Great news. The 12 Nights of Jeremy Sunson has been BookVettered! What does that mean? Six of my peers agreed Jeremy’s story was worthy. As it’s no mean feat for authors to agree on anything, I’m quite chuffed. You can find their reviews here.
Also, BookVetter recently interviewed me. You can find the interview here, and I’ve copied the full text below.
“It takes ten years to become an overnight success.” (Anonymous)
Hi, my name is Melindra Hattfield Snowy, and I of course prefer to be known as MH. I’m a part-time author and full-time dreamer. You can find me at www.MHSnowy.com. I am the author of several short stories and novellas. I’m currently writing a follow-up to We Three Laws of Robotics Are, which will eventually be a book of short stories (I say short, but each is about 8000 words), as well as a science-fiction series about the most unlikely hero who is pitted against Armageddon, not to mention being hunted by assassins from the future – the first episode of The 12 Nights of Jeremy Sunson will be released soon.
When I was eleven, I found a seachest that had been unopened since the war. It was my great-grandmother’s. I had never known her, but I had always heard stories of the great adventuress. How she was only the third person to fly alone across the Atlantic after her colleague Amelia Earhart. How she braved the darkest parts of Africa, collecting tokens and stories of the most amazing events.
In the chest was a diary – if it could be called that. For it was not the usual depictions of a day in an emotional life. There was hardly any reference to her at all. Instead there were literally hundreds of anecdotes, notes and diagrams of the most amazing things. Secrets. Conspiracies. Miracles.
Through it I’ve tried to recreate my great-grandmother’s life. But the answers I find lead only to more questions. I can’t escape the feeling she knew something, and maybe the answer to the enigma lies in the chest. You see, every so often the oddest things happen to me, events that seem related to that chest. And they are not always warm and wonderful. At times I find them quite disturbing. Maybe I’ll write about them at some point.
In any case, I determined early on that the fantastic ideas in her diary were too good to keep to myself, and so I’m attempting to share them with the world. I hope you enjoy them for my great-grandmother’s sake. Who knows – I might even learn more about her and whether she really did uncover secrets hidden from the world?
When did you start writing, what prompted you to start, and what have been your biggest successes and disappointments so far?
I first toyed with the idea of writing back in school. But the results weren’t very good. I had to experience a lot of life and learn how to convey ideas before I was in any way ready for the writing journey. My journey really began about five years ago. I wrote a few novels which I’m not yet ready to share with the world. It took a long time, but I learned a lot. Now I think I’ve learned enough to start sharing my work. I’ve released some short stories (We Three Laws of Robotics Are was just released on Amazon), and my first novella sized book (In Harm’s Way) is now available for pre-order on Amazon. It’s been an interesting ride with ups and downs all along the way. The best has been the response to my stories; the worst is that, as I can only write on a part-time basis, it takes me such an awfully long time.
Do you belong to any writers groups or other organizations which have helped you?
I’ve tried several groups to gain feedback, none of which I found to be as useful as BookVetter. As I’m now releasing my work, I’m using GoodReads, Amazon, Smashwords, and review blogs to spread the word.
What are your goals as an author, how do you define success?
I have many goals. For now, the next step in my progression is to release my work to the world. In this, success is awareness. That’s a combination of a quality product (which in not just the story and how it’s presented, but also the editing, formatting, cover and a myriad of other factors), reviews, interviews – all (more or less) following a long-term plan. But ultimately, success as an author is to be an author – and that means to keep writing. Whether my stories sell is quite another matter.
What is your least favorite task associated with writing?
Writing is many things. I find myself constantly fighting with my need to make everything perfect, the entrenched formality of business-writing, and my absolute inability to take anything seriously. I consider my strengths to be humour (though, perhaps not everyone will agree with me:), as well as an ability to combine concepts and logic in ways that are unique. I don’t find myself facing writer’s block per se (I always have far more story lines than time to write), but I will struggle with how to express a particular thought or situation. As an introvert with a professional career, I also find spreading the word to be quite taxing.
For me, the most surprising thing about writing was that I personally enjoyed what I wrote. It sounds silly (why would you write something you don’t like?), but I was surprised just how much I enjoyed what I wrote. As if I have been seeking for stories like this, and fulfilled the need myself.
What do you think the future of literature will look like?
Personally, I’m seeing stories falling into two broad categories based on length: very long series of several books, and shorter episodes (akin to how stories were released by Dickens). My strategy of focussing on shorter stories that build together is based on this. But the answer for each of us will be individual: work out where you think things are headed, and be guided by that – everyone will have an opinion, but you’ll feel most comfortable writing in a way you believe is right.
Could you describe the mundane details of writing?
For me, writing is an interesting process of constant detailed struggle in amongst enormous fun-filled worlds. I generally start a story with a scene, and then identify the philosophical theme that I’m actually expressing. From there it’s a matter of building up some more scenes and the characters, and setting out the whole structure of the story, before writing the scenes in detail.
For example, In Harm’s Way started as a scene about a warrior (Harm) who performed amazing deeds, but who could never remember them; nor hope to repeat them when he was able to remember.
Finishing a story takes quite amount of time as, due to my double life with a professional career as my day-job, I find the main time I have to write is when I commute. I also try to focus on one story, but I’m generally writing several at the same time.
What authors do you like to read? What book or books have had a strong influence on you or your writing?
I have read science fiction, fantasy, and mystery stories for as long as I can remember. Tolkein, Asimov, Conan Doyle, CS Lewis, Chesterton. I find myself most in tune with stories of that ilk. I most enjoy humour, and settings which do not reflect the day-to-day grittiness of life. This is the basis for the stories I write.
How do you market your books? Do you have any advice for other authors on how to market their books?
I’m just starting to release my work to the world. To do so, I spent a great deal of time seeking feedback, as I’ve found the how of description (how the events are told), for me, is much more relevant than the events themselves. Gaining quality feedback is difficult (I’ve found BookVetter to be quite useful here), though I have also sought professional critique. I’m using several strategies to market my stories. I released my first short story (The Secret Invasion of George Kranskii), which describes how road-rage is really the result of an alien invasion, for free on Smashwords. I am seeking reviews for two other stories now. The intention is to continually release work (hence my focus on shorter stories, or episodes of larger stories) to build momentum. I’ll let you know how it works.