Saturday, December 22, 2012

Rachelle Ayala - HBS Author's Spotlight

Today our blog puts the Spotlight on experienced Author Rachelle Ayala. She is an author, blogger and a member of the World Literary Café.

Author Genre: Romance Historical

Author's Blog: When a Woman Wrongs a Man
Twitter: @AyalaRachelle
Goodreads: Check Out Goodreads
LinkedIn: Check Out LinkedIn
Facebook: Check Out Facebook
Pinterest: Check Out Pinterest


Author Description: Rachelle Ayala was a software engineer until she discovered storytelling works better in fiction than real code. She has over thirty years of writing experience and has always lived in a multi-cultural environment. The tapestry of characters in her books reflect that diversity. Rachelle is currently working on a story dealing with women and contemporary issues. She is a very happy woman and lives in California with her husband. She has three children and has taught violin and made mountain dulcimers

SPOTLIGHT Questions and Answers with the Author

First things first. Rumor has it that you have another book on the horizon. Can you tell us the timeline for its release and give us a little tease.

Sure. Hidden Under Her Heart is going to be a real heart-breaker of a story. It deals with the thorny issue of abortion after a rape. I'm posting portions of it on my blog already, and I anticipate it will be released around the the middle of next year.

Here is the short summary:
Maryanne Torres tries to gain validation and love by giving more in each relationship than she takes. Lucas Knight believes his reason for existence lies in becoming a triathlon champion. An unwanted pregnancy forces Maryanne to examine her past while Lucas is torn between concern and bitterness. Meanwhile, a tiny life hangs on the balance. Is it worthless because it is unwanted?




You have a good social media following. How important are your social media relationships that you’ve formed? Do you see a carry over to your writing success?

I love social media primarily because I like meeting and interacting with people. I'm one of those early adopters who have been on the Internet back in the 1980's when it was confined to the universities. I've met many friends online and find the relationships healthy in forming interest groups and sharing knowledge.

My writing would be severely lacking if I had not joined CritiqueCircle.com, an online critique group. The people I met there helped me whip my manuscript in shape and gave me early feedback on readers' reactions. I'm always amazed at the wonderful people I meet through social media and their generosity of sharing their knowledge, time and advice with newcomers.

Do you do book signing, interviews, speaking and personal appearances? If so, when is your next place where your readers can see you?

I recently joined the Fremont Area Writers, a branch of the California Writers Club. I've done one book signing in Modesto. I don't have any planned appearances yet, but I'm sure I'll be participating in any future group activities the club has.

How does your cover process work? Do you hand over the basic theme or do you take more of a hands-on approach? Do you get your readers involved in its development?

I have two fantastic cover artists. I've been fortunate that they seemingly can read my mind. I tell them the basics, what I'm looking for, light or dark, cheery or foreboding, and pick the cover models.

My first two covers, Michal's Window and Broken Build, were designed by Robin Ludwig. She has a fantastic ability to visualize and create a cover that I would never have dreamed off, just by reading a short description of the book.

The cover for my new book, Hidden Under Her Heart, came to me by accident. Natasha Brown was revamping a cover for another friend of ours and posted her proposal to a Facebook group. The friend choose not to go with the cover, and I asked if I could have the concept. She searched for a better image for the footsteps in the sand and blended the distressed woman seamlessly into it.

I hadn't even finished the first draft, but I already visualized the final scene on the beach and knew what I would write. This was definitely a case where I put the cover before the story. A few of my beta readers weighed in on what the cover conveyed to them: a woman in despair, afraid to face the world.

I notice you are a part of the IAN and the WLC groups. Do they help with your writing, marketing and the publishing process or all of the above?

[I haven't done much with IAN] I'm very active in the WLC group. They are definitely a place to make connections and keep up to date with the current market conditions. I learned a lot from taking courses at WLC [the courses are now offered through WLC's sister website, Fostering Success]

It is also a great place to meet other indie authors and share information. Their Facebook group is the place where I interact the most with the other members, whether it is sharing success or needing a sympathetic ear.

Melissa Foster @Melissa_Foster, the energetic and amazing founder of WLC, has taken me under her wings to continue the chain of helping new authors learn the ropes of self-publishing and social networking.

With your busy schedule, how do you have time to keep up with your followers? Between your book writing, blogging, marketing, family and all the other things that can get in your way, how do you manage your time? Do you have a set schedule or do your sort of play it by ear?

Gosh, I must be the most disorganized person on this planet. People tell me to make a list. But I have to admit that I cannot ever find my lists. I'm the one who jots down a grocery list and leaves it at home. So, how do I get anything done? My e-mail folder is my archaeological trail. I put a star next to e-mails I need to answer and scour through it to see if there is anything I have to do. I also e-mail reminders to myself. Oops, I just remembered. I need to check my spam folder. ... Coming back. I already found two blog post messages that I would have dropped had I not checked.

As for daily prioritization, my clients always come first. I've been doing a fair amount of formatting work for other authors so I always answer their e-mails first and keep on top of their dates. Obligations such as blog posts and critiques come second. I've been known to miss a blog post, so if anyone wonders what happened, please do ping me again. After that is social media and keeping in touch with my groups. Oh, goodness, does that leave any writing time?

I write in fits and spurts, but strangely my most productive time is in the late evening after everyone has gone to bed. I've been known to stay up until 3:00 am to write. It reminds me of my math PhD days, staying up late to work on proofs, or my software engineering days when I was either hacking code or checking on the build and automation tests in the wee hours of the morning.

Of course the next morning, I'm not good for much except checking e-mail and tweeting.

Have you ever done a book tour?
Along with that. When do you start the marketing process for a new book? Give a brief outline of the steps you go through to get your book to market.


I'm afraid I'm not the shining example of how to market with organizational skills. Since I put others before myself, I'm more likely to host other people's book tours on my blog. This leaves scant time to write my own interviews. I haven't really sought out interviews, but if someone asks me for a guest post or an appearance, I'm always glad to jump in.

I've attended all the Melissa Foster marketing classes, but I have no clue how she gets everything done: press releases, local author events, radio interviews, blog tours, a fancy website, and exposure in every channel of social media. Whew! I'm tired just listing the whirlwind of activities I'm supposed to be doing instead of sitting in front of my laptop with my bird on my shoulder.

Being from the computer world, how do you manage your plots, characters and timelines to keep your stories going? Do you use any software to keep track of your books?

Writing a book is very similar to designing a software program. There are the data structures (settings), objects (characters) and methods (plot) that have to be at least minimally thought of. I was never a heavy duty designer, but wrote software by the seat of my pants and then restructured it into coherency. Stream of conscious spaghetti code first draft followed by refactoring was more my style. Many times we were forced to go back and document our code. Argh!!! I hated that. But this is exactly how I write. I sling the code, er I mean the words, onto the first draft. Then I go back and create order out of chaos by analyzing each scene, similar to what we did with a code review.

I don't use any tools other than a spreadsheet to list dates and events. Broken Build was my most complicated story because it involved a mystery with several intersecting subplots. Even then, I didn't much rely on my spreadsheet. When I'm writing the story, I know it inside out because I live inside the story, or rather my mind is inside the story with the characters. So the only tools I use are Word and Excel.

You have a great blog. The map your Promo Site section lays out is a must read for new authors. What is your primary goal in blogging?

The blogging took off with the social networking. I couldn't possibly think of so many wise and pithy things to write about myself every single day, but I can most certainly meet and find other authors to share their wise and pithy thoughts.

My blog is heavily visited because of the Promo Site listing so it is a win-win situation for everyone who appears on my blog. The listing drives traffic to the blog, I tweet my blog posts to my Triberr tribes with almost a million reach, and the guests drive traffic to my blog by inviting their followers. Many people have met each other from being on my blog.

I like to be a connector and put people in touch with other people and information, so in that sense, I enjoy blogging. I meet people on Twitter and word seems to get around that I'm a friendly blog host. The blogging indirectly helps my book sales because visitors see my banners and sometimes the guests buy or gift my book to their friends in gratitude for me hosting them. But book sales is not the main reason for blogging. It is meeting people and being engaged with their success. Somehow other people's success invigorates me, and it feels good to be a small part of it.

How much of the work do you do personal in bringing your book to market? Do you outsource any of the process?

I conceptualize the story on my own, but once I finish the first draft, I rely on my critique partners to help me get the story in shape in terms of plot, structure and development. After I've revised it to death and survived the beta reading, I hire a copy editor. I've been fortunate that my copy editor also makes comments and small critiques on story development. As I mentioned before, I use professional cover designers, as graphic arts is not my skill set. But I do all the ebook formatting and uploading myself. That is a technical area I can handle.

What has been your experience in giving your books away free? Have you been involved in other types of giveaways and how did that work out? What was your main goal in doing this? Did you run into any obstacles?

I've had great success with the first giveaway on Amazon of each of my first two novels. However, subsequent giveaways have not been that rewarding. I am seeing a diminishing return on giveaways in the less than one year that I've published. The reasons are many, but I suspect it is free book fatigue. Someone told me he has a friend/acquaintance with over 9000 free ebooks. I myself have over 1600 free ebooks. I don't even bother downloading them to my kindle anymore.

Whenever I download a free book, I select Store on Kindle Cloud Reader. I saw a big change from October to November when more and more promoters started charging people to advertise free books. I suspect it is no longer possible to get into the top 20 Free without paying for advertising. The other change is that the sales bump after a free day is no longer as prolonged. Simply put, the free downloaders have moved on to the next day's crop of free books. It is also doubtful whether the free books are read. I know for a fact that I practice a kind of ebook surfing (i.e. channel surfing). I randomly open up books in my Kindle library and read the first few paragraphs, then move onto the next book and the next until something grabs me.

That said, I do believe free is useful for gaining exposure. But in the future, I think authors would do better to target their free books to the audience most likely to read their books. This means building a mailing list, a blog following, and participating in interest groups rather than a shotgun, throw it up for free and see if anyone comes, approach. This is why I started serializing my next book, Hidden Under Her Heart,
on my blog. I figured, if I was going to give it away free, why not let people start reading pieces of it now?


Author's Book List
Broken Build
Silicon Valley Romantic Suspense
Jen Jones hides a horrible secret behind her new degree, toned body, and exciting job at Silicon Valley’s hottest startup—until a man linked to her past is killed in a hit-and-run. CEO and founder Dave Jewell is about to land a huge deal. He doesn't need blood on his car, threatening phone calls, and Jen wrapped in broken code and blackmail. A gang of thugs hunts Jen, and she takes refuge in Dave’s protective arms. Together, they must thwart a killer and rescue an innocent victim from their past. Love blossoms, but a damaging revelation points straight at Jen, threatening to tear them apart forever.
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Buy Page: Amazon - Barnes and Noble
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Your Daily Bible Verse
366 Verses Correlated by Month and Day
Bible Verses correlated by Month and Day to Chapter and Verse starting from January 1 and Genesis 1:1 to December 31 and Mark 12:31. Need a memory verse? or a life verse? Curious which verse correlates to your birthday or anniversary? There's a special verse for each of the 366 days of the year. Includes Bible Verse Memorization tips.
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Buy Page: Amazon - Barnes and Noble - Smashwords
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Michal's Window
BEST SELLER! Historical Romance & Family Saga In ancient Israel, where women are property, Princess Michal loves her father's worst enemy, the future King David. She sacrifices everything to save his life, but will her heart survive war and separation? Michal's story comes to life in this powerful and emotional journey through love and heartache to self-realization. Her intense love for King David coupled with tragic circumstances causes her to do the unthinkable. Too strong for her time, Michal's story resonates with women today. "So, once I let the modern feminist inside of me relax, I realized how timely her story is, because, sadly, many of the things she has to deal with are things that women still face today." "As a woman, every emotion I've ever had was weaved in Michal, causing me to cheer for this unsung heroine."
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Buy Page: Amazon - Barnes and Noble - Smashwords
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Author Recommended by: HBSystems Publications
Publisher of ebooks, writing industry blogger and the sponsor of the HBS Author's Spotlight plus the blog: eBook Author’s Corner. Check out the index of other Spotlight authors. Spotlight Index.

1 comment:

  1. Rachelle's books are so great and she really is a terrific, giving person. Can't wait for Hidden Under Her Heart to come out. I'm really looking forward to this book!

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