Kindle Author Interview: Sandra D. Tooley (aka Lee Driver)

Sandra D. Tooley (aka Lee Driver), author of Fatal Storm, discusses her book, her journey as a writer, and self-publishing on Kindle.

DAVID WISEHART: What can you tell us about Fatal Storm?

SANDRA D. TOOLEY: I am a fan of the TV series "Ghost Hunters" so I use a ghost hunter theme. In Fatal Storm the Indiana Paranormal Investigators are spending a night in a gothic mansion on the outskirts of Cedar Point, Indiana. Four people are participating, three remain in the morning. There have been other disappearances and homicides in the past connected with the mansion. The only common denominator has been the weather. Chase Dagger and his crew plan to spend the night in the mansion to seek answers. But they get more than they bargain for as another storm builds on the horizon. "Lightning is the least of your worries."

DAVID WISEHART: How do you develop and differentiate your characters?

SANDRA D. TOOLEY: Each has his/her own unique characteristic. I hear their voices in my head so they, in a way, tell me about themselves. Skizzy is the paranoid schizophrenic computer expert who believes in government conspiracies. Dagger is the brooding lone wolf who fires first and asks questions later. Sara has developed the most, from being a recluse, afraid of the outside world in the introductory short story to a gun-toting sidekick to Dagger. When I had first searched for the perfect partner for Dagger, I had read a short story about shapeshifters and thought those talents would be unique for my mystery/fantasy series. Sara can shift into a hawk or a wolf.

DAVID WISEHART: Who do you imagine is your ideal reader?

SANDRA D. TOOLEY: Anyone who can suspend disbelief. I have met readers with a variety of tastes. Those who are diehard cozy reader don't want anything with a splash of blood or violence, no matter how tame. Those serious traditional mystery readers can't suspend disbelief to save their soul. It has to have a logical investigation with a logical conclusion. Diehard fantasy and/or horror readers don't want those genres muddied up with mystery. Luckily, the list of readers of cross-genre mysteries is growing.

DAVID WISEHART: What was your journey as a writer?

SANDRA D. TOOLEY: I'd love to say I started writing poetry or short stories since I was a child but that wasn't the case.  Everything was in my imagination. I came up with plots for my favorite TV shows but never put anything down on paper. When I first started seriously about pounding something out on a typewriter it was television scripts. I wrote two scripts for Moonlighting which never saw the light of day. Then I segued to books. Writing scripts first translated great to writing books.

DAVID WISEHART: What is your writing process?

SANDRA D. TOOLEY: An idea for a plot comes first and then I have the ending in my head. My writing comes in spurts. I might spend a whole day writing followed by two days of not writing. I outline as I go along just to keep characters and events in front of me so I know on what page I mentioned a certain detail. I don't do any research until I'm done with the first rewrite after the draft. I type a double question mark ?? where I need to ask an expert or surf the net. That way I only have to do a search for all of those ??, print out the pages, then put them in separate piles, i.e., questions for my brother the lawyer, my friend the cop, my friend the nurse, or search the net for an expert. On average I spend about 6 months writing and 6 months polishing. I try to come out with one book a year.

DAVID WISEHART: What authors most inspire you?

SANDRA D. TOOLEY: In high school I discovered Nancy Drew but out of high school I segued to Stephen King and Dean Koontz. I loved the puzzle of a good mystery but loved the elements of horror and sci-fi. I knew writing a traditional mystery wasn't for me but I also knew writing straight horror wasn't my niche either. So I combine mystery with other genres.

DAVID WISEHART: What one book, written by someone else, do you wish you'd written yourself?

SANDRA D. TOOLEY: Carol O'Connell's Kathy Mallory series is one of my favorite. I don't think I have read a series where a character is so damaged and so fleshed out that you just want to wrap your arms around her. The first in the series, Mallory's Oracle, hooked me for life.

DAVID WISEHART: How have you marketed and promoted your work?

SANDRA D. TOOLEY: I mail out post cards; send out review copies; send post cards and handouts to mystery conferences for their info table; help man a booth at the Book Expo, American Library Association, and bookseller association shows for Sisters in Crime; attend some mystery conferences as a panelist; give presentations at libraries. I have a web site and a Facebook page, plus, I post on the Amazon dtp page. I also sometimes travel with two other others when we are invited to do informational programs for libraries. I make sure whatever handout I produce has a link to where my books and ebooks can be found.

DAVID WISEHART: Why publish on Kindle?

SANDRA D. TOOLEY: I just spent two months snowbirding it in Florida and you wouldn't believe the number of people reading ebooks by the pool on their Kindle. It's amazing the number of e-readers around and Amazon seems to have garnered a niche market. I had held back thinking having my books in hard cover, trade paperback, and audio book were sufficient. But so many authors I talk to were turning their books into ebooks and so many readers were reading ebooks that I knew I had to get on the ebook train and Amazon Kindle seems to be one of the best known.

DAVID WISEHART: What advice would you give to a first-time author thinking of self-publishing on Kindle?

SANDRA D. TOOLEY: Write a great book, have it edited, create an eye-catching cover, know your target audience, check out similar books to see what tags they used, and don't price it too high. If you are an unknown author, it wouldn't be wise to price it where the best-selling authors are pricing them. Around $2.99 or under is best.

DAVID WISEHART: Thanks, and best of luck with your books.


Sandra D. Tooley (aka Lee Driver ), "Whenever my husband is asked to describe me in one word, he usually says strange. When other kids were watching cartoons, I was watching Shock Theatre. While other young women subscribed to Cosmopolitan, I subscribed to Dr. J. Allen Hynek's UFO Reporter. X-Files, Dark Angel, Fringe, Moonlight, all the movies about things that go bump in the night are at the top of my list. So naturally a traditional mystery isn't my cup of poison. I blend mystery with fantasy, sometimes horror, and sometimes sci-fi. Chase Dagger isn't your ordinary detective. He has a shapeshifter for a partner.

"My titles have been published in hardcover, paperback, large print, audio book, and most ebook formats, including for the Kindle. I also write the Sam Casey series (think Medium with a Native American twist) under my own name, S.D. Tooley."

Visit her website.

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