Thursday, August 16, 2012

Please Welcome M. Edward McNally!

Hi Ed,
Thank you so much for joining me on my blog so we can learn about you and how you got into writing, and everything or anything else you would like your readers to know about you.  Before we get started, would you like to give us a quick list of all your books available for purchase and where we might find them?

Ed: Hi, Jacqueline, thanks for having me. J
Please, call me Jacque or Jac; Jacqueline is so formal and takes too long to type.

Alright, Jac

Let’s see, my main books at this point are an Epic, “Musket & Magic” Fantasy starring a feisty Island Guilder named Tilda Lanai. The series is called The Norothian Cycle, and the first book of four (so far) is called The Sable City. That first one is just on Amazon at the moment, though all will be back on all venues after August (the last free run for it on kindle is August 24th to 26th).

Also, I have a number of short story collections available (mostly “contemporary” pieces), either on my own or as anthologies with some pals. Those are the four volumes of Eddie’s Shorts, plus the Halloween, Holiday, Celtic, and Pride Collections put out by The Eclective. Most of those collections are available for free somewhere (or will be), either directly on Amazon or Barnes & Noble, or always on Smashwords.

I loved reading our Eddie’s Shorts.  They were very good short stories.  I need to see if I can write something shorter than 80k words; it’s hard because I tend to talk a lot.  I have not heard of The Eclective.  Can you explain to me what it is?

Ed: Sure, the Eclective is a group of writers working in a number of different genres, who put out short-story collections built around a theme, or at least a holiday, but which leave everybody free to write their own kind of story, be it Sci Fi or YA or Romance or Fantasy or whatever. They are all free on Amazon or elsewhere (or will be as soon as we can make them so).

When did you first start writing? Or how did you get into writing; was it something you have always wanted to do?

Ed: It goes all the way back for me, I think I started writing stories about five penguins (yes, penguins) who worked as private investigators (yes, private investigators) when I was still in grade school. Around 3rd Grade I had a poem for a class assignment published in the local paper (Kansas City Star), and seeing my name in print like that first hooked me seriously. It was the first time I realized that writers were real, live people, as opposed to magical names on the front of the books I loved.

I think I would like your story about penguins.  I like penguins, they’re so cute.  I can remember writing songs when I was a teenager and singing them to myself, but I never took that writing seriously.  Seeing your name in print must have really felt wonderful and that you were someone in 3rd grade.  

When did you publish your first book?

Ed: I put The Sable City out as an “Indie” in March of 2011, after having spent the decade before that not writing, in favor of having one of those “real lives.” Turned out that wasn’t for me. ;-)

Prior to that, I had a number of short stories published in various and sundry small Lit Journals throughout the 1990s.

I think you and I published our books at the same time and that was probably about the time we met online in all the facebook writing groups, which it has been a pleasure to get to know you and go through this publishing cycle with you.  I know how life can get in the way of things we really like to do; I was there going through the same thing.

Do you have your books in print as well as in ebook format?

Ed: Actually I don’t, though I keep meaning to do that. My concentration (such as it is) has really been on the digital format over the last year and a half; that is where I spend my limited marketing time and energy. 

Really, I think you are missing out on print sales, myself.   I have sold more in print than ebooks.  Is there a Hastings store near you?  They sell our books there and welcome book signings. I will be doing a blog post about it, so stay tuned.

Now, how do you feel about the formatting process with print and/or ebook?  Do you do your own and if not, how do you get help for this to be accomplished?

Ed: I started out doing them myself, until finding a good formatter who is worth her weight in gold and has been invaluable in letting me get maps and such into the books. Unless a writer is really computer-competent and comfortable doing everything themself across all the various platforms, I highly recommend paying a good formatter. 

I agree with you, but I still do my own formatting.  It has been pretty easy for me and until someone tells me my books are wacky and totally look off, I guess I will continue to do my own formatting; it’s another expense I can’t afford now that I quit my full time job.

Did you use some kind of mapping software to make the maps for your book?

Ed: I have not, as all my maps were originally done by hand over the course of “building” the world that constitutes my setting, which was a process that took…oh, about ten years. What can I tell you, it was a hobby cheaper than cable. ;-)

What I do now is scan the maps in and just use the old stand-by “Paint” to clean them up, replacing hand-drawn mountain ranges and forests with symbols, written names with text, etc. There is a lot of great mapping software out there, but for me I’d have to almost start over from scratch to make use of it.

Do you have any advice for a person wanting to get their book(s) published?

Ed: You mean to get their book published by a “real” publisher? Not really, other than to recommend if that is the way a writer wants to go, I think they should have a realistic idea of what it is actually like to work in a “traditional” publishing environment. It is not a pot of gold at the end of a rainbow, it is no guarantee of having a day-to-day life much different than any “Indie” writer, and it is necessarily going to be a compromise of a lot of your own decision making. Also, finding success as a writer is always going to depend heavily on luck no matter which way you go. But now, maybe for the first time in history, writers have more options of how to seek that success than ever before.   

How can your readers find you?

Ed: I write as M. Edward McNally, and can be found as such on Twitter, Good Reads, Amazon, Smashwords, Google+, etc., and the Norothian Cycle blog is over at

What do you do to get your books out to readers?  Do you spend a lot of time on promotion and social media?

Ed: I did a lot of social media for the first year, which was the first time I opened a facebook account, or did any of the rest of those things. I have been backing away from a lot of it lately as it is hugely time-consuming, but it was absolutely critical to starting out and finding my way around. At this point though, putting more books out there seems to be the thing that works best for me, so I am concentrating on writing, and when I can I will buy an ad on a reputable site like Pixel of Ink or E-reader News Today.

I totally know what you mean about social media being time consuming.  I am fighting with myself over how much I spend on it and how much I need to get off it.  Not sure which devil on my shoulder will win.

What are you working on now?  Any book(s) you are working on now you’d like to tell us about and when we can expect to see it published?

Ed: I am writing the fifth book of the Norothian Cycle (working title, “The Channel War,”) which I hope to have out by the end of the year.

What do you do to relax?

Ed: I still read a lot, though much more history than fiction. And, like many men, I can totally put on a ballgame and space-out for three or four hours. ;-)

Oh, I don’t need a ballgame to space-out for hours.

So tell me how do you handle stress or writers block?

Ed: I think I used up all my writer’s block during the ten years I wasn’t writing. When I think of that lost time now, it keeps me going.

That is a good way of looking at; I can totally relate and I’m not getting any younger. 

Do you have a blog?

Ed: I do, mentioned above, though it is largely a home page for the fantasy series where I post additional maps, background histories, glossaries, stuff like that, though I do run an occasional article or an interview with a fellow author. I also do a weekly column “Ed’s Casual Friday” at Indies Unlimited.

Do you have a Youtube video trailer for your books? Do you make them or do you have someone else?

Ed: I have not done that. Seems weirdly like making a tv ad for people who like to read instead of watching tv.

I know.  I’ve been vacillating about whether or not to make one for mine.  I have a friend that may work on one for me, but it seems really silly to me, too.

Do you have a favorite character from one of your books?

Ed: While the series has an extensive cast of characters, it is built around Matilda Lanai. She’s the heart of all that happens, and I wouldn’t have it any other way.

I have to ask you how you came up with that name?

Ed: Tilda owes her name to a couple sources. First, I “knew” she was from a particular place within my fantasy setting, specifically a chain of islands called Miilark which have some similarities to Polynesia, as well as a bit of “colonial” flavor from the mainland a la Hawaii, Australia, and New Zealand. “Matilda” thus comes from the Australian expression “Waltzing Matilda” (or at least from the Pogues’ cover of the song of the same name), while “Lanai” is largely because I lived in an apartment complex called “Bali Lanai” for a while in college.

Within the books, the family name “Lanai” wound up referring to a time period in Miilark when servants lived on the porches of their masters’ great houses, which is Tilda’s family background. Also, a couple “porch” jokes made their way into the narrative, as people sometimes think Tilda is using a fake name when she introduces herself. “Your name is ‘Porch?’ Right, sure it is.”

Oh, ok, I get that.  

Do you have a favorite food?

Ed: So many things I could go with…I’ll say Italian just to have an answer.

What about a favorite color?

Ed: Green, it’s an Irish thing. ;-)

Is there a favorite life saying you live by?

Ed: Yes, but as I’m a pretentious jerk, it’s in Latin. Deus impeditio esuritori nullus. (“No god can stop a hungry man.”)

Is there a funny or embarrassing moment you could or would like to share with your readers?

Ed: Hm. Well, the first time I visited the Grand Canyon as a little kid, I immediately fell over (for no reason, just clumsy) and slid down a short slope to the very edge, where I hit a pine tree.

My Dad, standing nearby, was already trying to figure out how to tell my Mom I fell into the Grand Canyon.

Oh, that is scary. I was there as a little kid too and didn’t get too close.  I don’t have a fear of heights, but I was scared of falling in that canyon.

Please tell us anything else you’d like for your readers to know about you, your books, or just life in general.

Ed: If it was easy, everybody would be doing it. That goes for everything. ;-)

That is so true. Thank you so much for visiting my blog today and I wish you much continued success with your writing, Ed.

Ed: You too, Jacque, it was fun. J

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