Author of The Ema Marx Series
What is your professional background?
I am the author of The Ema Marx series, which you can find on Amazon.com/author/jdbrown, and I have a BA in Fine Arts, which basically means I do my own cover art designs as well.
What sparked your interest in writing?
I’m a book lover. For as long as I can remember, I would devour anything written on a page. As a child, my favorite place in the world was the local library. I spent hours there just browsing all the beautiful spines, wishing I could check them all out at once. I never considered being a writer when I was younger, even though I often wrote poetry and kept a journal in my youth. Thinking back, though, it feels like it was just a matter of time before I wrote my first fiction novel. I realize now that being a writer is what I was meant to do. It feels so natural, I can’t imagine doing anything else.
How do you, “get in the zone,” when you are writing?
There’s no fool-proof method. For me, it’s just a matter of discipline. I need absolute silence. I can’t even listen to music. I have to be free to daydream, to be completely inside my own head where I become the characters and watch the scenes unfold. Real life often gets in the way, as it should. It’s not healthy to daydream and write 100% of the time, or so they tell me. So I think it comes down to balance. Have the discipline to make yourself write a little each day, but also refuse to feel guilty when you can’t.
What do you like most about being a full-time author?
I’m my own boss. I’m 100% in control of everything. I get to work at home, keep a flexible schedule, talk to my fans as much as I want, and do the things that I love most in the world, which is writing and reading books.
What is the most common mistake you have seen others make when it comes to communicating in the written form?
Passive voice is my biggest pet peeve. It takes skill and practice to really understand the difference between active voice and showing (vs. passive voice and telling). Most beginner writers don’t know the difference between active voice (which deals with sentence structure) and showing (which deals with scene and setting details). You really need both to write the kinds of books that come to life like a movie in your mind instead of words on a page.
What books would you recommend for improving one’s writing skills?
Read as much as you can, but I don’t think reading a book about writing will ever help as much as actually writing. Write a lot. Write about everything. Take a class or a workshop, because there you will be forced to examine your own writing under the scrutiny of a teacher and your classmates. Nothing will teach you more than peer revisions and critiques.
What else have you found to be useful for your art?
Trusting myself. This comes with time and experience, I think, because you do need to be open to constructive criticism, but there comes a point when you have to stop trying to please the critics and listen to your gut. Confidence goes a long way in the art word.
How are you leveraging social media to promote your books?
I post daily on Facebook and Twitter for organic reach. I’m trying to be better about including Instagram too (I’m more of a desktop person). I’m very, very active on Facebook. I host group events with authors in similar genres, run monthly giveaways, do ad campaigns, and participate in a number of promotional groups.
I also run my Street Team and Review Team out of private Facebook groups. It’s such a great platform full of like-minded people and potential. I don’t think enough authors realize everything they can accomplish on Facebook. I’m something of a tech lover too. I want to spend some time learning more about videos in the near future – not just Live Streaming, but YouTube ads and things like that too.
What advice would you give to someone looking to become a writer?
Sit your butt down and write. Just do it. Don’t worry about the quality, that comes later. Just get it done. I’ve written five – going on six – books and trust me, I’ve tried every method out there to make it easier. At the end of the day, there is no short cut to just doing the work.
May, 2012 - Nominated for Dan Poynter's Global eBook Awards in Speculative Paranormal Fiction.
June, 2012 - Nominated for EPIC's eBook Awards in Paranormal Fiction.
January, 2013 - Predators & Editors Readers Poll Top 10 Winner (#4) in Sci-Fi & Fantasy Novels.
June, 2013 - Awarded Reader's Favorite Five Stars Seal by ReadersFavorite.com