# Please introduce yourself and your book(s)!
I’m Stephanie Reisner, I am a full-time novelist/writer, and I write under four pennames. S. J. Reisner (Rated PG13 fantasy and romance), Anne O’Connell (Rated X – steamy romance both contemporary and paranormal), Audrey Brice (Rated R – Urban Fantasy, Paranormal, Supernatural Horror, Cozy Mystery), and finally, S. Connolly (Non-Fiction, Occultism, Esoteric, Magic, and Demonology). Currently, my most popular fiction series are Thirteen Covens and Wicked Ways via my Audrey Brice pen name. While I do have a B.A. in English (Creative Writing with a Journalism minor), I started out like most authors, writing as a hobby in my spare time. Back in the days before I was a full-time writer I ran an accounting department, and later an HR department, in the corporate business world. I’ve also been a championship winning equestrian, a ghost-hunter, and a master gardener. I’ve written books that have won awards and was the Rocky Mountain Fiction Writer’s 2019-2020 Independent Writer of the Year. I have penned over 50 books and hundreds of articles and short stories. You can learn more about my books at www.sjreisner.com
# What inspires/inspired your creativity?
I am inspired by nature, people, and the dark, liminal spaces the strike fear in the hearts of men. I am inspired by the unexplained, the macabre, the taboo, and the fringe.
# How do you deal with creative block?
I don’t generally have creative blocks. I have creative overloads. I am often so inspired that I jump from project to project, and everything gets done slower as a result. The choice, for example, is 5K written on one project, or 1K written on each of five projects. It can be just as annoying. However, when I focus on one project to meet a deadline, if I’m having a block, it’s because I need to do more plotting, or I’m just being lazy and need to sit my butt in the chair and force myself to write through it. Writer’s block is often an excuse writers use when they’re lacking discipline or lacking the mental energy to sit down and write.
# What are the biggest mistakes you can make in a book?
Editing it forever and never finishing it. Perfectionism doesn’t suit writers. No matter how hard you try to be perfect, you never will be. There will always be that one reader who hates everything you pen. There will always be a better way to say something. Or a more interesting way to get your protagonist from point A to point B. There will always be that one error that makes it through all those drafts, all your editing passes, and is even missed by your editors. A single error used to drive me up a wall when I first started out. Even if it was just a weird space or a missing period. Now, with over 100 titles published, I look at each book’s flaws as a unique attribute of that particular book’s process. That’s not to say given the opportunity I wouldn’t fix the imperfections – I totally would. I just don’t let it stress me out like it used to, and I don’t allow fear of imperfection keep me from finishing one book and starting the next.
# Do you have tips on choosing titles and covers?
It’s all subjective. That said – do look at the covers of the bestselling books in your genre(s) and pull out the common elements to make sure your covers and titles are on point. Also, don’t do your own covers, and oftentimes what the author likes for their cover is not what will attract the reader. Really – look at covers in your genre and seek out a cover designer who designs covers in that genre. The cover being on point for the market is much more important than if the author likes it. (Especially if you want to write for a living.)
# How do bad reviews and negative feedback affect you and how do you deal with them?
All art, including the written word, is subjective. I’m of the opinion that if you haven’t gotten a negative review yet, strangers haven’t started reading your book(s). It’s statistically impossible for every reader to love what you write. The more people who read your books, the higher the chances of you running across a reader who doesn’t like your work. I read my reviews despite the popular advice that you shouldn’t just to get a feel for the audience’s reaction, but I’ve learned to take the bad reviews with a grain of salt, and I don’t dwell on them.
# How has your creation process improved over time?
It has definitely become more predictable and streamlined, making it easier for me to schedule how many releases I can put on the schedule. Not to mention, I now know what to expect in my process and what my process needs to make a book a tangible reality.
# What were the best, worst and most surprising things you encountered during the entire process of completing your book(s)?
The most surprising thing was learning that even if you’ve written 100 books – no two are alike and they each have their own unique challenges. Also, writing and finishing a book doesn’t get easier with each book – it just becomes more routine.
# Do you tend towards personal satisfaction or aim to serve your readers? Do you balance the two and how?
I have always written my books to satisfy the reader me. Because obviously I was a reader first before I decided I wanted to be a writer. So, I do tend to write with the commercial market in mind. Once a book turns into a series, then I might allow input from readers of that series to influence future books.
# What role do emotions play in creativity?
I do know that for me, if I am emotionally compromised, I don’t feel like writing at all. And I don’t force myself to. Self-care comes before the writing. The writing can’t happen if I’m not healthy enough (emotionally or physically) to write. But I think all writers are different. I know writers who can’t write unless they’re depressed or upset.
# Tell us some quirky facts about yourself
Some quirky facts about me:
- I have a sword and edged weapon collection that contains 50 + swords, and 30+ knives.
- I work most days in my pajamas because I can’t be bothered to get dressed.
- If I hadn’t gone to school for writing, I would have gone to school for horticulture or botany. I like plants.