1.What got you into writing / what made you sit down and actually start something? I have always enjoyed writing, especially in school. Over the years I tinkered with a story here, an idea there. But this year, after the start of 2015, I finally decided it was time to realize my dream, to become a writer. Our family had been through some difficult challenges, realizing how quickly life passes us by, I decided it was time to make this dream a reality. So I sat down in late Jan. and started to type. Before I knew it, I had a manuscript of over 85,000 words. I had done it.
2.What is a usual writing day like for you, how is it structured? First and foremost…coffee! Then I venture into my office, fire up the laptop, and attempt to be productive. Darn, Facebook!
3.Do you get writers block? If so, how do you overcome it? Ah, the dreaded block, I luckily don’t catch it too often. I’m more prone to having way too many ideas and not enough time to write them all. But when I have been less than inspired to write, I find taking a step back, getting some actual fresh air helps, or you can try beating your head repeatedly against your desk, though trust me, that doesn’t usually work! Reading or watching movies can also help me. Seeing a story as a viewer can really get the writer in me going.
4.Are you a plotter or panster when it comes to writing a story? Plotter, I love the whole problem solving aspect of starting a story, or in my case series. I enjoy sitting down and discussing what I have in mind with a family member, friend, or anyone who is willing to listen to me ramble. Just when I think I have it all figured out, beginning, middle, and end, nope, the characters take me on a journey, full of unexpected turns and twists. This is what I love about writing!
5.Are you traditionally or self-published, and what was the publishing process like for you? Any advice to aspiring authors? Once my manuscript was ready to go, I decided to go the good ol’ traditional route. I wanted to be able to say, “Hey, I got published, by like a real publisher!” And I did.
But there is nothing wrong with going the self-published route, I have heard amazing things about doing that. But in my experience as a new author, I found it challenging enough to keep up with the whole marketing and networking aspect. It helped having a publisher sort of guide me through those unknown waters. I lucked out and wound up with a great publisher, who supports their authors and fantastic to work with.
My advice is to cast your net out there when submitting your manuscript and be willing to try different publishers. I didn’t realize that my publisher would end being the right one for me. You always think you need to pitch to the big 5, but sometimes it is the smaller publishing houses that take the best care of you.
6.What has been your highlight since becoming a published author? I think being asked to attend events and signings, I have been invited to several and one is even in the UK, how cool is that? I also feel legit now, it’s one thing to tell people, “Yeah, I’m a writer.” But to actually have a book, a real one in your hand to offer them is so incredible.
7.Can you share a little of your most recent book with us? And any other books of yours, if you wish. Well, Loving Liam, the first book in The Cloverleaf Series was just released on 10/13/15, so I’m still enjoying that buzz! Maggie’s Marriage, the second installment is out in Jan. and I’m working on the third story, Patrick’s Promise. I’m excited to complete the series and then to move into the Tales from Birch Valley line of books, which will feature stand alone stories about the residents in the quiet, rural community featured in The Cloverleaf Series.
I have a couple other irons in the fire as well, what writer doesn’t? One project that is so completely out of character for me, is a YA series I’m going to be co authoring. Ah, so many projects, I just need to find time to get all these stories written!!!
8.What audience is your book targeted for, and what genre does it come under? My book is targeted for women who range from mid-twenties on up. I find a lot of readers who enjoy Debbie Macomber style books have gravitated to my story, those looking for that sweet, wholesome read. Yet, enough drama to keep it interesting, like real life.
I’m considered Contemporary Romance or Sweet Romance as far as genres go.
9.Apart from writing, what do you do in your spare time? I love entertaining family and friends. I also love to cook, watch movies, and read. I enjoy kayaking on some of the quiet lakes here in eastern Washington. The main thing though is spending time with my family, they are the world to me.
10.What tip would you give to new authors when trying to build a fanbase / get followers and market their books? (What to do and what not to do.) Basically get on social media, connect with other authors first, see what is out there, what’s hot in the market, to sort of gauge where you fall in. I knew the types of readers for my style of book. I knew when writing this series that it would not appeal to a lot of younger women looking for something super hot and steamy. The market is chalked full of erotica and very sexy stuff, my book focuses more on the unconditional support of family. It has that wholesome, heartwarming, small town feel. I know that Maggie’s Marriage has a little more heat than Loving Liam, so it will be interesting to see how that resonates with my readers.
So know the market and learn where your work fits in. Also, support other authors, we are all in this together and it’s nice to be able to have some encouragement along the way.
11.How would you describe your writing style? I would say it’s pretty realistic and casual, the emotions and conversations my characters have feel real. Everyone that I have talked to who has read my book says they feel like they are there in Birch Valley, or that these are real people, people they know or have met before.
I was once told by a teacher, “Write for everyone, don’t use vocabulary that isn’t relevant for anyone over an eight grade reading level. Keep it simple.” The hard part is that I’m wordy, I adore words, and have a rich vocabulary. But I find that trying to keep the dialogue comfortable helps readers identify more with the characters.
12.How much of your books are realistic / based on true experiences/ people? Well, The Cloverleaf Series is realistic in the sense of how it looks at family and community, and all the dramas that happens in life. We see real life issues crop up, and how this family supports one another through it. I know certain people have influenced some of the characters or even circumstances. But truth be told, I do have a crazy imagination and most of the people I create are just a reflection of that.
13.How much research do you do when starting a story? I find I write about stuff I know, but I do have a series in the works that I will be doing some major research for. This research is going to be the best kind, I will have the opportunity to talk to people that have experienced it first hand!
14.What is the hardest thing about writing? The hardest thing I have found is trying to decide which story to actually write first. I have a ton of ideas, so many in fact that it can get overwhelming. Granted, I consider having too many ideas a wonderful problem to have in this business.
Also, I find that when I’m really lost in a story, having to partake in “real life” can be a challenge.
15.How long on average does it take you to write a book? Well, I started writing Loving Liam, around the end of January, I procrastinated but finished it by April, after taking around a month or two off from writing. Then, I wrote Maggie’s Marriage in less than two months and I invested a little time into a paranormal romance I’m fiddling with. Patrick’s Promise is being written now and my hope is that it will be done by the end of year. The problem with me is that I like to set unrealistic goals. For example, Loving Liam was due to be released on 10/13, well, I had it in my head that I wanted to turn in Maggie’s Marriage before the release date, I started writing it in late Aug. or early Sept., my publisher said to give it them by the end of Oct., well, they got it 10/12. So on average I would say I can produce a book about every two to three months.
16.Tell us about the book cover/s, how the designing came about. The book cover and the whole cover art process was really not what I had expected. I came in with a different vision in my head. I wanted to avoid a cover model. I pictured a snowy picture of an adorable small town somewhere. My publisher and I went back and forth a little on the cover because of the market. She really taught me a valuable lesson about how that works. What I might think is fabulous and great, might not grab the attention of readers, who ultimately, are buyers. As much as we would love to give away our books for free, it is a business and we want our books to be successful. So there has to be a balance, make the cover eye catching and appealing, but try to stay true to the characters inside the book. Overall, I’m thrilled with the final product, they nailed it! My readers love it and that is all that matters to me!
Website: Currently under renovation! www.gloriaherrmann.com