Interview With Jewel E. Leonard, Author of Alight

Please welcome my special guest Jewel E. Leonard. She’s a paranormal romance and Steampunk author. I had the pleasure of sharing my Six Plus One script on her blog, so I thought it’d be fun to return the favor by giving her an interview on the release date of her new book! Please enjoy her insightful interview.

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1.  Do you have advice for other writers trying to get published?

I think patience is a virtue that is especially important in this industry. If you’re aiming to get published traditionally, it could take a very long time and an awful lot of rejections before you get there (but you probably already know that).

On the other hand, if your goal is to be published independently, patience will serve you well to put out the best product you can. Indie books certainly have a reputation for being “thrown onto Amazon.” Patience with the process (a load of editing and proof reading prior to hitting “publish”) should certainly help an indie author’s book from having that “thrown onto Amazon” appearance. If enough indie authors did that, someday maybe that stigma will be nothing more than an ugly memory.

2.  Do you have anything specific that you want to say to your readers?

As far as the The Witches’ Rede goes: I really hope they enjoy the ride. The benefit to approaching a series like this one the way I did (here’s again where patience plays a significant role) is that I’ve planned the big things out thoroughly, beginning to end. I encourage readers who finish the series to start over with Alight. There are lots of what seem like throw-away remarks that are anything but–and you won’t know it until you get to the end.

As an aside, to those who enjoyed reading about Rhea and Surfer Boy: I haven’t forgotten about them, either.

3.  What are your thoughts on the fact that both trade and self-published authors have to promote their work?

The expectation publishers now have of authors to self-promote was actually one of many things that made traditional publication unappealing to me. I fairly well hate marketing. I’ve always been a bad salesperson, and not having to promote myself would have been a massive perk to finding an agent/publisher. But since trads are expected to do that, too, I kind of felt like…I’m having to put in the same amount of work as an indie author and split my profits? No, thank you!

4.  What genre do you write for? Your favorite aspect? Your least favorite aspect?

My work is polygenreistic (my word processor informs me this isn’t a word–well, it should be!). When I have to pigeonhole it, I call it either paranormal romance or Steampunk.

I love the combination and juxtaposition of science and magic in my world. As far as in other authors’ books, I think it’s the vampires/magic/werewolves fighting for the right to exist in worlds that often don’t accept them that appeals to me. As someone who feels like an outsider in everything she does, it’s a concept I can really relate to.

My least favorite aspect? I hate that the paranormal romance genre was declared dead. Its fans beg to differ!

5.  What are your current/next projects?

Alas, I’m going to be working on The Witches’ Rede books for many years to come. The 2nd and 3rd novels are currently in varying states of doneness.

It’s a bit risky, I know, that until 2021, my new books will rely on readers having read–and enjoyed–my backlist.

I need to figure out how to write stand-alone novels! LOL!

6.  Do you prefer to work alone or with critique partners/beta-readers?

I actually write with a partner. My husband contributes so much to my books that his name really should be beside mine on my book covers. It is his decision that it’s not. He can deny it all he wants, but these projects to now are practically 50/50.

I have a wonderful alpha reader, whose opinions and feedback are invaluable to me.

I have a very small group of betas which I hope as time goes on, I can expand. I have yet to put out a public call for betas–or for ARC reviewers. This will likely change as well. I am the type of person who gets easily overwhelmed so I need to start small or I’ll succumb to the temptation to quit.

7.  How do you find time to write?

I don’t, really. I steal some time here and there–when my daughter naps, or between the time my work shift ends and my son comes home from school. I forego sleep as much as I can. Often when there’s quiet play (having Bob Ross on TV really helps mellow my son out!), I’m able to settle down and get some writing done with the family nearby.

Now that I have a new workspace in a bigger home, as our new schedules “gel,” I hope I might find more time for solitude to get those words out. They’re pretty seriously backlogged currently, and I have (self-imposed) deadlines to meet.

8.  Did you always want to become an author?

Oh yes, without a doubt. The desire to write and to have my words read by other people has always been inherent in me.

9.  Is there any writing rituals you complete before creating your manuscripts/drafts?

As a pantser, no, not really. I grab my notebook and pen, and just get to work when the muse bites. Planning (and lots of editing and revising) comes later. I admit it’s a bit backward, but it works best for me.

10.  Do you write the beginning/opening first or do you tend to write out of order (with whatever scenes interest you the most)?

My manuscripts are a mess. I generally write the scenes that are most clear in my head, or whatever I’m inspired to write at the time. One of my hubby’s greatest talents is for rearranging scenes into an order that makes sense.

For the sake of streamlining a process that most established writers wouldn’t recommend to their worst enemy, I’m making a valiant effort (going forward) to write chronologically. I got maybe 20,000 words into book 3 of The Witches’ Rede series before I had to jump ahead if I wanted to keep writing. So now I have to go back and start filling in the gaps.

11.  Have you ever hated something you wrote?

Hate is such a strong word.

And yet, it isn’t strong enough to describe how I felt about Possession, the book that follows Alight in my series. I wrote it during NaNoWriMo (and won, for what it’s worth) and when I attempted reading through it, I came dangerously close to throwing out everything related to it–the hand-written pages as well as Shift+Del’ing the computer copy.

My husband promised there was good in it, and that he would find it. He kept his promise–and then some!

It took a lot of editing to make it readable…and the next thing I know (many, many, many months and tears later), Possession is now my favorite of the books I’ve worked on in the series.

12.  Which is the easiest for you–novel, novella, or short story? Why?

Novel. Er, novel series. My worlds grow, my characters get complex–I really don’t know how to do novellas well or stand-alone books…at all.

13.  While you were writing, did you ever feel like you were one of your characters?

I’ve had dreams from my characters’ POV.

Lots of my characters share several of my traits…and one shares many of my life experiences. I guess in writing some of those scenes, I very much did feel like I was in her shoes (again).

In working out new ideas, my husband and I often “role play,” and create some of the more fun exchanges between my two main characters.

14. How did you come up with the title?

Alight has had 4 different titles over the years (excluding the inspired “Untitled” title, and the equally uninspiring “Naming Book 1 the Same as the Series Because This Wasn’t Actually Meant to be a Series” title).

Alight was another of my husband’s brilliant ideas, and I’m so grateful for it. It’s a perfect fit for this book and a great start to the series.

15.  What inspired you to write your latest book? What is the book about?

Well, my latest WIP is the 3rd book in the The Witches’ Rede series, and it follows the adventures of my main characters, Rafaele and Maeve, as they hunt down a prized possession that was feloniously taken from Maeve during the course of the 2nd book.

They encounter numerous road blocks along the way (including a literal one) and wind up in a fight for their lives against a charismatic Native American demigod on a fiendish mission from a higher authority.

16.  Any blogs, websites, social media you’d like to share?

Yes, absolutely!

You can find me on…

Thanks again, Jewel, for being a guest on my blog. It’s awesomesauce that you’re an old school writer like me and still write in notebooks! I thought I was the only one LOL. Good luck with your new release 🙂

Keep smiling,

Yawatta Hosby

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