Interview with Author Candy Abbott

MARYANN:
Hello, Everyone! Today I am delighted and honored to welcome to my blog an exemplary Christ-Follower, my dear friend and sister in Christ, Candy Abbott! Welcome, Candy!

CANDY:
So good to be with you, MaryAnn.

MARYANN:
Candy, please tell us a little about yourself and your writing ministry.

CANDY:
My husband, Drew, and I have been married for 42 years. We have three grown children (two of his, one of mine), four grandchildren, and we’ve just become great-grandparents for the second time, so Christmas at our house in Georgetown, Delaware, will be fun this year with a baby and a toddler.

I began writing in 1984 when the Lord spoke to me through my journal, saying, “You will write a book.” I peppered Him with questions. “Who, me? Write a book? Who would want to read it? What would I write about?” The answers turned into my first book, Fruitbearer: What Can I Do for You, Lord? Little did I know that the book would be the first of many and would lead to a publishing company by the same name.

MARYANN:
An amazing testimony of what God can do with a yielded heart!  You’ve recently published an inspiring book titled I’ve Never Loved Him More that, I think, will become a bestseller, not only because of your moving writing style, but particularly because of its very relevant subject matter: Alzheimer’s disease. In your book you share your personal journey of caring for your precious husband who fell victim to this disease. Please tell us how you came to write your life-changing and life-affirming book.

CANDY:
My daughter kept saying, “Mom, you know you’re going to have to write a book about this,” and several friends told me I needed to write a book now. Each time, I recoiled at the suggestion because it was all I could do to get through every day juggling my ever-increasing responsibilities.

“I have to live it before I can write it,” I told them.

And then Nancy Rue, my writing mentor, suggested it might be therapeutic for me to “capture some scenes.” Right from the beginning, my manuscript began teaching me things about myself as I recorded my raw emotions and the mysterious changes taking place in Drew.

Before long, my motivation shifted to helping others as I typed daily snippets of my fears, successes, missteps, and downright funny incidents. In the second year of my life as an “open book,” I began thinking ahead and contemplating which responses to Drew’s changing behavior would show moral courage and serve as good examples for my readers (instead of the knee jerk reactions that I wanted to give). If I was claiming to LOVE, I had to live it out. Readers would be watching. My prayer is, God help me! And use even my blunders for good.

MARYANN:
I was struck by your comment that your “motivation shifted to helping others.” As long as I have known you, you have been the kind of person who puts others before yourself. This is the essence of love.

In light of that, we all know that Satan will attempt to thwart God’s work of love in any way Satan can. What obstacles did you encounter along the journey of writing your book? What did you learn about God as you faced and overcame those obstacles?

CANDY:
The first sting I felt from the enemy came last month after I spoke at a senior center. One lady with a walker came in late and missed my introduction where I talked about how I struggled with how much of the intimate details to release to the public and decided that the raw truth would be more beneficial to caregivers than a sanitized version. In my speech, I told the funny scene that happened in Bermuda when Drew insisted on wearing his underwear to the beach. Everybody laughed . . . except this one lady who scowled the whole time.

After the others bought books and said glowing things, she came up to my table. “You’re not going to like what I have to say. I do not like your book” (which, of course, she hadn’t read). “Your story offended me. You don’t make fun of people who have an illness. And you never laugh at them. Ha! You call your book, I’ve Never Loved Him More? You know nothing about love.”

Her words were an arrow to my heart. “Thank you for letting me know,” I managed to say. I couldn’t get her words out of my head. The soul searching began immediately and lingered for two days.

First, came the love issue. Should I have left out the Bermuda story? Does it embarrass Drew? I’m following Jesus and doing my best to keep in step with the Spirit. I know God who is love; therefore, I know love.

A friend suggested that I focus on the many times people have told me how much the book is helping them, especially the “funny parts.” I did a mental exchange (a positive to replace the negative) when God reminded me of the seven-year-old girl who was drawn to my book by the cover and title. Her Aunt Susan (a neighbor who cares for her because her mother is on drugs and her father is in prison) told me that she has anxiety issues (no wonder!) and doesn’t understand a lot of the book but “feels the love,” and it calms her down. The other night when her mother didn’t show up as promised, she comforted herself by reading the “funny parts” at bedtime. Isn’t that just like God to choose a child to take away the sting of the hurtful words of an elderly woman?

Next, I wondered if she was a bitter, frustrated, resentful woman who may have even had a touch of dementia. Regardless, if there was even the slightest nugget of truth to her admonition, I wanted to learn from it and adapt my remarks in the future. I realized that my primary audience is caregivers and family members, not the elderly (even though most obviously enjoyed it). From now on, when I’m invited to speak, I’ll mention this to the event planner.

Finally (which I should have done in the first place), I sat with the Lord. Instantly, He brought Philippians 4:8 to mind: Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. When I think of the woman now, I thank God for her willingness to say aloud what she might have easily kept to herself. And I pray for her.

MARYANN:
As you well know, Candy, God looks at our heart motive for doing or saying anything. It is not necessarily what we say or do but WHY we say or do it. Your heart motive was not to offend but to bring joy to people who struggle. You were wise in going to the Lord. Whenever I am criticized, the first thing I do is ask the Lord if there is any truth in the criticism, and if He is trying to teach me something. Once I’ve determined whether the criticism is true or not, I act accordingly. If it is true, I repent and make changes. If it is not, I discard it as an attack from the enemy, and I pray for the person who criticized me.

This is precisely what you did. You were open to the Lord’s leading. One of the things that struck me most about your book was your vulnerability. People relate to those who are willing to humble themselves to share their own struggles. You have done this beautifully in your book. How did this character trait serve you in the writing of your book? What place does vulnerability have in sharing Christ’s love with others?

CANDY:
Because I love to share, my life has always been pretty much an open book. Besides, I learned when I first began writing that readers can relate best to someone who is transparent and doesn’t try to sugarcoat the pain. Putting myself in a vulnerable position creates a tenderness that softens emotional barriers, and people are generally agreeable to learning about where I get my strength, which is Christ’s love.

MARYANN:
I love what you said: “Putting myself in a vulnerable position creates a tenderness that softens emotional barriers.”  That warrants a meme! :). It is this tenderness that prepares the heart to receive the truth about Christ.  

Another quality I love about you and your book is your sense of humor, especially in the midst of trials. Your humorous perspective—as evident in the personal stories you recount—is refreshing and helps to view life from God’s perspective. How did you cultivate this sense of humor, and how has it helped you maintain the mind and peace of Christ in the midst of the storm?

CANDY:
I had the advantage of growing up in a household where humor and peace were the order of the day, and God was at the center of it all. I make it a point to look for the funny things that crop up in the midst of difficulty. Laughter is one of the best coping skills, and God’s grace soothes the soul and fills the gaps. Awareness is the key. If you’re not looking for the humor, you could easily miss it. The joy of the Lord is our strength (see Nehemiah 8:10)!

MARYANN:
So, true! As you wisely pointed out, if we are not looking for the humor, we could easily miss it. Recently, Holy Spirit spoke these words to me: “What you observe, materializes.” In other words, what I focus on will become evident in my life. If I observe (i.e., look for) humor, it will manifest–as will love, joy, peace, etc.  Whatever we focus on grows in our lives.

At times, however, we can focus on the wrong things or on some right things while neglecting other right things. For instance, caregivers are notorious for neglecting themselves. You share in your book that you had to relinquish other ministries you loved in order to free yourself to take care of your husband. In what other ways have you tended to your own health in order to be able to care for your husband? What suggestions would you offer readers who are facing similar care-giving situations?

CANDY:
Being alone in the house with Drew, answering the same questions day-in and day-out 24/7, and handling all the responsibilities that bombard me can be grueling. It’s even difficult to have my normal quiet time with God, so I take mini-vacations in my mind. Even thirty seconds with my eyes closed sitting in front of my computer and sensing the Lord’s arms around me can be refreshing. Playing praise music softly reminds me who’s truly in charge, and praise is a fabulous antidote to the gloom and frustration that threatens to settle over me. I make it a point to schedule lunch with a friend once a week to be sure I get out of the house for some “Candy time.” Several people have suggested getting a massage, but I haven’t taken the initiative to follow up on that yet.

Although I have curtailed my ministries, my publishing business is still active (which I operate from home), so that serves as a healthy diversion for me and allows me the stimulation of being in touch with the outside world.

MARYANN:
In the years I have known you, you have consistently demonstrated the love of Christ. You are an inspiration and a shining example of faithfulness to our Lord’s command to love one another. You are also a generous giver of your time and talents to help others. What have you learned about the power of love through your experience in caring for your husband?

CANDY:
Thank you, MaryAnn. Having you say that the love of Christ is evident in me is one of the finest compliments I could receive. What I’ve learned about the power of love in caring for Drew is that it has to come from God, not my own measly efforts. No matter how hard I try on my own, I cannot generate this kind of sustained love. The other thing I’ve learned is that the more I allow God’s love to flow through me, the greater my capacity to love grows. The more I practice patience, for example, the more patience I find that I have. Really, the key is trusting the Lord to provide that patience, not “trying harder.” This must be what Jesus meant when He said, “I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing” (John 15:5 NIV).

MARYANN:
Exactly! Allowing Christ to live His life through us is the key to the Christian life, but, all too often, we forget that truth and try to live His life in our own strength. But, as we eventually learn, that is impossible. What advice would you offer to someone reading this post who is facing the prospect of long-term caregiving?

CANDY:
Be informed, and reach out for help. Too many caregivers suffer alone, feeling that they would betray their loved one if they told anybody about the changes in behavior they see happening at home. Dementia is insidious. It steals the person so gradually that it’s almost impossible to recognize the disease until it advances to the problem-causing stage. Even then, caregivers typically feel an obligation to tough it out or explain it away. Awareness is the key. Alzheimer’s.org is a good place to start (they have all sorts of resources, including information on support groups around the nation). The book, The 36-Hour Day: A Family Guide to Caring for People Who Have Alzheimer Disease, Related Dementias, and Memory Lossis another excellent resource as it provides an overview of what caregivers might expect. I have a list of other resources in the appendix of I’ve Never Loved Him More.

MARYANN:
Candy, it has been a great joy and a great blessing to have you with us today. We will continue to pray for your strength and for Drew’s healing. We will decree and declare God’s Word over him, that Drew has a sound mind, the mind of Christ (2 Timothy 1: 7 and 1 Corinthians 2: 16). Thank you for taking time out of your very busy schedule to share your heart with us. Thank you also for reminding us—as you so beautifully do, both in your writing and in your life—that God’s love never fails!

CANDY:
Thanks for the opportunity to bring hope to others, MaryAnn. It’s been a privilege.

MARYANN:
I encourage all of you who are reading this to purchase a copy of Candy’s outstanding book, I’ve Never Loved Him More. It is available wherever books are sold. For your convenience, here is the link to Candy’s book on Amazon:

https://www.amazon.com/Ive-Never-Loved-Him-More/dp/193879608X/ref=sr_1_1_twi_pap_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1504880596&sr=8-1&keywords=Candy+Abbott

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Interview with Author Terri Gillespie

HEADSHOT_TERRI_GILLESPIEToday, I am delighted to interview friend and fellow author, Terri Gillespie. At the end of this interview, Terri will be offering a free paperback copy of one of her novels. The names of those who comment will be put into a drawing for the free book. So, be sure to leave a comment.

MARYANN:
Hi, Terri! Welcome to Matters of the Heart. It’s great to have you here today!

TERRI:
Thank you, MaryAnn! It’s great to be here with you and your readers!

MARYANN:
Terri, please tell us a little about yourself and your writing.

TERRI:
I married my best friend, Bob, back in 1974. We have one child, Rebekah (aka Rivy) who lives in Chicago with her husband, Shemuel and stepson Darrell.
My writing genre is women’s contemporary—both fiction and nonfiction—and children’s middle school fiction.

MARYANN:
When did you first discern God’s call on your life to write for Him?

TERRI:
Great question. My grandmother was a wonderful storyteller and she nurtured my imagination through stories and writing. My first “book” was The Adventures of Jilly the Bear—illustrated by yours truly—when I was about six. The original little book is tucked away in one of the many boxes in our attic.

Shortly after our daughter was born, I knew I wanted to write Biblical stories for children. My first story was written in 1980. I had no idea how to publish it and ended up filing it away—it appears God is resurrecting that story.

I tried writing a sci-fi thriller novel for the secular market based on a short story I wrote as a term paper for a college class, but the story morphed into inspirational—as if I couldn’t write anything else. At that point, I formally dedicated my writing to Him.

MARYANN:
Terri, you’ve written both fiction and non-fiction. Your powerful non-fiction devotional, Making Eye Contact with God, continues to bless me. Your fiction is packed with humor and deep truths that resonate with readers. Please give us a little background on the genesis of your books. Why did you write them, and what do you hope to accomplish through them?front-cover

TERRI:
Oh my, what kind encouragements, thanks, MaryAnn. My passion is unity based on Yeshua’s (Hebrew for Jesus) prayer in John 17, that when we’re one in love, in Jesus, the world will know who His is and that His Father sent Him to us. In other words, our unity will bring world revival.

My first book was the devotional. It was also the first—to the publisher’s knowledge—twelve-month devotional geared for both Messianic and Christian women. The goal of this book was for Jewish and non-Jewish sisters to find their way into their personal Secret Place where God could make “eye contact” with them.

The Hair Mavens series are modern-day Ruth and Naomi stories set in a hair salon.

MARYANN:
What do you believe is the primary role of Christian fiction?

TERRI:
To present well-written, God-inspired stories which are relatable and real to readers. These stories, hopefully, will salt their hearts and light their way to seek out the Lord.

MARYANN:
I love that! 🙂 Do you have a typical writing day? If so, what is it like?

TERRI:
Hmm. Depends upon the day and where I am in the story. I try to exercise 90 minutes a week, and I’m working through a Bible study on Revelations as part of my quiet time—so that’s generally first thing in the morning.

Once the story is ready and I’m in the groove, I will write all day—I try to have a nice selection of leftovers in the freezer for those days. Right now I’m still in the research phase of book three of The Hair Mavens, so my time is spent in research, marketing of the previous books, and grinding through social media.

MARYANN:
What is the funniest thing that has happened to you during your writing career?

TERRI:
Funniest thing? Maybe not funny, but an odd event; it was the first time I met a group of women who had read my devotional. I was in Florida at a conference and someone pointed toward me and said, “There she is!” Within seconds they had surrounded me and bombarded me with questions and then chatted on and on about how much they loved the book.

Writers are generally introverts. So, when these women cornered me, I wanted to run. It was very uncomfortable. I’m not sure what I said, probably just thank you. A friend witnessed the event and pulled me aside. She essentially reprimanded me, then passed on some suggestions of how to take the attention off me and back on the Lord and them. Great advice. It’s how this introvert can speak in front of a group of women and not melt into a puddle.

MARYANN:
I’m basically an introvert, too. I love to be around people–for a while.  And then I need time to regroup, if you know what I mean. 🙂 What is the most difficult challenge you have faced during your writing career?

TERRI:
MECWG_COVERWhen I was informed that Christian publishers would not publish a contemporary story with a Messianic Jewish protagonist. Fortunately, the world of indie publishing has been a blessing for people like me.

MARYANN:
I experienced something similar when publishers would not publish my novel with a born-again pries protagonistt. Are you currently working on a new book? If so, what is it about?

TERRI:
Actually, I have three projects on the front burners. Of course, book three of The Hair Mavens series, the working title is Bad Hair Day or maybe Really Bad Hair Day; I’m also working on two other series. The working title for the next women’s series is Helping Hands, the first book—which needs its second edit—is entitled Holding Hands. The other series is children’s chapter books. Currently I’m in discussions with a publisher for this one, so it’s hush-hush.

MARYANN:
I understand. :)You are the founder of the Ruth-Naomi Initiative. Please share with us what this is and how we can get involved.

TERRI:
The Ruth and Naomi Initiative is the message of my heart. As I mentioned earlier, my passion is unity in accordance with Yeshua’s prayer. What has that to do with the Biblical story of Ruth and Naomi? This story is one of the most beautiful examples of that unity between Jew and Gentile. A Moabite daughter-in-law and a Jewish mother-in-law were two of the most unlikely women to demonstrate unity. God gave special grace for this relationship to develop, as it was at a time when God had cursed the Moabites.

The challenges were great, but they formed a loving relationship with profound results. Jesus (Yeshua) prayed for that type of unity in the Garden of Gethsemane (John 17). He prayed that the Jewish disciples would be one with those in the nations who would come to believe in Him, so that “… the world will know” who He is. Jew and Gentile one in Messiah brings revival. And it began with two women.

As a woman and writer, I want my stories to demonstrate the challenges, joys, struggles, and laughable moments when we strive for unity among women. As a speaker to women’s groups, I want my messages to be about the glorious, miraculous things that happen when we can see one another and ourselves as God sees us.

Someone asked me the other day, “What will it take for us to be united as the Body of Messiah?” I believe God gave me that answer, “When we are as passionate as Jesus about it.”

MARYANN:
That answer so resonates with me. What single piece of advice would you give to aspiring writers?
TERRI: Writers write. We must. It’s how we process God’s word, life, ideas, and our imagination. The best advice I can give aspiring writers may be boring or obvious, but it is simply: Write. Every day, in one form or another, write. Then, learn the craft of writing and be humble enough to never stop learning.

MARYANN: What single piece of advice would you give to seasoned writers?TERRIG_CUTITOUT

TERRI: Never lose the awe of being a writer. We are scribes of stories and words of hope. When it becomes only business—even though publishing is a business—we lose a part of our soul. Do whatever it takes to connect with the Lord and allow Him to pull those stories out that He has placed inside you.

MARYANN:
Terri, thank you so very much for being with us today. I pray God’s blessings on you and your writing.

TERRI:
It was my pleasure, MaryAnn. Thanks for inviting me. God bless you and your ministry as well.

MARYANN:
I encourage our readers to visit Terri’s website at www.terrigillespie.com. And don’t forget to leave a comment for an opportunity to win a free copy of one of Terri’s novels.
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Interview with Author Rose McCauley

website photos 004Today I am delighted to introduce you to my good friend and fellow fiction author, Rose Allen McCauley. Welcome, Rose, to Matters of the Heart!   I am delighted to have you with us today!

ROSE:
Thank you for the chance to visit you and share with your readers today, MaryAnn. I only wish it could be in person!

MARYANN:
Rose, please tell us a little about yourself and about your writing. 

ROSE:
I’m a daughter of the King, a wife, mom, and Mimi to five lovely, lively grandkids! I also like to read, write, walk, and scrapbook when I can fit it in. 

MARYANN:
How did you become a writer, and why is writing important to you? 

ROSE:
My husband and I like to take walks in the afternoon, and he tells me about his cows and farming escapades, and I used to tell him about my day at school, and sometimes share about the imaginary people in my brain. He talked me into retiring from teaching to write the stories in my head, so I’ve been writing over ten years, and have several non-fiction books I have contributed to (listed on my website below where you can also contact me on my contact page). My first fiction novella, Christmas Belles of Georgia, was published by Barbour in 2011. 

As a Christian, writing is a great means of fulfilling the Great Commission to go into all the world and tell others about Christ. I have been on three mission trips out of the country, but my books can reach even more people with God’s Truth than I reached while in those countries. My goal as a writer is to draw others closer to God, whether it be the first time they’ve ever heard of Him, or a long-time church member who has heard countless times, yet still wants to know more of Him and have a closer personal relationship with Him.  

MARYANN:
What are your thoughts on fiction as an instrument for transforming the heart? 

ROSE:
Well-written, engaging fiction stays in your heart and brain long after you finish reading it, and can impact the reader’s life as well as those they come in contact with. 

MARYANN:
What, in your opinion, is the primary role of Christian fiction? 

ROSE:
If it is written with Christ’s principles woven in, it can be life-changing, heart-transforming.

MARYANN:
What project are you currently working on, and how did you get the idea for it? 

ROSE:
Right now, I am marketing my newest book, Christmas Grace. The idea came for it when my daughter’s best friend in high school died from kidney failure. I am also in the middle of editing a manuscript set in a small town called Perfect (which doesn’t always live up to its name!) to send to my editor after the first of the year. And, MaryAnn and two other friends and I are gearing up to write four novellas set in Puerto Rico in the New Year! Such is the life of a writer—you have to multi-task and ask God’s help to juggle all the story ideas. 

MARYANN:
Yes, that is so true, Rose. I am very excited about our joint venture and look forward to working with you, Lynette Sowell, and Vasthi Acosta. Where do you see Christian fiction heading in the next five years? Ten years? Much has changed in the publishing industry in the last decade. What are your thoughts on these changes?

ROSE:
I don’t think anyone knows but the Lord. There are changes happening everyday. I hope that while self-publishing grows, standard publishing companies will, too. I have found out with my latest book that there are a world of people who don’t have e-readers or don’t want to read on a computer screen. While I read both e-books and print books, I still prefer reading with a book in my hand! 

MARYANN:
I hear you, Rose. 🙂 What single piece of advice would you give to an aspiring fiction writer today?

ROSE:
Keep praying, keep writing, and keep submitting. And if you aren’t already a member, join ACFW (American Christian Fiction Writers) and other local writing groups. 

MARYANN:
What single piece of advice would you give to a seasoned fiction author today? 

ROSE:
The same as above—keep praying, writing, submitting and learning from other authors in writing groups, especially ACFW. 

MARYANN:
What do you like to do in your spare time? Or is that questioChristmas Grace book covern a joke? 🙂 

ROSE:

LOL, but I do find time to read and walk most days and watch our grandkids two or more days a week. I scrapbook rarely, but still enjoy it when I do. 

MARYANN:
Rose, thank you so much for being with us today. It was a great joy to have you. 

ROSE:
It was a joy and privilege to be here, MaryAnn. 

MARYANN:
You may learn more about Rose and purchase her books at her website: www.rosemccauley.com.

Interview with Author Winnie Griggs

Photo WG HANMARYANN:
Today I have the honor of introducing you to author Winnie Griggs.  Welcome to The Write Power, Winnie. It’s great to have you here.

WINNIE: 
Thanks Mary Ann, I’m excited to be here. 

MARYANN:
Winnie, please tell us a little about yourself.

WINNIE:
Well, on the personal front, I’ve been married to my very own Prince Charming for over 35 years and we’ve raised four kids who have turned into fun, adventurous creative adults.  On the writing front, I just turned in my seventeenth book and have five more under contract so I’m going to be pretty busy the next couple of years. 

MARYANN:
When did you first discern that God had called you to write for Him?

WINNIE:
Writing has always been a part of who I am, in fact I can’t remember a time when I wasn’t scribbling stories of one sort or another.  The first five novels I wrote were actually written for the secular market.  I had friends who told me they thought my voice and my perspective would really fit well in the CBA, but I adamantly refused to even try.  To me that was a higher calling that I didn’t think I could live up to, a responsibility I would no doubt fail at.  But gradually, over several years time, it became obvious to me that this was something I was being called to do, and I was reminded time and again that God often uses faulty vessels to do His work.  When I finally gave myself over to it, I found myself much more at peace. 

MARYANN:
Your focus has been on writing romance fiction.  Why did you choose romance?  How, in your opinion, does romance reflect Christ’s love for His Bride?

WINNIE:
It was more romance chose me than that I chose it.  The stories I have in me to tell are romances.  I love the hopefulness of it, the way that it shows time and again, that even though one is wounded and fallible, he or she is capable of rising above past mistakes of misperceptions to find someone to love and be loved by.   And yes, this in some ways reflects the love Christ has for us. 

MARYANN:
Do you have a typical writing day? If so, what is it like?

WINNIE:
There’s not really any such thing for me as a ‘typical writing day’, though I do try to maintain a rough sort of routine.  Twice a week I join a writer friend at Starbucks for a morning writing session that usually lasts about 4  hours.  Those are my two most productive writing sessions because I can stay largely focused on my writing.  The rest of the week, I take care of things like email, social media and pressing matters in the morning, a touch of housework after lunch and then attack my writing at night.

MARYANN:
What do you see as the role of Christian fiction?

WINNIE:
First and foremost, Christian fiction, like any other fiction, should entertain.  That is after all, why readers read, and if your book doesn’t  pass that test, it won’t serve ANY purpose.  But beyond that, I think Christian fiction should have an element of faith tightly woven in, however subtly, that both uplifts and convicts.

MARYANN:
Where do you see Christian fiction headed in the next five years?16 LSH medium

WINNIE:
LOL – I’m not one to make predictions.  

MARYANN:
Do you have any hobbies?

WINNIE:
Besides reading you mean? 🙂  I enjoy going to estate sales and flea markets.  And I like to search out and experiment with tea flavors.

MARYANN:
How do you balance a job with your call to write? Has your job significantly informed your writing?

WINNIE:
I actually retired three years ago after working 35 years for the same company.  But back when I did have a day job, it required a  lot of discipline to protect my writing time.  As far as its informing my writing, I think any experience you have informs your writing in some way.  And it certainly enriched my circle of friends and acquaintances, so that I had more personalities to draw from when I developed my characters. 

MARYANN:
What single piece of advice would you give to an aspiring novelist?

WINNIE:
Write, write, write.  The best way to learn is by doing.  And by all means find yourself a group of writers to join.  Having a circle of like-minded friends, a circle that includes writers at all levels, can help you not only career-wise but emotionally as well. 

MARYANN:
What single piece of advice would you give to a seasoned novelist?

WINNIE:
Find a way to pay it forward.  Help those who are at the beginning of their journey, the way you were helped, or wish you had been helped, at the beginning of yours.  Regardless of how it is received, it will bless you. 

MARYANN:
Thank you so much for being with us today, Winnie.  You are a blessing!

WINNIE:
Thanks for having me!  It was absolutely my pleasure!

MARYANN:
I encourage readers to visit Winnie’s website at www.WinnieGriggs.com.  Thanks for stopping by today.

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Copyright 2014 by Dr. MaryAnn Diorio. All rights reserved. 

Maximizing Your Marketing

Writing an excellent book is only half the battle in becoming a successful author.  A critical half, yes, but half, nonetheless. The other half of the battle is getting your story in front of your readers. This second half is called marketing.

Marketing involves skills and strategies that differ from the creative act of writing your novel. At the same time, the strategies you use to write your story–creativity, understanding, and the use of words–all play into your marketing strategy. In short, your skills as a novelist can inform your skills as a marketer of your novel. 

How?

Let’s take a look:

1) Utilizing SEO (Search Engine Optimization).  When writing your novel, you must be careful in your choice of words. You must choose words that will push your story forward without prematurely revealing its ending. When marketing your book, you must also be careful in your choice of words.  You must use keywords that people will use to search for your story.  This is called Search Engine Optimization or SEO.

2) Targeting Your Audience. When writing your novel, you have a particular audience in mind (readers of romance, middle grade readers, etc.).  Likewise, when marketing your story, you must have a target audience in mind. That target audience will generally be the same as the target audience for whom you wrote your story, but don’t stop there. Remember, for example, that if you have written a children’s book, your target audience will not only include children. It will also include their parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles, and caregivers, as well.

3) Building a Following. This is sometimes called “building a mailing list” or “building a platform.”  Building a list of people to whom you can send your marketing information is critically important. What good is an outstanding story if no one knows about it?  We all know of less than excellent stories that have been big sellers simply because of great marketing. We also all know of superb stories that never saw the light of day because of poor marketing.  Some of those stories may be our own.

Many authors struggle with the marketing aspect of writing because they view marketing as inferior to writing.  Writing is an art, they think, while marketing is business, and business is crass. This is a false paradigm, a lie that prevents us from achieving superior sales. It is also a prideful attitude. Business is just as important as art. Indeed, throughout the centuries, business revenues have supported art. Just think of the many patrons of the arts who supported great artists during the Renaissance. Even today, we find such patrons supporting both visual artists and word artists.

So the next time you engage in marketing your book, remember that marketing is an art unto itself. And he or she who does it well will reap its rewards, not only financial but professional as well.

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Copyright 2014 by Dr. MaryAnn Diorio. All Rights Reserved.