Interview with J W Manus author of Suite Assumptions.

Why are you taking part in the author blog challenge and what do you hope to achieve?

To be perfectly accurate, I’m not going to answer as an author. I’ve written a lot of fiction–romantic suspense for Hq Intrigue (as Sheryl Lynn), shorter works for St. Martin’s and Adam’s media, and odd bits for smaller publications. These days, writing fiction takes about 25% of my time and energy. I have several projects in the works and they’ll be produced later this year. The majority of my time is spent in my new role as a Producer. I and several other writers have formed a group. Our goal is to become a publishing entity, but not one based on legacy publishing. Producing a terrific book is harder than it looks and I doubt there are very many people who are capable of doing it alone. We’re taking things that work best in legacy publishing and in indie publishing, and finding ways to meld them and mix them and with luck we’ll come up with something readers love. So far we’ve produced two ebooks of which we’re all very proud. J.R. Barrett’s, Beauty and the Feast, and Marina Bridges, Zombies Take Manhattan! The other writers call me the Obsessanator because of my fascination with ebook production. I love ebooks. As much as I love them, I am frustrated with how poor a “total reading experience” they offer. My goal is to change that, to find ways to make reading an ebook as pleasurable as reading a print book.

How long have you been writing for?

It seems as if I’ve been writing all my life. I’ve been professionally writing since 1992. Oh my God. Twenty years.

What would you say is the most difficult part of writing a book?

Truthfully? The idea. Bad ideas are everywhere and mediocre ideas are a dime a dozen. Really good ideas, though, those with heart and passion and sticking power, those are rarer. That’s the talent part. That’s the innate whatever-it-is that separates the geniuses from the rest of us. It can’t be faked, can’t be taught. It can only be nurtured and developed. The hard part is figuring out the difference between the really good idea that pops into your head and the so-so, who-cares dross just passing through. One of the things our group is doing is nurturing and emboldening our natural talents. Legacy publishing can be very hard on writers that way. They’re investing a lot of money in producing books and that makes them risk aversive, especially in genre fiction. I think readers are far more adventurous and accepting than many publishers and many writers believe. Our group can afford to experiment without having to take out second mortgages.

What genre do you generally write?

The majority of my published works are romantic suspense. At the moment my projects are fantasy. I always tend to be drawn to the relationships between men and women. So, at my heart, I’ll probably always be a romance writer.

Do you have a favourite author and why?

How long do you want this post to be? I’m an eclectic reader and voracious. I average 3-4 novels a week, plus I read a lot of short fiction. Take a look at my recommended reads and you’ll see why I have trouble pinpointing a favorite.

If I must pinpoint, I’d say my current favorite is Lawrence Block. I’ve rediscovered his fiction (read a lot of it in the 80s and 90s) and fallen in love all over again with the spare elegance of his writing and his wonderful characters. He has a large and varied body of work, and I’m working my way through it all. The one thing that keeps bringing me back again and again is how his stories leave plenty of room for the reader to think. They have sticking power. Which is why he is the Master and I am the slobbering fangirl.

What is your book called and how did you choose this title?

Ha! I totally suck at titles. Back in the 90s I wrote a romance novella for an anthology. My title? Lost and Found. What does that even mean? It’s idiotic. So when I decided to republish it, I turned to my group, all of whom are much better at coming up with titles. We decided on Suite Assumptions, which may sound a bit out of context here, but it works very well for a romantic comedy set in a honeymoon suite with a heroine who can’t stop jumping to conclusions. Just so you know, I suck at covers, too. I wanted to try my hand at cover design and discovered I’m not good at it. Heh. Which is why when we produced Barrett’s, Beauty and the Feast (great title) we used the talents of Winterheart Design, and we used N.E. White for Bridges’s, Zombies Take Manhattan! (also a great title). I do believe the group consensus is for the rest of them to distract me with shiny objects so I keep my nose out of the title and cover side of it.

What advice would you give aspiring authors?

Write a million words. That will get all the crap out of their system, teach them a few things about how to use language, and prepare them for the real work of crafting fiction. There are no shortcuts. There is magic, but a writer has to be practiced enough to recognize magic when it happens.

Do you use social media to promote your book, if yes then which social networks do you like the most?

I’m the wrong person to ask about promotion. I don’t believe in gimmicks or advertising or constant me, me, me. I believe word-of-mouth is the most effective way to sell books. To earn word-of-mouth, the book has to be worth talking about. So I believe the best promotion writers can do is to write better books. As for social media, work on being interesting rather than just making noise. That said, I love Twitter. Having “followers” kind of creeps me out. I know it’s not like they’re stalking me, but still… I love the humor and the links and the personalities. I’m also a chronic blogger. I can’t seem to shut up.

What do you feel is the most important stage of writing a book?

Editing. I can hear the outrage from other writers bellowing through the ether. So let me explain. There is a special magic involved in writing fiction. The writer takes pure thought, pure images from his/her brain, translates them into language and then translates it yet again into the written word. That is magic. Even after the writer has done all he/she can do, the circuit isn’t complete until the story is read. The editorial process is the bridge between writer and reader. Writers know what they mean to say–the editor is the one who makes sure the writer actually says it. In my opinion, readers shouldn’t have to plow through less-than stellar “translations” in order to get to the good stuff. Quite often the difference between a good story and a great story is the editor.

Where is your book available to buy? 

You can find all our books at Amazon (click on the images to purchase the books)

More information about JW Manus…

I have a blog for writers called, JW Manus (catchy title, eh?), that anyone who is interested in ebook production should check out. That’s where my Obnessanator colors really show. I talk a lot about formatting and production, and I share the nifty tricks I’ve learned and am still learning.

I also have a blog for readers called, Jaye’s Love Affair With Genre Fiction. Guess what I like to talk about over there? Marina Bridges’s has a regular feature, the Zombie Report, plus I often have guest bloggers who talk about their books and the ideas behind them.

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