Please help me welcome Allison Merritt to my blog today:
Tell me a bit about yourself:
I’ve always been a serious reader, so it comes as no surprise to anyone who knows me that I wanted to be an author as well. I’m from the Ozark Mountains in Missouri where I live with my husband and our dogs. Hiking and photography are two of my passions besides writing.
What type of genre do you write?
Currently I'm writing historical fantasy/steampunk romance.
What genre to you personally read?
I prefer romance, but I also enjoy western, mainstream fiction, YA, and some horror.
Tell me about your latest book:
The Sky Pirate's Wife is the second book in the Legends and Lovers Series.
After a tragic airship wreck, Captain Alwin van Buren makes a drastic decision to obtain a wealthy bride in order to save his flagging business. He meets his match in Sophie Barnes, heiress to an airship empire. After he seduces her and ensures their marriage—igniting a rivalry with her godfather—he learns the green-eyed beauty is as headstrong as he is.
Sophie knows Van Buren's reputation based on a series of dime novels written about his adventures. Determined to be more than an end to a means, she despises him for luring her into marriage. In fiction, he's a no-nonsense captain on the verge of piracy, but the flesh-and-blood man wins her heart by proving she's worth more to him than her money.
Their love is threatened when Sophie learns Van Buren's airship accident was a result of mythical creatures. Winged predators that appear to have a grudge against him, a fact he deliberately hid by accusing her godfather of sabotage. If she can forgive him for that, they still have to face the danger when they're cornered and at the mercy of beasts and the evil that controls them.
Where is your book available?
Where you live and one thing you love about it
I live in southwestern Missouri. My favorite thing about is our nature and the history of the area. We have a lot of parks, conservation areas, and a national Civil War battlefield. The area is really beautiful.
What sparked your passion for books and the art of a good story?
My parents encouraged me by reading to me when I was young. I learned that books were a good source of entertainment and could take you out this world and into another one.
Is there a particular book that changed or affected your life in a big way?
Around the time I was a teenager, I read Harold Bell Wright's The Shepherd of the Hills, which is set in Missouri during the early 20th century. It's a great book, full of romance, adventure, mystery, and suspense. It really impressed me. Louis L'Amour westerns also shaped the way I write. His descriptions of the West and his characters make me see the world the way it was in the 1800s.
What was the seed of inspiration for your latest book?
I got interested in mythology when I was in college. Lately I've taken to exploring more Native American mythology. There are so many interesting legends that anyone could write about. In The Sky Pirate's Wife, I've taken the legend about thunderbirds, these huge cryptoid birds that people still report seeing, and molded them into a weapon to be used against the hero of the novel.
Is there a message in your book that you want readers to grasp?
The Sky Pirate's Wife is about a man who starts out too selfish to reach out for love. When he marries an heiress to save his business, he discovers that love is real and in the end, he's willing to sacrifice everything for her safety. I like to think that love is one of the greatest forces on the planet and it's a universal feeling, so everyone understands it. Love changes things.
What challenges have you faced in your writing career?
As a self-published author, I've stumbled over a few roadblocks and trials. I do everything from cover design to setting up formatting for both e-books and paperback. When I made the decision to self-publish last year, I had no idea where to start. There's so much information out there about it, it can be difficult to sort through it all and figure out what's relevant to me and my books. And it's not just formatting issues and making sure the edits are correct. There's no support for marketing like traditionally published authors usually receive. Formatting and covers eventually get finished, but marketing is something that has to be done frequently. It can get very tiring fast.
What has been your best moment as a writer?
There are a lot of good moments. Most recently it's a toss up between finishing the third book in my series and seeing the proof copy of my second book in paperback. Of course, there's also the thrill of selling a paperback to a person in front of you and signing it to them. Amazing.
Who is your author idol?
Linda Lael Miller has been one of my favorite romance authors since I read the Springwater Series. She's the reason I love historical romance novels.
Do you see yourself in any of your characters?
The characters from the Legends and Lovers Series are always faced with challenges that force them to go beyond the limits they think they have. When I started seriously writing in 2009, I never imagined I'd be able to sit down and write an 80,000 word novel. It's the characters that have led me on and inspired me to finish their stories.
Do you feel like your dream has come true or is there much more to do?
Both. I never intended to write a series. The first book in the series was written just for fun as a novella, but as I added more to it and realized I wanted it published, it grew into a bunch of characters clamoring for their own stories. I plan to release the third book in April 2013, but I intend on having five novels total in this series, so I still have plenty of work to do to get that finished.
What is your personal cure for procrastination?
I participated in two NaNoWriMo events where I managed to “win” with 50,000 words. I learned that writing consistently, even if it doesn't seem very good, is important for accomplishing goals. To really get down to business, I like to turn the TV off, pop my earbuds in, turn on either the radio or my music list, and block out the world so I can get involved with the characters and their story.
What does your workspace look like?
Messy! I'm not very organized at all. I have stacks of papers, books, and various odds and ends laying around. That's my type B personality going crazy. I can very easily ignore debris when I'm focusing on the story.
Have you ever had a day when you just wanted to quit?
I think most writers go through that. One day when I took the first chapter of my first novel to my writer's group critique and it was met with dead silence after I finished reading it, I got a very bad feeling in my stomach. When you're surrounded by a talented group of people, you start thinking you don't have what it takes. All it took though, was rewriting that chapter three times. I eventually got it right. During the process of learning formatting, I had days where I was sure I was making a mistake. And there are months when sales aren't the best no matter what kind of advertising and marketing I do. I've gotten over that though, because I've learned that everyone has off months.
What do you do when you’re not writing?
I love walking and taking photographs of nature. Sometimes I get some pretty pictures. During the winter when it's too cold to do much, I'm usually found sitting in my chair watching DVDs and reading. I'm lucky enough to have a day job as a card cataloger, so I get all the new releases before anyone else in the library. I also have a husband and a dog to keep me entertained.
What are the most important attributes to remaining sane as a writer?
Never taking criticism personally. Or if you decide to take it personally, then make sure you use it to turn yourself around. If someone says you can't do something, or you're wrong for making a decision (self-publishing, for instance), stand by your convictions. It's important not to let others get you down and never, ever listen to self-doubt. Some doubts are necessary to make you learn to be better.
What was the greatest thing you learned at school?
That I'm terrible at math, the cooler your car, the better your social status is, and that you should never stop learning. I enjoyed most aspects of school from history to English and even got into science. I particularly loved agriculture studies. Learning new things makes me feel good about myself, so I try to keep that up.
Did you have a moment when you realised you were meant to be a writer?
I've been writing for a long time. There was a time when I took a break, didn't do any writing, but in late 2008 I decided to try writing another novel. I've been at it since then, writing historical romance and historical fantasy romance. I was hugely surprised in 2009 when I got second place in the first writing contest I'd entered in years. That's the kind of thing that keeps you going and makes you want to get better and better.
What advice would you give to aspiring authors?
Join critique groups, make friends with writers, read, read, read. Follow agents and publishers and write what you love. Take the criticism and use it to make yourself better.
After this book, what is next?
I'm editing the third book in the series now, working on the fourth, and I have an idea for the fifth in mind. After that I've got an idea for a paranormal historical romance series about brothers. I'm looking forward to starting that. It should definitely keep me busy for the next couple of years.
What a great interview! Please thank her for joining us today! She can be found at the below addresses:
The Sky Pirate's Wife:
Barnes and Noble: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/the-sky-pirates-wife-allison-merritt/1112878533?ean=2940015701098
Go check out her and her book. Leave a comment on her blog and let her know you've been there!