Today’s author spotlight is shining on the incredibly smart Val Tobin. Val knows her way around parapsychic science, so much so, I hear she’s thinking of starting a sideline teaching ghosts how to “do it right!” Without further ado, here’s…Val!
Why don’t you tell us a little bit about yourself?
My parents immigrated to Canada from Hungary, and I married a man whose heritage is Irish and French Canadian on his father’s side and Mexican on his mother’s. That provides interesting fodder for stories.
I have always had an interest in the paranormal and in writing, but neglected it for years. Wanting to be practical, I studied computers and went into software and web development. While I enjoyed coding, I wasn’t enthralled with corporate culture.
During the ten years I spent in the computer industry, any spare time I had I devoted to studying and doing what I loved: reading, writing, and exploring the paranormal.
I received a Bachelor of Science in Parapsychic Science, got my Reiki Master/Teacher certifications, trained in Hawaii under Doreen Virtue to receive my Angel Therapy Practitioner® with Advanced Training certification, and obtained a Master of Science in Parapsychic Science.
For most of that time, I also wrote, writing and editing articles for the tech site Community MX, for Suite101, and contributing a small story to Doreen Virtue and Grant Virtue’s book Angel Words, published by Hay House.
In 2013 I published my first novel, The Experiencers, and have published four other novels and some short stories since then.
How did you get started on your writing journey?
I have wanted to write ever since I can remember. When I learned how to read, I wanted to write my own stories. My favourite class was always English lit. I studied literature in university before I switched to computers.
Are there any poets or writers who influence you? How so?
J. R. R. Tolkien, Margaret Mitchell, Margaret Atwood, Clive Barker, Stephen King, Nora Roberts, and so many more I can’t list them all. They were my role models for telling stories or creating worlds that seem real but exist only in the imagination.
Now I also draw inspiration from fellow indie authors, especially those in the IASD group.
Let’s talk about your novel! What is it about?
My most recent release is Walk-In:
A young psychic woman must fight for survival against centuries-old evil. A paranormal romance that explores the boundaries of life and death.
Questions plague psychic reader Viktoria Kovacs when her twin sister, missing for five years, appears at her door. Why did her sister leave? What happened to her memory? And how did she end up living with the mysterious millionaire who claims to be her protector?
When journalist Aedan McCarthy visits the new age store where Viktoria works, he’s researching a novel, not looking for love. Unprepared for the jolt of electricity that sparks between them, Aedan wants to explore the possibilities.
Evil lurks, and not everyone is who they appear to be. Viktoria discovers that getting entangled with Aedan may be her destiny, but it might cost him his soul.
Can Viktoria save herself without sacrificing those she loves?
How is the title significant?
A walk-in is a soul that contracts to take over a body for another soul that wants out. That’s all I’ll say.
Where did inspiration for this come from?
I was fascinated by the idea of walk-ins when I first learned about them during the Angel Therapy Practitioner® courses I took with Doreen Virtue in Hawaii. After a while, I tossed around some “what if” scenarios and made some notes. The story grew from there.
Tell us a little bit about the characters? What are they like and how did you come up with them?
Viktoria Kovacs works as a psychic reader at The Green Witch, a new age store owned by her friend. An independent woman, she isn’t looking for love. She’s happy to focus on her career. She’s also preoccupied with finding her sister, who has been missing for five years.
Eszter Kovacs is Viktoria’s twin sister. The story opens with Eszter’s sudden return after a five-year absence. She comes back a much different person than the one she was before her disappearance. She’s become more selfish and materialistic and has shocking news.
Eszter’s return affects not only Viktoria but those who try to help her learn what happened. The key to everything is Niko Farkas, the mysterious millionaire who brings Eszter home.
Those three characters were the first to appear when I contemplated writing the story. I knew the women had to be twin sisters, and I knew they had to have a Hungarian background. Niko also appeared to me fully formed with a long history.
Who do you think would like your story and what kind of readership are you aiming for?
Readers who enjoy romantic suspense or paranormal romance will like this book.
What is the message you are trying to get across in your book?
Different readers will take from it different messages. I enjoy exploring destiny and whether it’s fixed or if there can be multiple possible destinies until you make a choice that locks you into a specific outcome. It’s something no one can answer, but it’s fun to contemplate.
As well, I’m fascinated by all things paranormal, so I play with it in my writing.
What is your writing process like?
I begin with some ideas, asking “what if” questions. That gives me a direction. I create a one-sentence summary from that, then a five-sentence paragraph, and then a five-paragraph summary that gives me a grasp of the story.
With that, I put together a character bible with the main characters. From there, I may start writing the story, or I may make some notes on possible chapters or scenes.
I make notes of where I will need to research as I write, so I can come back later and fill in any knowledge gaps.
I’m a combination plotter and pantser.
How do you go about editing your story?
I let the first draft sit for about six weeks. When the time is up, I print it and make notes as I read it. From that, I do revisions and minor edits, and then pass it on to five or six beta readers.
From their feedback, I’ll make further revisions, do more edits and polishes, and then give it to my editor.
Where did you find your cover artist and what was the process like?
My editor, Kelly Hartigan at Xterraweb, recommended Patti Roberts of Paradox Book Covers to do my cover. Patti is amazing. I give her some idea of what I’m looking for, and she always presents me with proofs that perfectly capture what I wanted to convey.
How did you go about getting published?
I consulted with other authors to learn the pros and cons of traditional verses indie publishing. From these discussions I decided to go the indie route. I like the autonomy.
What was your self-publishing experience like?
The experience has been great though not entirely smooth. It gets easier each time.
What are the pros and cons of self-publishing?
The biggest con is the cost of editing and cover design. But if you’re careful, you can find professionals who have reasonable rates. The costs are also tax-deductible.
I do my own formatting, but some people who aren’t as tech savvy will have to pay to have that done as well. You have to do your own marketing, too, which most creative people dislike. That’s no different from with traditional publishing. Publishers expect you to promote yourself as well.
Self-publishing is rewarding, because you have complete control of your book at all times. Fellow indies are supportive and helpful, which is another pro.
What were the surprises? Good or bad? If so, what were they?
One of the things that surprised me was having to get an Employer Identification Number (EIN) from the IRS. If you aren’t a US citizen, distributors will still collect income tax from you for the IRS unless you get an EIN. The administrative tasks associated with publishing can be a nuisance.
How do you go about promoting your book as a self-published author?
Mostly I promote on social media and networking. I’m participating in a book event at the end of June to promote my paperbacks. I’ve got copies of my novels in a store as well. I haven’t done any advertising. Mostly, I write, publish, and then do it again.
Is there something about the whole process you wish someone had told you before? Good or bad?
I was fortunate that I did research and talked to experienced authors before I published my first novel. It helped to have their knowledge to draw on. I avoided a lot of pitfalls that way.
Do you have any advice for writers who want to self-publish?
Getting an editor made a huge difference to my writing. I was making typical newbie mistakes, which are easy to correct if you know what they are. Anyone who wants to sell their work needs an editor. You can’t improve if you don’t learn what you don’t know. An editor will help you do that.
What plans do you have for the future of your writing?
Readers have been asking for a third Valiant book. I have some ideas for that, and I also have ideas for other stories that I’d like to do.
I’m in the mood for a fantasy novel. I wrote a short story for a charity anthology that is yet to be released, and it’s a fantasy story. I might use that story as a prequel for a larger work. I can’t get the main character out of my thoughts, and that’s usually a sign that I want to spend more time with her.
What are you social accounts if people want to connect with you?
FB Author Page: https://www.facebook.com/valtobinauthor/
Twitter Profile: https://twitter.com/valandbob
Amazon Author Page: http://www.amazon.com/Val-Tobin/e/B00KC5S69K
Smashwords Author Page: https://www.smashwords.com/profile/view/valtobin
CHECK OUT THIS SAMPLE FROM WALK-IN, VAL’S LATEST NOVEL!
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