Thursday Focus: "Bone Dressing," by Michelle I. Brooks~
Bone Dressing is a .99 cent title!
TRB: Michelle, you have an interesting background and are highly educated as well, what made you choose to go Indie? What is your advice to other authors that don’t wish to go the “legacy publishing” route?
MIB: It would be nice to pretend otherwise, however I tend to be honest to a fault. My “choosing” the Indie route was due primarily to two factors: 1. I simply couldn’t find an agent on the face of the planet to represent me and/or Bone Dressing. 2. At exactly the right time, my Aunt Dianne forwarded an article to me about Amanda Hocking and her success in the Indie publishing route.
As for advice to authors, I don’t necessarily feel qualified at this point of advising anyone to do anything other than what I have been truly successful at … namely, breathing oxygen in, carbon dioxide out, rinse and repeat. After that, follow your heart in most everything.
TRB: Where did you get your idea(s) for your novel, Bone Dressing?
MIB: The central theme for Bone Dressing came from a dream in the middle of one very stormy night while I was spending a month bedridden from a serious injury. The details followed thereafter. I am a scientist by trade, so research, research, research, is the name of the game.
TRB: What type/style of a writer are you? Seat-of-Your Pants? Outline Queen? Master Plotter?
MIB: Great question! I outline, then I plot, then I write … And when I write, everything else takes a backseat to where the characters take us. So I guess I’m an outlining, plotting, seat-of-my pants writer!
TRB: Did you model any characters after real-life people? Is there a character that resonates with you?
MIB:Well, yes and no. Syd is me in my most base form. The other characters are really other sides of me - ones that help Syd find herself. The peripheral characters in the story often remind me of certain people in my life, but what I’ve come to realize in writing Bone Dressing, is that even the “side guys” and the “bad guys” are really just parts of me in disguise. I think we all have it all inside of us … the good, the bad, the “I’ll think about it another day” …
TRB: What do you want for readers to experience by reading your novel?
MIB: Best question ever! I want readers to judge away … at the beginning. Judge Syd, judge her choices, judge her decisions, judge everything ... Then I want them to stop and think about those judgments they so quickly made. Perhaps, just perhaps, this life we’re living is about something more … maybe it’s about just living this moment, loving it, to the absolute best of our ability.
I like to tell my kids that life is essentially simple. Look at everything as if you lived in the year 0 A.D. No electricity, no public school system, no running water. What would be important? People tend to try to make life complicated, but it’s not. Not really. It’s pretty simple. Love. Be lovable. Enjoy. Be someone to be enjoyed. Make the world a better place because you are a part of it. That’s a hard thing to pull off if you spend every minute of the day judging others, regretting decisions, worrying about tomorrow, or the next day, or the one after that …
TRB: Is there a playlist that you listen to that inspires you while you’re writing?
MIB: God, yes! I’m trying to find the time to link a list to my website, but it includes a wide range of music … just about everything but bluegrass, no offense to our neighboring Arkansas natives, it’s just not normally my thing. Although, I must say, there were a few songs in “Oh, Brother Where For Art Thou” that I truly enjoyed. Keep checking the website for a full list, but it includes everything from Evanescence and Godsmack to Brio and B-Tribe.
TRB: Who is your favorite author? Is there a certain genre you read [in] exclusively?
MIB: Hmm, my favorite author … Well, I went to Poe Elementary, as did my kids. So, Edgar Allen Poe is a big one, as are William Shakespeare (been to his house, and The Rose and The Globe), J.R.R. Tolkien (can recite the Hobbit word-for word, for that matter, I’m pretty good at regurgitating Poe and Shakespeare, as well), J.K. Rowling, J.M. Barrie, Laurell K. Hamilton, Charlaine Harris (whom I have seen in person at a book signing at the library downtown), and about a thousand others. I can remember buying V.C. Andrews’ Flowers in the Attic the day it came out … I was in junior high at the time.
These days I look for others on their days of release, but my kids and I have pictures at Border’s of the last Harry Potter book release party … it was beyond anything I could have imagined! Hagrid even stepped on my toe, and I could have sworn I heard Hermoine giggle in the background!
I love poetry in music as well for that matter, the Eagles, Aerosmith, Matt Nathanson, Jim Morrison, Louis Armstrong … and poetry in and of itself, Eugene Field, Ernest Thayer, Robert Frost … Words are a big part of life in our house, my kids can even spew lines from many of these – the serious, the funny, music, movies, singing and reading are big for us.
As a matter of fact, my great grandmother, Mimi (not a nickname), was a real hot number in her time down in Columbus, Mississippi. Well, a certain William Faulkner certainly thought so. He had a huge crush on her, even wrote her a poem on a dinner napkin, along with a few love letters. Mimi was not the least bit impressed though, and promptly threw them all away. Later, whenever anyone would ask her about him, she would simply say in her soft Southern drawl, “Oh, that Bill is just such a jerk!” So, while writing may not be in my blood, it’s at least in my genetic garbage can!
TRB: Are you a DTB (Dead Tree Book) reader, or do you use a dedicated reader? What do you predict for the future of these two formats?
MIB: Up until the time Bone Dressing was published, I have to say I was quite definitively a Dead Tree Book reader, although I must admit I've never heard it phrased quite that way before. Sounds terrible!
I didn’t really feel terrible, and of course, I certainly don’t think badly of people who still prefer books. My house is filled with them. To get lost in the pages of a book is a moving experience. There is something about how a book feels, in my hands, how the pages turn, the hardness of the cover when you read the softer parts.
So, when my brand-spanking new husband bought me a Kindle so I could see what Bone Dressing looked like on it, I thought, “Oh, well isn’t that nice.” And he quickly took the Kindle over. Then I started to notice how easily he could mark sections he wanted to share with me, or that he found interesting or profound. He could read anytime, anywhere (with the cover’s built-in light). It would even give him the definition to words, keep his place, and never get crinkled pages or a torn cover. Then, perhaps the best part, he started ordering more e-books, at a fraction of the cost, with no felling of a single tree … and still, all he carried around was the one Kindle with not a single bookmark or sticky note hanging out.
So, now he’s gotten me another Kindle, one that I’ll be keeping. I think e-readers will eventually be the primary format for publishers and readers alike. Not this day, but one day. Authors make substantially more in profits, environmentally they are magnificent, and for true book-o-holics, they are a dream come true. I’m even considering using e-publishing as the sole platform for my books down the road, not the next one, but sometime …
TRB: Is there a plan for a sequel to Bone Dressing? Is so, when do you expect to have that ready for publishing and what are a few things the reader can expect from book two?
MIB: Definitely! Syd and Beau and the gang are literally clawing their way out of my head day and night! I hope to have the next book in the Bone Dressing series out by December of this year, with seven books in total. Then Syd’s story will be done and hopefully I’ll have another story banging around inside me.
As for what to expect in book two … Wow, how to answer without answering?! I can tell you Syd and Beau will be traveling to Australia by boat. I can tell you there will be love and laughter, a sprinkle of magic, some tears, and, of course, those big, bad fears …
At the end of the day? It will be another step towards Syd’s ultimate destination, a journey unlike any other, a journey unlike that in the first book, or those yet to come in the final books. There will be more details about Syd and company, and some questions will be answered … others won’t. Then, there will also be brand new questions left dangling for you to chew on. There are things in the first book that won’t, and can’t, be answered until the end of the last book of the series. Wish I could tell you more, but that will have to suffice for now ...
TRB: Who was responsible for your eBook cover art?
MIB: I had an idea of what I always wanted on the cover, every day I sat writing away. What you see is exactly that. Having said that, my husband and my daughter both played a role, as did Emlyn Chand (our Novel Publicity liaison) and Lee Libro (the actual cover artist) over at Novel Publicity. They were absolutely amazing. Emlyn is a bonafide mind reader, and Lee has to be the most dedicated artist on the planet. Big thanks for their patience and ability! Wouldn’t change a thing.
Michelle was born in the pre-dawn hours of a crisp February morning in 1966 in a little one-bedroom apartment behind the Alabama Theater in Montrose in the heart of Houston. She first saw the world as Brian Westworth Brooks until her grandmother informed Michelle’s mother that the number of protruding body parts had been drastically miscalculated, that her grandchild was a she, not a he. As it turned out, Michelle’s mother had been much too busy counting fingers and toes to bother with other jiggly bits. So, Brian Westworth became Wendy Lynn, another fine name which served Michelle well for all of two days. Upon signing the birth certificate, Michelle’s father surreptitiously changed her name one last time, ultimately introducing the world to Michelle Irene Brooks, one little girl big enough to have already lived the lives of three.
While being totally Texan and living in or near Montrose the majority of her life, Michelle has traveled the world and lived a life rich with love, laughter, heartache and adventure. She came into the world seeing it through different eyes and carries with her to this day a rich, unique perspective of the life breathing all around her and within her.
Connect with Michelle~
I've had a great time hosting Michelle today...an author with brains that's a straight-shooter; terrific combo! Thanks Michelle!