WELCOME Ebony McKenna!
So glad you could pop in and share a little about yourself and your writing.
1. What is the theme of the book you are working on?
I wait until I’ve finished a draft to see what themes my subconscious has let through. It looks like my forthcoming novel, Robyn and the Hoodettes, has themes revolving around family bonds and good friends supporting each other, especially when Dad’s off fighting a war in the Middle East.
In 1916-Ish, I didn’t realise until I was done that the theme is about dealing with everyday conflict - between friends and between countries. And also that you can never escape your fears, you have to face them. (It's rather universal isn't it?)
2. What was/is one of the hardest things about writing one of your books/current manuscript? (Did you or do you want to throw it into the fire like frodo?)
I am easily distracted. In my current manuscript, Robyn and her mates keep having little adventures and side trips that delay the proper action. I let them play, but now I’ve had to slash and burn to get things back on track. It’s a stronger book for it - I know the characters much better and I’ve cut the waffle.
3. Because everyone always wants to know. Are you a panster or plotter?
I love to plot. I’m a huge fan of structure. Before I write too much of a story, I like to know what the midpoint is, what the black moment is, and how they ‘storm the castle’ and get the result they need. (although not always the result they want).
There’s something to be said for letting the characters off the leash to see where they end up. It helps me write my way into the story and get to know them. Then I edit it out later. (Very true and I agree. I think utopia is a mix of both.)
4. How important are reviews to you? Do you get upset when they aren’t favourable? (Like stalk the reviewer and wish they get infested with a thousand fleas.)
Reviews are incredibly important, and it’s wonderful when readers take my characters to their hearts. I’ve never had a particularly nasty review (thank goodness) but I’ve had careless ones, where the ‘reviewer’ has left a single word (‘boring’) and one star. I know nobody reading the rest of the reviews will change their purchasing opinion based on that, but it does stuff up my average.
What did I do about it? I started a fun facebook page called ‘My one-star review is better than your one-star review.’ It’s a place where authors can laugh and gently mock those utterly pointless reviews. (I need to visit. I was thinking along the same lines...the Darwin awards for reviews. Let's face it, some of them are way off base. Truth be told we can giggle about it.)
Catharsis is good.
5. How do you market your books? (Stand at the top of a building and shout buy my book?)
I use a third party to send review copies out to readers - so I can get a few reviews up. I promote the title via my newsletter, which is growing steadily, and I will casually mention the book (but not too often) on social media.
I’ve also joined four awesome writers (Maree Anderson, Vanessa Barneveld, Robyn Grady and Sara Hantz) for our Dangerous Boys anthology. Teaming up is wonderful because I can recommend people buy the book for everyone else’s stories rather than mentioning mine.
Competitions are good for promotion, but the prize must be tied in to the books in some way, otherwise you’ll just get competition seagulls, who fly in, take the prize and fly off. For example, offering an Amazon voucher is no guarantee that the winner will be interested in you or your books. They’ll be very happy with the prize, but the value isn’t linked to the author’s ‘brand’.
I’ve given away copies of my books and not received a review afterwards. Some winners do read them and review them, but others are gone and never heard from again.
My four Ondine novels are about a girl whose ferret starts talking with a Scottish accent. They’re fun and full of swooning and magic. I’ve run competitions to win ferret pins, cards and jewellery. I might not get as many people entering the competition, but at least I know the entrants are interested.
I’ve used book promo places like E-Reader News Today and seen my book rocket right up into the bestseller lists. It’s an amazing feeling, and I’m happy to use them again. I’d love to get into BookBub, but I might have an easier time catching a unicorn. (All good advice here, thanks Ebony.)
6. Social Media – Love it or hate it? Where do you hang out the most? Any tips to share?
I adore social media, it’s where I am very sociable. I hang out the most on facebook and twitter. I keep the ‘buy my book’ talk to an absolute minimum. I hate being spammed, so I don’t like doing it to other people. But I love facebook for chatting and sharing funny pictures, and I love twitter for the witty hashtags - they are so much fun. I also love to join in the organised chats - when the time zones are kind. I love #UKYAChat but now that the UK is in daylight savings and we’re out of it, I have to get up at 5am on a Saturday.
7. What is your favourite motivational phrase or positive saying?
“Keep going.” (Simple yet wise words Ebony!)
If you want to know more about Ebony, you can find her here;
1916-ish by Ebony McKenna
“Romance, time travel and daring adventure await Australian exchange student Ingrid Calloway as she journeys to France. When she joins in a war-games re-enactment with Luc and Marianne Durand, it turns into the real thing. Real guns, real dangers and real bullets put them in mortal peril in the midst of the First World War. Suddenly Ingrid's fighting two battles at once; one for her personal safety and another against her growing attraction to Luc, who looks super-hot in uniform.
Life in 1916 France soon takes a nasty turn - because the Eiffel Tower isn't even there. They're not just stuck in the past; they're in a parallel world. How can they dodge the dangers of history when history won't follow the script?
1916-Ish. History, with a twist.”
Links for books