A Visit with Andrea Parnell

Posted by Scarlet Pumpernickel | 5:39 PM | 22 comments »

Help me welcome Andrea Parnell our guest blogger for today. Andrea and I met and became friends through our membership in Georgia Romance Writers. We'd lost touch, so when I found the website about Andrea's backlist being reissued in e-books I jumped at the chance to rekindle our friendship. Andrea has answered some questions and shared insight into the process of getting her backlist up as e-books. Please come along as I get reacquainted with my friend!

What would you like our readers to know about you?

First of all, I’m still here. I had a long absence from writing while I attempted retirement following a major illness. My second retirement was two years ago from my job as an alternative high school teacher. I’m now unretired again and in the best of worlds writing and working with my son, fantasy author Dan McGirt (Jason Cosmo series), epubbing my backlist and working furiously on new novels.

How did you get started writing and why?

I lifted my head one day and realized my children didn’t need a hovercraft mom anymore. I started writing. It was like being struck by lightning. All that daydreaming in my youth paid off.

Are you a reader? Who are your favorite authors?

I would read in my sleep if I could. Labels, tea leaves, magazines, books. I love my Smartphone and Kindle because I can have books with me all the time.

My favorite authors remain those from my younger years. I adored the Walter Farley books, those by Edgar Rice Burroughs, Ian Fleming, and Agatha Christie.

What themes run through your books?

Even though I write romance, most of my books have a dark element and a layer of mystery or suspense and a theme of ‘love overcomes great loss’.

Who was your favorite character of all you’ve written and why?

That is a tough question. I try to write characters I’d love to know as real people and it is hard to rate them against each other. If I must choose, Roman and Silvia and all the characters in my debut novel Dark Splendor will always have first place in my heart.

What genre is your favorite to read?

Wow. I read broadly. I am fond of children’s books and have a tiny collection. Right now I’m exploring YA novels. I like thrillers with daring macho guys; romances, of course. Occasionally, I read something with a more literary bend but for me, generally, there’s been enough angst in real life. When I grab a book and head to my favorite reading chair it’s because ‘I just wanna have fun’.

What genre is your favorite to write?

Romance. I do believe love makes the world go ‘round and a romance can slide into any genre and carry the day.

Do you have a current work-in-progress and can you tell us a little about it?

So glad you asked. I’ve embarked on a YA Paranormal with a working title Ember. It would be a shame to let all those years of teaching high school go to waste.

How many books have you published through conventional publishing?

I’ve published ten books conventionally. They were historical and contemporary romance and the publishers were NAL/Signet/Onyx; Warner; Kensington and Harlequin. I’ve also had a short story in Woman’s World.

How did you come to the decision to indie publish your backlist?

Several years back Dan and I began planning to bring our backlist out in print. He established Trove Books to handle the business end of the publishing. Trove started as a print publisher and released a revised version of Dan’s first book, re-titled Hero Wanted, in 2009. Then the eBook explosion happened.

How difficult were the format requirements?

My take on that is that once you approach the formatting process you will make a decision that you have the time and tech skills to do it or find a service to handle it.

Did you do the formatting or did someone help you to get your backlist uploaded?

Fortunately, Trove handles formatting and uploading for me. I would love to be a tech virtuoso, but I am not and I would lose a lot of time better spent writing than trying to tackle this on my own. Trove uses a formatting service. I do the edits and corrections each stage of the process requires and Trove does a series of edits and the final edit.

How did you decide which indie publisher was right for your books?

Following in the footsteps of indie trailblazers who generously share information in blogs and on websites led us to begin at Smashwords.com. Smashwords offers a wide distribution network that includes most major eBook stores and allows the option of opting out of any one if you choose to work directly with that book seller.

Can you tell us a little about the process of preparing and uploading previously published books?

The first step is getting your book into electronic form. For my books, the only copy I had of the final, as-published text were the print books themselves. The first step was to have the books scanned and saved as editable MS-Word documents. You can do that yourself with a good scanner and the right software, but Trove uses a professional service. You have to review the scanned-in file very closely. Weird things happen as some letters become symbols or numbers and paragraph breaks get lost and page numbers show up in odd places. It’s not as bad as I just made it sound, but requires going line by line to realign paragraphs and chapters and get out the stray page numbers. This is your chance to correct the typos that showed up in the print version and, inadvertedly, insert some new ones in the epub version. Amazingly, it is possible to make corrections even after a book is epubbed.

Unless you have purchased the cover rights to the print book, you need a new cover. Trove uses a graphics cover artist for my books and she works from material I prepare on what elements I would like in the cover. Writing an effective blurb, book descriptions short and long, and a bio are required at this stage. Another terrific feature of ebooks is that you can put in links to your blog, other of your releases, or to those of another writer.

Where are your books available?

My books are available at Amazon’s Kindle bookstore, Smashwords.com and, through their distribution channel, at Barnes & Noble, Sony, Kobo, Apple, Diesel, Scrollmotion.

Which venue is most successful at this point?

My first two books, Dark Splendor and Whispers at Midnight were uploaded at Smashwords in March and at Amazon in July. A third title, Delilah’s Flame has been at Smashwords a few weeks, so it is difficult to compare sales just yet.

What kind of promotion are you doing?

I’m building a web presence at AndreaParnell.com Since I foolishly avoided doing so until recently, I am behind in building a brand and getting a following among e-readers. I also do some old school things like handing out business cards featuring my books and contacts to anyone who expresses an interest in e-reading. I look forward to reconnecting with other writers and readers and growing a network of others who are epubbing.

How much time/effort do you put toward promotion of you backlist?

I’m still in the learning curve of using Twitter (@andreahparnell ) and Facebook and my blog effectively. I work on it every day. The most effective thing I have done to date is offering a novella, Dark Prelude, a prequel to Dark Splendor as a free download. This seems to have spurred sales and driven some traffic to my other titles.

How does the process of indie publishing compare with traditional publishing?

The indie author has complete control of the publishing process and complete responsibility for publishing and marketing. There is a huge difference in shelf life. The eBook is there until you take it down, a mass market print book has a few months to really make or break. I hope the two forms of publishing will co-exist and strike a balance that works in both arenas. Right now I would compare indie publishing to the gold rush days. Everyone can pan for gold but not everyone will strike it rich.

What are you currently working on?

I’m working on the edits for my next backlist release, Devil Moon, and on a Western short story, and the YA paranormal.

Any other words of encouragement for our readers?

If you are already epublished, I should probably be asking you for encouragement and advice. If you are an aspiring author with your heart set on getting published traditionally, don’t give up that dream. Keep networking, submitting and querying. Meanwhile, get another work out as an eBook and start building a fan base of readers. I think we may see a trend of traditional publishers picking up e-authors who shine.

A final note, epubbing is an adventure and everyday I look forward to seeing where it takes me. I love to hear from readers and other authors. You can contact me at Facebook, Twitter @andreahparnell or my blog AndreaParnell.com.

Andrea has included an excerpt to whit our appetite for her titles.

Dark Splendor

By Andrea Parnell

A slight, brief smile formed on the other woman's thin lips. A look of satisfaction gleamed faintly in her narrowed eyes as if she were pleased with Silvia's reaction. A rustle sounded from her taffeta skirts as she moved to stand in front of Silvia.
“I am Vivien,” she said. Her eyes were little black lights set deeply in her face. “Mr. Schlange instructed me to take you upstairs where you can rest and get settled.” She started to move away but added briskly, “Mr. Schlange apologizes but he is ill and cannot greet you himself.”
Silvia lifted her brows sharply and turned her attention to Vivien at that pronouncement.
“I trust his illness is not serious,” she stated, the concern showing in her eyes as they met Vivien's.
Now that they were near the stairs and in the full flood of light, Silvia noted the pale contrast of Vivien's skin with the darkness of her hair. She wore it tight against her scalp and fashioned into a ball neatly covered with a black mesh at the back of her head. Her simply styled dress was of a green color so dark as to be almost black. With it she wore a crimson rope, a sort of belt, around her waist, and from the jangle when she walked, Silvia thought it must hold a number of keys which were hidden in her pocket.
“Mr. Schlange is old and tires easily,” Vivien responded as they stood at the foot of the stairs. She paused. “And all must wait until he is strong again.”
Silvia waited, expecting Vivien to explain what all must wait for, but was disappointed when instead the woman spun around and began to climb the stairs. Silvia quickly followed, her mind filled with unanswered questions. Who was Vivien and what was her position? Perhaps she should ask, she thought reflectively.
She had climbed only three or four steps when she caught a glimpse of someone in a room that opened off the foyer. His back was to her, but instantly she knew the sweep of his broad shoulders, the aloofness of his carriage. Roman Toller.
Her body stiffened in shock, but not before a sound of surprise escaped her lips.
“You!” she cried out.
He spun around at the sound of her voice. For a moment they stared blatantly at each other, until, to her dismay, she felt his glare was burning through her flesh and setting her blood aflame.
Morgan Toller appeared at his side and nodded politely. Silvia barely noticed him. She could not break away from Roman's piercing blue eyes, which seemed to drink her up until she felt she would be consumed like a glass of wine.


  1. Scarlet Pumpernickel // August 14, 2011 at 6:31 PM  

    Andrea, welcome to the Pink Fuzzies. We are so pleased to have you drop by to visit. I'm excited about being able to add your books to my e-reader.

  2. Mary Marvella // August 14, 2011 at 6:55 PM  


    I was excited when Scarlet told me she had reconnected with you. Then she said that you would be a guest here. OMG!

    I remember you from years ago at GRW events. When I saw you at DragonCon last year I was thrown back to those older days. Now you are here and are soooo welcome!

  3. Andrea Parnell // August 14, 2011 at 7:31 PM  

    Big thanks to Scarlet Pumpernickel and the Pink Fuzzy Slipper Writers for inviting me to blog with you. I'm delighted to catch up with old friends here meet some new ones.

    I love what you've been doing on the blog. I invite everyone to visit me on my sites. The links are in the interview. Thanks again.

    (Mary, I'll be at Dragoncon this year.)

  4. Mary Marvella // August 14, 2011 at 8:37 PM  

    I'll be there, too, Andrea! I'll be promoting my 2 ebooks from the sidelines.

  5. Barbara Monajem // August 14, 2011 at 9:16 PM  

    Welcome, Andrea. How cool that you're putting your backlist in e-format. LOL -- Roman sounds like quite some guy!!

  6. Mona Risk // August 14, 2011 at 9:27 PM  

    Hi Andrea, glad to have you here. You were published by NY publishers and Harlequin, why would you want to be self-pubbed???

  7. Anonymous // August 14, 2011 at 11:34 PM  

    Hello Andrea, mother told me you were blogging with Pink Fuzzy, so I wanted to stop by to say hi. I love your new book covers and look forward to reacquainting myself with your work as a teenager you were one of my favorites.I look forward to reading your new YA paranormal .


  8. Andrea Parnell // August 15, 2011 at 7:03 AM  

    Mary, see you at the Con.

    Barbara, yes, Roman is quite the guy. I hated to bring his story to an end.

    Mona,I'm still open to traditional publishing for new books. I'm e-pubbing my backlist and like having control of those projects. Everyone has to follow their heart (or business plan) on this.

    Shane, thanks. I'm glad to hear you like the covers. Keep in touch.

  9. Judith Keim // August 15, 2011 at 7:47 AM  

    Hi, Andrea! Thanks for visiting the Pink Fuzzies. Love that you're plunging into the ebook venue after retiring a couple of times! BTW your covers are great! Good luck with everything and thanks for giving us some inside info!

  10. Beth Trissel // August 15, 2011 at 9:10 AM  

    Hello Andrea! Late to the party, but glad I'm here. I really enjoyed learning about you in this very interesting interview. Loved the hovercraft mom imagery. Yes, e-pub is an ongoing adventure. We all scramble to find our place.

  11. Beth Trissel // August 15, 2011 at 9:14 AM  

    Andrea, I neglected to add a warm welcome to the Fuzzies, as I'm one of the gang. :) Also, I'm multi-pubbed with the Wild Rose Press so am in the thick of the epub world. I recently self-pubbed a nonfiction work at Amazon and Barnes & Noble. Should I have gone with Smashwords and is it too late now?

  12. Nightingale // August 15, 2011 at 9:35 AM  

    Enjoyed the excerpt--indeed it did when my appetite for more. Must also check out your son's work.

  13. Andrea Parnell // August 15, 2011 at 12:03 PM  

    Thanks for all the warm welcomes.

    Judy, We are pleased with the covers. Taking on the art is a real change as an author.

    Beth, Thanks for your comments. I highly recommend adding Smashwords to your epubbers. You can simply opt out of their distribution to Amazon and B&N. I believe Smashwords is a rising player in the epub world.

    Nightingale. What a wonderful word that is. Please check out Dan's books. In addition to the novels he's written one hilarious parody of Twilight called, Sarah Palin Vampire Hunter.

  14. Nicole Rushin // August 15, 2011 at 12:54 PM  

    Great interview, Andrea. I think you will find 'Guest Blogging' is a great resource for building your brand. Whether the guest post is an interview or an authority piece.

    It is always good to hear the experience of others who have gone through the self publishing maze.

  15. Dan McGirt // August 15, 2011 at 12:56 PM  

    Hi, Mom! Thanks for the blurb! :)

    And thanks, PFSW for hosting Trove's #1 author. Dark Splendor has been in the top 10 romance titles on Smashwords pretty much since its release in March.

    I founded Trove Books a few years ago to republish my out-of-print fantasy novels. I enjoyed figuring out how to bring my own books back to life and donning the hats of publisher, editor, art director, marketing director, webmaster, etc. (I need a new hat rack!)

    But far more satisfying to me is applying all I learned to publishing Mom's books. You can tell from the interview how excited Mom is to be back at writing, and reconnecting with readers and writing friends. I can promise you I'm even more excited to have my favorite author back in the game! It has been a great experience working with Mom on her backlist books (which are outselling mine -- as I expected) and I'm looking forward to her new projects.

    Happy publisher & proud son,
    Dan McGirt

  16. Mary Marvella // August 15, 2011 at 1:37 PM  

    Welcome, Dan!

    We ladies LOVE to have men visit. All the ladies are fluffing their hair and smiling.

    (Watch those fluttering lashes, girls! His mama's watching.)

    Don't be a stranger, Dan!

  17. Mary Ricksen // August 15, 2011 at 3:05 PM  

    You write with your son too. That's fantastic!
    And you can read my tea leaves anytime.
    Great blog, nice to meet you Andrea and enjoy your non retirement! I so get it!

  18. Scarlet Pumpernickel // August 15, 2011 at 4:11 PM  

    Is Trove open to submission from other authors? Inquiring minds want to know.

  19. Patrice Wilton // August 15, 2011 at 4:34 PM  

    Hi Andrea,
    What a fascinating blog - so glad to see that you're back to writing and have so much excitement going on. Best of luck in this brave new world of self publishing. I'm dipping my toes into it too!

  20. Dan McGirt // August 15, 2011 at 5:03 PM  

    Appreciate the warm welcome!

    To Scarlet's question, the short answer is no, Trove is not currently taking submissions from authors who are not my mother. :) I do not foresee that changing anytime soon.

    The long answer is, there is absolutely nothing Trove can do for an author that you can't do for yourself. I set up Trove mainly for administrative convenience -- to keep my publishing finances separate from personal finances. It also gave me an umbrella for publishing Mom's books too. That is, knowing I intended to publish more than one author, it made sense to create an imprint as vehicle for doing so, rather than just pubbing my own books as "Dan McGirt."

    But for an author who wants to publish her/his own books independently (and isn't planning to take on publishing another writer's work), you can do it all directly via Amazon, Smashwords, B&N, etc.

  21. Andrea Parnell // August 16, 2011 at 7:16 AM  

    Barrels of thanks to the Pink Fuzzy Slipper Writers for the hospitality. A special thanks to Scarlet Pumpernickel for the invitation and interview.

    Nicole, Thanks for all your encouragement and the many tips on using net resources.

    Dan, You are my champion and truly the best part of bringing my books out in e-format is working with you. So, add to those hats, agent, chief supporter and sweetheart son.

    To Mary, Mary and Patrice, I appreciate your comments. I'll definitely be keeping up with you on the blog and with your book projects. My Kindle is filling up. I do find a book more enjoyable when there is a personal connection. Happy writing to all.

  22. Josie // August 17, 2011 at 12:35 PM  

    Welcome, Andrea, to the Pink Fuzzy blog, and thanks to MM for hosting you.
    I'm glad you're out of "unretirement". Thanks for the excerpt, it's wonderful!