Today we’re chatting with Valerie Ullmer, author of the Paranormal Erotic Romance Jade! She’ll answer some questions for us and then give us a peek at the fourth book in her Dark Assassins series. Grab a cup of coffee and settle in.
Think back to the first book you wrote and then the last book you wrote. In what ways have you grown?
Every book you write, whether your first or your fiftieth, you learn about your strengths and your weaknesses. You start to recognize words you tend to use over and over again (for me it’s that and could) and the strength of your vocabulary improves. Don’t get me wrong, you still need a wonderful editor, but you learn as you go. You also develop more of streamline process from start to finish. For instance, I outline (all by hand using what if questions and using a story structure as I go), then I fill out my character worksheets, then my settings worksheet. So, after my story and structure of the story is completed, I type my outline to Scrivener and then I start writing my story from my outline notes and my Scrivener outline. From my outline to my Scrivener outline, and finally to my manuscript, I’ve written and added to my story three times to get my finished manuscript.
How long does it generally take you to write a book, from the spark of an idea to the finished product?
If I’m good, which means I write every day, then I would say from the outline (which takes about a month) to filling out my character worksheets, to working on my setting, and then writing the book (which takes about another month), I would say three months for a 50,000 word book.
What’s the most important thing you’ve learned about writing? How has this helped you as a writer?
The most important thing about being a writer is to write. Every day, whether you want to or not. And I’m including outlining to this because for me, once I write an outline, my story is completed but when I write it in Scrivener, I add details to a story that already has a structure, conflict, setting, and my character’s personality. Having projects, several at a time to look forward to, has pushed me so that when I do hit a roadblock (because let’s face it, everyone does) I have a plan in place already.
How much time/effort do you give to social media as a means of self-promotion?
To be honest, I love to hire promotion sites that are on the cheaper side when I have new releases or book sales, that way they handle all the social media and ARC distribution. I do have a presence on social media, but I don’t really care where my book ranks on Amazon on any given day, how many reviews I’ve received, or over-saturating Facebook or Twitter with my book cover and blurb. I do promote book sales and new releases, but as an avid reader, I find books at the moment I’m meant to find them and I feel the same way about readers of my books. They might not be aware of a new release or sale, but if they stumble upon them, read them, and love them, then I consider myself a successful author.
What advice would you give to new/unpublished authors?
Write down any and all ideas you have, even if it’s a fleeting thought. Observe those around you, you never know when they will inspire a story. And last but not least, write. Use writing prompts, write short stories, poems, haiku, anything that comes to you, write it down. When you come to writing a book (novel or novella), don’t give up. It’ll be hard, but if you love it, you’ll stick with it!
What’s the best advice ever given to you, and by whom?
Stephen King’s advice, the best way to become a writer is to write.
What do you do when you’re not writing?
I love reading. I’m part of several promotion groups and host blog tour and because of that, I’m lucky enough to get ARC’s of some wonderful books. If I’m not reading books, I read fan-fiction (I’m addicted). I also love to take walks with my husband and our dog, Maddie, binge watching shows and movies on Netflix or Amazon, or feeding my YouTube addition to channels like Jacksepticeye and What Culture. I’m an introvert, so I spend a limited amount of time with people other than my husband, and when I do, they are usually dog people so we have something to talk about. It’s a good thing I’m a full-time writer.
Who is the most supportive of you and your dream to be a writer?
My husband. He works hard and this allows me to stay at home and do what I love. He’s excited for me when I’m excited about a book idea or a completed manuscript. I couldn’t have asked for a better partner in life.
Define a great book.
Where the characters feel real and solid and you would like to get to know someone like them in real life. Characters where their personality comes to the forefront, whether shy or outgoing, hated or loved, make them flesh and blood and I will read all of your books to find out what happens to your characters.
There are magazines and blogs full of what’s new and what’s hot in the publishing industry. Do you keep up with the latest news, advice, trends and such? What are your thoughts?
The best writing resource I’ve ever found is K.M. Weiland’s Helping Writers Become Authors website.
What makes you laugh?
My husband and those who make observations on life and don’t take anything too seriously.
Tell us about your latest book.
Here’s a sneak peek
Jade caught a scent of a human as she entered the fourteen-story building in downtown Snowfall. It wasn’t just any human scent, but something that made all of her instincts flare. She knew that she’d never caught this particular scent before, but something told her that this human might be important to her. She tried to brush it off as quickly as the thought came, but she couldn’t find it coincidental she smelled it in the same steel building owned by Ghost and housed the headquarters of Dark Company.
As she dismissed the fleeting thought of searching for the scent, her heart thumped once, hard, in her chest at the thought of not finding its owner. She forced herself to walk toward the elevator bank, ignoring the unwanted perusals she received from the men in the lobby. Even in an unassuming hoodie and black yoga pants, she drew unwanted attention. A side effect of being an immortal.
The elevator opened as soon as she pressed the up-button and she kept her gaze down as she walked into the elevator. She entered the code to get to Ghost’s private floor, her movements too quick to be caught by the human eye, before she squeezed into the corner. Jade used her other senses as three men in suits and two women entered the enclosed space with her. There was no need to glance at the glass interior that covered the back wall to see what she looked like.
She sensed eyes on her. Instead of searching out the gaze, she whipped her long, straight dyed black hair into a bun on the back of her head with quick movements before sneaking her hands into the front pockets of her hoodie.
Jade waited patiently as the car traveled toward the penthouse, her ultimate destination, but she couldn’t help but try to find the intriguing scent from earlier.
After my meeting.
All she knew was he hadn’t used the particular elevator she was in and the higher the lift took her in the building, the more his scent dissipated.
In her entire existence, or what she remembered of it, she’d never been attracted to…anyone. She’d never felt the pull to find someone either. But lately, she’d felt increasingly restless whenever she had any downtime and her skin tingled in a way that had nothing to do with signaling immediate danger. It was as though her body tried to convey something she didn’t understand.
Her thoughts were interrupted when a man who had gotten into the elevator with her on the first floor stepped into her personal space.
Jade rolled her eyes and raised her head to glare at the man. Of course, he wouldn’t take the hint that she wanted to be left alone. To emphasize the point, she crossed her arms and leaned against the wall, moving away from his intrusion.
The man decided to take this as an invitation and moved to wrap his arm around her waist. The move gave her a clear shot to his ribs and she took it, gently moving her elbow back and making contact. She flinched when she heard a distinctive crack, realizing she hadn’t been careful enough. Before she could apologize, the elevator door opened and he ran off without looking back, holding onto his side.
About the author
Valerie writes paranormal and contemporary M/F and M/M erotic romances. She lives in Denver, Colorado with her wonderfully supportive husband and their funny and wise black lab. She’s addicted to coffee, crime shows, and reading and writing character-driven romances.
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