Written By Veterans Magazine sat down with USA Today and Amazon Best-Selling Author VANESSA BOOKE.  Vanessa is a graduate of CSUSB and a volunteer in out writers program. Vanessa is involved in all areas of Written by Veterans, the Writers Group, the Screenwriting Course, and our publishing imprint.

Vanessa Booke

WRITTEN BY VETERANS MAGAZINE: When did you get started writing fiction?

VANESSA BOOKE: I actually started writing poetry when I was little and from there I started writing short stories. I love dreaming up
different worlds and the unique characters that live in them.

WBV:
What made you decide to write your "Millionaire's Row" series?

VB:
  When I started writing BOUND TO YOU, I wanted to write a sexy RomCom that featured a curvy female character. It was something that I wanted to read and no one else had written one, so I decided to write it myself. I honestly never expected people to respond to my writing or my characters. I would've been happy if one reader loved my writing. Instead, I had readers messaging me daily about how much they loved my characters. It wasn't until I was almost finished with Bound to You that I decided to write a spinoff story with some of my secondary characters. I have my readers to thank for that. They're the reason why I decided to expand the series.

WBV:
Which other writers influenced you?

VB:
  The authors that have influenced me the most would have to be Karen Marie Moning, Jane Austen, Aola Vandergriff and Charlotte Bronte.

Vanessa with BOUND TO YOU in Trade Paperback

WBV: What was your reaction to making three bestseller lists?
VB: Making USA TODAY's bestseller's list was a very surreal experience. I always thought I would feel different if that day came, but I still feel like me. I honestly believe that's a good thing. I don't want to be anything, but humble.

WBV: Did your family and friends know about you writing BOUND TO YOU and DRAWN TO YOU, or did you write in secret?  If so, what was their initial reaction?  Would you recommend that writers not tell about a work-in-progress?

VB: My family already knew that I was writing, but they didn't know what I was writing about. When I told them that I published one of my stories online they were very happy for me. I've been fortunate enough to have a family that has always supported my dreams. It's one of the biggest reasons why I've come so far.

If telling people who support you about a work-in-progress helps motivate you than go for it. If it doesn't then focus on your writing and block out the negativity.

WBV: Which websites and social media sites did you use to promote your book and which were most helpful in connecting with readers? 

VB: The biggest site that helped me promote my book is Facebook and Goodreads. They both allowed me to build relationships with readers, which I think is one of the most important things as an author. In all honesty, I love hearing from fans, so it's nice to be able to get to know who they are and where they come from. They're not just another fan to me. They're all unique.

The BOUND TO YOU Series

WBV: Did you design your own book cover?  What did you learn in doing so?

VB:
  I designed my covers the first time I published my serial, but I recently had them re-done by another graphic artist for their one year anniversary. It was fun making my  own covers, but it was also a lot of work. I don't recommend doing it yourself if you don't have an artistic eye. A bad cover could ruin your book.

BOUND TO YOU Paperback

WBV: Did you design your layout of your book?

VB: I paid someone to format my previous books, but in the future I plan on doing it myself. It's nice to know that I don't have to rely on someone else's timeline in order to format my books.

WBV:
How did you come up with your characters? Are they based, or inspired by real life people, or combinations of people?

VB:
My characters aren't based on anyone in particular, but they were inspired by those around me.

WBV: If you were to rewrite your series, Bound To You, would you change anything?

VB:
I think you'll always want to rewrite your first book. If I changed anything, it would be because I wanted to add more to it.

WBV:
How do you deal with negative comments?

Vanessa Booke T-Shirt

VB:  You'll never please everyone, so negative comments are just something you'll have to learn to deal with. We all have different ways of dealing with them. Sometimes that means bingeing on chocolate all day, yelling at your computer screen, or reading another book. The best thing to do is surround yourself with the cheerleaders in your life because they're the ones who make the negative comments bearable. They're the ones who help put out the fire inside you, so that when you can come back later and re-read that review or comment, you have a little less ego involved.

WBV:
Where you ever discouraged at some point? How did you get over it?

On the USA Today Bestseller List

VB: I'm always discouraged. I think it's just part of being a writer. There are so many things to be discouraged about, but I've learned to keep pushing myself past it. The negative things in life will drown you if you let them.

WBV:
How do you measure success?

VB:  First, let me say that everyone measures success differently. Personally, I measure success by the goals that I accomplish. When I started writing, my goal was to sell at least one book. When I accomplished that goal, I set another and another. Every day I set goals for myself. Sometimes it was writing a certain amount of words or chapters, and other times it was about selling a certain amount of books. I think it's easier to accomplish those BIG goals when you knock out the smaller ones and keep pushing.

WBV: What makes fiction serials so popular among readers?

VB:
  The thing that makes serials so popular among readers is that they're concentrated entertainment. As a writer, they force you to focus on the big stuff that happens in your story. They've really helped me cut out the filler or fluff that writers tend to have. I also think serials are popular because they almost follow the format of a television series. They often leave you hanging for more, but they're short enough to still keep your attention.

WBV:
Do you see a difference between the type of readers who use the Nook or the Kindle?

VB:
  Yes, I've found that many of my Kindle readers are a lot more open minded about content versus my Nook readers. I'm not entirely sure why, but that is something I've noticed. That said, it doesn't make me love them less.

WBV:
What is going to happen in Bound To You Vol. 4?

VB:
  What I can tell you is that you'll get to see the Happily Ever After that you wanted for Nicholas StoneHaven & Rebecca Gellar. The rest
you'll just have to read. ;)

With the Writers Group working on the cover of ROSE

WBV: You are a volunteer mentor and advisor to the "Written by Veterans" Writing Group at the CSUSB Veterans Success Center.  Is passing on your knowledge and insights to others important to you?

VB:
  Passing on my knowledge and insight is definitely important to me. I love being a successful author, but one of my goals in life is to help other writers be successful too. One day, I would love to be able to say that I mentored a bestselling author.

WBV:
What are three key insights you would want every aspiring writer to know?

VB:
Three insights that I want every aspiring author to know are…
Write as much as you can. It doesn't matter what kind of writing you do, it will always strengthen your skills.
Be kind to your readers. They're the ones who are going to help spread your name and help sell your books. Don't forget that when you think you don't have enough time to answer them. Readers really appreciate when authors take the time to talk to them. Even if it's a quick hello.
Don't be afraid to write outside of the box. It's okay to be different. I think that's one of the greatest things about self-publishing. You get to be as different as you want! You just need to learn how to market yourself.