Blog Archive

Tuesday, September 20, 2022

Patience and Writing: Author Interview with Linda Wood Rondeau

You've now written multiple books, but what got you started to complete the first one? 
My very first book started out as Proverbs for Moms. The title changed over the years to Abundant Living for Moms, Daisy's Lessons for Moms, and a number of other titles. It was finally published as
I Prayed For Patience God Gave Me Children at first with Helping Hands Press (went off the market) and then with Elk Lake Publishing House.

How did you go about finding a publisher? Did you have an agent? 
I had an agent for several years before I finally published my first book, The Other Side of Darkness. I met the agent at a writer's conference. We corresponded for a year and then I was offered a contract. Getting a contract for that first book took 11 years to the date I decided to become a writer.

Your publisher’s guidelines for submissions include requests for the numbers of social media followers and e-mail lists, as well as the many ways the author plans on promoting their book. Those requests are not unusual, and I've seen them with numerous publishers. To me that sounds like they only want established writers who probably could indie publish on their own. Did you already have a strong following when you got a contract with them?
I did work hard to establish a website and social media platforms. From the work I did, I evidenced a willingness to "get out there" and do the best I could to help market my book. I think many publishers are willing to work with a promising author who is willing to work hard and who has a great book. 

Ultimately, the craft is most important to publishers. Yes, they may take an established author before taking on many pre-published authors. If you have an outstanding product, publishers will take an interest. The hard part is pitching that product in a way to show how outstanding it is!

Marketing is a big part of increasing book sales. What marketing venue have you found most successful in not only getting clicks but sales as well?
My newsletter seems to generate the most "clicks," and I see a definite rise in sales. Word of mouth is still the best advertising. I belong to Christian Authors Network, a marketing group, and found their services to be helpful. I don't see much result from Social Media other than name recognition. 

Blog tours have been beneficial and I intend to do one soon for my newest release due in October, a devotional book, Lessons Along the Way, based on my newspaper column spanning over ten years. I have found I need to invest money in paid groups such as Bookbub. However, as a retired person, I do have a very limited marketing budget so I must choose wisely. Trying to do all my marketing for "free" doesn't work well.

What is the hardest part of writing for you? 
I find balancing marketing, editing, and other "related" writing responsibilities such as managing my blog, appearances, etc with my personal life to be the utmost challenge. Finding the best time to write before my brain goes to sleep at night is also a challenge. The actual craft is not as difficult for me. I love to write. As for starting ... I just start someplace. Your first few drafts are "rehearsals." I find getting the framework down first is important. Too many writers think they have to get it perfect the first time. This can produce a sort of writing anxiety. Just let go and let the words flow. Plenty of time to tweak your work afterward.

What’s the best encouragement you’ve had in your writing?
When a reader lets me know a book helped them with a problem in their lives. As a former social worker, I write to encourage others that life does give us U-turns. My writing slogan is, "Our worst past, given to God, can become our best future."

What do you know now about writing you wished you had known sooner?
Marketing tricks! The business of writing and how to balance writing with your personal life.

What is the best writing advice you’ve received or could give?
Revise, revise, revise! When you think it's perfect, go over it again. Learn the craft. Go to writers' conferences and take online courses.

Are there any other points about writing you would like to add?
Don't be in a hurry. Like a good stew, let your work simmer for a while to let the flavors of your composition permeate!

Tell me about your latest book? What inspired you to create this story? Could you give my readers a short blurb about it?
I'd like to talk about Ghosts of Trumball Mansion, released in May 2022. (I also have a new devotional book set for release in October). I was inspired to write a book about a troubled marriage and how Satan will use whatever tool he can devise to ruin a marriage. Henry and Sylvia have been separated for fifteen years, staying married in name only for business reasons.

Why do the ghosts in his wife’s ballroom attack only him? Or is publishing tycoon Henry Fitzgibbons insane?

Sylvia Fitzgibbons, 
his informally estranged wife, is his star author who writes under the name, Lana Longstreet. Now that the children are grown, maybe the time has come to officially end any obligation to his wife’s Connecticut estate and be free of their torment.

Sylvia would ask Henry for a divorce if the children weren’t planning a lavish anniversary party in August, and she didn't have a deadline for her Johnny Gallant suspense series in the same month. She insists Henry spend the summer tending to estate matters, and Henry reluctantly agrees. Hoping for an early escape, he hires a gangly landscape artist who eerily resembles a washed-out country singer. But when Sylvia’s housekeeper must retire due to an auto accident, she begs for his help. Unable to resist her femme fatale pleas, Henry is trapped for the duration.

Forced closeness draw them closer. As a reconciliation proves possible, Sylvia/Lana is charged with plagiarism threatening their publishing empire and the malignant forces within the estate become increasingly aggressive.

Something evil seems to conspire against them that only Faith can conquer.

That's all for today's interview. If you'd like to learn more about Linda's books, here are some links to get you started. 
Social Media Sites
Facebook Author page, Facebook Writing Coach
Tik-tok (new)
Tumblr (new)

Tuesday, September 13, 2022

Writing to a Niche Audience: Author Interview with Mary C. Findley

I am amazed by all the books you have published over the years. What’s truly outstanding is that your book series have been written in four quite different genres. What's genre intrigued you to write the first book? 
Thanks! My first genre was historical fiction, and I wrote the Benny and the Bank Robber series for boys around ten, inspired by my oldest son. He turned out not to care much for reading, but the Benny series has grown with Benny, from age ten to nineteen so far, and it’s been our best selling book. It’s a special favorite with grandmothers looking for family-friendly, as well as exciting books to read to their grandchildren.

A sizable number of your books are co-written with your husband. How does that work?
My husband Michael and I co-write our non-fiction books. We have a book that breaks down into a series detailing the history of America’s unique form of government. Go back in time to Nimrod and the Tower of Babel and see the founding of Secular Humanism. A ruler had a high priest direct the people to worship the god on earth. In our homeschool series, with teacher and student editions, from Creation forward, history, science, and literature all try to direct attention away from the true God and His Word.
Your books are independently published under Findley Family Videos. Do you and Michael do all the non-writing stuff as well or do you hire it out? 
I do most of the editing, formatting, book and cover design, and I also upload and maintain the books on all online book sales sites. Until recently Michael was an over the road truck driver with no time for the day-to-day marketing maintenance.
What’s the hardest part for you in publishing and marketing your own books?
The hardest part of publishing is successfully marketing. Still working on that, but I know live events where you meet people and talk to them about yourself and your books really seem to get people interested.
What is the most difficult part of writing for you?
Starting is probably the most difficult part. I have an idea and an ending, usually. What I think is the beginning isn’t always where the story starts. My focus is on the characters and their conversations. Scenes come later, after they have told their tales. I don’t “talk to them,” as some writers put it, but I get to know them. They grow and the story grows around them.
What’s the best encouragement you’ve had in your writing?
Reviews that say things like, “Knowing some of Findley's background for teaching and evangelizing the message of the Gospel, I can see wonderful teaching moments while still making it very entertaining without being preachy. Youth love being taught when it is fun, so she has a wonderful platform here for this.”

Marketing is the biggest key to getting sales. What is the best marketing source you've used that has produces more sales rather than just clicks?
Since I have little money to spend on ads, I rely on both live events and consistently showing up in groups for readers. I talk to people, be genuine, friendly, and attentive to what they say, and present my works as offering excitement, mystery, and unforgettable characters that honor God and His Word. 

What do you know now about writing you wished you had known sooner?
I really wish, still, that I knew more about targeting the right kind of readers who are interested in what I write. It’s a niche audience, yes, but there are more who would read our books out there, I’m sure.
What is the best writing advice you’ve received or could give?
Be sure you have the skills necessary to write well, the self-discipline to finish and polish, and it doesn’t hurt to be “multi-talented” or skilled so you can do as much of the self-publishing process yourself as possible.
Are there any other points about writing you would like to add?
People generally talk about how much they love my characters and keep reading to discover what happens to them. So I suggest you may not need as much detailed world-building or “setting the scene” as you do strong, solid, relatable characters that people can get invested in, cheer for, and fall in love with.
What’s next on the horizon for your writing?
Right now we are trying to focus on creating alternate media versions of our works – game-like visual novels and videos. Outcome Unknown, a Sci-fi story about a husband and wife team creating balloon ships for mining the outer planets in the near future of our solar system. They face government interference from their own Space Empire government and fragmentary Earth empires seeking to restrict freedom and profit from the hard work they have done.
That's all for today's interview. If you'd like to learn more about Mary's different genres and fiction and non-fiction works, here's how to get started.

FREE eBook - First book in each of these series is free.
Benny and the Bank Robber (YA historical Adventure series)
The Great Thirst Boxed Set (Christian suspense adventure and archaeological mysteries - includes 7 short novels)
Antidisestablishmentarianism – 5 book non-fiction series. A study of Secular Humanism and how it shapes religion, values, and science.