Monday, April 22, 2013

Sharon Skinner - HBS Author's Spotlight

Today our blog puts the Spotlight on Sharon Skinner, award-winning poet and author. She is the author of The Healer's Legacy and The Nelig Stones.

Author Genre: Children's Books,Fantasy

Twitter: @sharonskinner56
Goodreads: Check Out Goodreads
LinkedIn: Check Out LinkedIn
Facebook: Check Out Facebook

Author Description:
Sharon Skinner holds an M.A. in Creative Writing. Her work has appeared in a number of local, national and international publications and she served for eight years as the Executive Editor of Anthology magazine, a small press literary magazine published in Mesa, Arizona. She is an active member of SCBWI (Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators) and serves as the Assistant Regional Advisor for SCBWI AZ. Her fantasy novel, The Healer’s Legacy, was published by Brick Cave Books in May 2012.

Sharon's first Middle-Grade fantasy novel, The Nelig Stones, was released in March 2013.

SPOTLIGHT Questions and Answers with the Author

Now that you have The Nelig Stones in stores, what do you have on the drawing board next? Can you tell us the timeline for its release and give us a little tease?

I have a number of things in the works. The next project in the pipeline is a middle-grade ghost story called Mirabella and the Faded Phantom (working title), due out in early 2014.

When twelve-year old Mirabella and her mother move into Aunt Clovinia’s old house, Mirabella discovers they aren’t the only ones living there. A mysterious faded specter haunts the place. Mirabella seeks to unravel the mystery of the ghost’s identity and help it finally cross over to a restful peace. But it isn’t easy to give up her only friend, especially since she and her mother don’t get along anymore. And to make matters worse, her new classmates, Stacey and Penny, who have been blackmailing her into doing their homework, manage to get her totally grounded.

In addition to being a ghost story, the book is about dealing with loss, friendship and the changing relationships between mothers and daughters, who don’t always see eye-to-eye.

You have a good following on twitter. How important have your social media relationships been? Do you see a carry over to your writing success?

I love the connectivity of social media, the way it provides a place to connect and dialogue with readers and other writers. I believe that building relationships with readers is critical to a writer’s success and social media provides a more immediate conduit for developing and maintaining those relationships.

Do you do book signings, interviews, speaking and personal appearances? (We just missed connections at the Tucson Festival of Books) If so, when and where is the next place where your readers can see you? Where can they keep up with your personal contacts online?

I do a fair number of appearances, book signings and speaking, which is great since I enjoy this aspect of publishing almost as much as writing. I enjoy getting out and meeting people and talking to them, not just about my books, but about what they like to read (and write) in general.

My next appearances will be at Leprecon (May 9-12, 2013) in Mesa, AZ and Phoenix ComiCon (May 23-26, 2013) at the Phoenix, AZ Convention Center.

Upcoming appearances are posted on my website my website and my FaceBook page and, of course, tweeted via my Twitter account: @SharonSkinner56.

You have great covers. They are unique and carry a theme. How does your book cover creation process work? Do you hand over the basic theme or do you have more of a hands-on approach? Do you get your readers involved in its development?

Since I’m published by a small press rather than one of the “Big Five” conglomerates, I actually get to provide some creative input on my cover art and inside illustrations. While the publisher selects the artists and strikes the deals, I’m able to dialogue directly with those artists during the development process. This has been exciting for me, as I get to see the artwork evolve. The final cover look, combining the artwork and titles, is done by the publisher. At this point, readers have not been involved in cover development. Although, I listen keenly to what readers have to say about both the written work and the illustrations.

With your great illustrations, have you created a book trailer for any of your books to promote them online?

There has been discussion of creating book trailers for both the books, but that has not yet been accomplished. Although, I am still hopeful that a semi-live action trailer may be developed for The Healer’s Legacy at some point in the near future.

What kinds of writer support groups do you belong too? Do they help with the writing, marketing and the publishing process?

I have been a member of an array of writing groups and professional writing organizations over the years, all of which have helped me to hone my craft. I am currently an active member of SCBWI (the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators) and am the Assistant Regional Advisor for the Arizona Region (SCBWI AZ) I also belong to AWP (Association of Writers& Writing Programs).

I highly value these organizations for their supportive offerings that include regional and international conferences, workshops, webinars and publications that provide professional development opportunities and insight into the publishing industry, as well as networking opportunities with other writers and publishing professionals.

Between your book writing, blogging, marketing, day job, 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?

I belong to a LiveJournal group called Novel in 90. It’s a place to post your daily word count and to support and be supported in the challenge of fitting writing into our busy daily schedules. The community members have a set goal of 750 words daily. Timing varies, but I generally write in the evenings after I get home from my day job. I don’t always make my goal, but having one keeps me on track to ensure I get my butt in the chair for some kind of writing. I figure that if I don’t show up regularly, how can I expect my muse to bother?

What has been your experience in giving your books away free? Have you been involved in any other type of giveaways and how did that work out? Did you give any books away in Tucson?

We have done some online giveaways, including giveaways on GoodReads, but we did not give away any books in Tucson. The publisher also gives books to reviewers and bloggers.

I think that contests and giveaways are a good way to generate interest in a book, but only if you can reach a large number of people.

There are plans to giveaway a couple of plushy Wyverns that look like Kira’s companion Vaith from The Healer’s Legacy at Phoenix ComiCon. So, ComiCon attendees should make sure to stop by the Brick Cave table (#1601) to participate in that.

Have you ever done a book tour? If so, did it contribute to the success of your book sales?

At this point, I am doing a lot of appearances, but have not done an actual book tour. I expect to be traveling more this next year. Stay tuned to my FB page and Twitter for upcoming announcements.

How do you manage your plots, characters, illustrations and timelines to keep your stories going? Do you use any software to keep track of your books?

I tried using a special writing program at one point, but the learning curve just seemed to be slowing down the process for me. So, now I stick with Word or Pages, depending on whether I’m writing at the desktop or on my iPad, which I use when I travel.

I use a character sheet to keep track of my characters, their eye color, hair, relationships, personality traits and other details. For setting I keep a list of details, draw maps, and include the significant place-names.

Because the ghost in Mirabella and the Faded Phantom died a number of decades ago (no spoilers :D), I did a lot of research and created a reference file with historical and cultural facts along with pictures of period dress, hairstyles, etc. in order to accurately reflect the time period in which the ghost had lived.

In my research, I saw you also publish Audio books. Has there sales had a carryover to your print and ebooks sales?

I think that having a variety of formats to offer is a great way to increase sales. Right now, my only audio CDs are poetry and short stories from previously published works. However, there are plans in the works for audio books of both The Healer’s Legacy and The Nelig Stones, which is very exciting. I can’t wait to hear my stories read by audio book readers.

Author's Book List
The Nelig Stones - Volume 1
Stefani and Robbie aren’t friends. In fact, they can barely stand each other. But when they find themselves magically transported to a land where dragons rule and faeries carry swords, their only way back home is to work together and find the five magical talismans known as the Nelig Stones. But the dark dragon, Ashkell, and his villainous advisor Greenback, are also searching for the powerful Nelig Stones and plan to use their magic to usurp the Anorian throne and seize control of the realm. Through perilous adventure, and with the help of some unusual companions, Stefani and Robbie learn that things aren’t always what they seem, that inner strength and friendship are mighty powers that can stand against even the darkest magic, and that home, while not always perfect, might not be such a bad place after all.
Order the Book From: Amazon - Barnes and Noble
The Healer's Legacy
Orphaned by war, haunted by unknown origins, and chased by a warlord and his army of brutal soldiers. KIRA is a young woman with a secret. She can psychically communicate with animals. She is also on the run from her abusive mate Toril, the hero turned warlord, who led the country’s forces to victory against the outland raiders. Only that was before his love of power consumed him. Now, his only focus is on tracking down Kira and making her punishment an example of his power. But the quest for freedom isn’t the only struggle Kira faces. She must also come to terms with her past choices, whose echoes drive her present. And now, the future of the land and people she has come to love depends on the decisions she will be forced to make.
Order the Book From: Amazon - Barnes and Noble - Smashwords
In Case You Didn't Hear Me The First Time
A tremendous collection of poetry and prose from Sharon Skinner. Whether samples of poetry from over the last 15 years, a great story about traveling in the Indian Ocean in the Navy, or a fantastic story, this book is sure to give you a tremendous read, not to mention introduce you to this amazing, award winning author. Includes the award winning poems Another Grandmother Poem and The Dancer. Sharon Skinner is an award-winning poet who received her B.A. inEnglish from Ottawa University and her M.A. in Creative Writing from Prescott College.She is currently a board member for Anthology, Inc. and the AAGP(American Association of Grant Professionals), and is a Certified Grants Professional (GPC).
Order the Book From: Amazon - Barnes and Noble - Smashwords
Author Recommended by: HBSystems Publications
Publisher of ebooks, writing industry blogger and the sponsor of the following blogs:
eBook Author’s Corner and HBS Mystery Reader’s Circle

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