Wednesday, March 10, 2010

BLOG INTERVIEW with Ellen, plus ADVICE for writers

Hello Rabbit Chasers! Today I was interviewed by a wonderfully talented writer by the name of Angela Greenlief. I re-posted her interview here so please go to her blog and check out her work in progress. It will be fantastic!
~ ellen 

Wednesday, March 10, 2010
Interview with Author Ellen C. Maze!
I am very excited to post my first interview on this blog. I did a review recently of Ellen C. Maze's debut novel RABBIT: CHASING BETH RIDER. It was only fitting that the next step be an interview.

Here it is:

To start off with, perhaps you could tell us a little about yourself--whatever you would like to share.

I suppose the most compelling thing about me now is my writing. I have done many things in my forty years, but this is the one thing that I have dreamed of doing since grade-school: being a published author.

In Junior High School, I dreamed of being a veterinarian, mostly because I loved animals. But one trip to the Vet School in Auburn changed my mind forever. In High School, I wanted to be a psychologist and hang a shingle in town. In college, I majored in Psychology and Sociology and found I had a sure knack for listening and helping people with problems. Then I got married after college and became a full-time mom for the next ten years. When I went to work again, I was an artist and worked from home. I was successful and sold paintings all over the world. Yet on the side, I was writing. And guess what I was writing? Vampire Tales. Yep. Just like I did in Middle School Creative Writing class! All I needed was the courage to work at writing full-time. That chutzpah didn’t arrive until 2009.

How did you get the idea for RABBIT: CHASING BETH RIDER?

Interestingly, the main plot point of this book – a writer is hunted by vampires because she writes about vampires – came to me in the seventh grade. I wrote a short story about a girl and her friend who were given a creative writing assignment, and they chose to write that their Math teacher was secretly a vampire. The teacher finds out, turns out that he is a vampire, and he kidnaps them for exposing him. The story ends with both of them being turned into vampires. Sort of short on plot and action, but hey, I was only twelve years old.

As I got older, this basic theme tumbled about in my head in my subconscious until in 2006, when I had completed Books One and Two of my Christian vampire series THE CORESCU CHRONICLES, I began writing Rabbit: Chasing Beth Rider. Not quite ready to publish, I started writing about a woman (Beth Rider) who wrote THE CORESCU CHRONICLES and her work threatened the true ‘vampires’ that lived in her world. This is how the two series are connected. When CORESCU CHRONICLES comes out, readers will get to see exactly why the vampires were chasing Beth Rider! Interestingly, RABBIT is aware of THE JUDGING (Book One of Corescu Chronicles) but THE JUDGING is not aware of RABBIT. Chew on that a little while!

For all those unpublished authors who read this, can you tell us how your journey of publishing RABBIT went?

My personal journey as this novel went to print was wonderful and exciting. In the next section, I will talk more about the different ways to get published, but for this answer, let me tell you how it went with Rabbit.

I did not seek an agent or editor for this book but wanted to publish it myself while I waited for THE CORESCU CHRONICLES to be picked up by a big publishing house and turned into the Christian version of Twilight. I researched dozens of independent publishers and printers and I ended up choosing an amazing Publisher (a Fortune 500 company) with an impeccable reputation and a promising future. Outskirts Press promised to not only turn my ‘baby’ into a beautiful product, but they would also promote and distribute it just like any big publishing house. So with a very small investment of $1500, Rabbit: Chasing Beth Rider hit the shelves and immediately sold in 10 countries. You can see why I’m so happy. I will definitely use Outskirts for the Rabbit sequels too. I am so happy with this book and this company’s performance.

One last thought here, I would share that every writer needs to be prepared to self-promote. Every editor and agent is going to expect you to promote yourself vigorously. If you are a shy person and maybe unable to do this, you’ll need an advocate who will do it for you. Self-promotion is done online and in person. By mail and by phone. Email me if you need titles of great books about self-promotion and building an author’s platform.

What advice do you have for aspiring writers? And, what advice do you have for authors seeking representation?

Oh, I want to encourage and edify unpublished authors. In overview, there are two basic ways to be published: Traditional Publishing, where a publishing house either buys your book (along with the rights) and pays you varying royalties, or Independent Publishing, where you (usually) keep all rights and you provide the money to be published. For decades Independent Publishing has been tucked into a dark, shameful corner, but the industry is changing mightily. With the economy forcing the big Traditional Houses to buy fewer and fewer manuscripts, for as little as a thousand dollars, a writer can publish their own book.

I chose to go both routes and leave the rest up to God. I am taking the Traditional route with THE CORESCU CHRONICLES. This series has been approved by one powerful agent, but not picked up. And it is also sitting before three other agents/editors, awaiting approval or interest. So since I sent it out (I did my part), I am waiting to see what God will do with it. Now with Rabbit: Chasing Beth Rider, I prayerfully sent this one to be independently published by Outskirts Press. Now I have a published novel that is widely accepted by people all over the world, and I can promote it while I wait for CHRONICLES to find a buyer.

So my advice to all writers is to 1) keep writing, 2) buy a copy of THE WRITER’S MARKET and GUIDE TO LITERARY AGENTS (both available in stores or online) 3) hone your craft through attending writer’s conferences and plugging into writers critique groups (you can find these all over, email me for lists), and 4) learn the business end of writing.

Last but not least, do not despair. Try to get an agent, try to rope in an editor. But if you have an excellent product and the industry just cannot see that, don’t be afraid or ashamed to self-publish. It’s a competitive world and we need your book!

Back to RABBIT. What is the most important message you wanted your readers to walk away with after reading this book?

RABBIT is a sexy and titillating book. Without taking it beyond a PG-13 rating, the novel takes you into the darkest areas of the human and inhuman heart. Still, every reader comes away with something gained. Something good. Read the reviews on Amazon, and you’ll get a peek at what the Rabbit Chasers (the readers) are seeing in this debut vampire novel.

Although it is never preachy or pretentious, RABBIT is written from a biblical worldview. The reader does not need to be a Christian or Jew to enjoy it, but every issue in the novel comes from the basic understanding of the world that is put forth in the 66 books of the Bible/Tanach. I am a Jewish follower of Jesus, so the book has some Hebrew elements that give the story a firm foundation readers can rest on comfortably as they follow the characters along.

This is a book about Faith and Redemption. In one perspective, people stand in one of two corners—they need redemption and haven’t faith yet, or they have been redeemed (by God) and have faith that God protects/loves/cares for them. In RABBIT, Beth Rider has faith to move mountains. The Rakum (vampires) and Cows (humans who voluntarily let blood to them) are either seeking redemption or seeking to destroy Beth and her faith.

I want my readers to identify with a character or two and then enjoy the ride. There is a plethora of personality types, some vampiric and some human, and every reader will be able to find their likeness inside to some extent or another. The beauty of it is, you can be like David (a young Rakum just realizing the truth about God) the first time you read it, and then more like Beth the next. I have heard reports from readers all over the world who love choosing their favorite character and then following them on the road to redemption.

Every reader who knows me personally says that I am Beth Rider. My answer to that is, yes, I am Beth Rider. But, what they don’t realize unless they are writers themselves is that I am also Jack Dawn (the bad guy), Meryl (bad guy’s minion), Javier (Rakum confused about God), and all of the rest. Every character is a piece of my personality. That might seem creepy but it’s true. Ask any writer. We’re all functioning schizophrenics!

Who are some of your favorite authors?

The first vampire book I read was Bram Stoker’s Dracula at age eleven. Oh boy. That was where it started. Then I read Robert McCammon’s vampire and werewolf stuff, then Anne Rice, and into the horror of Stephen King. These days, I’ve mellowed considerably and read mostly Christian Thrillers. My favorite authors are Frank Peretti, Bill Myers, Paul Bortolazzo, Eric Wilson, and Angela Dolbear (a brand new author you must google!).

One of the most important things an aspiring writer should remember is that to write, you must read—A LOT. So make a habit of reading other author’s work and writing reviews for them. Posting reviews on Amazon may seem lame, but as soon as your own book is published and you are selling on Amazon, every review you’ve ever written will direct people to YOUR book by proxy. So read and review all the time!

I know you've finished your second novel THE JUDGING. Can you tell us a little about it?

Oh, be still my heart. In THE JUDGING (Book One of the Corescu Chronicles), a priest named Corescu is turned into a vampire by an apparent demon. The priest refuses to reject God and thus assigns a divine calling to his blood thirst—he decides to kill only evil people and thus satiate his craving for human blood. Three hundred years pass this way, and in the present day, Corescu meets and falls for a lovely young woman who (along with a Christian friend) slowly bring the vampire to an awareness of his deeds. All along, he thought he was doing the will of God by killing the killers, but learns that there is one Judge and it isn’t him!

In a very real sense, THE JUDGING is a love story. Sure, there is truth stuck in there, but like RABBIT, the Christian element will not bang you over the head. The series has four installments, and the woman from Book One, Hope Brannen, will take all four books to resolve her relationship with the vampire Mark Corescu. The side stories regarding Tony Agricola (a righteous character who most knows God’s ways) and Paul Black (a young vampire) are entertaining galore and I can hardly wait to get these books into the hands of the readers.

THE JUDGING has three more books that wrap up the story-line. RABBIT has two more series installments and a possible Young Adult spin-off. In closing, I’ll share that I have several other novels in the works. I usually work on 2 or 3 at a time as the spirit moves me, and here are a couple more to watch for.

THE TALE OF JANE FROST, another unique take on the vampire tale, where bloodlust and longevity are part of a Satanic curse thrust upon a set of triplets. This one takes place within a Messianic Jewish Community and will be very compelling. You should also watch for GUARDED, the story of an ordinary and seemingly-average young man who is rescued over and over by a being everyone assumes is his guardian angel. What no one knows is that this being is actually a demon, keeping him alive for the devil’s purposes. Ever heard of having a Guardian Demon? Believe me, if the devil is keeping you alive, it’s for a nefarious purpose and you’d be better off dead! And the newest addition to my in-the-works pile is WAX, the story of a teen who sees demons and soon realizes that his calling in life is to thwart their work no matter the cost. A tough job for a seventeen year old boy!

Last words? Love one another.
God bless, Ellen

Ellen C Maze, email

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