J M Ralley
J M Ralley grew up in Dudley, West Midlands, England. Working as a veterinary nurse leaves her little time for writing and relaxing.
She has a passion for rabbits and has been known to breed and show them. As well as writing she enjoys, chocolate, reading, taking long walks in the countryside, photography and craft fairs.
1. Will you tell us about your most recent published work?
My latest book is the second in the Romancing in Scotland series. They are standalone books, so previous ones don’t need to be read.
This story revolves around Katie. A young lass who is setting up a flower nursery. During a delivery she becomes involved in a car accident and wakes in a strange house. A man is with her and asks Katie her name. And this is where things begin to go wrong for Katie, when she discovers she has amnesia. With no other reason not to believe Angus, he informs her they are married.
When the police have no leads, Katie’s parents hire Finlay, a private investigator. Returning to a place he never wanted to see again, wasn’t on the cards. After making the mistake of peering at Katie’s photo, he knows he is lost. The picture enchants him and off to the borders he goes.
If you want to know how things turn out – you’ll have to read the book. On preorder now.
As I love Scotland and try to visit once a year, I had to write a series based there.
2. What personal challenges do you face as a writer?
Time is the biggest challenge. Working full time, I’m usually tapping away early mornings and late evenings. Sometimes into the early hours of the morning, if it’s a weekend. Setting deadlines are troublesome as I know I’m going to come close to not making them.
To try to overcome this, I don’t set up any preorders until the final edit is back from the editor. This allows me enough time to make those final checks.
3. What is the most difficult part of your artistic process?
Writing the blurb – the bit that you find on Amazon and the back of the book. Writing a 60,000 word novel is easy but ask any author and writing the blurb makes us cry. We need to condense our book into two or three small paragraphs, in such away we don’t give too much away and lead the reader into wanting to pick the book up.
I usually do this when the manuscript goes to my editor. The book is complete. I’m not going to make any drastic changes, (I hope), and I’ve time to write several blurbs and to mess around with them.
4. What one thing would you give up to become a better writer?
Easy. I’d love to work part-time, (wouldn’t we all?). However, as a new author this isn’t a possibility, even if it would allow me to write quicker and get those books out faster.
5. How did publishing your first book change your process of writing?
My first book went out self-edited. A really bad mistake. But editors don’t come cheap and I wanted to know if the story was any good first. My reviews came back better than I thought. So, now, I’m re-vamping Persecuting Abi and have an editor.
I’ve learnt such a lot since then and my writing has improved. With help from other authors/readers I’ve picked up where most of my faults were and I can now fix them. My descriptions have improved, and so has my style of writing. I’m happier with what I produce now.
6. How many unpublished and half-finished books do you have? Will you tell us about them?
Where to start. I’ve four more Persecuting books, centered around other members of the LAPD and Dragon Security. This is a dark psychological romance thriller series and not for the faint-hearted.
I’ve also got another crime series set in Devon, England. Another area I love and have spent a fair bit of time there. It’s at a complete first draft stage and awaiting editing. My plan is to do a crossover with the Persecuting series with book two. However, I need to write two more persecuting books first. Bringing the total to seven.
There is a standalone series set in New York, about an FBI’s daughter. Again, it’s at a complete first stage but I’m not happy with this plot yet.
I’m writing the first draft for my first paranormal/fantasy book. A standalone centered around horse shifters. It’s going well, but my characters keep changing the plot.
There are three more Scottish fantasy books plotted – I have the covers already for them. Based on Mull, Iona and Sky. They will be standalone. Each will involve my main characters having to break a curse. Again, I have the first few chapters of the first done.
I am in the process of editing this year’s Christmas release. This is more erotic/BDSM based and has now turned into a trilogy, based around three brothers. Each will contain a strong plot.
And last but not least, I’m planning a big fantasy series. This will have vampires, witches, angels and shifters. Each book will be one story, but another underlying story will join them together. I have the first couple of paragraphs done for the first book and the first three book outlined. However, these will not be released until I have the first two books written and ready to go. Probably in 2021.
7. Do you read your book reviews? How do you deal with bad or good ones?
Yes, I do. So far, I’m missing that dreaded one/two-star review. It’s the reviews that have helped me grow as an author. I don’t mind the criticism. If there are any problems, I’d rather know. However, I do a happy dance with every complimentary review I receive and reply to most of them. I like to thank those who take the time to review.
8. Do you hide any secrets in your books that only a few people will find?
Those who know me, know I like rabbits. I’ve kept them as pets for thirty years. In my Romancing in Scotland series there will always be a rabbit present.
9. What other authors are you friends with, and how do they help you become a better writer?
Since I began writing I’ve discovered several Facebook groups. I’ve made several friends from other Indie authors and we all live in one main group. We have a messenger group, but I also messenger a couple of them separately. These include Maya Daniels – she writes fantasy. Ann Robinson – erotic writer and A S Mcgowen – I love her centaur agency series.
10. If you could tell your younger writing self anything, what would it be?
Go for it and don’t be scared. And more than anything else, don’t waste twenty years with a story in your head. Get it down on paper.
11. What are common traps for aspiring writers?
Once you release the writing ideas, they don’t stop. Don’t try and work on too many books at one time, get the plots down and concentrate on a couple of books. Otherwise, you’ll never complete a novel.
Don’t fear criticism – it’s all helpful. Feel free to ask for help – we all need a helping hand at times. And if that dreaded writing block hits you – get outside and watch the world go by. Note down what you see and describe what is happening. Long walks in the countryside can clear your mind and get you back on track.
12. What’s the best way to market your books?
I’m still learning this. I have a marketing man on Facebook now who helps. I am in several groups and on twitter, where I can promote, and I do craft fairs. I haven’t attempted paid ads yet, but I know that is the way to go.
Word of mouth is the best and I plan to leave a book somewhere, when I go on holiday. And yes, it’s to Scotland, so I have the perfect book.
13. What is your favorite childhood book?
As I’m rabbit mad – Watership Down. Easy
Website – jmralley.ccom
Facebook – www.facebook.com/jmralley
Twitter - @jmralleyauthor