Here on Alternative-Read.com we believe in promoting both new and established authors. I hope you enjoy this interview with Zoe Winters, a new up-and-coming writer! Comments to Zoe are welcomed!

SB: Hello Zoe, and welcome to AR!

ZW: Thanks for having me!

SB: First, may I ask you to tell us a little bit about yourself?

ZW: *laughs* If you knew me, you wouldn't ask a question that gives me such an opportunity to talk. How much time have you got?

SB: You sound like me!

OK. Next, I must thank you for supplying us with your book Kept, which is available to give away free to our readers when they join our Yahoo group: http://groups.yahoo.com/group/An_Alternative_Read

May I ask what the idea behind giving away your book is? From a promotional point of view, have you felt it successful?

ZW: KEPT is the first novella in a trilogy. I wanted to give KEPT away in order to start to build up a reader base, and as a type of "test marketing" to see how people responded to it.

I do feel like it's been successful. I released it at the very end of November and so far I've had over 5,000 downloads combined. And a lot of that has been word of mouth and Kindle store sales ranking, which is great. (Kindle won't just let anyone give a Kindle book away for free. You have to have a special agreement with them.) My only regret is that I haven't promoted it harder, because it keeps me from knowing what the full potential might be.

SB: I think you idea of "test marketing" is brilliant. I am pleased to hear it's been worthwhile for you. Would you like to tell us about any projects you are working on now?

ZW: I want to keep them all a secret forever. :D Just kidding. Of course. I'm hoping to release the trilogy on Halloween. But we'll see how that goes. I want it to be "right" rather than "fast." Then next year I'm planning to release my first full length novel. It's written and has been through another draft or two, but it's still got some edits to go.

SB: Which authors and books inspire you?

ZW: I like books that are either dark or funny. Or if it can be both funny and dark, that's always awesome. Though I've always written and read fiction, I found my genre in a roundabout way. Got really hooked on Buffy, and then obsessed with Buffy fanfic, haha. At some point I thought: "I want to read stuff sort of kind of like this, but with other characters." That was when I discovered the paranormal romance genre. (I think probably a lot of PR writers are also Buffy fans.) So the original inspiration was Joss Whedon and all the wonderfully quirky/weird stuff he came up with for TV. The books (at least in this genre) came later.

SB: Are you a 'Seat of the pants writer' or do you plot?

ZW: Total anal-retentive plotter. It's really sad. There should be a plotter's anonymous meeting I can join. Of course then I'd probably try to outline and plot the meeting.

SB: *Laughs* That's not such a bad thing!

Do you edit as you write or write a full draft and then edit?

ZW: I let the crap draft flow out in all it's craptacular glory, then I start editing. I have my starting outline, I write the crap draft, then I reread it and make a list of what I actually wrote vs. what I should have written. And it goes on from there.

SB: Do you have a crit partner, someone who goes over your work and spots any spelling, grammar issues, and so forth?

ZW: Yep, I have several, as an indie I can't afford to be without that. A lot of my editing help comes through peer editing, so I have to have as many eyeballs as possible and they've got to be good eyeballs.

SB: Can you tell us if you have a writing desk, or work in any particular area that's your writing space?

ZW: I work in the office of my house. It became the writing space by default, but there aren't any mystical writing symbols hanging around or anything. I do have a Pulp Fiction poster, and a print out over my desk that says: "Fortune favors the brave."

SB: Please tell us if you follow a writing schedule, or have a daily word count goal, and if so what it involves.

ZW: Okay, confession time. I know no writer is supposed to ever admit this, we're supposed to write every single day no matter what so we can stay in the "real writer" club, but aside from some edits I did a week or two ago, I haven't written or edited anything in a couple of months. Which is why I say I'm "hoping" to release the trilogy for Halloween.

But this is how I tend to work, I'll go for awhile, really hammering it out and working like a crazy person, then I take a long break. (I'm about to get back into crazy work mode again.) I just can't do it full throttle all the time. I love to write, but I've also got to recharge, and sometimes I'm just not in the right mental place. Rather than flogging myself over it, I try to just anticipate it and work around it. Though when I'm in the rough draft of something, it doesn't matter what my mental zone is, I do my word count. Otherwise I wouldn't ever finish anything.

SB: I'm sure you are not the only one who doesn't write every day, as it is not always possible with the busy life many people lead today.

What's the most useful information another author have given you?

ZW: It's all subjective. You will really drive yourself crazy if you try to please everyone. What you write is going to connect with some people and other people will think it's the lamest thing on the planet. And all you can do is try to figure out which parts are actually a matter of writing proficiency and which are a matter of opinion. Plug away to improve in the skill area, and try to shut up the voices in your head over the opinions.

SB: Please can you share any writing groups you belong to. How does belonging to such groups assist you in your writing career?

ZW: I'm not big on groups (though I always somehow end up in one or two loosely organized ones anyway. i.e. we're a group cause we all happen to hang together on a blog or something.) Groups lead to drama and because I'm so opinionated I find myself arguing every topic under the sun, which is mentally draining for me, and probably anyone who has to read my rambling.

Writing groups are useful for some people and if it's right for you, awesome, but I tend to pick up writing friends rather than writing groups. Those people have offered me encouragement, critique, emailed links of important things I should know about when they see them and think of me, all of which I'm very grateful for. But as for organized newsgroups and forums, I don't tend to do very many of those, and when I do, my participation is sporadic. And as for official writing groups like RWA (Romance Writers of America) and things of that nature, no. I'm on a bit of a different publishing path, so a lot of the benefits aren't really geared toward me and what I'm doing.

SB: Which writing blogs do you regularly follow?

ZW: I tend to follow more indie-focused stuff. publetariat.com (where I also contribute), publishren.com (where I also contribute) Self-Publishing Review. There are probably others that I'm forgetting. I also really love Nathan Bransford's blog. I'm pretty non-traditional and very much into the whole "indie author" movement that's started up. I believe authors need to have their own indie work like film and music has had, not to "replace" or "compete with" the more mainstream outlets, but because all artists should have choices about how they share their work ,and independent production is right for some people.

But I veered a little there... Nathan Bransford is a kickass literary agent, and though a lot of what he focuses on tends to be more appropriate for those trying to get through the gates of mainstream NY publishing, he's always interesting and funny.

With the exception of that blog, I don't hang out that much or follow a lot of mainstream type writing blogs, mainly because it's mostly focused on queries and submission and rejection, and I'm more focused on finding good cover artists, getting my editing taken care of, layout, and other production matters. I just don't fully "connect" with that group because of the different goals.

SB: I totally agree with your views on the whole "indie author and film industry". That's why AR are very keen to work with authors of the smaller outlets, erotica and those who self-publish. It's also why we are called 'Alternative'.

Once again, I'd like to take this opportunity to thank you for your book Kept, which is available free to members of our AR Yahoo group, and also on your website.

Please can you give our readers your website or blog url, so that they can visit it for themselves?

ZB: Absolutely. http://zoewinters.wordpress.com That's the blog. I'll be putting up a website a little later. For now the blog sort of doubles as a website, but it's getting a little crowded on the menu bar across the top.

SB: It's been fun talking to you. Please do come back and visit us when you have more publishing news. I know our readers will be very keen to hear how you progress. Good luck with your future writing career. Thanks again for taking the time to answer my questions.

Visit this page to see Zoe's interview on the main AR site.

Comments to the author are welcomed!

Sassy :)
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