Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Straight From the Mouth of 'The Spellcaster's Grimoire' Mark All

Mark All is the author of paranormal thrillers The Spellcaster’s Grimoire and Mystic Witch, published by ImaJinn Books in trade paperback and eBook formats.  He has won two international writing awards and contributed to Computer Legends, Lies & Lore.

Mystic Witch received a 5 Star review from the Paranormal Romance Guild, and 3½ stars (out of 4½ possible stars) from RT Book Reviews.

Mark is a full-time author after a career as an instructional systems designer at a Fortune 16 company. Prior to his work in computer-based training, he held jobs ranging from gravedigger to FM radio announcer to professional rock guitarist.

Mark presents writing workshops and taught his “Planning Your Novel” course at the Spruill Center for the Arts.

He earned a Masters degree in computer-based education and a Bachelor of Music cum laude.

You can visit Mark All’s website at

Thanks for letting us interrogate you! Can you give us a go-for-the-gut answer as to why you wanted to be an author?

Because I can escape into exotic otherworlds fraught with exciting adventures in an experience even more immersive than books and movies!

Tell us (we won’t tell promise!) is it all it’s cracked up to be? I mean what are the perks and what are the demands?

Being an author is more and less than it’s cracked up to be. We write to experience the flow of creating our own alternate realities, just as we played as children. The trick is to maintain that state of mind and not be paralyzed by the requirements for good characterization, story structure, living up to our expectations, producing a saleable product, and so forth, and still enjoy the process. After a few books, you achieve a level of mastery and command of craft that’s as satisfying as becoming proficient on a musical instrument or performing well in a sport. The demands are meeting your standards and those of editors and readers, and figuring out how to make your book “discoverable” among all the many books in the marketplace.

Which route did you take – traditional or self-published – and can you give us the nitty gritty low down on what’s that like?

I queried a zillion agents for my first several books. And here’s something everyone should be aware of: A few lucky people score big artistically and/or commercially with their first book, but most writers have to produce between three and ten books before their work is publishable. Never give up. You might be one of those who hit it big, or at least get published, with your first or second book. But if not, that’s not unusual. When I finished my first Paranormal, I realized there were many reputable, quality small presses out there and found acceptance much more quickly that way, with ImaJinn Books, who are wonderful to work with.

Tell us for real what your family feels about you spending so much time getting your book written, polished, edited, formatted, published, what have you?

My wife has always been supportive of me fulfilling my potential, as I have been of her. Writing is actually easier for her to deal with, since I played in bands for a long time, including on the road for two years—that was a difficult lifestyle. At least while writing I’m right here in the house! The cats on the other hand, are less understanding and just as demanding as ever.

This is for pet lovers. If you don’t own a pet, skip this question, but do your pets actually get their food on time or do they have to wait until you type just one more word?

A better question is whether I get my food on time! And the answer is no! The cats rule the house, and will not leave us alone when they need something. One is getting up in years, and he needs to eat constantly. So I got used to dropping the narrative thread in mid-sentence to attend His Highness and the Princesses.

This is for plant lovers. If you don’t own a plant, skip this question, but if you do, are they actually still alive?

Fortunately for me, my wife is an organic gardener. Our lot is landscaped naturally with native plants and they all do well—except for the ones the deer and rabbits take out. We no longer even attempt to grow Hostas.

In writing your book, how did you deal with the phone ringing, your family needing dinner or your boss calling you saying you’re late?

I prioritize writing over just about everything else. I don’t usually answer the phone anyway.  J

What was the craziest or insane thing that happened to you in the book publishing process?

The most insane thing that’s happened is seeing my words in an actual, physical book! And people telling me they loved it!

How about the social networks? Which ones do you believe help and which ones do you wish you could avoid?

This reminds me of some famous writer, possibly Somerset Maugham, who said that there are three rules of writing, but unfortunately, no one knows what they are. I’ve read in Publisher’s Weekly that many publishers feel passionately that social networking is crucial for book promotion, but they don’t know which sites, and they don’t have a way to quantify what’s working and what isn’t. I enjoy FaceBook and Twitter, and use them like everyone else—people tend to ignore authors who only show up to yell, “My new book’s out, buy it!” I’m getting into Pinterest. I don’t have a regular blog because my strength is writing fiction, but I’m quite optimistic this virtual book tour will reach a lot of readers.

Book sales. Don’t you just love them (or lack of?)? How are you making the sales happen for you?

I think that visiting blogs and review sites that really connect with readers, like this one, is the most important thing an author can do. I really appreciate any time someone chooses to spend with me out of her busy day. The next best thing is good reviews and word of mouth. I did a giveaway on GoodReads, and I’ll probably be doing that again!

What is one thing you’d like to jump on the rooftop and scream about?

As Bill and Ted said, “Be excellent to each other!”

Okay, too much sugar for you today! Here’s a nice cup of Chamomile tea and come on over and sit under the cabana and watch the waves roll in. Now…can you tell us what you love about being a published author and how all those things above doesn’t matter because it’s all part of the whole scheme of things and you wouldn’t have it any other way?

The most satisfying aspect of being a published author is the ability to manifest the worlds within your imagination in reality. You achieve that by doing it until you get it down, but being published confirms that you’re getting it right. And that gives you the confidence to carry on and to take bold risks. If you can bravely put your heart out there, you might create something truly original that’s never existed in reality before. And that is self-fulfillment, the greatest reason to live, second to Love.

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