Tolar Miles is a southern novelist currently living in Panama City Beach, Florida. Her inspiration for writing came from everything she loves about growing up and living in the South.
Miles’ detut novel, “Mud Marbles” was released by TouchPoint Press October 2014. TouchPoint Press released her second southern novel, “Delta” October 2015. Walks on the beach and spending time with her family and friends are some of her favorite things to do.
What question do you wish that someone would ask about your book(s), but nobody has? Write it out here, and then answer it.
I can’t think of anything someone has not asked!
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?
I have been told I fly by the seat of my pants with my writing!
When I have an idea for a book, I sit down and write about it. The characters come to life to for me as I’m writing. I have never used an outline. When more than a few characters are in my book, I keep a side note of who is related and their names, but other than that, every scene and every character comes to me as I’m writing.
Do you ever suffer from writer’s block? If so, what do you do about it?
I have not suffered from writer’s block, although the title of my blog is “Writers Block!”
I have been creating stories since I can remember. Before I could write I was making up bedtime stories.
I do suffer from procrastination sometimes. The stories and characters are swirling around in my head and I finally sit down and put them on paper.
What is the single most important piece of advice for aspiring authors?
I think the most important thing is to write because you enjoy writing. I think the writers of fiction who are avid readers make better writers than those who are not readers. Just have fun writing. That is all.
What are your current/future projects?
Something southern, but that’s all I can tell you!
Why did you choose to write in your particular field or genre? If you write more than one, how do you balance them?
I began writing for children and I still have some manuscripts I have been keeping close to me that I have plans for. Writing for children is fun and I love to see the smile on a child’s face when they are reading something they love. It is so rewarding when a child tells you they love your book!
I write southern fiction now. Writing southern fiction is easy because I am a southerner. I love the South and it’s really all I know, so that’s why I chose southern fiction.
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 do not know the future of Independent authors, but I think if they are good and stand out above the rest in their genre’ they will do well. I think the amount of publicity needed for those writers who are self-published is a full-time job probably for most authors. To hire someone to help with publicity I think would be the key to success.
Are you traditional or self-published, and what process did you go through to get your book published?
I am traditionally published and the process was not daunting. I think it depends on your publisher and how organized they are as to the outcome of your 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?
I have changed a title, with my recent book, Delta. Delta began as Red Plum Jam. My publisher liked the name but I felt I used red plum jam in the book so much it could not be the title. My publisher agreed and the title stayed as Delta.
I also did not care for a book cover once because it was almost identical to another cover in print. I have changed book covers before going to print.
What opportunities have being an author presented you with and share those memories? (i.e. travel, friends, events, speaking, etc..)
Going to book events and book signings and meeting new people is always fun.
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?
I do not know everything my publisher does behind the scenes to help my books, but I am on social media sites daily. Google, FaceBook, Twitter, WordPress, Tumbler and I also post on author sites such as Book Candy and I can’t remember them all at this moment!
Author Shout has been incredible with all the mentions and I highly recommend AUTHOR SHOUT to all authors!
What field or genre would you classify your book(s) and what attracted you to write in that field or genre?
I write southern fiction. Growing up in the South is really all I know to write about. There are so many humorous things about southerners, there is never a shortage of material!
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 try to capture it in my mind and tuck it away for later. I should carry pen and paper and write it down immediately because I can’t count the times I wanted to recall something and could not!
Do you have a target amount of words/pages for each of your books or do you just know when enough is enough?
60,000 has been my target, but my next book is twice that amount so I guess when the story is ready to end, you just know.
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 a bit of each author is somewhere in each book. Maybe a piece of a characters personality, or even a character flaw.
How much influence do you believe a title, cover, content, page numbers have in purchasing decisions of potential buyers/readers?
I think everything you just mentioned has an influence in some way. I like clean covers that jump out at you from a shelf. I hate covers that are too busy, they look cheesy to me and I pass right over those in a bookstore. I’m not sure why some writers feel everything has to be on their front cover. I think books looks amateurish when the covers are so crowded.
Do you believe there is value in a Press Release, have you used any press release service, and what have your experiences been?
Yes, a Press Release can make or break you. My publisher has written my Press Releases and I am grateful for that. If you are self-publishing, write and send one out. If you feel uncomfortable or unsure of your release, get a professional to write one for you.
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 matter. Just remember that not everyone will always love your work. Do not reply to reviews. Be professional and leave those reviews alone.
Have you ever had an interesting, funny, or even bad experience during a live interview, reading, event, or autograph session?
Once, I was signing a book and I forgot to use my pen name.
The person asked, who is this? I laughed and said the real me and signed my pen name underneath.
If you have multiple books published what do you feel is your greatest work, why?
Although I like the content of my book Mud Marbles, there are so many characters in the book that I feel my next book Delta flows better. I think readers get into the story quicker than they do with Mud Marbles.
What is the intended audience for you book?
Anyone who enjoys southern humor. My books are light reads and great for books clubs who need a quick read for the summer or during the holidays.
Give us a fun fact about your book(s)?
My pen name is taken from both of my grandmothers maiden names.
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?
Yes, it is easier to connect. There are so many social media sites. I love getting emails from readers!
What makes a good story, why?
A story written from the heart makes a great story. A reader can detect if a writer really does not care about their story.
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?
I never have a name planned out. The names just evolve with the characters.
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?
Yes, I do read reviews. The hardest thing is to have people tell you they love your books, yet they do not write a review. I think some readers do not know how important reviews are to writers. I have not had a bad review, but if I did have one, I would not respond to it. I think it would be best to just let it go. Everyone has their opinions and not everyone will love your work and that’s okay!
What are some events you have attended or participated in that has been a positive experience/influence on/for your writing?
Family reunions! (If you are my family and reading this… my books are all fiction and you are not in any of them.)
What would you like to write about that you have never written about before?
I would like to write a faith based book.
Have you ever had a book idea or characters come to you in a dream? What did you do about it afterwards?
Yes, and I need to write about it!
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?
I have one character and she is my favorite. Miss Mincy. She is in both of my books and I just love her. Miss Mincy is a black lady who is a family member of one of the families in my book. She gives the best advice and she is comical too. Everyone loves Mincy. I get emails about my characters and I am told Miss Mincy and Delta are the most loved characters.
Were your characters based off real life people/events or did you make it all up?
Although some events, little bit and pieces that take place in my books are taken from real life events, my characters are made up.
What are the most important elements of good writing? According to you, what tools are must-haves for writers?
You must make time. If you are a true writer, you have the material churning around in your head. Take the time to sit down and write about it. Bring your story to life.
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?
My inspiration was probably from reading. I know my mother read to us since we were born. I have always had a vivid imagination and I attribute it to my mother supplying us with books.
What are your thoughts about eBooks vs. print books?
I love the convenience of an ebook, but I love the feel of turning pages of a real book. So both, I love both!
Do you view writing as a career, labor of love, hobby, creative outlet, therapy, or something else?
I view it as fun and if I make some money along the way then so be it. I just hope people enjoy my books and if my books take them away to another place and make them smile, I have done my job.
Were there any challenges (research, literary, psychological, or logistical) in bringing your book to life?
There is always research. You have to remember that someone can’t punch in a number if there were only rotary phones. There are always many details depending where your book takes place.
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?
Both. Editors find things you will not. You can go over a manuscript hundreds of times and not catch mistakes. Your editor will probably not catch all. Typos and mistakes happen even in books you would not expect to see them in. Like I said, you can go over and over a manuscript and everything looks great to you, then your publisher sends you a book and BAM, a mistake is right in your face! You want to crawl under a rock. But then, you read a best seller, you find typos, and you feel much better!
What are the advantages/disadvantages of self or traditional publishing?
Traditional publishing, you pay nothing to your publisher. Your publisher hires your editor. Your publisher takes care of so many things for you that would take up so much time otherwise. They also have contacts you do not have. I know other authors have said, they like self publishing because they do not have to share percentages with a publisher. I feel that the work my publisher does I can’t possibly do, so I like traditional publishing.
Do you have a subject/genre you would never write about, why?
I would never write erotica. If I tried, I’m quite sure it would turn into a comedy.
So that’s one thing I will never write! It goes against my moral compass and that is probably why it would turn into a comedy for me!
What motivates you to write and where does your inspiration come from?
My inspiration for writing southern fiction comes from my love for the South.
What makes your book stand out from the crowd?
My books are humorous, yet real. My books are about, family, friendship and love.
Do you design your own cover? If not who does, why?
I do not design my own covers. A graphic designer designs my covers.
What is your most/least favorite part of the writing process, why?
I love it all!
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