Kaelia Stevens has always written, and even when she wasn’t ideas and characters would talk to her that insisted on being heard and so she converted these ideas into stories. From an early age she devoured all things magical and mystical. To this day, she hesitantly struggles to keep one foot in reality while the rest of her remains firmly rooted in the fantastic and insane. In 2015, she finally worked up enough courage to share her stories with more than just her family, and was encouraged by the fact that she wasn’t eaten alive for it. She may be the crazy lady that talks to bugs and stares incessantly into the sky, but don’t mind her. She’s just thinking.
Q: Congratulations on the release of your Special Edition of Olyvia. It’s quite a unique novel with your own author notes added, and your own artwork. It’s like following your writing process as you worked through Olyvia. What made you consider doing this? Was it done to honour your father?
A: It was a fun experiment for me, to say the least. The story itself was supposed to be done in honor of my father, but the Special Edition was more the end result of a long train of thought. My sales were very stagnant, and while I had a number of happy readers, I had no new readers. I observed some of the online storytellers I adore, took a look at the exposure that fan-fiction can give you, noticed that people prefer to spend money supporting someone or something they feel a more personal connection with, and thought very hard about how to use all my online resources to my advantage. Earlier in the year, I had been posting about 1,000 or so words of short stories and novel starts on my blog, just to see if people would be interested in my writing style. There was a pretty good response as my views began to steadily increase, and I wanted to build on that without running myself ragged. So that’s when I took the experiment one step further, broke Olyvia down into chapter-sized bites, and began posting them online. The added author content was just me being…well, me. I know I enjoyed a story more when I get a behind-the-scenes look at things, so I thought it might be fun for other people.
Q: How did you enjoy the Nanowrimo competition last year? Was it hard work, fun, rewarding or a stiff learning process. Would you recommended it? Please talk about your winning entry.
A: I’ve always enjoyed the Nanowrimo competitions. It’s a month where you can focus on your writing with a community of others, but it’s virtual which means I don’t have to worry about my anxiety making me look like a nature-phobic chipmunk. I’d definitely recommend joining, no matter what stage of the process you’re in. I know a few people that have taken the month and tracked their edited pages, or counted how many words they revised, or whathaveyou. Nano months are really just a way to tell people your goals so you can remain accountable, work hard for a month among other like-minded individuals, and have fun with a writing community at the same time. I believe my 2014 win was a supplemental story to Olyvia and my 2016 camp win was related to Rod.
Q: You mention that you have always written. Do you plan on writing outside of the fantasy genre? What is your favorite type of book that you enjoy reading when you want to relax? Which authors do you read / follow? Who do you see as up and coming authors?
A: I would love to get outside the fantasy genre and try to stretch myself, but I also realize that I don’t quite have the right thought processes to explore the other genres…yet. Choosing a favorite book is like choosing a favorite chocolate or a favorite pencil. I probably have some, I just don’t remember what they are until I’m staring at them, haha. I will always and forever be a fan of Neil Gaiman and Jim Butcher, but there are admittedly a number of others that make up the list. I can’t really attest to the up and commers…I have just enough time to follow my favorites and keep up with my own work.
Q: What is your style of writing? Do you set aside time each day, write when the inspiration takes you, write till you drop? How do you fit it around your education commitments?
A: So far the only thing I can claim as a ‘style’ is first-person sarcastic. My routine depends on what I’m trying to accomplish. Somehow, if I’m writing something new I have to wait until about 10 p.m., switch on a good movie and write till exhaustion hits at about 1 a.m. Rewriting takes place somewhere in the middle of the day, and all editing works best for me in the morning into the afternoon. Apparently, unless I’m 50 pages away from the ending. Then I just edit all day and night until I’m done, dropping into bed without bothering to do any sort of nightly routine. I manage to fit writing in around education by doing school in the morning/afternoon and bookish stuff in the afternoon/evening and filling up the weekends with writing. I might possibly also write during my classes but I won’t commit to saying I do so.
Q: What are your preferred tools? Scrivener, Word, Google Docs, OneNote? Have you considered talking your book/transcription services. Where do you see (or would like) technology move in the future to support writers / publishers?
A: Scrivener, hands down. I can convert the document into various formats, separate all of the pieces so I can more easily see chapters, start a new ‘page’ between every break, ect ect. It takes a minute to learn how to get around with Scriv, but I love everything I’ve found so far. I’ve toyed with turning my first book, Olyvia, into an audiobook, but that’s on the backburner for now. I’m not sure where technology could go to support writers…there’s a lot available to us already, we just have to network to find it and have money to pay for it.
Q: Is Amazon too big and dominant ?
A: As far as Amazon, I think some readers and writers help make it dominant. There are other places you can get decent e-books and POD books, but a lot of them don’t have enough HTML know-how or real traffic to warrant an upgrade, so Amazon continues to beat them out.
Q: You have also worked your way through a Writer / Self Publishers Course. Would you recommend this method of Self Publishing, what are the main benefits, and where do they fall down ?
A: I would, definitely, especially if you’re in the early stages. Granted, you have to be careful about the course you choose, but the one I went through gave a very good starting map of the self-publishing road and explained things to look for when vetting editors and cover designers. Things like that. Going through a course also helps you get to know like-minded people you can call upon after the course is completed. The thing about courses, however, is that way too many of them are scams or just not all they’re cracked up to be; they overcharge you, they don’t deliver, they keep shoving products in your face, etc. You just have to be careful.
Q: You have written your third novel now. What is your launch plan for your books? Do you use beta readers, email lists, launch teams, Facebook Ads , Promo sites?
A: Right now the launch plan is to launch, haha. I did a lot of promo sites and the suggested ring-around-the-rosie for my second book, and it worked for my release week but hasn’t produced much since. So the plan for this book is just to use a small number of beta readers to get fresh eyes on the piece, start hype about a week or so before the release date, then release the work and ask for reviews. I’ll probably run a week-long free/.99c promo and use that to ask people to buy, read, and review. Other than that, it’s just working the online circuit. No launch teams or ads or email lists.
Q: Where do you think the Social Media platforms will move in the future. Will Facebook keep its premier position, will readers move more towards other platforms? Where do you feel you personally get most social interaction and most pleasure to communicate through ?
A: I’m sure whenever the newest platform offers something the others don’t, everyone will migrate. Facebook had maintained it’s dominance so far, so whatever the new system comes up with will have to be very good, but I’ve no doubt it’ll happen some time. Technology moves on, and it’s up to writers to determine when they need to move on with said tech. Personally I like the interaction on Twitter, but I still seem to get the most attention through my blog. I prefer my blog overall, because I can show more of ‘me’ to anyone willing to read said blog.
Q: Do you have multiple books being worked on or is it one book at a time? Have you planned / mapped out your series or does it evolve with your readers’ feedback.
A: Right now it’s one at a time, but every time I come up with a new idea, I write out a synopsis and I go as far as the idea can go in one sitting. I’ll probably go back to moving on multiple books soon enough, though. It started out based on feedback, but now that I’ve written a few of them out, I’ve started to map out how the rest of it will go. So…Yes.
Q: What is the most difficult part of the Self Publishing process for you?
A: Probably the marketing. It changes so rapidly and is a catch-22 on top of that; reviews get you attention, but in order to get reviews you have to have garnered some sort of attention.
Q: Finally, what is the best piece of advice you were given? What one piece of advice would you give to anyone starting out on the writing road?
A: Write, and write. You want to be good at something? You start by doing it.