Updated: Apr 11, 2022
Welcome back to my author interview series. I first met Ursa on Instagram, and we've talked a ton since then! She's an author I really look up to, ever since began my author journey. I'm endlessly inspired by the success I've seen her have.
Ursa's newest release, Alien Exile, just came out TODAY! We'll chat more about it below, but as usual expect some fun teasers.
You can find Ursa online in all the following places:
Read on for my lovely chat with Ursa about her own authorship journey! AND enjoy the beautiful quotes from Alien Exile.
Do you write full time? Are you hoping to? How'd you decide on a timeframe for achieving that
Right now, I'm a full-time stay at home parent and writer. I had my first baby in February 2020, right before COVID hit. I'm very grateful to live in Canada and have access to an 18 month mat leave, but even at the 18 month mark we weren't ready to put our baby in daycare.
So, I decided to stay home and try to replace my full-time income from my old job with writing. I consider myself very lucky to have achieved that goal relatively quickly, but at the same time, it actually wasn't all that quick. Ursa Dax is my fourth pen name, and it's the first one that's gotten any real traction. I've been self-publishing in various genres of romance and erotica since 2016, but it wasn't until we knew I wasn't going back to my job in 2021 that I kicked it into high gear and launched my new alien romance pen name, Ursa Dax.
How do you handle social media as an author? What do you prioritize and what platforms do you focus on? I'm not great with social media right now. I absolutely love connecting with other authors and readers, but I don't love spending time on social media in general. Discord, where I talk to a lot of other authors, is definitely my jam, and I spend most of my online time here. I do use TikTok and a few of my TikTok videos have done very well. Those videos, and the audience there, really gave me a big boost before my debut launch, so I like to continue to post videos there now and then. But I don't spend too much time on the app itself.
As everyone knows, the FYP is one giant time-suck! I'm probably most active on Instagram, where I post snippets of my WIPs and update my stories fairly regularly. I have a (kind of sad and sparse) Facebook page, and I've just joined with some other amazing authors in my genre to launch a Facebook readers group called Interstellar Ever After, but those are currently in their baby stages. Authors have so many responsibilities. What do you handle yourself, what do you outsource, and why? I'm a bootstrapper. I do pretty much everything myself. Luckily, I made most of my mistakes on my other pen names, so by the time I launched Alien Tyrant, that was my ninth published novel and probably my fifteenth published book if you include novellas and shorts. I make my own covers and run my books through Grammarly, then my mom proofreads them. I format them for free through Draft2Digital. And that's about it. My process is pretty fast.
I only ever write one draft and I only go back to fix typos. I take 2-3 weeks to write a 65K-75K-word novel, proofread it alongside my mom with the help of Grammarly, then I send out the ARCs basically the day after it's been proofread. A week after that, the book is live on Amazon. Now, this isn't something I recommend for new authors. I've been in the game a while now, and I feel comfortable making my own covers and forgoing an editor because I have built up the skillset to be able to do that and still see success. If you're just starting out, I'd definitely recommend using professionals for these services.
What does your writing schedule look like? My parents live very close to me, so right now I take our toddler over there three times a week. On those days, I sprint like a mad woman, usually aiming for about 5-7K words. On the other days, when I don't have childcare help, I get up before my baby (luckily she sleeps in) and try to get 1500 words in before she wakes up. I often write at night, too, after she's in bed. Basically wherever I can squeeze it in, I do. I recognize I'm extremely privileged to have the support system I do - the support of my parents and my husband has been integral to making my schedule as effective as it is. What's one thing you'd change about your personal author journey, looking back? I'd spend less time chasing the trad-publishing dream. I actually got my MA in Creative Writing from the University of Toronto, and if I'm being honest, my sole purpose in doing that (besides wanting to be a better writer) was to learn how to get a publishing deal. My dream was to sell one literary fiction novel, get a huge advance, and be set for life (I think we all have a dream like that in us, somewhere). I wrote my first novel, a literary fiction book, as my MA thesis, then spent almost a year after my MA polishing it.
Then, I spent another year querying. I had some interest from agents who loved my writing style, but who said they just wouldn't be able to sell the story to a publisher. I don't regret getting my MA, but I do wish I had switched gears into self-publishing sooner. I love being indie so much - having the utmost control over my story, and having absolutely no gatekeeping.
Now, the readers are the only judges who matter, and I don't have to worry about agents or publishers or any of that. I wish I would have spent less time chasing the trad side of things, but I then again also feel that everything worked out the way it should have in the end, so I'm still grateful for all of it, too.
Any tips for newer authors on how to make their authorship journey a success?
Find like-minded authors. For this pen name, I've found an amazing group of other SFR and PNR authors whom I work with. We share craft tips and support each other's work. This pen name is the first time I've had that - a group of friends writing in my genre, and I think it has been instrumental to my success.
I'd also suggest that writers let go of some of their preconceived notions about what they can achieve. If you had told me during my MA that I would now be writing 5K words a day, sometimes past 10K in a day, I wouldn't have believed you. I didn't think it was possible. But it is, and I could have gotten to where I am sooner if I had let go of some of those restrictions on myself and had just gone for it. So, I guess my advice boils down to: find your people and let go of the fear.
Huge thanks to Ursa for joining me on the blog today! Here's a little more info about her newest release, Alien Exile!
If you're an author, and interested in being part of this series–please email me at email@example.com so we can set it up!
"I know that I may be frightening, my mate. But beneath all that makes me strange to you, my heart recognizes yours..."
I've spent most of my time on this alien planet alone in the wrecked human ship. So now that I'm living with the other girls and the barbarian warriors at the Cliffs of Uruzai, I'm finding it hard to adjust. These Sea Sand guys are just so... alien.
But they're nothing compared to the monster that comes stalking out of the shadows of the cliffs one night. He has a snout, and claws, and a massive spiked tail. He's more like a crocodile than a man, and even worse than that, he claims he has a human mate. When his dark eyes settle on me, I know with a sinking feeling exactly who it is he's been looking for.
I want to stay as far away from this nine-foot-tall lizard man as I possibly can. But when a mission across the sands throws us together, I find myself spending a lot more time with him than I'd bargained for. And I find myself starting to grow closer to him than I ever would have imagined.
But as my feelings for him grow, so does my fear. Because this mission we're on? It could be the end of him. The end of both of us, before we even begin.
I have travelled days upon days to find my soft, strange mate. But now that I have found her, she recoils from me. I am the in-between, the exile, caught halfway between the sea and the sands and the only one of my kind. I am aware that I am strange, but I never thought my own beautiful mate would regard me as a monster.
The Sea Sand men tell me my mate does not feel the mate bond for me. If I am to have her, I must somehow win her. But before I can figure out how to do that, we are forced into a journey to the Bitter Sea. The Sea Sand tribes need me to find my father's people, a race of beings I have never even seen.
Crossing the Bitter Sea is the most dangerous thing I've ever done. But it is in service of my mate, so I will do it. And I will not hesitate.
I would do anything to keep her safe. Even if that means tearing myself from her side forever.
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