Friday, August 9, 2019

Interview with Alex Hayes, PERFECT PITCH

Can you give us a brief overview of your latest book? Is it part of a series?
Perfect Pitch is the second book in the Chameleon Effect series. In addition to continuing Idris and Cadi’s story — which centers on protecting the crystal tree needed to create a Livran community on Earth — Perfect Pitch brings back two minor characters, Dean and Shri, the story’s new romantic couple.

Perfect Pitch completes Cadi’s hero’s journey. The part where she returns to her “normal world” as a new person. Only in this case, the normal world is brought to Cadi in the form of Dean and Shri, who arrive in the Adirondack Mountains where Cadi now lives.

Our new hero, Dean, is conflicted over leaving his brother, Ty, in the care of their alcoholic mother.

When their abusive father returns to the family fold, Dean is forced to leave and take Shri and Ty along for the ride.

Accepting a job carries Dean into Cadi’s world, a place far more intriguing and complicated than he ever imagined.

While Dean deals with his mom’s threats and his quasi-obsession with Cadi, the girl in question struggles with her conflicted feelings over Dean. Cadi knows she loves Idris and that she cannot trust Dean — whatever Shri might tell her about how much he’s changed — but if only her feelings for the guy who kissed her under the mistletoe last Christmas were that cut and dry.

Figuring it’s easier to deal with Dean by not dealing with him at all, Cadi tries to shut him out of her life. But the more she pushes to keep the door closed, the harder he shoves back, determined to crack it open.

Do you have a favorite character?
Idris is my favorite character. When I conceived the Chameleon Effect series, I wanted to create a guy who was sarcastic and funny, outwardly confident but inwardly unsure, egotistical, highly talented, and at times, downright stupid. I absolutely love him, and it’s a joy to keep him coming back to each book in the series.

Have you ever had a minor character evolve into a major one? Did that change the direction of the novel at all?
Great question. Yes, Dean and Shri are both secondary characters who grew to be so much more. My conception of Dean was to make him the jerk who screwed up Cadi’s happy life in the first book of the series, Silken Scales, but he ended up being so much more complicated than that.

He really fell for Cadi in a big way, and I simply couldn’t make him into a black and white villain. So I made him the trigger, rather than the gun.

As the story developed, Shri played best friend and mentor to Cadi, raising questions over Dean’s duplicity, and I sensed Shri would make it her mission to figure him out. And so she does, in the space between the first and second books.

I also felt strongly that Cadi hadn’t fully closed the door on her past and dealing with Dean would be a great way to test the bond between Cadi and Idris, as well as give Dean a chance to clear his name. Meanwhile, a sweet and subtle love develops between him and Shri that plays out through the second book.

Did you try the traditional route to publishing, i.e. querying agents/publishers?
Sure. When I finished my first book, Ice Cracks, years ago, I sent out dozens of queries and received many polite rejections. So, I decided to publish Ice Cracks on my own back in the early 2000’s. That decision carried forward with my more recent books, and though I plan to continue querying agents, I see no point in putting my career as an author on hold.

Are you currently under a traditional publishing contract for future books or do you have manuscripts that you will self-publish? Are you doing both?
I’m self publishing and plan to approach more agents.

What factors influenced your decision to self-publish your book(s)?
Time and the freedom to be my own publisher.

If you used a graphic designer/publisher’s designer, how involved were you during the creative process for your cover?
Very involved. I’m proficient with Photoshop and do preliminary designs. I worked with a professional designer to create the covers for the first three books in the Chameleon Effect series and The Golden Thread, a tie-in novella.

Do you belong to a critique group? Have they helped improve your writing?
Yes, Scribophile. My critique partners have helped me bring my work to a professional level, and I’ve improved my own writing skills exponentially by critiquing the work of others. Although getting others to critique my work has been instrumental, I cannot speak highly enough about the value of critiquing the work of other writers.

What is your writing process? Do you listen to music or do you like silence?
When I’m in my creative space, conceptualizing stories and scenes while exercising or walking, I love to listen to music. My favorite singers include Sia, Charlie Puth, Florence and the Machine, Seal, Sarah McLachlan, but I love classical piano, guitar, new age and a lot of older bands.

When I write, I need silence or a stream of soft classical music to help me focus on the words. Listening to anything with lyrics is too distracting.

Do you outline your story or just go where your muse takes you?
I’m an Analyzer/Organizer according to some personality test I took back in high school. I absolutely outline my stories, working through various story structures, and carefully consider plot and character arcs, along with obligatory scenes and genre specific requirements. The muse and details kick in with the drafting.

Did you hire an editor to review your manuscript before publishing?
Yes. My critique partners and my own methods for editing and proofreading are pretty effective, but a professional catches the more illusive and esoteric issues.

What have you’ve learned during your self-publishing journey?
The self publishing is easy, selling books is a lot more difficult. The landscape is constantly changing, and there’s no tried and true method for success that’s lasting. The journey is a work in progress that has to be carefully balanced with my writing which is my passion.

Besides Amazon, are there any other sites where your books are for sale?
Yes. My books are on sale through most online retailers.

What kinds of marketing [twitter, facebook, blog, forums] are you involved with for promoting your book(s)?
Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, Goodreads, Book Funnel. I have a website and send out newsletters which I also post on my blog.

Do you find it difficult to juggle your time between marketing your current book and writing your next book?
Yes. It’s tough to market and write at the same time, and being successful at this requires mastering slow-motion multitasking. Writing is my passion and the place I prefer to work and be, but I enjoy other aspects of the writing, publishing and marketing process. If I take it in small bites, switching between tasks, the process is more manageable.

What advice would you give a new author just entering into the self-publishing arena?
It’s important to understand your personal objectives and priorities when considering becoming a published author. The hardest part is enjoying the process and not being overwhelmed by it. That is a journey all its own. Publishing the book onto Amazon or with another retailer is the easy part. Selling books takes time, money and a lot of determination.

Besides writing, do you have any other passions?
Well, writing is my biggest passion, but I enjoy reading fiction and non-fiction, photography, graphic design, gardening, cooking, interior design, sewing, painting, and listening to music.

Some fun facts about you, which do you prefer
Dogs or cats?  Cats.
Chocolate or vanilla? Chocolate.
Coffee or Tea? Coffee.
Talk or Text? Talking face to face.
Day or Night? Both for different reasons.

I’m renovating a hacienda in Mexico with my partner; I’m a parent to four cats; I’m a doggy aunt.

What’s next for you?
I’ve just completed Book Three of the Chameleon Effect. I’m working on a few books concurrently. These include the fourth book of the series, of course, plus two tie-in novellas. I’m also working through high-level conceptual plans for two other series to follow Chameleon. One is a dystopian science fiction series, the other is an urban science fiction/fantasy trilogy.

Perfect Pitch
Alex Hayes
Publication date: August 6th 2019
Genres: New Adult, Paranormal, Romance, Young Adult

All Dean wants is to escape…
But he can’t leave his younger brother, Ty, in the care of their alcoholic mother. And when their abusive father shows up, Dean has to get Ty out. Which means joining Shri — his best and only friend — in taking a job out of state and breaking the law by stealing his brother away.
Cadi’s life is almost back together after Dean blew it into a million pieces. She’s come to terms with her life as a shape-shifter — well, almost. She’s still trying to wrap her head around the fact that a vicious enemy is out to destroy the remnants of her people.
As if Cadi doesn’t have enough to deal with, Dean’s about to land on her front doorstep, forcing her to decide whether to let him into her secret world or slam the door in his face.
The Chameleon Effect series, starring shape-shifter teens with extraordinary superpowers, is sure to appeal to Young Adult and New Adult readers who enjoy romance with a paranormal twist.

Author Bio:
Alex Hayes wrote her first fiction story when she was twelve. Inspired by her mother’s storytelling, she began work on her first novel, Ice Cracks, at eighteen.
She received a Bachelor of Arts degree in English, Creative Writing from San Francisco State University. In her twenties, she moved from Marin County, California to Boston, Massachusetts, where she built a career as an IT professional in database engineering. In 2004, she self-published Ice Cracks, which became a semi-finalist in the 2005 IPPY Awards.
Alex splits her time between Grand Junction, Colorado and Guanajuato, Mexico. When she isn’t writing, she’s helping her partner, Lee, renovate a 450 year old hacienda. She is mother to one beautiful daughter and many wonderful cats.

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