FROM TRADITIONAL TO INDIE AUTHOR

A writer takes a leap

 

Author Photo 2019There are many reasons why I decided to go indie and not one of them had anything to do with my original publisher, who was great and very supportive. In fact, if there’s anything I miss more it is the community that came along with them. So many writers came up with me and it was from one another that we learned how to write better books.

 

I’m on my own now, and with that isolation comes the daunting task of self-teaching through trial, error, tears and YouTube “how to” videos. How to format. How to submit. How to deal with roadblocks. It wasn’t easy.

 

Perhaps the biggest lesson I’ve learned so far is that publishing platforms accept or reject works based on their own set criteria. For example, what some may see as funny or amusing others could interpret as insensitive or offensive. When that happens, it is up to the writer to decide whether to alter the work or move on to the next platform.

 

Rejections can occur for simple things, too, like submitting confusing keywords or author names. What if your legal name differs from your nom de plume? Be prepared to explain and explain again until someone actually contacts you from the mothership.

 

It all takes time and a level head.

 

Which brings me to my next points: go slow and be patient. Imagine working on a platform’s unique formatting program only to find that it’s an older version and won’t upload the finished book because of it? When this happened the other day, I had to let out a huge yell. Then I downloaded the current program version and started all over again.

 

Note: I ran into a lot of trouble using open source programs as well as sanctioned proprietary ones. This was because of my laptop’s unique firewall configuration. To download formatting software successfully, it may be necessary to turn off your firewall. I had a pro do that for me for the price of food and beverage. I strongly recommend this.

 

Because the process is slow and precision driven, I would recommend engaging a professional for some elements of the process. For my first release, I went with a fantastic cover designer who took my vision and turned it around in a matter of days. I would have taken weeks had I dared to try that myself. For my next release, I will employ a line editor. No matter how good a writer thinks they are, there is nothing better than a fresh set of eyes. Grammarly is great and I wouldn’t send anything to the line editor without running it first. But it doesn’t catch everything: pore and pour. The difference is huge when it appears in a paperback glaringly out of context. Cringe is all I’ll say about that.

 

I’m told by those that know that the first self-published book is always a hair puller. Until the DIY author masters the rules of pagination, kerning, cover trims, and—here’s the big one—different formats for different platforms, it’s going to be a long march to getting everything out there in a way that we like. There will be do-overs a plenty. I left two family members out of the acknowledgements section in the ebook. Luckily for me, they are back where they belong in time for the print version.

 

Whether the writer is indie or trad, the pure act of creation is what makes all this worthwhile. We are lucky to be living and writing in year 2019. More than ever before, we have outlets where we can offer our creations for sale at prices we choose.

 

That is the stuff of variety.

Write on everybody and keep learning.

Adult, unapologetic and wholly cognizant (I wasn’t the other day, believe me),

 

I am

 

A.B. Funkhauser

May 11, 2019

 

A.B. Funkhauser is a multi-genre author with three titles currently undergoing do-overs and three new unreleased works that may see daylight before the end of the year.

 

Morticians and Mayhem: Take a walk on the wild side of funeral directing.

Facebook author page 2019

 

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NF READS INTERVIEW

It was my great pleasure to be interviewed by Tony Eames of NF Reads, a general interest site that explores the creative process and stories behind the lives of the people who pursue it.

Past interviewees have included scientists, business leaders, health professionals, politicians, and www influencers. Learn more about NF Reads here: https://www.nfreads.com/about-contact/

The interview is reproduced below.

 

Please introduce yourself and your book(s)! 

 

I’m A. B. Funkhauser and I’m delighted to be profiled here on NF Reads. My on-line biographies variously describe me as an outdoor enthusiast, classic car nut, mother, mortician, monkey and purveyor of gonzo mortuary revenge fiction. What that actually means is that I write blended genre fiction based on what I see and hear and then I warp and bend everything to the peril and salvation of my morally flexible characters.

 

I’m currently working on a series of books, some with interrelated plots, others not, each with large casts and a vaguely menacing omniscient voice to taunt and trick along the way. The common thread they all share are characters that are unapologetic and very often chaotic in their life choices. They are not wholly villains or angels but somewhere in between, and the results of their actions can only be guessed at until the last page is read. The thing I get most from readers is that while they may not like all the characters, they inexplicably find themselves rooting for them. I think that’s cool. The other draw is the setting: a funeral home over many decades with a revolving door of staff cycling through, each coping with life and death and their own well-being. A reader needn’t tackle the books in order—they stand alone. In fact, I’d recommend going at them out of order. The character that dies in book two is back alive and well (and doing a great deal of damage) in book four. That’s fun to write, let me tell you!

 

What inspires/inspired your creativity?

 

A combination of work life, family folklore and an overall love of world history collided to produce work that is equal parts dark and light. I drew a lot of inspiration from Jerry Seinfeld and Kurt Vonnegut in early days; the former writing voluminously about nothing, the latter about things both profound and irreverent. Both made anything possible in the sense that nothing was off limits and everything could be grand or ridiculous. Likewise, QuentinTarantino. His non-linear storytelling that enabled a dead character to walk away alive and well in the final act opened my eyes to all kinds of possibilities.

 

How do you deal with creative block?

 

I stop and push away from the keyboard. I can’t force it to happen. It has to appear, and it always does.

 

What are the biggest mistakes you can make in a book?

 

Rushing—Not taking the time to read it through one more time before hitting the send button and not taking the time to read it again after it’s printed. Spelling and grammar matter and it amazes me how many errors actually sneak past the spell checker, beta readers and Grammarly-type programs.

Editing while in a terrible mood—You will do more damage to a work with a fractured lens than you will after a short break. Take a week off to clear your head. The manuscript will still be there waiting for you.

Rambling on—It’s one thing if a character is fatuous in speech and manner; it’s another if the writing is. Trim those sentences. You don’t need to go on and on.

Beware the expository paragraph—There are underpinnings to every tale (the backstory) but unless it’s an essential “tell” (sometimes you just need to say it in order to get on with things) leave it to the characters to show it through action and dialogue.

 

Do you have tips on choosing titles and covers?

 

If the writer has something specific in mind, something from the gut, they probably have 50% of it right. The cover and title are not for the author but for the reader. Whether designing it yourself or choosing to go with a pro, take the time to shop the concept. Run it by the betas, your writer’s group, family, friends and CRITICS to get a temperature. And be prepared to change the cover a couple of years post pub. I’m doing that right now. What I believed to be grand and clever five years ago really doesn’t work now.

 

How do bad reviews and negative feedback affect you and how do you deal with them?

 

Criticism is essential to becoming a better writer. Trolls notwithstanding, a tough review almost always has merit. Do not rush to make changes after a heavy critique. If time allows, let it sit, let it percolate. I’ve gone back to a manuscript after a month-long break and have found that the feedback was usually correct. It’s tough to learn this, but it will save the writing.

 

How has your creative process improved over time?

 

I’m faster. The first book took five years, the second and third a year each. This is because I managed to figure out how to do it. But fast isn’t necessarily good. My next book will take longer because I’ve learned the importance behind taking the time. (See above)

 

What were the best, worst and most surprising things you encountered during the entire process of completing your book(s)?

 

One thing I’ve learned from reading Hunter Thompson’s gonzo journalism is that the best way to tackle serious issues without being preachy is by shining a light on them with humor. By creating morally flexible characters in absurd/exaggerated circumstances, I was able to get my points across without scaring the reader away. That was and continues to be the best thing.

 

The worst thing might have been formatting, but that gets better with practice. I’ve taught myself to like formatting by chalking it up to another opportunity to reread the text and catch those hideous spelling mistakes that spellcheck misses. Pore and pour. OMG!

 

The most surprising thing has been the way the work has been received to date. Make no mistake, a book is NEVER completed. It’s published, promoted, critiqued, and, if the writer chooses, improved with new cover designs, back jacket blurbs and layouts. I released my first book believing I had written a paranormal romance. It went on to win horror prizes. My second book, a sequel, won multiple humor prizes. This led me to a very valuable lesson learned: my books aren’t what I say they are but what the reader believes them to be. That journey continues to be amazing.

 

Do you tend towards personal satisfaction or aim to serve your readers? Do you balance the two and how?

 

I’m currently working on book four in my series and I still aim for personal satisfaction before getting to the business of making it accessible for readers. It’s important to me to love the book first. How else can I expect a reader to feel something similar? However, after the first, second and third draft “love-in,” I step back, wait, and read through it again to see if any of it makes sense. I clear up the vague spots, kill some darlings, and trim the back story. Then I let the betas have at it. That’s how I balance.

 

What role do emotions play in creativity?

 

A great deal, but these are tempered by structure, pacing, arc and characters. Emotions can blind and if they’re not in their place, you can wind up with a mess.

 

Do you have any creativity tricks?

 

Be honest and tell the truth in the first drafts; then decide if your truth will serve readers in a meaningful way. There’s a fine line between truth and rant. I don’t rant in my fiction, but my characters often do.

 

What are your plans for future books?

 

I have four lengthy unfinished manuscripts screaming for attention. These compete with the new work generated during NaNoWriMo. I’m currently sprucing up the back catalog with new covers and layouts and find that one in particular has inspired a return to a trunk book. It’s been collecting dust for about four years. Its time has come, I think.

 

Tell us some quirky facts about yourself

 

I write fiction but read mostly non-fiction these days.

I enjoy binge watching series from multiple genres. Netflix is my university.

I go south to the hot ocean in summer but gladly hole up with the snow in winter.

I love vintaging. I can’t remember the last time I bought something new.

 

 

When will your books be available on-line?

 

The first three books should be available on Amazon by mid-summer 2019. Paperback versions will follow thereafter. The best way to find out what’s going on is to visit my website https://abfunkhauser.com/

 

 

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MARINA BLACK: BIKERS, BADASSES & A LITTLE ROMANCE

It’s my great pleasure to welcome #GuessWrite winner for March 2017 Marina Black. Marina is a practicing registered nurse and multi-published romance author with a taste for bikers and happy endings. Now seeking representation, she is currently pitching her work on today’s #pitmad pitch party on Twitter. Join me in wishing her luck!

 

1.

Welcome, Marina. Your work designation suggests medical thrillers, yet you write badass bikers. Tell us how you got there.

Thanks for having me! I often get this question and the answer is two-fold. When I’m not 51pogTvnjZL._UY250_at work, I like to keep my thoughts separate from my occupation. On a daily basis I deal with the critically ill, distraught, and dying. Coming home, I write romance to escape and as a coping mechanism. It’s a really great way to unwind! The second reason I prefer not to focus my writing on medicine is: as a nurse, if you didn’t chart it, it didn’t happen. I find myself compelled to write in gritty detail of each and every assessment my patient—character—might encounter. I have a very lovely beta reader who reads everything and tells me when I’ve gone too far into detail. Trust me, it’s quite often!

Ed. – The temptation to share specialty knowledge is huge. I get where you’re coming from. 😀

 

2.

So you write romantic thrillers?

51z-VpfYWxL._UY250_I write contemporary romances. It just so happens that I also enjoy the suspense elements sprinkled in with my romance; it gives my novels some extra pizazz! My Badass Bikers series and upcoming novel Bargaining for Blood have a mystery, dramatic storyline that runs parallel to the romance. For Unintentionally Yours, there is no mystery or suspense involved—unless you’re wondering if they will or won’t live happily ever after!

 

 

3.

I noted recently that a lot of modern ‘romances’ end badly. What, in your opinion, accounts for tragic endings? Is this a trend in romance writing?

Tragedy in romance is all well and good, however this is not something you’ll find in my 51uS9RwPAJL._UY250_work. I see enough heartbreak, violence and bloodshed in my day-to-day life—I’m not looking for that when I’m reading or writing! Certainly ‘happily ever after’ eventually will come to an end for one reason or another, but you won’t find it in my work. I’m a big fan of the ‘happily ever after’.

Ed. – It’s nice when things work out!

 

4.

Your current protagonist (from the new novel BARGAINING FOR BLOOD) Adeline is charged with rescuing the one she loves, yet she makes an interesting compact that reminds me of 1,001 Nights. Do you like to blend the ‘good’ and the ‘bad’ in your characters, or do you prefer to keep them behind their own lines?

I love to strike the balance between good and evil in all of my characters for sure. Each and every one of us has a ‘line’ and I like my characters to flirt with it on the regular! Adeline in particular learns a lot about herself in BARGAINING FOR BLOOD and, as the story progresses, begins to see that things are not always black and white.

 

5.

What feeds a series? As the writer, do you find this exhausting, exhilarating or just plain psychotic? (last part said tongue-in-cheek! lol)

Characters are the drivers for me. In DEALING WITH THE DEVIL, I introduced four distinct 51PCLDICpLL._UY250_Motorcycle Clubs and a set of characters. After the book came out and people were reading I kept getting readers asking me about Cecelia and Danny and if their story was next. So, as an author I started thinking about them and that’s when SINNING WITH LOS SANTOS came into play.

 

6.

What are you watching on T.V. right now?

I’m a huge DC junkie so the entire Flash, Arrow, and Legends of Tomorrow lineup is my jam. The 100 is absolutely fantastic—and my drug of choice. I’ve also been greatly enjoying Superstore—my guilty pleasure show!

 

7.

Have I forgotten anything?

BARGAINING FOR BLOOD is coming soon! I’m also seeking representation, and that’s very exciting. Here’s an excerpt from CHAPTER ONE:

 

Bargaining for Blood COMING SOON

 

“Ms. McGinnis?” Malcolm Savage lurked in the shadows like a panther stalking his prey. Adeline straightened her spine, coppery hair spilling from its bun and framing her cherubic face. Her steely eyes were wet and her cheeks were flushed; she stormed past him like a vengeful angel and his palms itched with the need to touch her. “Adeline,” he growled, more sharply this time, and she stilled.

“How did you get in here?” she demanded. “Mr. Savage—”

Malcolm,” he corrected, narrowing inky black eyes at her. Their gazes caught and held, the electricity palpable in the air as he grasped her arm. “You and I are well enough acquainted by now, wouldn’t you say?”

Her body seemed to contract and she wrenched away from him like a caged animal, snarling and sneering. “Get away from me!”

If he was perturbed by her outburst, it didn’t show on his face. “I’m not here to hurt you, if that’s your fear. Frankly, I’m not even angry. Color me impressed.” She was wound tight enough to snap and he didn’t blame her. Adeline had always clung to her moral values; turning down the lucrative lifestyle he offered took guts. He may not have understood it on a fundamental level but he certainly respected the hell out of her gumption. For her to go and do something like this…it was out of character and out of desperation.

“We need to talk. We can do it quietly amongst ourselves…or we can do it at the police station. What would you prefer?”

 

Other Books by Marina Black

41GtbqG7cLL._UY250_Losing Charlotte left a deep chasm within Bellamy Blake. It was the kind of hole that could only be filled by Clarke Griffin. This story chronicles the soul-binding love of two people who are destined to be lovers and leaders, despite the odds.

 

 

 

 

51pogTvnjZL._UY250_Lucy was born to ride. Three generations of Harding men have pledged their loyalties—and their lives—to the Devil’s Own Motorcycle Club. The club is her legacy, its blood runs in her veins, and she’ll be damned if she lets them exclude her. Lucy Harding will stop at nothing to take her place among the Devils and prove her worth once and for all.

 

 

 

51PCLDICpLL._UY250_Cecelia Santos was born for greater things. As a brilliant electrical engineer and a member of Los Santos Motorcycle Club, she’s always been regarded as a force to be reckoned with…but that doesn’t mean she’s had it easy in life. Cece has always been a fighter and now that she’s home after being kidnapped by a rival gang, she’s harder and tougher than ever. When a new threat rears its ugly head in her hometown of La Verdad, she vows to crush it all by herself. She doesn’t need help…especially not from the redheaded menace she’s trying to deny her feelings for.

Daniel Harding knows all too well how difficult Cecelia can be. He’s not only seen her as a warrior on the battlefield but as a woman warm in his bed. Although she’s made it clear he doesn’t stand a chance, he can’t back down. Los Santos are outclassed, outmanned, and outgunned; if they fall prey to Los Lobos, it won’t just be Cece’s family that’s in danger. For the good of everyone he loves, he has to make sacrifices…even if it means stepping on a few toes.

Tensions run high, blood runs hot, and the stakes get higher…will they be able to protect La Verdad or will they be damned for good?

 

41QDCieq24L._UY250_The battle for control rages deep within the heart of New Orleans. While Hayley seeks to comprehend what it finally means to have a family, Niklaus must fight a thousand years of darkness to find a shred of humanity. The bond of blood runs deep…family, love, loyalty. All will be tested as two unlikely lovers come together. Will they find happiness or destroy one another?

 

 

 

51z-VpfYWxL._UY250_When Mona Gallo finds herself accidentally pregnant, the life she worked so hard to build begins crumbling around her. Although she’s determined to raise the baby on her own, she finds herself inexplicably drawn to her sexy boss despite his rakish ways. Maybe it’s just hormones but Mona can’t seem to help herself when it comes to Reno. She should know better, of course. She’s been a stripper for half her life and seen first hand how letting down her guard only leads to heartache.

Vincent “Reno” O’Keefe’s life is falling apart. He lives three thousand miles away from his family, dates all the wrong women, is a terrible Catholic, and his fortieth birthday is around the corner. Now, his little sister has announced her engagement and he can’t bear to go to the wedding alone. Asking Mona seems like the perfect solution. She’s newly single, gorgeous, and in desperate need of a vacation.

Mona is eager to see Boston and enjoy one last trip before the baby comes. She can hide a pregnancy for a week, right?

Besides, what’s the worst that could happen…?

 

518KHIkIpKL._UY250_The treatise between the Grounders and the Sky People is a tenuous one. Danger lurks around every corner and war is imminent. Against all odds, Murphy befriends a young orphan and catches the eye of the Commander. For the good of their people, sacrifices must be made…the choice was almost too easy.

 

 

 

 

51uS9RwPAJL._UY250_Harper’s life hangs in the balance as she rests in the depths of Mount Weather. Past, present, and future collide as Harper fights against the experiments the Mountain Men are doing on her. The only thing she’s sure of is that there’s only one sick, broken man who can save her…Harper has no choice but to put her faith in Cage Wallace.

 

 

 

51K+piwqNNL._UY250_The road to perdition is fraught with violence, anger and heartache. The way back to redemption is twice as bad. John Murphy lost his way in the world long ago. He vowed to numb the pain with bloody revenge. But she was the only one who wasn’t there to watch him hang for a crime he didn’t commit. Hurting her was never an option…

 

 

 

All Titles Available Through the Author’s Amazon Page

https://www.amazon.com/Marina-Black/e/B00W4C05E8

About the Author

Marina BlackMarina Black was born in the state of Connecticut. She is a busy registered nurse who works at a bustling inner city hospital. By night (and the occasional weekend), she is a prolific writer who has penned many short stories and works of fiction over the years. Dealing with the Devil (August 2015) was her debut original novel and Book 1 of the Badass Bikers series. Unintentionally Yours (November 2015) is a fan favorite! Sinning with Los Santos: Book 2 of the Badass Bikers series is on sale now! For author updates, follow Ms. Marina Black on Amazon, Facebook, and Twitter!

 

Amazon.com: Marina Black: Books, Biography, Blog

Twitter: @MarinaBlack99

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/authorMarinaBlack/