Q1. Is "Stranger Among Us" your first published work?
A1: My first published work is a short story titled Victim to Villain that debuted last month in Ink & Sword Magazine. As for my 1st book, yes it is.
Q2. Based on the novel's synopsis and the author bio on the JSmith Publishing website, you and your character, Jean Stone, have very similar careers. Does Jean Stone reflect your own personality?
A2: Definitely! There is a lot of my past, present, and future in these books. Jean Stone is named after my maternal grandmother, sadly she is no longer with us. My life, experiences, and family inspire me to write these stories.
Q3. Why did you choose this genre?
A3: Mystery and crime were my favorite since I was old enough to remember. In 4th grade, I read every Nancy Drew book out there along with The Hardy Boys. Nancy Drew was my idol, I wanted to be just like her! I also was fascinated with anything mystery oriented especially the sinking of the Titanic. My first career choice was to be a Marine Biologist, so I could go down and see the Titanic. Sadly, I suffer from motion sickness so that dream would not become a reality.
Q4. Have you always enjoyed writing or did something particular inspire you to begin writing?
A4: Writing was something I enjoyed at a young age. After the Marine Biology dream went away, I decided I wanted to be a Country Singer like Patsy Cline so I started writing song lyrics. That dream didn’t work out either, but I found a passion for writing and honed my skills in college. After college I became a mom and my focus was raising her until a few years ago when I was able to begin a career as a teacher, which I love. It was a fellow mentor who inspired me to go back to writing and six weeks later, Jean Stone was born.
Q5. What is the most exciting part about having your first novel published?
A5: All of it! It has been a roller coaster ride of emotions and I have been grateful for every part of this. I soak up each moment as it is only once you publish your very first novel.
Q6. The official trailer for your novel aired at midnight on New Years Day. What was that like?
A6: Nerve wracking! We had worked on marketing for months on this and now we were about to see if it all paid off. I had not seen the trailer so my reaction you see on YouTube is genuine. It was so much more than I could have imagined and the response we got back from it was overwhelming! A memory I will cherish forever.
Q7. With regard to publishing, how did you approach finding the appropriate company?
A7: I am pretty stubborn and knew a few things were not negotiable to me. One, I didn’t want to lose my rights to my book. Two, they needed to handle it all as with a full-time teaching job, I am only able to work on things during breaks and weekends. Three, I wanted a lot of control over my book and what I thought was best. I found that in JSmith Publishing!
Q8. Do you have future plans for the continuation of the Jean Stone Mysteries?
A8: Currently I have planned out 20 books for the series. Book 2 is in storyboard editing and I am writing Book 3. I also started work on a young adult series inspired by my daughter so I stay really busy.
Q9. Do you have a favorite crime series yourself?
A9: For a TV Series, it will always be CSI. For book series, my heart belongs to Nancy Drew always and forever.
Q10. When is the release date of "Stranger Among Us?"
A10: February 22nd!
Question 1: Mr. Smith, you have recently decided to start your own publishing company. Do you have any published works yourself?
A1: I do, yes. It is called "Heartfelt Words". It is a romance poetry collection, all written by myself. I published it in the fall of 2016, but since have taken it off the market.
Question 2: Before you founded JSmith Publishing, what did you do?
A2: Well, I was (and still currently am) a college student. Before I started JSmith Publishing, I was a part of a writing club, where I really discovered my interest in poetry and had two of my pieces even featured in their annual magazine. I would also post some of my work to a site called writerscafe.org. Other than that, I was just a college student who loves sports at that time.
Question 3: JSmith Publishing is set to release its first publication. What can you tell readers about it?
A3: Yes, the first publication is titled "Launch Pad: Volume I". This publication is the first of a four part series that allows writers, mainly unpublished writers, to get their work in a published work to help get the "Launch Pad" that their career as an author needs. Volume I is a poetry anthology with works from poets ranging from the USA to Scotland to Germany to India and other places across the globe.
Question 4: How many people work for JSmith Publishing?
A4: Currently, there is three people working for JSmith Publishing. Myself, I am the Founder/Owner/President/CEO of the company. We have an in-house photographer named Elissa Aquino, who has some fantastic work (You should really check it out). Then, we have one in-house editor and his name is Justin Goode. He loves to edit and so far he has done a great job for us.
Question 5: Was it difficult finding poets to contribute to “Launch Pad?”
A5: I honestly thought that when I created the submission area for the chance to be featured in Launch Pad: Volume I, I honestly was not sure how it was going to turn out. Early on, I will admit that I did not think there would be enough submissions to even make this title. But, within the first week and a half without any advertising for the submissions, we recieved around 60 poems. It was insane. We ended up with around 100 total poems submitted to us. It was really cool to not only see all of the submissions, but to also see the messages that I would get from a few of the poets as well just saying thank you for even having this opportunity arise. That was something that I will never forget.
Question 6: What sorts of publications do you hope to publish in the future?
A6: Well, we have a mystery/crime title by debut author Morgan Summer and a YA title by debut author Jacob Faust coming out early next year. I am really excited about both of these titles. We also have a few more titles planned for 2019 that include poetry and other anthologies as well. So, we are excited about those as well. As far as what would we hope to publish, me personally I have always been a fan of mystery books. That's been something I've loved since I was in middle school.
Question 7: As a published author yourself, what do you hope to provide other authors publishing with your company?
A7: That's a good question. What I hope to bring authors that publish with JSmith Publishing is a sense of comfort and hopefully to have those authors be able to benefit off of my experiences from when I self-published my own work. I learned a lot when I was publishing my poetry book. So, to be able to turn around and offer that advice and experience to authors, while having them know that a fellow author is helping them with making their publishing dreams come true is something that I pride myself and my company with.
Question 8: Is “Launch Pad” currently available to readers?
A8: Yes, Launch Pad: Volume I is currently available as an eBook on BN.com. The paperback version of the title will be released by October 1st.
Question 9: Who would be your target audience for this first publication?
A9: Our target audience is anyone who likes poetry. Launch Pad: Volume I is filled with poems from poets all across the world and really shows a wide range of different story tellers that all love to tell stories through poetry.
Question 10: What is the company’s plans for marketing their publications?
A10: Our plan is still molding and reworking everyday to make sure that it is the best it can be. But, with the social media platforms that we have in Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube and our website, we are able to show things like our 1-on-1 interviews with the author as well as some other methods that we are currently working on at this moment.
Question 11: Where can prospective authors learn more about your company and submit their work?
A11: Anyone who is either just finishing their first manuscript or has had it finished, but has not been able to get any of the big time publishing houses to accept their manuscript, you can go to our website at jsmithpublishing.wordpress.com and find out more information about us there, as well as finding the area where you can submit your work. Of course, we have our social media pages as well on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube. We do all of our updating there for all of our titles, so be sure to follow those accounts so you can stay up to date on anything and everything JSmith Publishing.
Q1. How long have you been interested in historical fiction?
A1. I’ve loved historical fiction since I can remember. I’ve always wanted to travel back in time. The Lilly Stars is set in the Gilded Age for many reasons but mostly because I personally would have liked to live during that period. History in general is a subject I find fascinating. The constant progression and regression of civilization throughout time is the best story you could ever read.
Q2. Do you draw inspiration from your own life when writing your characters?
A2. I don’t believe there’s a character in The Lilly Stars that isn’t based on someone in my life. Sometimes I draw a small characteristic from one person and create the character around that. In general, I find characters develop traits on their own. I start with a detail of a personality and from that the characters take over and manifest themselves.
Q3. Did you follow a strict outline while writing "The Lilly Stars?"
A3. I knew Lilly had a beginning and an end. All the in between came about on its own. Certain points in the plot had to be mapped out but for the most part, Lilly lives in her own world and allows me to transcribe it. I find the more I try to make points happen in a plot, the less organic it sounds. Before each chapter, I set a goal to get to a certain scene, but how it transpires is a mystery to me until I start writing it.
Q4. Many authors do research for their books. You included a bibliography, allowing your readers to see your research. Why did you choose to include a bibliography?
A4. I did a bibliography because they give validity to any historical fiction novel. It shows you did your homework. You have all the sources, why not show all the research you did? I actually can’t write a historical piece unless I can visualize the everyday life of that time. To do that, I spend countless hours reading about large and small details. The smaller the detail, the more you feel you’re part of that time.
Q5. Are there any authors, or books, that inspired you to begin your writing journey?
A5. My favorite author is Jane Austen, with Pride and prejudice being my favorite novel. Others that have inspired me include; Little women, Anne of green gables, and basically any historical coming of age story. I like to escape into the books I read and immerse myself into the time period.
Q6. In your experience, what is the hardest part of writing a historical fiction?
A6. Historical fiction requires a great amount of visualizing. I find the hardest part to write is the language, for example, what terms and words were used. How did people casually address each other? What contractions were used and who used them? What formalities were in place? It’s a lot different from how we speak today.
Q7. Did you consider any publishing companies before deciding to self-publish?
A7. I didn’t look at any publishing companies but I did look into the idea of an agent. During that time, I weighed the pros and cons of going the traditional publishing route. I came to the conclusion that I didn’t want any of my words changed. I wrote this book to be as it is and I wanted any changes to come from me, not because someone else felt I should alter it for increased profitability. We are fortunate to live during a time where self-publishing is an option. I do believe you need to invest in great editors and all other parts traditional publishers would handle for you.
Q8. How are you going about promoting your book "The Lilly Stars" and its sequel?
A8. Promoting takes a lot of time. Time is something I don’t have a lot of at the moment but I know I have to tackle this aspect in the near future. Since I’ve published, I’ve only promoted thru Goodreads.
Q9. Do you have any idea when readers can expect the sequel to be published?
A9. As of right now, my goal is to have it out by the end of this year.
Q10. In your opinion, what is the most rewarding part of being an author?
A10. The most rewarding part of being an author for me is when people write that they liked my book. To feel someone enjoyed the little world I created is simply awesome.
Q1: What is your favorite book and why?
Oh, hard one! I read in many genres and I'm not sure I have one "absolute favorite." But as far as a fantasy series goes, I adore the Wheel of Time books by Robert Jordan. The world he created is so rich and imaginative and intricately detailed, the magic system is awesome, and the characters are people you love or hate passionately. I can just read those books again and again. They're a gold standard of world-building.
Q2: What inspired you to write The Midnight Sea?
I really wanted to try my hand at an epic fantasy series. Since my mom read me all the LoTR books out loud when I was just a kid, it's been one of my all-time favorite genres. And after researching the daevas, I just knew I had to set the first trilogy in ancient Persia. That is their origin story, and it needed to be told. Confession: I actually have a nearly 90k-word completed manuscript called "Darius" that I wrote first and which set the story in contemporary times. In the end, I decided it just wasn't right and I stuck it in a drawer and started again. It was a tough call, but the right one. I'm so happy with the Midnight Sea, and can't wait to release the sequel, Blood of the Prophet, which is with my editor right now.
Q3: You published a dystopian novel titled “Some Fine Day” through an Angry Robots imprint called “Strange Chemistry”. Since then this imprint has been discontinued. What does this mean for the future of “Some Fine Day” and any possible sequels?
Yeah, that was…an interesting moment. Strange Chemistry suddenly folded about a month ahead of my release date, right in the middle of my blog tour. I had a three-book deal with them, so I was pretty bummed out! Luckily, I got my rights back and my agent sold the book to Skyscape, so it had a happy ending. I've toyed with the idea of a sequel for a while—and even written more than half of it—but it's on the back burner at the moment while I focus on the Fourth Element series. Still, never say never!
Q4: You are self-publishing “The Fourth Element” series. Was this decision influenced by the fact that “Strange Chemistry” was discontinued?
That was definitely frustrating, and although it didn't play a direct role in my decision, it's a good example of how little you have control over your career when you go the traditional route. Anything can happen. Self-pubbing can be a lot of work, but frankly, I prefer to have the final say in my cover art, blurb, release date, promos—all of it. I'm not the most patient person, so waiting around for green lights from other people is basically agony of the worst sort.
Q5: You have written a dystopian as well as a historical fantasy. If you had to pick one of these two worlds to live in, which would you choose and why?
Definitely historical! My dystopian future world was too scary. Half the population lived underground because of superstorms on the surface (and I'm claustrophobic, which SO would not work for me), and the other half was constantly on the run from the hypercanes. I'm not sure I'd want to go all the way back to the Midnight Sea era (terrible dentistry!), but I am a bit obsessed with Gilded Age New York. In fact, I'll have a book coming out later this year set in 1888 that's a prequel to the next segment of the Fourth Element series once the trilogy is done. Did that make any sense at all, lol? I promise it will once you read the books!
Q6: Your novel “The Midnight Sea” has creatures called daevas. In your letter to the readers, you explain that daevas are from the Zoroastrian religion. Would you mind telling us how you first learned about the Zoroastrian religion and the daevas?
I like to poke around in Wikipedia's mythology pages. I find all the folktales from different cultures around the world to be so interesting—and a great place to find inspiration for monsters and demons in my own writing. It may have been during research for another book, I can't remember exactly (this is a while back now), but I stumbled over daevas and initially just loved the word—the sound of it, the spelling. When I read that they were supposed to embody evil in Zoroastrianism, and yet once had been deities, I got to thinking about how that fall came about. And then I also find the idea of being unwillingly tied to the emotions of another person or creature to be very intriguing. The story took shape from there.
Q7: Your bio tells us that you are a mother. How does being a mother effect your writing?
There's a lot of my daughter in Nazafareen! And in all the strong female characters I write. My daughter is also mixed - half-white, half-African - and it's important to me that she be represented. I'm really glad the movement for greater diversity in YA and sci-fi/fantasy is gaining momentum. And I mean that in every sense—class, gender, sexuality, race, etc.
Q8: Since publishing your first novel, have you made the acquaintance of any fellow authors whose books you love?
So many! Lisa Maxwell is fantastic. Jessica Therrien. Joshua David Bellin. Kat Howard. Just to name a few.
Q9: In your opinion, how is self-publishing different than working with a publisher?
The bulk of the work—sitting down every day and writing—is the same. The business side has been a pretty steep learning curve for me over the last six months, and still is, but I think the key is having a great team behind you, which is no different than traditional publishing. Damonza designs all my covers and they are just amazing. Kat Howard is my editor, Acorn is my imprint and they have been incredibly supportive about the self-pubbing process. Xpresso is now handling all my blog promo stuff. I've met some wonderful beta readers in the last year who give me invaluable advice on early drafts. So basically every book I put out has the same level of professionalism as a book that is traditionally published. It's an investment of time and money, but I don't think you can skimp on any of that if you want to be commercially successful.
Q10: Where do you see yourself and your writing career in ten years?
Ha! Writing from my laptop on a beach somewhere while I dominate the NYT bestseller list, of course. Seriously, I just hope to still be doing what I love and connecting with fans. If I keep going at the rate of the last two years, I should have 30 more books out by then! I would love to dabble in some genre-busting, like a sci-fi detective story or romantic thriller that's really a dark comedy. :)
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