Shea MacLeod Gets Jack’d

It’s time the “coffee talk” series was re-christened to be better suited for both myself and Get Jack’d. So, I am honored to begin this new series with newly published Shea MacLeod. Let’s dance people!

JW: You just published your first novel! That’s a moment we all dream of, we all long for…and that moment is yours. Bask in it, enjoy it, dance around it…but then immediately start working on your next project. I have heard that from so many indie authors (especially those that are enjoying some celebrity) and I follow it as closely as possible. In fact, I hardly give myself time to enjoy writing that last word before I’m writing the first word of the next book.

What was it like, when you finished the first draft of Kissed by Darkness compared to when you saw the Smashwords and Amazon page for the book? Did the reality of what you had accomplished smack you upside the head with a purse filled with change? Or was it more of an exhausted sigh for all of the hard work you’ve put into the novel?

SM: Don’t worry, Jack, the second book is already in rewrites stage. And I has cover!!! ? Plus I’ve got no less than three additional WIPs in the works. ‘Cause that’s the way I roll!

When I finished KbD, there was this amazing sense of accomplishment. I’d finished and actual novel. One that wasn’t half bad. One that might stand a chance of getting published at some point. It felt good, but it was NOTHING like what I felt when the book went live on Smashwords and then Amazon.

HOLY SIX INCH STILLETOS, BATMAN! It was definitely a change filled purse upside the head moment. Part of me couldn’t believe it was real, and the other part was screaming, “Oh Mylanta! This is freaking real!” I will never, as long as I live, forget that feeling.

JW: That’s so great to hear. I think my first published work was overshadowed by something…I don’t remember what piece of drama it was, but eventually, when I could sit back and look at the collection of covers (that I created) for books (that I wrote) it was pretty astonishing.

So…when your book sales take off, if you were approached by a publishing house? You would look seriously at their offer? I go back and forth on this. I enjoy the creative process so much and when my books get to the point where they are garnering enough attention that publishers are seriously considering picking them up – I have to say I’m not sure how I would react. The deal would have to be big and I would still have to have a good amount of creative control.

Part of the joy of being an indie author that I think would be missing from going the traditional route would be the lack of connection to fans and readers. Being an indie author gets you up close and personal with them. I like that. Getting to know fans, readers, and other indie authors makes this hayride a much more joyous occasion.

SM: Yeah, I’m a little bit of a control freak. lol I love having complete control over my work. YES! I have beta readers, critique partners, a professional editor, cover artist (Which includes my very own gorgeous cover model!) and a formatter (I have zero patience for technical stuff, so it’s just better all around if someone else does it.). I totally agree that the ability to create unhindered by “the man” is one of the biggest joys of being an indie.

If a publishing house offered me a deal, I’d have to think about it long and hard. I don’t buy the whole “I’ll have more time to write.” Talk about living in fantasy land. But there is some truth in that traditional publishers, at least right now, can reach people I can’t. However in a year or two? I’m not so sure.

They’d really have to show me that not only was the deal worth taking monetarily, but that they could offer me things that I can’t do myself. More than cover artists and professional editors. I would, of course, look at any offer seriously. This is a business, after all. And you’d better believe I’d be getting an IP lawyer to look over any contract.

JW: Critique parters. That’s one thing I have not tried. Why? I know this is going to sound crazy, but first and foremost – I really trust my instincts. Second, I have found at least two beta readers that I really and truly trust. Finally, I know, beyond a shadow of a doubt, my editor will tell me if something doesn’t work (which she has – frequently). I realize I am very much alone (or at least in the minority) in this, but here’s my take: Everyone has a different opinion on whether a book is good or not. I regularly chat with a gentleman who desperately relies on his crit group, but is always getting such diametrically apposed opinions on his work, that sometimes he’s not sure which way to go.

I write what I love – passionately. I know, right way, if a plot point, story line, or character does or does not work. And, if there is something that I miss, either my beta readers or my editors catch it (yes, I am fortunate that my editor is actually two editors). I think that has always been important to me – writing about what I love and I love horror, thrillers, and things with gender twists that most writers aren’t always willing to take (Shero – hint, hint everyone!)

SM: I find my crit partners immensely useful. In truth, one of my crit partners is really more like a beta reader, but she’s “on the job” so I consider her a crit partner.

See, I’m what Dean Wesley Smith terms a “putter inner”. I write pretty sparingly, my first draft often being less than 50k. I send it to my beta reader and crit partner 1 as each chapter is finished so I can get their ongoing input. Because I see things so clearly in my head, it’s sometimes hard for me to judge if it’s clear enough to everyone else! Lol Also this allows me to make changes AS I write rather than having to go back through.

The finished first draft then goes to crit partner 2. She’s been in the biz for over 10 years with 5 traditionally published novels and 1 indie novel. She’s been in critique circles with top names in her genre and I find her invaluable. When she does her crit, it’s like having a substantative editor. It’s really in depth. She points out some grammar issues, but mostly it’s character issues (don’t usually have many of those) and sometimes plot issues or inconsistencies such as “Ok, in line x you say they slept together and then line y you say they didn’t.” Yeah, that’s what happens in rewrites sometimes. Lol So, I rewrite and send the second draft to my editor.

My editor is awesome, but she focuses mainly on grammar (She also picks out any inconsistencies or plot issues, but by the time it gets to her it’s pretty clean.) because I suck. I didn’t used to suck, but then I moved to the UK and now I’m all confused.

The key, I think, to beta readers, critique partners/groups, or editors is to pick ones that “get” what you’re trying to accomplish with your writing and don’t try to change your voice while still being brutally honest about what works and what doesn’t. And then you have to be aware enough and confident enough to understand which comments are true in general and which are their own personal opinion.

I think everyone has their own way of working and it’s important as a writer to find the way that works for you. Don’t worry about what other people are doing. You are what you are. Embrace it and go with it. You’re life will be a LOT easier.

Want more Shea? Link dump!