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

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

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

emmy gatrell

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

meanmna cover

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Writing and why it’s important:

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

Social Media and Face-to-face marketing:

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

A recipe you love:

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

Red Onion Lime Relish

Ingredients:

Red onion(s)

Limes

Salt & Pepper

Fresh chopped cilantro (optional)

 

Directions:

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

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

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

emmy gatrell

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

 

indie and small press

 

Previous Interviews:

Theresa Jenner Garrido

Other Articles of Interest:

Marketing

Journal Writing

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

 unnamed

Theresa Jenner Garrido

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

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

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

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

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

Who has played an important role in your writing career?

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

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

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

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

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

Who%20Done%20It

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Four years ago today, according to my writing journal, I met Jack Elliott, a.k.a. Graypay from my book, Unforgettable Roads.

birthdaycake

Jack Elliott is modeled after a man I see at church. He is handsome, all grey, and very devout. I didn’t get to know him until after Unforgettable Roads was accepted for publication, and I was amazed to learn that his name is Jack. Coincidence?

Shortly after I wrote a short story about Jack Elliott and his granddaughter, I registered for the Calvin College Festival of Faith and Writing. This was my fourth writing conference. I expected to go, listen, learn, and then write – same as always. But I went with Beth, my friend and writing partner, and the conference was completely different.

I hope you have a friend like Beth. She pushes me gently, inspires me even when she’s not around, and encourages me. I tried to do the same for her at this conference by staying up late to go to the poetry reading from 8:00 – 11:00 PM. I’m all for staying up late, but this was a push for me. I had been gone all day, was missing my kids, and was overwhelmed by the amount of information I’d received. But my love for Beth was stronger (plus my kids were already in bed, so I wasn’t going to see them anyway) and I gladly walked into the room.

It was my first poetry reading and I loved it. I also felt a little jaded by the fact that there wasn’t a short-fiction reading. What’s a fiction author to do but raid the second night of the poetry readings with a short fiction piece?

That’s where I shared the chapter of Graypay, a.k.a. Jack Elliott, with my first audience. If you have the book, it’s the chapter titled, “Time Machines”. The buzzer sounded ten minutes after I started reading, so my writing obviously wasn’t short enough, but the audience protested with the time-keeper to allow me to finish.

Talk about a boost in self-esteem!

Several people loved Graypay’s character and wanted more. “Is this a part of a novel?” they asked.

At the time it wasn’t, but through their enthusiasm, I did start to think about the larger story.

The point of this post is to encourage you to keep a journal. As a parent, teacher, writer, doctor, business owner, grandparent – whatever you do & whoever you are – a journal will help you trudge through difficulties, celebrate milestones, and track the events of your life. Just like Jack’s journals play an important role in the novel, your journals can do the same for future generations. Write about your successes, your plans, your failures. Share the expectations you have and the reality of the world; be it authentic awe or disappointment.

writing pics 009

The notes in my writing journal that I kept while writing Unforgettable Roads are filled with my research, travel notes, photographs and practice scenes with the characters. I use it differently each day: sometimes to track a to-do list, other times it’s a place to try new ideas for current writing pieces. My journal is also where Eddie, another character from the book, sprang to life. I’ve never experienced that before – a character just showing up – and it wouldn’t have happened without the journal. I’m working on writing a second book that follows Eddie after his conversion.

My journal, like Jack says, is like my brain with all my thoughts, ideas and memories locked into existence with ink.

So stop reading – go write!

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So you can finally cross “Getting Published” off your bucket list. Fantastic!

Now what?

You need readers for your book. The prospects of marketing are more daunting that you first imagined. All your friends and family have purchased a copy…and sales have stalled. If you are looking for a way to market your book without investing any money, just a little time, then read on.

indie and small press

I’m putting together a group of dedicated authors who are interested in increasing their readership base, have a blog, and have at least two (2) forms of social media forums. If you request to be a part of this group, here is what is expected of you:

1. You will be interviewed about you, your book and writing in general. Each author will receive a list of questions generated by me that will fit your book and mission.

2. You will have two weeks to answer those questions and return them to me. Sooner is better, but life is busy, I know :)

3. Here’s the meat of this plan: Each time an author’s interview goes live on my website, you will receive an email. Post a link to that interview 2x’s a week for 2 weeks on all of your social media: Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Tumbler…whatever.

4. Committing to this group will keep you posting these links from March 2014 until February 2015. Anyone who does not continue to share posts, will be removed from the group. Sounds harsh, but think about it – you have your interview and see and increase in sales and blog visits and then you do nothing to help the next in line. Not fair. Pay it forward. Keep the momentum going. It doesn’t take long to post on a few networks, and the results for you and the other authors is invaluable. If we fill the calendar, there will be 24 (plus me, that’s 25) authors who will share your interview, book, and links to purchase on all their social media. That has great potential.

5. Send me a copy of your book, either hardcopy or a link to download the ebook version. (I’ll send you my contact info once you are accepted into the group.) I would like to read the books before I send you questions so each interview is personalized and unique.

The goal of this is to help all of us reach a wider base of potential readers. Potential for increased sales and blog followers in amazing. I took part in a similar author panel last year and have made some wonderful connections.

If you are interested, comment on this post with your name, the name of your book, and a link to your blog.

Then send me an email (jessicaschaubwrites@gmail.com) with your name and contact info. Include the back cover blurb of your book, a link to where it’s sold, and what genre it is. I won’t interview authors who write erotica, include intense violence in their novels, or use vulgar curse words. Yep, I’m old fashioned. I also have a blog that I’m proud to have my children read. My audience is young at heart and simply young. This blog will remain a safe environment for them.

If you have any questions, ask them in the Comments area. I’ll answer them as quickly as I can.

Blessings to you!

Jessica

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A New Year, A New Verb

Yesterday’s entry was a little negative. While it’s completely true, it also brims of an attitude of ‘it’s all about me’.  Over the past several months, a dark, unsettling cloud has taken up residence over my head. I’ve been thinking about my role in my life. What am I? Who am I? Why am I?

I need a mission, a plan, a goal, a target. And it just came to me.

I’m declaring 2014 the Year of Momming.  (this might also be a year when I make up a words that battle dark clouds).

Momming (v) 1) the act of putting all people in need of help before personal needs; 2) a formal term for multi-tasking; 3) referring to the act of caring for others in any capacity needed, not excluding night shifts; 4) often refers to women, but men are often seen momming although the proper term is ‘fathering'; 5) refers any person who lovingly cares for another.

Because so many New Year’s Resolutions deal with health and fitness, I will be treating ‘Momming’ like a workout:

 

  1. Lift the weighty spirits of those around you. Repeat 10 times.
  2. Sprint to those in need.
  3. For optimal heart health, hug those you love, snuggle often with children (dogs and cats work too), and cook homemade meals at least once a week (or at least present a meal in your own dishes, on a set table with napkins and candles).
  4. To stay motivated, repeat this phrase often: “The two most beautiful things about me are my smile and gentle touch.”
  5. Celebrate great weeks of ‘Momming’ with a dressed up date to a favorite place with your children.
  6. Didn’t have such a great week of ‘momming’, reboot your goals with a dressed up date to your favorite place with your children.
  7. Spend time with other Moms      who have a positive outlook on life, parenting, and marriage. Allow their enthusiasm to motivate you.

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This is a great read from an excellent up-and-coming writer.

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Friendly Freebie

In celebration of Unforgettable Roads upcoming release on Nook and Kobo, I’m offering a Friendly Freebie. If you haven’t read the story of Alison finding her grandfather’s memories, Trey discovering his own two feet, or met Eddie (my favorite character), here’s an offer:

Sign up below to enter in a drawing for two free copies of Unforgettable Roads - one for you, one for a friend. You can re-gift it – I won’t tell! I will draw a winner on August 1st, 2013.

Unforgettable Roads Front Cover

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jessicaschaubbooks:

Looking for ideas? How about a writing community online? Here are some great resources for writers. Enjoy!

Originally posted on Live to Write - Write to Live:

treasure octopus

It’s a veritable treasure chest of resources!

The Internet is an absolute boon for writers. It connects us to all manner of resources, communities, and learning opportunities. It throws wide the doors to a digital world where we can communicate, collaborate, and commiserate with other writers from all across the globe. It connects us to editors and other potential employers.  For many of us, this wonderland of pixels and platforms is what affords us the chance to make a living (and a life) with words.

I spend more than my fair share of time cruising these virtual streets – peeking in windows, dropping in on conversations, and devouring all the juicy bits of wisdom and wit from writers who have traveled farther ahead on this road than I have. Today, I’d like to share some of my recent finds from the road, so to speak: two podcasts, two online classrooms…

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jessicaschaubbooks:

As a writer currently working on a ‘book 2′ – this is extremely helpful and encouraging.

Originally posted on ...and then there was Sarah:

com.DreamFactory.ebook_.ASongofIceandFire_1Writing a series is not as simple as just writing several books in a row. Nor is it as easy as taking one long story and breaking it into several parts. There are a lot of nuances to writing a series that many writers just do not think about until they’re smack in the middle of it, and by that time its either too late OR you’ve just created a mountain of work for yourself that you might have avoided.

 Maybe, just maybe, I can help you avoid some of that work.

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jessicaschaubbooks:

I love the humor! When we write, we can wrap ourselves up in our own ideas, we forget there is a world out there spinning madly away. Take a moment from what you are doing and read this – a humorous look at how-to and how-not-to be an Indie Author… or anything else you are striving for! Excellent guest post Ionia!

Originally posted on Legends of Windemere:

This week’s guest blog is brought to us by the delightful, funny, and hard-working Ionia Martin of Readful Things.  She also is the mastermind behind The Community Storyboard where writers and readers from all walks of life can gather for some fun.  Did I mention she’s hard-working?  If you haven’t had the joy of checking out both of Ionia’s blogs then I suggest you take the time to do so.

Now, I asked Ionia to make a list of Do’s and Donts’ for the Indie Authors.  I thank her for taking up the challenge and having fun with it.  Enjoy.

It had to be done. :D

So you have decided to be an indie author, huh?

I can always count on Charles Yallowitz, the owner of this here excellent blog for two things. Number 1: He writes great books.

Number 2: He is always entertaining and ensures that his…

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