Thursday, February 15, 2024

Author interview with Michelle Garcia

This week's interview is with the very popular Michelle Garcia who writes as M.G. Cobbett and has nearly 50k X (Twitter) followers. You may well have seen her there as she's a huge supporter of fellow authors and her follower trains are extraordinary! But before we get into all of that, let's meet her:

'I’m a 52 year-old Scouse grandma. I have one furbaby called Bella. I live on a mountain in Wales UK.'

She first published in 2017 and writes romance which can be set in YA, paranormal or crime genres. She has four indie books to date.

Returning to her X presence, I am in awe of all the work she does there, but it must take a lot of her time. Why does she do it? 

'I LOVE IT! And that's why I do it. If I had the option to sit on X all day and share people's work, I would.'

Wow, that's some passion! It's interesting, because her follower frenzies state they are ‘just for fun’ and she makes a point of stating 'non-political', so has she had issues in the past?

'I have had fights break out on threads, predominantly with American politics. Which, considering I'm not American and as a priest not political, is frustrating. I don't run the frenzy for anything other than fun and follower gains, and if people can't respect that, then I block them. 

I still get the occasional one but in all fairness it’s usually an error, and the poster removes it when asked, but now and again I get someone who has 

- A, put it up to cause a rut or 
- B, refuses to take it down because “They can post what they want.” 

Yes, you can post what you want on your own threads, but not on mine.'

Well said! She continues,

'In the UK, we don't do that as a general rule of thumb. Mostly, apart from the extremes of either side, Brits are quite quiet about their political leanings, so it's also a culture thing. 

Sometimes the sheer hatred makes me feel sick. I saw one woman of one political bias who had lost a child, offer support to anyone who was going through the same as long as they were not of the opposing political opinion. That kind of insensible hatred is vile. 

Because I can see both sides, I see they're actually not that different. Sure they want different laws passed, but in the day-to-day things, they're people, they have the same worries, the same heartaches, the same likes and loves, they read the same books and watch the same movies. I wish people would look for the similarities in others instead of the differences. But, in the most, people get along better on X than they do in the real world.

I’ve also had threats about my religion. I don’t post any religious posts even though I’m a pagan priest. But, I've had religious responses which have erupted in the DMs, and when I ask them to remove it, they refuse because their God is the only true God, and we deserve to die unless we convert to the one true religion, so when I point out that I’m a priest of a different denomination then I get a stream of abuse. But this has happened maybe 3 times in 7 years. Again, people tend to get along better on X than in the real world.'

Okay, she's mentioned it so I have to go there. I'd heard she was a 'witch', is this right and what can she tell us?

'YES! I am the pagan High Priestess of the Aurora Chandra Coven. I don’t hide it, I’m not ashamed of my belief system, (hence my profile pic).

I’ve had problems, but few and far between. I find most people just want to get on with their lives, and while we’re seeing the world gearing up for war I wonder why the outside world can’t be more like X where for the majority of the time we all get along great. There are the odd one or two hardliners but most people put their differences aside to have a good time, so I wonder why the outside world can’t be more like X? I have had some amazing conversations with priests of other denominations, and as a pagan it thrills me.'

I could ask a lot more just about this, but as we're really here to chat about her as an author, I'd better get back on-track 😄 

What inspired her to become a writer?

'I started writing to escape. Then, a couple of times, I got close to getting published and my writing became all about getting published. It took the fun out of it. It took the escapism out of it because now it was another mound of stress on my already full mountain. It also caused writers’ block. I lost the love of writing and my flood of creativity dried up. When it looked like AI might take over, I practically gave up.

Then I remembered the reason I started writing. I wrote for myself. My friends and family enjoyed my writing. So, even though I have my timetable, I’m once again doing it for the love of it. If I get a traditional publishing contract, then great. I know there are many honest agents and publishers out there. I’ve met a few, so I’m not going to stop trying. I’d say to any writer out there, write because you love it. Anything else is a bonus.'

Oh dear, stress is so destructive, but I'm glad she's back on track and I love her message to other writers - wonderful! As Michelle has mentioned AI, and I've seen her tweet about it, I wondered if she'd share her concerns?

'With the advent of AI I would imagine getting published is going to be nearly impossible. I’m annoyed because I have spent a lot of time and money perfecting my art, including a writing course at Oxford University.'

That is concerning for writers but hopefully readers will be savvy enough to continue supporting authors. She mentioned she had a timetable, does she also have a daily writing routine? 

'I am a stickler for time management. If I don’t manage my time I get nothing done. This is my daily routine.' (see photo)

Wow, I have to admit, I would love to be that organised! How long does it take her to write a book?

'That’s a tough one because I do an outline novella and then build so it could be 3 to 6 months.'

And which of Michelle's four books should readers try first, and why?

'Two Houses. It’s the first Verona College novella and it introduces the reader to Beswick Stanton where most of my books are or will be set. Beswick Stanton has a map on my website which is available via the Cobbett’s Books link (at base of post).'

And a tweetable of Two Houses (tweet here):

Todd is a posh bully. Carmel hates him until a dance at The Venue Nightclub changes everything. Now, she’s falling in love, but he’s getting blackmailed to stay away.'

Can she give us an extract from one of her books?

‘Pervert.’ An old woman screamed from the changing room. Stark naked. Nipples pointing the way to the floor. Not making any attempt to cover anything.

‘Oh, puhhh-lease. I’d have to be a necro—Arghh.’'

She admitted that out of context this scene won’t make much sense, but it did make me laugh! Does she read reviews of her own books?

'All the time. Good reviews are great. Bad reviews, take the criticism, use it as a learning curve and build on it.'

Sound advice! Has she had any writing-career highs?

'Working with Terry and Steve at Greenhills Chats.'

Good to know, you can find their link here! Does she have any plans for future books?

'I am researching using a book manager. Eeva Lancaster came highly recommended to me by Terry and Ken Stark. I am currently reading her book ‘Being Indie’. The woman is a marvel and a mine of information.'

I’ve not come across the term ‘book manager’ before – what does she do?

'I've not used her yet. Her book, though, is a guide to indie publishing, and it's full of fantastic tips.'

Ooh, that sounds interesting, I'll have to investigate! What does Michelle consider a common trap for aspiring writers?

'Not learning the trade. I worked with an executive editor and attended courses and I’m still learning every day. I use proof readers and try my best to get my work on point. 

It saddens me when someone wins the competition (see below) to have a read and review and they’ve put 'The End' on the manuscript and uploaded it straight to Amazon. It’s not a nice reading experience. 

There is more to writing than putting words on paper. I’m not perfect, but I do make an effort. It’s when people don’t, I get annoyed. It makes me want to stop reading then and there.
The flip side of that is that indie writers don’t have access to expensive editors the way traditionally published authors do. That’s still no excuse for not asking someone to proof read it.'

And talking of her monthly blog competition – how does she pick which books to read?

'I pick by the one that grabs me. The one I like the look of the most. If I see one that I've not read before but I see they've entered several previous months, I will choose that one, but other than that, it's what sounds good at the time. 

As I mentioned above, the ones that disappoint me haven't been proofread or edited. It puts people off buying indie and I get that traditionally published authors get the whole nine yards when they sign on with an agent, but make an effort, you're letting the side down. Your bad work reflects badly on all of us. I have a couple of proofreaders, but I'm always in the market for more 😀'

So there you have it, an amazing lady who speaks a lot of common sense! If you'd like to find out more about her, please visit her links below and do take a look at all the books she's reviewed on her website to support even more authors!

Twitter: @M_Cobbett71

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