5-STAR Fantasy / Sci-Fi

Monday, November 25, 2013

Indie Author Interview: Leeland Artra

Indie Author Interview with Leeland Artra - Author of the Science-Fiction / Fantasy Trilogy Golden Treads.

Leeland Artra is a ten month fantasy/sci-fi bestselling author. He creates deeply developed believable worlds, lovable characters targeted for 13+ readers that enjoy complex plots with a humorous tone as well as emotionally compelling stories that stay with you long after you turn the last page.
His books consistently earn great reader reviews.

Interview with Leeland Artra

Author Leeland Artra
Author Leeland Artra
Alan Kealey (Indie Author News): What is your (writing) background?
Leeland Artra: I don’t really have a professional writing background. I had some amazing teachers in school. One, and I wish I could remember her name, was completely annoying at the time. She never accepted my reports. She would mark them up and give them back with a note like, “you can do much better, take this and try again.” I think the best paper I had with her was three complete re-writes. I was working on papers long after everyone else in the class had moved on and gotten their grade. I don’t know why she took a shining to me, but because of her belief in me and her coach like approach, my writing skills were pushed well above average.
When I decided to write fantasy I was able to focus those writing skills, previously used only in business venues, to my books. I still have some improvements to be made, and I study other authors’ works for how they approach things like character development, point of view, and world building. I know I can do better and am trying to hone my fiction writing skills.

Who are your favorite writers, your favorite books, and who or what are your writing influences?
My favorite writers are easily Roger Zelazny, Lois McMaster Bujold, Trudi Canavan, Fred Saberhagen, Mercedes Lackey, Anne McCaffrey, and Timothy Zahn. I never hesitate to pick up one of their books, and I know it will give me hours of entertainment. I think the three authors who I look to for style and crafting my books would be Roger Zelazny, Lois McMaster Bujold, and Trudi Canavan. I have pulled their books apart page by page, studying how they applied their skills at creating excellent stories that I remember long after I put the book away.

When did you first know that you wanted to be a writer?
Being a writer has been more of a fantasy for me than a serious career idea. I expected I would have to work on computer programming ‘til I died. However, I have written a lot of small stories over the years for myself. Taking that a few steps further to pushing those stories to full length novels has been a lot of fun, and I hope to do it for a long time to come.

Tell us about your writing process. Do you have a writing routine?
My process is to find some ideas that inspire visions in my head. I then play with those visions like short movies or more like movie trailers. As soon as I have a firm idea of the plots, I start filling in the characters and places details. Eventually, I start writing; once I am writing, I am very much at the mercy of my imagination. The scenes play out in my head as I try to keep up with describing them.
After I have a complete section finished, I’ll start thinking about the next section, making sure I am still generally on course with the large plot I want to write about. I often will go back over the previous section, editing details or removing things I decide are not needed or that I think will work better later.
So generally, I edit about 5,000 words of the prior section, getting ready to write the next section. In the end, I tend to get between 3,000 and 7,000 words written, including the editing each evening. There are days when I’m just not in the mood or when I have other obligations that get in the way. I would love to be able to spend the whole work week doing nothing but writing. If I could do it full time, I think I could hit between 7,000 and 10,000 words a day, even with editing the prior day’s work before starting.

"My editors have had me pull out whole pages of descriptions[...]"

What do you find easiest about writing? What the hardest?

I find writing about the characters and describing the world to be the easiest. The hard part is trimming back the details. I have a lot of detailed visions, and I want to describe it all. My editors have had me pull out whole pages of descriptions of the rooms, people’s clothes, etc.

Leeland, please tell us a little about your Fantasy Series 'Golden Threads Trilogy.’
The Golden Threads Trilogy is a really interesting scenario for me. My fantasy world is based on years of role playing games that I ran. I had one scenario that I kept hinting at for the players, yet not one of the many groups I had playing took the bait. As a result, there was a rather nasty end to my fantasy realm. Specifically because no one was able to figure it out. The entire universe went up in flames, killing everyone and everything.
I’ve done a lot of reading on time travel and did allow for time travel in my role playing worlds. Except that it was illegal, and anyone caught doing it was quickly caught, stopped, and if really out of line, winked out of existence.
I had the idea for Ticca and Lebuin for years and wanted to put them in the universe near the end of the fantasy realm, except there was a lot of time before everyone burned. So, when I decided to write a series of books, I picked Ticca and Lebuin as my focal characters and decided I wanted to work out a way to save the universe. To that end, I had to do a lot of time travel calculations and plot threads figuring out a way to succeed. With over 15,000 of history leading up to the big burn, I had a lot of time to play with. I pulled out notes, hints, and other things and found some interesting events that had never been explained or explored. All this lit a fire in my head, and I realized how it could be solved, by someone who could see all the same things. In other words, a long lived wizard who knew enough about time travel to get into real trouble. As they say, that was it. The plot came into being, and I was able to drop Ticca and Lebuin into the mix, and then I started the proverbial stopwatch.

Thread Slivers (Leeland Artra)
Click to Read an Excerpt

What inspired you to write the books?
The inspiration for the book is seriously every fantasy and sci-fi book I have read. I love those genres so much I want to read more and more. Except the books that I want more of are far and few between. A number of authors have said, if the book you want to read doesn’t exist, you must write it. So, I sat down and started writing what I wanted to read.

Who do you see as your target audience, and where can we buy the books?
My target audience is really myself. I am writing books for fantasy and sci-fi lovers who, although adult minded, want to escape into complex believable worlds. I don’t think books need to have a lot of graphic sex, foul language, or grotesque scenes to be interesting, fun, exciting, and attention holders. So, I’m keeping the books generally clean, and the good guys are likely to win in the end. I might write some tragedies from time to time, but overall, I expect the world to eventually come out okay.

"My books have been top sellers on Amazon for almost a full year now."

How would you describe the success of your books so far?
I would say I am surprised at how well it has done. My books have been top sellers on Amazon for almost a full year now. I’m not hitting huge numbers. I would be described as a mid-lister. To be honest, that is perfect. I aim to be consistently good. I feel that if every book I put out is consistently good, people will always feel confident buying my books and will know they’ll have a good read. I might have a few moments of brilliance, but I’m not banking on that happening, nor am I trying to meet that standard.

How long did it take it to write the books?
The first book took roughly ten months to write once I got started. The second book I was able to finish in about six months. The third book is proving to be a bit harder as I have a number of threads all coming together into a series of reveals and complex climaxes, and I need them to mesh together to form a beautiful picture. I expect the third book is going to take me about six months total writing effort.

"I pulled back to Amazon to allow borrows of the books."

Please, tell us where you self-published the books.
I am currently only on Amazon. I tried to sell on B&N, Nook, and the others. But, I just didn’t see any serious sales. So, I pulled back to Amazon to allow borrows of the books. I think I’ll have a second launch in 2014 where I make the books available on the other platforms again.

How smooth was the self-publishing process? Any issues?
The process has been interesting. I haven’t had many issues because I paid for professional formatting of my books. I think it was author Elle Casey who had a serious oops in formatting one of her early books, and the disaster that caused made her recommend to never self-format if you are serious.

"All books are judged by their covers."

What are things to look for when self-publishing a book?
All new authors are judged by the small things like cover, editing, and formatting. So those are areas for new authors to consider. Once you have a strong readership, you might be able to get away with cheaper covers, but I ask why? All books are judged by their covers. Once someone has bought it, they expect it to be quality materials, so why disappoint them? Instead of spending a lot of money on advertising to get a lack-luster product to sell, spend what you can on editing, cover design, and formatting. That way the quality of the books will help sell more books.

Did you hire an editor and/or Cover Designer for your books?
Yes, I use Streetlight Graphics; they are awesome to work with.

Can you give some tips for other Indie Authors regarding the writing and self-publishing process?
Best advice I can give is to pick your three favorite authors who are successful. Then, study everything they do, read their articles, watch every interview, and emulate them. You can follow in their footsteps to success. You will be a unique blend of them plus your own self. Once you find what works, don’t stop trying new stuff.

Are you working on another book project? Can you tell us a little about it?
Yes, I am working on a series of pure science-fiction books that are the origin story for Duke. These will take place pre-migration to Niya-Yur, and eventually, I’ll tell the story of what happened to turn Star Admiral Bensure into the immortal wolf known as Duke. Of course, in the new series, Rolly is just a new space marine getting started, but let’s be honest, he is destine for greatness so he will unfortunately not be living a quiet life.

Are you planning to move forward as an Indie author, or are you looking forward to have one of your next books to be traditionally published?
If a traditional publisher approaches me, I will consider it. I am not opposed to getting my books out to even more people. But, I will be careful to not end up locked into a dead end contract unable to publish my own works.

Where do you see the book market in 5 or 10 years? Will there be only eBooks and will book stores disappear like record stores disappeared?
I’m banking on the book market being strong for a very long time. I suspect more and more eReaders will come out. But honestly, I love my Kindle, and most of my friends and family love their eReaders (most of which are Kindle users, but there are some iPad readers and Nook readers there too). I suspect the book industry will have some serious growing pains like the music industry did when MP3 sales started happening big time.

"My plan is to retire to full time author in about five years."

Do you write full-time or do you have a day job?
I have a fabulous day job writing software to help people take better vacations at Expedia. My plan is to retire to full time author in about five years. I want to have at least eight books out that are all doing well before I consider leaving my day job.

How can readers connect with you?
The absolute best way to reach me is Facebook and my mailing list. I hope I’m never too much of a success that I stop answering emails and interacting with my readers.
Leeland's Facebook author page - http://bit.ly/LArtra
Leeland's Amazon author page - http://amzn.to/1bGUAOM
Leeland at Twitter - http://bit.ly/WZvVP4
Leeland's Goodreads Page - http://bit.ly/14m0yoK
Leeland's personal blog - http://lartra.com

Thank you very much for the Interview, Leeland.

About the Book Thread Strands

Thread Strands (Leeland Artra)
Click to Read an Excerpt
Ticca, Lebuin, Ditani, Duke, and Dohma return in Thread Strands, the sequel to Leeland Artra's fantasy bestseller Thread Slivers.

Ticca and Lebuin thought they had escaped their pursuers, but a new trap was waiting in Algan. Ticca, Lebuin, and Ditani are about to discover shocking truths about their attackers and themselves. Joined by unlikely allies, they find themselves in a deadly race for forbidden knowledge that might prevent the coming disaster. The mysterious Nhia-Samri, led by the evil, demi-godlike Grand Warlord, continues towards its unknown goals.

Meanwhile, the Gods and kingdoms find themselves preparing for war with the Nhia-Samri. Duke, fearing something deeper, wants to destroy the Nhia-Samri once and for all. But he must travel to Gracia, the capital of the Duianna Empire and seat of the Alliance of Realms, to convince the Assembly to declare war to get the army he needs.

Link to the Books

Link to the eBook Thread Slivers with Excerpt on Amazon

Link to the eBook Thread Strands with Excerpt on Amazon

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