Today we have an author who is dabbling in the new Kindle Vella pool - Val E. Lane! She's the creator of the Quiver of Vengeance, a serialized fantasy story. Betrayed by her village for her marks of magic, Caramyn survives as an outcast in the Shadow Woods of Evylere, ruthlessly playing vigilante to the criminal men who dare cross her path. When the fate of a mysterious prince intertwines with hers, she learns there is more at stake she ever realized. She doesn't trust him, but unraveling his dark secrets may just uncover her own.
Let's hear more from Val!
When did you first realize you wanted to be a writer? In elementary school, about 4th or 5th grade. I fell in love with the Little House on the Prairie books and originally wanted to write historical fiction. I wrote so much as a kid, and I still have each journal that I filled with my countless ideas growing up. I think the desire to dabble in historical fiction is still there, but in early high school my interest shifted to fantasy and paranormal genres. What is your work schedule like when you’re writing? I think best in the morning, but oddly enough, sometimes late night inspiration hits and I’ll stay up way past my usual bed time (11:30 PM). Right now I reserve the early mornings for working on my novel and social media marketing, and then in the evenings I usually work on my Kindle Vella episodes. I am also beta reading for a fellow author right now, so at some point during the day I set aside time to make notes as I read through her manuscript. I’m a teacher, so balancing the time before and after school is crucial to being a productive writer. When did you write your first book and how old were you? I actually wrote tons of books in middle and high school, but nothing ever came of those. When I was 15, I was determined to publish a fantasy novel I worked on for over a year, but I had no idea how the process worked. Neither of my parents were writers, so when my mom heard of a vanity publishing company, she thought it was was a legitimate way to get my work out there and kind of took it into her hands. It did not turn out at all the way I had hoped. I ended up with virtually no editing, a terrible cover, no marketing assistance, and the worst part is that we paid them for that. My mom meant the best, but I wish I could go back in time and change that. I hope to rewrite that book someday with a more mature perspective and a better fleshed out plot. What do you like to do when you’re not writing? I love being outdoors, especially riding my horse or taking care of my chickens. My rooster, Rocket, never fails to make sure I’m up bright and early to write. Do you have any suggestions to help someone become a better writer? If so, what are they? I think it’s important to NEVER stop. I unintentionally took the longest break from writing during college and the first few years in my career as a teacher. I always missed it, but I kept telling myself that part of my life was over, and that I would never have time. Then something sparked in me this year and I’ve been fired up about it ever since, making time to write nearly every day. I also encourage writers to make sure they are also reading. You can’t produce quality output if you’re never exposing yourself to quality input. What do you think makes a good story? For me, characters that readers can connect with make all the difference. If I don’t feel something for the character—whether I love them or hate them—I can’t care about their story. Beyond that, I love a good story that constantly keeps the reader guessing, and a plot that’s clear. Does writing energize or exhaust you? It energizes me, for sure. I am naturally an extrovert. I can talk forever (my hubby can attest to that). So I think writing forces me to switch gears and just be quiet and introspective. It’s a time to get inside my head and recharge by letting my imagination run wild. In fact, it’s one of the only things I can seem to stay up late for.
Does a big ego help or hurt writers? I think it can do both, so you have to find a balance. On one hand, being too cocky is a huge downfall if you aren’t willing to listen to criticism and acknowledge when your work needs refinement. But on the other hand, I think many writers tend to suffer from Imposter Syndrome, and that’s where it’s okay to combat that by boosting your ego so that you don’t let it stop you. You have to remember that your work is valuable, and the story in your head needs to be told, and no one can tell it but you. Confidence is a factor of success, in my opinion. Did you ever consider writing under a pseudonym? I actually decided to take on a pen name since I’ve returned to writing. Anything published by me from this year on will be published under the name Val E. Lane, and there is a meaning behind it. I’m half Puerto Rican, and my maiden name is Vallellanes, which I love. Although it’s pronounced quite differently in Spanish, most people just tried to sound it out the way it looks—Val-ee-lanes. And I realized that mispronunciation actually makes the perfect pen name, while still allowing me to use it as a talking point for my Latina heritage.
Do you try more to be original or to deliver to readers what they want? At one point I was really concerned that my stories had to have a 100% original, unique plot before anyone would want to read them. Then one day I was in a writers’ group where someone said that knowing there’s already a market for your plot/trope/scheme can be a very comforting thing. And that changed my perspective a bit. Eliot was on to something when he said, “good writers borrow, great writers steal.” Take that how you will. At the same time, I don’t think any two writers can tell the same story the same way, and that’s what keeps things interesting. So, I wouldn’t say I specifically write to market at all, but I no longer let it bother me if there are stories similar to mine. I see it as a good thing, knowing if readers already enjoy those, they will probably like mine too. However, I want to be clear that I don’t write genres or tropes I’m not interested in with the sole intent to appeal to readers. I write what I would want to read. How did publishing your first book change your process of writing? I think I sort of answered this question when I talked about vanity publishing my book at 15. I really don’t feel like I had a say in how that happened. My mom was approached by the company and saw it as a way to get her teen daughter published, but it was anything but. I was a total panster with that book, never really plotting anything out ahead of time. I would just sit down and write. So when it went through “editing” with the company, I never got any real feedback on plot inconsistencies, which I’m sure were there, or anything else for that matter. So my next go around, I’ve realized the importance of critique partners, beta reading, legitimate editing services, and overall good word crafting. I’d also say I’m much more of a detailed plotter now. I’ve got more outlines than I can count. Though I’ve considered going the route of traditional publishing, I have learned a lot about self-publishing and I like the control that comes with it, so that’s the plan for my next book. As a writer, what would you choose as your mascot/avatar/spirit animal? This is incredibly cliché, but I’m going to go with a phoenix. For years I let myself believe that I was never going to be able to make room for writing again, but one small spark and the gift of an iPad with a keyboard was all it took to resurrect my lifelong passion from the ashes. What does literary success look like to you? Enjoying the process and having readers—whether its 10 or 10,000—who truly want to read your work. I’d be lying if I said I didn’t dream of quitting my day job and becoming a best-selling author. Who doesn’t? But at the end of the day, if I sell a few copies and know there are people out there truly enjoying my work, that’s enough for me. What do you have coming next? I am so excited about my upcoming YA Urban Fantasy novel, High Tide, which will be the first in its series. I am aiming for an early Summer 2022 launch. Working Blurb: Set in St. Augustine, FL, the story centers around Katrina, a troubled college freshman at an art school who becomes entangled in a mermaid’s curse on a ghostly pirate crew from the past. Now being hunted by the crew’s ruthless captain for the mermaid scale in her possession, she is in a race against time to break their curse. But first, she must shatter her own generational curses, which will mean unraveling the truth about her heritage and reconnecting with the alcoholic mother she resents. All the while, trying not to fall in love with either of the two alluring young pirates vying for her allegiance. Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/author.valelane/
TikTok: @val_e.lane.books Kindle Vella Link: https://www.amazon.com/kindle-vella/story/B09MVSFN83
Excerpt from Quiver of Vengeance:
“Dear fates, I hope you can ride better than you can walk right now.” The chagrin in the prince's voice was clear as he hoisted her up onto the horse with one swift movement. She shuddered. That was the first time someone had touched her so closely in years. The thought of it made her recoil and flush with emotion all at the same time. But she shook it off at the realization that she was now atop a horse. These halfwits couldn’t have made it any easier for her to make her escape later. “What is your name?” Asterious looked up at her through a gaze of ice. She thought for a moment. She could give him a false name. But would it really matter? She was long forgotten by the only people that ever knew of her name. She was born in hiding from the world—a “disgrace,” an “abomination,” the village called her. So her name would hold no significance to a stranger. Straightening her spine in the saddle, she focused on the space between her horse’s ears, refusing to meet the prince’s eye. “Caramyn."