Writer of PARANORMAL FANTASIES ... AND MORE
With a love for writing paranormal, fantasy and sci-fi tales, author J.D. Monroe writes dramatic stories featuring sexy vampires, witches, and humans finding love and fighting evil in the city of Atlanta. Join us for a Q&A with the author of THE CURSED BLOOD series.
Tell us a little about yourself.
One of my dear friends once called me a “human Swiss Army knife,” and that’s just about the best description I’ve ever heard! Currently, I split my time between writing and coaching fitness classes. However, I’m also a professional musician, a small business owner, and an amateur musical theater performer. I’ve also worked as a middle school math teacher and an online ESL teacher.
I’ve written over twenty-five novels across several pen names, all of them under the speculative umbrella of paranormal, fantasy, and science fiction. My current series is the Cursed Blood series, a vampire romance series with fairytale inspiration.
When I’m not writing, I love tabletop gaming, Dungeons and Dragons, working out, and building the perfect charcuterie board to share with friends. And of course, I serve the whims of my adorable calico cat, Matilda.
What’s your most recent published book? What’s it about?
In October, I released the fifth book in my Cursed Blood series, The Rogue’s Curse. This series features a new couple in each book, but there is an overarching plot and subplots that weave through all the books.
The Rogue’s Curse features Paris Rossignol, a fan favorite character. [Editor’s Note from Michele: Agreed! Paris is awesome!] Not only has Paris been cursed for over a century, but he has seen four of his brothers find love while he’s still alone. Not that there’s time to think about love when the vampire world of Atlanta is in such turmoil. With a bloodthirsty usurper trying to wipe out Paris’s court and humans being killed every day, Paris has his hands full.
And along comes Misha Volkov, a powerful vampire magician who has been dispatched to help the court deal with their troubles. At first, both Paris and Misha tell themselves this is strictly business, but we all know what that means in a romance novel!
Angst and adventure and achingly sweet romance ensues. This book is the longest of the series so far and brings together a broad cast of characters with some explosive twists and desperate situations.
I love this book because Paris has been one of my favorite characters from the beginning of the series, but he plays everything close to the chest. And it quickly becomes apparent that we really don’t know as much as we think we do about Paris. It was so much fun to explore him as a character and get him his own HEA.
What has been the most challenging part of being an indie author? How have you tackled that challenge?
There are tons of challenges, but I really am grateful that I get to write books! It’s an amazing time to be a creator, whether you’re a visual artist, a video game designer, or a musician.
Indie authors are not just authors; we are publishers. Self-publishing (emphasis on the publishing) is quite literal! By choosing to publish directly with book retailers, we take on all the tasks that a traditional publisher would do. Sometimes we do those tasks ourselves, and sometimes we hire professionals. It can be a lot to manage, and it becomes more complicated as new trends emerge each year, social media platforms ebb and flow, and algorithms are endlessly tweaked.
Personally, one of the challenges for me has been finding a balance, especially with so many strategies and marketing tools out there. I can easily find myself on one of two extremes; either I’m writing 5,000 words a day and neglecting literally everything else, or I’m working well into the night but only doing the bare minimum on dozens of tasks and barely making progress.
Adding onto the challenge is the fact that I do still work part-time outside of writing! I’m still learning how to prioritize. I’ve tried all sorts of systems for planning, but I found that Sarra Cannon’s HB90 course really helped me get a realistic view of my time and prioritize what is best for my author career. Through her guided planning, I’ve learned how to pick projects and break them down into manageable tasks so that I get things done and don’t get frustrated by unrealistic goals. I also love the very basic but incredibly helpful “Top 3” strategy where you identify your most important tasks for each day.
What has been the most delightful or fulfilling part of being an author?
I’ve been writing for a long time, well before I had my first book published. I find a lot of internal satisfaction in just transferring ideas onto paper. Sometimes I’m just writing stories that I want to read. I have all kinds of stuff that isn’t published, just because it was something I wanted to write at that moment. It’s almost like telling yourself a story!
But honestly, there’s nothing like talking to someone who has read your books and is EXCITED about them! One of my favorite author/reader events is a fantastic convention called Coastal Magic, and they put on some great virtual events leading up to the convention. Two years in a row, their “reading challenge” group (think a book club) read one of my books and had me come in for a Zoom call to discuss.
I was just blown away that there were people (besides me!) that were invested in the characters. They noticed details and posed theories and asked questions I hadn’t even thought of. It was so cool to share in their excitement, almost like the books were something bigger than me that I was a part of, along with the readers.
And maybe it’s a little cheesy, but I really love the idea that somewhere out there, people are reading my books and finding an escape. Maybe they’re reading after a long and stressful day, or they’re passing the time in a hospital waiting room. Maybe it’s just a bright spot in their day to read a chapter or two. It’s cool to think of your stories as a connection across time and space.
Tell us a bit about your process. Do you write every day? Do you have a specific coffee shop where you write? What’s working for you?
I used to write every day, probably because I started and finished my first novel through NaNoWriMo in 2006. There, the motto is 1,667 words a day, every day!
However, because I also work part-time, some days are just not good writing days. For instance, one day a week, I coach 4-5 classes at the gym. It is demanding physically and mentally, and I sometimes don’t feel like writing when I get home.
When writing a new project, I generally write Tuesday through Friday, sometimes Saturday if I’m not super busy. I write at least 3,000 words every writing day. Between projects, I might go a month or more without writing new words, but I’m often researching or writing up ideas.
I can write pretty much anywhere as long as I have headphones to block out noise. I’ve written in countless Starbucks stores, at airport gates, in airplanes, on school buses, and even in the back corner of a dance room during a rehearsal.
But most of my writing is done at home while walking on a treadmill. This year I was dealing with some knee pain (thanks a lot, fortieth birthday!) and found that movement kept it at bay. So I rigged up a shelf on my treadmill, and now I have a walking desk! I’ve written most of my current project (Book 6 of the Cursed Blood series) while walking.
I also usually play music while I write, but only instrumental tracks with minimal melodic action. I listen to tracks on repeat so that the noise fades into the background, which is why my yearly Spotify roundup is all random tracks from movies and video games!
What tips do you have for other authors—things you’ve learned that you like to share with newer authors?
Finish your work! There’s a time and a place for worldbuilding and character sketches and outlining, but you have to write the story at some point. In my opinion, you are going to achieve the most growth through the process of finishing a project, and then receiving feedback on it. I’ve worked with some amazing editors who have delivered the equivalent of an intensive workshop through their notes and feedback.
Accept that you are going to continue to grow as an author. You are not as good as you will be five years from now, and that’s a good thing! If you struggle with perfectionism, you’ve got to find an acceptable threshold where you know you’ve done good work while accepting that you might be able to do better in the future.
What was it like working with Andrea and/or Michele of Two Birds?
When I was starting to plan out the publication schedule for my vampire series, I needed a new editor. I found Two Birds recommended in a Facebook author group and reached out. They invited me to have a Zoom call to talk about my goals, which blew my mind! I was able to share what I wanted out of a working relationship, my needs as an author, my strengths and weaknesses, and my goals for the series.
Working with Michele has been a dream! She knows my genre well and can give me great advice on aligning my books with genre expectations without losing the uniqueness of my stories. She’s professional and prompt, and extremely thorough with her edits.
I also love that she is open to discussion about ideas. As I work through developmental edits and make changes, sometimes I’ll reach out to ask her opinion, and she’s always open to helping me work through thorny spots.
It has been an amazing collaboration, and I’m really looking forward to continuing to work with her on my next series!
Where can authors and readers connect with you, and find your books?
Reader Group: https://www.facebook.com/groups/783351648473651
Have questions about the editing process? We’d love to chat with you and help you figure out your next steps. Contact us to set up a free sample edit.
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