An interview with Argentine author, Ëlina Ënza.

Welcome to the fourth in a series of author interviews from talented writers around the world. Today I am pleased to share the words of an up and coming writer from South America, Ëlina Ënza, an author operating in multiple genres. Ëlina has not yet chosen which route to take with regards publication and it has been interesting finding out her take on the current state of the industry. It seems to be as hard as ever for emerging talents to get that bit of luck and make the breakthrough allowing them to take their writing forward as a career.

TheHardestYouHart!
1. Can you tell us a little bit about yourself?
I am Ëlina Ënza, 30 years-old, originally from Argentina and now a resident of Guatemala with itchy feet. I have ambitions of moving to Europe to pursue my writing career and hopefully the opportunity will present itself once my first book is published. I am proud of my country, and lucky to live on such a beautiful continent, despite some of its people, certain systems of government and a level of corruption not really understood outside of Latin America. Unfortunately, at present it isn’t really an environment conducive to fostering and encouraging artists such as myself.
I used to think myself an extrovert, but over time I have become more comfortable in my own skin and now exhibit the traits of an introvert. Some might even label me a loner – I certainly prefer to spend my days indoors, writing and creating stories; generally using it to block out reality surrounding me. That and I believe I’m good at it!
I live for Literature, and consequently striving to make a living from my gift – although it has definitely been a struggle so far! I have literally been saved by the written word – I suffer from a few mental disorders, and on a practical level, reading and writing is what keeps me going – whenever I read or write, I feel alive. It is my reason for being.
I studied Political Science and International Affairs, and the experience opened my eyes to how the real world works (or doesn’t), and ironically one of the main reasons why I much prefer to create and live in my own creations. I haven’t stopped learning and love the power knowledge brings. I have learnt knowledge is infinite, but my curiosity ensures the level of my education increases every single day. I write 7 days a week, and have a very strict discipline about it, just because… I love writing.
2. What do you do when you are not writing?
A variety of domestic chores. I live with my mother and two siblings. I treat writing as my job and improving is my main goal. You might say I’m very dedicated to the cause!
3. When did you first start writing and when did you finish your first novel?
I started writing around 7 or 8 and completed my first novel in 2010, ‘Soccer Fighter’ – the first in my Fighter Saga series. Prior to that, I dabbled in poetry but it took time to build my confidence to complete a full novel.
4. How did you choose the genre you write in and where do you get your ideas?
I love to write about whatever peaks my interest at that moment so I haven’t really got a genre. I’m multi genre and I think that comes through in my writing. I don’t like being pigeon holed so instead combine them. It also keeps me entertained and interested in where I’m going to go next. Many of my ideas come from dreams. A notebook by my bed is a must so I can write them down when I wake! I also daydream and more often than not mulling over new storylines and ideas. My brain barely gets any respite to be quite honest – so much so, insomnia can be a problem!
I write mostly about women, mainly because I feel as a gender we are often under represented as, what one might term, the “hero” of a story. I like to portray my protagonists as courageous, powerful and influential. I also write about women falling in love with women, because I am a proud member of the LGBT+ Community myself. I want more people to read about reality from a fictional point of view. With struggles other than rejection, hatred and discrimination, because I love causing an impact with my peculiar characters.
5. Do you ever experience writer’s block?
No, never. Luckily, I am always creating new scenarios for my characters. I try to work on at least two projects at the same time. So if I’m struggling with one, I can flit to the other. It also means boredom rarely sets in.
6. Do you work with an outline, or just write?
I’m what some might term a pantser. I write whatever comes to my head. I so work with a vague structure in mind but I generally just let my imagination be my guide. I tend to be more disciplined with the structure once I reach the editing stage.
7. Is there any particular author or book that influenced you in any way either growing up or as an adult?
My grandfather. He used to write poetry. He used to be a school professor and he has been my biggest influence. He presented me with my first book, written by a friend of his, another author from South America. I still keep it with me now.
8. Can you tell us about your challenges in getting your first book published?
Unfortunately I have not yet been published and the negative responses have certainly been discouraging. I am erring on the side of traditional publication mainly as I believe self-publishing won’t serve my purpose of building a career from writing. Although I know the onus is shifting towards the author I still believe the strength of the marketing departments of the various publishing houses are key to ensuring long and hopefully prosperous career in writing. I want to become a best-selling author (and although I know some self-pubbed authors have achieved that) and don’t believe that is something I can achieve on my own.
9. If you had to go back and do it all over, is there any aspect of your novel or getting it published that you would change?
No. I have to remain true to myself and will continue to write what I want to read, and populate an area I feel lacks published work.
10. Have you written a book you love that you have not been able to get published?
Every single one of them! I only write a story once I have fallen in love with the characters and find the plot engaging. I have written 7 novels now, all edited and completed. There are more in the in the pipeline but unfortunately they are all awaiting representation.
11. Are your books based on real life experiences or purely taken from your imagination?
It is a mixture of both. I love to combine fact with fiction. There is nothing better for me than to imagine the life I want to live and the worlds I want to live in.
12. What project are you working on now?
I’m currently working on four books, all in different genres. All of them are about women, each of them struggling with life in different ways; Be it with love, loss, sickness and general survival within a chaotic world. The core theme for me always revolves in some way around love. I believe love can counter and provide a solution for almost every social issue our planet faces.
13. What has been your greatest compliment as an author?
A critic once reviewed me as a raw and innocent writer, which from my point of view was the most endearing thing I have ever read about my work.
14. Do you have any advice to give to aspiring writers?
One of my professors in college once has said to me: “If you want to write, you must learn to write by writing. That is the only way!” I have taken this on-board as my personal mantra and certainly now practice what I preach. It is the only advice worth taking – aside from this I believe it is important for each individual to discover the wonder inside of him or her – it sounds cliché but every aspiring writer needs to undergo their own singular journey to find themselves and their voice.
15. Is there anything that you would like to say to your readers and fans?
That one day, when my work is published, I hope they can feel touched and identify with at least, one of my characters. I pray my stories can help fill their hearts, souls and minds with hope and a certain faith in humanity. Hopefully my work can offer my readers a place to reflect and focus on the positives in our world.
Please join me in thanking Ëlina Ënza for her honest appraisal of her situation and for sharing her experiences as a writer. If you would like to ask any further questions, please either use the facilities available below or contact Ëlina via the following links.
Please show your appreciation by checking out her blog with details of her upcoming work below:

Social media contacts:
TWITTER: https://twitter.com/amtouchedwfire
PERSONAL BLOG: https://wonderwomenwednesday.wordpress.com/

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Donald Trump ate my Hamster – Crowdfunding a Novel

Fake news but amused me when I saw the shock tactic title on youtube. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wckL_lqL4aE – The video is irrelevant but I’m guessing the title may have drawn in more viewers than it should have received! Perhaps it’s something I should learn from…

I’ve just sat through my lunchbreak re-tweeting anything of vague interest appearing on my feed whilst intermittently checking the landing page of my crowdfunding project. Life has certainly changed from those heady and long forgotten days of just logging in and simply writing for the sheer joy of it.

I’m now a nervous wreck of a man, complete with sweaty palms and a nervous tick as I patiently pray for someone somewhere to click on my project – and God forbid – pledge their support. 96% now… 96 – a number I loved two days ago and now loath with abandon at its stubborn refusal to remove itself from my screen, making way for my new and upcoming love… number 97.

My relationship with Penguin’s crowdfunding publishing platform, Unbound, began almost six months ago now. Little did I know when I whooped and hollered at my acceptance email that this single word, crowdfunding, would impact on my life in so many different ways.

I’d just entered a world I knew nothing about, a world full of sharks wanting to separate you from your hard earned cash.

“We have thousands of contacts ready to crowdfund your project!” – No you don’t…

“We can market you on Twitter (or Facebook) to our 500,000 followers!” – Fake followers…

“We can DM all your Twitter followers and guarantee £££!” – Errr no you can’t…

There are so many of these preying vulture sites out in the internet ether, I can’t keep up. Maybe some of them do work, but I can safely say most of them will not work for first time authors. If you are currently in the same crowdfunding boat as I am, then as far as I have worked out there are really only three “guaranteed” mechanisms at your disposal. Your friends and family, their friends and family and anyone you have ever worked or had a relationship with in any capacity. This is where the majority of your initial pledges will be coming from.

It is all very well looking at Facebook and Twitter and dreaming but once online, your project will join hundreds of thousands of others, all of which are competing for the attention of potential backers and readers. It’s a tough environment to enter – as I know all too well.

Since the start of my campaign I’ve tweeted nearly two thousand times, acquired nearly ten thousand followers and spent hours doing so. So much so, there are people out there thinking I’m a bot! The infamous twitter trolls are certainly out there but luckily I don’t seem to be coming across too many. Those crossing my path just get blocked and quickly. I’m told engaging with them is the worst thing you can do. Plus it feels good to block rude people. It’s bizarre that people who have no interest in what you’re doing seem to want to interact more than those who are interested! I digress.

Although I’ve picked up four or five pledges via Twitter, I’m hoping the platform will show it’s true worth once the book is actually published. People are much more likely to spend two or three pounds/dollars or a product they will receive immediately rather than for something to arrive later. It’s probably the same for Facebook but I’m struggling with that medium at the moment (over and above contacting my own friend base).

The same long game style tactic goes for my Website. The first thing I was advised to do was set up a website “to legitimise” my claim to be an author. Although initially good fun, keeping it up to date with interesting blogs and information is not an easy task. Just coming up with potential topics is hard enough. Then you’ve got to write it, find interesting pictures, edit it, worry that it’s crap and then release it anyway. Again I know this is all a necessary evil to inspire whoever might be reading to click a link, but it’s something else I didn’t really think about when signing off with a flourish at the end of my novel.

I’ve been very lucky with my backers so far and in particular my brother in law and his Company have been amazing. Without him I’m not sure what I would be doing now. Writing off for Company sponsorship might have been a possibility; along with setting up workshops; pledge parties; reading to children at local libraries and perhaps a talk or two on the crowdfunding process. These tactics are now all in reserve for the sequel’s campaign (the well of goodwill from my friends and family is definitely drying by the day…) and I expect the night terrors leading up to such events will form the subject of another blog.

I don’t know who I’ve aimed this blog at but if you want to share your experiences or perhaps use me to bounce some ideas off, please don’t hesitate to get in touch.

In the meantime, if you fancy taking a look at my project please find it at https://unbound.com/books/the-atlantis-deception

Thank you for your time and I look forward to hearing from you.

XWWX ATLANTIS SANDS OF RA

I’ve Published my book – So what do I do now?

Although in the midst of a tricky crowdfunding sell on my latest novel, ‘The Atlantis Deception,’ I have started to think about the processes to come – the copyediting; the proof reading; the advertising – should I put my eggs in the google advertising basket, Facebook ads, amazon ads, or maybe all three? How should I use Goodreads to its full advantage – and what about twitter, Instagram, Facebook, LinkedIn? Is my website good enough? Are my blogs frequent enough – Is my content even worth reading?

At this point, with my meltdown in full swing, I turned off the computer and crawled under my desk.

I needed to get back to the basics and focus on the why as oppose to the, ‘just do it because everyone else is doing it.’ Forgetting about the pre-publishing bit, I know I need to throw myself into aspects of post publication marketing even now and I need a plan of attack. Without a focus and simply an aimless approach I will achieve nothing and probably just give up, disheartened, like hundreds of authors before me, by the enormity of the task. Even with a plan it still feels like I’m trying to break through a wall with a toothpick.

So what is important? What should I (and therefore you) be trying to improve as I hurtle into the world of publishing? I’ve come up with five target areas I can influence:

  1. Cover Art
  2. Teaser paragraph
  3. Trailer
  4. Reviews
  5. Traffic

I’m linked to a publisher now and I still not certain how the cover art will be dealt with. That said I’ve still commissioned a local artist to generate some advertising posters to support the launch of the novel when it happens. Imagery is so important in this field and given we are artists ourselves, often overlooked. It is ironic that the phrase, ‘never judge a book by its cover,’ couldn’t be more wrong in the literary world – for the first time author (assuming the title pricks the interest of a reader) this is absolutely what our work will be judged on. If the cover does its job, the reader will then move onto the teaser paragraph. Test your cover image before revealing it to the world – if you are online only, ensure it is striking enough to work as an Amazon thumbnail. If you wouldn’t click on it yourself, go back to the drawing board.

I’ve included a couple of images John has created for me. If you like his style and would like to work with him, please drop me a line.

The teaser paragraph is your clincher, you’ve reeled in your potential reader with an interesting title and excellent art work – now you need to wow him and her with your ability to weave an interesting story. Similar to the cover art, you need to do the groundwork. Find out what works and what really doesn’t. Check out the number of hits you’re getting and dump accordingly. Once you hit on the winning formula your views to buys ratio should start to fly!

Item number three on the list is the book trailer. This is a new(ish) method of advertising to me and something I’ve had to create as part of my Unbound crowdfunding project. With little budget I’ve found this tough to engage with and although my trailer (uploaded to YouTube) is okay, an investment of (at most) two or three hundred pounds would make it amazing. Once published this is where my initial budget will be heading. There are so many thousands of books out there now and I believe this is a nailed on game changer and something that will help me stand out from the crowd. In case you are already at the point of requiring a book trailer, these are a selection of developers I have come across so far.

(under 1minute book trailer, around $250).

http://www.3dtree.net/ http://www.vimeo.com/user4056030 (usman-rafi@hotmail.com) http://ligastudio.webs.com/ http://www.mindofminnich.com http://www.pixelgenio.com/ http://pcledera.webs.com/ http://www.thedesigncrew.biz/

Lowest Price (Less than $150): http://redlotusproductions.wordpress

Reviews: This is where social media starts to come into play. Reviews are key (if you believe the hype, Google analytics and Amazon itself) to generating the next of my goals, traffic. Optimising your cover and teaser paragraph will not mean anything without traffic. First and foremost, try and make everyone you know to both buy your book and leave some kind of review. They should be truthful to some extent – we’ve all seen those self-published books with twenty or so five star reviews and they stand out like a sore thumb. That said they will at least move you along the path. It’s then down to begging and pleading (Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn); giving away free copies, doing favours and swapping reviews with other authors in the same boat. With any luck over time enough reviews (hopefully good) will land on your plate for Google and Amazon to take notice. Then you’re away!

Once you set out your plan of action and allocate your budget appropriately, the publishing game suddenly doesn’t seem quite so complex. Maybe it’s even a game we can win. Just remember everything you do should be geared towards one thing – persuading readers to click your BUY IT NOW button!

I am still actively seeking pledges for my latest novel, ‘The Atlantis Deception’ which is on the road to being published by the crowdfunding publisher, Unbound. If you like Michael Crichton with a little Clive Cussler on the side, please check out the project at https://unbound.com/books/the-atlantis-deception/ and perhaps consider becoming a patron of the creative arts.

Volcano2

Where is my Muse? – Motivation for bloggers and writers

Another ridiculously hot day here in the south of England, once again hitting 30°C – bordering on assault for my pasty Scottish skin!

It’s tough to concentrate and lethargy has definitely set in. It got me thinking about how I manage to find the motivation to actually pick up a pen or tap away on the keyboard. I’ve come up with a few and it would be interesting to hear what others might add to this far from finite list.

  1. Setting aside a specific and recurrent period of time: Sounds obvious but it works for me. If I know my witching hours are between 8 and 10, I tend not to procrastinate so much and get down to the serious job of creating content. If I sit down ad hoc, I tend to play about on Twitter, Facebook or the like and eventually the time drips away with little to show for my efforts.
  2. The right time: This sort of relates to the above and is personal to the individual. The muse in my head seems to perform better late at night so my creative time has adjusted accordingly. If there’s a time when you’re more alert, make this your daily writing time.
  3. A comfortable space: Again this is personal but I always feel I need a clean and comfortable environment to work in. If my space isn’t just right I go a little bit OCD and clean up everything in the vicinity. I don’t want anything on show past the bare minimum! I suppose the opposite may be true of others and clutter may invoke your muse but the space should and will inevitably match your personality and fit the creative you.
  4. A blank canvas. Switch off your phone. E-mail, smart phones, tablets, and any other electronics-are the enemies of writing. They are the Devil when it comes to distraction and eating away precious writing time. Every notification will pull you into a zone incompatible with creativity. I’m not suggesting doing this if you’re a doctor on call but other than that turn then off – maybe even lock them away! Any messages will still be there when your period of creativity is over.
  5. Ritual: I’m not saying you should be chalking a pentagon into your carpet and chanting at its centre – well unless that floats your boat – but a ritual of sorts might help get you in the grove. I have a set of Star Wars models that must always be arranged in a certain order before I start, but I guess a hat or lucky pants might also do the trick!
  6. A daily quota of words: Back to a familiar one – simply setting a target. I may set aside two hours a day but the word count is the motivation within that period. 1000 words tends to be my minimum and once achieved I can relax. Sometimes I use all my dedicated time to its full and in other instances I finish early but either way having a target quota is essential. If nothing else it is proof you have achieved a tangible result for your efforts that day.
  7. Record and set your targets: I keep an A4 calendar on my desk with daily targets and actual results registered. It gives me an enormous sense of well-being (to quote Blur). It’s nice to see progression and gives you an idea of time frames (first draft will be complete in June – for example).

So that’s me. I’m sure there are many more examples out there and please feel free to share. It would be nice to engage with one or two of you out there in the internet ether.

I hope this has been of benefit and I would appreciate it if you could like or share the post.

I am still actively seeking pledges for my latest novel, ‘The Atlantis Deception’ which is on the road to being published by the crowdfunding publisher, Unbound. If you like Michael Crichton with a little Clive Cussler on the side, please check out the project at https://unbound.com/books/the-atlantis-deception/ and perhaps consider becoming a patron of the creative arts.