Friday, March 24, 2017

Fantasy Writers Cris and Clare Meyers!

My Interview with CRIS & CLARE MEYERS!

I enjoy interviewing different personalities from the literary world, but I find partnerships most intriguing because of the various dynamics between co-authors.  That being said, I want to welcome you and get started!
1.     I always kick off my interviews with the same question.  Therefore, please tell us how you’d describe yourselves?
o Describing ourselves isn’t something we usually do—it just isn’t something we think about. We’re us. And we’re not complicated. A little weird at times, but we are who we are—and we like it that way.
2.     I’d like to focus this section of questions on your journey into the publishing world.
·        I read you both wrote independently before you debuted with your adult urban fantasy series, CRIMINAL ELEMENTS.  However, these pieces weren’t published.  What lead you to publishing, and why did you start with this particular series?
o We have always wanted to publish, but we also wanted to put out the best quality product we could. The first book of Criminal Elements, Playing with Fire, was the first book we felt was truly ready for publication, and since that was always envisioned as part of a larger series, our path was set.
·        I know you are self-published.  Why did you choice this route?  Had you tried to go traditional; why or why not?
o We had originally submitted Playing with Fire through traditional avenues, but after a few months, we decided that self-publishing was better suited for what we wanted. We didn’t want our work to end up sitting on a shelf (or a thumb drive) somewhere forever, waiting for that lightning strike where luck, the right publisher, and the right moment all aligned.
·        I know you are both avid readers and you’ve been college educated in English.  How do you think this has affected you as writers?
o As English majors, we probably read quite a few things we never would have picked up otherwise. When paired with a love of reading (and all the books we’ve read both in and out of academia), it's really helped us identify what we do and don’t like in a story. And four years studying structure, flow, and writing (even academically) left its mark.
o A minor in professional writing also allowed us a better understanding of the editing side as well.
·        How has being not only writers but published authors affected you as readers?
o It's actually led us to branch out a bit more in our reading. Before indie publishing, we picked up books based on what looked interesting on the bookstore shelf or through recommendations. As we've become friends with more indie authors and explored more of the indie community, we've read more books that might've escaped our notice before.
3.     Let’s talk about you as writers and how your styles play into your partnership.
·        What lead you to your partnership?  I mean, what specifically made you decide to co-author books together?
o Our writing partnership spawned from a pair of characters that we conceptualized over dinner one night. What began as a theoretical discussion over the idea of an invisible thief and mercenary who could make a gun misfire expanded from there, and since the characters were a joint creation, it only felt right that the story should be as well.
o We started small—just a few chapters to see if we could make such a venture work—and here we are: two books in the series complete and the third underway.
·        What does your own writing style look like?  How do you process through a story from concept to paper?
o We start with a unified but broad concept—an end game to aim for—and a few plot points we need to hit. But perhaps because there are two of us (and therefore things will change as we go), and perhaps because we've always hated in depth outlines where everything is planned out in great detail, it tends to be a bit more freeform from there.
·        What changes in your writing process when you co-author something?
o There's a lot more give and take, a lot more compromising involved in co-writing. Because each of us can have different ideas on how the same scene will progress, there have been times where we've had to stop and talk things through before we could continue. But the flip side of that is that if one of us gets stuck, we can hand it off to the other to see if they can break the stalemate.
·        Do you have equal say in the project or do you designate a lead author?
ü  We are equal partners.
·        Do you have an outline you work from, do you write together based on discussions, do you assign a particular character or POV to each writer, or do you pass the manuscript back and forth?
ü  Our usual method is to take turns at the keyboard—one of us writing a section before handing it off to the other. Then that newest section is edited before the scene is continued.
ü  But we’ve also been known to sit next to each other writing lines as they come to us and editing on the spot where something doesn't feel right.
ü  We've found that either method helps keep the voice and writing consistent, regardless of narrator. It has given us equal understanding of each character’s unique voice—a necessity considering how we’ve chosen to narrate the series.
·        How do you handle research?
ü  We typically research as we go. Because we are writing about criminals, there have definitely been holes we’ve needed to fill in order to create realistic characters.
ü  Our book purchase and internet search histories have looked pretty interesting since we started this project.
·        What do you think is the most challenging part of writing together, and does that answer change when you consider your co-author is also your spouse?
o Working with a partner is the most challenging aspect of co-writing. But being married to your co-author probably helps because we know each other that well. We know where each other might have trouble or are probably a bit more understanding of each other’s foibles.
·        What is the most beneficial aspect of writing together?
o Working with a partner is also the best part of co-writing. It helps having someone who knows the story and the characters every bit as well as you do. And while not a guarantee, it can certainly help with writer’s block—if one of us gets stuck, the other might have just the answer.
4.     Can you tell us about your book services?  I mean, how do you deal with covers and editing?  Do you handle them yourself or out-source them?
We were lucky enough to know a great graphic artist who agreed to do our covers (and banner image) for us. Her work is amazing, and she’s been great at taking a vague concept in our heads and translating it to covers that many readers have said are awesome.
On the writing side, though we have a trusted circle of beta readers, we don’t have an editor per se. But we do have third parties who suggest content changes for us to incorporate (or not, as the case may be) and do a final proofread.
5.     I want to discuss the marketing, promotions, and advertising I know you have to do as a writer, especially since you are self-published. 
·        Do you participate equally in these areas of the business or do you designate one person to handle specific things?
o Clare tends to take on more of the social media and marketing side of things, though we both participated in a holiday takeover event and we will both be participating in C.L. Schneider’s upcoming FB release party as well as the Brain2Books Cyber Con in April.
o But we are still figuring out what works and what doesn’t for us. In this respect, other indies have been wonderfully helpful with their advice and support.
·        What do you feel is the most beneficial tool for reaching your readers?  How does your blog and social media presence affect your sale goals?
o We aren’t exceptionally good at blogging to be honest. But on Twitter and Facebook, we’re getting there, especially considering we weren’t on either before we started this co-authoring thing. And there’s something pretty cool about having a reader connect with you and tell you they thought your book was awesome.
·        How do you educate yourself about the marketing opportunities and trends in the publishing world?
ü  Reading, for starters. There’s a lot of information out there. But our best source of information has been other indie authors. You can learn a lot just by listening to advice from others who have been in your shoes and are also in the indie market right alongside you.
·        What type of promotions do you prefer, and why?  Are you KDP exclusive and do you use the Kindle Countdown Deals?  Why or why not?
ü  Our promotion efforts are mostly on social media and some book promotion sites—and we’ve had some success.
ü  We have always figured it was better to have a wider reach to catch anyone that might be interested rather than put all our books in the Amazon basket. But wanting to publish on more than just Amazon meant we couldn’t do Kindle Unlimited, which prevents us from using the countdown deals.
·        What advertising tools do you feel are the most effective?  I have seen your book video.  Does this help to draw traffic to your work?
ü  Thus far, we’ve found promoting on social media and connecting directly with readers to be the most effective.
ü  While we were very pleased with the book trailer, and it was great to work with Kylie Jude on its creation, we haven’t had it long enough and haven’t shared it enough to truly gauge its effectiveness. We do believe that it has engaged some readers that we might not have reached otherwise.
·        Do you maintain an annual calendar for events and promotions you want to participate in?  If so, how does it work?
o Not at the moment. We don’t have that many events on our schedule, so keeping track of them has been pretty straightforward. So far anyway. Maybe when we have more than a handful of upcoming events, we will.
·        Do you partake in Facebook Events; why or why not?
o We have participated in one takeover event so far, but have another one coming up. It’s an experience, and it’s a good way to connect with authors and readers.
o As for whether or not we’ll host one of our own, the answer is perhaps. We’d definitely like to have more connections and more of a reader base before we try to host an eight to ten hour event.
6.     What can we expect to see from you over the coming year?
We are releasing Fly by Night, book 2 in our series, on March 30th. And we’re already working on book 3. Whether or not Shifting Identities is ready for release by the end of the year is a little more up in the air, but that’s the goal.
·        What is your current WIP?
o We should probably stop considering Fly by Night a WIP. After all, it’ll be officially released in around two weeks. So with that in mind, our current WIP is Shifting Identities, book 3 in the Criminal Elements urban fantasy series. We switch narrators again, so there’s something new and exciting to look forward to.

Thank you for allowing me to introduce you to my readers.  I wish you all success!

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