Amazon best-seller Veronica Scott is a two-time recipient of the SFR Galaxy Award and has written a number of science-fiction and paranormal romances. She’s also the SciFi Encounters columnist for the USA today/HEA blog. Currently published by Carina Press as well as self publishing, Veronica also holds down a day job at a NASA facility.
Time to chat with Veronica!
What is your latest book?
My most recent science fiction romance is Escape From Zulaire but I have a new SFR coming in August. Strictly speaking, my latest book would be Magic of the Nile, from my paranormal series set in ancient Egypt. I alternate my writing time between the two settings – SFRs set in the far future and PNRs set in the distant past. Here’s the story in a nutshell:
Andi Markriss hasn’t exactly enjoyed being the houseguest of the planetary high-lord, but her company sent her to represent them at a political wedding. When hotshot Sectors Special Forces Captain Tom Deverane barges in on the night of the biggest social event of the summer, Andi isn’t about to offend her high-ranking host on Deverane’s say-so—no matter how sexy he is, or how much he believes they need to leave now. And then the war breaks out…
Is your recent book part of a series?
All my science fiction occurs in a future where the galaxy is divided into Sectors and populated by humans and nonhumans so the books are a loosely connected series. So far I haven’t written any SFR books using the same characters but never say never! I’m interested in telling the story of my hero and heroine in the particular situation rather writing a lot of galactic politics and/or scientific theory. My people live in their universe the way we live in ours – they use the blasters and the spaceships without having to think about how the technology works. We don’t explain to ourselves how an elevator or a microwave functions when we use them! I write strong female characters and my heroes are usually in the Sectors Special Forces, which is my take on the SEALs of the future. I plunge them into an extreme situation (the ship has crashed into something and is going to explode or the war has broken out and they’re cut off behind enemy lines) and over the course of the novel the characters work to survive, fall in love (since I write romances) and reach that Happily Ever After ending. But the journey is as dangerous and exciting as I can make it.
Some authors, like me, always write scenes in order. But I know some people write scenes out of order. How about you?
When I start a book I know the main characters, the beginning, the ending and a few of the major scenes. After that I’m writing by the seat of my pants, as they say. Sometimes the plot goes in a direction I hadn’t foreseen, or the characters do something I wasn’t expecting but the process works for me. I’m almost superstitious about the way my Muse works! I’ve also found that if I do an outline or think too much about the story without actually writing, then I lose the spark of creativity because I feel as if the book is done. Very hard to recover from that. So I might write a few of the big scenes if I’m impatient to get to them and then circle back to earlier events. At some point I put my head down and begin at the beginning and tie it all together. As far as a title (which was a subquestion to this one), I’m terrible at clever titles. My Egyptian novels are all Something of the Nile.
Do you have any advice for first-time authors?
Write every day, no exceptions. And don’t fall into self-editing as you go. Edit when the manuscript is finished, of course, but if you pick at your words too much while you’re in progress, you may never finish that first book. A first draft is by definition going to need some rework and will have issues to be fixed. It’s ok!
Can you tell us about your road to publication?
I’ve been writing since I was seven years old but didn’t start to seriously hone my craft until around 2011. Prior to that I was busy with my day job and being a single mother to two daughters. I submitted Priestess of the Nile to the Carina Press slush pile in early 2011 and received The Call from Angela James in August of that year. I was pretty incoherent on the phone with her – talk about dreams coming true! Priestess came out in January 2012 and my first self-published novel Wreck of the Nebula Dream came out in March of the same year. I hadn’t really planned to self-publish but 2012 was the 100th anniversary of the sinking of Titanic, and my book is loosely based on the tragedy. I’d been working on Wreck before Priestess sold, so I finished it but there was no time to go through the submission and editing process with a publisher, not even with Carina, so I put it out myself. (I did have an editor.) Wreck became an Amazon Best Seller and received an SFR Galaxy Award, so I was pretty encouraged to continue the self-publishing route.
There are so many conflicting opinions out there about everything related to publishing: e-book pricing, book promotion, social media usage etc. How do you sort through it all to figure out what works best for you?
Sometimes it’s like drinking from a fire hose, with so many possibilities. I do still work full time so I have to pick and choose what promotion to do. I belong to several author loops to stay up on the new and current trends, on pricing for example, or doing boxed sets. My approach is to only do the things that feel natural and comfortable to me. So I tweet all the time – I discovered I was born to be on twitter – but I’m not as big a user of Facebook. I love to blog, I love to do guest posts, I write a column for the USA Today Happily Ever After blog, I try to do some judiciously selected print ads through the year, I do a few book signings…but I always have to remember to prioritize writing the next book, which is the best promo of all.
How much research was involved in writing your book? How did you go about it?
For the science fiction romances, I actually do some research. Since Wreck of the Nebula Dream is based on Titanic, I delved into all aspects of the sinking. Escape from Zulaire is primarily inspired by the Sepoy Incident which occurred in India during the British time there, so I researched that, more to get a feel for how it was to be an English woman, trapped in that awful situation where people you knew and trusted suddenly were out to massacre you. For my ancient Egyptians I do massive research all the time. I want to include as many real life details and settings as possible, to create a genuine feeling of being in the midst of events several thousand years in the past. I talk about historical accuracy and research on my blog.
If you were to write a non-fiction book, what might it be about?
Ancient Egypt, no question! I have a huge library of books covering all aspects of the history and the culture and I love to discover new things about their civilization.
We all know the old saying; you can’t judge a book by its cover. This is true. However, how much importance do you place on your book cover design?
The cover is really important. That’s the first thing a reader sees, usually in thumbnail form, and you want it to draw them in, to intrigue them, to give a strong sense that this is a quality book. I work with Fiona Jayde for my SFR covers and with Frauke Spanuth of Croco Designs for the Egyptians. They both have a strong sense of what fits the genre I’m writing in, what art and fonts will convey the essence of my stories. Some people are talented enough to do fabulous covers for themselves but for the vast majority of us it’s better to hire a top notch cover artist and collaborate.
Do you miss spending time with your characters when you finish writing them?
Not really, because by the time I finish one book, I usually have several more trying to get my attention, so I’ll have started thinking about the next set of characters and their story. I do have a couple of sequels in mind though!
If you had a million dollars to give to charity, how would you allot the funds?
I tend to support charities that benefit either children (especially those with autism), veterans or animals. I’d love to give the Los Angeles Zoo a big donation to have a red panda house!
If you are a TV watcher, would you share the names of your favorite shows with us?
I love “Project Runway” in any form, also “Say Yes To The Dress”. “Dancing With The Stars” is another show I really enjoy. As far as fictional programs, I’m mesmerized by “The Walking Dead” and “The Big Bang Theory” is lots of fun on many levels.
Have you ever walked out of a movie? If so, what was it?
Only once have I actually walked out and that was “Anaconda”. Since I hate snakes, I ought to have known I wasn’t going to be able to sit through this!
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