Today I’m talking to fantasy author Lydia Sherrer, who loves tea, the Kentucky countryside and playing her ocarina. Thank you, Lydia, for taking the time to chat to me. Please sit down, get comfortable and let’s begin.
About Lydia Sherrer
Author of the Love, Lies, and Hocus Pocus magical adventure series, Lydia Sherrer is a fantasy author whose goal is to leave this world a better place than when she found it. With an urban fantasy series, multiple short stories and a novella under her belt, Lydia has been writing for over a decade and enjoys nothing more than a good book, a cup of tea, and a comfy chair in the sunshine. When not writing she loves to play her ocarina (think Zelda), and also enjoys traditional archery, cosplay, larping, and art.
Growing up in rural Kentucky, she was thoroughly corrupted by a deep love for its rolling countryside, despite the mosquitoes and hay fever. She was instilled with a craving for literature early on, and her parents had to wrestle books away from her at the dinner table. Though she graduated with a dual BA in Chinese and Arabic, having traveled the world she came home and decided to stay there. She currently resides in Louisville, KY with her loving and supportive husband, and their very vocal cat.
What’s the name of the book you’re here to talk about?
Love, Lies, and Hocus Pocus: Beginnings (The Lily Singer Adventures, Book 1)
Tell us a bit about your book
Saving the world is such a bother when it makes you late for tea.
By day, book-loving wizard Lily Singer manages library archives. By night? She sleeps, of course. In between, she studies magic and tries to keep her witch friend Sebastian out of trouble. Much to her displeasure, he finds it anyway and drags her along with him.
From unmaking ancient curses to rescuing a town lost in time, Lily and Sebastian fight to avert magical mayhem. Meanwhile, Lily’s mysterious past begins to unfold–a past hidden from her by those she trusts most. Will she be able to discover the truth despite them?
Beginnings is the first installment of the Lily Singer Adventures urban fantasy series. Full of unexpected twists and snarky humor, this story has been known to cause: loud snorts of laughter, inexplicable craving for tea, and loss of work productivity. If you enjoy magic-filled adventures like Harry Potter and Sabrina the Teenage Witch then you’ll love Lydia Sherrer’s delightful new series.
What writing advice do you have for aspiring authors?
Put your butt in the chair and write something. Once you’ve written it, get beta feedback. Never assume it’s good enough, everything can always use another edit. While writing, take time to be a part of the writer community. Help other people and they will help you. Listen to others and treat constructive criticism as the most precious thing in the world, even if it hurts, you can always learn something from it. While it’s good to constantly seek to educate yourself about the publishing/writing world, don’t worry too much about anything else until you have that completed, self-edited and beta read manuscript in hand. Before that, it’s all just wistful thinking anyway.
If you didn’t like writing books, or weren’t any good at it, what would you like to do for a living?
I’ve always loved nature and insects, if I could travel the world collecting insects, whether for scientific research or for private collectors, that would be awesome. Of course, it would be very hard making a living doing that, so more realistically, I’d like to somehow use my love of music and ocarina playing a living, or my art. Okay, who am I kidding, that would be even harder to make a living in. But this is all hypothetical, so why not?
Do you read reviews of your book(s)? Do you respond to them, good or bad? How do you deal with the bad?
I read every single one. Always. I never respond. Ever. That’s a rule that every single respectable author has ever told me. Never respond to your reviews. The only exceptions might be if someone obviously reviewed the wrong book (maybe the title was similar or they just clicked on the wrong button, it happens sometimes) or if they made factually false statements about you or your book in the review, or if the review was obviously violating the review guidelines (using profanity, personally attacking you as the author, etc). But in those instances, I wouldn’t so much respond to the review as report it to the administrators of the site to have it pulled.
What is your best marketing tip?
See and be seen. I know some people aren’t big on personal interaction, or maybe have a small budget, or maybe suck at talking to other people. I’m a raging extrovert and very personable, so I can’t say what it is like to be an introvert and try to do this. But I’ve made more advancements in my author career by simply going to events (readings, signings, panels, conventions, etc) and making friends than I have in any other way.
Build an email list. It is the single best and most effective way to directly reach your own, personal cultivated audience who want to hear from you and want to buy your products. If you don’t know how to do it, just go google it and start sifting through the glut of information.
Okay, sorry, here’s a third one, haha! Get on facebook and go join author groups, whatever types of groups fits your genre and where you are in your author journey. You’ll meet people from around the world and get tons of amazing advice. Observe, ask questions, help others out, and CROSS PROMOTE with other authors.
What is your least favourite part of the writing / publishing process?
Making the cover. Gah! It is so nerve wracking! You can’t just make a pretty cover. You have to make a good-looking cover that sells by hitting all the right genre cues. I don’t do my own covers. I am not a professional graphic designer, so I hire a professional to do them for me. It is always nerve wracking finding the right person for each cover and worrying that you won’t get it right after spending all that money. Editing is easy. There is a right and wrong way to edit, and I am a writer by trade so I know what I’m doing. But I am not a professional cover designer so giving up that control is nerve wracking for me.
Do you have a favourite conference / convention that you like to attend? What is it?
I just got back from a weekend at LibertyCon 30 in Chattanooga TN. If you are an author, an aspiring author, or a book lover, you will have a blast with all the amazing panels and opportunities to hang out with the pros and ask them questions around a good bowl of whatever they are serving at the con suite that particular day. This past weekend I got to have lunch with David Weber, be on a panel with Faith Hunter, and talk writing with John Ringo. I also got to meet some of the staff at Baen Books, one of the top science fiction/fantasy publishers around.
What are you working on now?
I’m sort of between books at the moment. I’m about to finish my final edits for “Accidental Witch” (Dark Roads Trilogy, Book One). It is a spin-off series from my Love, Lies, and Hocus Pocus series about Lily Singer. It tells the backstory of Lily’s friend and companion Sebastian Blackwell and how he became a witch. It is much darker and more somber than the Lily Singer books, with some elements of horror in it. But then, Sebastian had a hard past, and got mixed up with demons *shrugs*. After that I’m going to start on my first ever epic fantasy novel about how the gods got bored, gave a worthless beggar god-like powers as a joke, and then lived to regret it. You’ll have to wait until January 2018 to find out more ;). You can keep up to date on my projects by subscribing to my newsletter at www.lydiasherrer.com/subscribe
Why should a potential reader buy your book(s)?
Do you like reading quality fiction? Do you like to laugh? Do you like magic and adventure? Do you like cats? If you said yes to any two or more of those questions, you will like my books (and if you don’t like cats, you absolutely should read them, because you WILL like Sir Edgar Allan Kipling, magical talking cat extraordinaire). They are ideal for Harry Potter fans and people who enjoy series like Supernatural and Sabrina the Teenage Witch. They do, however, have their own warning disclaimers: My books have been known to cause loud snorts of laughter, inexplicable cravings for tea, and loss of work productivity. Someone once left a review stating that they were almost late for a business meeting because they were so engrossed in my book. Proceed at your own risk.
What’s the strangest thing you have ever had to research for your book?
Maybe not the strangest, but this is what comes to mind. What do you call a group of cats? The answers range from a clowder (the most officially correct term) to a glaring, a pounce, or a clutter. In the end, I just stuck with “a group of cats.” Though “a clutter of cats” has a nice ring to it…
What’s an interesting fact about your book?
The reason I chose Agnes Scott College to be Lily Singer’s home base/place of work in the Lily Singer Series is because my husband tried to date a girl from that college (it is a small, private, all women’s college) way back when, and he was always telling me stories about dodging security guards and getting thrown off campus for doing things like holding up a sign outside his girlfriend’s dorm room that said “I love you.” That’s how I got the idea of having Lily work there, and her friend/”professional” associate Sebastian Blackwell coming to visit unannounced and dodging security guards. And, just so everyone knows, in real life it isn’t like guys can’t visit Agnes Scott Campus. There are men on staff and male professors. It is just that, if you are there visiting one of the students, you are supposed to be chaperoned while on campus. It used to be more strict, but not anymore.
Of all the characters you have created, which is your favourite and why?
The cat. Always the cat :). Sir Edgar Allan Kipling, magical talking cat extraordinaire, is a hoot of a character, and I love cats, so it is a lot of fun writing him. If you want to read an interview of him that I did on my blog check it out here: http://lydiasherrer.com/exclusive-talking-cat-interview-and-giveaway/
Are your characters based on real people, are they imaginary or a combination of both?
All of my characters contain elements of the people I know and love, because those are the personalities, the quirks, the loves and hates and emotional maps that I know best, and can write about most authentically. None of them are any one person, though some of them are more heavily and purposefully like people I know than others. Writers write best what they know, and any book you read, there is some part of it that is connected to something the author knows and loves.
When you’re writing, do you listen to music or do you need silence?
90% of the time I need music, and I generally listen to epic orchestral music along the fantasy/video game lines. But there are definitely times that I just need silence to concentrate, or I’ll get on a role, not even realizing my music isn’t on, and I get so in the zone it doesn’t matter either way.
What’s the best thing about being an indie author?
Having all creative control over your work. There is no one there to tell you what the cover should look like or how the plot should go. Of course, that is a tremendous amount of responsibility, and you can more easily sink yourself than if you had a publisher helping to guide things along for you.
What do you find most challenging about writing?
Just writing. Sitting my butt in the chair and writing when I don’t feel like it (which is about half the time). It is all well and good writing every now and then when you feel inspired. But writing regularly on a schedule with deadlines whether you feel like it or not is sometimes like pulling teeth. And I’ve had two teeth pulled, so I know what it feels like.
Available formats: ebook and paperback