What is your name, where were you born and where do you live now?
First of all, thank you so much for questioning me here today. Let me grab a drink. Ah, much better! Mysti Parker is my pseudonym for this fantasy romance series. I was born in Somerset, KY as Misty Lynne Rigsby, named after a Ray Stevens song called “Misty”. I married my high school sweetheart, Bryan Baker in 1997. He, our three children, and I currently reside in Buckner, KY.
Did you always want to be a writer? If not what did you want to be?
I always loved writing, but never thought I’d do it for a living. My list of “want to be” changed from year to year, but usually involved something animal-related like zookeeper or vet.
When did you first consider yourself as a "writer"?
When I published my first novella in 2010, I thought I might have something there. It didn’t really sink in until the last year or so, when I began signing books and actually telling people I am a writer when they asked.
Did it take a long time to get your first book published?
Not really. I was lucky to find a small press who liked my work right off the bat. It took a year to actually write and edit each one, though.
Do you work another job as well as your writing work?
I’m a full time wife and mama of three kids. Two daughters, ages 10 and 7. And my little man, age 4. Best and hardest job in the world.
What is the name of your latest book, and if you had to summarize it in less than 20 words what would you say?
Serenya’s Song is a second chance love story, woven into a dark fantasy with elves, demons, and a portal to hell. How’s that?
Who is your publisher? Or do you self publish?
My publisher is a small press called Melange Books.
Do you have a "lucky charm" or "lucky routine" you follow when waiting for your book to be accepted by a publisher?
Not yet. I haven’t published novels anywhere else, though I’ve waited a long time for news on short stories. My only real “charm” is having patience; else I’d go nutsy with the waiting.
How long does it usually take you to write a book, from the original idea to finishing writing it?
So far, each of my two books has taken about a year from start to finish.
Which of your books were easier/harder to write than the others?
They were both challenging in different ways. I felt the first one flowed faster in terms of plot development, but with the second, I felt a little more confident with my writing skills overall.
What can we expect from you in the future? i.e. More books of the same genre? Books of a different genre?
I want to continue writing fantasy romance and other forms of romance, as it’s my favorite genre. But, I surrender to the writing bug’s direction!
Do you have plans for a new book? Is this book part of a series?
I’m working on Book Three of the Tallenmere fantasy romance series now, called Hearts in Exile. It’ll involve dragons. Nuff said.
What genre would you place your books into?
What made you decide to write that genre of book?
It all started with a little book and record set called “The Hobbit” when I was little. When I was older, I fell in love with “Jane Eyre”, and years after that, Orlando Bloom as Legolas in “The Lord of the Rings” trilogy inspired me to write about elves. You can see a little article I wrote about that here: http://blog.sarahmakela.com/2012/06/guest-author-mysti-parker.html
Do you have a favourite out of the books you have written? If so why is it your favourite?
I love them both, honestly. I don’t think I’ve written enough yet to choose favourites!
Do you have a favourite character from your books? And why are they your favourite?
That would have to be Lilly, or Lillyanne Sawyer, a halfling who’s a little spitfire. She appears in both A Ranger’s Tale and Serenya’s Song. Besides keeping Jayden (and everyone else) in line, she adds a good bit of comedic relief. You can catch a glimpse of her in this fun little character sketch here: http://triciakristufek.com/2012/06/25/blog-tour-serenyas-song/#comment-1924
If you had to choose to be one of your characters in your book/books which would you be? And why?
That’s hard, because they all have such huge challenges, I’m not sure I’d be up to the task. But it would be Caliphany if I had to choose. She’s a high-elf, bad-ass fire mage and ranger, and sexy as hell. Who wouldn’t want that?
Do you have a certain routine you have for writing? i.e. You listen to music, sit in a certain chair?
I have my own office in our basement. When I actually get REAL writing time, I love to sit down there with some hot coffee and listen to my “Natural Dreams” relaxation CD’s—groovy music mixed with sounds of nature.
Do you have anybody read your books and give you reviews before you officially release them? i.e. Your partner, children, friends, and reviewers you know?
My critique partners at Critique Circle—currently, Lindsey, Stef, Nick, & Goldie are the first to see my rough chapters. My husband, the lucky duck, is usually next to be
blessed with them. So far, I haven’t gotten any advanced reviews, but I did get
reviews much earlier this time around. I’ve learned a thing or two since Book
Do you gift books to readers to do reviews?
If I approach them to request a review, then yes, always.
Do you read all the reviews of your book/books?
Yes, I stalk Goodreads and Amazon religiously.
What was the toughest/best review you have ever had?
I’ve been lucky enough to not have any really scathing ones yet, but a few people just didn’t mesh with the stories, and that’s to be expected. My best review EVER came with pictures and animations. I was SO tickled with it. Here’s the link: http://www.goodreads.com/review/show/273058900
Would you ever ask a reviewer to change their review if it was not all positive about your book/books?
Oh gosh, no! I appreciate honest reviews and refuse to negatively engage with a reader. Recently, I’ve had a few writer friends, though, who’ve been the victims of review “trolls”. Terribly malicious reviewers that repeatedly give them one-star ratings and say nasty things about them. If I experience something like that, I’d have to approach the site administrator. I would still not approach the reviewer.
How do you come up with the Title and Cover Designs for your book/books? Who designed the Cover of your books?
Mae Powers with Melange Books designed the covers, but the titles are all mine.
Do you choose a title first, or write the book then choose the title?
So far, it’s been title first, but who knows what the future will bring?
How do you come up with characters names and place names in your books?
I try to base my names off the particular race of the characters. High elves, for instance, will have more formal sounding names, like Caliphany Aranea or Juliana Livendell. Wood elves’ names involve elements of nature, like Jayden Ravenwing, & Zephyrus and Shade Windsong. Half-elves have names that sound half-way human, as in Serenya Barnaby-Crowe or Galadin Trudeaux.
Place names are different. Sometimes they’re simply off the top of my head. And sometimes I use things like online city name generators. They’re really neat!
Are character names and place names decided after their creation? Or do you pick a character/place name and then invent them?
This is like a chicken/egg question! Usually the name comes first, and then I invent the character to match.
Do you decide on character traits (ie shy, quiet, tomboy girl) before writing the whole book or as you go along?
Yes, I have a general idea of what each character will be like before I write, yet sometimes they still surprise me with unexpected traits. For instance, I had no idea the meticulous, graceful, and articulate Jayden could be so clumsy until he “fell” for Serenya!
Do you basic plot/plan for your book, before you actually begin writing it out? Or do you let the writing flow and see where it takes the story?
A bit of both, actually. With the first, A Ranger’s Tale, I wrote it mostly by the seat of my pants. Serenya’s Song was a little more focused with loose outlines as I went along, and now for Book Three, I’m working with a pre-written outline, though it’s still fluid and subject to much change.
How do you market/promote your books?
That’s something I’m still learning to do effectively. I am learning that the best way to promote is to expand your reach via both online methods and in person. If no one knows who you are and can’t see your books, there’s very little chance of selling anything. Shouting out about your work on the same circles via Facebook and Twitter are less effective than branching out with blog tours and book signings or book fairs.
I expressed my discontent with social network marketing efforts via this guest blog entitled, ‘I Might as Well Go Stand on a Street Corner—The Lurid Business of Book Promotion.’
That article hit close to home for several writers, I think!
What do you think makes a book a really good/bestseller?
I think there are some tremendous books out there that never see bestseller status, and that’s not me tooting my own horn, either! I’ve read some fabulous books by indie authors who I think should be at the top of the list. However, I think the reasons are varied. It’s gotta be a damn good book, then there are good agents, luck with timing, & subject matter that’s relevant and popular. Books that don’t fit those criteria today might do so tomorrow. It’s a shaky business, for sure.
Have you ever suffered from a "writer's block"? What did you do to get past the "block"?
Oh yeah, and I usually just do one of the 5,000,000 chores that need doing, read a good book, or write some flash fiction til I feel inspired again.
Are there any hidden messages or morals contained in your books? (Morals as in like Aesops Fables type of "The moral of this story is..")
In A Ranger’s Tale, there were several themes, like following your heart, learning to trust in yourself and others, moving on with life after losing loved ones, and discovering that people aren’t what they seem (in both good and bad ways). In Serenya’s Song, I knew early on that I was developing a strong theme of a father’s unconditional love, particularly when the child isn’t his. I expressed this in my acknowledgements at the beginning of the book. All those themes were drawn from my own life experiences, and though difficult to write at times, I’m really glad I did.
Which format of book do you prefer, eBook, hardback, or paperback?
I love them all, but a book on my Kindle is awesome for traveling!
Do you think books transfer to movies well? Which is you favourite/worst book to movie transfer?
The Lord of the Rings trilogy was superb in movie form! I can’t think of any book to movie transfers that were terrible, but I do remember enjoying Stephen King’s “It” much better in TV movie form than the book. And that’s rare for one of his books!
What are you currently reading? Are you enjoying it? What format is it? (eBook, hardback or paperback)
I just finished a Kindle version of ‘Salem’s World’, a contemporary romance by my favorite Texas author, TD Jones. Loved it and here’s my review: http://www.goodreads.com/review/show/344682059
I’ve just started ‘School of the Ages #1: The Ghost in the Crystal’ by Matt Posner. It’s about a mixed-race teen who attends a magic school in NYC and promises to be completely UNLIKE that OTHER magic school across the pond.
Do you think ebooks will ever totally replace printed books?
I certainly hope not!
Do you think children at schools these days are encouraged enough to read? and/or do Imaginative writing?
I can’t speak for any other institutions, but at my girls’ elementary school, they highly encourage reading and writing. I’m very impressed with how much they do and the incentives they give them.
Did you read a lot at school and write lots of stories or is being a writer something newer in your life?
I read a lot of fiction as a child and teen. Wrote lots of poetry as a teen and young adult. Then, college, marriage, and kids came along, and I didn’t read or write for fun much at all until 2009, when the writing bug bit in hard!
Do you have a treasured book from your childhood? If yes, what is it?
That would have to be my book/record set of ‘The Hobbit’!
Do you have a favourite genre of book?
Romance, but I admire any well-written story that keeps me engaged.
Is there a book you know you will never read? Or one you tried to read but just couldn't finish?
I find it hard to say I’ll never read something. I’m not LIKELY to read the Twilight series or any of the other popular vampire things, just because I’m not into vampires and werewolves that much. But, I can’t say I’ll NEVER read them. Curiosity gets me every now and then. One book I did try to read in recent years and couldn’t finish was Johanna Lindsey’s ‘A Rogue of Her Own’. It was my first from that author, and I skimmed through most of it because the characters were so annoying. But again, I can’t say I’ll never read another Johanna Lindsey novel.
Are there any New Authors you are interested in for us to watch out for? And why should we watch out for them?
If I get started…coming at the end of July to Melange Books is a new paranormal YA novel by one of my critique partners, Stefanie J Pristavu. It’s called ‘Hunters’, and though it does involve vampires, I really am a fan of this story and I bet it’ll have a huge following!
Yet another critique partner extraordinaire just had her novel accepted. It’s another paranormal YA called ‘The Grave Winner’ by Lindsey R Loucks. I’ve never read anything like it before. I think it’s going to be a hit!
Is there anything in your book/books you would change now if you could and what would it be?
I could always go back and edit something. But, then I could spend a million years and never get it perfect, so no, I’d prefer to forge ahead and not look back.
What piece of advice would you give to a new writer?
Don’t write in a vacuum. Get into a critique group. Not only will you get valuable feedback, but you’ll learn a lot by analyzing other pieces too. Most of all, write, write, write! Try all sorts of things. Read a lot, too. Everything—good, bad, and ugly. And don’t give up.
Your Blog details? My blog is called Unwritten, and it’s a smattering of all things writer-related. Book reviews, interviews, contests, guest posts, giveaways, and whatever else I can think up. I guarantee you’ll find something useful if you drop in. http://mystiparker.blogspot.com/
Your Facebook page? https://www.facebook.com/pages/Mysti-Parker/103786449704221
Your Goodreads Author page? http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/4625596.Mysti_Parker
Your Twitter details? @MystiParker