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Oct
05
2011

Ask an Author: Brenna Lyons

I’m thrilled to have fellow Silver Publishing author BD Lyons on my blog today answering some questions. Thanks for being here today!
Heather: When I went to check out your website, I was overwhelmed by the sheer number of titles you have available! How long ago did you start writing?
Brenna: Writing or writing novels?
The first writings of my own I have saved in an old trunk are poetry from when I was 7. Whether that was the first of my writing, I can’t really say, since my father tells stories about me making up stories when I was 4 and 5. Not to get out of trouble, of course. I was…well, no…I was incredibly annoying but not a rule-breaker by trade. I was honest to a fault, it seems.
My teachers started entering me in every teen writing contest they could find when I was 11. I became the youngest winner ever (at that time…someone MAY have bested me in the years since) of Taproot that year. I was included in every writing project my elementary/middle school had to offer and owned my own typewriter by the time I was 12. When I was 13, I won a place in the first year of Boy Scout Explorers for Journalism and had my first article in a local newspaper. When I was 15, I won a place in the Young Poets Symposium at the University of Pittsburgh. When I was 19, I had my first public poetry reading of my own work.
As a young adult, I wrote poetry included in Navy family support group newsletters that I still get requests for permission to use today. One of them is included in a line of military-themed cards. I also wrote poetry included in SCA (Society for Creative Anachronism) collections and articles that were published in an ezine named GoHamptonRoads.com and another called Wyer Live.
I’d written fiction for a long time, but it was largely first-person journal style fiction. If you asked me in college, I would have sworn I wasn’t capable of writing a novel. I’d tried several times and never made it past the 4 chapter roadblock. So, I gave up on it.
Fast forward to April 1, 2001. I was playing the role of geographical single mother to my three children (all under the age of 6), packing for a 600 mile move to join my husband, working 50+ hours a week outside the home, taking care of three large dogs and two cats… And I woke up from a dream that I THOUGHT would end up a short story. One scene became two, three, four….three chapters, five chapters… The four chapter block was gone! By sometime in late April, I was at 50K and realized I had no idea how my characters got where they were, so I went back and started asking questions about how they got there. My mid-May, I was staring at 100K and still moving on the story. By mid-June, I had 214K and set out to edit that massive amount of work into a serial novel called PROPHECY, which is still on sale today. By the first of August, I was trying to find an agent…and launched into my second novel, FAIRY DREAMS (which reached its full length – it has since been pared down a bit – of 165K AND was edited for the great agent search in about 2 months).
At that point, the books started attacking me in packs…TYGERS (the first of the Renegades series) and the first three books of the NIGHT WARRIORS series in unison. After 80+ agent rejections, I started looking at indie press for publication and sold PROPHECY and FAIRY DREAMS to the first publisher I tried in May of 2002.
Heather: And when was your first title published?
Brenna: Oddly enough, the first title published wasn’t from that publisher OR one of those first two signed books. The initial publisher for PROPHECY and FAIRY DREAMS had a long, slow lead-up to publication and did both print and ebook at the same time. While I was putzing around with that process, I moved on and started writing another new series (the Kegin series).
I belonged to several writing groups, and I happened to put out an excerpt of LAST CHANCE FOR LOVE on one of them. The EIC at that time for eXtasy Books was none other than Lora Leigh. She saw the excerpt and asked me for a full. It wasn’t finished yet, but I promised her first look when it was. Three weeks later (Nov 2002), LAST CHANCE FOR LOVE was complete (my eighth novel in 19 months). I submitted it as promised, and the acceptance letter was in my inbox  the next day. I was the first author signed to eXtasy Books that was neither a staff member nor had transitioned to eXtasy from Zumaya (now separate but then the parent company of eXtasy), and they dated the company by signing my contract. While I was in edits with LAST CHANCE FOR LOVE, I wrote SECOND SON and then SCHENTE NIGHT from the same series (both novellas). When eXtasy learned that SCHENTE NIGHT was a historical era prequel to LAST CHANCE FOR LOVE, they changed the order of publication. SCHENTE NIGHT released Jan 30, 2003. LAST CHANCE FOR LOVE released Feb 28, 2003, and SECOND SON released Mar 7, 2003. By that time, I could count the hours to a contract on one hand, and they even started publishing new subgenres to take my work.
By the time PROPHECY released in Sept/Oct 2003, I had about 7 releases from eXtasy in at least three series worlds.
Heather: What’s one thing you wish you would have known before you were published?
Brenna: How to vett and choose a publisher. In short, there were no resources out there for indie press. Everything written on the subject of finding a publisher was written for NY conglomerate and assumed you would get an agent, let the agent take care of the details, and so forth. The books and articles would tell you how to query but not that an agent wouldn’t take a serial novel and a plus-sized novel from a first-time author. Nor would the conglomerate presses. None of the existing resources dealt with indie press. EPIC had their model contract, of course, but as a first-time novelist, I didn’t know how to find EPIC or that I would want to.
I signed my first few contracts blind. I had no idea if the contracts were good or if the companies were. I didn’t know how to find publishers on the web. I trusted that the companies were good, because Lora Leigh was vouching for eXtasy, and Jacqueline Elliott was vouching for Treble Heart. When I tried my hand at New Concepts, I did so, because Myra Nour was vouching for them. Sometimes, these associations were good ones. Sometimes they weren’t. It took a long time before I knew how to separate the grain from the chaff for myself, and that’s why I teach new authors to do it now. The more resources they have available, the less painful lessons they have to learn for themselves later.
Heather: You have a lot of different series available, which is great. I’m a huge series fan. But, how do you keep all the characters, worlds etc straight when you have so many series ongoing at one time?
Brenna: Simply put, I have a character-driven process. I’m a pantser. Each character is unique in my mind…and opinionated (rolling eyes), and they tell me the stories. I do keep some background records and timelines on series that will aid me in making sure that someone isn’t pregnant for a year (want to know what NYT Bestselling BLOCKBUSTER author has that error in a book?) or that an astrological event happens at the right time every occurrence, depending on the world rules. For the most part, I just write down the story…in pieces, as it comes to me…and then weave it together. I can throw things at the characters and watch them react to them, but I can’t change how the characters react, because the process demands they act “in character.” That means the characters win all the arguments.
Heather: And last, the most important question of them all… If you could be one mythical/supernatural creature or being, what would you be and why?
Brenna: Tough question! Probably some sort of magic user or magical creature that can shift into a magic user. I really like dragons and big cats, so one of those that is also a wizard or sorceress sounds incredibly cool to me. Having the benefits of being such a powerful creature (especially dragons, who are resistant to both physical attack and magical attack) and being able to appear human and walk among humans is just too appealing to pass up. Besides…think of what fun it is when people don’t realize you are the animal?
Thank you so much for being here today, BD!! 
Blurb for Monsters of Myth (which I THINK will be my newest release at that time…from Mundania Press, LLC.)
We’ve read about them. We’ve watched movies about them. They’ve haunted our nightmares and tantalized our imaginations. They are the monsters of myth and legend. You know them: vampires, Frankenstein’s monster, zombies, ghosts, and all manner of mischievous creatures that cause inexplicable mayhem. Welcome to my worlds, and may the magic of the myths never die.
Bio-

Brenna Lyons wears many hats, sometimes all on the same day: former president of EPIC, author of more than 95 published works, Administrator for Silver Publishing, columnist, special needs teacher, wife, mother…and member in good standing of more than 60 writing advocacy groups. In her first nine years published in novel-length, she’s won 3 EPIC e-Book Awards (out of 15 finalists) and finaled for 3 PEARLS (including one Honorable Mention, second to NY Times Bestseller Angela Knight), 2 CAPAS, and a Dream Realm Award. She’s also taken Spinetingler’s Book of the Year for 2007. Brenna writes milieu-heavy dark fiction, mainly science fiction, fantasy and horror, straight genre, romance and erotic crosses, poetry, articles, and essays. She teaches everything from marketing to choosing an indie publisher, and she’s been called “one of the most deviant erotic minds in publishing today” by Fallen Angels. Find out more about Brenna at Youtube [http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=b61pN_MzszI] or her site [http://brennalyons.com]!

Web site- http://brennalyons.com

Facebook- http://www.facebook.com/brenna.lyons

Blog- http://brennalyonsden.blogspot.com/

 


 

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  1. Janet Lane Walters says:

    Brenna, been meaning to get here before but life has been hectic. Good advice you’ve given and since I’ve read a number of your books, not all though, I know you’re a good writer. Keep up the good work.

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