Meet Julia Munroe Martin

Today’s Debut Author Q&A features a very special writer to me and to this blog. Julia Munroe Martin has been a supporter of Baby Grand and Making ‘Baby Grand’ for as long as I can remember. It is a privilege and an honor to have her here today to talk about her debut novel, Desired to Death. Her answers to my questions made me think about my own fiction journey – our paths are very similar, our ideas for our novels formed many years ago. So without further ado, I bring you the world’s newest mystery writer.

043013_Head-WUName: Julia Munroe Martin (writing as J.M. Maison)
Name of book: Desired to Death (Book 1 of The Empty Nest Can Be Murder mystery series)
Book genre: Mystery
Date published: April 29, 2013 (ebook); paperback in about 3 weeks
Where can we find your book: Amazon
What is your day job? This is it! I am a journalist by education, worked as a technical writer for about 10 years, then as a freelance writer. Now I focus almost exclusively on fiction.
What is your book about? This book answers the question: What am I going to do with the rest of my life? After her daughter leaves for college, former-SAHM Maggie True is faced with an empty nest and doesn’t know what to do with herself. Never in her wildest dreams does small-town Maggie imagine the answer will come in the form of a middle-of-the-night call for help from an estranged friend who has just been arrested for murder. But it does, and as Maggie solves the mystery of who killed A.J. Traverso, a sexy kickboxing instructor, she also solves the mystery of what to do for the rest of her life.
Why did you want to write this book? This idea came to me after my son left for college, when I wondered what the future held. It was a very tough transition for me, especially when a few years later my daughter left for college. Going through that transition, from stay home mom AND writer to “just” work at home writer, wasn’t easy. I’ve always been the kind of person who observes and watches everything and, clearly, makes up stories about it all. And my loose ends led me to ask the question “What if?” or maybe even “If only.”

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Meet Kellie Larsen Murphy

Today’s featured debut author is Kellie Larsen Murphy, a freelance writer who has worked in both the banking and publishing industries. In recent years, she has written on a variety of subjects and has been featured frequently in several mid-Atlantic magazines. Her debut novel, A Guilty Mind, is the first in a series featuring Detective Michael Cancini. Kellie lives in Richmond, Virginia, with her husband, four children, and two dogs.

022613_kellieName: Kellie Larsen Murphy

Name of book: A Guilty Mind

Book genre: Mystery/psychological Suspense

Date published: September 2012

What is your day job? Freelance writer and mother of 4

What is your book about? George Vandenberg is a broken man, haunted by the memory of the young woman he once loved and “accidentally” killed. When his psychiatrist turns up dead, George emerges as the primary suspect even as he becomes a target himself. To prove his innocence, George must face an unyielding detective, his manipulative wife, and the past he’s been unable to forget.

Why did you want to write this book? I remember once being at a girls’ dinner and the question came up, “If you could have any talent, what would it be?” Every single person at the table said “singing” except me. I said I wanted to be a really good writer! Freelance writing is fun and rewarding, but writing fiction is what I love best.

What would you say is the most challenging part of writing a book? For me, finding the time to write is very challenging. Often, I have to write in short periods. Also, I have a tendency to work on the same chapter over and over until I feel it’s close to right before moving on. Some writers are able to speed through a first draft but I’m not one of those.

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Meet Victor Giannini

Today’s featured debut author is Victor Giannini. His novel, Scott Too—which was inspired by events from Victor’s own life—was published in December and is available in paperback and as an eBook.

012913_VG headshot 2Name: Victor Giannini

Name of book: Scott Too

Book genre: Magical realism or speculative fiction, depending on your cup of tea.

Date published: December 2012

Publisher: Silverthought Press

What is your day job? The last few years, I’ve been teaching with YAWP, The Young American Writer’s Project.  They send me into schools, grade 7-12, to teach playwriting or creative writing for a semester.

What is your book about? Being in direct conflict with yourself. Being forced to look at your own lackluster life and take responsibility for it. Thirty is the new 20, and this odd decade of extended teenage years can be a curse, so what do you do when it goes wrong?  What do you do when another creature steals your life and lives it the way you wished you could?

Why did you want to write this book? I wanted to write a dark comedy for a novella class I was taking at the Stony Brook Southampton MFA in Writing and Literature. What started as a “multiplicity style wacky sitcom” with super violent jokes and gore quickly turned into an absolutely different project. I saw my generation around me, where our twenties are different than previous generations’. Scott Alvin became a representative for this new generation. So I pit him against himself, a more aggressive, bitter, unrestricted self, to see what would happen. I wasn’t sure, I wanted to find out. And I did! And in all honesty, as I got inside Scott’s head, it was not what I expected at all …

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The Role of the Agent

As the publishing industry undergoes tremendous upheaval and change — mostly because of the arrival of eBooks and self-publishing — there has been lots of talk about the role of the literary agent in all of this.

As readers of this blog know, I secured representation for Baby Grand in January 2010. And even though two years later I decided to self-publish my debut novel, I’ve said this before: Having my agent for those two years was invaluable, and Baby Grand is a FAR better novel having gone through the traditional publishing process in the early stages. Why, you ask. Not because my agent helped me to write Baby Grand or gave me ideas or even did “light editing,” as I’ve seen a literary agent’s “role” described on websites. My agent actually did no editing at all.

What she did do — among other things — is similar to what is depicted in this scene from Walk the Line, the 2005 film based on the early life and career of country music artist Johnny Cash and starring Joaquin Phoenix and Reese Witherspoon. Here, Cash and his band/friends are auditioning for a record label executive, who is explaining to them what he needs in order to sell their music. He’s not asking them to be something they’re not. He’s not asking them to sing the songs HE wants them to sing. What he does is what I think a good agent does for writers — pushes them. Pushes them to dig deep down and find their true voice. Pushes them when they think they have nothing else to give.

So while, yes, there are sure to be changes in the industry regarding agents’ role in the writer/publisher relationship, to me it seems the core of the writer/agent relationship will always stay the same.

Meet Author Kate Evangelista

Today’s featured debut author is Kate Evangelista, who has written a young adult paranormal romance titled Taste. Welcome, Kate!

Name: Kate Evangelista

Name of book: Taste

Book genre: YA Paranormal Romance

Date published: April 30, 2012

Publisher: Crescent Moon Press

What is your day job? I actually don’t have a day job. I write full time. *smiles*

What is your book about? Taste is about a girl who breaks the one rule in her ultra-exclusive private school to discover a dying ancient race living beneath the school.

Why did you want to write this book? The characters wouldn’t stop speaking until I did.

What would you say is the most challenging part of writing a book? The editing. If you don’t love the editing process, it can be a difficult road to walk.
Did you conduct any kind of research in order to write this book? Most of the research I did for the book had to do with the science aspect of the story and a bit about the Caucasus Mountain Range which is where Barinkoff Academy is located.

What motivates you to write? Writing is so much fun. Being able to communicate with the characters in my head and letting them tell their stories. Plus, the unlimited possibilities when plotting becomes a joy to me.

Did you experience writer’s block? I usually write a chapter a day. I start a novel at the beginning of the month so by the end of the month I have approximately thirty chapters that make up one completed novel. For me, this technique prevents writer’s block because I’m not forcing myself to keep writing. When I finish a chapter, I usually call it a day.

How long did it take you to write this book? The first draft took about six months to write, but from first draft to publication, it took about five years.

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Let the BABY GRAND-palooza Blog Tour Begin!

One of the most important — and challenging — aspects of publishing a book today, whether you self-publish or traditionally publish, is marketing. Getting the word out. I just came across a sobering article that says that half of all self-published authors earn less than $500 a year. Holy cow!

That’s why when my novel was published last week on Amazon, I revved up the marketing machine immediately and reached out to bloggers to see if they might need some help writing posts this summer (as a blogger, I know how difficult it can be to come up with new material regularly) and would like a guest blogger or an eager interviewee. The response has been wonderful.

Today is the first stop on what I’m calling the Baby Grand-palooza Blog Tour. Thank you to Belinda Frisch, who was kind enough to interview me. You can check out the interview here and here. Of course, while I’m looking to promote my debut novel, I also want to be able to provide useful insight into the writing, editing and publishing process. Hopefully, I succeeded. :)

Meet Cathy Presland

Today’s featured debut author, Cathy Presland, wants to help you get your business up and running and has written a nonfiction book to show you how to do it.

Name: Cathy Presland

Name of book: Get Momentum Guide to Starting a Business: 30 Days to Turn Your Inspiration to Income

Book genre: Nonfiction/Business & Entrepreneurship

Date published: January 2012

Publisher: Self-published with BookBaby

What is your day job? I run my own business – author, speaker and mentor to inspired entrepreneurs.

What is your book about? How to start a business. I wanted to take what can be a very overwhelming process and break it down into straightforward steps that guide a new entrepreneur through the essentials. My aim was to help readers get their business up and running quickly. And start making income – this bit was important because I found that new business owners who don’t make an income very quickly get very disheartened. I’m sure it’s the same for authors who don’t sell. We lose confidence, and that can stop us from doing the things that matter to get our products out there.

Why did you want to write this book? I had been teaching this material and wanted to get it out to more people in an accessible form. And partly it was simply wanting to write a book. There’s still something magical about it, even if it’s only an e-pub right now.

What would you say is the most challenging part of writing a book? For me, it’s definitely the editing, just the idea that I have to read through those 40,000 words and make them better – although I find that the idea is always worse than the reality. If I chunk it down, it’s not too bad. One section or one chapter. But if I didn’t have to do it at all… that would be perfect!

What kind of research did you conduct in order to write this book? The book was a couple of years in gestation. I’d been mentoring women entrepreneurs, and this came out of my experiences with them. You know that when you find yourself going over the same ground and repeating the same message that there’s something that needs to be said.

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