Antoinette J. Houston is a happily married, mother of one with a twisted sense of humor and a sarcastic mouth. A chocoholic and casual gamer into epic fantasy RPGs and The Sims.
She has a long time love of anything fictional as long as it includes adventure, action, comedy and a little romance. She is always on the look out for new (or old) anime to watch or manga to read.
She’s been writing all her life but didn’t publish her first book until she was 40. Now she’s determined to publish all the strange worlds and characters that she has created in her head.
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?
The only thing that I MUST have before writing- is music. I can not write, scribble or type one word unless there is music in the background. I listen to a wide variety of music in order to set a mood, to complete a scene at least until I come across that one song that simply must be played over and over as it has become the theme song for that character or story.
Do you ever suffer from writer’s block? If so, what do you do about it?
Yes. I usually either listen to more random types of music or I consider that my mind’s way of saying I need a creative break and move on to my other love. Leather crafting.
What is the single most important piece of advice for aspiring authors?
Don’t stop. Don’t stop dreaming, don’t stop imagining, don’t stop writing, don’t stop pushing yourself to complete the story.
What are your current/future projects?
The last installment for my Red Summer series. The last installment for my Mostly Human series. Fine tuning the intro to my fantasy series – Wonderlost. Completing the first book of my Regions series – The Amulet. The list goes on.
Why did you choose to write in your particular field or genre? If you write more than one, how do you balance them?
I’m multi-genre. Fantasy, urban-fantasy, sci-fi, space opera and I think steampunk. I have no clue as to how I’m able to keep them all separated, but it works out.
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?
I’m not all that sure about the future as it mostly depends on the readers.And it’s easy to be a published author, yes. But to be a successfully published author, that’s the fight.
Are you traditional or self-published, and what process did you go through to get your book published?
I am self published. I was introduced to createspace and I’m still learning the ins and outs of perfecting it. I’ve been blessed with a creative family, having the ability to draw and come up with unique covers keeps illustration costs down. Having artistic friends help as well to bounce ideas off of. I am toying with the idea of submitting my story to a publisher, for the experience, but otherwise, createspace makes it easy to complete a 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?
yes. It’s frustrating. Not because of the time it takes to change things about but because It’s me. I’m always ‘tweaking’ something. One of the reasons it took me so long to simply put my story out there in the first place. I can’t just leave it alone.
What opportunities have being an author presented you with and share those memories? (i.e. travel, friends, events, speaking, etc..)
I’m still new to the whole thing, so I haven’t had those experiences yet. Don’t know how I’ll deal when that happens. I’ve never been one for public speaking. The idea is kind of nerve wracking. But there is the common experience of having your friends ask you if could write their auto-biography or some idea they had.
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?
Short and sweet descriptions – for twitter Vibrant cover images for facebook and most importantly share. help others out and they will be more than willing to help you out.
If you are a self-published author, which platform do you prefer? (Amazon, Smashwords, Lulu, Author House, or something not mentioned), and why?
I started with Amazon and I haven’t had any issues with it. Smashwords frustrated me to no end, havent tried any others. I tend to stick with what’s working.
What field or genre would you classify your book(s) and what attracted you to write in that field or genre?
Red Summer series is Urban Fantasy. I used to daydream a lot about myself having fantastic abilities.
Mostly Human series is a Space Opera. I’m a trek fan, Star Wars, Farscape, Firefly – I love that stuff.
Wonderlost will be High Fantasy – Lord of the Rings, I love the world of elves and dragons. It’s fantastic! How could I not want to live there, even if it’s all in my head?
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?
I was always told to keep a pen/pencil and paper on you. I always have a pocket pad and pen on me were ever I go. If the pen is dead or the pad is filled, the phone has a ‘notepad’ application on it. I hate it, but I will tap those keys till the idea is expressed.
Do you have a target amount of words/pages for each of your books or do you just know when enough is enough?
I tried to keep my chapter to 1k words, but characters don’t heed my limits. So I no longer have a stopping point, but the story will end when it wants to.
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?
I think I have gotten a better grasp on how to organize my stories, the difference is noticeable, for me. I write for enjoyment and only wish for other to enjoy my work. An escape from the world
How much influence do you believe a title, cover, content, page numbers have in purchasing decisions of potential buyers/readers?
I know what influences me to buy and page numbers is a major factor. I can not see myself buying anything that has less than 190 pages. I don’t like pamphlets. Covers are important, unique and able to so more than simply be pretty.
Do you believe there is value in a Press Release, have you used any press release service, and what have your experiences been?
Never used a press release.
Do you believe there is value in a review? Do you believe they are under rated, over rated, or don’t matter at all?
Reviews are very important. They are important to me because it gives me the chance to see what someone else sees. if they are honest. It gives me the chance to see where I can fix something or remove something all together. They are under rated because most think reviews are simply for sales. I have the ability to go back and fix what ever problems there may be. typos, tenses, story holes.
What are your thoughts on authors doing review swaps, paying for reviews, or reviews that just don’t seem right for the book?
I don’t like it. For me review swaps are tedious as majority of the time it’s a genre I’m not interested in and that makes it hard to read. I’ve never paid for reviews but that seems like you’re only lying to yourself. Telling yourself that you have no real faith in your own art. And I’ve recieved a review or two from people who are not into genre of my story. That kills me. They hate the genre and don’t have the ability to enjoy the story the way it’s supposed to be enjoyed. Making it a total waste of time.
Do you believe there are competitors or general readers out to sabotage authors with bad reviews and what are your experiences with this?
I have no experience and pray to never deal with it, but I have come across a few others who have had to deal with it. It’s sad.
Have you ever had an interesting, funny, or even bad experience during a live interview, reading, event, or autograph session?
No. Still working on getting to that point in my writing career. I hope to have gotten over this feeling of anxiety just thinking about it.
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?
Unfortunately, yes, I do feel that there is an over abundance. Lots of ‘trash’ book that have been thrown out there to simply pull in some quick cash. It’s hard to sort through as some have really great covers or blurbs that pull you in. I have purchased a few of them. One of the reasons I now look to see and make sure they are over 100 pages. 13 pages? 25? With no editing in sight. It makes me feel horrible for all the work and money I have put into my books. Seeing the amount of, even bad, ratings these things have gotten in comparison to my own. Jealousy? A little.
What is your biggest fear about having a book published?
Misprints. I’ve heard horror stories of whole books being printed either sideways or backwards and no one clear on how or why it wasn’t caught before printing.
If you have multiple books published what do you feel is your greatest work, why?
My most recent book. Semi-Human, the 2nd book of the Mostly Human series. Not because I wrote a fourth book, but because my style of writing had improved. My mistakes have lessened and my wording seems to have … ‘grown’ up?
What is the intended audience for you book?
Geeks and escape artists (Those trying to escape the everyday). People with wild imaginations, age is but a number, it’s not a limit.
Give us a fun fact about your book(s)?
Almost all of my stories, that I have ready to write have been created and re-written since I was in middle school. I’m 41 now. These stories have been locked up in my head for too long.
If you had the chance to get one message out there to reach readers all over the world, what would that message be?
It’s boring being boring, live a little.
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?
I suppose. The old biddy in me still has a reluctance to accept all this, and I’m still learning about the uses of social media. It took me years to get on to Facebook, but it’s the one I know ‘best’. With groups I can join and talk with others with whatever concerns I may have. Someone is always going to answer.
What makes a good story, why?
Pace. I’m not a master of it … yet, but the pace of a story can leave you breathless or bore you to death. A great adventure story would be left on the shelf if there’s long paragraphs of of absolute dribble before each major scene.
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?
People I meet or whatever pops into my head. I like unique spellings. The only resources i use is the baby name generators for other countries.
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?
Yep, I read them. I respond by giving either a like or a thank you to the good review, to the bad ones, majority of those are folks that aren’t into the genre – I sometimes ‘like’ their review as an attempt to try something new. I ‘like’ and respond to the creative criticisms, as I always want to get better. And then there are the jerks. the ones that simply want to be mean. I don’t bother. They are always anonymous.
What are some events you have attended or participated in that has been a positive experience/influence on/for your writing?
Facebook book parties. Meeting new folks getting my books seen. Giving away signed copies. That always makes me feel important. I have quite a few paperbacks, I enjoy giving them to folks…they simply need to ask.
What is the easiest/hardest scene for you to write, why? (Love, action, fight, death, racy, controversial, etc…)
racy love scenes are the hardest. Feels like I’m being double dipped in ooey-gooey super cheesiness. I get totally embarrassed and I hate having to re-read in order to make corrections. Reactions to situations are fun. I like to be as realistic as possible, attitude or disbelief.
What would you like to write about that you have never written about before?
Not sure. My stories originally didn’t have genres. It wasn’t until I published the first book. Red Summer, that I realized exactly HOW many genres and sub-genres there were. I had never heard of urban fantasy until 2014. Steampunk I learned about last year, and shifters, wow. Actually I think that would be a good one. I’d like to write a shifter story.
Have you ever had a book idea or characters come to you in a dream? What did you do about it afterwards?
all of them. The dream continues to recycle until I put pen to paper. Red Summer was a dream. Mostly Human was a dream. the others that I am currently working on are incomplete dreams. I’m weird like that.
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?
NO. My characters fit in their worlds perfectly. I can’t see them crossing over.
Were your characters based off real life people/events or did you make it all up?
Majority wise, main character is based on me. Or what I wish I was like. I hadn’t realized it until a friend came back to me after reading my first book and said. “Rita’s you, right? I can see it.” Of course I denied it, but I accepted it, had to, they wouldn’t stop calling me by my character’s name. I have lots of characters based on friends and family. Shh, don’t tell anybody.
What are the most important elements of good writing? According to you, what tools are must-haves for writers?
Pen and paper. I always start with written notes. Organization, it helps greatly
What book(s), author(s), or significant life event(s) have had a positive or negative influence in your life that inspired you to begin writing?
Piers Anthony – Xaneth series his writing was fun, adventurous and a creative use of puns. Steven R. Boyett – Ariel a swearing unicorn. And Steve Perry – The Matador series A multicultural cast.
What are your thoughts about eBooks vs. print books?
I love books. They will be here for a long time. Ebooks are hard to appreciate, can’t really collect them or have them signed.
Do you view writing as a career, labor of love, hobby, creative outlet, therapy, or something else?
All of the above. I enjoy it and sometimes I don’t. It’s re leaving and keeps me from snapping off at someone if I’m peeved. It keeps me busy or gives me a change of pace and i would LOVE to make a living off my books.
Were there any challenges (research, literary, psychological, or logistical) in bringing your book to life?
Nope. Internet works wonders.
Do you proofread/edit your own books or do you send them off to an editor? If you send them off to an editor, who/what have you had the best experience with?
I try to proofread myself before sending it off to my editor. She’s helped me since the first book and I plan to use her again for the fifth and sixth and as long as she can put up with me.
What are the advantages/disadvantages of self or traditional publishing?
Time and patience. time I could be writing is spent on promoting but you do meet good people and come across businesses that are good for helping or deterring you from scammers.
Do you have a subject/genre you would never write about, why?
horror. nope, not gonna do it, can’t make me. I’m a chicken. Bawk.
What motivates you to write and where does your inspiration come from?
i’m a dreamer, and I watch a lot of anime, sci-fi, fantasy and read other books. Different types of music sets me off as well. I love all types, from classic RnB to Heavy Metal. Never ending source.
What makes your book stand out from the crowd?
I’m still working on the wording for my blurbs and synopsis. But that’s what makes a book stand out, and I’m still working out the kinks.
Do you design your own cover? If not who does, why?
I have been blessed with the ability to draw my wild imagination. And a brother who is graphically gifted to further my ideas. So I come up with the concept and he masters it.
What is your most/least favorite part of the writing process, why?
proof reading. it gets tedious and old fast and I end up missing a whole lot after reading my own work over and over.