Hello Readers and Writers,
Today we would like to introduce you to our favorite cheesemonger! But seriously, this YA Sci-Fi author is one of the most professional self-published authors we have meet. Her drive and dedication to her own success is inspiring. She is also a reviewer who helps other authors with her straight talk and unbiased reviews.
Introducing Danielle Novotny!
RL: When did you start writing as a career?
DN: I started writing in the fall of 2016. After years of reading books that inspired me, I thought I’d try to write one of my own. My very first idea was a vampire novel, but something about the plot didn’t quite feel right as I pushed through a few chapters. Then, one night I had a very vivid dream about a girl with incredible powers who fought aliens. When I woke up in the morning, I started writing it down and realized that there was a full story in those few scenes from my dream.
RL: What's your current work in progress?
DN: I’m currently working on book three of my Remade series. This story picks up a few months after where book two left off, and I’m already loving the different tone that I can put into the story because of how things ended at the end of the second book. I’m hoping to have this final installment finished in the latter half of 2021.
RL: You write Young Adult Sci Fi. What led you to write in that genre?
DN: I knew from the start that Remade would be sci-fi because it has space travel and futuristic weapons. The Young Adult part came in the more I developed my main character’s story arc. Aliya deals with a lot of personal issues – accepting who she’s become after her inciting accident – so it didn’t fit into a standard fiction or just sci-fi genre.
RL: How do your books rebel against the status quo in your genre?
DN: I joke that I’m both sci-fi and not. My books have space travel and laser guns, but I don’t go into how they’re made or what technology supports them. I don’t delve into astrophysics or astronomy either. (Technically I’m in space opera, but if you say that to someone who isn’t a sci-fi fan, they’ll think you wrote a musical!) My main character also pushes the boundaries of the Young Adult genre because I’ve made her older than the typical YA character. However, the focus on her personal and emotional development is such a large part of the story that it made the most sense to keep within the YA genre.
RL: Talk to me about the path you choose in publishing.
DN: I self-published Remade and Renown, and I’ll certainly self-publish the final book in this series as well. I did tons of research on self-publishing and traditional publishing paths, and what ended up making the most sense for me was self-publishing. These are my first ever books, and I had such a strong vision for how I wanted the story to go – and how I wanted their covers to look! Self-publishing allowed me to stay true to my first vision for this plot and design the covers.
RL: You are also a reviewer! What made you decide to start reviewing books on your blog?
DN: Everyone who knows me has received at least a few pitches for books I’ve read and enjoyed. I’d never paid a lot of attention to book reviews before I started writing, but once I did, I realized they’re a huge way new readers find books. It was that realization that got me started writing reviews for books I read – but they were mostly already-famous books. Once I got connected to the online writing community and started reading their indie books, I realized just how important it was for these new or lesser known authors to have reviews. Whether to give feedback on their writing or to spread the news about an incredible read, reviewing became essential.
Last year I was fortunate enough to be an arc reader for an author’s very first fantasy book. The cover and blurb absolutely drew me in, and what I ended up reading was an incredible novel that reminded me of ones from traditional publishing houses. I wrote a review explaining how much I liked it… and had no idea how much it would end up impacting that author. She recently said that my review was what inspired her to write a sequel, and she’s revisited the review often when she feels self-doubt. I might have started reviewing to give back to and promote authors’ hard work, but making an impact like that is definitely what keeps me writing reviews for indie authors!
RL: On your review blog, you don't use star ratings or any number rating to illustrate your satisfaction with the book. Why is that?
DN: How often do bad reviews turn you off from a product or service? And, how obvious do star or number ratings indicate a poor review? Those blatant indicators can keep people from actually reading reviews, and I thought that wasn’t fair to books. While I might not like what an author did with their plot or characters, another reader might, and I didn’t want to deter someone from reading my whole review and realizing that they actually would like the story. Also, as an author, seeing that low-star review tends to be a gut-punch that skews how you read the rest of the review, which might contain useful bits of information.
RL: As a reviewer, what bit of advice can you give authors looking for publicity?
DN: Don’t be afraid to put your book out there, and definitely include your cover where you can. I’ve found so many authors worth following or books that I’ll add to my never-ending TBR list just because an author posted a promo about their book in a Twitter thread or had a picture of it on Instagram. You need to be the biggest cheerleader for your work because you know it better than anyone else! And while we might say “don’t judge a book by its cover,” a good cover will draw in a potential reader every time, so make sure you share lots of pictures of your book.
RL: How do you manage writing time? Is finding writing time an issue for you?
DN: I’ve worked a job and a half ever since I started writing, and finding time to write has definitely been difficult. There are days when I’m too tired to sit down and work through my story, but I’ve realized that every little bit helps. Writing a page or two during a lunch break, jotting down some notes when I have a plot breakthrough, or actually making time – pushing aside other things that I’d like to do but don’t contribute to my writing – have helped me make continuous progress on my books. This year I’ll be setting monthly goals to help myself stay on track with book three!
RL: Occasionally, you work in a French cheese store as a cheesemonger! How did that yummy opportunity come up for you?
DN: By pure luck and some incredible connections! I came home after my sophomore year of college and was devastated to find that I wasn’t being re-hired as an assistant softball coach for the team I’d helped the previous summer. After going door to door in the local towns asking small businesses if they needed help, a woman my mother went to work out classes with mentioned that she was looking for someone to cover her shifts while she went on a summer vacation. I applied at Fourchette and was hired on the spot, and since then I’ve fallen in love with that little French store. The owners are amazing in so many ways, the cheese is delicious, and I’ve learned so much in the almost six years I’ve been working there.
RL: Where do you see your writing career going in the future?
DN: Finishing my Remade series definitely won’t be the end. I have a few other WIPs lined up once I’m all done, and it’ll just be a matter of whether or not I’d like to try and get that next work traditionally published. It’s definitely a dream of mine to be as well-known as other authors who shaped my childhood and I still love reading from today.
RL: What are you reading right now?
DN: Right now I’m doing a beta read for KJ Backer’s memoir, currently titled Don’t Put Me in a Box, and Justin Jay Gladstone’s The Other Side. I’ve also been working through the Witcher books when I have time.
RL: What can readers expect from you in the future?
DN: This next, and last, book in the Remade series is going to have a lot. There’s anger and revenge, more epic space battles (I’ll be channeling my inner Pierce Brown while writing those scenes), and an ending that does justice to everyone. It’ll be hard to say goodbye to this series, but I’m nowhere near done writing books. I’m not yet sure whether I’ll return to the horror novel I’ve half written or start on a dystopian series next, but I have quite a few ideas brewing in other genres!