Starting Your Publicity Campaign

You’ve received your contract. Your book is scheduled for release. You’ve put together a press kit. Now what?

Before we launch into that, let’s establish a few good habits to form.

1.) Build your database. I’m reading Carolyn See’s Making a Literary Life. In her book, she suggests capturing every name and address you come across. When your book releases, you need people to know. This is something both published and non-published authors can do.

2.) Track reviewers. If your book and writing would appeal to Brett Lott’s fans, then find out who reviews his books. Follow their reviews and see if they would be a great fit for your book. Write them. Tell them how much you enjoyed ‘such-n-such’ review and that you hope to send them your book soon. (Tell your publicist. You don’t want two different reviewers at the same paper expecting to be the one reviewing your book.)

3.) Keep good notes on your publicity hits. One of my authors had a signing recently and sent me an ideal e-mail. He was able to provide the names and numbers of media that either reviewed his book or gave him coverage last year.

4.) Thank those who gave you coverage. When an author writes and asks me to pass along his or her thanks, there has never been a time when I haven’t received a glowing e-mail in reply stating how much that made their day.

This is a business of networking, and you the author are part of that. A friend you make in the media might able to give you a hot tip, or someone just staring out might later be in a position to give you amazing coverage. Imagine if your hometown book reviewer suddenly started to have his or her reviews accepted in the New York Times. Wouldn’t you be glad you sent them a thank you note and captured their information?

Joyce Livingston ~ Author Interview


In addition to being a wife, mother of six, and grandmother to oodles, Joyce Livingston has been a KANSAS television broadcaster for 18 years, a speaker/teacher of quilting and sewing, and a writer. As host and producer of KWCH TV’s THE JOYCE LIVINGSTON SHOW and WOMAN’S WORLD, she’s danced with Lawrence Welk, ice-skated with a Chimpanzee, had bottles broken over her head by stuntmen, and interviewed hundreds of celebrities and controversial figures.

Joyce recently became a widow, and praises God for her writing to help her get through her terrible loss. Three of her books have been named Contemporary Book of the Year in the Heartsong Readers Poll, and she was voted Favorite Author of the Year 3 times. In addition, her Heartsong book, One Last Christmas, won the coveted 2005 Contemporary Book of the Year award given by The American Christian Fiction Writers organization. Her first venture into a larger women’s fiction book is THE WIDOWS’ CLUB, also published by Barbour Publishing, soon to be followed up with a second book, INVASION OF THE WIDOWS’ CLUB. She loves to hear from her friends and readers and invites you to visit her on the Internet at: www.joycelivingston.com or check out her blog and leave a comment at: www.joycelivingston.blogspot.com.

What new book or project would you like to tell us about?

Of course, THE WIDOWS’ CLUB, which is in stores now and available on the internet as well, is my most current release so it is near and dear to my heart. I have several Heartsongs and Anthologies coming out yet this year but the book I’m working on now – is the one my mind is wrapped up in. It is the 2nd book in the Widow’s Club series, its title is INVASION OF THE WIDOW’S CLUB, and picks up right where the first book leaves off, although they are both stand alone novels.

I’ve had such fun writing these books. Though widowhood is not something we ever want to face, it is a distinct possibility it will happen in a woman’s life. It is sad for sure, but the facing and adjusting to widowhood has its really funny side too. Especially if you take a mix of widows of all ages and combine them into The Widows’ Club. I think women of all ages will like these books, whether they are a widow or not, especially Barbie Baxter who throws my heroine Valentine Denay’s life into utter chaos with her quirky, self-centered ways. We all have, or have had, a Barbie in our lives at one time or another.

Tell us about your publishing journey. How long had you been writing before you got a contract? How did you find out and what went through your mind?

I wrote my first romance novel in 1986 and did everything wrong. Sent it off to Harlequin and got a 2 page rejection from the Senior Editor (who is still there) telling me what I should do to fix it. Dumb me, I didn’t realize that was a wonderful thing, and I should have done what she asked and, instead, put it in the closet and left it there. I never tried writing a novel again until about 1997, after I’d gotten quite a few publishing credits by writing and selling magazine articles. With that new found confidence, I decided to try it again.

I wrote 2 complete 70K romance novels, submitted them to LI and got 2 very nice rejections! Through the Lord’s intervention, I met Tracie Peterson at an RWA chapter meeting, she told me she was the acquiring editor and would like to see them. Two days later, she said if I cut the story down to 50K, she was ready to buy it! AMAZING! She bought it, and a few months later, bought the 2nd one. That was about 28 or 30 books ago! I later also sold a book to Love Inspired. What went through my mind? Shock! Panic! Thankfulness! Feelings of inadequacy! But most of all – the thrill of selling!

Do you still have self-doubts about your writing?

Yes, and always will have. Over my computer, I have a saying posted: God doesn’t always call those who are qualified. Sometimes, He calls us and then qualifies us. That’s me! I’m still in awe that someone would buy my books, though I do feel the Lord gives me the ideas and inspirations for each one.

Was there ever a time in your writing career you thought of quitting?

NO! I love it too much!

What mistakes did you make while seeking an editor or agent?

I think I did alright with the editor seeking, but I never sought an agent. I never felt like I was ready for one, or one was ready for me! My agent, Carolyn Grayson of the Ashley Grayson Agency, and her husband sought me at the airport in New Orleans after an RWA conference. They approached me and said they’d like to represent me. It took me a full year to decide to take them up on their offer. However, I inserted in my contract that they NOT act as my agent in anything I did for Barbour, since I didn’t really need them there, but she did represent me with the book I sold to Love Inspired. She is still my agent but, so far, I haven’t used her services again. Though I may in the future.

What’s the best writing advice you’ve heard?

That one is easy. I tell it to every aspiring author. Find a publisher that publishes what you want to write and then WRITE to their guidelines, submitting the most perfect proposal/synopsis you’re capable of doing.

What’s the worst piece of writing advice you’ve ever received?

Several authors, who were already published with secular publishers, told me it was the kiss of death to have my first books published by a Christian Publisher, that it would brand me and I’d never get published by the others. I laughed then and I’m still laughing. I’ve had around 30 books (maybe more, have lost track) contracted and more to come….and all of those who gave me that advice are no longer being published – by any publisher. I’d rather write for the Lord! Where He puts me!

Do you have a pet peeve having to do with this biz?

Yes. Those who have not been published but feel the need to dole out advice to others who are not yet published, as if they are authorities on the subject. I see some terrible advice given on some of the email loops that can do nothing but harm a would-be writer. A little knowledge can be dangerous. And I also get upset with those who post their little tidbits, forgetting that, sometimes, editors are on those loops. They shoot themselves down without realizing it because they haven’t thought things through.

What do you wish you’d known early in your career that might have saved you some time and/or frustration in writing? In publishing?

Another easy question! If I’d been smart enough to realize that original Senior Editor wanted me to do revisions on that first book, and I’d done them and sent it back in…I may have been published years ago. Or – maybe not! But I’ll never know. I did remind her about that incident several years ago at a conference. She said – if she liked it well enough to sent me 2 pages on how to correct it – she would like to see it again. The updated and modernized version of course. I still have it. Someday I may do just that.

Was there ever a difficult set back that you went through in your writing career?

Not really a set back in my career. Praise the Lord I’ve turned out as many books as I could find the time to write, but I did suffer a slight setback in my writing time and interest when I lost my husband 20 months ago. He was my #1 fan and encourager. I miss him terribly, but at least I’ve gotten pretty much back on track with my writing.

What are a few of your favorite books?

Oh, my! Where do I start? I love a book, Logan’s Child, Lenore Worth wrote a number of years ago. I love all the books Carla Cassidy has written, and so many of my fellow author’s books, I hesitate to list them for fear I’ll leave someone out. When I was a kid, I read all the fairy tale books I could get my hands on. Maybe that’s what sparked some of my creativity.

What work have you done that you’re especially proud of and why?

I self-published 5 non-fiction books and marketed them myself, which I’m proud to say, but as a TV broadcaster, I had a built-in audience of buyers. Of my fiction books, I would have to say 2 of my Heartsong books: ONE LAST CHRISTMAS, which won the coveted American Christian Fiction Writer’s Contemporary Book of the Year in 2005, and DOWN FROM THE CROSS, which was named Contemporary Book of 2005 by the Heartsong Readers. Also, I’m very proud of the fact that Barbour choose DOWN FROM THE CROSS as their kick-off book for their new audiobook line. Those books were definitely inspired of the Lord.

Do you have a scripture or quote that has spoken to you lately in regards to your writing?

I choose a scripture verse for each book I write, so that scripture is the one that speaks to me at that particular time. As to a quote? Yes, I keep this posted above my computer too, and it is appropriate for every romance novel I write. Love thrives in the face of all life’s hazard, except one. Neglect. So, so true!

Can you give us a look into a typical day for you?

Up about 7. I’m reading my Through the Bible In a Year Bible through again, but I like to read it in about 6-8 months instead of 12, so I read at least 2-4 days of reading each morning before I do anything else. Eat a bowl of oatmeal, give my condo a quick going over, then check email and blog. After that – it’s all writing! I spend from 8 to as many as 12 hours in front of the computer a day, or sitting up in bed reading and revising. Other than dropping things and spending time with my big family when they drop by (which is often), writing and going to church and church activities is pretty much my life now that my husband is gone.

Do you have a word or page goal you set for each day?

No. Just write until I feel it’s time to quit.

Are you an SOTP (seat of the pants) writer or a plotter?

Definitely a plotter. I actually love to write a long synopsis (chapter by chapter ) before I start. I don’t stay exactly with it, and I branch out in all directions, sometimes bringing in totally new, unexpected characters, but that synopsis becomes my road map and really helps me to keep focused. I believe in giving my editors the story they bought.

What author do you especially admire and why?

So many, but I guess it would be Karen Kingsbury. She writes real…that’s what I want to do.

What is your favorite and least favorite part of being a writer?

Um, I can’t even think of a downside here, although a couple of revisions I’d had to do lately have made me a bit woozy. I love the entire writing process.

How much marketing do you do? What’s your favorite part of marketing?

My background in Television should make me a marketer and promoter of my work, but I’m afraid I have been so caught up with the heavy writing schedule I’ve had since I sold that first book, I have done very little. I want to do more, and plan to with each book, but then there is another deadline staring me in the face. I always set my personal deadline at least a month ahead of what my editor sets for me, so I always feel that pressure to get it done – get it done – get it done! I am doing some radio interviews for The Widows’ Club series and love that. I really plan to do more of those because I don’t have to leave home to do them! VBG!

Do you have any parting words of advice?

Being a published author is great. Where else can you work at home in your jammies at your own schedule, doing something you love, and get paid for it? However, it is hard work. Unless you can discipline yourself to sit down in that chair and write, when you’d rather be doing something else, you’d do well to look elsewhere for a profession.

We work alone – doing what only we can do – with no, or very little, help from others. I could live on what I make now, but I’d hate to have to do it. As an author, we never know when our work may no longer be sought, or an editor change brings havoc into your life, publishers are bought out by someone else who doesn’t like your work, etc. No job is secure, but like I said, I’d hate to depend on it. Don’t quit your day job until you have money in the bank to fall back on!

See www.joycelivingston.com for more information.

Author Interview ~ Nancy Moser

Nancy Moser is the best-selling author of thirteen novels including Crossroads, the Christy-award winning Time Lottery, The Seat Beside Me, and the Sister Circle series coauthored with Campus Crusade co-founder, Vonette Bright. Nancy has been married 31 years—to the same man. She and her husband have three twenty-something children and live in the Midwest. She loves history, has traveled extensively in Europe, and has performed in various theaters, symphonies, and choirs. She needlepoints voraciously, kills all her houseplants, and can wire an electrical fixture without getting shocked. She is a fan of anything antique—humans included. Check out: www.nancymoser.com.

What new book or project are you working on?

Just out is “Crossroads”, which is about a matriarch who buys up the dying small town where she lives and gives it away in a contest. It becomes populated by people who want a fresh start—who are at a crossroads in their lives.

In the fall of 2006 I have two more books coming out, “The Good Nearby.” It’s about people searching for meaning, searching for “the good nearby”, and about a woman who has the number 96 appear in her life over and over (what does it mean?).

Also coming out in the fall is probably the book of my life, “Mozart’s Sister”. It’s my first historical, and is virtually a memoir of Mozart’s sister, Nannerl (did you know he even had a sister?) She had just as much talent as he did, but because she was a woman, she didn’t have the opportunities. Her story is quite fascinating and will hopefully spur readers to use their own gifts to their fullest potential.

Right now I’m working on a book called “Solemnly Swear” which is about the people on a jury for a murder trial. Information about my books can be found at www.nancymoser.com.

I loved The Sister Circle series. Who conceived the idea? How did you team up with Vonette Bright?

The idea stemmed from need. Since we wanted to reach women, we needed a vehicle where women characters of many ages and backgrounds could come together. I have always loved Victorian homes… Plus, my mother-in-law lost her husband in 1996, and was left with a ridiculously small life insurance policy, so that sad fact was the impetus for the widow Evelyn.

As far as coming together, Dr. Bill Bright (Vonette’s husband) had coauthored some Christian fiction with Ted Dekker. He saw the power of Christian fiction to change lives. Where a friend or loved one might not read a book that’s entitled, “How to Know God!” you can hand them a Christian novel and say, “Hey, read this, it’s a great story” and they’ll get some of the gospel message through the back door. Jesus recognized the power of fiction—He used parables all the time.

It all started back in Feb 2001 when I got a call from one of Vonette’s representatives asking me if I would be interested in coauthoring a novel with her. We met. We hit it off. And four books came out of it.

Out of that initial Sister-idea have come many spin-off opportunities for women. Now, Brenda Josee (who has thirty years in Christian publishing) and I put on an all-day Said So Sisters Seminar that celebrates sisterhood and helps the attendees discover their God-given gifts.

We also have Sister Circles formed in churches all around the country. And we have just released a Sister Stuff Notebook that gives churches some fun but scriptural studies for women to do in their Sister Circles. The information for all this will soon be found on www.sistercircles.com, or by emailing Nancy at nancy@nancymoser.com.

How did you divide up the work? The style is seamless throughout the book. Did you each take characters to write? If so, will you reveal who wrote which ones?

We brainstormed the books, then I wrote them, and Mrs. Bright edited with me. She also provided a lot of much needed spiritual wisdom regarding the issues of being unequally yoked, forgiveness, etc.

Do you enjoy the co-authoring experience more than writing by yourself?

Coauthoring is a completely different experience. The biggest perk was that the opportunity led me to sisterhood with Vonette and with Brenda Josee (who was involved in the process, and who is now my speaking partner). But writing-wise, I’m pleased to be writing on my own again.

Tell us about your publishing journey. How long had you been writing before you got a contract? How did you find out and what went through your mind?

[Ane: Nancy has an amazing testimony of her writing journey. To read the full story, please take time to visit her website at http://www.nancymoser.com/testimony.cfm ]

Do you still have self-doubts about your writing?

In regard to whether I should keep doing it? No. I am doing what I’m supposed to be doing. Yet when I’m in the midst of getting a book started and I don’t know the characters yet, and the words aren’t flowing, and I have no idea how I can ever keep the plotline going for 95,000 words . . . I doubt. I wonder why I chose this profession at all. As with any profession, there are highs and lows, good times and bad. And struggles along the way. But I wouldn’t ever want to do anything else.

Was there ever a time in your writing career you thought of quitting?

No. I was always very persistent. When I received a rejection (and I have received 100’s for articles, stories, and novels) I would give myself ten minutes to cry, pout, and feel sorry for myself. Then I’d go over the submission, make it better, and send it out yet again. Fate finds persistence irresistible.

What mistakes did you make while seeking an editor or agent?

First off, you don’t seek an editor. One is assigned to you once you get a contract with a publishing house. And I had nine books published without an agent. But note: having an agent is getting more and more necessary. A lot of publishing houses will not look at unagented work. The important thing about any professional relationship is having respect for each other, being willing to listen, being heard, being trustworthy and dependable, and liking the other person. Right now I am blessed with great editors, and a great agent.

What’s the best writing advice you’ve heard?

Don’t give up. And be willing to learn. I’ve done critiques at writer’s conference when the newbie writer is adamant about not wanting to change anything. They are closed to advice. This author will never be published, or if they do miraculously get published, will never be published again. Getting the reputation for being high maintenance or uncooperative can kill a career. Writing a novel is all about editing. Changing it. Making it the best it can be.

For example: I wrote “The Quest” while waiting to get a yes on my first novel, “The Invitation.” I didn’t know about length restraints and ended up having to cut 74,000 words from that book. 41% of the novel tossed! And along the way I’ve had some novels go through extensive, multiple edits. Getting rid of characters, combining characters, completely revamping plot lines… If I would have been unwilling to do this, I would have lost the respect of my editors. And probably wouldn’t have gotten another contract.

What’s the worst piece of writing advice you’ve ever received?

It involved the rejection that led me to write “The Invitation” (see answer above). That agent rejected my work and said they didn’t like my writing style. If I had listened too hard, and let myself be completely swayed by one opinion, and changed the essence of my writing voice . . . I might never have gotten a novel published. There’s a fine line between listening to others’ opinions and trusting your own heart. It’s also a continual process. I am still learning. And changing.

Do you have a pet peeve having to do with this biz?

It is very frustrating to know that once a book is printed an author has very little control over sales. Sure, we can send out postcards, do a few booksignings (highly overrated) but the truth is, sales are what they are. And the best publicity and marketing comes from word of mouth. So if you as a reader like a book, tell everyone you know! That kind of marketing is priceless and can make a book soar. The bottom line is God’s got it.

What do you wish you’d known early in your career that might have saved you some time and/or frustration in writing? In publishing?

It’s a business. Even if your publisher is a Christian publisher, and your agent and editors and everyone you deal with is a Christian, it’s still a business. And business rules apply. They aren’t going to publish you or keep your book in print because they like you. Or because you tell them, “God led me to do this.” Not that they don’t believe God was involved, but it comes down to facts and figures. Numbers don’t lie. Numbers rule.

Was there ever a difficult set back that you went through in your writing career?

A few years ago I was trying to figure out the direction of future books. I’d been writing contemporaries for both men and women, plots with a twist a little beyond the ordinary. Then the women’s fiction of the Sister Circle books. I had plane crashes, tornadoes, time travel, and a Victorian boarding house… What next? Cozy mysteries? Psychological thrillers? I must have put together four or five proposals for new series—complete with sample chapters. I was searching for direction. Aching to know where to go next.

Then God found me and changed everything, answering in a way I never expected.

The event that opened my eyes to what to do next happened while I was standing in the home of the Mozart family in Salzburg, Austria in the summer of 2004—that little three-room apartment where both Wolfgang and his sister, Nannerl were born. In truth, I was only half-listening to the guide, being very close to tourist-information overload.

Yet one statement reached into my weary brain and ignited it: Most people don’t know this, but Mozart’s sister was just as talented as he was, but because she was a woman, she had little chance to do anything with her talent. That one statement stayed with me all the way home to the States.

At the time I was putting together a proposal for a contemporary novel (I only wrote novels set in the present day.) Because of the tour guide’s comment, I got the idea to have one of my characters write a book called “Mozart’s Sister”. My agent sent the proposal to publishers.

Within days we got a call from Dave Horton, an editor at Bethany House Publishers. “I don’t want the contemporary book, I want the book the character is writing, Mozart’s Sister, an historical book about the sister’s life.”
“But I don’t write historicals.”
“I want Mozart’s Sister.”
“But I don’t write in first-person, in one person’s point-of-view throughout an entire book. I write big-cast novels in third person.”
“I want Mozart’s Sister.”
“I hate research.”
“I want Mozart’s Sister.”

Well then. He seemed so sure, so excited. I could not ignore him—actually, I could, but I didn’t.

And so, as so often happens when God offers us an opportunity and we say “yes”, it turned out to be the best experience of my writing life. And, irony of ironies, as I sat in my office with four reference books opened before me, I even found that I enjoyed the research. Imagine that. “Mozart’s Sister” comes out in the fall of 2006. I adore writing about women of history, giving them a voice. The next novel I’m writing is about Jane Austen’s life. Jane telling her story. First person.

What are a few of your favorite books?

I like the novels of Stephanie Grace Whitson (A Garden in Paris) and James Scott Bell, to name two. And I love biographies. And Ann Rule true crime books because of the psychology of the characters. I love to figure out why people do things.

What work have you done that you’re especially proud of and why?

Completing “Mozart’s Sister” because of the research and the new frontier of first-person, historical writing.

Do you have a scripture or quote that has spoken to you lately in regards to your writing?

“But these things I plan won’t happen right away. Slowly, steadily, surely, the time approaches when the vision will be fulfilled. If it seems slow, wait patiently, for it will surely take place. It will not be delayed.” Habakkuk 2: 3 (NLT)

Can you give us a look into a typical day for you?

I’m up at 4:30 or 5, take a 30 minute walk outside, look at emails, write in my diary and prayer journal, see my hubby off (our three kids are grown, and am ready to write by 8. I have a daily word quota I need to meet and I stick in my seat until I make it. Sometimes that takes four hours, sometimes two. In the afternoon I do research and family things. The point is, writing never leaves me. I get ideas in the strangest places and times. My husband complains that my mind never shuts off. Very true.

Do you have a word or page goal you set for each day?

Depends on the book. But when I get a deadline I print up a calendar, month by month, and count out how many actual writing workdays I have available until the deadline (weekdays only). I divide that number into 95,000 (the usual word count of a book). That’s often 1000-1500/day. I keep track of how many words I get done on my calendar as I go. This is essential or else I’ll procrastinate and months will go by. I’m not a good last-minute writer.

Are you an SOTP (seat of the pants) writer or a plotter?

Mostly SOTP, though I do both. I start with a very open premise (What if you could go back in time and change something? What if you were rich and famous and felt compelled to give up everything and follow Jesus? etc.) Then I cast it like it’s a movie, and start writing. As I get to know the characters plotlines evolve. And as those evolve, the story gets more and more pinned down. But the plot and the characters are always subject to change. And editing. And re-editing.

What author do you especially admire and why?

Stephen King for his characterization. Amazing.
Jane Austen for her wit.

What is your favorite and least favorite part of being a writer?

Favorite: Having written (old joke). Least favorite: starting a new book. Facing the blank page.

How much marketing do you do? What’s your favorite part of marketing?

I have a website and send out an email newsletter. I do booksignings if asked. I sell my books when I speak. I do radio interviews when my publisher asks. But I hate marketing. Just let me write!

Do you have any parting words of advice?

If you think you’re a writer, write. And read. And learn. Just do it. Today.

Author Interview ~ Jeri Board

Jeri Fitzgerald Board grew up in Johnston County, North Carolina, just a few miles from the site of the Battle of Bentonville. She is a retired administrator with the University of North Carolina, and a former professor of African-American Studies and American Women Writers, at Duke University and St. Andrews Presbyterian College. She and her husband, Warren, live in Tryon, North Carolina with their feline companion, Miss Beautiful.

What book or project is coming out that you’d like to tell us about?


My first historical novel, The Bed She Was Born In, was released in April.
This is the story of five southern women—three black and two white—and the intimate relationships they foster which help them overcome sexism, racism, and poverty in an era (1865-1941) when women had little opportunity.

How did you conduct the research needed to write this story with accuracy?

As a professor of Women’s Studies and African American Studies, I have been conducting this kind of research, using the most reliable resources, for decades.

Tell us about your journey to publication. How long had you been writing before you got the call you had a contract, how you heard and what went through your head.

Mine has been a rather unconventional journey. Although I taught creative writing for years, I never made a living as a writer. I am a retired administrator with the University of North Carolina, and a former professor, and have made my living in that arena. I wrote The Bed She Was Born In during a hiatus from my usual vocation.

This story, which began with my great-great-grandmother’s experiences during the last major battle of the Civil War at Bentonville, NC, played in my head for years. I finally had the opportunity to devote myself to it in 1992-93, so I sat at my kitchen table every day and wrote it, long-hand, on legal pads. A friend processed it for me and the manuscript was 568 pages. In the winter of 1994, my husband and I made a joint decision to go to St Andrews Presbyterian College, where we immersed ourselves 24/7 in the work of that institution.

The manuscript went on a shelf in a closet where it gathered dust for the next 7 years. During that time, I sent the first three chapters to two publishers and they responded with positive remarks about content and characterization, but both expressed concern about length. We moved to Tryon, North Carolina in 2003, and after we spent 2 ½ years renovating and remodeling our house here, I got out the manuscript, cut 250+ pages (oh, lord!), rewrote the ending, and added a prologue and an epilogue.

I was invited to read at an AAUW fund-raiser last May. Les Stobbe and his wife, Rita, were in the audience. They had just moved to Tryon from Boston, and while I had met them, we did not know each other. They wanted to buy 6 copies of my book. When I told them it had never been published, they became interested. I had no idea that Les was a literary agent. They called me that evening and we set up a meeting for the next morning where I signed a contract with him. He sold The Bed She Was Born In in less than two weeks. Needless to say, I was astounded….just blown away.

What mistakes have you made while seeking publication?

I don’t mean to sound flippant here, but I have had so little experience I don’t think I have had much opportunity to make too many mistakes on the issue of publication. I did not make an honest effort to have my novel published because I could not take the time to do right by it. One very telling incident occurred with a publisher in Georgia that let me know I did have the RIGHT product, but not the right publisher. Chemistry between the writer and the publisher is crucial and I have been very fortunate in that regard.

What’s the best advice you ever heard on writing/publication?

The best advice I have ever heard is, “Stick With It!”…both the writing and the publishing. And read, read, read. By that, I mean, really study the writing of others.
I always ask my writing students to “ape” the style of their favorite writers….to try to capture not only the semantics, but the feeling, the depth, the color, if you will…of someone they admire. I believe that no writer can ever understand, or appreciate, the process until they can analyze, to some extent, that process from another writer’s viewpoint. You have to get in there and really take it apart to appreciate it.

What’s the worst piece of writing advice you ever heard?

The worst piece of writing advice I ever heard was a comment made by one of the publishers to whom I sent my manuscript. He told me there was just too much stuff in my novel about women! My reaction was BINGO! I knew I had hit it and I never backed away from what he deemed a liability.

What’s something you wish you had known earlier that might have saved you some time/frustration in the publishing business?

I wish I had known about how little control I would have over the treatment of information shared in interviews and other marketing devices. A writer is at the mercy of those who are interested in her/his work …and especially when it comes to the manner in which their product is presented. For instance, I have seen comments printed about The Bed She Was Born In from people who have obviously NOT read it. You just have to go with the flow and know that these things are going to happen.

Is there a set back you have gone through in your writing career you are willing to share?

Since I have not had a writing career, I can’t address this. Generally, I would say that it is wise to not have too many expectations.

What are a few of your favorite books?

Rather than mentioning their books, may I just mention a few of the writers I particularly admire? Edith Wharton, Willa Cather, Alice Hoffman, Toni Morrison, John Steinbeck, Victor Hugo, Thomas Hardy, Jane Austen, Doris Kearns Goodwin, Zora Neale Hurston, Wm. Faulkner, Alice Walker, Amy Tan….there are so many. I wish that Harper Lee had written more than one book.

What piece of writing have you done that you’re particularly proud of and why?

I think The Bed She Was Born In should be read by every woman, and every man, in America. Some people will think, because of the title, that this is a “woman’s book.” It is rather a book about women who may be viewed as unconventional for their time.

The Bed She Was Born In deals with universal themes that, I hope, will have universal appeal. I have received so many wonderful comments from people who have read it and loved it…men and women, black and white, old and young. I have been particularly gratified by the positive comments I have received from young adult readers.

Do you have a pet peeve having to do with this biz?

My pet peeve is dealing with other people’s assumptions. I think this is something all of us human beings deal with when we deal with other human beings. It’s constant.

Can you give us a view into a typical day of your writing life?

When I wrote The Bed She Was Born In, I sat at my kitchen table off and on throughout the day. I began early each morning with a long walk which helped clear my head of any excess baggage I did not need for my writing journey. (I still do this every day….and I work when I walk.) If I were frustrated with a particular scene I was working on, I would leave it and take a walk around the block. And if that did not work, I would let it alone for a few days and go back to it later. Things need to meld, to season…they need time.

If you could choose to have one strength of another writer, what would it be and from whom?

If I could choose to have one strength from another writer, it would be the incredible power of certain writers to convey feelings of “being in the moment” in their work I think Toni Morrison does this so well. I feel as if I am looking over her shoulder when I read her work….as if I am the person about whom she is writing.

Do you have a dream for your writing, something you would love to accomplish?

My dream would be that the message of The Bed She Was Born In would become so wide spread that people all over this country would come to understand the positive relationships that have always existed between black and white Southerners. We have been dependent on each other for centuries, and Southern women have always nurtured the thin thread of civility that has kept us going and kept us strong. This is not to say that there have not been tremendous problems along the way. Racism, sexism, poverty, and lack of opportunity have existed, not only in the South, but all over this country throughout our history. Unfortunately, they continue to flourish today.

Was there ever a time in your writing career you thought of quitting?

I always dreamed of having a time in my life when I could actually write something, and when I finally got the opportunity, I held onto my hope that The Bed She Was Born In would be published. I wrote the original manuscript of 568 pages in two years time and NEVER thought about not finishing it. The journey to writing it had been so long that I could not do anything but hold on until the end. Besides, I loved every minute of it. Writing this novel was the hardest thing I have ever done, but it was the most fun, too.

What is your favorite and least favorite part of being a writer?

My favorite part of being a writer is “being” the characters. I love to get inside their heads and let them take me where they will. The thing that is hardest is the isolation. This is lonely work, as one has no colleagues in an office next door. I have to MAKE time to get out and see other people, to socialize, to try to be a normal person. This always helps me with my work because others are interested in what I am doing and they ask questions, and make comments, that give me even more insight. I come away from every presentation I do at a library, or club meeting, with new friends and new ideas.

How much marketing do you do? Any advice in this area?

Now, this is a great question because I think that most first-time novelists have no idea of the amount of time and energy they will have to devote to marketing. Unless you are a John Gresham or Doris Kearns Goodwin, you will get very little help from your publisher (If you are lucky, perhaps they will sponsor one event). I spend the majority of my day dealing with correspondence (mainly emails) and scheduling events for The Bed She Was Born In. I present programs for libraries, historical societies, civic and church groups, and do readings and signings at book stores on a regular basis. People who organize these events do NOT come to you; you have to go to them. Fortunately, they are very supportive and interested in having you do something for them.

Parting words?

Talk with other writers who have been successful. Learn from them. Try to adapt to new ideas especially when it comes to marketing. Use your connections, your friends, to help you. My friends have been incredibly helpful and supportive and nothing works as well as “word of mouth” when it comes to selling.

Don’t be shy or easily intimidated. Find out what you need to know and go for it. And don’t be lulled into thinking that your book will sell itself. Writers sell books. Be prepared to spend a bundle on marketing items such as a web site, postcards, flyers, as well as gas, meals, and motels while you are on the road. Some libraries will cover mileage and/or pay an “author’s fee,” but these will not be enough to cover your expenses. Above all, have fun! This is your time to shine…and to meet interesting people who are obviously interested in you and your work. Make the most of it because in the end, all we have is each other.

For more on The Bed She Was Born In, including the synopsis, first chapter, and ordering information, please go to www.thebedshewasbornin.com. Thank you.