Dirty Dozen Author Interview – Abbie Johnson Taylor #Uniqueauthors #Memoir #Poetry

Author name: Abbie Johnson Taylor

Please tell us a little about yourself. What makes you a #Uniqueauthor (or artist)? I’m the author of five books: two novels, two poetry collections, and a memoir. My stories and poems have appeared in various anthologies and journals. I’m visually impaired and live in Sheridan, Wyoming, where for six years, I cared for my totally blind late husband who was partially paralyzed by two strokes three months after we were married. Before that, I was a registered music therapist and worked for fifteen years in nursing homes and other facilities serving senior citizens. I taught braille, facilitated a support group for blind and visually impaired adults, and served on the advisory board to a trust fund that allows the blind and visually impaired to purchase adaptive equipment. To learn more about me, please visit my website at http://www.abbiejohnsontaylor.com.

Please tell us about your publications/work.

My latest book, The Red Dress, a novel, was published in 2019 by DLD Books. In 2016, my memoir, My Ideal Partner: How I Met, Married, and Cared for the Man I Loved Despite Debilitating Odds, was released, also by DLD Books. In 2014, That’s Life: New and Selected Poems, was published by Finishing Line Press. In 2011, another poetry collection, How to Build a Better Mousetrap: Recollections and Reflections of a Family Caregiver, was published by iUniverse. In 2007, my first book, another novel, We Shall Overcome, was released, also by iUniverse.

As a disabled author, how do you overcome the extra challenges involved with producing your work? Because of my visual impairment, I use text-to-speech software on my computer that reads to me what’s on the screen and tells me what I’m typing. I also use a braille tablet, both as a display with my computer and as a stand-alone device for email, word processing, and other tasks. I read print with the help of a closed-circuit television reading system.

What have you found the most challenging part of the process? Do you think the publishing world is disability-friendly? For me, the most challenging part of being a writer is marketing my work. Because I don’t see well enough to drive, I can’t just hop in my car and drive around my state or country, selling books. I have to rely on others to take me places. So, I’m limited in what I can do to promote my work.

However, I’m fortunate to have discovered Tell It to the World Marketing, a business that promotes authors mostly through social media. I recommend them to any writer or business owner needing help with publicity.

The publishing industry is not friendly toward disabled authors. Many sites like Amazon are a challenge to navigate for a visually impaired person with screen reading computer software. Traditional publishers like Finishing Line Press have proofs in formats that are not accessible and stringent requirements that make publishing a book difficult for a visually impaired writer.

Thank goodness for DLD Books. They help authors with editing and format manuscripts for publication through Amazon, Smashwords, and other online retailers. Their rates are reasonable, and they do great work. What’s more, they contract with Tell It to the World Marketing so you’re not paying extra for those services. I recommend them to all authors.

What piece of advice do you wish you’d had when you started your publishing journey? Too late, I learned that if a piece is published on a website or blog, it’s considered previously published, and most journals and anthologies don’t accept such work. If I’d known that when I first developed an online presence in 2005, I would never have posted so many of my short stories and poems on my website and blog.

What’s your greatest networking tip? Start a blog and post regularly. I post to mine at https://abbiescorner.wordpress.com three days a week. It’s also important to categorize and tag your posts so readers can find topics of interest and search engines can more easily discover you. You’ll be amazed at how much traffic you’ll draw when you do this.

What’s the best advice you’ve received about writing/publishing? I’ve been told to eliminate adverbs and elaborate dialog tags when writing fiction. Although other authors, even bestselling ones, don’t follow this advice, I’ve discovered, over the years, that my writing flows more smoothly as a result.

What’s the worst advice you’ve received about writing/publishing? Get an agent. In the summer of 2005, when I was ready to publish We Shall Overcome, on the advice of my sister-in-law and a writer she knew, I researched agents and sent queries. Most were rejected, and I didn’t even hear back from some of the agents I queried. I also contacted some publishers directly with similar results. A year later, I decided to self-publish the book with iUniverse.

If you really want to be a bestselling author, find an agent or traditional publisher. Good luck. If you just want to get your work out there, don’t bother. Self-publish instead.

Which authors have influenced you the most? Danielle Steel has influenced me but not in a positive way. After reading her work, I’ve figured out how not to write. Although she tells compelling stories, and I’ll continue to enjoy her books, her habit of providing too much description in her narrative drives me up the wall sometimes.

What is your writing space like? My office contains a three-corner desk which holds my computer, printer, closed-circuit television reading system, and other odds and ends. Behind me is a smaller desk I use for labelling and stamping envelopes. In one corner is a stereo I rarely use. I play music on a smart speaker while working. I sometimes write in my recliner or outside when the weather’s nice.

Tell us about your latest piece. The Red Dress is a work of women’s fiction about how such a garment is related to the lives of three generations of women. Here’s the synopsis.

When Eve went to her high school senior prom, she wore a red dress that her mother had made for her. That night, after dancing with the boy of her dreams, she caught him in the act with her best friend. Months later, Eve, a freshman in college, is bullied into giving the dress to her roommate. After her mother finds out, their relationship is never the same again.

Twenty-five years later, Eve, a bestselling author, is happily married with three children. Although her mother suffers from dementia, she still remembers, and Eve still harbors the guilt for giving the dress away. When she receives a Facebook friend request from her old college roommate and an invitation to her twenty-five-year high school class reunion, then meets her former best friend by chance, she must confront the past in order to face the future.

What’s your next writing adventure? Several years ago, I started a collection of short stories set in my home state of Wyoming. Reading a similar collection by Ann Beattie inspired me to do this. Her stories are set in Maine.

Links

Blog: https://abbiescorner.wordpress.com

Facebook: http://tinyurl.com/ybmouz5y%20

Website: http://www.abbiejohnsontaylor.com

Amazon Author Page: https://www.amazon.com/Abbie-Johnson-Taylor/e/B00GDM1BWK/#nav-tophttp://

 

Bio

Abbie Johnson Taylor is the author of two novels, two poetry collections, and a memoir. Her work has appeared in various journals and anthologies. She lives in Sheridan, Wyoming. Please visit her website at http://www.abbiejohnsontaylor.com.

Writer Wednesdays – Tips for New Writers – revisited

This is a little cheeky as some of was taken from an old post (2013) – but have I changed my views? The origin post was written not that long after I started self-publishing.

So let’s revisit my old post – Old in RED, new comments in black.

Link to original post

Share your most helpful writing tips and advice. What do you know now that you wished you had known when you started writing?

New writers are given an awful lot of information, much of it contradictory and it is very difficult to know the good advice from the bad. Experience is a great teacher!

Yep – it’s still true there is information overload. There is some great advice, and some lousy advice. Working out which is which can be a challenge. Indie authors, in my experience, support each other, offer advice and suggestions and understand the challenges. Listen to the advice, good and bad. After all if it hasn’t worked for one person that doesn’t mean it won’t work for you. The bloody awful advice will become self-apparent.  Free advice is always worth taking in. What you choose to do with it, that’s up to you.

Here are my top 6 tips:

1)    Keep writing. This is seems to be consistent advice from all the sources I have seen. A single book is great but it is hard to build a fan base with just one title and if readers like your work they may well look out for other articles and stories. I do as a reader. As your writing experience grows you will learn what works and what doesn’t. Write for anthologies, write for your blog or someone else’s or write for research. Yahoo Voices have many interesting blog-type articles and it is a way to build a fan base. Researching for your novel? Great, use that research to help others. There are lots of anthologies looking for submissions (see links below) and some pay, although some don’t. Even the free ones are useful in getting your name out there and are writing practice.

Yahoo Voices no longer exists, but there are thousands of blogs/e-zines and groups who will happily take guest posts. Writing for anthologies – yes, I’d say it was helpful but as you get more experienced then you can pick and choose. The first few I did didn’t pay – and that’s a good way to promote yourself initially – but of course, most authors want paying for their work. Free has its place – don’t get me wrong – but it’s good to be able to pick and choose. There is also the consideration – anthology stories are varied in quality, length and style. Try and read some of the other stories, if that’s possible, or check out the author’s work. I’ve read (and been in) anthos where some of the stories need….more work. Make sure your own entry is good, well presented and not riddled with errors. 

Research – yes, yes, yes. Post up on your blog, or share on forums.

2)    Have a thick skinyou will need it. There will ALWAYS be someone who doesn’t like your book, will be offended by it, hate the characters or simply not get it. We do not all like the same things, if we did the world would be boring indeed.  Bad reviews hurt, but most books have at least one and unless the reviewer has a personal issue with the author (which occasionally happens) then it is one opinion. Reviews are just that – opinions, which can be as varied as the books they discuss.

Still agree with this. You can’t please all of the people all of the time. Shit happens. If you don’t want bad reviews – don’t publish. That said they can be helpful. Every writer thinks his or her work is the best thing ever. Usually it’s not (sorry – and I include myself in that). There is always something which doesn’t quite work, or could have been better – but that is generally true of life. And what that is depends on perspective. I like great world and character building, for example. I’ve read books with awesome reviews only to put them aside after three or four chapters because I didn’t give a damn about the characters. It’s a matter of opinion.

No writer likes to be told their book sucks and it can be hard to deal with. One of the best pieces of advice is ‘don’t comment’, or if you feel you must then be polite, thank the reviewer for their comments and move on. Commenting, especially negatively will do far more harm, go and rant to your best friend, yell at the wall, go for a walk and release that is one person’s opinion only. The next reviewer may love the book. Even negative reviews, except the spiteful ones, have useful advice.

Don’t comment on reviews. Really. Not ever. Don’t bitch, tell the reader they are wrong, or slag them off on social media. Just don’t. That will do your brand FAR more damage than a bad review.

It is hard to work out how much store readers put on reviews, many do look and most simply filter out those which either say nothing or the obviously spiteful or overly gushing ones, but in a couple of studies I have done reviews are surprisingly low on the scale. A good cover, a synopsis which pulls in the reader and recommendations from friends seem more important. If the book is selling don’t worry too much.

Agreed – to an extent. Personally, I don’t put that much store by book reviews – but I do write them. I’m odd like that. Partly I write them because I have a terrible memory and it’s a way to remind me of a book, but also because I like talking about books. People review for many, many reasons and in many many ways. All of them are right.

3)    Write the book you want to write. Now I am sure other writers might disagree with this tip but not all. Forcing a story to work, editing out important plot ideas or making characters do something they wouldn’t do may well make the story weaker. Write the book YOU want to read. Would you enjoy it? If the answer is yes then go with it. A forced plot will show itself to be just that.  It may depend on whether you are intending to self-publish or whether you are intending to submit to a publishing house of course and whether you intend to get an editor.

I’d rephrase this as write the book you want to READ. 

4)    Write the best book you can. No book is perfect. Even bestsellers have typos which slip through, weak plots or naff characters. However, if you are an indie the threshold seems to be higher…there are plenty of posts and threads berating indie self-published books as being substandard. In some cases this is true, we have all seen them but there are very many books which are great, yes some may be a little rough around the edges but the good stories and talent are out there. There are plenty of traditionally published books which are awful. That said releasing a book full of typos, terrible grammar and weak plot/characters is not advisable. Spellcheckers are useful but invest in a dictionary, a thesaurus and a writing guide. If you can find beta readers or critique groups then do so.

If you can afford an editor, then get one. Ask around, there are various authors who edit, or know them. I found a couple of free/cheap online writing courses. Write, write, write. 

If you decide to self-edit then put the manuscript aside for a while and write (or read) something new. You will see the work with fresher eyes. I know from experience I see what I think is there not what IS there. If you can afford an editor then it is advisable to consider it, but there are great books which have been self-edited. If you choose this route be thorough, it may take several passes through. Although earlier I said write the book YOU want you do need to be strict when editing. It is easy to get carried away and go off on a tangent. Does the scene add to the story/characterisation/world-building? No – then lose it.

5)    Research and plausibility. This is rather dependent on genre of course but willing suspension of disbelief only goes so far. Fantasy gives a lot of scope, especially magic but it still needs to be consistent. Research gives the writer credibility, if you say something works which we KNOW doesn’t work in that way then at the least back it up in the story with some plausibility, or better still find something which people know does work that way. Gravity is gravity. Research medieval battle, weapons and armour, field medicine, herb-lore and such like if you are planning a fight. Movie fight scenes look great visually but aren’t really that accurate. What damage DOES a long sword do? What IS the range of a longbow. You needn’t go into too much detail in the book, but knowing if your archer can hit that bad-guy lurking in the Dark-lord’s tower is helpful. Books can educate, and encourage people to research for themselves, especially if set in a certain time period but accuracy is the key. Of course, many readers won’t go on to research or have any interest in the origins of the longbow, the war horse but some might. Besides research is great, it is amazing what you can discover!

Yep, pretty much. I spent a while looking up ancient Greek curses the other day, and I’ve researched flora and fauna, weaponry and armour, the potential airworthiness of dragons, whether salamandars are edible, poisons and herblore, giantism and all sorts of other things.

6)    READ THE DAMN MANUAL! Really I mean it. Spend a bit of time not only reading writing guides but the FAQ of KDP, Smashwords, Lulu or wherever it is you choose to publish. It will make life a lot easier. There are several free books available – ‘Publish your work on Kindle’, ‘How to Publish on Smashwords’ for example. Most of the sites have extensive guidelines and forums. That is another thing most people have struggled with whatever it is you are struggling with so search the forums for answers. You are now a business person as well as a writer and it helps to know what to do.

What do I wish I had known at the beginning? Marketing is HARD. Where is the line between being a spammy needy author and promoting in such a way that people will check out your books and not be annoyed? Well that depends on who you ask…some people hate any mention of the product, some don’t mind a small amount and some say as much as you can do is the way to go. If I find the right level I will let you know.

World Building:

http://audenstreasury.blogspot.co.uk/p/writing-fight-scenes-resources.html?showComment=1369324942695

http://cbmccullough.wordpress.com/2013/04/30/domesticating/

http://mythicscribes.com/world-building/adding-depth-to-a-fantasy-world/

http://audenstreasury.blogspot.co.uk/2013/01/dark-fantasy-world-building-names.html

http://profantasy.com/

Writing generally:

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/lifestyle/9764931/The-101-best-pieces-of-advice-ever-received.html

http://robbgrindstaff.com/2013/01/why-are-verbs-so-tense/

http://lissywrites.com/2013/06/28/back-cover-text-book-blurbs-and-other-fun-stuff/

http://venturegalleries.com/blog/writing-short-stories-for-anthologies/

http://www.writingforward.com/writing-tips/tips-for-self-editing?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=tips-for-self-editing

http://www.indiesunlimited.com/2013/07/13/rethink-advice-to-writers/#more-41613

Writers Digest

Princess of the Light Blog

 

Remembering Warriors Bundle

I am delighted to announce the next Bundle! And this one is for charity:)

Remembering Warriors Bundle

In commemoration of the World War One Centenary

COMING JANUARY 1st 2018

Now on Pre-Order

 

One hundred years ago, in 1918, the Great War ended after four terrible years. Never had the world seen such a conflict. All touched by its scythe hoped we would never be thusly reaped again. Their hopes were but desperate dreams. Since that first armistice, there have been many more battles, and thousands have given their lives or their health to preserve freedom and escape from tyranny.

A hundred years after the first armistice we still remember and honour those brave souls. But still, the soldiers fall, for the War to End All Wars did not.

10% of the royalties from the Remembering Warriors bundle will go to the http://www.britishlegion.org.uk/ plus another 10% to https://www.helpforheroes.org.uk/ two charities that support wounded and ex-service personnel and their families, in commemoration of the World War I centenary.

Bundle Rabbit https://bundlerabbit.com/b/remembering-warriors

Kobo http://bit.ly/2k26wGv

Amazon.com http://amzn.to/2BGnSQB

Amazon UK http://amzn.to/2AdOEmT

Barnes and Noble http://bit.ly/2zWnKMt

I books http://apple.co/2BFldqf

Book #1:

Comrades in Arms by Kevin J Anderson https://bundlerabbit.com/products/detail/comrades-arms

Book #2:

Outside the Walls by A.L. Butcher and Diana L. Wicker https://bundlerabbit.com/products/detail/outside-walls

Book #3:

Norman Blood by Barbara G. Tarn https://bundlerabbit.com/products/detail/norman-blood

Book #4:

The Rise of a Warrior by Harvey Stanbrough https://bundlerabbit.com/products/detail/rise-warrior

Book #5:

Total War by Russ Crossley https://bundlerabbit.com/products/detail/total-war

Book #6:

Resonant Bronze by J.M, Ney-Grimm https://bundlerabbit.com/products/detail/resonant-bronze

Book #7:

Siren by Blaze Ward https://bundlerabbit.com/products/detail/siren

 Book #8:

The Museum of Modern Warfare by Kristine Kathryn Rusch https://bundlerabbit.com/products/detail/museum-modern-warfare

Book #9:

Nothing for Nothing by Harvey Stanbrough https://bundlerabbit.com/products/detail/nothing-for-nothing

Book #10:

The Rescue by Blaze Ward https://bundlerabbit.com/products/detail/nothing-for-nothing

Book #11:

Soldier, Storyteller by Linda Maye Adams https://bundlerabbit.com/products/detail/soldier-storyteller

Book #12:

Heroes of Old by Russ Crossley https://bundlerabbit.com/products/detail/heroes-old

Book #13:

With a Broken Sword by Stefon Mears https://bundlerabbit.com/products/detail/with-broken-sword

 

Warriors boxset.png

Book Spotlight – Reckless Traveler – Walter Rhein

Reckless Traveler – By Walter Rhein #Travel #adventure #memoir #Perseidpress

 

Reckless Traveler on Amazon

Reckless Traveler on Goodreads

Reckless Traveler on Barnes and Noble

 

 

Reckless Traveler:

‘Reckless Traveler’ is part travel writing, part humor, part tour guide and part memoir. It began as a collection of anecdotes about expat life that the author used to tell whenever he returned home from his travels, and grew into a narrative of personal growth. Every now and then it’s valuable for a person to hit the pause button on their life and assess their choices and progress up until that point, especially if they’ve been making some radical decisions. To sell everything you own and move to Lima, Peru certainly qualifies as a radical decision. ‘Reckless Traveler’ is a novel for anyone who finds themselves disenchanted with following the status quo. If you are a young person, or you’re young at heart, and you are faced with an imminent future of debt from student loans, or a life of drudgery in a job you despise, pick up this novel for a glimpse of an alternate history. There are some who would have you believe it’s reckless to set off on a journey with nothing but a back-pack and a spring in your step. Walter Rhein’s personal experience will assure you that if you have the courage to take the leap, you’ll return renewed and enriched.

 

Guest Post:

I’m coming off of a very good month of writing and exposure. I continue to get emails and messages of support from my “Speaking Spanish in America” article, for which I am very grateful. In addition to that, I have fallen into a very nice rhythm of submitting articles for Silent Sports magazine (I even had a cover image not too long ago).

The writing life is certainly a slog rather than a sprint. I’m turning 42 in February and sometimes I look back and think that I’m about twenty years behind where I should be in terms of literary stature. However, I’m a very stubborn person, and above all I’ve always elected to write what I want, not what necessarily might pay the best.

It’s interesting to assess the articles you see while scrolling through your Facebook feed. Inevitably, one of the trash headlines sucks you in and you spend the next frustrating twenty minutes clicking through a story that’s little more than a framework for pop-up advertisements. The fact that articles like these go viral demonstrates that virality is more often a completely artificial construct than a meritorious response.

As a writer, you get to decide whether you want to play the game of deceit and produce content of little to no value. The alternative is to aspire to create something worthy of the time of your readers, but which is not likely to be widely seen. Even if you do write something that stirs people to the soul and inspires them to share your words, your content will eventually get buried by the clickbait nonsense that people spend large sums of money to promote. The coffers of those entities never seem to run low. Or maybe it’s an illusion and they’re nothing but thin gold plate on a mountain of debt. In any case, the deafening vapid masses will never go away.

I’d begun to suspect that the idealistic notion that quality will find a market was a myth, but then my ‘Spanish’ article went viral. Perhaps that will be the most attention I ever receive for something I’ve created, but at the very least the experience has rejuvenated my enthusiasm to keep writing. I’ll continue to strive to get better, and there are a lot of things I wish to convey so I don’t see the well drying up anytime soon.

For those of you who’ve had the opportunity to read something of mine, please interact with me! Leave a comment, post a review, send me a message on Facebook. The lessons I’ve learned from the responses of my readers have done the most to improve the quality of my content.

Thanks to all of you, and best of luck!

Short Author Bio:

Walter Rhein was raised in Northern Wisconsin and received his degree in English Literature from the University of Wisconsin Eau Claire. After graduation, he moved to Lima, Peru. What began as a two week vacation stretched out into a nine year residency in the land of the Incas. Peru was a great destination for an aspiring writer because in 2001, it was extremely inexpensive to live in Lima. Rhein spent his time writing for small publications, translating, working as an editor and as a teacher. In 2009, he returned the US with his wife and currently resides in Chippewa Falls WI. He writes regularly for SilentSports.net, Singletracks.com and his personal Peru blog StreetsOfLima.com. He also occasionally sends in an editorial to the local paper. In 2016 his article Speaking Spanish in America was the most read article for the Eau Claire Leader Telegram with 242,000 views.

 

Author Interview 105 – Shellie Blum – Memoir

Welcome to Shellie Blum

Where are you from and where do you live now? I grew up in Lake of the Ozarks Missouri but I now live in Lake Wales Florida.

Please tell us a little about your writing – for example genre, title, etc. My one and only book I’ve written so far is a memoir. It’s called Waterski Girl Wonder

Where do you find inspiration? I was extremely motivated to write my memoir. It had been a goal I set for myself a long time ago. I had originally written my life experiences as a screenplay. Hollywood is a tough nut to crack, but so is the traditional publishing world. But I feel like the old cliche may apply here, “Nothing ventured, nothing gained.” Wouldn’t it be great if a non-celebrity like me could break through and prove it can be done? People love to root for the underdogs. I’d love to be part of the reason others realize that the underdogs of the world can succeed… if they never give up.

Do you have a favourite character? If so why? My favourite character in my book would have to be my mom.

Do you have a character you dislike? If so why? I dislike the small part of my assailant in Los Angeles for obvious reasons.

Are your characters based on real people? Yes! I did change the name of a “troubled” female waterskier. And it’s really a conglomerate of a few girl skiers, but everything I said that happened, did happen. I just combined some of the incidents into one character.

Research can be important in world-building, how much do you need to do for your books? Do you enjoy this aspect of creating a novel and what are your favourite resources? Since this is a memoir my research is pretty thorough. I have quite a bit of knowledge when it comes to my sport of performance ski show waterskiing. Most of my knowledge about it comes first hand and is of course experience driven.

Is there a message conveyed within your writing?  Do you feel this is important in a book? Yes, at least I hope so, I would like for people to take away from the experience of reading my book a layperson’s philosophy of deep thinking. I didn’t want to come off as preachy or full of pontifications. But I hope that people finish the book and maybe without realizing it, the theme of the story resonated and washed over them. That my story’s message might make people think more deeply about their own lives, and hopefully take away and make useful something positive from it.

Sort these into order of importance: Great characters; great world-building; solid plot; technically perfect. Can you explain why you chose this order? (Yes I know they all are important…) Great story telling…

In what formats are your books available? (E-books, print, large print audio) Are you intending to expand these and if not, what is the reason? Hard copy and E-book

Do you self-edit? If so why is that the case? Do you believe a book suffers without being professionally edited? I had several people look over my book. If someone cares enough I think they can self-edit, but it’s hard to do. For lots of writers, I think money constrains us to get professional editing done.

Do you think indie/self-published authors are viewed differently to traditionally published authors? Why do you think this might be? I do, but I’m hopeful with time this will change.

Do you read work by self-published authors? Yes! Of course, some of what the traditional publishers would tell us is good writing isn’t always what appeals to everyone. There’s a bit of a war going on with the creative writing academics. I am constantly hearing the “Show don’t tell” mantra but to be honest I enjoy a “good story told” versus writing that seems overally abused with adverbs, adjectives and wordy prose to fit the “show” part of the mantra. But hey, that’s just me.

What are your opinions about authors commenting on reviews? How important are reviews? Authors commenting on reviews don’t impress me near as much as regular people reviews. I will consider the average mean of what the regular people say about a book more than a well known author. That was kind of confusing, but I think you know what I mean.

When buying a book do you read the reviews? I do, but I mostly read the 1 and 2 star reviews. I don’t need to know why everyone loves a book. I can make my own mind up about that, but I do want to be warned about why someone doesn’t like a book, and then, in my own writing, try to avoid it.

What are your views on authors reviewing other authors? Be kind.

What experiences can a book provide that a movie or video game cannot? Nothing can truly substitute the written word and the potential affect it can have on a person. I do enjoy seeing movies that have been adapted from books.

What three pieces of advice would you give to new writers? Don’t be too hard on yourself. Believe in yourself, and never give up.

What are your best marketing/networking tips? What are your worst? Be consistent and be authentic. Not sure what would be my worst, although I’m sure I’ve committed most of them.

Most authors like to read, what have you recently finished reading? Did you enjoy it? “The Free Market Existentialist” by William Irwin. I always enjoy books that stretch my mind philosophically.

Can you name your favourite traditionally published author? And your favourite indie/self-published author? Anne Rice for traditionally published author, and I’m just now getting to read some really good indie/self-published authors.

What are your views on authors offering free books? Whatever floats their boat, but for me, I think I want people to have some skin in the game.

Do you have a favourite movie? I have my two favorites, “Lawrence of Arabia” and “True Grit”.

Do you have any pets? I have two little doggies, Melvin and Victoria (Torie)

Can you name your worst job? Do you think you learned anything from the position that you now use in your writing? I have only had one job in my life… waterskiing. And I loved it!

Can you give us a silly fact about yourself? When I was little I could make liquids squirt out of my nose.

Book links, website/blog and author links:

Shellie Blum
https://twitter.com/shellieblum
www.linkedin.com/pub/shellie-blum/27/560/106
www.ShellieBlum.com

www.WaterskiGirlWonder.com

Interested in purchasing my memoir click here? http://www.amazon.com/dp/0996366903

 

 

Author Interview Seventy-Eight – T.R Robinson Autobiography

Welcome to Tanya (Who writes under the author name of T. R. Robinson.

Please tell us a little about your writing – for example genre, title, etc.

So far I have only written autobiographical books.  The first two in my new abridged, dialogue based series are: ‘Tears of Innocence’ and ‘Negative Beauty’.

TR100-72dpi-1500x2000 (5) Neg Beauty

Where do you find inspiration?

People often told me about themselves and their experiences, frequently in confidence.  In listening to them I came to realise how different and dramatic were the lives of my grandparents, parents and my own.

Do you have a favourite character? If so why?

My mother who I unfortunately lost at an early age.  She was one of the most loving and caring people to have walked this earth.  These are not just my own sentiments; many who had known her told me, even many years later, how beautiful she was not just in her looks but also in her character.

Do you have a character you dislike? If so why?

As my books are autobiographical it is perhaps incorrect to refer to ‘characters’.  Nevertheless, in essence the participants play such a role.  The ones I disliked the most were the Gestapo.

Research can be important in world-building, how much do you need to do for your books? Do you enjoy this aspect of creating a novel and what are your favourite resources?

Although I have an excellent memory, I had to undertake a little research when it came to my grandparents to try and determine what the plague they suffered was.  I should say here that I originally set out to write a complete tale commencing with my grandparents lives.  However, this made for a large heavy volume so I decided to break our stories down into more manageable segments.  This is why at present it is only my own tale which is related in the current abridged series.  I intend to write either my grandparents and/or parents story over the next year.  Hopefully I will also be able to produce the third in the abridged series of my life.  I use the internet mostly due to the fact I am not near a library.  But in truth a library would be my favourite.  

Is there a message conveyed within your writing?  Do you feel this is important in a book?

Most definitely.  I was born into a loving prosperous family but from the age of five, subsequent to my mother’s untimely death, I knew little else than abuse of one kind or another.  Some, in fact too much, was very violent.  Nevertheless, I survived and reasonably intact.  In unrelenting circumstances I succeeded in giving my son a decent education and bringing him up to be a pleasant caring person.  My story shows it is possible to overcome difficult obstacles and to have a reasonably successful life.

It is always good to have lessons in books whether fictional or not.  However, for fictional works I would not say it is a necessity but by default, if the characters are to be realistic, most do have something to teach.

Sort these into order of importance: Great characters; great world-building; solid plot; technically perfect. Can you explain why you chose this order? (Yes I know they all are important…)

Great characters;

Solid plot;

Great world-building;

Technically perfect.

Most tales whether fictional or not are based round characters.  If they aren’t realistic then the whole would feel false.  Of course to hold together a story needs a clear plot whether it is chronologically or event based.  World-building in most instances is really the background frame to most tales unless of course it is primarily about a defined period and society.  Technical perfection is a theme I constantly see discussed.  Yes as far as possible the book should be technically correct.  Nevertheless, I have read several which contained errors and inconstancies but still enjoyed the read.

In what formats are your books available? (E-books, print, large print audio) Are you intending to expand these and if not, what is the reason?

For a while my books where only available through Amazon both as a paperback and a Kindle e-book.  I have for some time wished to publish with other companies to make them available to a wider readership e.g. iBooks, Nook, Barnes & Noble etc.  After much hesitation, due to the difficulties people often said they were having publishing with them, I reconstructed my first book for Smashwords.  It took a while as I carefully followed their ‘Style Guide’.  However, I am very pleased to announce I was successful first go with no error messages.  The book was published on their site 3 December 2014 and should be available through the other distribution sites by the time your readers see this interview.  

Do you self-edit? If so why is that the case? Do you believe a book suffers without being professionally edited?

I do self-edit.  I really do not have much choice.  We should bear in mind that many of us independent authors do not have the resources to employ editors, proof-readers etc.  I understand editors do work hard but even so I have seen people comment about how they paid an editor and the book still got published with mistakes.  I have also seen discussion detailing how an editor will argue with an author about how different aspects should be written or published.  Of course, and thankfully, this is a small percentage but even so it does put things into a little more perspective.  Inevitably another pair of eyes is an asset, if you have people you can give your draft manuscript to and whom you trust.  Regrettably I do not have relatives or friends who could undertake such a task.

Do you think indie/self-published authors are viewed differently to traditionally published authors? Why do you think this might be?

Yes.  I suspect many view them as ‘amateurs’ and as with anything will consequently consider them inferior.  Nevertheless, as many well-known successful authors have decided to use a hybrid of traditional and self-publishing this attitude is decreasing.  And of course there are now several well written self-published books which are gaining a following.

Do you read work by self-published authors?

Yes.  I primarily read in the memoir genre of self-published books although there has been the occasional novel/novella which someone has asked me to review. I have come across some very interesting as well as enjoyable books which would never have seen the light of day if it were left to agents and traditional publishers.

What are your opinions about authors commenting on reviews? How important are reviews?

This is a difficult point.  I have seen some discussions, on social media sites, arguing the pros and cons of doing this.  I think it is naturally polite to thank someone who has written a positive review.  I also consider it right to acknowledge negative reviews provided they are not rude and/or insulting.  We can often learn from these because we are all different and unique and therefore view matters from different perspectives.  However, as someone once pointed out, if you have multiple reviews it could be considered spamming or self-grandiosity to respond to them all.  In these cases perhaps a general appreciation would be more appropriate.  Of course those who are fortunate enough to have a substantial number of reviews cannot be expected to respond to all the individuals.

How important are they is another question.  Many say they are very much so.  However, a number of readers/authors, I am amongst them, tend to ignore five and to some extent even four star reviews of self-published books because it is frequently apparent these have been given by the author’s relatives, colleagues and friends.  Having said that I recently read the results of a survey which indicated that over half of the UK respondents read reviews before deciding on a purchase.

When buying a book do you read the reviews?

Sometimes.  For me though, and this has always been the case, it is the synopsis (blurb) which influences me the most.  Just as an aside: there is a lot of discussion these days about how important the right cover image is.  I have to say I think it sad someone will not bother to even look inside the book just because the cover does not catch their eye.  I would have missed some good reads if I had followed this principle.

What three pieces of advice would you give to new writers?

Perseverance and self-discipline:  Once you start your book try to write every day.  In my experience it is particularly important to write when you least feel like it or, as some would put it, you have writer’s block.  Even if it looks like nonsense just write.  I have frequently found, when I return to that portion of writing the next day, it makes sense and is in fact usable and often I have surprised myself with what has come out.  Of course there are the occasions, few in my experience, when it is mostly nonsense but even then there is usually something in it.  But the thing to bear in mind is that if you do this it normally breaks the stale-mate.

Routine: In most people’s experience, there are the exceptions of course, writing in a haphazard way without any routine rarely produces very much.  We are all different and therefore need to find what works for us.  Some write for three hours first thing in the day before even turning on the internet or dealing with other matters.  Some prefer to write during the quiet of night.  Whatever it is for you, once you have found it stick to it!

Take breaks:  Each of us needs to remember we are human: not machines.  Our brains do get tired even exhausted.  Frequently a simple five/ten minute break in a different environment, garden perhaps, helps clear the thoughts.  I sometimes struggled with how to present a situation or what to omit and include but after a short break suddenly found my thoughts flowing coherently.  Then when I returned to my desk it all fell into place.  This also highlights the need for exercise: we need to get the blood flowing which in turn provides great stimulus to our brains.  And of course it keeps the weight under control.  

What are your views on authors offering free books?

This never worked for me.  Several downloaded a free copy but I did not get any sales or reviews as a result.  However, it does appear to have worked for some although they did give away huge numbers (250,000 in one case) before seeing resulting sales.  Again this has been the subject of discussion in social media sites and many are now moving away from free to discounted offers.

Do you have any pets?

I love animals and as a young child had several pets.  However and regrettably my places of residence and my responsibilities have prevented me having any in later life.  Well I did have a budgerigar at one point.  He was delightful and mimicked my voice a treat.  But alas he died many years ago.

Can you give us a silly fact about yourself?

Despite all I have been through my son, often in sheer exasperation, tells me how naïve and innocent I still am.  I want to believe in people and although I have been constantly cheated and lied to, still do believe what they tell me.  I frequently wonder if I will ever learn but I never do.

Book links, website/blog and author links:

Tears of Innocence: UK: http://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B00MH7FJ6Y

USA: http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00MH7FJ6Y and now

http://www.smashwords.com/profile/view/tr25

 

Negative Beauty:

UK: http://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B00NEB6ILW

USA:  http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00NEB6ILW

Blogs: http://www.trbooks7.blogspot.com (Recently set up for this author name.)

Facebook:  http://www.facebook.com/trbooks7

Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/TRBooks7 (Recently set up for this author name.)