Author Interview: Joan Schweighardt

Welcome to the Tuesday Author Interview series at The Writing Life. We have a wonderful lineup of talented writers joining us all the way into May 2017, so please check back with us.

Today I’m very pleased to welcome Joan Schweighardt, award-winning author of the novel, The Last Wife of Attila the Hun, which I’m excited to add to my reading list.

Joan Schweighardt is the author of six novels, a memoir, and several magazine articles. In addition to her own projects, she makes her living writing and editing for private and corporate clients. She lives in Albuquerque, New Mexico.

Welcome, Joan!

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What is your book’s genre/category?

The Last Wife of Attila the Hun is fiction based in equal parts on history and legend.

Please describe what The Last Wife of Attila the Hun is about. 

The Last Wife of Attila the Hun is about a Germanic noblewoman who undertakes a dangerous mission in order to present Attila the Hun with a sword she believes to be cursed. As the story unfolds, the reader learns what happens to her after arriving at Attila’s palace as well as what brought her to her mission in the first place.

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How did you come up with the title, Joan? 

The Last Wife of Attila the Hun has been on a long strange trip. The first version of the book was published by Beagle Bay Books in 2003 under the title Gudrun’s Tapestry. Beagle Bay got out of the book publishing business a few years ago (in favor of book packaging), and rights reverted back to me. My book manager at the second publisher for the book (Booktrope Editions) suggested that The Last Wife of Attila the Hun would more accurately describe what the book is about. But then Booktrope when out of business not long after The Last Wife of Attila the Hun launched! I didn’t intend to look for a third publisher—because how many lives can one book have?–but Five Directions Press heard about Booktrope going under and asked me to join their team. We decided to keep the same title so that my Amazon reviews would move with the book to its new Amazon page. 

What inspired you to write this book? 

The legends in Last Wife come from a collection of oral “lays” or lyric poems that found their way from 5th century Germanic regions to Iceland centuries ago and were ultimately published in a book called The Poetic Edda. I read The Poetic Edda in college and fell in love with some of the material. Since the legends make an ambiguous but nonetheless earnest attempt to include the historical Attila in their narratives, I began to look at the history of Attila to see if I would likewise find a connection from the historical documents back to the legends. And I did! So I began writing my version of what really happened in the intersection between the historical and legendary materials.

What is your favorite part of writing?

I loved the research I had to do for this book. I loved the problem solving. If the history said one thing and the legends said another, I had to figure out what kind of bridge I could build to connect the two—and still be as faithful to each as possible.

Does your main character resemble you? If so, in what ways?

Since my main character, Gudrun, comes to us direct from legends that probably got their start in the 5th century, she and I have nothing in common from a cultural perspective. However, I think I may have shared some of her insecurities when I was a younger woman, and I admit I did burden her with one obstacle from my own life that had nothing to do with the legends. She handles this particular obstacle much better than I ever did.

Joan, what do you find is the most challenging aspect of writing?

I have written several books over the years and they all have different challenges. In addition to my own books, I’ve ghostwritten a handful of books for other people who had stories to tell but didn’t have the time or inclination to pen them themselves. The challenge with ghosting a book is trying to think like the person you are working with and present the material in a style that you believe they would use if they were doing the writing themselves. It’s very exciting. I think ghosting for other people has helped me to become a better writer myself. I am better able to put aside my own personality and concentrate on the personality of the character.  

What was the last book you read? What did you think of it? 

I just finished Liz Moore’s The Unseen World. I totally loved this book. I loved the relationships between the characters; I loved the plot, and I loved the questions that arise out of the plot. This is exactly the kind of novel I am on the lookout for all the time. Now I am reading Ann Patchett’s Commonwealth. I am only a few chapters in, but already I love it so much I want to both devour it and simultaneously read it slowly so it never ends. But it will end, so I’m thankful I preordered the new Tana French. 

Who are some of your favorite authors?

Tana French for mysteries. I love Wally Lamb, Dave Eggers, Emma Donoghue, Celeste Ng, Chang-rae Lee, Rocco Lo Bosco, to name a few. I was an English major many moons ago in college, so I had a chance to read many classical authors—Vladimir Nabokov, James Joyce, Thomas Mann, Virginia Woolf—that I might have otherwise missed. I consider it a great privilege to have spent most of my life reading and writing.

What authors or person(s) have influenced you as a writer and why? 

We didn’t have books in the house when I was growing up. My family was poor and working class, and books just weren’t something anyone thought about. They were certainly never a topic of conversation at the dinner table. As a kid I attended a Catholic School that had a library the size of a walk-in closet. We had to line up by height to visit it. I was always at the back of the line because I was tall. The library featured two categories of books for girls: lives of the saints and Nancy Drews. (Boys got lives of the saints and Hardy Boys.) One nun stood guard in the library, to make sure each visitor was quick and took only one book. You had to brush up against her to get in the doorway. We were so afraid of the nuns in those days that we took the first book our grimy little hands came in contact with. More often than not the Nancy Drews were gone by time I got in and I wound up with lives of saints. I might have become obsessed with fire and brimstone! Lucky for me, one day when I was twelve or thirteen I discovered in the basement a small box of things that had once belonged to my deceased grandfather. And one of them was a collection of stories by Edgar Allen Poe. That collection (which some might say is itself a version of fire and brimstone) changed the trajectory of my reading life and influenced me greatly when I began to write.

Do you have a favorite place to write? To read? 

I write at a desk in the corner of the den. I read wherever I happen to be. I love to read in bed, and a lot of times I dream about what I was reading once I fall asleep.

Tell us something personal about you people may be surprised to know?

I used to be a publisher. Between the years 1999 and 2005, just before the advent of e-books and print on demand, I had a little company called GreyCore Press. I loved publishing and I think I was really good at it. I know I was good at selecting great manuscripts because virtually all of the authors I worked with got great reviews and were interviewed on TV and radio. One of them was a “Barnes and Noble Discover Great New Writers” author, which means that every BN in the country stacked her book on a shelf so close to the front door you could trip on it. I might still be publishing today but my penultimate distributor went out of business owing me (and all their other client publishers) a lot of money. I never got back on my feet again financially. In those pre-e-book/books-on-demand days it was very expensive to publish a hardcover book, and they had to be hardcover if you wanted them to get reviewed.

Probably it was for the best that I eventually got out of publishing because I didn’t have time to write my own books. And I don’t think I would have liked having a publishing company in these times when Amazon is the center of the literary universe. Nevertheless, publishing was one of the best experiences of my life. It forced me to reach inside and find out who I was at the core. Even the devastation of having a distributor go out of business owing me a lot of money—money I had borrowed from a bank—turned out to be a good experience. 

Did the writing process uncover surprises or learning experiences for you?

I think of writing as a way of exploring the world. My husband is a photographer, so he explores the world from behind a camera lens. When he prints or downloads his pictures he discovers all kinds of things in them he didn’t expect to find. He may take a shot of a tree, for instance, and discover a rare lone flower at the foot of the tree that he hadn’t noticed when he took the shot. Writing is the same way. More and more details are revealed to me as I look back on my work.

And always research offers me surprises. For instance, recently I needed to write a scene that takes place in the Metropolitan Museum of Art in 1929. To make it as authentic as possible, I started researching what well-known paintings were hanging in the museum at that time. A particular painting I came across actually changed the trajectory of the story. There is a pushing-pulling process that happens with research. You set out to discover one thing, and the pathway you take pushes something else out at you, oftentimes something that becomes a plot point. It’s as if the research process is a partner in the writing of the book.

Joan, what do you hope readers will gain from your book?

The legends Last Wife is based on are universal and timeless. I am not the only one to discover them and use them as a foundation for my work. Wagner used them in his operas. Tolkien used parts of them in some of his wonderful stories. Poets have written them into their poems. Various artists have used them as a source of inspiration for their paintings. Yet no two books or poems or paintings based on these legends are alike. There is something magical about the legends; they inspire different people in different ways. My hope is that readers will be inspired by the way I’ve presented them in my book. And I hope readers will enjoy the setting, which is based on the history of Attila and the Roman and Germanic tribes who lived during his reign.  

Looking back, what did you do right that helped you write and market this book? 

I chose subject matter that inspired me deeply. As I said, the book is on its third life. After writing the first version, I had to dive back in again to make changes requested by my first publisher. Then I had to dive in once more to make the edits and tweaks required by the editor I worked with at the second publishing house. Now with Five Directions Press I made yet more edits. In other words, I’ve read the book many times. Yet I don’t get tired of it. I love the legends. And I love the history. In its first incarnation Last Wife won ForeWord and IPPY (Independent Publisher) awards and was translated into Italian and Russian. When the publishers at ForeWord and IPPY learned it was being republished, they generously allowed me to use their “award winner” designations on the newer versions. The book has had three covers, three editors, three publishers… It seems to be a book that doesn’t want to die. Who knows what will happen next!

Any advice or tips for writers looking to get published?

It’s much more difficult to get published today than it used to be. And even if you do get published, it’s much more difficult to market your work. Think of the changes over the last decade: independent book stores have mostly closed; chains have either closed or found themselves on shaky ground; Amazon has become a superpower; newspapers fired reviewers in favor of being fed Associated Press reviews; and kingmakers, like Kirkus, began to charge indie writers (self-published or those with small presses) for reviews that were once free. If you want to really sell a lot of books, you either have to have hundreds of friends posting reviews on Amazon, or, you have to pay a service that pays (pennies, I presume) reviewers who may or may not have reviewing skills. There are online review sites, but they are inundated with requests, and unless you are a big name, it’s difficult to get the volume of reviews you need to make headway.

In the end, your love for the process of writing must be greater than your expectations about sales.

Website and social media links?

www.joanschweighardt.com

twitter@joanschwei

Where can we find your book?

Amazon

joan-schweighardt-book-cover-last-wife

What’s next for you?

I finished a new novel (currently with an agent) last year and am now working on a sequel to that novel.

Thanks so much  for chatting with me, Joan. I wish you continued success with your books! Eleanor

ellie

Eleanor Parker Sapia is the Puerto Rican-born author of the award-winning historical novel, A DECENT WOMAN, published by Scarlet River Press. Her debut novel, which garnered an Honorable Mention in Historical Fiction, English at the 2016 International Latino Book Awards with Latino Literacy Now, was Book of the Month with Las Comadres and Friends National Latino Book Club in 2015. Eleanor is proud to be featured in the award-winning anthology, Latina Authors and Their Muses, edited by Mayra Calvani. Well-traveled Eleanor is a writer, artist, photographer, and blogger who is never without a pen and a notebook, her passport, and a camera. Her awesome adult children are out in the world doing amazing things. Eleanor currently lives and writes in Berkeley County, West Virginia.

Eleanor’s book: http://amzn.to/1X0qFvK

Please visit Eleanor at her website: http://www.eleanorparkersapia.com

 

 

 

 

Author Interview: Fiona Hogan

Welcome to The Writing Life, where I’ll be interviewing fabulous authors every Tuesday morning. So please check back to see who is next!
Today I’m pleased to welcome multi-genre writer, Fiona Hogan.
fiona-hogan
Fiona Cooke Hogan is a writer, poet and blogger living in the beautiful midlands of Ireland. She has two books on Amazon  – a book of short stories  called The Lights Went Out and Other Stories; a quirky collection of short, long and flash fiction in a range of genres from humorous to romantic and supernatural; and a novella called What Happened In Dingle – a romantic comedy set in wild windswept Dingle, County Kerry.
Fiona is currently working on a horror as yet untitled, and is pitching her romantic fiction novel- Martha’s Cottage to an agent. She hopes to have a poetry chapbook published before Christmas.
When not scribbling like a lunatic, she is addicted to The Walking Dead, Poldark and anything Tolkien.
Welcome, Fiona!
fiona-hogan-book-cover

What is your book’s genre category?

My book is a collection of short and longer fiction and they are a mix of many genres, The Lights Went Out and Other Stories runs the gamut from humorous to the supernatural.

Please describe what ‘The Lights Went Out And Other Stories’ is about?

I always described this book as having a mix of differing themes from despair and love to loneliness and madness, however a recent reviewer very kindly wrote of a commonality that he noted between my stories that I will share here –

“Some more obvious commonalities or connecting threads between the stories is the feeling of “romance in the air.” The author is quite good at giving us dramatic, heart-stopping slices from the lives of young lovers. But she seems less interested in the Harlequin romance end of things and more interested in portraying the pains, insecurities, fears, trepidations, and heartbreaks that accompany young love, and the psychologically odd spaces lovers are drawn into, the way these romantic encounters leave them shattered, or in some way forever altered, and forever after haunted by eerie feelings of drug-like intensity it seems no amount of processing time will be enough to digest.”

I couldn’t begin to disagree with him. I like the discordant notes and unusual themes and there are plenty of these in my stories.

How did you come up with the title?

The title is taken from one of the longer tales – “The Lights Went Out”; a story of one man’s loneliness and struggle with the demons of his past. It’s funny because I had the title before the actual story was conceived. I just really liked the title- I thought it evocative and also slightly old fashioned.

That story was a pain in the ass – I lost the first draft on my laptop and the next time being super careful, I saved it onto my USB only for that file to become corrupted! It’s a fairly long story and I had to rewrite it fully to my chagrin, but perhaps the final version was the one I was meant to write. Personally, I dislike it because of the hassle it caused me, but a lot of people tell me it is one of their favourites.

What inspired you to write the book?

As a collection, each story comes from a different place. Some where inspired from personal experience – Blood Orange and The Saxophone Song, for instance.  Others were pure fiction.  Some were a mixture of both. One story in particular – Loose Ends was a spin off of  a longer story that was causing me problems. I couldn’t decide what to do with a character and thought, what if this happened? And I came up with a nice little flash fiction piece along with sorting out the direction of the main story – I love it when that happens.

What is your favorite part of writing?

My favourite part of writing is the excitement that comes with an idea, the “quick, where is the pen?” moment and then the euphoria of the flow – when I am writing so fast in my notebook that I get a cramp in the wrist (yes, I write longhand). There is no better feeling.

Researching is also an essential and sometimes indulgent pleasure. It’s amazing where a few clicks of the mouse can take you – from your own living room into Victorian London or Medieval France.

What is the most challenging aspect of writing?

Procrastination. I have the attention span of a stunned goldfish and am very easily distracted – social media is both a blessing and a curse. I have to be really strict with myself.

Who are some of your favourite authors?

I grew up on the Brontes, Jane Austen, Daphne du Maurier, George Elliot and Thomas Hardy – I love how the landscapes are as much a character as the individuals in their stories.

I discovered the work of JRR Tolkien at a young age and found true escapism. I remember crying when Frodo left for the Havens in the final chapter. Contemporary literary idols are Susanna Clarke, Paul Auster, Sarah Waters and Jonathan Tropper. Also Stephen King, Neil Gaiman, and lashings of John Connolly because I love a bit of well written horror and suspense.

What authors or persons have influenced you?

I love the Victorian tales of mystery and horror and I would have to say that my stories in that vein are influenced by HP Lovecraft, Edgar Allen Poe, Shelley, and Stoker. My more contemporary stories are influenced by Joyce Carol Oates, Joanne Harris, and the wonderful Dorothy Parker.

Do you have a favourite place to write?

There is an old leather armchair in my living room that is rather comfortable for curling up on with a notebook; it’s also perfect for using the laptop. But in good weather I can be found outside on the bench on my deck beside the wonderful ancient hedgerow that runs the length of our long garden. It really is the most peaceful and inspiring place, and has provided many a blog post, poem, and chapter.

Fiona, tell us something personal about you that people might be surprised to know.

I live and breathe Tolkien, and have the first two lines of the poem that Aragorn shows Frodo in The Prancing Pony (written by Gandalf to vouch for Strider/Aragorn’s true character) tattooed on my left upper arm– in Elvish. Below is the English version.

“All that is gold does not glitter

Not all those who wander are lost”

What surprises or learning experiences did you have during the publishing process?

I’m self published, so everything was a surprise and learning experience! I really hurled myself at the process with little or no knowledge of how everything worked, and hence learned an awful lot in a very quick period of time.

My first book was always going to be an experiment and as such I don’t think I have done too badly. I designed the cover myself from one of my own photographs – a beautiful view of an old cottage through an old iron gate surrounded by ivy and overgrown hedge. That cover has gone through a few incarnations and I am delighted with the final version  – I messed about with colouring on the picture and picked a segment for the cover of the paperback. I wanted it to be brighter and it looks amazing, especially the ivy on the back cover.

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I figured out the formatting (eventually) and have been going at the promotion ever since. I hold a degree in Marketing, but old school stuff  – the press releases and organisational side, digital marketing is a whole different animal and I have to say I love it.  But apart from the inimitable joy of holding my book in my arms for the first time, I have to say one of the highlights of self publishing for me has been connecting with so many amazing and helpful authors (and now friends) online. I look forward to meeting these writers over time. It still astounds me how helpful and generous these people are; from sharing and re-tweeting, to buying and reviewing my book, not to mention the invaluable advice. I make it my business to do the same for authors I come across, and I do a lot of reviewing myself because I understand just how important it is to an author.

Looking back, what did you do right that helped with this book?

Well, if you don’t have the content, there really is no point in putting your writing out there. I had a large amount of stories that had never seen the light of day and I picked through them until I was happy with the fiction I put forward. Thankfully my reviews have shown that these stories are relevant and interesting to readers and this is gratifying. I was lucky with my promotion as a newbie, and hopefully I have created a nice amount of interest for my next books.

Any advice or tips for writers looking to get published?

Make sure your writing is the best it can possibly be. For the first couple of months my book was out there, I couldn’t afford to get it professionally edited – I was forever correcting what I had thought perfect. A writer can only edit to a certain degree, it takes an objective professional to spot the errors that have been overlooked many times.  As soon as I could, I hired a wonderful editor and now friend in New York, to work my book and she did a stellar job; it really is amazing the difference a little tightening can do.

(My next novel – Martha’s Cottage has been sent to an agent as polished as possible thanks to my editor)

Don’t be afraid to get your work out there, have people lined up to read your work and critique.

When your book is ready for publishing, make sure and have the best cover art you can get, either buy it or download a free image (although you do run the risk of someone somewhere using the same pic), or use a good quality picture of your own and photo shop it to your liking. You can format the document yourself or pay for someone else to do it, but YouTube has many free tutorials.

My first book arrived on Amazon with no fanfare apart from much screaming and clinking of wine glasses with my husband. Now, I know better and my next book will get a proper online launch with the help of my blog, Twitter, and hopefully my Facebook author friends. There will be giveaways and I will promote the hell out of it before it even goes live. I can’t wait.

Website:

Incessant Musings is full of snippets of poetry, my thoughts on everything from woolly socks to dogs, my love of nature and news on my books –

http://www.fionacookehogan.com

My Facebook page is a great platform for showing little bits of my work and also commenting on the writing process –

http://facebook.com/theHazelHedge

Where can we find your book?

The Lights Went Out and Other Stories can be found on Amazon. There are also links on my website and my author page on Facebook.

http://amzn.to/2ceYPXr

What’s next for you, Fiona?

I have sent my latest book; a romantic fiction – Martha’s Cottage to an agent because I want to try a traditional publishing house with this one. I am interested to see how things differ from self-publishing promotion and marketing wise.

I am currently working on a horror or I should say “wrestling with” as this book is doing its best to fight me hard.  I also plan on self publishing a chap book of my poetry before Christmas and there is the second collection of short stories that is lurking about in the back of my mind. So busy, busy, busy. Busy is great.

You can connect with Fiona at:
It was pleasure chatting with you, Fiona. I wish you all the best with your books and finding an agent! Eleanor

ellie

Eleanor Parker Sapia is the Puerto Rican-born author of the award-winning historical novel, A DECENT WOMAN, published by Sixth Street River Press. Her debut book, which garnered an Honorable Mention in Historical Fiction, English at the 2016 International Latino Book Awards with Latino Literacy Now, was Book of the Month with Las Comadres and Friends National Latino Book Club in 2015. Eleanor is proud to be featured in the award-winning anthology, Latino Authors and Their Muses, edited by Mayra Calvani. Well-traveled Eleanor is a writer, artist, photographer, and blogger who is never without a pen and a notebook, her passport and a camera. Her awesome adult children are out in the world doing amazing things. Eleanor currently lives and writes in Berkeley County, West Virginia.

Eleanor’s book: http://amzn.to/1X0qFvK

Please visit Eleanor at her website: http://www.eleanorparkersapia.com

Guest Post: Finding that book inside you

This informative guest post is by the lovely Sally Cronin, who is discussing the option of writing Non-Fiction books.

eternal scribbler

This week’s guest post is by the lovely Sally Cronin who is discussing the option of writing Non-Fiction books.

sallyFinding that book inside youby Sally Cronin

Not everyone can dive into publishing with a best-selling novel, and most successful authors who have sold a million copies of their books are a rare breed.

Writing and then marketing our own books can be exciting but it can also be a daunting task. Whilst most of us who write love the process, we understand that we are competing with hundreds of thousands of other fiction titles that are published each year. This is particularly true if you are writing within one of the most popular of the genres such as Thrillers, Mystery or Fantasy.

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Author Interview: Gabrielle Mathieu

Welcome to the Tuesday Author Interview series at The Writing Life.  I will be interviewing authors every Tuesday until the end of November, so please check back in next week. Today I’m pleased to welcome Gabrielle Mathieu, author of The Falcon Flies Alone.

Gabrielle Mathieu lived on three continents by the age of eight. She’d experienced the bustling bazaars of Pakistan, the serenity of Swiss mountain lakes, and the chaos of the immigration desk at the JFK airport. Perhaps that’s why she developed an appetite for the unusual and disorienting. Her fantasy books are grounded in her experience of different cultures and interest in altered states of consciousness (mostly white wine and yoga these days). The Falcon Flies Alone is her debut novel.

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Welcome, Gabrielle!

What is your book’s genre/category?

It’s a fantasy adventure firmly grounded in reality.

Please describe what The Falcon Flies Alone is about.

It’s the beginning of a series following Peppa Mueller, an orphan and chemistry geek who survives a gruesome experiment with a psychotropic plant, and tracks down the villains behind the plan.

How did you come up with the title?

Peppa meets a half-Asian priest she falls in love with. At one point, he says he’s never met someone like her before. The title also reflects on Peppa’s loner tendencies. 

Gabrielle, what inspired you to write this book?

The novel itself is actually based on a nightmare I had many years ago, in which a dangerous group of scientific conspirators tricked everyone into drinking a poisonous concoction. But basically, I just write to stave off the boredom of routine.

 What is your favorite part of writing?

The first draft, when everything comes to life. Even though I’m now using an outline as preparation, I’m still surprised by how the novels evolve once I start writing.

Does your main character resemble you? If so, in what ways?

I’m eccentric as well, and I prefer to rely on myself. If I had an animal totem like Peppa, it would be a predator, though not a falcon. 

What do you find is the most challenging aspect of writing?

Translating all the information in my brain into something people can follow.

What was the last book you read? What did you think of it?

I just finished Unholy Night, by Seth Grahame-Smith. On one hand, I could see why an agent would drool over representing him. The snarky quick dialogue and the original idea make it an appealing story. On the other hand, the moral nuances of the tale were muddied. The protagonist is driven by vengeance, which we are lead to believe is a failing. Yet, violence is never renounced as a method of concluding conflict. Since the story is woven around the narrative of Jesus’ birth, I think Grahame-Smith failed to address some central themes. 

Who are some of your favorite authors?

I actually like authors like Elizabeth George and Gillian Flynn for their suspenseful plotting, but too many thrillers, and I get depressed. I enjoy a good character arc, where the protagonist has changed (for the better) over the course of the book. I’m very picky, so I don’t currently have a favorite writer. 

What authors or person(s) have influenced you as a writer and why?

Tolkien was a huge influence. I read him in 1972 at the age of eight, and was transported into another world. More recently, I was intrigued by George RR Martin’s convoluted plotting and amazing world-building, but the continual rape and torture is a turn-off.

Do you have a favorite place to write? To read?

We have a three-bedroom apartment in Switzerland, which we can afford because it’s a walk-up under the eaves. I have one room set up as a writing study. I read all the time, and carry my Kindle with me, so I don’t have just one place to read.

Gabrielle, tell us something personal about you people may be surprised to know?

I’m addicted to afternoon naps. It’s pure luxury to crawl into bed after lunch, and have a deep refreshing sleep, followed by a cup of tea. Even though I’m not British, I love hot tea with milk and honey. 

Did the writing process uncover surprises or learning experiences for you? What about the publishing process?

The writing process was a surprise, because at first, like many writers, I failed to recognize the level of craft involved. As time went on, I realized how marginal my first attempts were. The publishing process was even more of a surprise. Since most beta-readers binge-read The Falcon Flies Alone, I expected I’d find an agent sooner or later. I hadn’t realized the very originality I was proud of would prove to be the problem. Luckily, I had the opportunity to join the women of Five Directions Press, a publishing co-op. I can honestly say this was one of the best things that ever happened to me in my writing career. Courtney J. Hall designed fantastic covers for the series, and C.P. Lesley has been a mentor, as well as copy-editing and formatting my manuscripts.  Ariadne Apostolou, who I met through the co-op, has a good eye for story development, but she’s become a good friend as well. The new members are lovely too. 

What do you hope readers will gain from The Falcon Flies Alone?

Primarily, I want them to be entertained, but I hope some themes will speak to them. I write about themes on my website blog as well. What is the importance of the natural world in our neurophysiological make-up, for example? Plants and animals are not just there for our physical nourishment. Our millenia of evolutional are intimately tied up in the natural world which they share with us. I’m also interested in the role of anger in the women’s lives. My first novel is set in 1957. At that time, in movies and literature, women didn’t defend themselves. They stayed in safe situations. How stultifying that life must have been. Someone like my heroine, Peppa Mueller, who is a scientist, would have felt like an outsider, even without a falcon totem that she has to keep hidden from the world. 

Looking back, what did you do right that helped you write and market this book?

Well first of all, I have to say this to all aspiring writers. Please, please, learn the basics of grammar. You can break the rules once you know what they are. I am very conscious of grammar and sentence formation.

It’s helpful to find readers, even if they don’t perform literary criticism. You want to know whether people can follow your story. Do they find it interesting enough to finish? Those are two basics. Positive feedback from my beta-readers kept me going through some hard times, before I found Five Directions Press.  

What didn’t work?

People may get annoyed with you or your book. Personality quirks can put other writers off, and sometimes they cross the line when they offer you a “helpful” critique. (Especially if you see their e-mail was written late at night, in which case you may assume some libation was involved). It’s painful when that happens, but perhaps I should have seen it coming.

Any advice or tips for writers looking to get published?

You have to give some thought to what direction you want to go in. If you’re still hoping for an agent and a traditional publisher, think like they do. Decide on a genre, read the best-sellers in your genre, and then write something similar enough to be marketed, but something different enough so it’s not a blatant rip-off. If you want to remain true to your creativity, start making contacts now, so when the time comes, you can get your work properly edited and formatted. Don’t just push your first effort out into the internet, “to see what happens.” Join an organization like The Alliance of Independent Authors, and take your work seriously. Write multiple drafts, and learn your weak and strong points. You probably won’t make money, but you’ll have the satisfaction of creation.

Website and social media links?

www.gabriellemathieu.com, https://www.facebook.com/gabriellemathieuauthor, @GabrielleAuthor on Twitter. Our publishing co-op is http://www.fivedirectionspress.com/.

Where can we find The Falcon Flies Alone?

It’s on Amazon world-wide, both as an e-book and as a paperback. There were also a few copies at BookPeople in Austin and Imagine Books and Records in San Antonio. (Both cities are in Texas).

What’s next for you, Gabrielle?

This fall I will be doing some additional research for the third book, The Falcon Soars, as I travel to Nepal on a hiking adventure. Then I’ll return to the second in the series, The Falcon Strikes, to streamline and polish the narrative.
November is NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) month, and this year I plan to power through a first draft of my dystopian police-buddy novel, Shangri-la Apocalypse, featuring Ivanka Trump as the president of the USA. How’s that for dystopian?

Shangri-la Apocalypse sounds intriguing! Best wishes with your writing and safe travels to Nepal! Thanks for chatting with us today, Gabrielle.

ellie

Eleanor Parker Sapia is the Puerto Rican-born author of the award-winning historical novel, A DECENT WOMAN, published by Sixth Street River Press. Her debut book, which garnered an Honorable Mention in Historical Fiction, English at the 2016 International Latino Book Awards with Latino Literacy Now, was Book of the Month with Las Comadres and Friends National Latino Book Club in 2015. Eleanor is proud to be featured in the award-winning anthology, Latino Authors and Their Muses, edited by Mayra Calvani. Well-traveled Eleanor is a writer, artist, photographer, and blogger who is never without a pen and a notebook, her passport and a camera. Her awesome adult children are out in the world doing amazing things. Eleanor currently lives and writes in Berkeley County, West Virginia.

Eleanor’s book: http://amzn.to/1X0qFvK

Please visit Eleanor at her website: http://www.eleanorparkersapia.com

 

 

 

Here Are Some of the 18th Annual 2016 International Latino Book Awards Winners

Outstanding books in the fields of fiction and non-fiction, children’s literature and poetry are just a few of the dozens of genres showcased at the 18th annual International Latino Authors Awards.

Authors and publishers gathered for one of the largest cultural awards honoring Latinos at California State University Dominguez Hills outside of Los Angeles on Thursday. Over 2,000 gathered to honor colleagues in a variety of genres, including Children and Youth Adults, Biography, History, Politics & Current Affairs, Cookbooks, Travel, Science Fiction, among others, in English, Spanish and Portuguese.

For the full NBC article and a complete list of nominees:

http://www.nbcnews.com/news/latino/here-are-some-18th-annual-intl-latino-book-awards-winners-n645481