Today, I'm happy to have Valerie Storm tell us about her journey to publishing her Demon Storm series and her new release THE STORM DARKENS. This interview was made possible by Bewitching Book Tours. Check out Valerie's interview, book details, and don't miss out on the giveaway!
Thank you Valarie for joining us today.
1. So, tell us about yourself and how you became a writer.
I’m Valerie Storm! I’ve been writing since I was about 10 years old. My stories started as video game fanfics, basically; I wrote a Kingdom Hearts-like story wherein my friends and I got sent to a fantasy world and received special swords (though ours were based on elements; mine was lightning). We would go on adventures fighting Big Bads from other video games.
Eventually, when I stepped into the world of anime and fell in love with Inuyasha, I wanted to write my own version of that. Kari became my stand-in for Inuyasha, and various other characters filled in the places. Over time her story has become more her own, but big Inuyasha fans would definitely see the similarities!
Basically, my journey started as a love letter to everything I enjoyed before tumbling into a whole-ass series of books!
2. Where did you get the idea for your book?
My Demon Storm series as a whole started from my love of Inuyasha. Specifically for The Storm Darkens, I was entranced by the many times (not only in Inuyasha, but other media) when the characters are thrown into a desperate situation. They have to choose to save their loved ones, and maybe have to make a great sacrifice to do so. Maybe their sacrifice isn’t even literal—maybe it’s giving into something dark and losing control.
I can’t recall the specific inspiration for The Storm Darkens, but that was its vibe: I wanted Kari to have no choice but to face her inner darkness. I wanted the antagonist, Raven, to be more than a mouthy thorn in her side. I needed the stakes to be higher, and I wanted Kari and Ari to break a little.
Your Writing Process
3. How long did it take you to write and edit your book?
I think I wrote the very first draft of The Storm Darkens (once called The Curse) when I was 12ish. It started as a very basic idea of a mysterious tree that would call Kari to it, then she would get ambushed by a servant of Raven and implanted with some type of “curse” that would enable Raven to control her actions at random. Over time I developed a LOT of those ideas: the tree became more prominent, the curse wasn’t a curse at all, but a way of Raven continuing her meddling from Storm & Shadow…so on, so on. I hit a hard spot in high school with The Storm Darkens and didn’t write for a long time. When I returned to it, and finally got the ideas down the way I wanted them to, years had passed.
All in all, I think writing AND editing The Storm Darkens took me more than ten years just by itself. This book was a tough one for me! But I’m very proud of where it’s gotten.
4. What were the challenges you faced in writing your book? How did you overcome it?
I mentioned my slump in high school that prevented me from continuing The Storm Darkens; that same slump stopped me from writing ANYTHING for years. Aside from editing troubles (finding good and trustworthy editors in the beginning and paying for them was a pain), this writing slump was my biggest challenge to date. I really lost myself (and Kari) in those years.
I wish I had some grand, exciting story about how it all came back to me. The simple truth is that I had nostalgia one day (probably led on by my brother, who had continued to write side stories for Kari and his character, Guine). I looked through some old art of Kari and Raven, and had my then-boyfriend redraw them. There was something majestic and powerful in seeing them come to life in new ways. I was excited. I wanted more from this again. And so, about ten years ago (and 4-5 years after my writing slump began), I returned to my stories.
Your Road to Publication
5. So are you Self-Published, Hybrid Published or Traditionally Published? Why did you choose this route of publication?
We call it Indie Published over here! I have an indie publishing house that “owns” the rights to my stories and does all the nitty-gritty for me. We split the costs, and everyone is happy. Shadow Spark Publishing has become such a huge part of my life, a real family. I originally wanted to go the traditional route before realizing what an utter trash heap and time dump it could be. My road was about to head to self-publishing, where you have to do all the work yourself (I shudder at the idea), before I saw Shadow Spark Publishing and thought “wow, just the name is so perfect for me.”
I found my way down indie publishing sort of by accident, but it has worked out perfectly. I love my Shadow Spark family, and I love where Kari’s story is going to go with them.
6. What tips, tricks, or secrets can you give a person about the type of publishing (self, hybrid, traditional) you did? For instance, for traditionally published, did you get an agent first or did you query the publisher directly?
Indie publishing is very different from traditional in that you don’t need an agent to get anywhere. You just wait for submissions to open and query the house!
I think my biggest tip to new writers looking for homes for their books is to Make Sure Your Book is Ready first. Even Birth of the Storm, my first book, needed a LOT of work before it was ready to be published by Shadow Spark. I learned things from them several other editors had never even mentioned to me! That’s my main takeaway to start: find lots of beta readers and editors, and get that Nailed Down.
The next is to find a home for YOU, not for the money or anything like that. You can try for traditional publishing, but know that it is going to take a VERY long time and you’re likely to make…not as much money as you’re hoping. I know the big dream is to get on NYT’s best seller list. I had that dream too. But it’s so hard and so contrived, I implore every writer to reach for a home for their book rather than the fame for the book.
7. How do you market your book? Did you have a marketing plan? If so, what is it?
Did you have a publicist? Tell us the route you took in marketing your book and series.
I am very, very fortunate in that my brother has been SO freaking supportive. He does all my marketing for me, basically. He did the research, found out what phrases/tags/ads work best, and runs the things. On the side, I might make a few choppy Canva images or videos and throw them on Tiktok or Twitter for fun, but all-in-all, I think I can contribute everything to my brother’s efforts.
In that vein, I don’t have any good advice. Do your research. Ask the questions. Other people will have awesome advice from what they’ve tried!
Just Wanting to Know…
8. I have several writers who follow my blog and are looking for inspiration and publication. What advice or inspiration could you give these writers?
Don’t give up. Seriously. Don’t give up. Even when some blowhead tells you your story isn’t worth it, keep trying. Keep working. I will gladly share my very early drafts of my stories to show people that growth takes time and effort! It isn’t an easy road, but you can do it. Find your love for your characters and your story and listen to them. Let them guide you, not the idea of fame and money. If you’re going to be in this writing thing, it has to be for your passion! So keep going.
The Storm Darkens Demon Storm
Book Three Valerie Storm
Genre: YA Fantasy Publisher: Shadow Spark Publishing Date of Publication: 04/13/2023 ISBN: 978-1-956883-09-1 ASIN: TBD Word Count: 92210 Cover Artist: Ginkahederling
Tagline: Ancient power wrapped in ancient secrets. The power to rend the world and save her loved ones, unless it devours her first. Book Description:
Evil never really dies. It rises, again and again. Now—Kari knows it’s rising inside her. After barely defeating wicked Shadow Witch Raven, the wolf-demon knows her turmoil is far from over when her vanquished foe invades her dreams. And a new power stirs within her: thanks to Raven’s cunning, Kari’s potential as the Catalyst has awoken. A conduit for a terrifying, world-cracking force—one that could open at any moment. Kari has resisted this new temptation thus far. But Raven again forces her hand, unleashing a demonic abomination to draw her prey out—a deadlier foe than any Kari has faced before. If she taps into this dark new power, she could become strong enough to defend the people she cares about. But the Catalyst has bloodthirsty designs of its own… If she submits, what new horrors will be inflicted on the world Kari’s come to love? And when the Catalyst is finished with her at last—what will be left of Kari?
Available on Amazon https://amzn.to/3Km8ldH
About the Author:
Valerie Storm was raised in Tucson, Arizona. Growing up, she fell in love with everything fantasy. When she wasn’t playing video games, she was writing. By age ten, she began to write her own stories as a way to escape reality. When these stories became a full-length series, she considered the path to sharing with other children and children-at/heart looking for a place to call home. Twitter https://twitter.com/valerie_storm
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