Thursday, August 25, 2011

Author Spotlight: Denise Grover Swank

I'm so excited to host author Denise Grover Swank on my blog today!  I have gotten to know Denise on Twitter and I can attest she is smart, witty and soooooo nice.  Her new book Twenty-Eight and a Half Wishes is available now.  

JLR :  As all aspiring authors know, writing the novel is the easy part—getting published is where the real work comes in.  Tell us about your road to publication.  Is there anything you would have done differently?

DS:  Actually, no. I did everything right, according to publishing standards.  I had critique partners. I joined a writers group. I spent lots and lots of hours writing and editing and editing and editing... you get the picture. ;-) I've queried three projects now, came close to getting an agent with two. The publishing market is rapidly changing and publisher's lists are shrinking.  Some really great books are going to slip through the cracks. Twenty-Eight and a Half Wishes is one of them.

JLR:  So much of book promotion today is done through blog tours.  Tell us about your blog touring experience so far.

DS: This is my second blog tour. The first was a lot of fun because my friends were excited about my book release and offered to be part of it. The beauty of Amazon and Barnes & Noble ebooks is you get pretty much real time sales numbers so you can try to gauge what is effective and what isn't. By far the best promotion so far has been positive book reviews from book reviewers. 

JLR:  There is so much advice given by authors about the writing process.  What type of writing routine do you have?  Are you a planner or a figure-it-out-as-you-go type writer?  Any tips you want to share?

DS:  I'm a combination of both. I usually have a general outline/flow chart I try to follow, but I let the characters lead me through the story and they often change things a bit (or a lot.) I think that's the key, to know your characters and trust them. My other books have more thriller elements and I often put my characters in a situation and let them loose. I know where they end up, but I usually have no idea how they get there. It's not uncommon for me to start whining, "How are we going to get out of this?" LOL

JLR:  I’ve always felt that to be a good writer you must first be a good reader.  What types of books do you read and how have they influenced your writing?

DS:  I read EVERYTHING-- except for non-fiction. I read that only when I have to.  I love paranormal romances (Shannon K. Butcher), some magical realism (Sarah Addison Allen) humorous mysteries (Janet Evanovich and Jennifer Crusie) young adult (mostly paranormal) paranormal thrillers (Steven King and Dean Koonz) Even middle grade (Rick Riordan's Percy Jackson.)  I used to just read for the sake of reading, but now I'm paying attention to elements of the story, the sentence structure, etc. I try to learn from everything I read. 

JLR:  There has been a lot of talk this year about traditional print books giving way to e-books.  For example, publishing powerhouse, Dorchester, announced that they were getting out of the mass market paperback market altogether in favor of e-publishing.  What affect for you think this will have on authors and readers going forward? 

DS:  I sincerely believe the shift to electronic will continue to grow but that print books will still exist. But I can see a future where debut and mid-list authors might publish electronically first, establish themselves and build a fan base, then the traditional publishers will be willing to take a risk. 

JLR:  What are three things that your fans would be surprised to find out about you?

DS:  First is that I have no sense of smell. I never remember being able to smell so I've never really thought much of it and don't mention it often. In fact, my kids tend to forget and start to say "smell this... oh yeah." Second is that I have six children and I'm a single mom.  My oldest child is twenty-four and my youngest is four. My oldest three are biological and my youngest three are adopted from China and Vietnam. And third, hmm... this is hard. Maybe the third is that I don't sleep much. I do a lot of my writing at night after my kids go to bed, so I'm often up until 2 or 3 am writing. And up at 7 during the school year.

 JLR:  Are you involved in any other projects aside from your novel writing? 

DS:  I like to garden, mostly flowers. And I love to travel which is hard to do with all of my children, but we still try. But honestly, I spend a lot of time writing or reading.

JLR:  Where can readers go to purchase Twenty-Eight and a Half Wishes?

DS:  Twenty-Eight and a Half Wishes is available in both print and ebooks at Amazon and Barnes & Noble. And other ebook formats are available at Smashwords.


  1. You're such an inspiration Denise! I'm close to finishing Twenty-Eight and a Half Wishes and I LOVE it so much! This book is amazing. I'm buying it for all the ladies on my list this holiday season and recommend everyone else do the same. I've read mostly traditionally published novels this year and my dear, yours beats them.