Today, Hartford Books Examiner welcomes Clover Autrey.
Ms. Autrey is the author, most recently, of “Highland Soldier” (Red Rover Books)—the eighth entry in her popular Highland Sorcery series. She writes the kind of stories she loves to read: high fantasy and time travels with Scottish Highlanders or magical mermen and shapeshifters, with powerful elements of romance, where the hero and heroine must each make sacrifices to gain something even stronger. She is also the author of the Anointed series. Ms. Autrey serves as the current president of the Keller Writers Association and is the past president for the North Texas Romance Writers of America. She is a frequent speaker at conferences and workshops. Connect with her at cloverautrey.com.
One Utah reader noted: “Clover Autrey’s books are perfect for the time-constrained reader. They are … jam-packed with action, adventure, and emotion.”
From the publisher:
Ethan’s in a world of trouble.
Injured, cut off from his squad, and hunted by time-traveling beasts that want to eat him, to survive he has to place all his trust with the gutsy daughter of a guerrilla tactics survivalist.
But for Ethan, trust doesn’t come easy.
Now, Clover Autrey casts a spell on readers …
John Valeri: What inspired you to embrace indie publishing – and how has doing so changed your life?
Clover Autrey: My dad collected old time radio shows of the 1930s. He’d pump those shows into our bedrooms through an intercom system he set up. As a kid I went to sleep every night listening to those stories acted out.
I think that started my love of storytelling. After having a few books already published with a small press, Indie publishing just seemed like the natural progression. I didn’t go into it lightly. I researched it, listened intently to authors who had already done it, studied the process of how to actually do it through the different platforms out there, and finally jumped in with the first book in a new series I started about time traveling Highlanders. Those books were embraced by readers and yes, changed my life, making my dream of being a writer become a career. I love indie publishing. I especially love the control I have over my own books, how they’ll look, how they’ll be marketed, and when they’ll be available. I’m saying it’s easy, but it’s worth it. Seven books in that series later, I’ve never looked back or regretted going this route.
JV: There are both digital and physical platforms for publication. What do you see as being the benefits of each – and do you have a personal preference between eBooks and “real” books?
CA: I’ll gobble up a good book in any format I can get it in. I’m eagerly anticipating the holonovels that Star Trek Voyager promised. Good stories are good stories whether told around a campfire, read in the glow of a Kindle, or through the dog-eared pages of a favorite paperback.
The benefits for digital publication is portability. I’ll buy my favorite books in paperback simply because I love the feel of those in my hands. Those books stay by my favorite chair at home. When I have those few extra minutes in a doctor’s office or in my car waiting for my kids at school, I read on my phone. I always have my cell phone with me. The convenience of reading anywhere is the biggest factor in the evolution of digital books.
With indie publishing my books, I want to give my readers the option of reading my books in whichever format they like. I’m able to provide ebooks through platforms like Kindle Direct Publishing and I provide all my paperback books through CreateSpace. Since the paperbacks are print-on-demand, meaning a book is printed only after a customer orders it, there isn’t the overhead of large print runs and storing those books in a warehouse somewhere. My next step is getting into the audiobook market because I know there are readers who only listen to their books, much like the old time radio show listeners of the past. And after that, holonovels!
JV: Self-publishing has made significant strides toward mainstream acceptance in recent years. To what do you credit this trend – and how would you advocate for self-publishing “done right” among burgeoning authors?
CA: It used to be that editors and agents had the say of what manuscripts were made available to people in general. They were the gatekeepers the vast majority of stories had to pass through to get to the masses. Now, thanks to digital publishing platforms, more and more writers can get their books into the hands of people via their electronic reading devices.
That puts readers squarely in control as the gatekeepers of what material gets accepted into the mainstream. How? Through word of mouth and reviews and their collective buying power of what readers deem is good.
That’s at once wonderful and frightening for a writer. Wonderful, because writers have the ability to get their books out there relatively easily. Frightening, because writers have the ability to get their books out there relatively easily.
The first book I ever wrote is on a floppy disc (remember those?) tucked away in a file cabinet where it rightly will never see the light of day even if I could find an old computer that still runs floppy discs. I loved that story, but it wasn’t ready for publication. At the time I thought it was. I was still learning my craft. In my infancy as a writer I probably would have published the darn thing if there had been platforms to do it like we have now. The thought really makes me cringe.
I’m not saying there aren’t some stand out first time writers that instinctively somehow get it. I’ve read some of those books and they are brilliant. That’s the wonderful aspect. Those books get a chance to be seen instead of languishing in a publisher’s slush pile somewhere. However, the majority of first time writers who go ahead and publish on their own could have used a little help before hitting that upload button. That’s the frightening part. Seeing books go out that haven’t reached their full potential when they could have been amazing. That makes me sad.
And it’s so unnecessary. There are a ton of writer associations for every genre under the moon that writers can go to for advice and mentoring.
I love finding new books to read, new voices and stories. Some of the best writing has come out of indie publishing. (“The Martian,” anyone?) My advice for burgeoning writers is to make sure their book is the best it can be. Study the craft. Writers are among the most helpful souls I know. And we keep lists of good freelance editors and formatters, and how to find critique groups. Writing is something you do alone, but it doesn’t have to be a lonely endeavor.
JV: How can storytelling help us to understand the world around us – and in what ways has writing allowed you to positively channel your energies during times of struggle?
CA: That hasn’t changed from when our ancestors were living in caves acting out more effective ways to hunt, to the inspirational memes and anecdotes that stream through Facebook and Instagram. Stories will always shape how we view the world.
I don’t come from one of those lofty towers where there are no struggles. Not many people do. I had a son who was in the hospital constantly because of cystic fibrosis. Sometimes we would be there for a few weeks for what they called a “tune up” where they hit his lungs with aerosol antibiotics heavily. Sometimes we there for a while after a surgery. There was a lot of quiet time while he was asleep and there was nowhere for my mind to turn to except for worry about him and fear for his future.
In those moments I pulled out my notepad and wrote. I needed something else to think about. I needed to create characters who had the ability to fight their circumstances head on. And win. I needed them to win their battles.
JV: What advice would you give those looking to explore their own creative ambitions? How can they keep the work of writing fun?
CA: I’m chuckling a little bit because sometimes writing is the complete opposite of fun. It’s hard and it’s exhausting. I pour my entire heart into it and then somehow untangle all that mush into coherency.
Fulfillment better describes the emotion I take from writing. There are moments when I can barely see what I’m writing because I’m crying along with my characters. Other times I have to stop because I’m laughing too hard. My characters tend to be much wittier than I am. Don’t get me wrong. I come up with great zingers, but usually ten minutes after the fact, so I feed the lines I wish I’d said to my characters instead.
The fun of writing comes when I get together with my writer friends. Nobody understands the crazy brains of a writer like other authors. Once a month, I get together with my critique group, The Cowtown Critiquers, a group of seven amazing women. We brainstorm plots, hash out character motives, sympathize with life in general, and laugh. Lots of laughing. We keep each other sane.
For anyone thinking about writing, that’s my advice. Join a local writers group. One you have to get out of your house and go to in person. Meet fellow writers face-to-face and learn from them. Soak up every scrap of experience they have to offer. And let them become your support system.
JV: Leave us with a teaser: What comes next?
CA: I’m happy to say that I’m wrapping up the final book in my Highland Sorcery series. This last book, “Highland Chieftain,” will come full circle back to the beginning in 13th Century Scotland where the first book, “Highland Sorcerer,” started. With time travel I get to play with several possibilities in all the time lines of the books. It’s so much fun to write.
With thanks to Clover Autrey for her generosity of time and thought and to Gabrielle Torello of Grand Communications, Inc. for facilitating this interview.