Meet Elaine Calloway! I had the chance to ask Elaine some questions about her career and the Elemental Clan series she pens. Elaine has lots of good advice and experience, so you will want to read this one! Enjoy 🙂
1. How did you get your start in writing?
I can’t remember a time when I didn’t love writing. Even as a kid, I’d break open the dictionary, copy 20 random words into a notebook, and then try to make stories out of those words. In high school, I did journal writing. When older, I did short stories, but I always wanted to try tackling a novel. Stephanie Bond, who writes romantic suspense, once said at a writer’s meeting, “You learn a lot about yourself when you finish writing a book.” I wanted to find out what she meant, so I pushed through and finished my first. Then second, third, and so forth. And by the way, Stephanie was right!
2. How long have you been writing?
I’ve been writing book-length fiction for ten years. Before that, I wrote short stories, magazine articles, etc. I like the book-length stories because I can add in subplots, interesting side characters, etc.
3. What was your inspiration for the Elemental Clan series?
*Racks brain* You know, people ask me that all the time and I really don’t have a definitive answer. Like so many things, it was a combination of factors all congealing at once. I remember “The Fifth Element” being on TV around that time. I also attended a few writing meetings where they spoke about how the theme of Fallen Angels had become increasingly popular in fiction. I’ve always been fascinated by Fallen Angels and the choice they made, how it affected them. Plus, the ‘good vs. evil’ is a subject I’ve always enjoyed, and so I decided to combine all those things. Water’s Blood (Book One) introduces all 4 Elementals, so their stories began to form when I wrote that first book in the series.
4. What has your road to publication been like? Why did you choose to self publish?
The road to publication has been a learning journey. Do I wish it would have taken less time? Yes. However, no regrets as I have learned a great deal. If my first book had been published right out of the gate, it wouldn’t have helped me. It took writing several books, rewriting and polishing, to learn what process works, what doesn’t, and how to push through the doubt. I do still intend to revamp and polish those manuscripts I wrote, and I’m glad I waited because they could really use some editing!
Back in 2008-2009, when the Kindle spawned the popularity of ebooks, I remember keeping my finger on the pulse of self-publishing even though I wasn’t ready to try it yet. I continued to write books, even if the previous one hadn’t sold. That is the most productive and educational thing I could have done, and that is what I would tell writers to do. Keep writing. You learn more and more, you never stop learning.
The rejections I began to receive (from agents and editors) eventually morphed into compliments on my books, telling me they loved my stories, but that they had no idea how to market the book and therefore couldn’t take the project on. Once I knew that industry professionals liked my work, but it was a matter of not knowing which hole to place my book in, I decided to self-publish. I figured I could figure out the marketing and where to target my books.
5. What has it been like to release two books in your series? Is it what you hoped it would be?
I love that the readers of Book One (Water’s Blood) were excited and kept waiting to find out when Book Two (Raging Fire) came out. And now they’re clamoring for Book Three (Earthbound) which I aim to release by the end of the year. The response kept me going on the blah days.
The only thing I would do differently next time (Hindsight 20/20) would be to write all 4 books first, then release them closer together. I think the marketing plan for that kind of schedule would be worthwhile, but aside from that, no regrets. I’m still releasing 4 books within 18 months, which is still a rapid schedule and better than what I’d have if I were traditionally published.
6. Were you discouraged at any point?
Many, many times! If any writer tells you otherwise, newbie or bestseller, they’re lying! Discouragement can come from external as well as internal sources. While writing my first book, my brand new laptop died. I had a few back-ups, but I wound up having to retype 100 pages (from a printed out backup) and completely retype/recreate 60 pages. I felt sick, almost didn’t go back to writing. But, lesson learned. Back up frequently; keep on writing.
Discouragement can also come from within, and many times this is harder to defeat. When it strikes, I try to read a book I love, see a great TV show or movie with excellent characters, dialogue, all the things I love about books. Sometimes, take a day off. But always write. That is the rule that somehow keeps us moving forward. There may be successes, there may be failures, but if you quit you’ll never know. Never quit. Take time off if you need to, but make it limited.
7. Who is your support system?
I’m fortunate to have several sources. I’m a member of Georgia Romance Writers, which is a sub-chapter of Romance Writers of America (RWA). Both organizations have tremendous speakers, mentoring, conferences, etc. for writers.
I also have some great writer friends, beta readers of my books, and friends and family. I think it’s especially helpful to have an understanding spouse or significant other. Make time for family priorities, but guard your writing time.
8. Is there one moment of support/kindness shared to you by another author/editor/agent/blogger/industry person that will forever stand out to you in your career?
Yes, though at the time I didn’t realize it! A literary agent I met at a conference requested a partial of my work, then requested a full, then she called me on the phone. I was so excited to see the 212 area code appear on my cell phone, but she was actually calling to reject me over the phone. Now, that certainly was a downer, but she said she wanted to call, wanted me to hear her voice when she told me how much she loved my book but she was a small agency and didn’t know where she could sell the story, so she couldn’t chance taking me on. That was my first real encouragement, even though it was so disappointing to have an agent call, then reject! But, all in all, it was better than a form letter rejection, so I’m glad she did it.
9. What words of advice would you tell another aspiring writer who is struggling with their work?
Always keep writing. That’s the key.
Writing is solitary, so find ways to network with other writers, whether in person or virtually via Twitter chats, etc.
Every writer has bad days, those days when we think our work sucks. Push through, keep going, and when you reach “The End” it will all be worth it.
Don’t take the self publishing route lightly. Make sure you are doing it for the right reasons. Make sure you hire an editor for your work. Don’t just slop something up on Amazon because you can – – it will come back to haunt you.
And always keep writing!
Thanks for having me here today! Learn more about The Elemental Clan Series books on my Web site here. (URL is http://www.thewriterscanvas.com/books/elemental-series-paranormalfantasy/)
Elaine Calloway writes paranormal/fantasy books with romantic elements. She grew up in New Orleans with a love of gothic architecture, tall steeples, and artistic cemetery headstones. When she isn’t writing The Elemental Clan Series or novels about ghosts, she enjoys movies, reading, and spending time with friends and family. Connect with her online at www.elainecalloway.com.
Here is an excerpt from Elaine’s novel WATER’S BLOOD, Book One of The Elemental Clan Series.
“Brooke clunked two shot glasses down on the bar, grabbed the chilled Patrón, and tilted the clear bottle to pour drinks for the regulars. Organization was the key to managing a bar—and keeping her Elemental identity well-hidden. Within this Mid-City neighborhood, nestled amongst shotgun houses with fern-clad patios and canopies of live oaks, her locals knew each other by name, ran a tab, tipped her well, and didn’t cause trouble. Unlike the Minare Fallen Angels, who reaped innocent souls and made dark dealings during witching hour.