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K.M. Weiland is an international bestselling author who writes speculative fiction from the confines of her Nebraska home. She’s my favorite author, not only because of her books, but also for giving back to the writing community tenfold. A kind, generous spirit, endlessly fascinating person and Jedi Master.
So I’ve taken it upon myself to present to you, the AWESOME award. Let it be known to all; that on this blessed day October 4, 2017, I bestow upon you the seal of awesomeness. May it be inscribed therein, and may you bear its signature all the days of your life in peace.
1. Name up to three things in homeschooling that helped shape you as a writer.
1. The extra time and flexibility to pursue extra-curricular activities—in my case, writing and producing a newsletter called Horse Tails, which gave me the opportunity to write hundreds of stories and articles and the discipline to create a consistent writing schedule from a young age.
2. Love of reading and learning. I worked well on my own, which made me very well-suited to homeschooling. It let me pursue my interests—particularly, history—at my own pace and, to some extent, tailor my education to my life goals.
3. Family support. My parents and siblings have been there for me every step of my writing journey, starting in my school years. They were always supportive and did everything they could to encourage and help me.
2. Describe your experience that lead up to writing a newsletter.
I’ve always made up stories, but I didn’t start writing them down until my siblings and I decided to form a family newspaper. They lost interest pretty quickly, but I was hooked! Eventually, I moved on to edit and publish Horse Tails, a small newsletter for youth, which I continued throughout high school.
3. What did writing mean to you at this point in your life?
On through high school, I viewed it merely as a hobby—a way to write down the stories I imagined, simply so I wouldn’t forget them. Up until graduation, I seriously thought I would be pursuing a career with horses. But then I began realizing I enjoyed staying inside to write more than I did going outside to ride.
4. What kind of feedback did you receive from family and friends?
Positive and constructive. I’ve been blessed to have few naysayers in my life. The people who are closest to me have always been my biggest fans and have encouraged me to explore my talents and interests.
5. Who were your role models? (Real or fictional)
It’s clichéd, but: Jo March and Anne Shirley. I read Little Women and Anne of Green Gables over and over as a child, and I have always resonated with the awe and wonder of these heroines’ imaginative coming-of- age stories.
6. If you could go back in time and give yourself advice what would you say?
Probably the biggest bit of advice I would offer would be to seriously consider where your writing will be in five years if it succeeds. By that point, for me, many of the decisions I made in the beginning were too difficult to change. I wish I’d spent more time considering my blog title, url, publishing platform (Blogger, WordPress, etc.), subscription options, all that stuff. You don’t want to have to make major changes down the road that might undo some of your hard work in building a following.
PLEASE WELCOME LAUREN SAPALA
Lauren Sapala is a writing coach who specializes in coaching introverted, intuitive writers. She founded the WriteCity writing groups in Seattle and San Francisco and currently blogs about writing and creativity at www.laurensapala.com.
My fellow creative friend on the east coast just released another book August 29, 2017. Check it out!
“A voice that was strong and cruel came from somewhere deep within me. When the voice split away and talked to me all by itself I started calling her Lo…She’d watched me at my lowest points and saved up a thousand slights, a million minor offenses. She forgave nothing, and now she wanted revenge.”
Leah is an alcoholic. She’s antisocial, self-destructive, and deeply damaged. She’s also battling a voice in her head she calls Lo, who wants to take over her body. Lo is everything Leah isn’t—beautiful, charming, confident, and ruthless in her desires. She commandeers Leah’s will whenever Leah gets too drunk, and acts as her escort through the rainy Seattle underworld.
As a misfit bibliophile, Leah’s conception of reality has never been rock solid, but as she spirals deeper into addiction the “real world” of bars, bikers, dealers, and addicts slowly dissolves into Lo’s dark vision. As Lo steadily tightens her hold, Leah prepares to make one last bid for survival, knowing her only chance is to transcend Lo’s terrifying drive toward death.
In the beginning you addressed this book to your Uncle John. Who was he to you, and what impact did he have on your life?
My Uncle John is my dad’s identical twin brother. One of the issues I explore in the book is the death of my younger brother, which occurred when he was six years old and I was eight. My younger brother battled leukemia for three years before his death and my Uncle John was the one who drove us to his chemotherapy appointments two hours away, each month. My uncle had a bad hip, so being in the car for long periods of time like this wasn’t ideal. But he did it anyway. I have always carried that memory of my uncle soldiering on through the physical and emotional difficulty of ferrying us back and forth to those appointments. I watched his example and learned from it. That’s why I say in the dedication that he taught me that “the only way out is through.” It’s a well known saying that means, “the only way to get through it is to get through it.” My Uncle John always got through things, he didn’t run away from them. This is a lesson that the narrator of the book, Leah, needs to learn.
*What does the “shadow” represent from the title of your book?
The “shadow” refers to the shadow self, that psychological dark side that exists in each of us, but normally remains buried in the subconscious. The narrator, Leah, is a normally introverted, bookish type of person who doesn’t know how to express her true self, or how to express her real needs. When she gets drunk, her shadow self comes roaring to the surface, the wildly extroverted, aggressive, domineering personality who has absolutely no awareness of anyone else’s needs other than her own.
For those who are interested in MBTI, I’m an INFJ personality type, so my shadow side is an ESTP. However, because our shadow side usually stays hidden in our subconscious, it also stays relatively undeveloped. A personality expert I love said that using your conscious side is like signing your name with your dominant hand—it’s smooth and fluid from using it so much. But using your shadow side is like trying to sign your name with your left foot—everything comes out distorted and barely recognizable because that part of you hardly ever sees the light of day.
When Leah gets drunk she goes into her shadow side and becomes Lo and, consequently, everything in her comes out as distorted and barely recognizable. It’s definitely a Jekyll-and-Hyde type of situation.
*What does the “Lo” represent?
Lo is the personality that Leah, the narrator of the book, becomes when she gets drunk. I was an alcoholic for many years and this book is based on my experiences during that time. To this day, I’m fascinated by the personality changes that people undergo due to addiction. It’s quite common to hear people say that a family member is the most loving, compassionate person when sober, but when they’re drunk or high it’s the complete opposite. And of course, people do things when intoxicated that they would never do sober, like lie, cheat, and steal. I find this so intriguing and so I wanted to explore how that process worked for me when I was an active alcoholic.
I also believe that, as a society, we use a lot of different addictions to lower consciousness on a regular basis— that is, to make ourselves less alert, less empathetic, less compassionate, less emotionally sensitive. Alcohol and drugs are obvious choices, but we also use things like shopping, sex, the internet, gossip, an oversaturation of news and media, exercise, and food. In my book, Leah is just one extreme example of someone who systematically and purposefully tries to lower her consciousness whenever she can (through alcohol) because she doesn’t want to deal with her emotionally painful past, or her energetically sensitive present.
*There are two very interesting quotes at the front of the book. Can you describe what they mean to you?
The first quote actually comes from one of my clients, a writer named Ritu Kaushal. She has a blog called Walking through Transitions (http://www.walkingthroughtransitions.com) which is just fantastic. I was reading some of her work and stumbled across that quote from her and it hit me like a bolt of lightning. Especially the last few lines:
Maybe, that’s what hurt does. It cuts us into different people. There are some parts with their gaping holes that break off from the core, and then they roam inside us, reminding us of our own poverty.
I thought, “Yes! Ah-ha! That’s EXACTLY the way I felt during all those dark years when I was drinking!” Ritu very graciously let me use the quote from her and I am so grateful because it’s just perfect.
The second quote is from Jean Genet:
Worse than not realizing the dreams of your youth, would be to have been young and never dreamed at all.
He’s one of my very favorite writers, and that quote from him sums up how I felt about those years. They were dark and difficult, but I’m so glad they happened and I wouldn’t trade them for anything. As painful as that time was, I still saw it all through my writer’s imagination (my “dreaming eyes”) and I treasure those experiences.
*After suffering some hardship you turned to books. What led you in that direction?
Oh, I’ve always been a book nut. In fact, that was something I really wanted to emphasize in this memoir/novel. Because of some painful experiences in her childhood, Leah has a lot of trouble connecting with people. She feels separate from everyone all the time. One of the main ways she relates to the world and figures out how to navigate life is through books. For example, there’s one instance in the book where Leah meets this couple who run a nightclub together. She immediately compares them to characters out of a Fitzgerald novel and wonders to herself if she should “plan” to feel about them the same way she felt about those characters. This is extremely dysfunctional—but that’s actually how I was at that time. I had no idea how to even have spontaneous emotions toward people because I was so guarded and shut down. So, I often categorized people as characters from books I had read, and then treated them accordingly.
Leah (who is obviously me as a character) does this all through the novel too. She becomes involved with a guy who reminds her of Prince Myshkin from Dostoyevsky’s The Idiot and so she instantly puts herself in the role of the tragic female character of that novel to support that fantasy. At the end of the book Leah flees her disastrous life in Seattle to start over in San Francisco, and the only way she can process that decision is by comparing herself to Anna Karenina jumping in front of the train. You’ll see this over and over again throughout the book. Leah is so frightened by “real life” that the only way she can interpret her experience of it is through story.
*What were some challenges writing this book.
Um, wow. I could write ten pages on this. Well, the first draft took me over two years to write. It came out to about 800 pages, and it then took me another nine years to cut and rewrite and revise. I probably rewrote the whole book at least five times. Putting it all together structurally was kind of a nightmare.
Beyond the actual process of writing it, the book contains really, really personal stuff. And a lot of it is super embarrassing. I detail incidents in that book that I hadn’t told my closest friends about. There are sections that are sexually explicit, and other sections that are incredibly emotionally intimate. I was terrified of what people would think of me.
I resolved to bury the manuscript in the backyard and never think about it again at least 20 times. And then I finally published it.
*Name the rewards of writing it.
Ha, I could write ten pages about this too! Well, first of all I felt a huge sense of relief once it was out of my desk drawer and into the world. I do believe that releasing your work into the world is the essential last step in the creative cycle for any writer. If you have a ton of work stuffed away that no one has ever seen, it’s just as mentally unhealthy as it would be if you were a hoarder and living in a house stuffed with piles of newspapers.
Second of all, I made the most unlikely and unexpected connections through the book. Readers messaged me on Facebook and emailed me directly to tell me how strongly the book resonated with them. All the stuff that I was so embarrassed about and was cringing over…well, they loved it. They told me they thought it was hilarious or beautiful or just awesome. That was a really, really cool thing for me to see, that I’m not the only one that’s gone through dark times.
*What is the message you want others to walk away with?
I want others to read this book and know that they don’t have to hide themselves. It’s okay if you have or are currently struggling with addiction, or low self-worth, or messed up stuff from your past. Other people are going through it too. We’re all human and none of us are alone in this. I also hope that people are just plain entertained by the book. Readers have told me that they read it all in one night because they just couldn’t keep from going on to the next chapter, and then the next. I think that’s something every writer wants to hear, that the book you wrote was just actually a lot of fun for people to read.
*Hindsight is 20/20. Put on your hindsight glasses and write a letter to your younger self. What would the letter say? What would you say to Lo?
Well, after living with her myself, I can honestly say there is no telling Lo anything. She is completely ego-based and runs entirely on fear. That’s her role in this life and that’s cool. But I would tell Leah that everything is going to work out, and that everything she’s living through is going to be in a book someday. I think that would have made her very happy.
Don’t miss out on Lauren’s other book, The INFJ Writer
Lorelei Logsdon worked as a communication specialist and technical writer for 20 years before turning her hand to fiction. She has published ten books in various genres under several pseudonyms, and is working on her next psychological thriller called THE OCEAN BETWEEN.
Name some inspirations that led you to become a writer.
I’ve been writing stories since I was very little, and my grandmother was always encouraging me. I’d like to think she would be very proud to know I’ve published a few books.
That’s great your grandmother encouraged you to keep going. Inspiration goes a long way.
Describe your experience from technical writing to fiction writing.
I’ve been a communications specialist for over 20 years, and I’ve been a freelance editor for the past four years. I’ve worked with hundreds of authors and have edited over 400 books in that time. The trick to all types of writing is to know your audience and write to their needs.
Cool! That’s a lot of writing experience. Would love to pick your brain sometime. Not literally, of course.
What do you enjoy about writing psychological thrillers?
As I’ve gotten older, I’ve developed an unhealthy interest in horror and dark fiction. I love the mystery, adding a twist here and there, and trying to fool the reader. I like taking readers for a ride.
I like psychological thrillers too. I would imagine these are a bit harder to write though.
What’s your goal now as a writer?
For now, my goal is simply to enjoy the process. The act of writing is enjoyable, and I want to keep it that way. Writing is a pastime, a hobby, a way to unwind. I never want it to become a chore.
YES. I love this.
In Comorbid, who is Jame’s Davis?
James Davis is a child trapped in a grownup’s body, his development truncated at a moment in his childhood when overwhelming trauma took complete control over him. He has found a way to function, or at least he thinks he has, but in reality he’s at the mercy of his troubled, damaged mind.
Wow. This definitely sounds intriguing.
What can you tell us about those whom he cares about?
Consciously, James cares about his mother and her memory. She was the most important person in his life. Subconsciously, James cares about children who are suffering, having a deep desire to help them like he wishes someone would have helped him. By helping others, he’s helping his own inner child. At its heart, though, COMORBID is about James’s mother, even though her POV is given only sparingly in the book.
I love seeing the inner motivation of characters and what drives them to do things. It makes the story stick in my mind for some reason.
What was your response to all the positive reviews on COMORBID?
I love reviews, regardless if they’re positive or negative. Of course it’s great to see a positive review, but just knowing someone read the book and was affected strongly enough to review it makes me happy.
Great attitude. I hope it rubs off on me.
Name three things that have hindered you in completing your work.
There’s never enough time in the day. Most of COMORBID was written over the course of six months between 2:00 a.m. and 6:00 a.m. It was an extremely tiring process, though worth it! The only other challenge in writing it was letting other opinions affect your work. If you ask opinions of 100 people, you’ll likely get 100 different opinions. While it’s nice to get feedback, don’t let other people’s ideas interfere too much with your vision.
Ouch. That sounds like a grueling schedule to write anything. It’s incredible you were even able to pull it off!
What keeps you motivated?
At the time, the story wouldn’t leave me alone. It wasn’t a choice to write it. I had to write it in order to get it out of my head and finally be able to find some peace again. Story ideas would wake me up at night and if I didn’t get up and go write them down, I couldn’t get back to sleep. Once a story gets stuck in your head, it’s impossible to focus on much else.
Many of us can relate to this. Mine has been bouncing around the head for a while now.
What’s your antagonist? Or what prevents you to achieving your dream?
Time is the #1 enemy.
Very true. Isn’t there a pause button somewhere?
Why do writers quit?
I think writers quit for lots of varied reasons. Some may have an unrealistic definition of success, and when they inevitably don’t reach it, they throw in the towel. Some writers are perfectionists, always needing the perfect office setup, the perfect title, the perfect cover, and the perfect sentence. That’s a lot of pressure! If you put too much pressure on yourself to do everything perfectly, you can lose the joy in the process. For the most part, I think we often make things much more difficult than they really are. First and foremost, write for yourself.
This is a good viewpoint to have. Much appreciated.
What would you say to a writer who has given up?
There’s nothing wrong with giving up. No one should feel pressured into something they no longer love or no longer are interested in. If you’ve given it everything you have and you’re ready to move on, then do that. Just know that you can always come back. It may be 10 years, 25 years, or 50 years, but you can always come back.
There’s a sense of hope here in your statement. Love it.
Can you give us a sneak peek of The Ocean Between?
The Ocean Between is currently just an idea floating in my brain. It’s a story I published several years ago in another genre, forced to fit a mold it is uncomfortable in. The true story will be The Ocean Between, and it will be unrecognizable to the first published for those characters. You’ve heard it said that sometimes characters refuse to do the things writers want them to do, but in this case they did them but weren’t happy about it. I owe it to them to tell their true story.
Well, I hope the idea goes from floating to bouncing and a full blown story!
Do you have a tentative release date?
As I write for the joy of it rather than to someone’s arbitrary deadlines, I have no date in mind for release. When the story is ready to come out, I will let it. Until then, I won’t bother to try to force it.
We’ll be waiting…
Federal prosecutor Jeff Trask is summoned to a murder scene. A Park Police officer has been brutally murdered at the Lincoln Memorial. As Trask and a team of local and federal investigators try to find the killer, more police officers are murdered. While attending the funeral for one of these victims, Trask and his team find themselves in a firefight with a cell of radical Islamic terrorists. Disqualified because of his involvement at the scene at Arlington National Cemetery, Trask is reassigned to Washington D.C.’s Joint Terrorism Task Force, where he discovers that the firefight at Arlington was only part of a bigger and much more sinister plot to bomb that threatens the entire eastern seaboard.
I was immediately drawn into this story from the beginning with a heinous crime committed against the ambassador of San Salvador. From there, every line, jot and tittle unravels layer upon layer until you reach the end. the level of detail is not only remarkable, but entertaining and relevant to the storyline.
The distinct effect of this book, as well as the others in the Jeff Trask Crime drama, bear a particular flavor. Marc Rainer a former Federal prosecutor has a working knowledge of law enforcement personnel at every level. Including intelligence, FBI, CIA, investigators, counterterrorism, Washington D.C, U.S. Attorney relations, and Police forces. It’s like the old Prego commercial theme “It’s all in there”.
Having said all of that, the book carried a unique ‘flavor’ to it unlike others I’ve read. It has more realism within it’s pages but not a boring kind of realism. It was still fascinating and kept me turning the pages!
The author really does an excellent job portraying a sense of family among the main characters. They really appreciate one another, play offer each others strength, and truly work as a team. The heroism of Jeff Trask was more balanced within the team approach, which I believe, had a nice impact.
Winter of Wolves had all the necessary ingredients for an entertaining read, including humor. You won’t be disappointed!
*Are you originally from Northern Virginia?
Yes, born in raised in the suburbs of Northern Virginia, outside of DC.
I‘ve never been to northern Virginia before.
*What do you do currently in your occupation?
I’m a Communications Associate for The Kennedy Forum, a mental health advocacy non-profit founded by Patrick Kennedy – his book, A Common Struggle, is a great read if you haven’t checked it out yet!
Nice. Thanks for the book recommendation!
*Did you have a childhood fascination with fairy tales? Tell us about it and your all time favorites.
I don’t think it’s so much fairy tales, but just darker stories in general. I loved Alice In Wonderland, of course, and poetry by Edgar Allan Poe. Not your average childhood reads, but I think I had such an idyllic childhood that the dark and edgy stories captured my interest.
That makes sense. I’ve read some of Poe’s work, but now enough.
*What genre do you write?
Fiction. Leaning toward the magical surrealist side. I think the creative possibilities there are endless, and that intrigues me.
Can’t wait to see what you come up with!
*Have you always wanted to be a writer?
I read a quote recently that said something like look to your childhood passions to see where your life calling lies. I’ve always written, and I think when I reached an age where you start to question what you want to do, becoming an author seemed like a natural goal for me.
I love that quote!
*Where did you go to school? Major?
I went to Boston College and majored in Communications. I wrote Meditations In Wonderland there my last semester.
Wow. That sounds like a major feat. Penning a novel in your last semester of college is remarkable.
*What led you to write Meditations in Wonderland? Your premise looks pretty intriguing.
Thank you! I grew up loving Alice In Wonderland, and I was inspired by the dark tones it took on over the years as my generation grew with the story. From that landscape my story manifested itself in my mind over a few years, primarily starting when I studied abroad in London, saw Lewis Carroll’s original manuscript and visited Oxford, through to my senior year of college when I finally wrote it. It’s been called “Pretty Little Liars meets Alice In Wonderland.”
Never been to Oxford, but Cambridge is beautiful.
*Would it be classified as a psychological thriller?
I can definitely see an argument for that. As a dark Alice In Wonderland retelling I think no one would dispute that. It definitely has a lot of thriller-esque scenes and notes of magical surrealism. And, of course, a little nonsense.
It’s amazing to see what different authors are able to craft with their imagination.
*Tell us a little about the main character.
Elizabeth is 24, and she lives in Brooklyn and works as an interior designer in the city. I think many people can relate to the themes she’s struggling with – confronting and acknowledging the darker sides of herself, struggling with mental static and getting lost in the noise. In a sense she has to reclaim herself after giving in to a pattern of self-destructive behavior. She meditates, falls down the rabbit hole, and the rest is history.
Wow. Makes me want to know more about her.
You’re a writer; so whats your story, or what inspired you?
I don’t think I can pinpoint a single moment when I decided that I would be a writer – I’ve always just written, and then I couldn’t separate myself from the act of writing, it always felt a part of me. I used to carry around a composition notebook in elementary school that housed my first “novel,” scribbled in mechanical pencil between classes and after school, and eventually I graduated to my MacBook in college on which I wrote the manuscript for Meditations In Wonderland my last semester at Boston College. In terms of inspiration, I just follow that internal whisper that compels me to return to the blank page time and time again.
Keep following that internal whisper. And when you don’t hear it, write anyway.
What’s your GOAL in becoming a writer?
Having my writing published has always been the “ultimate” goal for me, and I think many writers can relate to that, however I think a more realistic goal is just to keep writing, to keep the process alive. The hardest part about writing, in truth, is the act of sitting down to write in the first place. If I can cultivate and keep my writing practice going, that’s a goal in itself that I think leads to the more penultimate dream of having your work published.
YES. I love this. The more realistic goal is to keep writing. I struggle with having consistent writing time so I completely understand this. The ‘butt in chair’ is the only way.
What 3 things have hindered you from completing your projects? (CONFLICT)
Timing, spaces, and disconnect. As for the first, why is it when you’re about to shut your eyes and fall asleep, warm under the covers, does your muse begin to speak? I think mine might be a sadist in that way. So the first conflict for me is the timing of writing, capturing what I need to capture often against difficult circumstances for doing so, like commuting, unplugging for a night’s sleep, or while on a run. As for the second, my writing practice benefits from having a clean, creative space to work in with minimal distractions from my “to do” list, which is probably why I wrote my first novel out of my home in a local Barnes & Noble. Last, disconnect is often a gatekeeper I grapple with. Either feeling disconnected from the story, from myself, from my creative process, or just from the voice that compels me to pick up where I left off. Some days you’re just not “feeling it,” so to speak, and I think writers can all commiserate there. The goal is to at least try to make sure two out of the three are at bay on any given day to try to make writing happen, and keep it cohesive!
The writing process is so mysterious to me. Not sure if you’ve read Anne Janzer’s book , The Writing Process, but I was greatly helped by it.
What keeps you motivated in achieving your dream? (DESIRE)
If the story needs to be told, I’ll continue to tell it. When I don’t feel that ache in my bones to keep writing, I’ll stop, but I still have that voice that refuses to stop whispering.
Stories are great and equally mysterious.
What’s your ANTAGONIST? What’s in the way?
Aren’t all of the best antagonists just reflections of ourselves, or our greatest fears? The fear that any next novel wouldn’t live up to the first, or that those new daring stylistic choices won’t engage the reader the way we hoped they would – we all have our dragon at that gate. For me, it’s scales are green, shiny, and coated with that existential “if I finish this, I have to turn it over to the business side of things” doubts. Writing is the fun part, but I think it’s important to embrace every part of the process, even the parts that we might rather procrastinate in facing.
Well spoken. It’s always a constant battle. Let’s keep at it, shall we?
Why do writers give up, quit or never complete their projects?
I think leaving a project is a very personal choice, so the reasons could be many. The best reason is probably because the project no longer feels authentic, which I think is a noble reason to step away, and faced with the same reality I hope I have the courage to do the same if it frees me up for the better project waiting in the shadows!
Seeing the next project is always tempting!
What would you say to a struggling writer who’s given up?
Take your time away, if you need it, and return to it when you feel compelled, nagged, and eaten away to resume. Because then you’ll really enjoy it, and your reader will feel that, too.
For me, it’s a gut feeling. If I stop, then it returns begging to be written.
BONUS: What else do you have coming down the pike?
I’ve been playing around with a sequel to my next novel, loosely based off of Through The Looking Glass, as Meditations In Wonderland was loosely based of Lewis Carrol’s Alice’s Adventures In Wonderland.
Keep us posted on the release date!
And the brains behind Promo Day a FREE annual online event for people in the publishing industry. Mark you calendar! The next event is Saturday May 6th 2017. #PromoDay2017. Please see Promoday.net for more info.
*What part of England are you from?
This is actually a tough question for me. I was born in Gillingham but never actually lived there. I moved around a lot as a kid so the most truthful answer here would have to be ‘the South’. When I think of my ‘home’ in the UK, I tend to think of Kent, and Berkshire.
I would love to take a grand tour the UK one day.
*What’s it like living in Rome, Italy?
I love it here. I came for 3 days back in 2001 and ended up staying (it was actually a lot easier to do than a lot of people think). Anyway, to cut a long story short, I’m now married to an Italian and together we have two sons.
I love how much history and art is just scattered around here. Not just the big tourist stuff you find in the centre either. In fact, in the centre, there is so much there that you can walk by ancient monuments and not really notice them.
This is a photo I took when I took my kids for a walk in a local park.
I bet it’s very scenic!
That’s part of an ancient roman aqueduct just sat there in the field. There were also parts of the old cobble roads in places. Made for a great history lesson for my boys, and was really beautiful.
*Have you been to the Vatican?
One of my first jobs here was at a hostel very close to the Vatican so I know the area well. I’ve been to St. Peters several times. It’s just as impressive on the third or fourth visit as it was on the first. There is so much to see in there. I notice things I didn’t previously every time I go.
I’d better put this one on the bucket list!
*You wear many different hats, which one do you enjoy most?
I love all of my jobs. My favourite varies depending on my mood. I’ve got a creative soul and so I’m always working on something; whether it’s writing a book, illustrating, or doing graphic design.
You are truly a multi-talented person.
*Can you tell us about some of the books you have written?
I started out with non fiction books about Italy; Italian for Tourists, which is an Italian-English phrasebook, and A Guide To Weddings In Italy.
I’ve also published children’s picture story books; Out and About at the Zoo, Fairy May, and The Box.
Then there are my other non fiction books; my award winning Virtual Book Tours: Effective Book Promotion From the Comfort of Your Own Home, and How to be Twittertastic.
I’m currently working on more non fiction and some more children’s books, plus some novels (romance, and thrillers).
When you have a book release let me know, I’d love to help!
*How did you get into illustrating book covers?
I started designing book covers just for fun in the beginning. I love playing around with photoshop and illustrator. A few friends said they really liked my designs and suggested that I add cover design to my list of services.
As I’m used to making my own covers for both digital and print I know exactly what an author needs. The right book cover can make all the difference when it comes to sales.
That’s so true!
*Tell us about the benefits of your website writersandauthors.info.
I started Writers and Authors back in 2006. I was just starting out in my writing career and thought it would be a good way to share my experiences, and learn from other authors at the same time.
The website has evolved a lot over the years and picked up numerous awards along the way. It’s turned into a real community for people in the writing/publishing industry, and often gets mentioned on other websites in their ‘Top sites lists”.
I offer writers the opportunity to be featured on the website and promote their books. Interviews, guest posts, book showcases, and excerpts. I’m an avid reviewer and so feature those on site too. There are also advertising options available.
Authors can have their books listed in the online bookstore too. It gives them more free publicity for their books (something us authors love ;)), and as I’m an Amazon affiliate, gain a little pocket money for me.
I work directly with authors, but also with PR companies, agents, and publishers. I love how the website allows me to connect with people from all parts of the publishing industry.
Put this one on your blogroll folks! Lots of great material and resources.
*How did Promo day get started?
There were lots of online writers conferences but none that dealt with the marketing side of things so I created one.
Promo Day started out as a small event in a chatroom that I used to host on my author website. It turned out to be a huge success and so grew into an annual event with it’s own branding at http://www.promoday.net/
Can’t wait to tell people about this. Sounds great!
*What are the benefits of participating in Promo day?
Promo Day is a whole day dedicated to promoting, networking, and learning. It’s completely free to attend and everyone is welcome. All you need to do is register on the website.
There are; webinars with industry experts, forums where you can connect with other attendees and discover promotional opportunities, and pitch sessions with publishers. Publishers take pitches during the event and get back to you the same day to let you know if they are interested or not. No waiting for weeks, or even months for a reply.
There are a lot of social activities throughout the day too. Activities are announced in the event forums, so you can put what you learn in the webinars into action straight away. You can join in a LIVE Twitterchat, or Facebook chat. You can even get interviewed about your book, or join in a LIVE video discussion streamed to YouTube. Promo Day teaches you how to build your author brand and market your books, helps you make connection in the publishing industry, and gives you opportunities to put your new skills in action so you can start seeing instant results.
Wow. Sounds really fun.
*How do you personally benefit from Promo day?
Organising an event like Promo Day is a huge amount of work but I love it. It’s enabled me to make lots of new connections within the industry, and helped establish my own author brand.
There are sponsorship opportunities available that help cover the costs of putting the event together. Every year I come away with invitations to be hosted on websites, and always note an increase in sales of my own books following the event. The event has also lead to numerous collaborations and other business projects.
Lovely. This is very beneficial is many ways. I’m so glad you started it!
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