Monday, June 28, 2010

Interview with Ruth Sims

Available for sale at Untreed Reads

Welcome Ruth!

Briefly describe your journey in writing your first book. 
I’m not sure which one you mean. The first-ever one? Or the first one that’s still in print? Or the first of the Untreed Reads e-books? On the other hand, I don’t suppose it matters. The journey began with a number 2 pencil with a chewed-on eraser, a school tablet with lines on it, and the words “It was Spring. There was a horse.” I was in elementary school, though I don’t remember for certain how old I was. Eight or nine, maybe. I’d been reading for a few years, and decided to write a story. That was it.  I’m sure that book was Nobel Prize material, but…*sigh*…it was lost before the Nobel committee ever saw it. I wrote on and off during all my working years and family-raising years, until about fifteen years ago when I decided it was my time to get serious.

What genre are your books?  Do you write in more than one genre?
I write in whatever genre—if I even have any—that my story tells me it is. I just write them. I don’t question them. I never know how to label them, anyway.

My two novels (The Phoenix, and Counterpoint: Dylan’s Story) are gay Victorian love stories, but not because that’s what I planned to write. That’s just what they turned out to be. My short stories, which Jay, at least, thinks are good, are all over the place genre-wise. About the only thing most (but not all) of my unfinished novels have in common is that they are historicals.

Did you query agents and traditional publishers?  Did you receive an offer of representation or a book contract?
For the novels, I had an agent who vanished, and more recently one who might as well have vanished. Then I gave up trying to find one. On my own I found Alyson in the 90’s, Lethe in 2009, and Dreamspinner in 2010.  I never queried agents or traditional publishers for the short stories. I don’t know of any agents who represent short stories. I just wrote the stories because I wanted to, told myself I wasn’t good at them and was just doing it for fun, and filed them away. Then Jay, bless his pea-pickin’ heart, decided to publish.

What factors influenced your decision to sign with Untreed Reads?
I’d known Jay for a number of years and had the utmost respect for him as a reviewer of e-books. When he went into publishing, and was willing (unlike most publishers) to consider stand-alone short stories, as opposed to short stories for an anthology, I jumped at the chance. I had short stories and no place to send them. I sent them, he liked them, and… here we are.

How involved are you during the creative process for your book’s cover?
There’s no need for me to be involved in the ebook covers. I know nothing about digital art (other than the old joke “I don’t know anything about it but I know what I like”) and Jay has an artist, Dara, who creates beautiful covers for the Untreed Reads books. I have no complaints at all about the covers I have had. I especially love the one for Burma Girl.

Do you have manuscripts that you will publish directly for Kindle?
No. I’ll leave all the e-book stuff to Jay, who understands the process and knows what he’s doing. He’s tireless at getting new outlets to carry the books, and I believe that the UR stories are available for all, or nearly all, existing ebook readers. I admit the whole thing’s a mystery to me.

How did you feel when you got your first sale?
Every sale is exciting! And I always look forward to the possibility of hearing from another new reader.

What kinds of social media [twitter, Facebook, webpage, blog, writing forums] are you involved with trying to garner attention for your book(s)?
I’m not very good at all that, but I’m trying to become better. Yesterday I found a blog I started on Blogger and had forgotten about, so I’ll try to use it (not that anybody will see it!), I have a LiveJournal (ditto) and I started a GoodReads account. I have a website ( and a wonderful webmaster who updates it for me. I have a Facebook account, but like the others, I don’t quite know how to get any benefit from it. (I told you I was hopeless at promo!) I belong to several Yahoo groups and the Dreamspinner Author group. But basically, I muddle along, envying those who really know how to promote and hustle.

How do you feel about the world of digital publishing?  Do you think it will replace traditional publishing one day?
Well, not having a crystal ball I can’t say with any certainty. I certainly don’t expect it to replace print publishing in my lifetime or even my grandkids’ lifetime. But I think print will become less and less viable unless there is more recycling of paper done. It takes decades to grow a single tree. And even though I dearly love my print books, digital publishing makes the most sense economically and environmentally. The biggest problem I see with ebooks is the piracy issue, and there doesn’t seem to be any end in sight to that kind of outright theft.

What’s next for you?
Jay just released my latest short story, Burma Girl (my favorite) and will very soon release one called Song on the Sand, that was inspired by my love for the play La Cage aux Folles. I have a couple of other ideas for short stories/novellas, one of them being a YA creative nonfiction about Sojourner Truth.

In July Dreamspinner Press is releasing my second gay Victorian love story, Counterpoint: Dylan’s Story.  There are six others in various stages of “doneness” from half-finished to fewer than a hundred pages of meandering.

I’d like folks to look me up at: (I review books occasionally)
and I would love to hear from them at

Thank you, Debra, for the chance to get the word out about my short stories! It’s been fun.