MEET VANAYSSA SOMERS
Vanayssa was raised in the woods of Vancouver Island and grew up to become a Registered Nurse. She has also built and ran businesses while raising her family. Vanayssa has a fondness for animals, plants, gardening, walking, fitness and romance.
Vanayssa started writing after retirement and had her first novella published with Solstice Publishing in 2012. Since then, Vanayssa has had many other books published, and has started to try her hand at self publishing because of the marketing advantages it offers.
I met Vanayssa on Solstice Publishing's Author Facebook page and we soon became acquainted with each other's work. You can see my review of her book, Pagan Flames, on Amazon.
TELL US ABOUT YOUR NEW BOOK.
Pagan Flames is about an orphan girl in ancient Majorca, who is discovered by an Arch Wizard looking for suitable students. He also happens to be Prince of Faeries and loves this side of his royal duties – finding and training those with natural aptitudes for wizardry.
I wanted to write this book for years, as it is based on a true story – a holographic past life reading I did for a woman one summer when I was doing regular psychic readings. It was fascinating to me, and it offered so much possibility for imagination to fill in the blanks and develop it in line with historical details.
The research I had to do for this book was personally enriching and led me to write a sequel to it, The Boy Scout, also available on my author page on Amazon. (Author.to/somers).
HOW DID YOU COME UP WITH THE TITLE?
It reflects the Pagan nature of the story – after all, he is Prince of Faeries and an Arch Wizard, shapeshifter and time traveler, among other skills. And it is placed in the Burning Times when such activities would lead straight to a death at the stake, a fate which befell many for reasons far less than Wizardry training.
WHAT CRITERIA DID YOU USE WHEN SELECTING A COVER?
When Solstice Publishing first published Pagan Flames, I picked out a photo for the cover as a total newbie. I’d never had to do any of these Author tasks before, so I just tried to pick a cover that reflected the heroine as she chose between risking a fiery death at the stake if caught, and a chance to learn to fly, shapeshift, time travel and so on. (Which would you choose, by the way, if Melchior approached you and offered you this choice?)
So the cover was quite different from today’s cover, which I chose when I took the book back after my contract ran out, and I was developing self-publishing marketing skills. The book is really about falling in love, trying to deny it, losing each other, finding each other again, and the deep dark passions that drive such a relationship when love just won’t die and the hunger for each other overrides everything – even time and the passing of centuries.
WAS THERE A MESSAGE IN YOUR BOOK THAT YOU WERE TRYING TO CONVEY?
Again, the message of the book is twofold: We must choose in life, over and over, and once we set our foot on a path, it leads to the unfolding of various life treasures or suffering, sometimes both.
Also it is about love that just won’t die, when nothing is too much effort to try to find each other, and nothing can stand in the way of this love.
IF YOUR BOOK WOULD BE MADE INTO A FILM, WHO WOULD YOU LIKE TO PLAY THE LEADS?
I can’t imagine a movie star who would match the image I have in my head about Melchior. Who is raised to become King of Faeries? What personal qualities does that person carry within their hearts and minds? Who does Melchior remind me of in real life? Regrettably, no one springs to mind. But that’s because he is my creation and I can’t imagine anyone like him. That’s how we mothers tend to be. Except if I met someone like Melchior, I would not be feeling like his mother lol.
As to Theresa, there are probably stars out there who would handle the role well. She begins as this naïve, gentle convent-raised orphan girl, a teen, and develops eventually, through both books, Pagan Flames and The Boy Scout, into a woman quite formidable with vast military and spiritual/psychic skills.
Oh and yes, she gets a gorgeous pair of wings eventually. After all, she becomes the Faery Queen. And she is still human. It was quite a feat of writing to pull this off.
WHEN AND WHY DID YOU BEGIN WRITING?
As I mentioned above, Pagan Flames was my first book, and I just had to write about that psychic reading that stayed with me always.
WHEN DID YOU FIRST CONSIDER YOURSELF A WRITER?
In grade two when my teacher told me “Someday you might be a writer.”
DESCRIBE YOUR WRITING STYLE.
This is the difficulty. Writing about different characters with different personalities, we tend to keep writing in a similar voice for all of them as they are all our creation. So my style, I don’t know. I try to demonstrate character through choices and dialogue. That’s something that gets better with lots of practice.
WHAT IS THE HARDEST LESSON YOU HAD TO LEARN AS A WRITER?
That no one is going to market my books except me. If we write a book, we naturally want it to be read. Or there is no point in putting it on paper to start with. So the need to market is paramount, and I have taken marketing courses of all kinds and continue to learn.
WHAT ARE SOME OF THE CHALLENGES YOU FACE AS A WRITER?
Keeping the focus there every day, getting myself into the chair and just start working on that story, no matter the mood or the weather, or anything else that’s going on. But mostly the challenge is finding time to write when marketing takes so much time.
NOT INCLUDING FAMILY, WHO SUPPORTED YOUR EFFORTS TO BECOME A PUBLISHED AUTHOR?
Solstice Publishing and my editor there, Kathi Sprayberry, those are the supporters. There really aren’t very many who support someone’s need to paint or write or sculpt, whatever it is. Mostly people want you to become something that makes lots of money, and writing and painting and so on tend to be long term commitments that require, as I mentioned, marketing skills and practice.
WHO WAS YOUR FIRST PUBLISHER AND WHAT DID YOU LEARN FROM THEM?
Solstice Publishing (www.solsticepublishing.com) is my first and only traditional publisher, and they taught me masses of things. My editor, Kathi Sprayberry, emailed me answers to hundreds of questions and never failed in patience or politeness. She is probably the hardest working person I have ever met and never stinted in helping me understand things.
DO YOU HAVE ANY ADVICE FOR NEW WRITERS?
Start young. It takes a few years to develop marketing skills, you have to pay for courses and learn it all. It takes a long time and a great deal of focus to learn from these courses, despite the fact that they are mostly, nowadays, made of beautiful videos and perfect audio, and carefully laid out for best learning. I love Mark Dawson’s course and Bryan David Cohen’s courses and videos, but they are pricey. Kindlepreneur offers many small and terrific courses for free and there are others out there who do the same.
If you start even in your forties or fifties, that’s still okay, but you have to find time to learn, study, write, market, as well as go to work and raise your family. It takes a lot. Many of us, like myself, don’t start the process till retirement, and my one regret about writing is that I waited till retirement.
For example. You want to build a fan base, because that makes selling your work easy. Let’s focus on something very simple and not too time consuming. Say you write one book. Start a twitter account and a FB account, though now they aren’t the best ways to sell books anymore. (On FB, only 16% of your friends and fans get to see your pushes of your books in posts. FB themselves keep most of them for themselves and their own use. Changes keep happening. Anyway.) Although these two are not the best ways to sell books anymore, they are free and readily available to anyone.
So my point is, if you start in your twenties or thirties,you write one book, and you do a twitter post and a FB post about your book two or three times a week, year in and year out, for all those years, you will build a fan base there of thousands. And if you also take your one little book in your twenties or thirties and you join Bookfunnel and start giving your book away for free on their promos say, three times a year even, (you might want to write some short stories to give away too as you need them to keep doing promos), then over those decades of patient work, you will have a list of hundreds of thousands of loyal readers who adore your work.
So by the time you reach the age of, say, forty-five, you will only have to write a book and send it to your list and put it up on twitter and FB and Bang! You Bank! The money rolls in automatically and you can retire at forty five.
But, no one in their 20’s or 30’s is able to understand this, the concept of Time’s value. There is nothing like starting early and having a set of tasks and carrying them out faithfully for decades. You are a winner, plain and simple. You will always have money, lots of it.
Don’t wait till you retire and have Time to write. You can see, if you think about what I have said, if you write a couple of books and some short stories, and join a promo place like Bookfunnel and set up FB author page and twitter author page, and just do that minimal amount of work every week in life, it’s not a lot of time involved and YOU CAN DO IT. But start early.
That’s my only advice. And be grateful for this: In this new publishing world, you don’t have to be a great writer. You don’t have to be perfect, and perfection will increase as you work at your craft.
In this self publishing world of today, you need to write. Wherever you start from, whatever your skill level, just write. It’s amazing. Out there, there is a niche of people who will love your work and stay with you while you grow in grace and skill. You don’t need the Big Five publishers for very much. Not anymore.
In 15th century Spain, a Wizard discovers an astute student in an orphaned girl living in a convent. With a flair for the Dark Arts, she moves from skill to skill with astonishing ability. Melchior, Prince of Fairyland and Galactic Warrior, realizes he has discovered in Theresa a potential Jedi, and her Vision Quest confirms this. Spirit, managing her Quest, demands that she meet this challenge on her own, without his help.
Can teacher and student, both secretly in love, bear this separation? But injustices of The Burning Times call for a hero to save the innocent, and Theresa must answer this call, putting herself in continual danger - with her Teacher far away.
A massive shipping container stands open and waiting on the dock of a huge port city, in almost any country. A truck drives up and a load of human beings, in this case, youngsters, are off loaded and packed inside the crate. A crane lifts the container. It takes its place among dozens of other gigantic shipping containers, all locked together on board a freighter.
A week or two later, the container is lifted once more and deposited on another dock, thousands of miles from home. At some point, the kidnappers unlock the crate and those souls who have survived the ocean journey are gathered up and taken somewhere to be sold. Sold as slaves for either sex, or hard labor, or both. For the remainder of their lives.
Behind them, their country; their birthrights; their families; their rights to education, freedom of speech, equality, all the things we take for granted. Shocking enough when it takes place on the other side of the world. More so, when it takes place in America, and the youngsters being kidnapped are American children.
Melchior, King of Fairies, and Theresa, a young American woman are passionately in love, soon to be wed. But a new purpose takes hold of these two magical Wizards as they discover the hazards young people face, unknowingly, every time they step outside their home.