Hello Markee, please tell us about you, as a writer.
I live in Wisconsin, in the USA, about five miles from Lambeau Field (those of you who know about the Packers Football Team will recognize the name). Some people think I’m male, but I’m a female, married, and my husband and I have three teenagers. No, we don’t own them, and are waiting for all of them to leave for college. I write under a few pen names, but this one, Markee Anderson, is for my romances. It lets me be me, as an indie writer. I’ve just added books to my pen name ‘Andie Alexander’ for my mysteries/adventures.
Your latest book Justiceman is a light hearted adult mystery; perhaps you’d you give us some insight into it in a few sentences.
The last book I indie published was a mystery, entitled ‘Justiceman.’ It’s a funny book about weird criminals, including a vigilante killer who calls himself ‘Justiceman.’ He’s after the main character, Aspen Dove, who is a woman of many talents. She teams up with an FBI agent who likes to play head games. It was a lot of fun to write, because I wanted to be as creative as possible for the criminals, giving them the weirdest characteristics I could think of. As with all my books, there is romance, but it’s just fun, with no sex (we have three teenagers who don’t need any suggestions put in their brains from my books) and no swearing.
How did you come to write this particular book?
I read Janet Evanovich’s Stephanie Plum books, trying to figure out how she creates her characters. For ‘Justiceman,’ I let my brain go nuts, thinking of outlandish people with few brain cells (they’re the most fun to write) as well as giving the book a plot of Aspen trying to figure out who the vigilante killer really is.
Do you have a favourite character from the book? If so, who and why this particular one?
I have to think that Elmo Flow is my favourite character (although, there are a ton of close seconds). This guy is missing more than a few brain cells. He calls himself the ‘Lone Wolf’ thinking it’s an anagram to his name...but there’s no ‘n’ in his real name. So he tells the FBI agent to take him in for impersonating himself. At least the Lone Wolf, who eats people, will be taken off the streets for impersonating himself. LOL! That character cracks me up!
Where can people buy your books?
My books are on Amazon.co.uk, Smashwords, and various other outlets under the names Andie Alexander and Markee Anderson. I have all buy links on my website at www.markeeanderson.com and www.andiealexander.com.
What qualities does a writer need to be successful?
Perseverance. That’s the number one quality. So many people say they’re going to write a book, but never get past page one. I’ve been writing seriously since about 2000, and finally got an agent—and just terminated that contract in July, finally going completely indie. It took me a while to see what publishers really wanted. But if you can write the best book you can, then learn more and edit (a lot), you’re bound to make it someday.
What’s your working method?
I write with an idea of where I’m headed, then usually go off in a different direction. :) I get the first draft done, and go back and edit a lot, to see what plot holes I have. I don’t like writing description, so after the first draft is when I add in those things that slow down the pacing.
What’s the single biggest mistake made by beginner writers?
Giving up and not learning how to write. Wait. That’s two. My bachelor’s degree is in math, and I should know how to count, but both of those things are equally important.
To what extent are grammar and spelling important in writing?
Grammar is very important, however, if the plot or characters are weak, who cares about grammar and spelling? I think readers pick up books to escape into a story, which had better be good or the book is history.
How much do you revise your MS before sending it off?
I revise literally hundreds of times (or so it seems...I’ve never counted). Each time, I find better ways to say things. No matter how many times I’ve been through a manuscript, I, like every other writer I know, finds grammar and/or spelling errors. It happens to everyone. I also use an editor friend of mine to help, and even she misses errors. She’s very thorough, too, not only going through the manuscript once, but also going through it backward (yes, in reverse...people in America drop the final ‘s’ to those pesky ‘-ward’ words), as well as reading it aloud to her husband and cats. And we STILL miss things.
As a writer of romance and mystery, to what extent do you think genre is useful in the publishing world?
I forget what exact percentage of books sold are romances, but it’s high, like over 40%. Women love to be whisked away by a wonderful man who can handle anything. I keep telling my husband he could learn a LOT by reading some of those romances, because once men realize what women are really looking for, they could be golden. He refuses. He reads one line, and breaks out laughing. Men don’t behave like that, he tells me. So I’m teaching him that romances ARE important. Now I just have to open his ears and eyes to believe it.
Many authors see marketing as a bind. What's your opinion on this, and how do you deal with it?
Marketing is really tough. I haven’t figured it all out yet, but I’m on twitter, Facebook, blogging, and even started an e-zine with contests to try to get my name out there. I’ve even put my books on great blogs, which did help. I wish there was one place where every reader checked to find books and my books were at the top all the time. But I dream. LOL!
What sort of displacement activities keep you from writing?
Kids. Family. Kids home all summer and bored. Kids learning to drive (yeah, I’m there with the last one right now). Do you see a pattern? LOL!!!
What support, if any, do you receive from family and friends, or a writing group?
I have a few close friends and my editing friend who are a wonderful support group. My family members don’t want to read my books, but just have their hands out for my royalties. I just laugh at them...we’ll see who gets the money. But my friends are my biggest support group. I used to be in writing groups, but many times, they’d get hung up on stupid things with their egos and jealousy, so I dropped out. My time is valuable, and they worried about the colour of drapes in their descriptions. Go figure.
Is presentation of the MS as important as agents and publishers suggest?
The manuscript for agents and publishers is different from indie manuscripts. With agents and publishers, every detail has to be perfect, or they throw it off their desk. But for indie publishing, just the companies who publish your book care (like Amazon and Barnes & Noble). It’s more important that you have a good cover and a title, plot, and characters. The cover and title are the ‘curb appeal’ just like in selling a home. The blurb is also important, because readers want to know how scary or fun the book’s going to be. And the plot and characters bring readers back. So it depends on whom you’re trying to impress.
How long does it take you to write a novel?
I’ve written a full-length novel in as little as a week, then taken another week or two to edit and fix it up. It depends on the story. If I know what I want to cover before I write, it’s quick. I can write between 10,000-12,000 words a day if inspired. I can also take a few days to think about it, and play computer games instead.
Who or what inspires your writing?
My writing comes from my head, which can be a really scary place to visit (tours start in two hours, if anyone’s interested). I write so I can make money to put my kids in college, so they can be independent and live on their own. I also write because I can’t NOT write. These characters just take over my thoughts a lot of the time, which can be really scary. When they start a meeting in my head without me knowing, along with a whiteboard and a conference room, then I know it’s time to pay them some attention.
If there’s a single aspect of writing you find frustrating, what is it?
Marketing. I’m just not good at it. I like to write, but telling others to buy my book is out of my realm. I also don’t like speaking in front of people, even though I used to teach high school math. I consider that part of marketing. I just like to write and wish someone else would do all the marketing/tough work.
Is there a particular feature of writing that you really enjoy?
Being creative on the pages. I love it when something works even if it’s way out there to most people. I also like doing research for different places, and most of the time, I create a town in the area so no one can get angry with me for never being there before.
Do you believe creative writing is a natural gift or an acquired skill?
Definitely an acquired skill. When I was in fourth grade, the teacher said I had no creativity and would never do anything with my life. I wish I could find that guy and let him have it. If someone has the determination to do something, they can do it, regardless of what some fourth grade teacher says, stifling that student for years.
What are you writing now?
I just published two books... ‘Ruled a Suicide’ and ‘Justiceman.’ My agent contract ends mid-September, then I have ideas on publishing the 40+ unpublished manuscripts on my computer. I also have ideas on writing more YA books, under yet a different pen name. So right now, I’m editing, writing in my head, and dealing with kids and their angst. I think I need a vacation...hmmm...the U.K. is sounding like a lot of fun right now. LOL!
Do you have a website or blog where readers can visit?
Yes. Everything is listed at http://www.markeeanderson.com and http://www.andiealexander.com. For Markee, I have a blog, an e-zine (online magazine), and I’m on twitter and Facebook. For Andie, I’m on twitter and Facebook. Eventually, I’ll have four pen names but that’s in the future.
Given unlimited resources, where would you do your writing?
I’d be in an office with floor-to-ceiling glass windowed walls, overlooking the beach. Can you imagine? There would be hot men in bathing suits walking the beach and winking at me all day long! Oh wait...don’t tell my husband. He’d want to watch the bikini-clad women I don’t like. Oh...I know...I’d make it a male-only beach just for my entertainment. :)
Where do you actually write?
You won’t believe this one. I write on my bed. It’s the ONLY place in my house that’s all mine and no one will touch. I sit with a backrest and have the TV on all day long so I don’t hear the house settling or the dog barking or our rabbit eating in his cage (a lion head rabbit with MAJOR attitude). Noises when I’m alone scare me, as does the news on TV, but I take the lesser of two evils—the TV. See why I want an office overlooking the beach?
Thank you SO much for this interview! I had a lot of fun! I wish you all the best in the U.K.!