Ellise Weaver is one tough lady: five years ago, after a bout of breast cancer, she found her calling as a writer. Since then, she’s been telling stories about love set in the Victorian age, some of which she recently self-published. We’re catching up with the Idaho writer to see how the whole process has been going–how she’s written and marketed her books–as well as what she has in the works for the future.
NG: It’s very nice to have you on Book Country, Ellise! What have you been up to lately–both writing-wise and life-wise?
EW: In three months, I published three volumes of my book, THE GOVERNESS. Agonizing and intense as it was, it was also liberating and invigorating. I had set a goal to have the entire book published by the end of summer 2013. In order to accomplish this goal, I split the book into three volumes and tackled one per month.
Life has become rather busy with family and their needs, especially since my husband’s heart attack in August. He’s doing well, but it’s put a stop to any writing for right now. I’m still planning on releasing PIRATE BRIDE next spring.
NG: The books on Book Country are all part of the The Huntington Saga series. Can you tell us more about the overarching theme of the series and what went into planning and writing these historical romances?
EW: Romance is my first love, and mystery/suspense is my second. Combined, these are my favorite kind of reads. And that is what I have tried to write. These are four stories surrounding one family, but I’ve tried to create four very different novels altogether. Each story has a new couple that struggle to find love through hardship, fear, and overcoming great trials.
NG: As I was reading THE GOVERNESS, the first book in the series, I couldn’t help but notice the influence Jane Austen has had on your prose. Can you speak to your writing style and the strategies you’ve used to imitate the language of nineteenth-century England?
EW: What a compliment. Thank you! I find stories with English aristocracy mingling with the common folk an interesting mix in story form; whether in a book or a movie—it’s all great fun for me. Romance writers make that age a great romantic escape. It has grown my imagination well over the years, so when I write, I hear the dialogue or see the action taking place in my head as if a movie screen was playing. That is how I write. I have no writing degree, just my own imagination and flavor. And, very often, I read my work out loud to myself to double check the sound of it. This strategy has worked for me so far.
NG: Carly is a heroine full of exuberance who tends to speak her mind, sometimes to her detriment! How did her character take shape? What do you love most about her?
EW: Carly became stronger as I wrote her. It took many a draft to get her right. In my original draft, she was much quieter, but as she was exposed to life, she became a stronger personality, much like a real live person. She does speak her mind more forthrightly than a governess might have in the Victorian Era; however, I’m delighted with her spunk. It makes for some trouble, and that makes The Governess a fun adventure to read.
NG: What is it about this period in British history that calls to you as a storyteller? Why do you write historical romance—and not contemporary or paranormal?
EW: Because English romance was introduced to me as a teenager, I checked out a ton of reading material during those years. It was a new world I was discovering and loved. I enjoyed the fancy dresses, the dinner parties, balls, and the whole falling in love kind of story. I discovered, too, that I loved any time period, whether historical or contemporary.
NG: You have a lot of positive reviews on Book Country and retailers’ sites. People love your books! What strategies have you used to promote and help people discover your work?
EW: Honestly, I had nothing but a manuscript and loving support from family and friends. What else do you need? Well, in all my research, I found that I did need some things, mainly money. But I didn’t have that resource. So, I opted for a website instead. Readers need a place to connect with authors. Because I had no money to dump into this dream of mine with spectacular cover artists and flawless editing by editors, I did my best with those very important issues and then turned to resources that were available for free. Weebly.com is a free website builder that I used to create my website. Blogger, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and on and on are free websites that attracted me so that I could build exposure for me and my work. Even Book Country started out for me as a venture to get exposure. I have personally found that the more active I am on my blog, Facebook, Twitter, and other author or social websites, the more interest toward my product I am able to build up.
NG: What is something you wish you had known about the publishing process? Please SHARE with the Book Country members who want to follow in your footsteps!
EW: It’s really just been a learning process that one has to go through to understand. I would have liked to know more about setting up my Word documents for publishing before I started writing, but I know that now and can work on that from here on out. No problem. The self-publishing route, I think, has been mapped out for us to follow pretty well. However, it can be a grueling process. Even just setting up documents in CreateSpace took a long time before I felt completely satisfied with the product I was putting out there. We have to remember that this product has to be as professional as possible or word gets out quickly that it’s not. I’m continually striving to put out the best product possible, so updates occur if I spot something wrong or if someone points something out that I agree with.
NG: Why are you on Book Country?
EW: I found out about Book Country when another writing community I belonged to called Authonomy sent out a survey asking its members about different writing communities. I’d never heard of Book Country before that. Since I was curious, I visited here and ended up creating a profile. The more the merrier, I figured! Exposure is exposure. I found that the quality of the writing on Book Country was very good, and I wanted to be a part of it. I’m glad I have.
NG: What is something fun that we don’t know about you that’s completely unrelated to writing?
EW: I’m a tattooed lady! Haha…actually, I have six little tiny, miniscule tattoos that were given me when I had to undergo radiation treatments. I like to joke about that. Gotta stay positive!