Interview with Dana Ellington Myles


After a two-week hiatus from my Wonderful Women Writer series, I’m back at it.  Ridiculous deadlines and holidays can throw a wrench in the best laid plans.  OH well, moving forward!

Have you ever met someone, or even cyber met someone who you instantly seemed to bond with?  Someone with a kindred spirit?  You can so relate to them because they think like you.   Great minds think alike,  twisted minds laugh together sort of thing.  I love reading her blog, and often feel compelled to leave comments; not that what I have to say is so important but I’m in strong agreement with what she said.

I personally think that we must have been twins separated at birth or something.  They kept her and sold me to the gypsies then lied to my “parent’s” about my age.  (There’s just no way I can be this ‘mature’!) I would defend that statement but I have to admit the family resemblance to my mother and sisters is disturbing.  Personality-wise though, Dana and I are more alike  than my own blood.

* Tall lean English gentleman pours our coffee as we begin.  Both our eyes riveted to him as he pours then walks backstage.   Sigh.  We exchange glances, a slow smile spreading on our faces.*   Clears throat, ahem.   Shall we begin?

Welcome my guest today, Dana Ellington Myles.   * A section of gents stand and applaud wildly.*  They aren’t shirtless, nor have they painted their bodies. Cheers go up revealing sexy British accents.  Both our eyes search the crowd to determine which voice belongs to which man.

OK guys, settle down over there!

Dana,  I’m so excited to have you here.  It seems we’ve connected instantly on Facebook, and in our writing group.  Tell me a little about yourself.

Air Force brat, born in Germany, lived in England long enough to establish a life-long love of fish& chips, British comedy, and the Queen’s English (even though I spoke both that and Cockney fluently by the age of seven).  I’m 45 years old and just now admitting what I want to be when (if) I grow-up.  I throw in the “if” because it’s still up for debate if I will ever reach that mythical state of being.  In fact, I remember very clearly telling people when I was sixteen years old, that based on the examples of grown-ups I had in my life, I was definitely going to find an alternative as I got older.

I’m divorced, and after a string of unsuccessful relationships and dating disasters, I’m very single.  I would love to be in a long-term, committed relationship, but at this point in my life, I’m not so sure I can ever live with anyone else.  I am willing to share my life just not my space if that makes any sense.  I can’t imagine having to consult with a husband on whether or not he “minds” if I hang my sword collection in the living room, or being told at three o’clock in the morning that the sound of my typing is keeping anyone awake.

I have one daughter (19 years old and an artistic soul as well which means she’ll probably end up living with me for the rest of her life as she makes a go at that acting thing); one tattoo; I’ve been married once, and have jumped or rather fallen out of an airplane (with a professional sky diver and parachute attached to my back) once.  Notice the theme.  I believe there are certain things in life you only need to do once and after that, you thank the Universe you survived and move on.

Nods head in agreement.  OK, you know I gotta comment here.  I’m with you – haven’t decided what I’m going to be when I grow up.  I’m on revision 3.0 and finally pursuing my dreams.  Been in the longterm committed relationship for a long time.   Sometimes, I envy you having your freedom and not having to consult anyone.  I’ll just leave it at that. Can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard complaints about the clicking of the keyboard at 2 or 3.  It’s not my fault the muse is a night owl!  And sword collection?  Girl we have GOT to talk! 

Ironically I have two girls, similar in age and both are artists in their heart.  Coming from a big family I wanted the oldest one to have at least one sibling.  What was I thinking? MOVING ON!

What genre do you write?

Funny you should ask that.  I was just recently thinking about this.  My writing seems to be in that often misunderstood and wildly debased genre known as ‘Chick-Lit’.  I  prefer to consider my writing  “transformative literature for women”, which is a fancy way of saying I write about women who start off in one place emotionally, maybe even physically, and by the end of the story, have transformed or grown into more confident, self-loving people.  I hope that anyone reading my writing is able to transform in similar ways – that they come away from my stories with a sense of self that’s stronger, more positive than when they began.

Love it!  I love that phrase also, transformative literature.  I’m so over status quo, it’s all about change for me.

How did you get started?

You know, I’m not at all sure.  I know I’ve been writing with some skill since I was 12 years old.  I was an avid reader and for me, the two went hand in hand.  I eventually started keeping a journal but outside of that or writing I did in school and eventually through work, my pen was fairly still.    I didn’t realize I wanted to be a (well paid, published) novelist until one day at work – stop me if you’ve heard or read this before – but my supervisor passed an article around to the team, “Dressing for Success” or some other such nonsense.  Basically it was an article all about how to dress professionally.  Apparently my version of business casual attire had garnered some unfavorable feed back; the supervisor passed the article around to everyone so as not to single me out, but we all knew the score.  Anyway, the article gets to me and I read it. One line stood out, “dress for the position you want.”  Immediately I thought to myself, if I were to do that, I’d be showing up in my pajamas, robe and slippers because what I really want to do is work from home, making a living from my writing.  It would still be another three years before I self-published my first book, and another two after that before I really got serious about making novelist the last job listed on my resume.

*Jordan comes back refilling our cups, bringing a tray of scones and fresh fruit. He deposits the tray  then returns to kitchen*  Where were we?  *Hmm, shuffles papers clearing throat.*

Describe your writing routine.

Routine?  I wish.  I’ve learned from the writing community that I’m what’s known as a “pantser”, as in I write by the seat of my pants – there is no planning, no routines, no set and narrow path by which I come to putting words to paper.  Usually what happens is a character will start talking to me or I’ll get this vivid image of a scene in my head.  From there, it’s write or go crazy.  The times I’ve imposed anything resembling a schedule to my writing (NaNoWriMo), my muse seems to take vacation and my characters clam-up.  They don’t like being told when to produce apparently and will leave me high and dry if I give them deadlines or schedules to follow.  Occasionally I prime the pump with a trip through the blog-sphere or a quick dance around Facebook to get the words flowing.  Yeah, that’s my story and I’m sticking to it. Procrastination, ha!  (insert wink here)

“Yew can tell my story love,  I’ll not disappear from yew. ‘Ere’s my numba, I’ll show around, take a ride on the needle.”

“Hey now, I was goin’ to offer her a tour.  Dana, I’m the one you want.”  He stands up.  Roughly six feet tall, resembling Jason Stratham only a little younger. “The names Colin.”

Dana blushes, as her admirers nearly break out in a fight.  OH NO!  The shirts have come off, now they are fighting.  It’s like a scuffle in a rugby match. Shirts flying, now more men have joined the scuffle. 

A kilted Scot stands up clearing his throat. “Ere now. ‘Ave a care. Yu don’ actually  think yu’ll be impressing the lass with your posturin’ now do yu?  More man than any of these wankers, I’m the one yu’ll be wanting.”  Colin leaps across, tackling him to the ground, his kilt flying up revealing truth and much more! 

“Who you calling a wanker?”  The fists are flying, oh my.  Time to break it up.

Ahem!  Gentlemen please!  This is not ‘last man standing’.  Each of you will have an opportunity to have Dana sign your books.   Yes Colin, or your chest!  *Nods appreciatively*  Now please be seated while we continue.  Jordan moves closer, his hand going for the shoulder holster.   I motion him to give them a chance. After a few exchanges they settle back into their seats. 

Don’t make me use my mother’s voice!   I glare them down, they avert their eyes.

How long did it take you to have your first book published?

From start (meaning when I got the idea to do a collection of short pieces) to finish (when the books were in my hands) was a little longer than a year.  The stories had already been written in one form or another so it was mostly just a matter formatting to get them into one document I could then format to fit a “book”.  There was time spent looking for agents and publishers before deciding to self-publish.  Then there was time looking through self-publishing companies and realizing that I couldn’t afford, nor did it make sense to go that route.  Tack on more time finding out how to produce a book myself and you have over seven months of a learning curve that finally got me in position to purchase my own ISBN and find a company that would do the printing and binding.

Which do you prefer, the publishing side or the writer side?

The writing side, most definitely.  That’s the only part of this lifestyle that I have any real control over.  Publishing?  Well, in my case I have a lot of control over that as well seeing as how I’m pretty much a one stop shop.  What’s out of my hands is when the money to pay for ISBNs and printing services is going to fall into place.  I have the usual regular living expenses and until my marketing efforts begin to pay off, or I find a sponsor, then I’m at the mercy of my regular budget which tends to be stretched pretty thin as it is.  It’s frustrating to have people ready to buy, but then having to make them wait until I can pull together the money to print another round.  I’ve finally gone digital through Amazon so at least I can offer Kindle versions of my books fairly quickly, but most of my readers so far are old school in that they prefer a bound book in their hands.

What advice would you give to aspiring authors?

First off, learn the business of publishing.  Once you know the way the process works.  You’ll find it easier to be patient waiting for responses to your submissions and a lot less likely to end up discouraged when rejections show up (if you’re going the traditional submission route).  You’re also in a better position to understand the contracts self-publishers are offering, how royalties are paid out and so on.  Knowing the business will keep you from being taken advantage of in most cases.

Second, learn the business of self-promotion and marketing for writers.  This was one area I had really, no clue about and it’s been a rude awakening.  Time management is key in this area if you’re a newbie and working a full-time job of any kind (anyone at home with kids under the age of 18 works a full-time job).  Marketing is going to require you to maximize all of your resources as well as using every opportunity to promote your work.   Do whatever you can to overcome any shyness or reluctance you have in this area as connecting with readers and gaining their support is SO important.

Lastly, and maybe this should be first because ultimately, it’s what fuels so much – but please, please, please, hone your craft and WRITE.  Never stop learning how to improve your writing, and then keep writing – articles, novels, short stories, blog posts, flash fiction, whatever.  You have to have a body of writing to choose from as you enter contests, query agents and publishers.  You’ll need to be able to pull excerpts and samples at a moment’s notice sometimes and it’s great when you have a hard drive / flash drive / file folder full of pieces to choose from.

Oh wait, I guess this is my last bit of advice.  Keep in mind, as much fun as you may have writing, it’s still a business and one that relies heavily on first impressions.  Your product, your writing persona, your image – all of them need to be as well put together as any business person you know and trust.

Who are your favorite authors?

If we’re talking “mass market fiction” my favs are:

  • Stephen King,
  • Charlaine Harris,
  • James Butcher, and
  • Kim Harrison.

In “literature”, I love

  • Edgar Allen Poe,
  • H.P. Lovecraft (select stories), and
  • William Shakespeare, surprisingly enough.  While I can’t quote the Bard from memory, I do have my favorite plays and characters.  Once deciphered, his writing comes across to me as so lyrical not to mention he was the Stephen King of his day – a prolific writer and known to write some pretty horrific scenes for his day.

For reference materials, I’m grateful for:

·         Renea Winchester (book – Stress-free Marketing: Practical Advice for the Newly Published Author),

·         Tonya Kappes (book – The Tricked Out Toolbox: Promotion and Marketing Tools Every Writer Needs), and

·         Robert McKee (Story: Substance, Structure, Style and The Principles of Screenwriting).

I recommend them as staples in any writer’s library along with the usual thesaurus, dictionary, grammar and style guides.

In the blog-sphere, I’m enjoying

·         Raymond Frazee (http://wideawakebutdreaming.wordpress.com/),

·         Buffy Armstrong (http://pixiesdonthavewings.blogspot.com/

·         Jennifer Don (http://thoughtsgowild.blogspot.com/),

·         John Scott (http://shavenwookiee.wordpress.com/),

·         Kristen Lamb (http://warriorwriters.wordpress.com/),

·         you (https://quotidiandose.wordpress.com/),

·         Kalie Lyn (http://palmtreesbarefeet.wordpress.com/),

·         Dangerous Lee (http://dangerouslee.biz/), and

·         Duncan Armstrong (http://duncantarmstrong.wordpress.com/)

These are my go-to’s for examples of great writing and for the reminder that there are others out there on a similar journey; I pull strength and determination from them daily.

Wow!  That’s a great list.  I absolutely agree with your reference material, some great selections there.  I follow some of those same blogs plus yours!  We both have an interest in going to London, and traveling in UK.  If you were in UK for a two-week vacation – what is on your must see list?

Two week vacation and it’s all about the castles and other very old, historical spots on the island.  I want to go back to where we lived all those years ago – Newcastle, Burwell, and Lakenheath AFB.  Then of course, there are three night clubs I want to go to – Ministry of Sound, Fabric and Aquarium.  A ride on the London Eye and a tour of Buckingham Palace and I think I’d be happy.
Castles, yes!  I’m trying to figure out how to get government funding for extensive research and travel to study all the castles that dot the UK landscape, both standing and in ruin.  Medieval society plays a key role in forming our current sociological systems.  I could discover something ground breaking! It has more relevance  on our socioeconomic system than the God particle!
Is there any particular British man who sparks your interest?  * The men start vocalizing – “Pick me, I know it’s me Dana.  I”ll be the man of your dreams.”  “Sit down you yob, I’m her man.”
“You’re all wrong, I’m the one she wants.”   Dana blushes before clearing her throat to answer.
Right now, my Brit of choice is Idris Elba.  So diggin’ on him but I’m not sure why as he’s never been this big on my radar before even though I’ve seen him in a few movies here and there.  Wouldn’t mind spending some quality (cuddle) time with Jason Statham either.  Whew!  Straight hotness!
*Colin stands cheering, does a fist pump as two guys try to push him off the stands.*
Guys!  Settle down, we’re almost through here.  Thank you so much for sharing with us today Dana.  We’ll talk more about swords, castles and hot Brits later.  While Dana gets set up to sign books, and  er . . . yes Colin . . your chest, let me give you some links where she can be found.

Nowata Publishing available titles:

To purchase paperback copies, send a short email to: dmyles3784@yahoo.com with the words, “book purchase” in the subject line.  Include which books you’d like to order, your mailing address and whether your purchase will be cash, money order, or credit / debit card.

You can find me on Facebook, Twitter, and blogging on WordPress all under the name, Satin Sheet Diva.

I have an author’s page on Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/author/satinsheetdiva

I’m available for readings, writing workshops, and to do book signings.  You may contact me directly at (678) 348-6398 or via email, dmyles3784@yahoo.com.

Thank you Dana for coming by my blog.  Now, about that sword collection . . .

Good luck sorting out your fans over there.  *Jordan stands behind Dana, his holster visible to any that think they may get out of line. *

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3 comments on “Interview with Dana Ellington Myles

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