Emerald Barnes is the author of the novella PIERCING THROUGH THE DARKNESS, an e-book for Amazon Kindle. She’s here today as part of my Seven Questions interview series, where I ask writers, artists and other creative professionals about their work, their methods and their advice.
Emerald is the first writer I’ve featured on Seven Questions to have published an e-book, and today she offers her perspective on the Kindle experience, marketing strategies and getting a creative writing degree. She has a really thoughtful, upbeat perspective on being a writer, and I’m delighted to feature her.
1. Tell us about your novella PIERCING THROUGH THE DARKNESS. What’s it about? How did you choose the novella size to launch your publishing career?
My novella, PIERCING THROUGH THE DARKNESS, is based on a college student named Kandi with repressed memories of a tragic accident she’s had. Her family took her to see a psychiatrist who tried hypnosis to recover the memories, but it didn’t take. So, they had to pretend like nothing ever happened to her. She has this huge secret what could potentially kill her, and she doesn’t even know it. Her best friend, Jimmy, has to protect her, and when the man who’s out for revenge threatens her life, he feels like there isn’t anything he can do to protect her. The novella is told in three different people’s point of view, and as we follow them through the story, it’s all about these characters finding their way through the darkness that is figuratively surrounding them.
As far as why I chose a novella to launch my career, I felt like I needed a way to grab some people’s attention somehow. PIERCING THROUGH THE DARKNESS was originally a short story I had written in my first Creative Writing class in college, and I loved it so much that I wanted to expand it. So, when I expanded it, I wanted a way to publish it. Amazon Direct Publishing seemed like the easiest way because it could easily be published and bought at an inexpensive price. I could also get my name out there with a self-published e-book. Publishing this way was all about me trying to get my name out there and get somewhat of a following.
2. You set yourself a deadline to publish PIERCING THROUGH THE DARKNESS for the Kindle. How did the process work? Would you consider publishing that way again?
I did set a deadline for myself with PIERCING THROUGH THE DARKNESS. I was pushing myself into getting the novella done for the few people who actually wanted to read it before anyone else really knew I had written it. The process was pretty simple. I took my short story and translated it into an outline for a longer story. The novella is divided into six chapters. Each section except the last is divided into three sections, each in a different person’s perspective. I told myself to at least finish one section of each chapter if not more each day. Then as soon as the novella was actually written, I took a few days to edit it. I edited it at least four times and had a fellow writer friend look at it with fresh eyes for me, so I could meet my set deadline. I was a few days late, but I managed to get it done and published.
I would definitely publish on Kindle again. I’ve even considered publishing an e-book of short stories for Kindle.
3. What are some of the ways you’ve marketed your book? Any tips for newcomers to the e-publishing world?
I started a Fan Page on Facebook which I use to promote my novella as well as my blog. I even made a YouTube video which is more like a slideshow set to music with quotes from my novella. On my blog, I made a page specifically for PIERCING THROUGH THE DARKNESS, and I have a sample of a chapter on my blog. I even use my personal Facebook page to promote it. I also have great friends who help get the word out for me.
As far as tips go for newcomers to the e-publishing world, it’s all about the marketing. You have to be sure to spread the word yourself. Do what it takes to get the word out. It’s a pretty daunting process, but just like with other things, persistence is the key. Don’t get discouraged and give up. Keep pushing your work, and eventually, you’ll get noticed. I have to remind myself of that daily. Don’t give up. This’ll be worth it in the end.
4. What project(s) are you working on now?
Currently, I am editing a suspense YA novel titled, “Read Me Dead.” I also have a few short stories in progress, and I am getting my ideas in order for a YA paranormal series. I am working on writing articles and prompts for my blog as well.
5. How long have you been writing, Emerald? What inspired you to start? And when did you start considering yourself a writer?
I first started writing in high school, but I wasn’t very good at it then. As soon as I graduated and started college, I started writing my first serious novel. It took me a while to write it though because I was focusing all of my attention on my school work. I finished it shortly after graduating with my bachelor’s degree. So, I’ve been writing for over seven years now. I have always been an avid reader, and it made me want to get my ideas out there and onto paper for others to read. I find it hard to explain my thought process when I first thought, “Hey, I wanna be a writer,” but I just had all these ideas flowing. I wanted people to experience different worlds through my writings and be involved with these characters I’ve grown fond of in all these years of creating them.
I don’t think I considered myself a writer until around four years ago. It was the summer, and I was working on my novel instead of taking summer classes at my university. I thought, “This is it. This is what I want to do for the rest of my life,” and that’s when I considered myself a writer.
6. You have a bachelor’s degree in creative writing, which seems like a great foundation. How did that training change you as a writer? Feel free to mention any mentors or any authors you read in class that influenced your creative growth.
My degree is a great foundation. If I hadn’t decided to include the creative writing emphasis in my degree, I’m afraid that I wouldn’t have learned as much as I did about writing process. I took a fiction writing workshop under professor and writer, Dr. Michael Smith. With his help, I learned what not to do with my writing and how to improve. Also, my classmates that year were wonderful. We all critiqued each others’ work, and every suggestion they had for my stories, I still remember to this day and apply to my writing during the editing process now. I can’t even begin to describe how much I have grown as a writer since then. I consider myself a better writer, although I know there is always room for improvement, and I feel more confident in my writing abilities. I do credit a lot of that to Dr. Smith. I don’t think he knows how much he helped me grow as a writer during my college career.
7. What are your writing habits? Do you work at a certain time of day? With or without music? In short chunks or long stretches?
I’m the type of person who has to work for a while, do something else, and then come back to my writing. I feel like taking a break helps me not to over-think my work, which then frees my mind to think about what I need to add to my story or take away from it. Mundane tasks such as doing the dishes or washing clothes helps me focus my mind on my story, so I try to take a break after sitting for a while and writing. (Plus, it helps to rest my eyes from staring at a computer screen for too long.) I basically just write when I find the time throughout all of the day. I do tend to work more at night when the house is quiet and all I can hear is the TV playing softly in the background. I don’t turn it to something I’ll be really interested in and will distract me though. Sometimes when I really just need to focus on my work and get it done, I lock myself away and turn on some relaxing music and write, but mostly, I sit where I’m most comfortable and write no matter what’s going on around me.
Thanks so much for answering Seven Questions, Emerald! It’s been great to feature you today. For more information, check out her blog. Her novella, PIERCING THROUGH THE DARKNESS, is available for 99 cents at Amazon.