I am super excited to post another author interview. I met Eisley Jacobs on Twitter in one of the writing chat rooms about a year or so ago. She was one of the first ones to welcome me and has always been willing to answer any questions I had (even know she really had no idea who I was). I knew immediately she would be a successful author. (How? you ask. There was something about her online presence that drew people toward her. If she could do that without being published I could only imagine what she would become when her name was really out there for the whole world to see).
Today, Eisley’s books are being sold and I can’t wait to find out how her journey is going.
Hi Eisley, how are you today? I’m awesome! I just drove in from Colorado for a small book tour visit in California. I’m pretty exhausted from driving with four kids, but I’m excited to be here on this adventure!
Let’s start with your name (or pen name) Eisley, can you tell us how you came up with this uber cool name and what made you decide to not use Heather?
Yes, my real name is Heather but coupled with my last name… it’s taken. If my name was Stephen King, I would have to come up with a pen name. It is NEVER a good idea to share your name with anyone, especially someone famous. The Heather that has my name is actually a publishing author. She is not in my genre but when you google her name, she comes up all over the place (along with a PhD who has published a few papers). So when it was time to start the social media road, I knew I needed a name that stood out from the crowd and meant something. Eisley means “strong or firm” and Jacobs means “to hold onto”… so my name means “to firmly hold onto…” my convictions. And that is just what I plan to do when I write. *That is Awesome*
I remember reading on your blog about your book Born to be a Dragon. It sounded really cool. Can you share with us what this story is about?
Born to Be a Dragon is about the epic relationship between two ten year olds… a dragon and a girl. The story encourages kids to “follow their dreams” and never just accept sterotypes.
What inspired you to write this book?
My children were a big inspiration to this book. They love playing make believe and as I watched them one day, Deglan strolled through my brain. I was in a lull with Rings of Time so it was perfect timing.
How are your books selling?
Remarkably well. My totals are still out, but preliminary totals are blowing me away. If the reviews on Amazon are any clue as to how this book is being received, then I couldn’t be more thrilled!
Did I see Born to Be A Dragon was on the top releases right out of the gate?
Yes! In fact, I hit #1 the first day of release in “Hot New Releases” It was a pretty awesome moment.
Do you remember the moment the idea came to you?
I don’t remember the very moment the idea came to me, but I do know that I was watching my kids play when it came.
How did you come up with your character names?
Deglan’s name came from an intense search of my friends children’s names. Declan was the boys name that Deglan came from. Because he was a dragon, I added a G and made it very dragon. *Super Cool*
Does the stories or the characters come to you first?
I’m a pantser writer. Much like watching a movie, the story and characters reveal themselves moment by moment during my first draft. So they really all come together at the same time. In my second draft I fill holes I may have and round our my characters. But for the most part, it’s all a very organic way of writing.
It seems that agents are often requesting middle-grade novels with boy protagonists. Did you try querying this book before you decided to self-publish?
Oh yes, I queried this book about 90 times. Complete with about 70 rejections. I sent the manuscript to two agents (who are friends) and asked them what was wrong. The surprising answer was NOTHING! Dragon books just weren’t selling to the publishers right now. One of the agents told me to sit on it a while and the other said, “if you believe in the book, go Indie.” So I did.
What was the deciding factor that made you decide to self-publish?Having two agents tell me my manuscript was good but it just wasn’t the subject that was selling right now was good enough for me.
Are you happy with your choice?
I am THRILLED with my choice. This has been an amazing journey that I would not exchange for the world!
Can you tell us a little bit about self-publishing?
It’s a hard road. It’s not for the weak willed. You have no one pushing you for a deadline. It’s all you! You have to press on and move forward and enjoy the ride!
Is self publishing expensive?
Amazingly enough this answer is as varied as the author you talk to. Depending on which press you print with, you will have a fee. Create Space was $39. Then there is your cover artist (that could be $50-500). Mine was free because I’ve got mad skilz… Ha ha. I made it with my tablet and pen. Then you have the editor and proofreaders, again varied costs of anywhere from $100-$1000 depending on how large your manuscript is. So it can cost as little or as much as you can afford. However, skimping on any of these costs will show.
I love the cover of your book. Did you work with an artist for the design?
I didn’t actually. I had a first draft of the cover with an island and a palm tree with a dragon tail, foot prints and a hermit crab, but I just didn’t like the concept as much as I liked the full moon silhouette. After searching around for some ideas, I used my tablet and made my own silhouettes and that is a photo of the real moon, edited a little to fit my needs.
You also have several other books in the works. Can you offer their titles and give us a sneak peek what they are about? (I know Rings of Times is one of them)
Rings of Time is indeed ready for a final read through and publish date, but I don’t have one yet. I don’t want to rush this one but it’s almost ready.
Dragons Forever 2 has a working title, but I can’t reveal it yet. It will be released on BLACK FRIDAY 2011.
I also have a YA novel called PIECES OF ME that is nearly ½ done, but has taken a back seat to everything else.
Your blog is phenomenal. You talk about everything from writing to home schooling. Although I don’t home school my children, I have always been impressed by parents that took on this task. Can you share with us what led you to this decision?
We really decided to homeschool out of necessity. The school wanted to hold my very intelligent daughter back because her age didn’t permit her to move forward (born 17 days too late for first grade). And when I went to the kindergarten orientation I was NOT impressed. They were going to teach her the ABCs and her colors… and she was reading chapter books already. It just didn’t work for us. So we started homeschooling and have never looked back. It continues to fit our lifestyle and my children’s needs. They enjoy their tailored learning and the field trips we attend. I don’t know if we will homeschool forever, but right now, it works for us.
Do you read your stories to your children? What do they think?
My oldest reads the YA stories herself but I read the MG stories aloud to everyone. They absolutely LOVE it and will interject their opinions A LOT… and sometimes it’s helps tremendously!
You are also somewhat of a humanitarian. (Yes, she does it all). You have visited other countries. Have you brought your books with you? Did any ideas get inspired while traveling?
I have brought books with me, but mostly to read during my down time. It’s amazing what you “find” when you aren’t stuck in the writing mode. So I bring my ipad and read through my manuscripts to see what I find.
I have a few ideas for YA/MG novels from visiting the beautiful Ethiopia. We will see how they pan out as the years go on. I go back in March to Ethiopia (See the WHAT A LOAD OF CROC? Post) and plan to bring at least two books with me for the teachers at the orphanage. They love reading and will enjoy the Dragons Forever Series.
What advice do you have for aspiring authors?
Believe in yourself. Believe in your writing. And do the work. Nothing is perfect and always accept criticism with grace and dignity. Try hard to just say THANKS and not give excuses. Take EVERY critique and really chew it over. REALLY, you may not find value to it today… but come back to it and REALLY debate with yourself as to if the advice is valid. You will be surprised what a couple weeks can afford your attitude. Your critique partners just want to HELP you they do not want to bring you down. Oh and get several crit partners… VERY important.
Okay, before we end our interview I have a few more quick questions.
• I often ask other writers what their favorite word is. Mine is BELIEVE! Can you share your favorite word with us?I don’t know if I have a favorite word! That is a new question… and one that I’m not sure I can answer! I really try hard to mix it up and make sure I don’t repeat the same words. I even throw my manuscript through a script checker to make sure I don’t use the same word 1,999 times. But I do love the word twinkling and trembling. Not that I overuse them 😉
• Do you have a writing spot?
I don’t really have a writing spot. The couch with my laptop is where you will most often find me. However, I love going to the “office” to write too. Sometimes I am more productive when I leave my element.
• What time is your favorite time to write?
At night after dinner. Usually the kids are all settled down doing other stuff and I am able to really concentrate on my characters instead of the dishes, homeschooling or life.
• What are you reading right now?
Right now my books (yes plural) are The Clearing, by Anne Riley (YA), Bridger, by Megan Curd (YA) and The Secret of Spruce Knoll, by Heather McCorkle (YA). I also just put on my list Frindle, by Andrew Clements (MG) and Sept 20th the next Secret Series book comes out, You Have to Stop This by Pseudonymous Bosch (MG).
• Do you have a favorite author?
C.S. Lewis was always my favorite author and will continue to be.
Eisley, thank you so much for taking the time to answer my questions. I truly hope that your writing career takes off to levels you never imagined.
Is there a thought you wish to end this interview with?
Believe in the impossible and look for it to happen!
Eisley can also be found on Twitter. Follow her @EisleyJacobs
Visit her at http://www.EisleyJacobs.com
Leave a comment and let Eisley know what you thought of her fantastic interview.