses, and other ladies you know from fairy tales, that are now living in Ever After as queens or rulers of some kind. Something has broken, and they’re being brought face-to-face with creatures they’ve only heard about in whispers and scary stories told around a campfire. The genre is paranormal and fantasy, and our target audience is women between the age of 15 and 35 who love fairy tales or paranormal creatures, prefer shorter reads, and don’t mind a cliffhanger or two (or ten). 

9.What tip would you give to new authors when trying to build a fan-base / get followers and market their books? (What to do and what not to do.)Be real. Don’t throw “buy my book” out there all the time and expect miracles. There’s no magic formula. I know one young lady who had wild success with her first novel and hasn’t been able to repeat that success since. Not once. Besides being exactly who and what you are, write great books! You get one shot to woo your readers; use it wisely. 

10.How long on average does it take you to write a book?Depends on the length of the book. I can average 10k words a day when I can write for at least 6 hours, so a 90k word novel should take me 9 days, right? Of course, when you add in life, that brings the daily total to more like 6-7k, which nearly doubles the number of days. You don’t always get to just sit down and write all day. If you could, that would be amazing.  

11.Tell us about the book cover/s, how the designing came about, whether you had much input etc. For the Frayed Fairy Tale series, I designed all the covers. The ladies and I were trying to make some decisions, and we couldn’t find images we liked, so I offered to hand-draw the artwork. Ten heels and a custom font later, we’re batting 1k and winning. As a bonus, we got to release that coloring book I was talking about earlier. It’s filled with custom artwork you won’t find anywhere else. I had all the input because I was the artist. Of course, I asked the ladies for guidance on shoes representing certain stories, but I did all the work. It was so fun, and it was super satisfying. Coloring really does relax you!  

12.Apart from writing, what do you do in your spare time?Oh my, what a loaded question. I don’t really have a ton of spare time. My time away from writing is spent with my family and doing things around the house that need doing. Occasionally, I find a moment to dive into my swimming pool, but those days are few and far between lately. Too many things to do, and there aren’t enough hours to get everything done.


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