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Archive for March, 2014

Welcome to the second installment of the Pay-It-Forward Author Interview series! If you are an author or have a book being released in the next year and would like to join this interview series, click here for details.

This week I am featuring a fellow homeschooling mom and writer. Emmy Gatrell took the plunge and published her first book on her own – a feat that has brought in 4 & 5 star ratings on Amazon.

If you are a fan of fantasy, love secrets and new discoveries, the Meanmna is the book for you. Read on to learn more about Emmy Gatrell and then give her book a try.

emmy gatrell

Meanmna is a fantasy novel for teens. What are some other authors who inspired you to write in this genre?

I could easily name a hundred authors that inspired me to write in the fantasy genre. I tend to read more series than standalone books. There was one in particular that had the biggest impact on what I read and write about.

  • The Dragon Prince Series by Melanie Rawn—I found this trilogy at a used book store when I was fourteen (it’s not necessarily for teens, I just read it when I was one.) I have re-read it every couple of years since. It’s an Epic story, which requires you to reference maps and family trees to navigate at times. It’s one of my all-time favorite series in any genre. I still have my original copies. They’ve been read so many times they’re completely worn out.
  • The Grey Wolves Series by Quinn Loftis— Hysterical (could have one of the funniest characters I’ll ever read) and heartbreaking (there are several parts that require tissues.)
  • A House of Night Series by P.C. Cast and Kristin Cast— One of the best, scariest, evil, bad person’s, ever.
  • Seven Years: A Seven Series Novel by Dannika Dark—I wish I waited to read this one, it was really, really good and I am really, really impatient. I can’t wait for the next one, whatever characters the story focusses on next, I want to know more about. That’s great story telling.

Describe your writing schedule. Are you strict with your writing, do you write when inspired, or are you somewhere in between?

I have to be strict with my writing for several reasons. As a mother of two kids, I know there is no guarantee of getting any writing done once the house wakes up. I also prefer working in quiet because I can become distracted easily, so I wake up extremely early to write almost every day. I like to get up two or three hours before the kids start getting up. I write if I can during the day, but it’s sporadic at best and I really don’t get much accomplished. I sneak both reading and writing in whenever I can, but early morning writing is my writing time.

The cover of your book is amazing! As a self-published author, this is a rarity. Who did your cover art?

Thank you! I love it, it’s so beautiful and I totally got lucky on that one. After I tried a couple different folks for the cover and just wasn’t quite happy with the results. My husband asked Norman Wong, someone he works with if he could give it try as a last ditch effort. He was wonderfully kind to turn it around quickly and what an end product! I knew Norman was really good at what he does, but wow, when I saw my cover, I knew he was an artist. It’s so much better than I imagined it could or hoped it would be.

meanmna cover

What was important for you in your book production? Share some successes, obstacles, lessons…

If I was going to take the risk of people reading my work and either liking it or hating it. I wanted to make sure I put the best product out there I could. I researched what made a self-published novel successful and the biggest recommendations were to hire a development editor and a copy editor. I used Writers in the Sky for both and also had my sister copy edit it.

Yvonne Perry, was my development editor. She pointed out the holes, asked for more or less, and asked the questions that propelled the story into what it is. She also took the time to really teach me about writing. I learned so much from her and while I am under no illusions that I am a perfect writer, I am a much better one because of her. That’s why you need a copy editor. I’m convinced that you should have as many people as possible to do a copy edit, everyone that went through it found something we all missed and a couple mistakes were found after it was published too. Whether you hire them or have a friend take one more look at it, you should. Things get missed, try to have as few as possible. A new set of eyes never hurts.

So much of being an Indie Author depends on not only your own creativity to write a book, but to sell it. What tips about marketing you can share?

The launch went far better that we had hoped, I’m still figuring all of that out. Social media is the biggest tool you can have, but we didn’t just use online media I did old school signs in supermarkets and local stores (I live in a small town) which amazingly enough, did actually work. Even one of the shop keepers gussied up the flier after she read it and even left a review, so I know it at least influenced one person!

Of course shamelessly ask your friends and family to read it. Create an author page on Facebook and post on there, I’m not so good at that one yet.

We ran some ads on Facebook which had success, specifically ones which incorporated the geography in the book. The Facebook page and orders had a nice spike after I ran an ad targeted people in Lenawee County Michigan, where the story starts and another one targeted to jam band fans. The biggest risk I’ve taken was to have it available for free for a day. Since I am planning on possibly seven books, I was more interested in having as many people read it as possible, than profit right now. In twenty-four hours over five hundred people downloaded my book, that is so freaking cool, I’m honored. The book’s done well over all but I don’t think I can truly rate success until the release of book two.

 Is writing your only career? Or are you ‘doing research’ as a paralegal, a doctor, teacher, student, or construction worker?

The only research I’m doing is how to be a better mom. I’m a stay at home mom to two boys. I recently started home schooling my kids because we’re going to be splitting our time between our home in North Georgia and vacation home Costa Rica. My husband travels for work a good deal, so I’m pretty much on duty 24/7 when he’s on the road.

Can we expect another book from you? Will it be a follow up to this one or are you starting something new?

I am planning on six books in this series and a possible pre-quell. I’m currently finishing up the first draft of Beinn-Theine: Book Two of the Daearen Realms. I’m planning on publishing it this summer.

Do you belong to a writing community? (i.e. NaNoWriMo, a writing group, or anything through social media)

No, not at this moment. I’m still in the ‘I can’t believe I wrote a book’ phase and think of myself as someone who wrote a book, not necessarily an author, yet. I’m just not sure what I’d have to offer at this point.

Please share with us something about the following topics that you think is so important that our lives will be forever changed. No pressure, right?

Writing and why it’s important:

I don’t really know what to say. Writing is important to me because it makes me happy. I love sitting back and creating something only I can see until I can find the right words to let someone else see it. I didn’t realize how much I missed writing until I started doing it again. So I guess my life changing thoughts are not really necessarily about writing it’s about happiness. You should find that thing that makes you happy. Don’t let fear stop you, don’t let anything stop you. If you do stop, don’t take eighteen years to try again. Work until you get to the point that you wake up excited and go to bed fulfilled even if that means waking up at 3:30. Finally, judge your own success, set your own goals, and don’t forget all the other aspects of your life that matter too.

Social Media and Face-to-face marketing:

I haven’t really had any face to face marketing yet, unless you count me announcing it to my Zumba class, but I have had write up in various papers and blogs and this interview I’m sure thankful for and I plan a more formal launch on my first book, when I get the second book done, since I think some people are hesitant to buy a book in a series with only one book released, at least I know I am.

A recipe you love:

I love cooking. This is one of the simplest easiest recipes that you can’t mess up even if you tried and it is so yummy. I make this and serve it with all kinds of foods. Burgers, hot dogs, tacos, fish, steak, the possibilities are endless. It might sound weird, but the reaction the lime juice has to the red onion is just magic.

Red Onion Lime Relish

Ingredients:

Red onion(s)

Limes

Salt & Pepper

Fresh chopped cilantro (optional)

 

Directions:

Cut as many red onions as you want. Squeeze cut limes over onions until mostly covered with juice (typically two small limes per red onion.) Grind some fresh salt and pepper on the top, add cilantro if using. Mix, cover, refrigerate for two hours, mixing occasionally. Enjoy!

Check out Emmy’s book, Meanmna, and remember to leave a review. This entire series of author interviews is all about paying-it-forward. What you do today out of kindness for someone will reward you greatly in the future.

Connect with Emmy on Facebook: http://facebook.com/emmygatrell

emmy gatrell

Bio:  Emmy is a stay at home mom to her husband, 2 kids and 4 dogs and just self-published her first book, Meanmna – Book One of the Daearen Realms. She splits her time between the North Georgia Mountains and Costa Rica. Currently, she is actively finishing Beinn-Theine: Book Two of the Daearen Realms, and is looking forward to writing all the stories of the Daearen Realms.

 

indie and small press

 

Previous Interviews:

Theresa Jenner Garrido

Other Articles of Interest:

Marketing

Journal Writing

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It’s March and we’ve long forgotten our New Year’s Resolutions. The fervor with which we planned the success of this year in January is probably frozen solid…we’ve certainly had the weather for that here in Michigan. (FYI – It was 14 below zero this morning…a temp so common now that school wasn’t cancelled despite the fact that it was when the temps were 10 below zero in January.)

Shake off those March doldrums, pour a glass of something you normally drink in the summer, and roll up your sleeves. It’s time to gear up and resurrect the goals for this year.

Speaking personally, this means that the novel I thought I could wrap up in December needs to be complete by the end of this month. I set an unrealistic deadline for myself during the Christmas season. It happens.

To keep myself on track, I did this for the month of February:

A Plan: Create an editorial calendar for the next month. Write down 5-10 things you want to accomplish and schedule time to  complete those takes on a calendar. At the end of the month, be honest with yourself and reflect on how you did. What worked? What didn’t? Repeat for the next month.

Writing Time isn’t always spent writing. Much of the time, I stare out the window as I need to first visualize a scene before I can write it. Although I appear to be day dreaming…well, that’s exactly what I’m doing, except I do need to come back to my desk to write down my day dreams. That’s where a plan is handy.

In February, I did well planning my journaling and blogging, but novel writing took a back seat. I’m going to work on that this month by spending my Wednesday writing time making notes for scenes. Thursday is my big writing day. Thursday is the day my husband is home in the afternoon, giving me from 1:00 – 9:00 PM to write. I do take breaks, but I’ve set a goal to have close to 3,000 well-written words every Thursday. Lofty, I know.

I’ve taken this exercise a step further and I encourage you do to the same. We’ve all heard that if we want to be a writer, we must write every day. It’s common sense that holds true for anything a person might want to accomplish: runners must run, athletes must practice, students must go to school. My obstacle has always been finding balance with my writing and my family. The solution that is working (for now) is to focus on one thing each day based on how much time I can devote to writing and reading.

Here’s the breakdown:

Mondays are the days I crank out my blog posts for the week. I don’t publish them all on that Monday, but schedule them for later in the week. Each day, I return to the posts to re-read, edit and revise them. By the time they are published, my posts have improved. In order to keep the blog posts as fresh as possible, I keep a notebook on my dining room table to collect ideas.

Tuesdays are reading days. No writing except in the form of notes, comments, and ideas that stem from what I’ve read.

Wednesday are scene plot days in prep for…

Thursdays. As I mentioned, this is my big day each week when I really make progress.

Fridays are too crazy with homeschooling groups to even think about writing. It’s my “Day of Rest”.

Weekends must be spent with families, but I coordinate with my husband to set aside a few hours a weekend to read or write.

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A Pro: Spend time reading Joel Friedlander’s blog/website.

Joel’s website is a treasure trove of information. Set the timer, otherwise your entire day will be spent on his blog and you’ll starve.

A Genre-Mash: Just for fun, re-imagine your novel as a picture book – or your picture book as a novel. Write a few scenes and see what happens.

I’ve done this a few times during my weekend writing hours. It’s refreshing to simply puzzle out a story in a different format. Writing styles, patterns, and techniques mature with exercises like this. What may seem a simple exercise will soon become your power yoga.

Why?

Because my favorite children’s books have quirky characters, surprising plot elements, and very often, rhythmic & rhyming verse. Stretching my thinking muscles to write in such a different format allows me the time to play with words. Instead of formatting sentences and paragraphs to show the story, I can pattern the story into rhythm patterns. Not much I do with this exercise is publishing-quality work – but that’s not the point. Trying something new…that is.

It’s very easy to feel that the success a writer creates is determined by the number of words written. That’s a trap. Don’t fall in! Writing success rides on the back of every unpublished word. The stories that don’t hold up, the sentences that fail, the characters so flat that they can slide under a door – those are the obstacles in writing we must overcome before we publish.

Writing exercises that specifically work on something we have no intention (or pressure) to polish and publish are necessary.

Enjoy the writing fun! Please let me know how these exercises work out for you.

Peace,

Jessica

Other Writing Exercises:

Vol. 1

Vol. 2

Vol. 3

Vol. 4

Vol. 5

 

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Many people enter into retirement with the dream of writing a novel. Theresa Jenner Garrido made that a reality. Whether you love romance novels or light mysteries, Theresa is your gal! With more than a dozen published books, she knows how to tell a good story. Theresa and I were both published by Martin Sister’s Publishing in 2013, so we share that sisterhood as well. I read Who Done It? and enjoyed the story line, but I fell in love with the characters; especially Ducky, a plucky 80-year-old. Allow me to introduce you to:

 unnamed

Theresa Jenner Garrido

Author: Who Done It?, The Chinese Chest, By Any Other Name, and more

According to your website, you lived on an island in your youth. That’s an incredibly unique experience. Can you share a specific memory or two? In what way, if any, did that environment contribute to your story telling?

I spent the first nine years of my life on Bainbridge Island, off the coast of Washington State, which, at that time, was very rural and only saw a surge of people during summer months. I grew up, surrounded by tall cedars and Doug firs and a gray sand beach, cluttered with barnacle-covered rocks. With no neighborhood children to play with, I had to rely on a host of imaginary characters to share my adventures.

After years as a teacher, did that career lead you to writing? Speaking personally, I taught junior high for a few years and felt compelled to write. I’m wondering if your experience was similar.

I started writing with a passion in fourth grade. Nothing delighted me more than to have an assignment that required writing. When I became a middle school language arts teacher, this writing passion fit in nicely. Teaching drama was a favorite addition to my job and whenever we needed a play, I’d write it.  I couldn’t stop writing, but due to time and energy issues, never considered publication. Only after I convinced myself to retire early and really concentrate on my passion did I become an author.

Who has played an important role in your writing career?

No single person played a significant role, but I do believe authors like Lucy M. Montgomery and Gene Stratton-Porter helped. The rainy day in fourth grade when I discovered Nancy Drew was a day that will never be forgotten. The world of reading opened its magical gate and I entered. I never looked back.

What is the best review you’ve had about your writing? Where did it come from?

Any positive review will send me into ecstasy but one I remember fondly. An eighth grader read one of my mysteries and told me she loved it so much she promptly reread it. Her father told me he’d never seen her that excited over a book. Wow! That was high praise.

Are there places beyond Amazon and Goodreads that you either request or received a review?

I confess to being a complete duffer, where promotion, marketing and reviews come in. Writing is my “magnificent obsession” and I can’t stop. No matter what, I have to write. I can’t turn around without seeing something that sparks my imagination. I confess, however, to being a little lax in soliciting reviews.

Who%20Done%20It

You self-published several of your books, and your latest was published by Martin Sisters Publishing. How did the two publishing venues differ for you? Which would you recommend to upcoming authors?

I self-published my first book back in 2004 with a “vanity press”. I knew nothing about the business and, even though an English major, knew very little about editing, etc. That first experience was tepid at best, but I kept sending in queries to “real” publishers. After enough rejections to paper an entire room, I was accepted by a small press, based in TX. They published thirteen of my novels but had difficulties and closed over a year ago. Since retaining all rights, I decided to re-publish a few of those books and chose Amazon, which was an excellent choice. Amazon is amazing. I’d recommend it to anyone. The big houses are having major issues and digital books are the future so authors have to rethink what it means to be published.  A few of my new works, however, are still going the query route. Who Done It? was accepted by Martin Sisters Publishing in 2013. Hoping for a series featuring the protagonist, I am working on book two now.  So far I have been very happy with MSP and hope we can work together for a long time.

What writing resources have you used to improve your craft? Magazines, books, webinars, conferences, classes? Which would you recommend?

All of the above.  I belong to two critique groups, a larger writers group, and attend as many workshops and conferences as I can. A few minor health issues prevent me from doing a whole lot, plus my extended family, rescue dog and cat, and retired husband who can’t quite grasp the urgency that is a writer’s constant companion, but I seek out advice wherever I can. Another recommendation: READ!  Read the kinds of books you like to write. Read about places you’d like to visit. Just read.

Because so much of self-publishing and publishing with a smaller publisher depend on doing all the marketing on your own, what have you learned?

I have learned that I have a lot to learn. This is a very touchy subject for me.  I cringed just reading your question. That’s where the workshops, etc. come in. I literally devour all-and-everything about “social media” etc. etc.

I read Who Done It? It was a wonderful cozy mystery. What were some obstacles you faced in writing a mystery?

Not many because I love mysteries, but my lack of knowledge about such things as police procedure certainly got in the way at times.  Luckily I was able to talk to “real” policemen and get the scoop. My protagonist is basically your everyday gal so my books aren’t hard-core crime dramas. The most interesting research I’ve had to do was speaking with a mortician about dead bodies, etc.

What’s the story behind your book?  In other words, how did the storyline come to you?

Every one of my books is based on an actual event that I personally was involved in. When I say based, I mean maybe just a spark to kindle the imagination fire. I write about places I’ve been to so can “see” the setting as I write.

What do you hope readers will gain from your writing? Do you have a specific message that you wish to impart?

To me, reading is the best medicine for what ails you. People today suffer a lot from stress. A good book can take you away from your present situation and allow you to forget for a while; unwind; rejuvenate; rest. A lot cheaper than seeing a psychiatrist. I hope my books do just that. I want the reader to be entertained and enjoy a few laughs or a few tears. When the reader closes the book, I want him/her to be satisfied.

They certainly do that! As I read Who Done It? the coziness of the bed and breakfast inspired me to bake…and that’s not normal for me 😉

Thank you, Theresa, for your time and willingness to share some backstory.

If your want to learn more about Theresa’s books, visit her website, her Amazon Author Page, or click to buy her book.

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