Today I have Kristan Cannon, author of Between Silence and Fire with us today! Tell me, what do you do?
A little bit of everything. I’m an artist and a writer, so I paint, sculpt, mix the two together, write and lots of other things.
Tell us about yourself and what inspired you to start writing?
I’m from Northern Ontario – I say that because I never really settled. I was born in Kirkland Lake, then went to school in North Bay, as well as Toronto. I moved to Blind River and was there for a decade, then all over Sudbury before I moved to Toronto (living in Downsview and then Mimico for awhile), and then moved back to Sudbury again because most of my family currently lives there or very close to it.
I’ve been writing since I was old enough to string together words. Unlike some other kids who will tell stories to anyone who would listen, I wrote mine down and attempted to draw them in little books. Eventually, those stories got longer and my writing improved. My handwriting never did, but my great-grandmother gave me my first typewriter when I was nine and kept me supplied with ribbon and paper. I eventually replaced my old typewriter with a 386 in 1996, and then a Pentium (running XP) in 2001… so I guess I could say my own lonliness (I was never that popular and eventually never bothered with making friends unless I sensed we could really click.) and that typewriter enabled it.
You sound a bit like me there at the end, I’m a bit of a loner myself. So, how did you go about getting published?
I submitted a short story to a magazine online, and they published it. It was a fanzine, and I wrote a short piece of fan fiction, but it wasn’t wish fulfillment or a self-insert but a serious character brain crawl of a character and their own motivations from the sketchy details on the show in narrative.
What is your writing process? Do you have a time, day or place you liek to write?
My favourite times to write are anytime, and my favourite place to write is someplace quiet. I have been known to write a scene while on the subway, and I used my BlackBerry to write most of my second novel this way. My process involves
My process involves alot of research first into each character and what makes them tick. I will write a short piece that a friend of mine called a brain crawl that narrates what brought them to the point the story starts. It establishes their psyche, their quirks… and their timeline. Once I know *who* the story is about I work on where everything will happen. It’s like being a hobby anthropologist. Culture, geography, culture mores and all of that.
Only then do I figure out *what* happens to them and why.
I really have to answer all the W’s and the How before I’m satisfied with my tale. I think the readers can pick up when someone goes into that degree of detail. Canon stays true to the end, and if there is a change it’s logical and flows with the story. Characters have definite arcs, feelings and motivations.
Once I have this plotted out (in a wiki, of all things… like a TV show “bible”) I will practically spew out words until the first draft is done. I love NaNoWriMo for this (all of the Kingdom of Walden books were NaNo projects… After Oil started the ball rolling in when I wrote it during NaNo 2012 and I’m writing book five of the series this NaNo in 2016). I have been known to double up on NaNo sometimes and actually manage to write not 50k but 100k by November 30th, and then finish the entire draft in the first week of December. I then run through it and fix all the spelling and grammar errors (that I can find) and rewrite anything that sticks out too much.
Then I let it sit until January before I tear it all apart, scene by scene, on timeline and plot/pacing chart. I move things around, if they need to be moved around. I explain scenes by writing more scenes, if I need to, and tweak the development draft until the plot holes big enough to drive semi trucks through are sewn up. I run it through another grammar and spelling check using Grammarly, Hemingway and Autocrit to catch the worst of things.
I let someone else read it at this point for a fresh perspective.
I tear it apart, like I did the first time, one more time… because there’s always something. I do this revision and rewrite process three times until the plot holes are filled in and the plot is logical, makes sense and the characters are as close to “in character” as they will be.
At this point I print out the draft, bind it, and put that copy somewhere safe just in case my computer does something stupid. That process takes a few months, sometimes four to five months… so, around April or May. I then let it sit and percolate for another few months, just in case I have an idea for a scene that would work better than an existing or something like that. I take out that printed copy, and an orange pen, and I begin the stylistic edits… or as much as I can on my own. I look for crutch words or phrases… telling instead of showing… less obvious grammar problems and at the pacing. I update the file to match my edits, and then read through it again on a tablet and highlight as I go. I go back and fix it again. I let an electronic reader read through the manuscript (the monotone may sound like torture, but you really catch the worst of everything that way) and fix what I notice.
Then I let the first of the professionals at it and take their advice (or not, but usually I do) on changes. I tweak and I tighten some more. I let the editor re-read it and make more changes because they always notice something else.
When I’m done that I print it out again, have it bound… burn the first one while dancing around its grave (*cough*) and start digging into the finer details of word choice, sentence structure… final issues with grammar, spelling, any typos or dropped words, or words that were supposed to be different word… the really fine and close editing. I do the best I can, and it’s at this point I do the first out loud reading in my own voice… usually to my cat.
I fix the problems I find on my own, rinse… repeat…
Send it to another professional that specializes in this stage of editing.
Let the first of my betas read it. Fix anything those sets of eyes managed to find.
Fix, tweak, repeat.
… And then send to my marketing agent and publicist so he has an idea of what he’ll need to do for a marketing plan. I submit it to the publisher, and their editor finds more stuff to fix.
Eventually, it gets published… but it’s been around eighteen months to two years (and two professional editors) before I feel it’s even ready to submit.
Thank you for sharing all that! I think you might be the most detailed person I’ve had yet! So, with all of that going on, what do you like to do when you’re not writing? Full-time job, hobbies? I already know you have a cat, so we’ll skip the pets.
I have a bookstore… it’s online right now but we’d like to make it a brick and mortar store with a liquor license. Yes, a bar & bookstore. Right now I work wherever I can find to pay rent and bills.
What’s your all time favorite animal? It can be mythical.
My people! I like dragons too, though I’m on the fence about my favorite. Now, do you have a favorite myth?
Anything to do with the Summerland and where the Pagans believe their dead go. I’m fascinated by it — even though I am Pagan (Wiccan, to be specific) and had to find every reference I could throughout the Northern belief systems about it.
Cool! Now, any advice for authors about book covers?
Unless you have a background in Graphic Design, find someone who does. If you go through a publisher, look through the covers of what they have produced and decide whether you want your book to look the same because their art department is going to be YOUR art department, whether you like it or not.
Sound advice, heck, I still go to a cover artist even though I’m going to college to do them eventually. Now, any marketing tips you’d like to share with other authors?
Don’t be afraid of it. There are numerous legit sources of information on the internet on how to run your own successful marketing campaign. It won’t be free, and it will require lots of hard work (more so than writing and editing the book) but if you want your book to be successful then you need to do the marketing. This still applies to those with a publisher — publishers are swamped with numerous projects that need marketing done. The more you can do on your own, the more they can help you… and they shouldn’t have a problem with that. Sometimes having a shared plan is better than doing your own thing, even if you take over all of your own marketing. Your publisher will still need to be on the same page so they’re not out in left field and they will be more likely to support you if you do include them. They might not have a big budget, but sometimes, especially in the case of publishers where the art department is talented, you will get freebies that would cost big bucks otherwise in the form of professionally designed bookmarks, business cards, promotional materials and even table banners for trade shows. They might not buy the physical items for you, but they might have a discount with a provider that can ship cheaply to you… and then be able to upload the files to that server so all you have to do is order what you want… and that part of it should be free.
I shouldn’t have to say this, but the only three places you should spend money with a publisher in place your publicist, lawyer and accountant. You should, of course, be able to buy your own books at a deep discount as well as promotional materials… but the design, editing and all things to get these ready for production should not cost you a penny up front… or later unless you get to keep 100% of the royalties.
Good advice, now, I’m going to side for a second before jump to the next question. Can you give us the blurb for your book?
Have a blurb for your book?
THE LINE IS DRAWN
Four years ago Derek Moss formed the Rangers of Walden to protect the last spark of civilization from those who would see it all vanish into dust.
Now, Colonel Harnet has encroached into the borders. He has one aim on his mind–taking the last barrier between him and total control over the whole Region.
ALLIES UNDER FIRE
Communities once free are slowly falling under the tyranny of Colonel Harnet. Those who resist are brutally dispersed. Survivors are forced to flee to new safe havens or into communities who have bowed under the pressure.
One last one remains–the small enclave of survivors led by Russell Wither on the shore of Richard Lake.
THE DRUMS OF WAR THUNDER
When Harnet’s soldiers strike deep into the heart of the Kingdom of Walden, tragedy soon follows.
Fanning the flames of war is the knowledge that they cannot leave their allies with only silence as an answer.
The blog post that has everything about this book, including where and when it’s available and a link to the Kingdom of Walden Wikia is here: http://kristancannon.blogspot.ca/2016/10/between-silence-and-fire-book-three-of.html
Thanks, I’ll have to check that out! Now, tell us about your next book project.
It’s called Red Sails, which is the fifth book of the Kingdom of Walden series. Ghostwalker, which is the fourth, is already done and available for pre-order soon.
I might have to look into that one. So, what are you reading now?
Blood Debt by E.A. Copen
We’re about out of time, but before you go, do you have a sale or event coming up you would like mentioned?
There will be an official book launch on November 5th, 2016 at Salute Coffee Company in Sudbury, Ontario (Canada). I’ll also be hosting this online all day so everyone is welcome to join me on Twitter for an #AMA session.
Thank you for joining us! And before you all go, I thought I’d like you know we’ll be having a chat with one of Kristan Cannon’s characters here November 5 so don’t foreget to come back and check it out!