Getting to know... S.J. Cairns

 

Not all Canadians are all about hockey pucks and maple syrup, eh! Some, like my good friend S.J. Cairns, are a little more mysterious, with a fondness for magic, growly music and smoosh-faced pug dogs.

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Sami-Jo recently released the third book of her SOUL SEER CHRONICLES - “DIVISION” - and is currently working hard on the rest of the series. I asked nicely if she’d give me a few moments of her time to answer a few questions and against her better judgment she agreed. lol

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Me: Hi, Sami-Jo! waves You were one of the unfortunate authors who lost some ground when Booktrope went under. After that disappointment, why did you choose to wait to be signed by Oghma, rather than go the self-publishing route?

SJ: Yes! The fall of Booktrope was shitacular for me as it came 5 days after my first ever book release. Just the luck. However, I had a finished product and could self-publish it immediately as the rights reverted to me. The simplest answer as to why I didn’t continue in the self-publishing world is that I can’t afford it. Things like editing and book covers cost big bucks and I would never expect people to work for free or for “exposure”. Nah son. I don’t play like that. I signed with Oghma Creative Media because I heard great things from authors I knew who worked with them and Casey – Head Honcho – has a soft heart for those like me who have been let down by the publishing world. Oghma Creative Media is a mid-size press and takes care of all the monetary struggles allowing me to publish a book every 9 months. Not something my bank would allow me to do on my own. The bonus is they operate as a family and care about authors. Many of whom I got to meet at their annual retreat.

Me: Outside of your friends and family, who has been the biggest influence on your writing?

SJ: Other authors? Hard to pin down just one as there’s so many with works I’ve fallen in love with over the years. Many help with a kick in the ass when I need it. And some days, I REALLY need it. It takes a village to raise a child, it takes a band of misfit writers and creatives to raise an author.

Me: Magic is an important element in your series. How long has that subject interested you?

SJ: I wish I knew. I wasn’t raised in a family of Magics nor did I have a wayward quasi-aunt to lure me into the dark and arcane. I’ve always fantasized about a world with magic and been drawn to the darker elements of life in general. I think it developed from finding stories with a basis in magic and falling in love with it. And not necessarily from books. TV and movies probably made a big impact as well, though I was an imaginative kid who grew to be a teenager who stole my mother’s books.

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Me: Was it important to you to base your story in your own neck of the woods?

SJ: I don’t know if it was important or just organic to write about cities I grew up in. When the idea for the Soul Seer Chronicles hit me one night – literally out of nowhere – I was in the building I write about across from a large inner-city park. It developed from there by a neophyte writer without a plan, writing skills, or traditional schooling in English lit.

Me: This book is book 3 in your series. Who is your favorite character and who is someone that you’re looking forward to introducing in future installments?

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SJ: Oooh! Such a tough one. Without spoilers for those who haven’t the rest of the books, Aunt Lacey is pretty damn cool since she has the whole immortal, all-knowing leader vibe, but so far my fav is Donovan. He’s fully fleshed out in my mind with a heavy background, a bleak outlook on life, and an arrogance of someone who knows what to expect from everyone he meets. Or almost everyone. He’s a perfect example of the potential someone can reach when given a chance beyond the shitty hand they were given.

As for future characters, that’s easy. Vincent. Oh, Vincent. He’s my favourite character over the entirety of the seasons and is introduced in Book 4. Everything about him is intriguing to me. A Magic of great experience and wisdom with flaws of the everyday person. The depths of his secrets and vulnerabilities make me giddy. I want to explore the nooks and crannies of his brain and display for the world!

Me: What keeps you motivated through the lengthy process of writing and editing a series of several books?

SJ: For the writing part, always wanting to know more keeps me going. I prefer to read series so writing them comes naturally. I can’t remember the last time I bought a standalone novel. Always wanting more. As for editing, not wanting to be a shitty writer keeps me going. Learning the ways of good authors before me and keeping things fresh is the goal. Whether or not I hit the target is a question for me readers. Deadlines also help. I hate being late to anything and missing a deadline makes me feel like a fraud of an author.

Me: What has been the best thing about becoming a published author?

SJ: I would say the other writers I’ve met, but you can be a writer and never be published. Once published, not much changed besides people asking about my books and me stumbling over concise and compelling answers to goad them into buying it. Knowing others have glimpsed the story that popped out of nowhere and could potentially fall in love with it in the manner I have is exciting. It’s another way to connect with others. For an introvert like myself, it’s as bold as I get.

Me: Social media has become a major part of reaching out to one’s fans. What is your favorite platform and why?

SJ: Facebook connects me to those I know in the real world, though also introduced me to writers since no one I knew spoke of writing as a love or a serious career. The ones I met helped me make further connections which led to getting published. They’ve become acquaintances and grew into friends, many of which I’ve met in real life and connect with daily. Without them, I would be less of a writer, author, and person.

Me: If you could offer younger Sami-Jo some writing advice, what would you tell her?

SJ: If I could go back to 2009 to when I started writing this series, I would tell myself

1: To start writing in 1 st person point of view instead of 3 rd so I could save myself the aggravation of changing it later.

2: To worry less about how the reader will perceive my writing and just write.

3: To have the confidence to think big. Big dreams mean big work and a lot of extroverting. Not my strong suit, though I still need to say “Yes” more and worry about the execution of the task when it comes to pass.

Thanks to Sami-Jo for stopping by to talk for a wee while. Please check out Sami-Jo’s books on Amazon and follow her on Facebook. Press the buttons to be “magically” transported…ahem :)

Until next time.

~ G

Getting to know... Vania Rheault.

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My good friend Vania hails from the icy wastes of North America. I mean, it’s not like “North of the Wall” (Canada), but the only things that can warm the cockles of their icy hearts up there are Prince’s funky music, hot drinks, and a good book.

Luckily, Vania drinks (a lot of) coffee and is the author of several romance books, including her brand new novel “ALL OF NOTHING” and she’s agreed to stop by and warm her hands by the fire while she shares some answers to a few burning questions…


How long have you been writing and what got you hooked?

I’ve been writing at least since sixth grade when we had to write a short story and read it to the class. I remember the story about a family who got snowed into their house. I don’t know what happened after that. I was a weak plotter at 12 years old.

What is the most satisfying part of writing for you: the writing itself, publishing a book, or getting feedback from fans? Something else?

I like giving my characters a happily ever after. Sometimes they act like big jerks, and it’s hard to write them out of it. It’s always a good feeling to whip them into shape.

Characters can be so unruly at times!

Why did you choose to be an Indie/self-published writer and not choose to query and go the traditional publishing route?  

Querying is hard, and traditional publishing is changing. The midlist is shrinking. Romance writers can do very well being self-published if they put out a good story and do a little marketing.

What misconception would you most like to dispel about Indie authors?

All the rumors are true. Haha! So long as there are people who don’t care about what they write (the argument of writing from your heart vs. writing to market), or don’t bother with editors—those rumors that indie writers don’t care about their work, or won’t/can’t/don’t put money into their work will always be true.

You do a ton of research, not just on the creative side but on the book production/marketing side. What's the most valuable lesson you've learned through your research?

Do your research! I can’t believe how many people will try to publish a book without having any inkling of how to do it. There’re millions of free resources out there on the hows whys wheres. It’s true that sometimes you just can’t know something until you go through it yourself, but listen, there’s thousands of authors out there who blog about their experiences. And those publishing platforms that are around to help—they offer their own tutorials and support staff.  The excuse that you “didn’t know what you didn’t know” is no longer valid. Doctors go to school. Lawyers go to school. Teach yourself something.

Probably the most famous mantra for writers is "write every day", or perhaps "write what you know", do you subscribe to these or do you have your own mantra?

I don’t think you need to write every day, but I think in the beginning, writing what you know can make things easier. I’d never set a book somewhere I’ve never been. That doesn’t seem realistic to me. If you’re writing your first book, or just getting the hang of it with your second, I recommend writing what you know. Plot, character arc, that kind of thing, will seem that much harder if you give your character an occupation you know nothing about, or you’re setting your book in Bolivia and you’ve never been there.

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The lead characters in your previous book "Wherever he goes" coincidentally look like famous actors (Anna Kendrick and Joe Manganiello), did you base your new characters on any famous actors, or people you know, for your new book "All of Nothing"?

Actually, back in the day, I used to watch Days of Our Lives. When I pictured Jax, I pictured the actor that used to play Jack so long ago. Let me see if I can drudge up a picture of him. 😉 ———>

Where did you get your inspiration for "All of Nothing"?

I think I was just talking with a friend, and we came up with the “what if” scenario that makes the beginning scene. I’m a big brainstormer. I love talking plots and creating problems. I think about my plots well in advance, so I was puzzling out All of Nothing while I was writing Wherever He Goes. Just like now I have a book plotted out while I was writing All of Nothing. I like to think ahead. But nothing really “inspires” me, per se. I just loving thinking about internal conflict and how to tie that to a twisty plot.

Your followers on Facebook and Twitter have seen the memes you post about coffee and cats. What for you are other writer essentials? Lol

Music, probably. A decent block of time. But coffee is good. I’m going to make a cup right now. 😊

What will success look like to you when all is said and done?

A strong backlist. Readers who look forward to my stories. Maybe an RWA award. I may be an indie, but I still want that validation. 😊If you’re speaking in terms of $$$, it would be nice to write full-time. But even if I got to that point, I know it might not ever last. Such is the life of an artist.

Thank you for stopping by, Vania. I hope your sled-dogs are well rested for the trip back North. lol. I highly recommend you check out “ALL OF NOTHING” available now for your Kindle. Click the BUTTON!

Also, I highly recommend you check out Vania’s blog, which is far more informative and packed full of good stuff than mine is, and check her out on social media. Just click the buttons!