Author Feature

Why You Write – with Monya Williams

The following are the words of Monya Williams, Archway Publishing author of “I CAN-CER VIVE” Learn more about Monya on her author website and blog. Download the Archway Publishing free publishing guide for more information on our supported self-publishing services.

Blog to Book

I have written in personal journals since I was eight years old.  I carry a pen and pad with me at all times in case I see something interesting. In 2009 I decided to put my thoughts and feelings in a blog platform.  Two months later, I was diagnosed with Stage 3C breast cancer. My silly blog soon had millions of followers, many asking me to write a book. My answer to this question was always, “I’m not a writer.” Now here I am, eight years later, an author.

The Deciding Factor

I Can-Cer ViveWhen a person decides to write a book, it’s a huge undertaking: 80% of people who start writing a book never finish it.  Now I understand, many do not have a big enough “why.”

I believe the reason for writing a book is what propels writers across the finish line.

The desire to finish your book has to be larger than anything else you have going on in your life. I had to write my “WHY” down and see it everyday to remind me.  On days when I didn’t think I could write anymore I looked at the picture of my family and told myself, “this is not about me.” I wanted my family to look at my life and be proud of how I handled adversity.

Choosing a Publisher

For many authors, choosing a publisher is easy. My circumstances were a bit different, I wasn’t sure I could finish this book before my life ended. I was fighting against time and needed to connect with a publishing company that would understand my situation: because of my ongoing battle with cancer, this book was not going to happen over night.  With this in mind, Archway Publishing – a Division of Simon & Schuster – piqued my interest. I had interviewed with several other publishing companies and never felt a connection like I did with Archway. I was blessed with a wonderful team of compassionate supporters. Choosing Archway was one of the best decisions I made in this publishing adventure.

The Pitch

You’ve conquered. The completion of a book is an enormous accomplishment. You’re smiling from ear to ear, and for good reason: you are among only 20% who finish a book they’ve started. When I finished writing my book, I was asked to pitch my story in two minutes or less.  It took four years to write a four hundred page book and now I was supposed to reduce it down to two minutes. Are you kidding me? Well, I’m happy to tell you it doesn’t matter how big or small your book is, you can pique the interest of anyone with only a few sentences.

This Is My Why

  • Decide why your book is different than another bookwhat makes it stand out? When I attended the LA Book Expo, I was stunned by the amount of books written about “curing” cancer. My story tells the true story of what it’s like to survive cancer: from surgeries, procedures, side effects, despair, determination, loss of hearing, a bi-lateral mastectomy, and permanent facial paralysis to finding faith and hope for my future. I didn’t romanticize my breast reconstruction or gloss over my abuse. My story tells the true, raw emotions of what women are going through. I write about some things that are never talked about openly. My story will make you cry, it will make you laugh, and if you’ve ever known someone affected by cancer or abuse, it will touch your heart and soul. Take the three or four most compelling parts of your story, and write them down.
  • Memorization: the importance is not to script your voice or take the emotion out of it. A book pitch is more about practicing so as to keep your voice and story succinct. I wanted the listener to connect with me and my journey, but leave them wanting to know more.

Final ThoughtsMonya Williams

I will most likely not have the chance to write another book, but I have no regrets. What I wrote is authentic, raw, and real. I transferred my thoughts to paper and I continue to blog today, embracing a combination of hard work and magical thinking.

When I received the first copy of my book, I stood in amazement with tears and said “Yes, the hard work matters, but I will always leave room for experiences to come along that are even better than I could have ever imagined.”

 

Archway Publishing is always looking for content for its blog. If you’re an Archway Publishing author and would like to share an idea for a guest blog post, please tweet the Archway Publishing Twitter account @ArchwayPub or send us a message at the Archway Publishing Facebook page.

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Author Feature, Writing

Characters and Setting with Author Linda Maria Frank

The following are the words of Linda Maria Frank, Archway Publishing author of “Secrets in the Fairy Chimneys” Learn more about Linda on her author website, YouTube, or Facebook page. Download the Archway Publishing free publishing guide for more information on our supported self-publishing services.

Where to Begin?

One of the most common questions when writing fiction is the question of creating characters.

My choice in writing was to create a mystery series for kids. My background teaching forensic science provided a whole world of possibilities for plots. I thought of just the thing to grab my young readers’ attention: the main character of my series, Annie Tillery.

Many of my readers ask if Annie is me. My answer is that Annie is the teen I would have loved to have been. I enjoyed creating a fantasy world and putting Annie into it to see what she would do. You know, sometimes the characters make the decisions. That being said, I manufactured my girl sleuth protagonist.

Building Your Character

The process of creating Annie was like dressing a paper doll. Let’s see what the basic body type is. This is important! Your readers want to visualize what she looks like. I decided to address this issue by adding a description somewhere early in each book. Next, I tried on – not different clothing – but different characteristics. Some of the choices for a junior sleuth were: brave vs. reckless, smart vs. nerdy, enthusiastic vs. low key, sneaky vs. inventive, and feisty vs. passive aggressive.

It’s also important to give the protagonist a personal life, family, relationships and such; not a perfect family, but one that presents them with challenges and brings out characteristics that will endear them to a reader.  Or, make them angry at her.

The books you’ve read that feature characters you’ve fallen in love with let you into that character’s head. Even better is if the author lets you into a character’s heart. That is what I have attempted in my teen mystery books.

Whatever the genre or plot, the reader wants to know what the main characters think and feel. What’s the best way to do that? THIS WAS THE GREATEST CHALLENGE TO ME WHEN I FIRST STARTED TO WRITE.

Placing the Character

The final element of a book is setting. The first two books of my series take place in settings I knew and loved. Because of this, the story could sometimes just flow on the back of descriptive passages and historical accounts. The development of characters became easier, because the setting helped me to capitalize on specific personality traits that were evoked by the surroundings.

Setting the third book of my series, Secrets in the Fairy Chimneys, in Turkey was not easy. Although I visited Turkey to research the book, the fabulous settings I found there were not a part of my soul. I had to really work hard to achieve a credible air of intimacy with the settings of Turkey.

In an archaeological journal I came upon a description of a dig in a real place: Catalhoyuk, in what is modern day Turkey. I was fascinated by the fact that Catalhoyuk was the oldest known town ever found (9,000 years old). The area where it exists is Cappadocia, rich with ancient history from the Hittites to the “cave people”of the present. “Fairy chimneys” is the name given to striking and weird geological formations that exist there.

My Inspiration

My tour of Turkey included much time in Cappadocia, allowing me to take many pictures and absorb the atmosphere of the place. I took notes and wrote passages of the book, adjusting the chapter outline to make it fit what I saw. My photos were invaluable. I had a super guide book that helped me with words and phrases. I took note of peoples’ names so that I could use authentic Turkish names in the book. Cappadocia almost became one of the characters in the book with its dry vegetation, dust, and of course, fairy chimneys.

Istanbul, once Constantinople, was captivating. The city setting can still be conjured up just by closing my eyes. The bazaar exceeded my expectations. It was a total assault on the senses

As a writer, the lesson I took from Turkey is to really research your setting. If you can’t go there, study maps, view travelogues, and learn the history of the place. Google maps and images are a great help too.

There needs to be a balance between setting, character, and plot. Setting for me can be one of your characters; one that provides your main characters with endless possibilities.

 

Archway Publishing is always looking for content for its blog. If you’re an Archway Publishing author and would like to share an idea for a guest blog post, please tweet the Archway Publishing Twitter account @ArchwayPub or send us a message at the Archway Publishing Facebook page.

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Author Feature

Concierge Service Explained with Author Yashalina Blair

The following are the words of Yashalina Blair, Archway Publishing author of “Dr. Romy’s Dance.” Learn more about Yashalina by visiting her author website, twitter, or Facebook page. Download the Archway Publishing free publishing guide for more information on our supported self-publishing services

Publishing Dr. Romy

My name is Yashalina Blair. I have recently published my first book with Archway titled, Dr. Romy’s Dance. The novel is a romance about Jerome, a young man attending school for medicine. When Jerome’s father suddenly dies leaving the family in financial hardship his mother makes a life altering request: quit school, come home, and take a job with the degree he has. Determined to become a doctor, Jerome decides to stay in school and moonlight as a male exotic dancer.

Working with Archway has been a great pleasure. I chose to work with Archway because I loved the feeling of closeness I got when speaking with the crew. They made me feel as though I was a priority through the entire process and that was priceless. I secondarily chose Archway due to their variety of publishing packages. There were many packages to choose from, depending on your need and budget. I chose a package in the middle but in retrospect, I should have chosen one with marketing included. Marketing is part of two premium packages, which is much needed for a new author unknown to the world.

Concierge Services

The best part of my Archway experience was having a personal concierge. She was definitely worth her weight in gold! Her focus was on submitting forms and paperwork – being a liaison. Her role is far more concentrated, but this is my best summary. An Archway concierge sets up ISBN’s, submits forms, and deals with copyrighting. This allows authors to focus on their manuscripts and forgo the politics. My concierge always knew exactly what needed to be done next, and usually gave me a time frame to expect its completion. As a sidebar, I’d like to note, it was usually completed sooner than estimated.

I believe I will publish with Archway once again, and definitely with the wonderful assistance of a concierge!

 

Archway Publishing is always looking for content for its blog. If you’re an Archway Publishing author and would like to share an idea for a guest blog post, please tweet the Archway Publishing Twitter account @ArchwayPub or send us a message at the Archway Publishing Facebook page.

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Author Feature

My Archway Experience – with Angela Adley

The following are the words of Angela Adley, Archway Publishing author of “Growing Up without My Daddy” Learn more about Angela on her author website or Facebook page. Download the Archway Publishing free publishing guide for more information on our supported self-publishing services.

Why I Write

In 2014, I set out to publish Growing Up without My Daddy. I wrote this book to share insights from own childhood experience in the hopes of helping those who are going through what I did. With my book, I wanted to teach young girls how to move beyond their hurt through trusting in God’s gift of love. Ultimately, Growing Up without My Daddy is a book which seeks to help parents begin a conversation with their children. My book is a reminder to fatherless girls that they are loved and lovable by their mere existence.

Selecting a Publisher

Upon beginning my self-publishing journey I had no previous experience in the field. However, I knew there were many publishing options. Personally, I wanted to select a self-publisher that was partnered with a traditional publishing company. I spent many weeks researching various self-publishing companies, reading tons of articles and even books to gain insight on how to select the perfect publisher for my book.

Choosing Archway

When researching Archway Publishing I noticed their affiliation with Simon & Schuster, which was impressive.  Reviewing Archway’s publishing packages was exciting because I realized they accommodated a variety of publishing needs from standard to elite services. I loved that Archway provided professional illustrators for authors requiring illustrations for their books. Finally, I looked at Archway’s pricing. Let’s be honest, there’s a financial cost to creating almost anything – this is even more so when creating a product with the help of experts, professionals, and leaders in an industry. So yes, self-publishing is pricey, but it’s affordable with a bit of financial planning. Honestly, I don’t regret any of the money I spent publishing Growing Up without My Daddy. The product Archway delivered was beyond my imagination!

VIP Experience

I really enjoyed the publishing package I selected through Archway because it provided me with access to premium concierge services. The entire system for creating my book was fairly straightforward. Archway guided me through the process and provided detailed information during each step. They estimated a time frame for every stage, which helped me stay updated. Throughout publishing, I corresponded with Archway by email. I loved that Archway used email because it made communication easy and efficient. My own personal representative assisted me through the entire publishing journey from start to finish.

Working Together

Another detail I would like to note is that Archway is not a company who charges surprise fees. Working with Archway, I was notified of any fees not included in the initial packaging. Additional fees would be charged specifically for revisions outside of the allotted number, or changes once I passed a particular phase in the publishing process. I felt like Archway was very transparent in additional fees and there were never any surprises.

The most challenging part of my experience would have to be the illustration phase/s. Archway matches you with an illustrator, and you only correspond with them through writing. Despite my worry, this step of the production ended up going very smoothly! My book is truly a masterpiece, and I am so glad that I chose Archway to help create and publish it. In fact, I get many compliments on my book; buyers especially love the illustrations.

 

Archway Publishing is always looking for content for its blog. If you’re an Archway Publishing author and would like to share an idea for a guest blog post, please tweet the Archway Publishing Twitter account @ArchwayPub or send us a message at the Archway Publishing Facebook page.

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Author Feature

Translating Complex Science for a General Audience

The following are the words of Neeti Sinha, Archway Publishing author of “Physical Laws of the Mathematical Universe: Who Are We?”  Learn more about about Neeti on her blog The Magnified Universe. To keep up with Neeti’s latest work, like and follow her on Twitter or Facebook. Download the Archway Publishing free publishing guide for more information on our supported self-publishing services. 

Discovering a Passion

Neeti2I have always found science fascinating. My passion for the pursuit of knowledge started very early in life. During elementary school I began considering the complexities of our existence. I would wonder how we remained tethered to the earth while it zipped constantly in the sky. An insistence on communicating advancements to all audiences is a new aspect of scientific research and development that wasn’t part of the curriculum when I was in graduate school. Society is far more scientifically aware and curious than it was only a few decades ago. Thus, researchers can no longer huddle up in cozy alcoves sequestered from rest of the world. Rather, we scientists have a duty to spread our findings to the public in meaningful ways.

Writing for the General Audience

A scientist can unknowingly carry the same potential as a journalist. This was a revelation which dawned on me as I contemplated writing a book focusing on the intricacies of physics and mathematics. A couple years later, I had in my hands an initial manuscript of my book. Eagerly, I sent out copies for review. Given its general scientific content, I was curious about what readers from non-science backgrounds would feel.

This is where I found myself confounded. The theories and concepts I find utterly beautiful didn’t seem to strike a chord with general readers. This is in no way their own shortcoming. Though from different backgrounds, many readers are eager to understand the ways of the universe and find joy in doing so. I imagine this is somewhat the same as how I relish the fineness of music, yet know nothing of how it is constructed. Non-industry readers weren’t able to fully enjoy the message of my book because the science didn’t translate.

Translating Complex Science

To explain what I mean by “the science didn’t translate”, see the following statement:

All non-trivial zeros of the zeta function have real part one-half.

Researchers and educators within the field find this mathematical phrase alluring. Known as the Riemann hypothesis, the expression itself has become a cliché. As trendy as it is, the hypothesis is quite complex in how it arrives and what it implies. For a reader from a different field, the statement is nothing but jargon. Not only is the hypothesis confusing for a general reader, but it’s quite far from aesthetically pleasing.

The explanation of this hypothesis requires dissection and sub-dissection of all the elements, followed by a sewing of multiple ideas into one smooth story line. Only after careful treatment can any beauty emerge from the Riemann hypothesis in the general reader’s view, an entire book could easily be dedicated to the process.

Learning on the Go

Neeti3After receiving the first round of feedback, I became dedicated to reconstructing my book with a more understandable tone. Following the most helpful suggestions: I cut large sentences into smaller ones and trimmed down on ultra-technical wording. I scaled down the scientific concepts I was hurling, even though it was difficult. The book got better, but it still wan’t “there” yet.

Based on reader’s comments, the key struggle my book seems to face is intelligibility of the writing. The concepts read confusingly because they are complex and abstract, but I love it that way. Therefore, simplifying the content is easier said than done. Watering the science down beyond a point seems like dampening the beauty of it all. This is why I’m still working out exactly how I intend to depict more clearly the reflections of our universe.

It is a struggle, but I am trying.

 

Archway Publishing is always looking for content for its blog. If you’re an Archway Publishing author and would like to share an idea for a guest blog post, please tweet the Archway Publishing Twitter account @ArchwayPub or send us a message at the Archway Publishing Facebook page.

 

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Author Feature

Words with a Young Writer

The following are the words of Karina Williams, author of “Live, Laugh, Love Like a Teenager.” Learn more about Karina on her author website kwilliamsbooks. Download the Archway Publishing free publishing guide for more information on our supported self-publishing services. 

It Began with a Poem

In my freshman year of high school, I won an Karina WilliamsHonorable Mention in a poetry contest for my school’s literary magazine. Back then, it was terrifying to meet the fiercely intelligent AP Literature teacher assigned to help me edit my first poem to be published. I was only fourteen. Three years later, I found myself sitting in her class getting ready to graduate from high school. That day she asked us all to reflect on one thing: What do you want? I answered her with the first and only thing I could think of…“I want to be a writer.”

Months before publishing my poetry anthology and taking what I believed was the first step to everything I was reaching for, she replied with the one answer I needed to hear. “You already are.”

What “Writer” Means to Me

Being a writer is like being on a journey that never ends. Once a chapter is finished, the next one begins. We live our lives through the worlds we create on paper, all the while hoping that someone else finds as much life in them as we do. Creativity is beautiful thing; I believe it’s a way to create something so honest that you write the words someone else needs to read in that particular moment. That is what writing is about.

Dreams New and Old

Now I’m a freshman in collegeLive, Laugh, Love Like a Teenager pursuing my science degree. Things have have certainly changed a lot since high school graduation. Yet, if someone asked me today what I wanted to be my answer remains the same- I want to be a writer. As demanding as the study schedule is here at Cal Poly, I am still finding ways to chase my dreams. Soon enough, I will be adding an English minor to my degree plans while keeping up with a blog I started as an effort to publicize my book.

Over the publishing process for my book, a friend asked me how I could put so much time and effort into something that might not work out in the end. But I don’t write for things to “work out in the end” … I write because it is everything I am. From the months it took to compile my manuscript, to the day I held the first printed copy in my hands, it was all worth it. It is indescribable to hold a book with my name on the cover in my hands.

What Comes Next

I became a published author as a freshly graduated high school student, and Live, Laugh, Love Like a Teenager is just the beginning. From the hardship of friendship to the adversity of growing up, each poem in the compilation has been inspired by experiences that make me who I am. My book tells the story of youth, vibrancy, and life. I hope to continue telling the story within my next book focusing on the experience of being a young-adult.

In the end, it is all about the story— either telling the truth or the sweetest kind of fiction— and this is everything my heart reaches for in the future. No matter where I end up in the next ten years, if you ask me who I am, I will only have one answer; for it will never change. I am a writer.

 

Archway Publishing is always looking for content for its blog. If you’re an Archway Publishing author and would like to share an idea for a guest blog post, please tweet the Archway Publishing Twitter account @ArchwayPub or send us a message at the Archway Publishing Facebook page.

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Author Feature

Tammy Brown on her Children’s Book and Self-Marketing

The following are the words of Tammy (Seebecker) Brown, Archway Publishing author. Tammy’s book Herman the Mouse is dedicated to her first grandchild, Charlie. She is expecting a second grandson in March and a sequel is already in the works; “I’m Glad It’s Just Me!” – “Herman Gets a Baby Brother.” Download the Archway Publishing free publishing guide for more information on our supported self-publishing services. 

Deciding to Write a Children’s Book

IMG_7013I have always loved the “magic” of books. The stories that create whole new worlds, stories so descriptive whole scenes unfold before your eyes, if only in my mind. My love for children’s books never left me. My favorite books are the ones with plenty of detail in the pictures. I fell in love with the thought of writing and illustrating my own book someday from a very young age. My dream was to see a book in the library, in the children’s section of course, with my name on the side and a card in the back to check it out. I was probably one of the only kids who played “library” when I was a little girl instead of “house!”

Self -Marketing

Recently I have been traveling to schools and libraries to promote my book. Once, I read it eighteen times in three days! I hand out bookmarks and have drawings for free books and e-books. One of my favorite things to observe at readings are the children’s faces. Some of the younger ones start out restless but then grow quiet as church mice (pun intended); by page two or three they start to watch intently, pointing out the hidden spider on each page. When I reach the climax of the story, when Herman hears a loud “SNAP,” I see their mouths drop open wide. Their faces worried, they wait anxiously for the page to turn so they can see what Herman will do.

The end of the book is always met with cheers, a round of applause, and “will there be another story about Herman?” “Will you come read that one to us too?” If only I could get all the ideas and images down on paper as fast as they are swirling around in my head! Once, there was even a young preteen boy at a reading. He obviously would rather have been anywhere else but at the library with his little brother. Yet after I was finished, he responded with surprise; “That was actually pretty good. You’re a really good artist too!”

A Book that TeachesTammy Brown

My book is one that can be read at home or in an academic setting. Teachers may develop lesson plans from my story that apply to multiple disciplines. As an art lesson they could draw a detailed picture of what they think a mouse house would look like. In English they could write their own story to speculate why Lloyd has only one ear. For science they could draw up their own plans for getting the cheese out of the giant mousetrap; several of Herman’s ideas look like Roux Goldberg machines. The story teaches not to judge by appearances, and suggests that help can come from some of the most unlikely places. Most importantly, it reveals that anyone can be a friend.

After reading to an Elementary school, the principal told me the next day a student brought in a book she made out of construction paper, stapled together. It was a story she wrote and illustrated. The girl said she wanted to be an Author/Illustrator just like me when she grew up. Her whole class gave her undivided attention while she sat in front of them and shared her story. I can’t think of a better compliment than that.

 

Archway Publishing is always looking for content for its blog. If you’re an Archway Publishing author and would like to share an idea for a guest blog post, please tweet the Archway Publishing Twitter account @ArchwayPub or send us a message at the Archway Publishing Facebook page.

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Author Feature

Illustration Transformation; from Original to Digital

The following are the words of Tammy (Seebecker) Brown, Archway Publishing author. Tammy’s book Herman the Mouse is dedicated to her first grandchild, Charlie. She is expecting a second grandson in March and a sequel is already in the works; “I’m Glad It’s Just Me!” – “Herman Gets a Baby Brother.” For more about Tammy and her book check out her website and her Facebook page. Download the Archway Publishing free publishing guide for more information on our supported self-publishing services. 

Illustration with Archway

My first piece of advice to someone looking into self-publish is to research! Google, read, ask questions, and take notes. I referred to my notes throughout the search of different publishers. I didn’t choose Archway because they were the least expensive and I didn’t choose Archway because they were the most expensive. Rather, I chose Archway because they were the publisher that fit my needs. More importantly, they impressed me the most. Archway Publishing were the most accommodating with what I wanted as an artist and writer. They adjusted the Illustration Package I chose using my own drawings and accommodated accordingly since my writing had already been edited. Through my concierge, I was involved with word placement, the Art Department, cover design, and printing of my book.

cmyk-illustrationOriginal to Digital

What I loved most about creating Herman the Mouse wasn’t just writing the story, but drawing the illustrations. As an artist, I gained an entirely new perspective on what was involved using your own illustrations for a book. When an original artwork is scanned, some of the color and detail is lost. The fewer times you scan the closer to the originals the art will stay. When your original is scanned onto a computer it becomes broken up into what our eye sees as RGB or Red, Green, and Blue. The image needs to be transferred or printed onto paper with inks that are CMYK or Ceyan, Magenta, Yellow and Key Black. A publisher needs the image in CMYK to print your images. It is impossible to get a 100% color match to RGB. Set yourself up to prepare for the change and adjust as best you can.

The Process and ProductIMG_8777

After more than a year’s worth of work, it is hard to part with your original artwork. But with computers and digital scanning, I was able to keep my precious originals in my portfolio, scan them RGB or SRGB, and Archway had the capability to turn them into CMYK for me.

When I am creating my book illustrations, my favorite part is the detail on every page and the bold colors. I want the reader to look at the book two, three, maybe four times and see things they did not see the first time through. I am working on another book for Herman, but I would love to illustrate for other authors as well.

 

Archway Publishing is always looking for content for its blog. If you’re an Archway Publishing author and would like to share an idea for a guest blog post, please tweet the Archway Publishing Twitter account @ArchwayPub or send us a message at the Archway Publishing Facebook page.

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Author Feature

Who Are We Writing For? by Larissa Juliano

The following are the words of Larissa Juliano, author of Gracie Lou. Larissa is an elementary and library teacher in upstate New York. Besides teaching, her passion in life is writing books in hopes of inspiring children to use their imagination, especially through literature. She currently has two more books in production with her trusted Archway team. You can follow Larissa on Twitter @larissasjulianoDownload the Archway Publishing free publishing guide for more information on our supported self-publishing services.  Continue reading

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Author Feature

Q&A with Betsy Sleath, Author of “Pelican Island Pharmacy”

This blog is by Archway authors for fellow authors, giving them the opportunity to share stories and perspectives about their individual self-publishing journeys. The following are the words of Betsy Sleath, author of “Pelican Island Pharmacy”.  For more info, visit her blog.  Download the Archway Publishing free publishing guide for more information on our supported self-publishing services. 

What inspired you to write Pelican Island Pharmacy?

I always wanted to write a book set in a pharmacy with a soda fountain that had characters that drew you into the story.  My mom worked in an independent pharmacy with a soda fountain when I was growing up in the small New England town of Durham, Connecticut.  I have always loved the feeling of community and belonging in small town pharmacies.

I go to Carolina Beach, North Carolina to relax and write.  I regularly walk down to the docks where the fishing charters come into with the pelicans following not far behind.  One day I had the idea to create a novel inspired by the town of Carolina Beach with one small change-I added a pharmacy on the canal where the fishing boats pull in.

I decided to make this a positive yet suspenseful story of a single mom leaving a domestic violence situation who finds friendship and support in a small beach town as she rebuilds her life.  Having been a victim of domestic violence and knowing many women who also have been, I wanted to create a compelling yet fun story focusing on an issue that is often difficult to talk about publically.

What research did you do before writing Pelican Island Pharmacy?

I have experience working as a pharmacist which helped when writing the book.  Since many of the scenes in the book occur at a soda fountain, I visited pharmacies that still have soda fountains when traveling.  I also went to the North Carolina Museum of History and the Museum of East Tennessee History to do research. Both have excellent displays of old-fashioned pharmacies with soda fountains.  I spent time in the exhibits imagining Norma behind the soda fountain being sassy to her customers. Hanging out in these places helped the story and characters come alive in my head.

When it came to creating a military romance, it helped that I live in North Carolina where there are several bases and that my partner was active military when I met him.  I have interacted with many of his colleagues and friends across the world.  I have visited several military bases and have even been to two military balls.  These experiences helped me create the character of Tom and the realistic intersection of soldiers visiting North Carolina beaches.  I learned about deep sea fishing by regularly watching the fishermen on the docks and by reading all of the pamphlets they had out at the docks.  Someday I want to go deep sea fishing myself!

What do you hope readers will get from reading Pelican Island Pharmacy?

I want people to enjoy reading the book.  I strove to create a good story about resilience and hope.  I have always been told, “Write a book like the ones you like to read.” So that is what I did.  There are many men and women functioning as single parents who are attempting to rebuild their lives after difficult divorces like Jessie.  As the novel unfolds, readers watch Jessie struggle with learning to love and trust again.  I love the saying “What doesn’t break you makes you stronger.”  I tried to create characters that exhibited strength that resulted from challenging life situations.

Why did you choose to self-publish and why with Archway?

9781480821590_COVER.inddBefore I decided to self-publish, I did send out two query letters to agents.  One agent responded that Pelican Island Pharmacy was not a genre they were focusing on and the other nicely told me that the beginning of the book did not draw her in fast enough.  So I rewrote the beginning of the book to grab the reader’s attention immediately.  I have a very busy job as a professor and division chair at UNC-Chapel Hill so I decided to self-publish because I did not have a lot of time to write query letters.  When I do have free time, I like to focus it on writing.

I chose Archway because they had everything that I needed in the bookseller’s package–cover design, editing, Goodreads giveaways, and worldwide distribution through IndieBound, Barnes and Noble, and all the major book retailers.

What has been the most satisfying thing about publishing Pelican Island Pharmacy?

To be honest, I published under the pen name Betsy Hess Sleath because I thought I better separate my life as a professor from my life as a fiction writer. I was not sure how my university colleagues would react. However, I am amazed at how much those in my university life have enjoyed the book and have encouraged me to write more.  They can’t wait for the sequel. That has been the most satisfying part of writing and publishing Pelican Island Pharmacy. The UNC-Chapel Hill student newspaper, The Daily Tar Heel, even featured an article about the book.

What tips would you give to aspiring writers?

First, I would join your state or local writing organization.  The North Carolina Writer’s Network has been a huge support in my writing experience.  Second, take as many writing classes as you can.  I took fiction writing classes at UNC-Chapel Hill and learned tons.  In the advanced fiction writing class with Rich Krawiec, I wrote the first eighty pages of Pelican Island Pharmacy.  Rich is an amazing teacher and his encouragement kept me going even after the class was over.  Finally, figure out your writing pace. I strove to write five pages a week because that is all I had time to do each week.  The strategy worked because I finished the book in a year!

Betsy Hess Sleath (Betsy Sleath, Ph.D.) is a distinguished professor and chair of the division of pharmaceutical outcomes and policy at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.  She lives in Chapel Hill and spends as much time as she can on Carolina Beach, North Carolina.  She has published over 127 scientific articles and this is her first work of fiction.  Her second book, Love at the Soda Fountain, which is set in Connecticut in the 1960s, will be completed by December 2016.

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