Interview: Epic fantasy author Kala Merseal

Hi friends! How are we already half way through July? This year has absolutely flown, especially after last year seemed to drag so much.

I’ve been a busy bee this month, making my new story A Fair Deception available on Amazon (if you’ve read it I’d absolutely love it if you left a review on Amazon, Goodreads and/or Bookbub!), drafting my new 2k word flash fiction story for an anthology coming out next year with a group of 20 fellow authors, and ramping up the marketing for my new release, Enchanted Waters, which comes out tomorrow!

In between all of that though, I made time to chat with the lovely Kala Merseal, author of The Guardians of Altana series. Come along and see what we talked about…

Hi, it’s so lovely to be speaking to you! Why don’t you start by telling us a little about yourself?

Hi, I’m Kala! I’m an indie fantasy author that lives in southeast Missouri. I’m married, with three furbabies. I love books, comics, anime, and Asian live-action dramas, as well as playing The Sims, Skyrim, and Summoners’ War!

Aw, I have two furbabies and now I want another one! I used to play a lot of Assassin’s Creed and I actually miss it, I’ll have to start playing again when my son is asleep. So, what are your favourite genres to read and write?

My favorite genre hands-down is fantasy. Epic/high fantasy, dark fantasy, urban. I’ll take any of it. As for tropes, I do love the “enemies to lovers”, the “bad guys are actually good guys”, the “bad guy becomes redeemed”, and finally the “good guy spirals into corruption” tropes. The Guardians of Altana has redemption for the antagonist in the end but doesn’t follow any of my other absolute favorite tropes. I would say GOA’s main theme is redemption though. 

I do love a redemption arc, but “good guy spirals into corruption” sounds really interesting, you’ll have to give me some recs! Tell us about your first published book, was that a fantasy novel?

My first published book was actually back in 2016 and it was called Purge, a vampire horror novel. I have since unpublished and buried it deep in the backyard.

In 2020, I published my first epic fantasy novel, The Shadow Curse, embarking on a new journey as an indie author. At the end of this month, exactly a year since I published the first of my series, I’ll be publishing the conclusion, The Dark Realm!

That’s so exciting! Congratulations on having a complete series, that is the absolute dream for any author I think. Where do you find inspiration for your characters or settings?

My latest series (my first officially published and finished series) is from a dream I had a few years ago.

I’d love it if story ideas came to me in dreams, mine always seem to be from podcasts! Random, I know. And I’m always driving or doing dishes so I can’t write them down. Do you consider yourself a plotter, pantser or plantser?

I am a plotter all the way. I can’t keep my head straight if I don’t have a voluminous amount of notes for my stories and their worlds.

Same! Although I’m more of a plantser, I love a big story bible with character profiles, magic rules, geography and flora and fauna, and a chapter by chapter list of what needs to happen, but I do leave some room for discovery writing. What are you working on right now?

I just released the last book of my series, The Guardians of Altana, on June 29. So exciting! In my spare time, I’m outlining my next series, The Hunted Duology.

That’s so exciting, I hope your release went well! That’s amazing that you already have another series to get stuck into, I need to think about what I’m going to do after The Fair Chronicles is complete. But that’s a problem for 2023 Lyndsey! 

Thank you so much for chatting with me today, Kala, it’s been lovely! Before you go, what one piece of advice would you give aspiring authors?

Don’t give up. I think that’s the best thing that needs to be constantly drilled into writers and creatives in general. It’s so easy to stop doing what you love just because life gets in the way. 

Absolutely, it’s not the easy choice, especially if you’re an indie, but it’s so worthwhile and there’s room for all of us on the bookshelf! How can we find out more about you and your books?

You can join my newsletter or join my Facebook group! I send out emails twice a month but I’m frequently on Facebook.

 Website: www.kalamerseal.com 

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/kalamersealwrites/ 

Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/KalaMersealAuthor 

Twitter: https://twitter.com/KalaMerseal 


If you’re anything like me, you feel absolutely spoiled with incredible new fantasy books to add to your TBR now! It’s going to be a long, hot summer of reading friends.

Lyndsey

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7 things I wish I’d known when I published my debut novel

It’s been almost a year since I published my debut novel, The Fair Queen, and I can honestly say it’s been one of the best years of my life. Pandemic aside, the friends I’ve made, opportunities I’ve been given and everything I’ve learned since hitting ‘submit’ on my first book have made it an amazing twelve months.

But, that’s not to say that I wouldn’t do it slightly differently if I had my first time again. Sadly, I don’t actually own a time machine, so I’ll have to settle for doing a few things – and NOT doing a few others – next time around. Bring on book two, The Solitary King!

Here’s seven things I wish I’d known when I published by debut novel:

Fast release

OK, so I won’t be fast releasing books 2 and 3 in The Fair Chronicles, sadly, my timeline for these books will be early 2022 and early 2023, for so many reasons (I’m starting a degree soon and my military husband is moving away for work and then being deployed next year, so it’s going to be a busy couple of years!). But next series for definite!

The difficulty with slow releasing is that you end up having to work ten times harder on your marketing to get people to remember you and buy the next book. With fast releasing, they’ve just read (and hopefully loved) your first book in the series and can’t wait to get their hands on the next one.

On that subject…

Linking to preorder book 2 in the back of book 1

When I published The Fair Queen, I had already written a good chunk of The Solitary King, but I didn’t trust myself to have it finished in time for people to preorder it and get it by a specific date. And, wouldn’t you know, like a self fulfilling prophecy, I haven’t gotten TSK ready for publication yet. But it is in the works, and in six months’ time not only will you be able to buy The Solitary King, but you’ll also be able to preorder the third and final book in Aria’s story (which is currently untitled, but one thing at a time).

The cover might be a place holder, the blurb might be a little vague and subject to change, but I’m promising you now that there will be a link to preorder TFC3 at the end of TSK and I’ll keep to my promised publication date in early 2023.

Hold me to that.

Facebook groups

I didn’t have a Facebook group for readers when I started this publishing journey, in fact I’ve only just started one (you can join Lyndsey Hall’s Fair Folk here). But not only that, I was barely in any groups myself, I didn’t know many of my fellow indie authors, I didn’t have a real community or a place for readers and friends to share about books and play games and host giveaways. And now I do!

I’ll definitely be using my Facebook group more going forward, in fact, I’ve got a few really cool ideas for my birthday in early August and The Fair Queen’s bookaversary on 30 August…

Newsletter swaps

I’ve actually had an email newsletter for years, but it only consisted of my most recent blog post emailed out to around 30 people who’d signed up in 2016. So when I heard about the great indie marketing tactic that is newsletter swaps, I knew I needed to get started sooner rather than later!

I’ve now got almost 2k email subscribers who get Letters from the Fair Realm every week, with a bit of an update about life, my books, anything fun coming up over the next week or two, as well as a link to my latest blog post and a few book recommendations and book fairs with discounted books, new releases and Kindle Unlimited books. It’s been a great way to connect with new readers and get some feedback on what people like and want to read.

Where do I find other authors to swap newsletter mentions with, you ask, well Facebook groups, but also…

StoryOrigin

If you’re a self-published author, or aspire to be, then StoryOrigin is definitely worth looking into. I was introduced to it back in March when it was still in beta (read: free) and now I’m a paying member as I found it so useful for my book marketing efforts.

SO lets you create and join group promos (book fairs) which will then be shared by all the authors involved in their newsletters and even on social media, giving you more exposure than you ever could have gotten alone (teamwork, amirite?). It also allows you to search for newsletter swaps with other authors in and around your genre, using either a universal book link (UBL) or a reader magnet (a free short story, novella, book, or sample).

That’s not all though, you can also use it to host review copies and accept requests from reviewers, whose stats for downloads versus reviews you can check before approving. Plus there’s a handy word goal tracker to help you get words on the page.

If I could go back a year, I would definitely join StoryOrigin sooner and start building my email list and creating reader magnets to get my readership ready (this isn’t an ad btw, I’m just a big fan!).

Promotions

One of the things I hadn’t considered before this year is big promo sites and newsletters. I just hadn’t even realised these sites existed, let alone that there were some that were worthwhile paying for and others that weren’t. Luckily, Reedsy and Kindlepreneur (two sites for writers I absolutely trust and can comfortably recommend you check out) have created lists of the best promo sites and newsletters to get your book out there, including which have free services. (Spoiler: not many do!)

These services are best utilised for brand new releases and big sales, so the week your new book comes out or over the few days your book is free or 0.99. You either want to make your money back from sales, or get enough free downloads that you know the reviews will start to roll in and it’ll be worth the cost in the long run.

(I’ll do a more in depth blog post on these services and which have worked well for me soon.)

Author friends!

I don’t know what I would do without the friends I’ve made since I decided to self publish my stories. Or where I would be. Whether I’d have stuck out this indie life and continued with publishing. I certainly wouldn’t have reached as many readers as I have, or been offered the opportunities I’ve been lucky enough to have. I wouldn’t have a second published story coming out on 16 July in Enchanted Waters, or a group of ride-or-die indies who have had the best time working together over the past year that we’ve decided to do it again next year, with Enchanted Forests.

This past year has been a dream come true, even wilder than my wildest dreams, and it’s been made possible by you guys, my loyal blog readers, the fellow authors who helped me along the way, through NaNoWriMo and Pitch Wars, the friends in Facebook groups where we shared synopses and blurbs, celebrated word count goal wins and complained about agent rejections. The indies on Instagram who inspired me to go solo and take a chance on myself, and then became the best friends a new baby author could have.

Thank you to all of you, if you’ve ever read a single word I’ve written, here, on social media, in a book or elsewhere, then this is my thanks to you. You’ve made my dream come true this year.

Lyndsey

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Interview: Romantic fantasy author Carol Beth Anderson

Hi folks! I hope you’re having a fantastic July so far, the weather has been a bit hit and miss here in the UK, but when isn’t it?

Today I want to introduce you to another fabulous fantasy author and help you build that vertiginous TBR just a little higher. Step inside and say hi to Carol Beth Anderson, author of The Magic Eaters trilogy, and more.

Hello! Thank you for chatting with me today, why don’t you tell us a little about yourself.

I was born and raised in the Arizona desert, where I played make-believe games with my twin sister and older brother, transforming blankets into princess capes and my mother’s dresses into fine gowns. Almost as soon as I learned to write words, I began turning them into stories.

As a young adult, I moved to Texas and have lived here ever since. In addition to writing, I enjoy baking sourdough bread, hanging out with my teenage kids, husband, and miniature schnauzer, and hosting high-school exchange students.

Amazing, I was an exchange student back in my teens! We exchanged with France and Spain, and it was so much fun. When did you start writing and who inspired you? 

I’ve always written, but I was inspired to start writing a novel when I happened to meet a local author doing a signing at a bookstore. I read her novella that day and thought, “I could do that!” I started brainstorming for my first novel that night and started writing it a few days later.

I love that, I would absolutely love to do a signing in my local bookstore! And the idea of inspiring someone else to follow their dream is wonderful. I hope you wrote to that local author and told her she inspired you! What’s your favourite genre to read?

I love fantasy with romance in it (whether as a primary plot or subplot). I love Brent Weeks, Michael J. Sullivan, and Leigh Bardugo.

Romantic fantasy is my number one genre to read and write too, and Leigh Bardugo is one of my favourite authors! Six of Crows was just brilliant. Can you tell us about your published books and where we can get our hands on them?

The Frost Eater is the first book in The Magic Eaters Trilogy, which is upper-YA fantasy with dragons and romance on the side. The trilogy is complete, and I’ll admit … I adore this story. I’ve been thrilled to find that readers do too!

Buy The Frost Eater here, available in ebook, paperback, hardback and audio.

Add it to your TBR shelf here.

I have to admit, I’ve seen those covers around and been coveting them for quite a while! I’m definitely going to have to get the audio book of The Frost Eater! I’m in the process of having an audio book made of my debut novel and it’s such an exciting process! Where do you find inspiration for your stories? 

A lot of it just comes from letting my mind wander over the course of time. I write down ideas, and some of them stick! However, I also find inspiration from covers. For The Magic Eaters Trilogy, I just had some rough ideas. I found the covers as premades—the designer had already made them and had them for sale. I bought them, had her change the titles to the ones that would fit my series, and used the covers to help guide the series. I bought a premade for my next book (Faerie Fallen) too. I didn’t have any ideas for my next series that were “sticking” until I got the cover and suddenly had tons of ideas, based on the image.

I’m addicted to premade covers, The Fair Queen was a premade too and as soon as I saw it I knew it was the one. But I love the idea of taking inspiration from the cover itself! It sounds like you’re very visual, I bet you love Pinterest! Do you consider yourself a plotter, pantser or plantser? 

Plantser! I plan out major plot points in advance, but some of them do change as I go. I only do a chapter-by-chapter outline for one-quarter of the book at a time. (When I finish the first quarter, I do the detailed outline for the second quarter, and so on. And it still ends up changing along the way.)

I think most of us are plantsers at heart, my writing process is pretty similar. So, what are you working on right now?

Faerie Fallen, a romantic fantasy novel. It’s the first book in my Feathered Fae series, and I’m loving this world and characters and the slow-burn, enemies-to-lovers romance!

Faerie Fallen is on pre-order and comes out in December.

You had me at enemies-to-lovers romance! Your new series sounds like a combination of all my favourite things. What one piece of advice would you give aspiring authors? 

Publishing is a marathon, not a sprint.

So true. Thank you so much for chatting with me today! It’s been lovely to get to know you and your writing methods better. Before you go, where can we find out more about you and your books? 

Carol Beth Anderson’s website: https://carolbethanderson.com 

Sign up to my newsletter: https://carolbethanderson.com/sign-up-for-insider-emails/

Find me on Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/cbethanderson/

Join my Facebook group: https://www.facebook.com/groups/CBAStreetTeam

Follow me on Twitter: https://twitter.com/cbethanderson

and Tiktok! https://www.tiktok.com/@cbethanderson


Well, that’s me on an official book-buying ban after adding all those gorgeous covers to my TBR!

I hope you’ve discovered a few new reads, I for one can’t wait for Faerie Fallen to release in December, it sounds right up my alley.

Happy reading friends,

Lyndsey

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