After being in the business world for over forty years, N. E. Brown retired and began pursuing her passion for writing. “Having ancestors who came through Galveston at the turn of the century, and knowing the grief my own mother experienced many years later as a single mom at the age of twenty, with three small children, I used her as a role model to develop my main character. Early Texas history has always been one of my passions. My daughter, S. L. Jenkins, assisted me with the first three books of this series and after she recently moved away, I am now flying solo.” While Galveston has been the historical backdrop of the first three books, it continues to be an important subject in this book as it continues to build a new seawall and restore the city after the historic flood of 1900.
What question do you wish that someone would ask about your book(s), but nobody has? Write it out here, and then answer it.
How did you come up with the name, Galveston, 1900, Indignities, for your series?
Answer I wanted the series to be called Galveston, 1900, because it provided a timeline and place that would draw interest. I had difficulty coming up with one word that would describe what the book was about and had changed the name five times before it finally clicked. This was a time in history that was difficult for women and thus the word, “Indignities,” found its place in the main title of the books.
What is your writing process? Do you follow a regular routine or do you have any weird, funny, or unusual habits while writing and what are they?
Wanting to write a historical novel, my research took several months before I started. Being an unusually fast typist aided me in completing the first draft of my manuscript within sixty days. I usually have a distinct idea in my head of who my characters are before I begin but I do not use an outline and prefer to “fly by the seat of my pants.” I am my worst critic and if it doesn’t feel right, I throw it out and start over. My re-writes are some of my best work. I do not follow a routine, but once I begin and the ideas are flowing I sometimes write ten hours a day.
Do you ever suffer from writer’s block? If so, what do you do about it?
When I get writer’s block, I usually walk away and do something else constructive. After a few days and nothing pops into my head I force myself to go back and read the last couple of chapters I last wrote and then step away from it and try to think outside the box. I guess I am blessed because the piece of the puzzle that I was looking for always shows up.
What is the single most important piece of advice for aspiring authors?
I didn’t begin writing until I had my sixty-ninth birthday. Writing was always on my bucket list so I thought I would begin with a short story. It turned into a lengthy novel with three more books after that. My advice to aspiring authors is to have confidence in yourself and write from the heart. Books are about feelings and readers want to laugh, cry, get angry and get happy but most of all they want to be entertained by a good story.
What are your current/future projects?
I have just completed my fifth manuscript that takes place in Dallas, Texas, in 1960. I am also doing research on another novel set in early Texas. My goal is to write three more manuscripts this year.
Why did you choose to write in your particular field or genre? If you write more than one, how do you balance them?
Historical data creates a splendid backdrop to create believable stories. It gives my readers a chance to live and dwell in a time and place that their ancestors might have lived in. All of my books are historical fiction and I keep separate notebooks of information that I refer back too so I can keep my timelines and characters straight.
What do you think is the future for independent authors and do you think it will continue to be easy for anyone to be a published author?
Being a published author is easy once you get the hang of it. Selling the books is the biggest obstacle and it takes hours of time. It is the one thing most authors have trouble with. Having had a successful career in real estate for over forty years I already knew you have to invest time in selling yourself. Perseverance, tenacity, and a positive attitude will go far in this business.
Are you traditional or self-published, and what process did you go through to get your book published?
I own the rights to my book, but I used a publisher that did a turn-key job for a price. In other words, they edited, formatted, did the cover, etc. and listed it on all the internet book sites. It was a great learning experience, but I will most likely self-publish my next book.
Have you ever changed a title, book cover, or even the content of your book after it was published? What was that process like?
After my first book was published, I discovered there were several errors in it although it had gone through two professional editors. I asked my publisher about it and he told me that to correct the mistakes would mean that the books would be removed from the retail stores and set it back a couple of months. I chose to leave it alone.
What opportunities have being an author presented you with and share those memories? (i.e. travel, friends, events, speaking, etc..)
I have met the most interesting and memorable people both in my travels and through professional writing organizations including Romance Writers of America and several Texas organizations. At first I was a little afraid of Social Media but as of today I can honestly say my Twitter, Facebook and Google encounters have been nothing but amazing and fun. Through their tweets, I have been enlightened, educated, stimulated and encouraged.
What are your marketing, advertising, promotion strategies and which one(s) have worked the best for you? If you had to share your most valuable promotion tip, what would that be?
Don’t be afraid to promote you and your books. It takes a lot of hard work to write a novel and even more work to sell it. You have to invest in yourself which means you have to make it your first priority. Plan to spend some money and time. Build your exposure through social media; There are numerous web sites such as Author Shout that will help you (for a small price) and I have found these to be very helpful.
If you are a self-published author, which platform do you prefer? (Amazon, Smashwords, Lulu, Author House, or something not mentioned), and why?
While I have not used any of these sites yet, I will give one of them a try on my unpublished manuscript. It took me a while to find the right team, i.e., an editor, an artist to do a book cover, and someone to format it for me. I’m a complete dummy when it comes to these necessary tasks.
What field or genre would you classify your book(s) and what attracted you to write in that field or genre?
I had ancestors that came to Galveston, Texas, at the turn of the century and have listened to stories from my past generation. I’ve always loved Galveston and visit it often. I like to write about things I know about and have spent many hours in the history books on early Texas.
What do you do if inspiration strikes in an inconvenient place like (car, restaurant, bathroom/shower, etc..) and how do you capture that moment before it gets away from you?
It is not uncommon for me to have a tablet on the front seat of my car. I write down ideas and words when I stop and have often pulled over to the side of the road to write down something lengthy. If I can’t write it down I play several scenarios over in my head to remember it so I can write it down later.
Do you have a target amount of words/pages for each of your books or do you just know when enough is enough?
I usually try for 80,000 plus. Sometimes it’s more and I have on several occasions finished my book 10,000 words short. When I do my editing, part of the process is to expand on the ideas and circumstances. Sometimes I come up with a whole new chapter that makes the story more believable and interesting. I have even thrown out several chapters that I felt were irrelevant. My goal is to entertain my audience, not bore them to death. If it bores me, then I know it will bore them.
How do you think you have evolved as a person/author because of your writing and do you believe your writing has helped others, how/why?
Writing has given me a whole new prospective about life. It gives me a chance to express feelings and emotions and at any one given moment I can become anyone I want to be. I do believe that if you show people that you can step out of your comfort zone they might be more willing to do the same.
How much influence do you believe a title, cover, content, page numbers have in purchasing decisions of potential buyers/readers?
You can have all of the above, but I would say the content is the most important. The old saying, “You can’t judge a book by it’s cover.” holds true in this business. A good cover will get them to open the book but if you can’t grab them in the first few pages, you’ve lost the reader.
Do you believe there is value in a Press Release, have you used any press release service, and what have your experiences been?
Press Release have great value. I’ve paid for and published three and the results were extremely good. There are a number of free web-sites on the internet and I recommend an author use them. Of course, the ones you buy are the most beneficial and I recommend you spend a few dollars and get a good one. The ones you pay for stay on sites for months and months. They also appear on the first page when your name or book is Googled.
Do you believe there is value in a review? Do you believe they are under rated, over rated, or don’t matter at all?
I have had over fifteen reviews and have been pleased with all of them. I’ve only had two there were not favorable, but that is to be expected. Not everyone is going to like every book you write and I use these reviews to try and better my writing.
What are your thoughts on authors doing review swaps, paying for reviews, or reviews that just don’t seem right for the book?
I would not want to do a swap with another author that I know because I believe in honesty and would not want to give an author a review that I did not feel right about nor would I want them to give me a review I did not deserve. You can pay a service to give you an unbiased review. So far the ones I have paid for have been very good and have helped in my social media.
Do you believe there are competitors or general readers out to sabotage authors with bad reviews and what are your experiences with this?
Jealousy is a natural emotion and everyone wants to be a critique. Even the best authors sometimes get a poor review. It’s part of the process. You just have to pick yourself back up and keep going. It does make you take a step back, but when the good reviews outweigh the bad, your readers will stick by you.
Have you ever had an interesting, funny, or even bad experience during a live interview, reading, event, or autograph session?
With self publishing being so easy these days, do you believe there is an over abundance of books out there and how do you sort through all the hype or copycats?
I must admit when I began writing, I had no idea the huge amount of self-published books that were available. It is mind boggling. I read somewhere that if you were a good story teller the rest will fall into place. I try to create stories that no one else has written about which is difficult. That’s another reason why I like historical fiction. For instant my first book not only used Galveston as its historical backdrop, I had a modern day serial killer and rapist in it in addition to the 1900 flood that killed a third of its population.
What is your biggest fear about having a book published?
I was not the smartest kid in my class and was bullied when I was younger. My biggest fear was that the book or its contents would not be well received. My editor was the one that encouraged me and helped me in the areas I was most unsure of. If it had not been for her I probably would have five unpublished manuscripts.
If you have multiple books published what do you feel is your greatest work, why?
My four book series on Galveston has been my best work and by the time I finished my last book in the series I felt it was written with more confidence and expertise.
What is the intended audience for you book?
My audience ranges from young adult to elderly. It is not only for audiences that like historical fiction but also those that like suspense and romance.
If you had the chance to get one message out there to reach readers all over the world, what would that message be?
If that like to read historical fiction, my series, Galveston, 1900, Indignities promises to be a literary journey they will want more of.
Do you find it easier to connect with your readers with the advances in technology we have today like social media? What platform do you prefer, and why?
Twitter is my favorite and while it can be time consuming, I’ve learned a lot and met an overwhelming number of interesting people. It is a real asset in selling my books.
What makes a good story, why?
You have to have the basics. A good plot, interesting characters, and a way with words. What I mean by that is you have to tell the story in a way that draws the reader into the story by using emotions and feelings.
How important are names to you in your books? Do you choose the names based on liking the way it sounds or the meaning? Do you have any name choosing resources you recommend?
It’s important to create the characters first and then give them a name. For instance, if your character is strong you would give him a name that would embrace strength. I often us first names of people in my past that I have known but never the last name. I chose Catherine as my heroine’s name in my first book after Catherine the Great. She was strong and unrelenting and that was my character.
Do you read your reviews? Do you respond to them, good or bad? Do you have any advice on how to deal with the bad?
I believe I answered this in an earlier question.
What are some events you have attended or participated in that has been a positive experience/influence on/for your writing?
I recommend that every author join a local writing group. My writing groups are my inspiration and go-to when I need help. They often provide workshops and assistance for beginning and published authors.
What is the easiest/hardest scene for you to write, why? (Love, action, fight, death, racy, controversial, etc…)
When you write love scenes and you have several in your book, finding new ways to set the scene can be challenging. You don’t want to bore your readers and I’m sure the same holds true in death. How many ways can you have a character die? One of my hardest scenes was having to let one of my favorite characters die. It took me a week to finally let him die and I cried for two days.
What would you like to write about that you have never written about before?
I do have some ideas about a subject that is quite controversial and has little published about it. If my research provides enough material for me to use in telling this story, it will definitely take me outside my comfort zone and will promise to be quite different than anything out there.
Have you ever had a book idea or characters come to you in a dream? What did you do about it afterwards?
When I am in the middle of a plot, it is not unusual for me to wake up the next morning with twenty pages of writing in my head or even a new idea. Once I woke up depressed because I did not like the direction I had taken my book. I immediately went to my computer and deleted the last three chapters and brought in a new character that took the plot in a whole new direction. I was a happy writer. Since I don’t usually remember my dreams, I’m not sure if I can give my dreams all the credit.
Do you have any characters you would like to introduce in other books or a combination of characters from multiple books you would like to write about in one book?
Since my first four books was a series, I use or bring back old characters in new ways in the sequels.
Were your characters based off real life people/events or did you make it all up?
I prefer to create my own characters. I have an incredible imagination and play what if scenarios in my head all the time. Sometimes I might use or elaborate about a person in my past but not usually. I would say they are all made up.
Books by N.E. Brown
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