It's PI day!
Did you remember it?
Well, it's not too lat to celebrate it!
Here, we're going to celebrate with an interview. Today we have Naomi Ault dropping in on us.
Naomi Ault is a new author with two titles available on Amazon’s newest platform, Kindle Vella. Her serial horror fiction Chew has been a Top Fave on Kindle Vella since October of 2021. The Season One eBook and paperback edition of Chew will be available at all major booksellers on May 7th, 2022.
Naomi lives in Northeast Ohio with her husband, two children, and border collie. For more information about Naomi and where to find her on social media please visit: https://linktr.ee/NaomiAult
What would you say is your interesting writing quirk?
I don’t know if it’s interesting or quirky, but I always read my dialogue out loud and I’ll edit it over and over until it hits my ears exactly the way I want it to.
When did you write your first book and how old were you?
Chew is the first book I’ve tried to publish, and it comes out in eBook and paperback on May 7th of this year, which is my fiftieth birthday. I’m really looking forward to holding that proof copy in my hands.
What do you like to do when you’re not writing?
In the summer I keep a vegetable garden, and in the fall my husband and I enjoy hiking. There are a lot of great trails in driving distance of where we live, and we are still crossing new ones off our list. I also love photography, so I usually bring a camera along everywhere we go.
What was one of the most surprising things you learned in creating your books?
I had no idea how much time I’d spend not writing. Social media, newsletters, accounting, research, self-education, and graphic/web design are things that I had no idea would be vying for so much of my attention every day.
Do you hear from your readers much? What kinds of things do they say?
I do! They reach out on social media channels and it’s awesome. Most often, they let me know they’re reading the story and they’re enjoying it. It always makes me feel good that they went to the trouble to contact me and tell me how much they like the story.
What is the first book that made you cry?
Bambi, for sure. It was one of those Little Golden Books. I was pretty young, probably three or four years old, and I still remember that. As an adult, I don’t really like to read books or watch movies that are likely to make me cry. There are a lot of good books with sad endings that I’m missing out on, and it’s probably all Bambi’s fault.
What are common traps for aspiring writers?
I’m still new at this so I stay away from writing advice. But I feel like I can speak to this: in the beginning I felt like I had to utilize all the marketing advice that I was given. So, at first, I was really stressing out about building a platform and opening an account with every social media channel in existence and being great at everything. And oh my gosh, how will I afford to run ads?
It turns out that you don’t have to be great at everything, and you don’t need to be on every social media platform. Pick what you like and what you’re good at and focus on that. If you suck at tweeting, then it’s okay to ditch Twitter and focus on newsletters instead. And definitely don’t think about ads yet. That’s about the last thing to worry about.
Does a big ego help or hurt writers?
It probably helps with marketing, but I can’t see it being an asset to writing. How could grow if you didn’t think you needed to?
Do you try more to be original or to deliver to readers what they want?
I don’t know if readers wanted cured zombie POV fiction, but that’s what I gave them. So, I guess I’m on the side of being original, but also, I think I try to deliver what they need—not necessarily what they want.
What other authors are you friends with, and how do they help you become a better writer?
Early on, I lucked into joining a fantasy critique group. After that, I started up a marketing group for horror authors who are publishing on Kindle Vella, and recently opened a multi-genre Instagram group for Kindle Vella authors as well. To answer the question, yes, I have a lot of author friends—too many to name in this space—and they’ve all contributed in making me a better writer and self-publisher.
Do you want each book to stand on its own, or are you building a body of work with connections
between each book?
Chew is about cured zombies trying to reintegrate back into society. It started as short story, but even as I was writing, I could see so many other stories that could told in that universe. I’m planning eight seasons of Chew, not counting any side stories that are on the way.
For Discarded Objects of the Apocalypse, it’s definitely a long series, although I actually don’t have a set number in mind yet.
For both of them, I’ve wrote the endings right after I wrote the beginnings, so it’s really just all about how long it takes to get there.
How did publishing your first book change your process of writing?
I started publishing serial fiction to Kindle Vella in July of 2020, which is when the platform launched. Writing serials is so fast paced, and surprisingly stressful because if you say that you’ll update twice a week, then you’re on the hook to deliver that. It made me a faster and more disciplined writer. I had to learn how to write even when I didn’t feel like it. That’s definitely an education worth having.
What was the best money you ever spent as a writer?
Scrivener! It frustrated me at first when I was trying to learn how to use it, and I’m sure I’m probably not utilizing everything it’s capable of, but it’s a game changer. I love writing in it, and it’s helped me keep track of my series.
What did you do with your first advance?
I spent my first Vella bonus on editing, and I spent my second one on advertising.
What’s the best way to market your books?
Magic. Hear me out. Everyone talks about title, cover, and description, and I don’t want to understate their importance, but the very best marketing is word of mouth. If you can get people to tell their friends about your books, you’re golden. Just as an example, I had a friend tell me yesterday she had just finished a book that she really enjoyed. I looked it up and bought it right then. I didn’t look at the cover or read the description. I just bought it. That’s magic. Word of mouth is magic.
What do you have coming next?
I’m writing and releasing the third season of Chew to Kindle Vella right now, and I’ll be publishing those seasons as traditional books every three months starting this May. I’m also writing and releasing my fantasy serial Discarded Objects of the Apocalypse, and I’d like to start releasing those as books late this year.
I have an unreleased short story called Make Me a Dragon which is a mash up of Norwegian Apocalyptic Mythology and Appalachian Folklore. It’s going to be a prequel to a series I’m plotting out now. The short story will be a magnet, but I haven’t decided how I’m releasing the series yet. It could be a serial, or traditional books. Kindle Vella is still really new and in beta, so I try to keep my options and my plans fluid where that platform is concerned.
Chew Story Description:
"Where were you when you turned?"
The Wormwood Prion infected millions with an irresistible need to chew, demonstrating a distinct preference for human flesh. Allison Rose is lucky. She's one of the fortunate few to wake up in a Recovery Center; cured, but with a head full of monstrous memories intact. Teaming up with the enigmatic Will Taylor, they discover the cure isn't the end of their nightmare, it's just the beginning.
Excerpt from Chew (Note: My first episode is a stand alone short story and is available as a free download here: https://dl.bookfunnel.com/fgbdhfymbu)
The first thing you remember is the pain—every nerve in your body exploding all at once. The second thing you remember is your mother. She looked at you in a way she never had before, terrified and pushing you away from her. You grabbed her to hold on to because—Mom, I’m scared—but when you opened your mouth to speak, you bit her. And then you kept biting her. You remember the taste of her blood. The texture of her flesh. The mouthfeel of the two together.
You vomited a lot in the beginning. That’s normal in Recovery, they say.
Discarded Objects of the Apocalypse Story Description:
Everything Alice Kane believed about her happy life was a lie.
Accused of crimes she can't remember, Alice is on the run in search of her missing husband, but what she finds is a hidden world of angels, monsters, and magic. To make matters worse, everyone she meets there seems to want her dead. Now she must race to untangle the mystery of who she really is before someone or something collects on a blood debt—one that is long overdue.
Excerpt from Discarded Objects of the Apocalypse: Season One – Alice Kane Must Die
Alice was beginning to get very tired of sitting still and of having nothing to do—held against her will in a room with no windows. When she had arrived, they issued her a light- blue hospital gown to wear, which harbored the faint smell of laundering chemicals. Black socks covered her feet, and her legs were bare. It was her fifth windowless room that week. Alice missed seeing the sky, and she lamented that she had previously taken windows for granted.
Seated across from her was Dr. Shue. A plastic badge on her white lab coat displayed her name, and a title declared her expertise with the mentally ill. She wore her least favorite blouse in anticipation of Alice’s session. Nervous fingers played at a small silver crucifix around her neck. If the doctor had known she had less than twenty-four hours to live, she might not have turned up to work at all. She might have gone to a park or maybe stayed home in the company of her cats. She definitely would have taken up smoking again.
Padded restraints kept Alice’s wrists secured to the chair; the white straight jacket from the morning replaced with heavy medication, distributed via an IV drip which floated somewhere above her head. Dr. Shue instructed two orderlies to wait just outside her office door, on the off chance that Alice attempted another daring crusade for freedom.
“Do you feel like talking today, Alice?”