Interview With Author Miriam Hastings

As you know, I’ve started a new feature on this blog where I pick the best Indie book I read that month, share it with you and then interview the author. The best book I read in January 2018 was The Minotaur Hunt by the award-winning Miriam Hastings as highlighed in this post. Miriam kindly agreed to an interview and here it is! You can find Miriam’s bio and links at the end of this post.

Miriam Hastings.jpg

1. When did you first know you wanted to be a writer? Why do you write?

I never made a conscious decision to be a writer, I need to write and always have. I have been making up stories ever since I can remember and writing them down from the moment I learned to write.

I have always had a vivid imagination and when I was a child I spent a lot of time in fantasy worlds that I created. I think I write fiction as an adult to meet the same needs I had then. This is partly a need to escape from reality when it’s too unbearable, but also a need to address the problems life poses by approaching them from a more creative angle. Writing is a way of taking control of reality because you can shape it and reshape it through words, expressing your own experience and vision of the world and, through doing that, you can transform reality into something greater.

2. Can you tell us about The Minotaur Hunt – what inspired you to write this particular book?

I wrote The Minotaur Hunt in my late 20s (it was first published when I was 31). I suffered from an extreme anxiety disorder as an adolescent, caused by childhood trauma, and was admitted to an adult acute ward when I was 14 and kept there for three and a half months. I was admitted to hospital again when I was 23.

Later, after I was 26, while I was writing the novel, I worked with people who had been moved out of the big asylums like Bradley. First I was working in a MIND day centre and then in a group home.

I was also studying for a part-time BA degree and designing and hand painting ceramic tiles, so it was an extremely busy period in my life! I used to write for half an hour every evening – I doubt The Minotaur Hunt would have been written if I hadn’t done that! But it was as if I had no choice – I felt driven to write the novel no matter what else I was doing at the time.

Throughout my 30s and 40s, I continued working part-time in the field of mental health, both doing therapeutic work with service users and also teaching on courses for mental health professionals, e.g. training courses for psychiatric nurses, social workers, psychologists, etc.

I wrote The Minotaur Hunt because I wanted to help people understand what it feels like to suffer from mental distress and to be labelled as “mad” or “mentally ill”, and the way it renders you totally illegitimate within society, so that your feelings and experiences are dismissed and pathologised, your experience of past trauma is disbelieved, and the social and family problems causing your distress are ignored and never addressed.

I also wanted to help bring about change within the psychiatric system because I had both experienced and witnessed so much abuse.

Looking back on it, I’m amazed at my own naiveté and arrogance – that I imagined my novel could change such a vast and impervious system! Sadly, I don’t think the closing of the big Victorian asylums has changed attitudes or brought about improvements in the way service users are treated, as I once hoped.

3. What is your writing process? How does it all come together?

In the years when I was studying and teaching it was often hard to find the time to write regularly. Now I like to write for at least an hour or two every day, but I am disabled with a progressive degenerative illness and these days my major problem is living in chronic pain and suffering from stiffness and weakness in my hands and wrists which make the physical act of writing difficult. I have to rely largely on voice recognition. I have a dictaphone that I use for making notes and for capturing ideas. I can download my notes to the computer from my dictaphone, although this involves a lot of correction and editing so it isn’t always useful.

When I first begin a novel, sometimes I have to be disciplined and make myself work on it every day but once I’ve become really involved in the story and the characters, I can’t wait to start writing each morning.

When I begin a novel I rarely start at the beginning – I don’t usually know where the beginning will be! I think writing a novel is like doing a large complicated jigsaw puzzle. I know what I’m aiming for but I don’t tackle the whole picture at once, just a small area at a time, as I might concentrate on the sky when doing a jigsaw. I recognize and build up connections gradually. Once I am about halfway through, it becomes much easier – sections begin to fit together and I see the whole work taking shape. I find the important thing is to keep writing; I don’t let myself get stuck over Chapter 2 if I could easily write Chapter 6. I know Chapter 2 will become clearer later, a novel is a long piece of work, I think if you don’t keep writing, it will never come into existence at all so it’s important to be disciplined. Occasionally I know how I want to begin but often the beginning and the end don’t become clear in my mind until I’ve written the rest of the book.

This sometimes applies to short stories as well, but I tend to write short stories in a more straightforward chronological manner from beginning to end; however the first and last paragraphs are the last things I work on because it’s vitally important to get them right in a short story – even more than in a novel.

Writing a novel is very different to writing a short story and to some extent it takes different skills. When I am writing a novel I need to know as much as possible about the characters and their lives, whether I’m going to use that information in the novel or not. However, when I’m writing a short story I don’t necessarily know everything about the character or their life.

4. What is more important to you, the characters or the plot?

I think my writing is more character-driven than plot-driven. The characters, their psychological make-up, their relationships, the life experiences that have made them who they are, interest me most. The plot is vitally important, of course, but mainly in relation to the characters and the way it affects them.

6. Do you have a day job, and if so, does it help your writing in any way?

For several years, as well as running therapeutic groups, I was a part-time lecturer at Birkbeck College, University of London, teaching post-colonial and cross-cultural women’s literature, and creative writing for personal development.

I think working with people has always fed into my writing because people fascinate me. I can’t imagine how I would create my characters if I didn’t know how people think and feel, and something of the richness of their lives.

After I became too disabled to work for a college or other institutions, I began teaching from home and running writing groups; also leading guided creative writing for personal development both in groups and for individuals.

Sadly, I’m able to do very little work now – less and less each year as my health problems increase – but I still run some writing workshops at home.

7. Do you write with a theme or a message in mind, and if so, what might it be?

I have always seen writing as a political act, however, I don’t necessarily set out to express a particular message. I don’t consciously write stories to give a message so much as to express a vision. On the other hand, the outsider is a constant theme in my work, and in all my writing the main protagonist is in some way an outsider.

8. What are you working on at the moment?

I have just finished a novel, The Dowager’s Dream, set on the north coast of Scotland during the brutal clearances in the region. The story was partly inspired by the lives of my great, great-grandmothers, Margaret MacKenzie and Christine Patterson, also by an extraordinary account written in 1809 by the Minister’s daughter of Reay, describing a mermaid she saw in Sandside Bay, Caithness – but the mermaid in The Dowager’s Dream is not pretty, being a dark symbol of both sexual and cultural repression. For several years I was researching the Highland clearances and themes of dispossession and ethnic cleansing are central to the novel.

Now I have several ideas for novels which I’m working on until it becomes clear which one I want to concentrate upon! There is a thriller (my first!) set in Cornwall; a novel about a group of young people living in short-life housing; and finally, a novel about three young sisters, which is exploring the secrets and taboos that all families hide.

I’m also working on a short story about Emily Bronte which I’ve been struggling with for quite some time.

9.Can you tell us about your publishing experiences so far? 

I was very fortunate with The Minotaur Hunt because the first publisher I approached, the Harvester Press, accepted it straightaway, and then it won the Mind Book of the Year Award which helped promote it. The Harvester press were a small independent publishers who mostly published literary criticism for universities but also some literary fiction. Unfortunately, they were taken over by a big multinational corporation, Simon & Schuster, soon after The Minotaur Hunt was published who closed down Harvester’s fiction list leaving me without a publisher. It was about the time that publishing changed a lot, following the ending of the net book agreement, most independent publishing houses were gradually taken over by a few huge multinationals that were totally profit centred. Mostly because of winning the award, The Minotaur Hunt sold out in hardback, although small numbers have usually been available through eBay, but I couldn’t find any other publisher to take it on. A few years ago I decided to write a new epilogue as it was 20 years since it was first published. I was inspired by Angela Carter’s “afterword” to her early novel, Love, written years after it was published. In my Afterword I revisit all the characters to see what has happened to them in the years since the novel finished. First of all I published this revised edition of the novel on Kindle and Kobo, and then in September I published it as a paperback.

I have written five novels since The Minotaur Hunt but sadly none of them have been published. I have published several short stories and poems in anthologies and literary magazines. I had a collection of short stories, Demon Lovers, shortlisted for the Scott Award in 2010 and I’m planning to self publish that as it so difficult to get short stories published. I have already published three short stories on Kindle and Kobo, The Doll and Other Stories: Strange Tales. I think it’s really sad that so few publishers, including small independent presses, publish short stories. I love reading short stories myself and I know lots of other people do too.

10.Do you find it hard to say goodbye to your characters? If so, which character from The Minotaur Hunt would you revisit if you could?

I love all my characters, even the minor ones and the unattractive ones, and I never forget them. As I said above, I have already revisited the characters from The Minotaur Hunt in the new epilogue I’ve written.

11. Tell us what inspires your writing

Anything that stimulates my imagination! Inspiration comes from all manner of things; I am always getting ideas for short stories and novels – some of which I will discard later but many I keep and return to; sometimes after several years.

I always begin with an idea, sometimes with a story I have heard or read, often this might be taken from history or from myth or legend. I’m a highly political person (with a small p!) and I’m always gripped by stories of injustice, abuse, alienation or persecution – these are the kind of stories I always want to tell (as with the Highland Clearances).

12.What is your approach to marketing and self-promotion?

This is the part of writing that have always found most difficult. I hate it! And I am really bad at it. When I first wrote The Minotaur Hunt I went about practically apologising for having had the temerity to write a novel!

I am getting better at it, partly because I’ve realised I must, given the extreme commercialisation of the publishing world today. I do have a website and a Facebook author page.

At the moment I’m approaching literary agents with my latest novel, The Dowager’s Dream, but so far I’ve had no luck. One of them was very enthusiastic at first but decided in the end that it wasn’t for him.

If none of them are interested, I will try some small presses before publishing it independently.

Miriam’s Bio;

For several years I worked in the field of mental health in a variety of roles. I ran therapeutic workshops for survivors of childhood trauma. I taught on community links courses and ran consultancy and personal development courses for mental health service clients, and training courses and workshops for mental health professionals.

I also worked part-time for the Faculty of Continuing Education at Birkbeck College, University of London, teaching a course for women in creative writing for personal development, and also teaching modern literature, cross-cultural and postcolonial literature.

I’m disabled by a progressive degenerative disease so now I work from home as a freelance tutor in literature and creative writing. I still run therapeutic creative writing workshops and offer individual sessions in writing for personal development and self-exploration.

I have had work published, including fiction, literary reviews and mental health articles. My first novel, The Minotaur Hunt, was published by the Harvester Press and won the MIND Book of the Year Award, a revised edition is now available as a paperback and on Kindle and Kobo. In 2010, I had a collection of short stories, Demon Lovers, shortlisted for the Scott Award (Salt publishing), three of these stories are published on Kindle and Kobo as The Doll and other stories: Strange Tales.

Connect with Miriam;

Facebook

Twitter

Website

New Feature; Indie Book of The Month!

Welcome to a new monthly feature for my blog. I read A LOT, and I read a good mix of indie and traditionally published books as well as a real mix of genres. I’m always looking for ways to repay the indie community who are so supportive of me, so I thought why not post a book of the month feature?

At the end of each month, I will post a blog promoting the best indie book I read that month. I will also be contacting the author for a follow-up interview. After highlighting the book of the month, I will also link to any other indie books that caught my eye, as well as the best traditionally published book I read this month and the best new author I discovered this month. But the main feature is the indie book!

So, please allow me to introduce you to the very best indie book I read in January 2018. The Minotaur Hunt by Miriam Hastings

This fantastic book about life inside a mental institution won the MIND book of the year award and was previously published by Harvester Press. Here is the blurb;

A winner of the MIND Book of the Year Award, this is a present-day story with a legendary model. To the people of Crete, the Minotaur was a creature of darkness and horror. Locked in a labyrinth where no-one could see him, he became the scapegoat for everyone’s worst imaginable nightmares and terrors.

Chrissie and Rachel are Minotaurs. They meet in Bradley, a rambling Victorian institution for the mentally ill. As the novel unfolds and their respective stories are gradually revealed, their growing relationship becomes a rich source of shared experience and a focus for their deepening knowledge of themselves.

The Minotaur Hunt is an arresting story of modern society which draws on some of the most evocative qualities of myth-making. In its fearless exploration into some of the darkest areas of human experience, it strikingly portrays the complexities and difficulties of human communication in a powerful and moving narrative which is both disturbing and honest, captivating and profound.

This is a revised edition of the novel with a new Afterword by the author.

And here is my Amazon/Goodreads review;

I was drawn into this book from the very first page. Rachel is a 16-year-old girl who has a habit of escaping from everyday life whenever she feels like it. She simply curls up on her bed and waits for the boat to come and take her to the world she has created in her mind. It’s a beautiful world, inhabited by elegant and sexless creatures who would like her to live with them permanently. Rachel cannot do this while she is still anchored to the real world, and her desire to do so results in her parents committing her to an institution for the mentally ill. At such a young age, Rachel is terrified and confused, but she gradually discovers true friendship among the other inmates, Chrissie, Rosie, Daniel and David. Rachel and Chrissie become particularly close, eventually realising that they have experienced similar trauma. This book is set in the 1980’s, a time when the mentally ill were still treated quite badly in such places. The relationship they all had with the ward doctor made for some interesting reading. I could never quite decide if he was on their side or not, or simply manipulating them. This is a beautifully written book which gave me characters I could truly care about and I thank the author for that. I felt like they were all real and I was part of their journey for the time I was immersed in their lives. There is a tragic ending for a few of the characters and hope and recovery for some of the others. I was desperate for things to turn out well for all of them! There are some fantastic characters in this book and some really thought-provoking issues dealt with. It really made me think all the way through. I also enjoyed the mythical element to it which at times provided a slight relief from the starkness of life inside the institution. A brave and wonderful book. I would love to read more from this author.

I highly recommend this book if you are looking for something to really get involved with. Not only does this book totally pull you into these characters lives and minds, this novel really invites you to think about mental health. Not a light read and contains some upsetting scenes, but in my view, an extremely important book by a fantastic indie writer, who I really hope has more books out soon!

The Minotaur Hunt by [Hastings, Miriam]

Other Indies I Enjoyed This Month;

Ghosts of London(book 3 in Mark Gillespie’sFuture of London Series)

The Oscillator by JK Neve

Best Traditionally Published Book of the Month;

Six Stories by Matt Wesolowski

Best Author I’ve Discovered This Month;

Matt De La Pena

Author Interview; Robin Gregory

Today I am so excited to share my interview with award winning author Robin Gregory. Robin was born in Florida but grew up in California. She has worked as a journalist, a lay minister and an infant massage instructor for mothers and babies at risk. Her debut novel The Improbable Wonders Of Moojie Littleman is a beautiful and unique coming-of-age story, a mystical adventure, and quite simply one of the best books I have read in some time. Robin’s book has won the Gelett Burgess Children’s Book of the Year Award 2015, the IPPY Gold Medal – Best Cover Design – 2015, and is currently a finalist in Foreword Reviews – Indiefab Best Books of the Year and a finalist in the International Book Awards- Fiction – Young Adult 2016. Read on to find out more about Moojie Littleman and the inspiration behind it!

1-  The  Improbable  Wonders  of  Moojie  Littleman  is  a  unique  blend  of  magical   realism  and  coming  of  age.  Can  you  tell  us  how  the  book  came  about?  Where  did   the  idea  come  from?

Mostly,  my  son  inspired  the  book.  But  so  much  of  my  own  childhood  went  into  the   mix.  I  was  one  of  eight  kids  growing  up  in  a  pretty  messed  up  Catholic  family.  This   led  to  a  lot  of  heartache,  loneliness  and  feelings  of  “not  belonging.”  I  buried  most   of  those  feelings  for  a  long  time,  then  spent  twenty  years  trying  to  figure  out  why  I   was  so  unhappy.  The  healing  of  these  early  wounds  really  began  when  my   husband  and  I  adopted  a  baby  with  special  needs.  The  “not  belonging”  feelings   surfaced  when  I  witnessed  how  others  excluded  him.  His  daily  struggles  have  been   ongoing,  and  yet,  he  is  the  most  kindhearted,  courageous,  and  bright  boy  I  have   ever  known.  He  has  taught  me  to  forgive  the  past,  and  to  look  for  the  good  in   everyone  I  meet,  starting  with  those  who  exclude  him  or  look  down  at  him.

2-­How  would  you  best  describe  your  genre?  Was  there  an  intention  to  blend   genres,  or  did  the  story  just  evolve  that  way?

Oh  boy.  This  was  a  hard  one  for  me.  I  cringe  at  labels—any  kind  of  labels.  The   human  mind  wants  to  label  everything,  doesn’t  it?  It  wants  to  name,  package,  box   and  brand.  I  have  learned  that  one  of  the  best  ways  to  find  inner  peace  and   happiness  is  to  abstain  from  doing  this.  Our  opinions  are  vastly  limiting  and   troublesome.  MOOJIE  LITTLEMAN  is  about  coming  of  age,  but  also  about  spiritual   awakening.  The  book  would  probably  fall  best  into  the  “Visionary”  category,  but   few  bookstores  have  a  shelf  for  that.  Magical  Realism  works  better  as  a  category   than  Fantasy  since  the  story  is  grounded  in  physical  reality  while  encompassing   mystical  themes.  And  Magical  Realism  gave  me  a  way  to  climb  into  Moojie’s  skin,   and  live  from  a  soulful  point  of  view,  not  just  physical.  I  wrote  the  story  for  fluent   readers  of  all  ages,  but  my  publisher,  editors  and  agent  convinced  me  to  market  it   as  Young  Adult.  They  were  looking  at  Moojie’s  age,  the  PG  rating,  and  the  allusions   to  The  Odyssey,  which  students  in  the  US  study  from  age  12  to  18.  It  pleases  me  to   no  end  that  the  book  has  won  awards  in  Young  Adult  and  Adult  categories.

3-­ Do  you  have  any  personal  beliefs  or  passions  that  influenced  the  book?

To  expand  a  little  on  the  first  question,  my  spiritual  practice  has  been  key  to   shaping  the  story.  I  believe  we  are  all  coming  of  age  spiritually;  that  is  why  we  are   attending  what  a  friend  of  mind  calls  “Earth  School.”  In  the  past  twenty-­one  years,   I  have  seen  all  kinds  of  healing,  and  have  come  to  the  realization  that  nothing  is   incurable.  Several  of  the  so-­called  miracles  in  the  story  actually  did  occur  in  my   life.  A  part  of  me  has  been  wanting  to  teach  others  that  what  they  consider  to  be   miracles  are  perfectly  natural  events.  The  key  to  accessing  miracles  lies  in  our   ability  to  give  up  limiting  beliefs,  judgments  and  labels—to  stop  naming  things,   conditions  and  people  as  “good  or  bad.”  Even  Shakespeare  knew  way  back  that  we   evaluate  others  according  to  our  own  self-­image.  It  is  important  to  remember  that   messed  up  folks  are  doing  the  best  they  can.  Those  who  have  been  mistreated,   mistreat  others.  We  begin  to  stop  the  crazy  cycle  of  fear  and  hatred  by  knowing   and  living  this.  I  am  not  suggesting  that  people  should  not  be  imprisoned  for  their   crimes.  I  am  saying  that  if  we  fear  and  hate  them,  we  are  part  of  the  ongoing   problem.  People  who  fail  to  love  do  so  because  they  do  not  know  how  to  love.   MOOJIE’s  story  is  a  parable  to  help  others  examine  their  actions  and  beliefs.  To   help  stop  the  cycle  of  hatred  toward  oneself  and  others.  Compassion  is  a  mighty   healing  balm.

4-­ Tell  us  about  your  writing  process.  Are  you  a  plotter  or  someone  who  starts   writing,  and  waits  to  see  where  it  will  go?

It  may  have  been  a  great  disadvantage  to  write  MOOJIE  by  the  seat  of  my  pants.  I   had  about  500  pages  before  I  took  a  serious  look  at  story  structure.  Blake  Snyder’s   SAVE  THE  CAT,  a  book  on  scriptwriting,  and  John  Truby’s  THE  ANATOMY  OF  A   STORY,  helped  me  revise  pacing,  action  and  character  arcs.  Would  I  have  saved   myself  years  of  rewriting  had  I  had  a  clearer  vision  of  plotting  in  the  beginning?  Oh   yeah.    But,  what  can  you  do?  Sometimes  you  sit  down  to  write  and  the  bloody     characters  just  take  over.  They  just  do  not  behave  at  all.  Not  very  decent  of  them,   is  it?

5-­ All  the  characters  in  Moojie  Littleman  were  memorable  and  well  drawn  -­  tell  us   how  you  managed  to  create  such  realistic  and  believable  characters?  Are  any   based  on  people  in  real  life?

Thank  you  so  much.  You  know,  from  the  time  I  started  imagining  the  story,  I  was   taking  mental  notes  on  people.  What  was  it  that  made  them  interesting?  What   are  they  pretending  not  to  know?  How  do  language  and  appearance  reveal  their   deeper  beliefs?  And  mostly,  how  are  they  shaping  their  world  through  choices?   Almost  every  character  in  the  book  is  a  composite  of  those  observations,  warts   and  all.  Life  is  not  easy  for  anyone.  I  did  not  want  to  present  characters  as  good  or   bad  as  much  as  being  in  differing  stages  of  awakening.  Each  has  their  own  inner-­ outer  struggle;  each  has  their  limitations  to  overcome.  Like  many  of  us,  they  fail  to   live  up  to  their  own  expectations.  I  ended  up  loving  them  all  for  who  they  are,  and   who  they  are  not.

6-­ Moojie  himself  was  incredibly  endearing.  Is  his  story  over?  Or  will  there  be  any   further  stories?  

I  am  so  glad  you  feel  that  way  about  Moojie!  When  I  set  out  to  write  the  story,  I   knew  that  fictional  characters  with  physical  or  mental  challenges  are  rarely  given   front  and  center  stage.  They  are  usually  confined  to  secondary  roles.  I  felt  it  was   absolutely  imperative  that  Moojie  steal  the  readers’  hearts.  My  son,  who  has  been   blessed  with  amazing  charisma,  helped  a  lot  with  this.  I  would  love  for  Moojie’s   story  to  continue.  Now  that  I  am  acquainted  with  the  characters,  I  know  how  to   take  better  charge  of  them.  I  will  insist  that  they  go  play  elsewhere  while  I  rough­out  the  plot.  Ha!

7-­When  did  you  first  know  you  wanted  to  be  a  writer?

This  question  always  makes  me  smile.  I  often  hear  about  writers  who  knew  of   their  calling  before  they  cut  their  first  teeth.  Not  in  my  case.  I  had  a  tough  time   learning  to  read,  and  a  mother  of  eight  children  has  no  time  to  read  to  her  litter.   My  father  was  a  pilot  in  the  Korean  and  Vietnam  Wars,  and  mostly  gone.  I  didn’t   start  reading  fluently  till  high  school.  My  life  changed  when  I  discovered  Kana  and   Hemingway.  As  a  teenager  living  in  a  perpetual  state  of  underwater,  I  turned  to   journaling  to  save  me  from  the  emotional  tsunamis.  That  led  to  short  stories,   poetry,  and  eventually  longer  fiction.  I  never  thought  of  myself  as  a  writer.  Writing   was  just  something  I  did.

I  love  what  Robertson  Davies,  the  Canadian  novelist,  once  said:  “There  is   absolutely  no  point  in  sitting  down  to  write  a  book  unless  you  feel  that  you  must   write  that  book,  or  else  go  mad,  or  die.”

8-­ Tell  us  about  your  writing  and  publishing  journey  so  far  -­  which  paths  you  have   followed  and  why?

When  I  graduated  from  college,  I  took  an  internship  at  a  local  newspaper.  It  was   fantastic!  I  learned  to  get  that  first  draft  down—and  fast.  That  led  to  writing   freelance  articles,  and  book  and  movie  reviews.  Then  I  wrote  my  first  screenplay   and  novel.  They  were  pretty  awful.  But  they  taught  me  a  lot-­mostly  humility.   Writng  is  like  being  in  the  circus.  You  have  to  jump  though  hurdles  the  same  way   acrobats  jump  through  burning  hoops  in  order  to  learn  how  not  to  make  mistakes   that  get  you  burned.
It  took  thirteen  years  to  write  MOOJIE.  Thirteen  years  because  I  had  to  evolve  in   order  to  deliver  the  story  in  the  manner  it  deserved.  During  that  time,  the  book   has  been  workshopped,  shared  with  a  number  of  alpha  and  beta  readers,  put   through  2  manuscript  consultations  and  edited  by  five  pros.  After  submitting  to   agents  and  getting  nowhere,  I  contacted  publishers  directly.  Three  publishers   offered  me  sub-­standard  contracts,  which  I  turned  down.  (Thank  heavens  SCBWI,   a  writer’s  org  that  I  belong  to,  provided  a  manual  with  standard  publishing   contracts.  Holy  moly!  Publishers  will    take  your  skivvies  if  you  let  them!)  I  wanted   to  keep  my  rights,  to  choose  my  cover,  and  be  the  one  to  decide  when  the  book   was  ready  to  print,  among  other  things.  While  researching  my  options,  I   discovered  Wyatt MacKenzie  Publishing,  Inc.  (h=p:// http://www.wymacpublishing.com/),  a  traditional  publishing  house  that,  for  20  years  has   offered  consultation  and  assistance  to  indie  authors.  I  contacted  some  of  their   authors,  and  they  gave  stellar  reviews.  After  an  hour  consultation  with  Nancy   Cleary,  the  publisher,  I  knew  the  indie  consulting  program  was  right  for  me.  And  it   has  been  fantastic!  I  can’t  say  enough  about  Nancy’s  guidance,  respect,  support,   and  expertise.

9-­ What  advice  would  you  give  to  a  new  author  who  is  about  to  launch  their  new   book?

I  am  assuming  that  the  author  wants  to  be  a  pro.  In  this,  she  has  already  had  her   book  read/reviewed  by  at  least  10  people—beyond  buddies  or  family  members,   who  will  love  every  word  you  write  no  ma=er  what.  I  am  assuming  she  values   brutally  honest  feedback  because  that  is  the  way  the  public  is.  I  am  assuming  that   she  has  listened  to  the  feedback,  and  revised  for  clarity  and  tightness.  I  am   assuming  that  she  has  given  the  book  plenty  of  time  to  ripen.  Right  down  to  the   last  day  before  I  sent  my  book  to  the  presses,  I  was  deleting  or  rewriting  passages   if  they  didn’t  sparkle.  The  editor  had  to  practically  tie  me  down  to  get  me  to  let  go   of  the  manuscript.
That  said:
—  If  you  want  your  book  to  make  a  dent  in  sales,  your  manuscript  must  be   professionally  edited  and  proofed.  The  cover  (front  and  back)  needs  to  be  equally   polished  and  interesting.  Yes,  this  costs  money.  But  if  you  do  not  include  this  in   your  budget,  you  might  as  well  not  spend  the  money  to  publish  (unless  you  are   merely  doing  it  for  family  &  friends).  As  most  of  us  know  by  now,  the  key  to   marketing  rests  upon  getting  reviews.  If  your  cover  isn’t  delicious,  and  your  editing   is  sloppy,  people  won’t  even  sign  up  for  free  copies.  There  are  simply  too  many   other  professional  books  to  choose  from.  A  cover  created  by  your  amazingly   talented  brother  who  won  a  ribbon  in  the  high  school  art  fair,  might  be  beautiful,   but  can  it  stand  up  to  the  covers  on  booksellers’  shelves?  If  not,  your  book  will   probably  disappear  into  cyber  space  with  millions  of  others  whose  authors  were  a   little  too  anxious  to  go  to  press.
—  Start  marketing  your  book  four  months  before  the  release  date.  Yep.  Four   months!  Send  it  to  pro  reviewers  (Kirkus,  Foreword,  Publisher’s  Weekly).  Enter  it   in  contests.  Do  a  few  giveaways.  Create  an  audience  on  social  networks  by  posting   samples,  sharing  news  and  reviewing  similar  books.  This  will  give  you  a  chance  to   build  up  a  pre-­order  list  on  Amazon.  It  is  only  the  beginning.  And  it  is  crucial.

10-­Tell  us  a  bit  about  your  next  release. What are you working on right now?

While  playing  with  a  MOOJIE  sequel,  I  am  also  writing  a  collection  of  inspirational   prayer-­poems  and  a  guide  to  spiritual  healing.  There’s  also  the  audio  book  project   of  MOOJIE,  through  ACX.com.  It’s  an  amazing  process.  I  have  to  give  Amazon   kudos  for  providing  such  a  user-­friendly  service.  However,  my  reader  has  stepped   away  from  the  project  to  sort  out  personal  problems,  so  the  release  is  delayed.

11-­ What  would  you  like  readers  to  take  away  from  The  Improbable  Wonders  of   Moojie  Littleman?

I  would  love  for  my  dear  readers  to  realize  that  freedom  is  a  choice.  No  ma=er   what  difficulties  we  face,  be  it  loneliness,  physical  or  mental  problems,  lack  of   opportunity,  not  enough  money,  lousy  parents,  even  homelessness,  there  is  a   Source  of  unconditional  love  available  to  each  of  us.  We  can  grow  through  joy   rather  than  pain  and  suffering.    It  takes  effort  and  trust  to  rewire  our  thinking,  but   we  can  open  ourselves  to  receive  miracles  that  freely  and  gladly  offered.  When   this  Immaculate  Heart  is  felt  in  the  still,  deep  pool  of  our  being,  we  can  begin  to   experience  joy  and  freedom  beyond  your  wildest  dreams.  I  know  this  is  true.  I   have  lived  it.

Robin, thank you so much for agreeing to do this interview!

You can find out more about Robin by following her on social media;

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