Can you tell us a little bit about "Aure the Topaz?"
Aure the Topaz is the first book in the Aglaril Cycle. Aglaril is the elven name for a set of seven magic gems that were set into the elven king's crown. The crown was destroyed many years ago and the gems scattered. In the first book one of the gems is found and necromancers try to steal it. The book is about the struggle to keep it safe and away from these evil wizards.
What's your background with writing?
Well, I've studied and practiced writing my entire adult life. I wrote plays and poetry in college then began to dabble in fiction but gave it up when I decided to pursue my Masters degree. As a graduate student, I focused on journalism, technical writing, and the fundamentals of how people learn in order to communicate better. I practiced those skills for a time and then returned to fiction writing and my first love, fantasy novels.
Who are your inspirations/influences?
Better to ask who isn't? I am influenced by everything I see, read, and experience -- or at least I try to be. If you want to know some of my favorite artists, writers, and so on, several names top the list. For fantasy and science fiction, Tolkien, Asimov, Clarke, Bradbury, and Heinlein all have places of honor. But there are traces of Andre Norton, Katherine Kurtz, Ursula Le Guin, and Marion Zimmer Bradley in my work too, I think.
What was it like working with "Smashwords"
Smashwords is a great site. Of all the self-publishing sites I went to, Smashwords was one of the easiest to use. The book uploaded without a hitch and got into their Premium Catalog on the first try. They convert the book into multiple formats and distribute to lots of sites for me, like Barnes & Noble, Apple, Amazon and a few I've never heard of. They also assigned an ISBN to it so I didn't need to deal with that either.
Who was responsible for the cover/book design?
Michelle Ramos did the art work and the cover design. I met her on Facebook and saw her work. That was all it took. We discussed a few ideas, she asked lots of questions about the story and the result is what you see.
What are you doing in terms of marketing/publicity?
Many things. Smashwords has a marketing guide that I'm using as a rough guide. So far, I've announced my book in my blog and on Facebook. I've been mailing people I know who have been waiting for the book to release. I announced the book on Digg.com too and on delicious. I wrote a press release and sent that out. I added the book to my shelf on Goodreads and have been announcing it there too in the discussion groups. This interview is another piece of the puzzle. But what I need is reviews of the book posted and maybe a blog tour.
Do you have any stories from book signings/radio interviews/etc.?
Not yet. Sorry. I'm barely out of the gate. Hopefully, for my next book I will have some anecdotes to share.
What is the name of your blog and what can readers expect to find there?
The name of my blog is Paraphernalia in my Pocket. The title comes from an old poem of mine. The paraphernalia are my ideas and the pocket is my mind. The postings in the blog are about writing and the publishing issues I've faced in the process of bringing my novels to market. There is other information there too about my novels, the world in which the story is set, some old poems, and on a more personal note, my dogs.
What projects do you have planned for the future?
Book 2, Vorn the Onyx is being revised even as we speak. I'm hoping to be able to publish it in 2011. I'm also planning to complete the draft of Book 3, Telep, the Diamond next year too.
Is there anything else about you we should know?
Well, I think the most important thing is that this book is only the first step in telling a larger story. I very much see the world in which the story takes place as a character too and all the stories planned, really tell the story of the world, at least a part of that story. I say this because before you judge my work or a given novel, you really need to understand the bigger picture. Unfortunately, that won't be clear to the reader until many more books are written. Until then, I think it is goes to be like judging a painting by evaluating one corner of the overall work.