I feel fortunate that two people have asked me to participate in this blog meme, author and friend Dr. Heather Manley, ND and the team over at Project Maven.
Plenty of people who are reading my latest release, Broken Pieces, are surprised by the subject matter. It’s still nonfiction (as are my other two books A Walk In The Snark and Mancode: Exposed), but this time it’s decidedly not humor. These are essays inspired by life, experiences, and observations about love, loss, abuse, grief, and trust.
I didn’t plan on writing a book where I unzip my strong outside armor and let you into my vulnerable, most raw truths. Part of sharing this post is giving you a little behind-the-scenes peek with my answers to the following questions:
1) What is the working title of your next book?
Well, I actually have two I’m working on. The first is a collection of all the social media and book marketing blogs I’ve written on both BadRedheadMedia.com as well as RachelintheOC.com, a few other guest posts I’ve written, plus original material. Authors have a real thirst for knowledge and I love sharing what I’ve learned, both the good and the bad.
Second, is the third book in The Chronicles of Snark. A Walk In the Snark was first, then Mancode: Exposed. Now it’s time to help out the fellas with Chickspeak: Uncovered. These are satirical looks at stereotypes, which some people love and others (who seem to take them literally), hate. Which rocks.
After that, people have asked me to write a follow up to my latest book of nonfiction essays, prose and poetry, Broken Pieces. So I’m starting notes on that. Okay, there’s also an erotic romance I’m cowriting with a male author friend, but that’s all I’m gonna say about that right now.
2) Where did the idea come from for the book?
For Broken Pieces, I had been writing more serious pieces for the last few years. The suicide death of an ex really affected me in ways I hadn’t realized. Once I started dealing with my grief by writing, the words just flowed. I address not only loss and grief, but also love, abuse, depression, and trust.
3) What genre does your book fall under?
Definitely Nonfiction. It’s already ranked in the Top 10 Paid (on Amazon) for Women’s Studies and Gender Studies. I’m very hopeful women especially, but men also, are encouraged by my stories.
4) What actors would you choose to play the part of your characters in a movie rendition?
Someone told me recently that my pale redheadedness reminded them of Julianne Moore. Her smarts, talent, and beauty blow me away. That would be amazing. As for the men — no clue. What do you guys think?
5) What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?
Essays, prose, and poetry and love, loss, grief, abuse, and trust inspired by life.
6) Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?
I’m self-published. I’ve found the entire process to be extremely hard work but ultimately gratifying. I work with amazing people: my editor, graphic artist, formatter, proofreader – to ensure my books are the highest quality. I’m not part of a formal critique group, but I have two talented authors I run things by frequently. I also sent this latest book to about thirty Betareaders – it’s a different subject matter for me, so I wanted to be sure I was on the right path before release. To a one, they love it.
That said, I’ve had requests from a few publishing houses and some online publications to review it, which I’m quite grateful for.
7) How long did it take you to write the first draft of the manuscript?
This book took me almost nine months from start to release, though you have to understand, I work full-time on my business, BadRedheadMedia.com as well as being a mom to two very busy kids. Somewhere I also moved us all north this past October. Hopefully my next books will be released by the end of this year if not before.
8) What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?
My book is a little different, I think, because it’s a combination of memoir, poetry and prose. So I’m not really sure! I suppose other memoirs. I’m a big fan of Jeanette Walls and Mary Karr.
9) Who or what inspired you to write this book?
I definitely wrote this book for my daughter. She’s thirteen and starting to venture slowly out into the world. I never thought I’d be writing about my experiences with molestation, date rape, depression or suicide…I mean, who does? And overall, I’ve had a good life. These are parts of my life but not what defines me exclusively.
In addition, there has always been a part of me that loves to push the boundaries, so exposing myself in this way is a wonderful way to go beyond the norm of what’s ‘acceptable’ or normal. Which to me is part of my inspiration.
10) What else about the book might pique the reader’s interest?
Well, the book has been out about three weeks now (released 12/19) and I’ve received twenty-eight reviews: 27 five-star, 1 4-star (at the time of this writing). The publisher of a large indie magazine asked for a review copy has also contacted me. Finally, a small boutique publisher has asked to read it as well.
I’ve been asked a few additional questions that I’ll go ahead and answer here as well:
11) When you find yourself feeling lazy or ‘blocked’, how do you force yourself to get past it?
Well, I’ve got a few tricks. One, I always have topics to write about since I’m very familiar with my branding and keywords. Which isn’t to say I can’t go off-topic (because I totally do), but knowing my general areas of interest helps me immensely – i.e., I tend to write about relationships, men and women, love and loss, etc. So I never really feel stuck for content.
I also find reading to be extremely helpful in formulating ideas. Authors are talented folks – learning from and supporting each other can only help us.
12) Where do you find your inspiration? How do you overcome writer’s block?
Every day life is an inspiration for me. As a woman, mother, wife, sister, friend, and daughter – I’m often overwhelmed by topics I want to write about. Usually something will burrow into my subconscious and within a day or so I’ll find myself jonesing for that release of writing it down.
I haven’t experienced block; however, if an essay or article just isn’t working, I walk away. Work on something else. Do client work. Play with my kids. Go for a scooter ride. Much of what we write comes from deep inside us – it’s just a matter of listening to the quiet. Sometimes, we have to wait.
13) What’s the one piece of advice you would give a new writer?
Listen to your own voice. As I started getting my first work into publishable shape, another writer I was in a group with kept telling me my work was unfit for publication. This person is quite intelligent and talented, so I respected their opinion and I floundered for a bit.
It wasn’t until I met New York Times bestselling author Dani Shapiro live at a reading in Southern California, when she took the time to ask what I write about. I shared a bit and she looked me in the eye and said, ‘Mine that. The stories are inside, waiting for you to tell them.’
We must learn to trust ourselves, our voice, our talent.
14) 1. Which author inspired you to become a writer? 2. How do you choose the subjects of your books?
1) My fourth grade teacher read us The Secret Garden and that was it. I wanted to write something just as amazing and beautiful. As I grew older, I became fascinated by John Irving’s The World According To Garp, as well as any kind of time-travel book (I’m a total sci-fi geek).
Honestly, the line from Blade Runner (supposedly created by actor Rutger Hauer) when he played Roy Batty as he lay dying)…’all those moments will be lost. Like tear, in rain. Time to die.’ Seriously awe-inspiring.
2) As for subjects, again, I think we’re naturally drawn to certain subject matter and for me, I’ve always read about and written of relationships. All aspects fascinate me. So as a primarily nonfiction writer, real life is much more interesting to me than fiction, though I’m an avid reader of both.
15) Here’s one: What is your daily writing schedule?
I’m up at 7am to get my little guy out the door. I make my coffee, go straight to my computer, and write down some ideas, topics, even sometimes just words. From there I do some client work, then more client work, and then … I return to my own writing after lunchtime. I try to keep to a regular workday schedule, though many times I’m doing client work at night.
I do enjoy staying up late when the house is quiet. I like the dark. Give me a storm and I could write for days, no matter what time of day or night it is!
16) How did you find the courage to let people see your personal inner thoughts?
I don’t know that I see it as courage, but more giving myself permission to tell my own stories. I often quote author Lorrie Moore: Write something you’d never show your mother or father. Oftentimes, if you show it to them, they’ll say ‘I could never have done that.’ It’s quite freeing to write that way.
17) How frequently do you write (hours per day or whatever)? How many drafts do you work through before you are satisfied? What is most difficult to write about, and why? Do women writers face any different challenges than men writers?
Typically, I write about two hours per day. That can be blog posts, guest posts, or essays/work on my book. I have a minimum of two hours set aside as a solid goal. Many times it’s quite more, but rarely am I able to completely turn off the outside world since I have client commitments.
As for drafts: I’ll create my initial work and just go. No real organization other than knowing what general topics I’m writing on (i.e., love, loss, etc.). Then I’ll group them together in some sort of structure before I send it to my author friend Justin. He’ll review, edit, and reorganize for me. Then I rework it again. Once that’s done, I send to my formal editor, Jessica Swift. We do a few back and forths in both track changes and phone calls, until we’re both satisfied. Once I get the final final, I sent it off to the proofreader. When I review that, it goes to the Betareaders, then finally another proof and on to formatter.
Meanwhile, during this whole process, I’m working with a graphic designer on the cover.
I’m not exactly sure how many drafts that is – six or seven?
As for challenges: I believe so. I can only speak from my experience and observations of others, but when a woman becomes a bestseller (think Rowling, Meyer, James), people feel much more open to criticize than they do a man (Grisham, Cook, Patterson). There’s no question that the majority of negative comments or reviews I receive are from men.
I think a strong, successful woman can intimidate many men. In addition, with regard to humor, men seem to want to own that. In one particular group I belong to, it’s the men who are constantly trying to one-up me (while the women in the group laugh at their silly egos). When one guy scolded me that ‘comedy is the domain of men,’ I had to agree – in that what he was saying made me laugh.
If you have more questions, feel free to send em over. I think I hit on MOST of the ones people sent me. If not, I apologize.