Today’s guest post comes from Amazon bestselling author Elaine Calloway. Elaine writes paranormal fantasy and is also a fellow INFJ. I asked Elaine what drew her to writing in her specific genre and what her experiences have been with it in the writing world. Today’s post is a response to my questions.
Growing up in New Orleans amidst Gothic cemeteries and live oaks, my destiny seemed clear: I would become a writer of all things paranormal someday.
I’ve always loved writing; that part of my personality was set at a young age. When I was six, I’d eavesdrop on my parents and jot down various words from their conversation, then scurry to my room and make up stories with the words I’d written down.
My attraction to the supernatural seemed inevitable as well. New Orleans has a way of blending the mystical with everyday life. My high school was surrounded by Victorian homes, small businesses, and two large cemeteries. Looking back, I can’t help but think of the strange juxtaposition: a place of learning across the street from a major cemetery. And yet at the time, all these things seemed normal.
The crypts above ground, the Voodoo history, and haunted tales were as prevalent in the city as seafood and Hurricane drinks. As a result, the dead and the living seemed to intertwine there—not only in the architecture but also in the attitude.
I also believe in ghosts and the supernatural. I’m not talking about the white sheets “boo” kind of ghosts, but I do think there are forms of energy/spirits that remain nearby when people pass away. I can still feel my grandmother’s presence. And while there are many charlatans out there who prey on the gullible, I’ve met a few mediums who I believe are authentic and have the gift to see/hear those who have crossed over.
These beliefs became the seed for my Southern Ghosts Series, which features main characters with the “gift” to see and hear ghosts. Whether the character embraces or shuns the gift becomes part of each book, since the ghosts require help to solve their murder before they can have peace. Some of the ghosts are quite vocal about needing help in humorous ways! Each book is a blend of humor, mystery, paranormal, and romance.
While the paranormal genre is still a favorite with readers, it hasn’t come without its share of struggles. Back before the option to self-publish was available, the standard agent/editor gatekeepers grew weary of the genre in general. (Another vampire book, anyone?) To even get a book with supernatural elements in front of an editor seemed impossible.
I attended writer conferences and networked. I joined groups. I pitched to editors and agents. Eventually, a few agents and editors told me they loved my books but they had no idea how to market them because I didn’t write strictly in one genre. I blended mystery, paranormal, romance with a splash of humor. The books didn’t fit neatly into a box. The rejections that kept coming, all due to marketing reasons while they continued to say how much they enjoyed my books. This hurled me into a limbo state of discouragement. My books remained under the bed, and I wondered if anyone would ever read them.
Then a fantastic thing happened—self-publishing became an option. While it’s taken time to become accepted into the mainstream, self-publishing is a new route for writers to get books into the hands of readers without the middlemen. We can self-publish and let READERS become the new gatekeepers.
That makes right now a fantastic time to be a writer.
If you do choose self-publishing, it’s imperative that you hire a freelance editor and graphic designer for your book cover. Do not skip these resources or think you don’t need them. These things help ensure your book’s success.
Marketing my books wasn’t as much of a struggle as I anticipated, but finding my first hundred readers and getting my name out there did take time. As with anything, there were pros and cons, but I’ve found my own marketing strategy that’s successful.
To learn more about my marketing tips, get my free email class here.
Writing paranormal books is like a boomerang for me. For years, I wrote short stories and women’s fiction, followed by Urban Fantasy, but my heart always returns to the paranormal.
I love writing the characters; they’re like imaginary friends. I enjoy imagining each one’s journey and emotions. What do these ghosts feel, knowing their killer never got caught? What does the main character feel, wanting a normal life but having to deal with spirits and the living (often in the same conversation)? How does a haunted setting play into the story? I set my first ghost book, No Grits No Glory, in Savannah, Georgia. Savannah is one of my favorite places, and I enjoyed adding my own ghost story to a haunted environment.
My mom cleaned house recently and she found a paper I turned in for English class from the second grade. When she sent it to me, I couldn’t help but smile. The short story contained a mystery, an evil villain, Paul Newman (I have no idea why!) and a haunted house. All of those elements (well, except Paul Newman) are in my current books. So I suppose my eight-year-old self knew I would grow up and become a writer of paranormal ghost stories!
Thanks to the self-publishing option, I’m able to find readers who enjoy my books. You can too. Imagination is a magical thing. Find your audience. Tell your story. Don’t let discouragement stop you.
Your future readers will thank you!
Elaine Calloway is an Amazon bestselling author of The Southern Ghosts series and she is currently writing the remaining books for the 10-book series. When she isn’t focused on writing, reading, and playing with her very-spoiled dog, she speaks to writing groups and conferences about self-publishing, story structure, and marketing. To get her free email course, Marketing for Authors, click here. Connect with her online at www.howtoselfpublishyournovel.com and www.elainecalloway.com.