First Sale Stories: Terry Spear, "Killing the Bloodlust"
Lynda: What is the name of your book?
Terry: Killing the Bloodlust.
Lynda: When was it published (or when will it be published)?
Terry: Now Available.
Lynda: Which publishing house?
Lynda: What's it about?
Terry: Vampire hunter and Army officer, Robert Parker, craves revenge. Army Captain Crystal Anderson wants out of the vampire hunting business. But nothing goes as planned when Nicolai and his bloodsuckers target Crystal, a huntress who carries an unusual gene, to become his bride and carry a new breed of vampire.
Lynda: What was the inspiration for the book?
Terry: I've been a fan of Dracula for years, but I had read a young adult book about a teen huntress, and wanted to do my own, except the huntress has an aversion to hunting. In this story, the hunters are the good guys, though the vampires are so wickedly sexy. But in all of my other stories, the vampires are to die for....and they win the day. :)
Lynda: Is it part of a series?
Terry: I'm working on the sequel where one of the vampires killed by the huntress has a twin brother who seeks revenge, but meets his match with the huntress's sister-in-law.
Lynda: What do you like most about your main characters?
Terry: They're both Army officers and were based in part on my experiences. So that was fun. :)
Lynda: What's your favorite aspect of your book?
Terry: When one of the head vampires wants Crystal, and can't reach her during the light of the day. After an accident, he comes to her in a hearse, then they end up in the coffin in the river. I have a phobia about enclosed spaces, so I loved writing the scene. Gives me the creeps reading it. :) But it's very sexy too because of the close quarters, and eerie also.
Lynda: How long have you been writing fiction?
Terry: Seven years.
Lynda: Is this your first paranormal manuscript?
Terry: No, I started out with paranormal, ESP. Then I read the Young Adult vampire while I was horribly sick with the flu and couldn't write. I got really hooked on it, though it didn't have a happy ending. I love happy endings, and wanted something sexier than what the YA could have.
Lynda: Is paranormal your main focus?
Terry: Yes. I write Young Adults also and all have had either ESP, telepathic, or other paranormal abilities, or they're ghostly, vampires, etc. Even my Winning the Highlander's Heart, a medieval historical romance coming out with Vintage Romance has a paranormal theme. She's concerned she's cursed, and she sees glimpses of the future.
Lynda: What attracts you about vampires (or whatever persuasion your paranormal characters might be)?
Terry: Sexy, dark, overpowering. A writing friend and crit partner of mine sent a listing of the various kinds of alpha males there are, and what they looked for in a female. A vampire sought a woman who was optimistic, light-hearted, etc. I've always been accused of writing rainbows into my stories, even though I try to make them edgy. The humor is always a part of them. So I'm drawn to the dark. Though I have to say, my heroines always have their own power. That's why I like them to be huntresses, capable of withstanding the lure of the vampire.
Lynda: How long did it take to sell your book, from the time you finished your manuscript?
Terry: A year.
Lynda: Did you have an agent when you sold your book?
Lynda: Do you recommend that a pre-published writer focus on finding an agent first, or do you think it's OK to submit directly to the publisher?
Terry: For everyone, it's different. For some authors, they found an agent and sold their manuscript through the agent. I think that's a terrific way to go. For others, they've had to have a contract in hand before they got an agent. That's probably how it will be with me.
Lynda: Thinking about the notion of "It's always darkest before the dawn," what was the lowest point in the process for you? Was there a time you almost gave up?
Terry: Good question, Lynda! There are so many authors that have said they literally gave up they were so discouraged. They emptied their hard drives, they threw out manuscripts, they decided they were never going to make it. And then they got the call. I applied to substitute teach a couple of weeks ago because I wondered if I'd ever make any money at this and figured I needed a real job. I have three books coming out this year, but it will be forever before I get any money from the venture. For instance, Medallion pays a year after the book comes out, which for me will be October 2007 for the one, October 2008 for the other. As soon as I applied to substitute teach, a Silhouette Intimate Moments editor contacted me, saying she really liked my paranormal mss, but it wouldn't fit for SIM so she sent it to the new paranormal line editor with her fingers crossed. She also requested two more fulls for her line, and she wants to see another mss once she reads these. And I "auditioned" for a teen paranormal line for Random House. The editor is very enthusiastic about my writing, talked to me personally on the phone several times, and will be contacting me in March with the final word. Nothing is ever a sure thing in this business, and nothing may come out of any of this, but if I had truly given up, look at what I might have missed out on? If you feel you're never going to make it, take a break. And when your heart is in it again, dive back in. For those of us who live to write, we can't live without it. We have to tell the story. So never give up and make your dreams become a reality!!
Lynda: You don't have to mention numbers, but did you get a nice advance?
Terry: On my YAs, yes. One is Ghostly Liaisons, and the other, The Vampire...In My Dreams.
Lynda: What was the process of revisions/rewrites like?
Terry: They're getting a lot easier because I've learned where I need to omit, and where I need to dig deeper.
Lynda: What was it like, working with the editor at your publishing house?
Terry: I'm writing for several. All are different. Some are easier and very encouraging. Others are brusque.
Lynda: Do you have any words of wisdom for us about revisions/rewriting, etc.?
Terry: Pair down sentences that are wordy. Make sure to show the motivation for why the hero/heroine are seeking to fulfill their goals. What deep driving force from their psyche is motivating them? If the pace is too slow, change narration to dialogue where possible. Try not to include too much backstory. Show it throughout. And try to open scenes, chapters with an opening hook, and end with cliff hangers. Make sure scenes are moving the story forward.
Lynda: Were there any surprises for you about the contract you signed?
Terry: On one, the option clause for my next book has caused some problems. Two of my books were moved back a year each, so now that book isn't free until sometime in 2007. If I'd had an agent, I'm sure she/he would have ensured my book wasn't tied up that long. (This has been since early 2005)
Lynda: Do you get a lot of help with marketing your book, or do you have to do most of it yourself?
Terry: You have to do a lot of marketing yourself. But there are a lot of free ways to do so. Writing for newsletters, magazines, papers, with your byline, having a website, including a signature line with your titles and websites, giving interviews, listing your books on sites, getting your books reviewed, book signings. I've also paid to advertise in RT and I'll be advertising in Romance Sells.
Lynda: Did you have input about your cover?
Terry: Yes, I give the descriptions of the people and what I'd like to have on the cover. Two different publishers are working on book covers right now. The cover artist for Winning the Highlander's Heart has talked to me about the kind of Scottish castle I want on the cover and the medieval costuming for the hero/heroine. On Ghostly Liaisons, a lot of the story is set in the jungle-like swamp across from where the story takes place and where I used to explore as a teen. So I sent them images of the jungle, and of teen books with ghostly figures on the front, then a description of my Spanish ghost girl.
Lynda: Have you done any events or book signings? If so, what was that like?
Terry: I'm scheduled to attend them this year, plus school visits for the young adult that's coming out.
Lynda: If you could go back and do something differently, what would that be?
Terry: Started years ago!!!
Lynda: What would you do exactly the same way?
Terry: I'd write what I write now. I love the paranormal. I grew up on Dracula and ghost stories, world mythologies, and just a real variety of literature.
Lynda: What's your next manuscript about?
Terry: "Blood Moon over the Atlantic". It's another vampire Young Adult. This one is the first I'm writing where the heroine isn't a huntress. But she's a telepath. So you see, she still has some abilities of her own and the vampires can't control her. I like uncontrollable women. :)
Lynda: What's the one book you absolutely must write?
Terry: I have the sequel to Huntress for Hire (ImaJinn Books) started. The original is about a hunter who is turned, but falls in love with a huntress. So I'm working on the sequel when the huntress's hunter cousin is turned and he falls for a huntress who hates vampires with a vengeance.
Lynda: What advice are you willing to give to all the pre-published writers out there?
Terry: Whatever you do, don't give up. Keep on submitting, keep on writing, and keep on submitting some more. Perseverance is the key to success in writing.
Terry Spear's website: http://terryspear.tripod.com/author