For Inspiration

“I’ve failed over and over and over again in my life and that is why I succeed.”
—Michael Jordan

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I recently watched an interview of J.K. Rowling and loved every second of it. Truly inspiring. It’s amazing to think that she was rejected by so many publishers before she made it big. And boy, did she make it BIG.

Click here to watch the interview.

Author Interview with Sarah Solmonson

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I am thrilled to have the talented author of Taking Flight, Sarah Solmonson, as my guest author for today. I’ve been following Sarah’s blog for a while now, and I’ve been a fan of her writing. I recently picked up her memoir, Taking Flight, and I must say—it has made me into an even bigger fan.

I hope you enjoy this interview, and don’t forget to pick up Sarah’s book, Taking Flight.

What was the first thing you ever wrote, and how old were you when you wrote it?

SS: A group of high school kids came to my elementary school to help us write and illustrate books made of construction paper. I wrote quite a few hits, including “My Dog Maggie” and “I Like Ice Cream”. Ironically, I also wrote one called “My Daddies Airplane”. I fondly refer to this as my first draft of Taking Flight.

When did you know you wanted to write Taking Flight?

SS: I have always known I wanted to be a writer. I knew, probably a year after my dad passed away, that I wanted to write a book that was truthful to what grief is really like. It isn’t packaged neatly in a two week funeral and burial, write thank-you notes and move on way as society wants us to believe. I also knew that I wanted to write down the memories I had of my dad and the plane before they were lost to time. Those combined efforts and desires turned into Taking Flight.

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If you had to describe your book in one sentence, what would it be?

SS: Taking Flight is about the unbreakable bonds between a father and daughter who believe dreams are worth chasing, no matter what the cost.

What made you decide to self-publish?

SS: As I dipped my toe into the blogosphere I was incredibly impressed with the community of self-publishers. I loved that, for the most part, writers wanted to succeed and help their fellow authors succeed. Like many self-publishers, I liked the freedom that comes with owning all the rights to your work.

Who helped you edit your book? Did you hire an editor and/or a proofreader?

SS: I’m lucky – I have a good friend who is also an editor. But if I hadn’t had this perk available to me, I would have certainly hired an editor. Any reader can tell the difference between an unedited book and one that has been put through the ringer.

Do you think beta readers are helpful?

SS: Absolutely! But, they need to be the right beta readers. I believe there should be three: one who will love anything and everything you write, one that is the most avid reader of your genre that you know, and the third a complete stranger who has no ties or obligations to you. Get more opinions than that and you’ll likely have more opinions than you can reasonably handle.

What have you learned from writing your first book?

SS: This is still what I want to do with my life. Writing takes longer than you think. Do not write with the television on (no matter how uninterested you are in what your husband is watching, it will end up being more interesting than you writing). Take time out to read. Don’t read your Amazon reviews. Don’t spam people – build authentic relationships in your journey.

Describe your writing style.

SS: I write better when I have a 2-4 block of time available. This is why it is important to know yourself and what works for you. A lot of very good craft books say you have to write every day to get a book written, but because I write more and better in longer blocks of time, I don’t feel bad if I don’t touch my manuscript for a couple of days. If I can’t commit the time, I’d rather skip it than write half-heartedly.

Aside from memoirs, are you also interested in writing fiction?

SS: Yes! I have notebooks full of ideas, or potential ideas. I’m just waiting for one to hit me over the head and demand my attention.

Who is your favorite author, and why?

SS: There’s so many, so for now, I will answer with Ann M. Martin. “The Babysitter’s Little Sister’s Karen’s Little Witch” was the first book I bought with my own money, and I still have it sitting on my bookshelf.

What is your favorite book, and why?

SS: Fried Green Tomatoes At The Whistle Stop Café. My cousin and I watched the movie at my grandma’s house the summer I was 9 and I loved the character of Idgie Threadgoode. For my 10th birthday my grandma gave me a copy of the book, which I have read at least 3 times per year for the last 19 years. It is my comfort food.

Define a good book.

SS: See above! When a book is your comfort food, or keeps you up at night, or is the thing you have to tell every single person you know to go read…those are qualities of a good book!

Are you currently working on your second book?

SS: I am – and I’m so very close to finishing it! “There Is No Why Here” is a travel journal/memoir based on the study abroad trip I took to Germany and Poland studying WWII History and Literature. To say that trip and the things I learned saved my life is an understatement. I hope to publish June/July 2013 – stay tuned!

Where can readers purchase Taking Flight?

SS: Paperback and eBook are available on Amazon.

 

An Interview with Author, Lauren Waters

I am thrilled to have the lovely, Lauren Waters, the author of Infinite Sacrifice and Infinite Devotion, as my guest for this interview.

When did you know you wanted to become a writer?
LW: I wrote poetry since I was very young and I dreamed of becoming the next Jane Goodall. I thought I’d write about my adventures observing animals in exotic locations, but life went a different way and I chose to observe my own little monkeys. A few years ago, I felt compelled to write down the story that was keeping me up at night. Writing my first novel was so rewarding that I knew it was something I needed to do for myself from then on.

    

Tell us about Infinite Sacrifice and Infinite Devotion.
LW: Infinite Sacrifice is a reincarnation fantasy about an old woman named Maya who is shocked to discover it’s not the heaven she imagined; in fact, a life of adventure begins the moment she dies. What follows is a series of historic vignettes, spanning from the dawn of civilization up to the apocalyptic time of plague, all tied together with the thread of one soul’s journey for spiritual perfection. However, Maya is not alone on the road to enlightenment. She is surrounded by souls who help or hinder her progress—evolving alongside her throughout some of the most compelling events and eras in history.

Maya continues in Infinite Devotion to delve into her past lives after death, as she strives  to complete the tentative journey required to reunite with her loved ones in heaven. Her companions prove truer while her enemies grow stronger as her bygone adventures spin forth. This time she must experience the trials of loyalty and endure the hardships that only supreme devotion brings.

What inspired you to write your book series?
LW: An idea. Many say, “Write the books you want to read and for years, I wished that someone would release a book or movie that explored the possibilities of reincarnation. I came across a few books in this genre that centered on star-crossed young soul mates with only flashbacks of one other past life.  I yearned for one that dug deeply into all of the intricacies of many lives and many relationships. I wanted it to feel real. Therefore, I decided that I would write it.

What made you decide to self-publish?
LW: I queried my first book for six months and I was thrilled when my dream agent asked for a full request. She let me know that series sold well if they were stand alones, since publishers only want to continue with a series as long as it’s successful. She asked me to make it a stand-alone and I tried to think of how I could do that, but this story can never be a stand-alone. It is a true series, and I knew it had to be told as such. I decided then that I wanted to publish it on my own and I’ve never regretted that decision.

Which publishing company did you use and would you recommend them?
LW: I used Createspace for my print versions and I highly recommend them. The quality amazed me and they are very easy to work with. However, I have sold only a hand full of print copies outside my friends and family. The majority of sales for self-publishers will be ebooks sold through Amazon, Smashwords, and Barnes & Noble. I recommend all of these distributors. I know many indie authors who only publish in ebook form, yet I just had to have a physical copy for myself. If your budget is tight, by all means, forgo the print format.

What do you think are the advantages of self-publishing?
LW: Namely, control. You are the one who decides: which editing advice you listen to, cover design (one of my favorite jobs), title, book price, free promotions, which books you publish in the future, your promotional strategy, deadlines. The deadlines are the most important aspects for me since I have two little children who always come first. If I felt the pressure to complete a book by a certain date with a whole team of people relying on me, that pressure would interfere with my more important full time job. This way I can live my life around my passion for writing.

How do you feel about book trailers? Do you think they work?
LW: I had so much fun creating my book trailers. I’m not sure if they sell any of my books, but I don’t think they can hurt. If a reader doesn’t like book trailers then he won’t bother watching them, but if someone is interested, then they might get his attention. However, I wouldn’t pay someone to make one for you though. Here is a post I made so you can make one yourself: http://laurenwaters.net/2011/07/06/phew-the-book-trailer-is-done/. Any publicity is good publicity.

What type of marketing has been the most effective for you?
LW: Definitely making my first novel in the Infinite Series free. It has done wonders for me. I now advise any self-publisher to make something free for a prolonged period in order to get your other books noticed—whether it be a short story, novella, the first of the series, or part of your book. People mistrust self-publishing, so if you give them a free sample of your writing quality, they may invest into other works. Plus, you are seen on the free ebooks lists and on free ebook promotion sites. Again, publicity.

How much time do you think you spend on marketing your book online and offline?
LW: I try to do as little marketing as possible. It’s my least favorite part of the process (right after creating book descriptions!). This is one of the main reasons I made my first book free. That does most of the promoting for me. Every once in awhile, when the rankings slip, I have to get my free book featured on a free ebook site to pick the rankings back up. I also send my book out to book reviewers and give print copies of my second book away on Goodreads from time to time. Nothing sells your book better than word of mouth.

What do you think about blog tours? Do you participate in them?
LW: I have done a blog tour and didn’t see any huge increase in sales that week, but it’s a great way to get many reviews and interviews in a short amount of time. I chose a very inexpensive one, but I don’t think they paired up the reviewers very well with my genre. I have come across a fantastic historical fiction blog tour that I might splurge on in the future.

Aside from writing a great story, what do you think makes some self-published books succeed and some fail?
LW: Not putting enough time and money into it. Without a team of people telling you when your book is ready, you need to revise until it feels like terrorist torture to read your MS one…more…time. Then you need to send out to as many beta’s (hopefully some with writing experience) as you can. Then you need to make changes again. Then you have to pay for the best editor you can afford, and one or two proofreaders to catch all the things the editor missed. Pay for it now and save yourself the negative reviews and embarrassment of fixing typos after the fact.

Would you ever consider traditional publishing?
LW: Of course, I’ve dreamed of high sales that would attract the attention of my dream agent who will not only get my books in brick and mortar stores, and sell the screenplay to Bruckheimer (yes, I said dream). Then, I think about all that pressure and I’m content with where I am right now. My books and fans make me so happy; I don’t need much more. Although, after my children are grown, I might pursue traditional publishing when I can commit to it full time.

What book are you currently reading?
LW: The Reshaping of Everyday Life, 1790-1840 by Jack Larkin—research for my third book, Infinite Loss.

What is your favorite thing about being a writer?
LW: The best thing of all is when someone tells me that they loved reading my book. There are no words to describe how great that feels.

Thank you, Lauren for giving me the opportunity to interview you.

If you would like to check out Lauren’s blog or pick up a copy of her books, you can find her at: http://laurenwaters.net/.

Her books are also available on Amazon.