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Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Once Upon a Time in Writing: Author Interview with Vanessa K. Eccles

My interview today is with Vanessa K. Eccles who is the executive editor of Belle Rêve Literary Journal and is founder of the book blog YA-NA Sisterhood. (For those who write YA and NA stories). When she’s not writing or devouring books, she enjoys the lake life with her Prince Charming and their four dogs who could just have magical powers to match the genre she writes. Read on to discover her once upon a time life and writing.

One of your books was a collection of short stories. How did you decide how many stories to include? Do they all have a similar thread to them?
My collection of short stories, Collecting Light, was written over several years. I included the ones I liked most, each having threads of hope and faith in them. I was a part of an online writing group who wrote and posted stories every Sunday. They helped tremendously with editing.

Your other short book is Psalms of Me. What made you decide to write on this topic?
Psalms of Me is a poetry collection written during the same period as Collecting Light. I wrote both these works mainly for my friends and family, so anyone else's interest is always a pleasant surprise. For me, editing poetry is much easier. Usually my poems either work the first few times, or they get tossed. If the moment isn't captured immediately, it rarely can be caught again.

What was your writing background prior to writing these books? Are you active in any writing or critique groups?
I am active in several online writing groups, and I don't know what I'd do without the other insightful, helpful authors I've met. I never could imagine doing anything but writing, which is why I decided to study English. I've since founded Belle Rêve Literary Journal, where I serve as executive editor.

From there you did a retelling of a mix of Grimm’s fairy tales in a full-length novel. What drew you to writing this? Are there other fairy tales you’d like to re-write?
I have a growing list of other fairy tales I'd love to write in the future. Fabled isn't the first novel I wrote, but it's the first one I've actively pursued. In 2012, I wrote a research paper for a pop culture conference about the cause and effect of adult enchantment, detailing why adults are drawn to fairy tales. I went on later that year to write about how the Nazis used the Grimm's tales as propaganda during WWII. After studying them for so long, I couldn't help but be wooed by the idea of writing my own fairy tale.

Did you try the normal route and try to find a traditional publisher to handle your book? Did
you pitch any agents?
I pitched several agents, many of which made requests and expressed how much they loved the premise but ultimately didn't offer representation. So much of publishing is about trends and luck. Unfortunately, in the traditional market at the time, Fabled had neither. But I wasn't about to let that stop me. I loved the story, and so did my early readers. I pressed on until Fabled finally made its way to the marketplace.
How much research did you do on self-publishing before choosing your sources?
I researched for over a year before I decided to self-publish.

What do you think is the most common misconception about self-publishing?
Two of the most common misconceptions, I think, is that people tend to believe self-published work isn't as good as traditionally published work, and that it's poorly edited. But the truth is that there are many, many well-written indie books. Self-publishing can be packaged, edited, and presented in a very professional way. Hiring editors and designers costs money, but it's money well spent.

What type of publicity do you do to promote your book? What has worked best for you in generating sales?
I'm not a marketing expert, but oh how I wish I was. I mostly promote through Facebook and have hired a company to host a large book blitz. Since the book has only been on the market for a month, I'm still in the experimental phase. I hope over the coming months, to learn more about what works and what doesn't.

What do you know now about writing/publishing now that you wished you had known sooner?
The publishing industry is hard. Adversity only strengthens the creative spirit, but I didn't always know this. It's taken years of exposure and emotional calluses to realize that someone else's NO should ever become my own.

                                          What other books are in the works?
I'm currently working on a YA southern gothic and the second book of Fabled.

What is the best advice you’ve been given about writing or that you’ve learned that you would like to pass along?
Live a life worth writing.

That's it for today interview. Hope you'll check out the links below to learn more about Vanessa's writing.

Author links:  Website | Facebook | Twitter

Fabled links:  Amazon | B&N | Smashwords

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