A Double Dose of Awesome: Author Interview & Holiday Giveaway

It’s that time of year again. Trees are dressed like girls going to prom, boxes accumulate like snow, and I disappear for a few weeks. That’s right, it’s Christmas! And because I said it would be an annual occurrence, (and really, I just like giving you stuff) that also means it’s time to announce this year’s Holiday Giveaway. But first, I have an extra bonus. The lovely Cally Ryanne, author of Echoes of Balance, has agreed to stop by and give us some insight on what it’s like to be a new author, what her publication journey was like, and what you should expect from her debut novel.

I featured Echoes of Balance a few weeks ago under my From the Editor’s Desk series, so if you’re curious about the book, hop on over there. Otherwise, I’ll let Cally tell you about it herself. 😉


1. First, thank you for joining us today and congratulations on the release of your debut novel! Tell us a little about it; what kind of experience should readers expect?
Thank YOU for featuring me, editing Echoes (y’all — Kisa is a phenomenal editor), and making this book an awesome first experience. Really. 🙂

(Note from Kisa: Aww, thanks Cally! That means a lot. <3)

Echoes is about Chloe Moraine, the youngest of the Naimei, an ancient line of beings charged with keeping the universe in balance. But she wasn’t always sold on this particular responsibility; following their Ways can be boring, and so, for a long while, she set off to be a vampire hunter, to do something that felt more immediate and important. It’s not until her family receives warning that Pan and Damonos, the original demons and premiere forces of chaos, are set to return that Chloe resumes her Naimei duties, and then she does so with a conflicting view of the world: things can’t all be as black and white as the Ways would have the Naimei believe.

When the Ways, themselves, begin to fail, Chloe is approached by Josef, an unnervingly charming vampire who seems to know more about the Originals than anyone outside the Naimei fold should. It seems as if her best bet to save the world is to trust him, but doing so will lead her to a darker side of the supernatural than she’s ever seen, and may alienate her family in the process.

I think the experience readers should expect is immersive. The book has been a long time coming — there’s a lot to Chloe and her world beyond just this story. Get ready. 🙂

Chloe Moraine, high school superhero by day, universe balancer and occasional vampire hunter by night. — Echoes of Balance, 2013

2. This is the first in a trilogy, isn’t it? Anything you can tell us about the next book?
It totes is the first in a trilogy! Echoes stays pretty focused on Chloe’s life in the immediate right now, and the things she’s (mostly) used to experiencing. It’s her world, as far as Echoes is concerned. Book two — literally, that’s what the document is called right now, I’m so terrible at titles — expands a lot of Chloe’s borders, so to speak. There are new places, and a lot of new characters. Her world starts expanding — quickly — and she sort of has to deal with the fall out of that, along with all the decisions she’s made in book one.

Also, as it stands now, the first word (prologue aside) is Ducante. Man, I just love that guy. Can’t get enough of him.

(Note from Kisa: Awesome! Ducante was one of my favorite characters. Nothing like a snarky, bar-tending demon to complete things, you know? 😉 )

Meeting a vampire at a bar was certainly not the most dangerous thing she could do. But it was far from the least. — Echoes of Balance, 2013

3. This story is clearly one that’s very dear to you. Please tell us a little about your road to publication. What steps did you take? How did you ensure the story you love is the one that readers can now hold?
If we go back to the Way Back, the first step to publication was to totally “murder my darlings”. Chloe & company have been around for some time, and they’ve had lots of starts to their stories. That’s what happens when you think you can write novels in like, middle school. Plot holes, bad writing, plots that didn’t lead anywhere, and none of them fit, really. So eventually, there had to be a time where the pallet was cleansed — all these things I’d been building and thinking about and the what if this happened’s had to get out to make room for something real and solid and logical, but still true to the characters. Because, in the end, they were what mattered most to me.

Then I wrote and wrote and wrote forever, reworked and edited, got sick of editing, edited some more, agonized over a query letter, and then sent that query letter out to ten thousand people. Then got rejected by ten thousand people, put the book on hold for awhile, and repeated that last process again a few more times.

And, FYI, when you actually do get accepted, you have to go back to that write/edit/get sick of looking at your own words process all over again. It’s a blastity blast.

He was handsome . . . with chiseled features that screamed there was an aspiring actor resumé with his name on it somewhere. — Echoes of Balance, 2013

4. You chose to publish with a new, indie publisher instead of following the popular trend of self-publishing. What has that experience been like? Would you recommend working with a smaller press? (And please answer honestly. I promise I won’t hold anything you say against you.)
So, I feel like I should stress that my experience was definitely different than people working with big publishers (because duh) and probably a little different than most people working with indie publishers (because new). I was actually approached by Ashley, one of the REUTS founders, on a writing site and encouraged to submit my then mostly-finished-and-edited manuscript, and I’m the first book (!) to come out of REUTS.

That being said, I had never really seriously considered self publishing. I was sort of the exhausted mom that really needed it to be summer so her kid could go away to camp for awhile. I loved my manuscript, but I just didn’t have it in me to do everything that’s needed to self publish successfully, so that it was actually polished and professional looking and not just something that was stuck up on Amazon at 3 a.m. I figured if no one would accept me now, I would just keep writing and try again in a few years, or something, and if that didn’t work, I’d have to self publish when I actually had time to devote to it. (Which isn’t really an option when you’ve just graduated college, moved to a new city and started a new job.)

If I’m super honest, the first time I emailed Ashley, I was stupid nervous that this was just going to be some prank or grandiose dream of authors-who-wanted-to-publish-other-authors that wasn’t really going to go anywhere. But, a little over a year later, and there are real paperback copies of my fully edited book. And it’s awesome.

I’m a fan of indie and a big fan of smaller presses in general, and working with them is great. There’s a lot of personal attention, everyone involved in the press is queued into what’s happening, they really care about helping you and being new, and small, and indie, they’re totally open to being experimental and adaptive. Some things to consider, though, is that small presses — and new small presses, at that — don’t necessarily have the same experience as bigger names. REUTS is awesome, but I can see how you could easily get other presses who think they know what they’re doing but really don’t (my initial panic when Ashley emailed me). So, I guess, tread with caution if you seek a new operation to publish with. Also, consider what you want out of publishing — I just wanted to be able to share my story, but some people want to be able to walk into Barnes and Noble and see their book on the New and Now table. Different publishers have different resources that can give you different things!

Night was several hours off, and she didn’t have time to play host to a pseudo-corpse. — Echoes of Balance, 2013

5. Could you please describe what actually happens during the publication process? What should authors expect after they sign a contract?
Let’s start with what you should not expect:

That your book magically goes away to some factory-land that puffs out rainbows, and comes out the other side this polished, beautiful thing ready to head to booksellers everywhere.

Don’t expect that.

As soon as you sign the contract, you start in on your book proper. Finding a title that fits (this might be a personal problem — I’m pretty awful at titles), making cover decisions, starting the process of editing. I was lucky enough to be able to edit right in my Google Doc, (instant feedback, whoo!) but that also meant coming home from work and having thirty to fifty comments I needed to address on top of normal life. It can be a lot. And you’re going to keep having to tweak, cut, change, rewrite, and add to this thing you thought was great because, duh, someone wanted to publish it. But just because someone wants to publish you doesn’t mean your book is perfect. Yet.

She knew nothing of high school beyond the basic conventions, structure, & potential for heaping amounts of teenage angst. — Echoes of Balance, 2013

6. What’s been your favorite part?
I actually love getting edits. They’re tiring and sometimes I’m just like, ugh, I can’t look at this, but it’s also awesome to see comments from someone else who is as critical of and as invested in your story as you.
7. And lastly, what advice would you give to other aspiring authors out there?
Gut check your expectations. That being said, keep on keeping on!

Why did vampires always incorporate puns into their conversation? Did they try, or did it just happen? — Echoes of Balance, 2013



Thank you, Cally! 🙂

To find out more about Echoes, The Ways Trilogy, and Cally, be sure to visit her author website, or connect with her on Twitter: @callyryanne.  And, of course, Echoes of Balance is out now! So head to your favorite online retailer or meander over to REUTS Publications to pick up a copy.

Which leaves us with only one more piece of business: the Holiday Giveaway. In honor of Cally’s achievement and the first release from REUTS (which I might have had a small part in), I decided to give away 3 copies of Echoes of Balance. Yep, 3 lucky people can score one of the beautiful paperback editions for free! (Why 3? Who knows. That seems to be my magic number.) Ready to enter? Click here!The drawing will be held on New Year’s Day, and the winners will be announced that following Friday (1/3/14).

Until then, I wish you all a safe and happy holiday and I’ll see you in the new year! 🙂