Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Author Interview and Book Giveaway: M.R. Cornelius

Today we have an interview with author M.R. Cornelius about her book, The Ups and Downs of Being Dead. Read to the end of the interview to find out how you can win a copy of the book.


Tell us about your book.
M. R. Cornelius: The Ups and Downs of Being Dead is about 57-year-old Robert, who finds out he is dying, but he can't accept his fate. He has heard about cryonics, and he decides to take the gamble and have his body frozen in the hopes that he will be revived sometime in the future. He thinks he'll go to sleep, like during surgery, and just wake up in the future.

That doesn't happen. He finds that he's a ghost, able to come and go as he pleases, along with the others who were frozen before him. But what's a workaholic like Robert supposed to do with his time for the next 100 years? There's no eating or drinking. he can't hold a golf club. He doesn't even need to sleep. And he certainly can't communicate with the living.

Where can we find out more about you and your books?
M. R. Cornelius: I have a website: http://www.mrcornelius.com.

The book is available on Amazon (http://amzn.to/LvCEf7) and Amazon UK. (http://amzn.to/O2Adjk)

Where did you get the idea for the story?

M. R. Cornelius: I heard about Ted Williams being cryonically preserved a few years ago. It got me thinking about the whole dead/not dead question. Sure, a person has to die before they can be preserved, but it doesn’t seem like their soul would go to heaven or wherever, because when they get thawed out, they’ll need that soul back.

Don’t a lot of us believe there are ghosts out there roaming around? It just seemed logical that Robert would be stuck in some kind of limbo.

What do you find most rewarding in writing a book?
M. R. Cornelius: Nothing compares to having someone, especially a stranger, tell you that they read your book and loved it. Writing is such a solitary endeavor, that when you finally put your book out there for everyone to see, you’re hesitant. Is the story interesting? Are the characters believable? Will people like it? So that affirmation from readers is everything.

And seeing your book cover on Amazon for the first time? That’s quite a rush.

Tell us about your previous work.
M. R. Cornelius: My first book is called H10 N1. It’s about a flu pandemic that gets way out of control. It’s a play on the term H1N1. H10 is much worse. The book is not about how a pandemic gets started, and it certainly isn’t about a miraculous cure; it’s about people dying, and how survivors adapt to the new world they find themselves in. There are still rotting corpses out there. And looters who’ll shoot you for a can of beans. Finding a safe haven is a top priority for my two main characters, Rick and Taeya. That, and not killing each other.

What other projects do you have coming up?
M. R. Cornelius: My editor has my next project. It’s the story of a homeless man who helps a woman and her two small children get off the streets of Atlanta. I set the story in 1984 because Frank, my 34 year-old protagonist, has been drifting ever since he came back from Vietnam in 1972. I needed a character who felt pretty hopeless and bewildered about his life, and I think a lot of men came back from Vietnam that way.

Don’t get me wrong, this is NOT a book about the Vietnam War; it’s about two lost souls who happen to meet, and help one another get their lives turned around.

The title of the book is still up in the air. I’ll have to let you know once my editor and I decide on one.

You mention your editor, but you don’t have a traditional publisher.
M. R. Cornelius: That’s right, I’m an indie author. But that doesn’t mean I don’t understand how important an editor is. I think some writers believe that they can just write a book and get it published without that crucial editing step. Maybe their friends read their book and said it was great, but no one can do the job an editor does. It’s his or her job to point out the flaws.

Yes, I pay an editor to review my work, so when she tells he what is wrong with my books, I listen, and I rewrite. Every good author has an editor: Stephen King, Karin Slaughter, James Patterson. I don’t think anyone’s work is so flawless that they couldn’t use some objective help.

What was the hardest part: writing the book, getting it published, or marketing it? Why?
M. R. Cornelius: The hardest part for me is the marketing. I’m really not a salesperson. And self-promotion must be the hardest kind of sales. Sure, if you believe in a product, it’s easy to encourage others to buy it. But when you’re basically selling yourself, it’s tough.

Another part of writing that’s hard is getting a bad review for a book. Especially if it’s a mean-spirited review that attacks the author.

What have been your most successful marketing techniques?

M. R. Cornelius: By far, Kindle Direct Publishing’s Select program has worked the best for me. After I offer a free download of a book, my numbers jump way up on Amazon. Then when the book is on sale again, I get the advantage of that exposure. Both my books have been in the Top Ten paid for drama on Amazon, and the sales really soar.

Now if I could just figure out how to stay in the Top Ten!

If you could travel to anywhere in the world, where would it be, and with whom?
M. R. Cornelius: I’d like to be a professional cruiser. I’ve heard of people who sell their homes when they retire, and they just go from cruise ship to cruise ship, seeing the world. I’d love to do that, at least for a few years.

And I guess I should say that I’d like to do that with my husband. (But if Johnny Depp is interested, I’m game.)

Want to win a copy of The Ups and Downs of Being Dead? Leave a comment on this blog post by midnight on October 8, and a random commenter will be selected. Winners will be announced on Tuesday, October 9.

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