Today we feature my new friend and fellow Booktrope author, Patricia Mann. Patricia is a university professor, wife, mother of two children and the author of the novel, Is This All There Is?.
What is your book’s genre/category?
Is This All There Is? is contemporary women’s fiction.
Please describe what the story/book is about.
Beth appears to have it all. She’s married to her college sweetheart and they have two young kids. She teaches part-time at a university. It’s the fairy tale life we’re all supposed to want as women. But something is missing for Beth. She longs for the passion she felt when she was younger. She also misses the freedom she had before starting a family, though she loves her children deeply and strives to be the perfect mother. When a former student reveals a crush on her, Beth is torn because she wants to be a good person, but she’s drawn to him and finds it difficult to resist the temptation of what he offers her.
Beth is definitely flawed and makes some painfully poor choices. But most readers say they can relate to her, and can even forgive her, because she tries so hard to do the right thing most of the time. She’s tortured by what she’s doing. It’s not easy for her, yet she can’t seem to stop herself.
How did you come up with the title?
Regardless of life circumstances, I think we have all found ourselves asking the question, “Is this all there is?” at some point in our lives.
What is the reason you wrote this book?
To be honest, it was cathartic. I didn’t do what Beth did. But I did feel a lot of the things she felt when I started writing the first draft, which was ten years ago. I wrote it in a novel writing group over the course of four years, which was one of the best experiences of my life. It was my weekly escape from a very hectic life as a wife, mother of young kids, professor, consultant, and what felt like a million other things too.
What is your favorite part of writing?
Nothing beats a long, undisturbed writing session when the words just flow and the story takes you in new directions you never imagined. You lose all sense of time and nothing else matters. It’s magical. And highly addictive.
What have you found to be the most challenging aspect of writing?
I can go for long periods of time feeling completely uninspired and unable to write. I’m unhappy with all my book ideas, pretend I don’t have a blog, and worst of all, shut myself off from my incredibly supportive online community of fellow authors. Pulling myself out of these slumps has proved challenging, but doable. It usually starts with reaching out to my closest author friends who encourage me to get back on the horse. I suspect that being a new member of the Booktrope family will force me to push through these times much more quickly. I’m accountable to people other than myself now, so the luxury of indulging in lengthy, poor-me, tortured-writer pity parties is no longer an option, thankfully.
Who are some of your favorite authors?
Marion Zimmer-Bradley (The Mists of Avalon), Barbara Kingsolver (The Poisonwood Bible), Kurt Vonnegut (Slaughterhouse Five), Diana Gabaldon (The Outlander Series), Elizabeth Gilbert (Eat, Pray, Love), Anne Lamott (Bird by Bird), Marianne Williamson (all her books). There are so many more, but I must stop somewhere.
What authors or person(s) have influenced you?
I love to write and read fiction but nonfiction is actually my favorite. Eckhart Tolle has been the most influential author in my life. His teachings have shaped the way I see the world and write about it. The Power of Now and A New Earth have changed me in profound ways. In my mind, Eckhart and I are the best of friends. We laugh and cry together regularly. I have an Audible audiobooks membership mainly so that I can listen to his book/lectures/workshops constantly. I recently got a 10-hour workshop for only one Audible credit and it felt like winning the lottery. Am I able to live fully in the present moment and enjoy The Power of Now at all times? Not even close. But I’m getting better at it thanks to my pal Eckhart.
Favorite place to write?
Depends on my mood. Sometimes the kitchen table. Sometimes the dining room table. Sometimes in bed on my laptop. Sometimes Starbucks or a health food restaurant. Almost never my home office, for some strange reason. It just feels like my work space for grading papers, preparing lectures and workshops, writing letters of recommendation, etc. I usually need to get out of it to write creatively.
Any surprises or learning experiences with the publishing process?
So many surprises. So many learning experiences. I loved self-publishing. I had complete freedom and found a beautiful sisterhood of authors online who taught me a great deal about social media, book promotions, and so much more. I’m a new Booktrope author now, learning all new lessons about the “hybrid publishing” world, which is very exciting. I’m looking forward to my continuing education.
Looking back, what did you do right that helped you with this book?
I told the truth about an issue that’s difficult to talk about and is often presented from a very limited perspective. Most readers seemed to appreciate that. Infidelity happens. A lot. It was a story that had to be told in a new way. No one is a villain and everyone is a victim, in some way. One of my favorite reviews described the book as “real, honest, raw, unrelenting.”
Any advice for writers looking to get published?
Never give up. Build your online community of authors, bloggers, potential readers, etc., immediately. You don’t have to wait for your book to be finished. You’ve done a great job of that, Ellie! Self-publishing is a viable and respectable option these days. It’s a great way to get started. A year later, Booktrope or some other publisher might come knocking at your door. It happened for me, so why not you? Dreams do come true. But usually in entirely different ways than you imagined them. Now, I’m not saying that if Random House calls, you should turn them away. You should hear them out, at least. 🙂
Something personal about you people may be surprised to know?
Though I probably appear to be in the normal range for body weight right now, I’ve struggled with it all my life. I’ve gone up and down and spent way too much time stressing about it. I know that’s true for many women, so I thought I’d admit it here so we all don’t feel so alone. I had to include the issue in the book too. Beth definitely has food and weight issues. I don’t believe I’ve met many women who don’t, to some degree.
What’s next for you?
I’m working on the sequel to Is This All There Is?. I’m shooting for completing it over the summer. There will a third book in the series after that. I’m also working on a book co-authored by my mother, who has been a critical care nurse for over thirty years. It’s a steamy romance between a nurse and ER doctor with lots of great medical drama thrown in, based on my mother’s real experiences. Her stories are riveting.
Buy Links for the book:
Book trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KT6uSuyFIuM
Thank you, Patricia!