Wednesday, August 20, 2014

The Dauntless Indies Q & A with Author Christina Mercer

 Introducing Christina Mercer

Christina Mercer is an award-winning author of fiction for children and young adults. She took Writer’s Best in Show at the 2012 SCBWI CA North/Central Regional Conference, was a Semi-Finalist in the 2010 Amazon Breakout Novel Award Contest, and won Honorable Mention in the 21st Annual Writer's Digest Self Published Book Awards. She holds a degree in Accounting from California State University at Sacramento and a Certificate in Herbal Studies from Clayton College of Natural Health. Christina resides in Northern California enjoying life with her husband, two sons, four dogs, and about 100,000 honeybees. 

An Interview with Shawn, Michele, Michelle, & Sarah

SMM ~ What books/authors have inspired your life most?

CM ~ LITTLE WOMEN by Louisa May Alcott was my favorite book as a girl
THE HOBBIT by J.R.R. Tolkien and THE SHANNARA SERIES by Terry Brooks inspired my love of the fantasy genre
MISTS OF AVALON by Marion Zimmer Bradley nurtured my love of nature magic amid a sword & sorcery setting
CLAN OF THE CAVE BEAR by Jean M. Auel nurtured my interest in ancient man and the natural world

SMM ~ What book(s) are you reading now?

CM ~ In addition to the numerous books on Kindle that I am eager to read (mostly indie!), I’m ¼ of the way through a hard copy of George R.R. Martin’s A DANCE WITH DRAGONS

SMM ~ Are there any new authors that have grasped your interest?

CM ~ There are a number of indie authors who I am excited about: Chelsea Starling, Carlyle Labuschagne, Eva Pohler, Tia Bach, Jo Michaels, Michelle Isenhoff, R.K. Ryals, and I could go on … Indie authors have provided such a rich pool of great books.

SMM ~ What are your current writing projects?

CM ~ I have a couple of projects going at the moment that I am super excited about. One is a Young Adult Paranormal about a teen girl mixed up in a dangerous brew of family dysfunction, a murderous coven, and love (oh yeah!). The other project is a fun co-authored (with one of my favorite creative peeps) Science Fiction geared toward the New Adult audience.

SMM ~ What would we find you doing when you're not at the keyboard?

CM ~ My other “job” is handling the accounting for my hubby’s business (but I guess that still puts me in front of a keyboard, lol!). I spend non-keyboard time with family, friends, dogs, honey bees (I’m a hobbyist beekeeper), and I love to read, garden, and travel.

SMM ~ What are your favorite setting(s) to read/write about?

CM ~ I love fantasy set in your typical sword and castle eras, Regency period settings, and modern settings that incorporate a flare of unique. I’m most satisfied with backdrops that transport me to them, and ones that are crucial for the story.

SMM ~ If you could be any character in your book(s), which would you be and why?
CM ~ Oh, tough question! I love each of my characters in a special way. I’d probably have to pick LIA, the heroine of ARROW OF THE MIST & ARMS OF ANU, as she was the first “big” character that I created. She’s also a nature lover, has an awesome family and other-worldly hound, is skilled with a crossbow, knows all about herbs, and has several magical abilities—my favorite being her ability to communicate with trees. 

SC ~ How many books have you written?
CM ~ I have 3 published books and I am currently working on 2 new manuscripts. 

SC ~ What does writing preparation look like for you? Do you do full outlines and character profiles, or do you just start with a general idea and write?

CM ~ I tend to write better in a quiet environment and I love, love, LOVE plenty of tea, hot or cold, always nearby. Sometimes I will jot things down on actual paper first, and then type it out. Other times, I just go for it on the keyboard. But I do like to have at least a rough outline and/or storyboard of sorts ahead of time for the main plot points. Writing in chunks and then taking a break also works best for me. It's almost like once I pour out a chunk, I need to do something to let it "settle" for a bit.

SC ~ Editing is a challenge for many writers. Give us some of your tips for editing efficiently and well.

CM ~ I am pretty meticulous when it comes to editing, so I self-edit constantly (which can be challenging in the first draft phase when it’s best to just “get it on paper”). But no matter how efficient I consider myself as an editor, I ALWAYS recruit extra eyeballs in addition to hiring a professional copy editor after the manuscript is finished.

SC ~ Research is another challenge writers face, but is an important part of the writing process. What are some of your research tips?

CM ~ Research is another aspect that I take very seriously and one that I absolutely love. I am a knowledge hound, so the risk for me is more about time management and not losing myself in all the new and interesting “stuff”!

SC ~ If you have been published (self or traditionally), what type of marketing did you find worked the best for you? What was the least helpful?

CM ~ Marketing is perhaps one of the biggest challenges when you consider the sheer number of books published. Having a platform ahead of time is a big plus, and one that I didn’t have in place as much as I should have with my first book. At the very least, get on social media and have a dedicated web site. Broadening your visibility from there takes TIME through sharing and connecting with others. Having a quality product is a must if you want that invaluable word-of-mouth (still the best marketing tool) to work on your behalf. Contests are another great way to give books credibility. The awards I’ve won have not only helped to give my books exposure, but using solid quotes from Publisher’s Weekly and Writer’s Digest are major boosts. Some authors have great success with paid blog tours and advertising. I will say that one paid ad was totally worth it and gave me a great rate of return, and that was BookBub. In addition, I’ve started working with a publicist who I am excited about and looking forward to more time spent writing as she takes on more of the marketing tasks.    

SC ~ What genre do you write in? What are some of the challenges to writing this particular genre well?

CM ~ I write Middle Grade/Young Adult Fantasy/Paranormal (though I have a new project directed to New Adult). The biggest challenge, I think, is to keep fantasy-loving readers satisfied in two ways: by following common expectations all fantasy/supernatural books fulfill and also by offering them something entirely unique. The trick is balancing those two things by not giving too much “common” so that it feels run-of-the-mill or too much “unique” that it isn’t recognizable. Mythology is the foundation of many fantasy stories, so for me, taking directly from myths and/or creating new stories inspired from mythological elements help.

SC ~ What advice would you give to a writer who is starting out?

CM ~ First and foremost, do not rush the process of writing the best book you can. Learn the ins and outs of your craft, attend workshops, conferences, network with other writers, join a critique group or online forum, develop your online platform early in the game, hire freelancers to help you accomplish important tasks, such as editing (developmental and copy editing). Also, grow a thick skin; you will need it for all those harsh critiques, rejections, and troll reviews every author faces. And most of all, KEEP WRITING!

SC ~ What are your writing, editing, marketing, and research goals for 2014-2015?

CM ~ This coming year, I hope to publish two more novels, increase sales in my already published books, and become more visible through speaking engagements and whatever other goodies my publicist has in store! I am also the co-founder of a site that will be launching October or November (crossing fingers) directed at readers and writers of Children’s through New Adult books. 

Brandy Wants to Know

What are your top five favorite titles (these do not have to be favorite books)?


Felicia Asked

What are your top ten books turned to movies?


Christina's Published Titles

Terror strikes the Celtic inspired kingdom of Nemetona when barbed roots breach the veil of a forbidden land and poison woodsmen, including 15-year-old Lia's beloved father. Lia and three others embark on a quest to the forbidden land of Brume to gather ingredients for the cure.

ARMS OF ANU—(sequel to Arrow of the Mist)
Lia and Kelven battle through a Celtic-inspired land of tyrants, war and magic. Can Lia escape the foes who ensnare her; will Kelven's love withstand the darkness taking root inside Lia; is freedom too high a crown to reach, or will they forever remain in the hollows?
HONEY QUEEN—YA Fantasy/Romance
Love is honey sweet, but it comes with a fatal sting. Melaina Maris needs wings to fly the gap between loving Sam and her family’s ancient curse that forces carnal love and then kills the male lovers.

Find Christina Mercer At: 

WebSite | Facebook | Twitter | Pinterest |

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