Drew stood on the beach, savoring the moment. He was still processing that he was doing exactly what he wanted, and at only 19, starting his chosen career. At 19. He sent his thanks out to the Universe as loud as he could.
“Thank you!” he screamed out across the ocean.
“Yo, bud. What’s up with that?”
His new best friend and right hand man seemed intrigued at his fervor.
“Counting my blessings, friend.”
“Cool.” They hung together side by side absorbing the moment.
“Who’s that chick? Is she with us? I thought I knew everyone.”
Drew responded by waving and yelling, “Hey, Linda!” To Garret, he explained, “It’s my cousin.”
As Linda came closer, Garrett stood taller, straightened his t-shirt, and pressed back his hair.
“No way, man. She’s off limits.”
“Why? She’s hot.”
“The less you say to her, the better. She won’t understand. Her brain takes things literally.”
Watching the staircase tilting in the wind, Linda whispered to herself, “I’m not going up there again. It’s too scary.”
“Why would you? It’s dangerous,” responded a voice from the crowd.
Drew had said every scene could be viewed from the top, yet Linda hesitated. She’d been torn between the years of her mother admonishing her to never touch the stairs and her favorite cousin including her in his movie production.
“No, I can’t do it today.” Tears raged behind her eyes as she raced home to release them into the comfort of her own pillow.
“Hey, brah, your aunt’s on the phone. Does she want you to come to the big house? Shall we hold our breath as we tremble in fear for you?”
“Nah, she’s not like that. Maybe we should quiet down a little, though. Can you pass that around?”
His crew watched as Drew’s face transformed into a visage of ultimatum expectation. After replacing the phone, he scanned the group.
“Did anyone do something I need to know about?”
Quiet faces with wide eyes stared back at him with no sign of guilt.
“Tremble in fear, my friends.”
The longest mile, he thought, as he walked from the carriage house through the dusk to see his aunt. He entered and went toward the light to stand in the doorway of the front room.
“I trusted you.”
Her voice slashed his brain. With no clue to his transgression, Drew considered a general apology, but determined that it was too soon.
“I’m sorry.” Automatic response. He mentally crossed fingers that he didn’t just imply guilt.
“Sit.” He took a chair nearest the egress, eyeing his aunt carefully. Her eyes seemingly riveted to the fireplace, she stated in a soft, yet damning voice, “You broke that trust.”
“What can I do?”
“You’re ignorant of your egregious error.” He stared at the fire with her. Tears brimmed his eyes. “My daughter climbed one of those rickety staircasees every time your crew hit the beach to film.”
“Why?” Names raced through his mind. Who would tell her to do that?
“At your request, Drew, according to her.”
“What? I never . . . fuck . . .”
“Please, Drew. There will be no fucking in this conversation. We’re both educated adults with intelligent vocabularies.”
“Yes, Aunt _____.”
“Those staircases have remained on the beach for over five decades, the last two against my wishes.”
“I know, I know. They’re from that movie. They bring tourists.”
I.V. Olokita specializes in management of medical aid to disaster areas all over the world. He has a BA degree in logistics, and an MA degree in emergency and disaster situations management. He also volunteers to rescue missions in disaster areas all over the world. I. V. Olokita is a happily married father of two adolescents and a foster father of five cats and two dogs. By the way, he hardly ever sleeps. Instead, he spends his nights on writing.
Olokita’s first book (in Hebrew), Ten Simple Rules, was published in 2014. It won an Israeli literary prize, and immediately made an online bestseller. The following year, another book by Olokita, Reasons to Kill God, made a local bestseller in Israel. In May 2016, his third novel, Wicked Girl, was published, to make another great success, and soon presents in English. Olokita’s books are characterized by direct writing, Turns wiry and witty, requiring the reader to delve into and maintain vigilance from the beginning of the book to its surprising end.
Olokita contacted me to share an original short story on my blogblogblog (read here) and also graciously agreed to an interview. I liked his short story, so shared it as a Flash Fiction Friday guest author post. His books sound powerful; I look forward to English versions. Keep an eye open for this author’s work. Follow links at end of interview to connect with Olokita, and trailers to make you long for the books.
Describe your writing process. What is your writing schedule? Do you have an office in your home, or do you work at a remote location? What inspirations do you have for writing—people, places, or things? How do you choose your subject matter?
Since I’m almost out of the house because of my type of work, I do most of the writing in remote places and late at night. Sometimes there is no lighting, and usually, the electricity is minimal, so I don’t have many choices but improvise. Nevertheless, to this day I finished writing seven books, all of them I wrote on my cell phone, in my Gmail drafts. Sometimes my wife laughs at me in this matter. “Who writes books on a cell phone?” She asks me, and I don’t have the right answer, so I reply with a smile, “I do.”
Usually, my subjects begin with a dream or, more precisely, a nightmare. Since I have engaged in this profession of wounded and dying people for almost twenty-five years, it is tough for me to sleep, and when I do so, I have bad dreams. So, I wake up immediately and start writing the chapters, and the whole writing process from that moment takes about one to two months until the book is ready for my beta readers to have their mind of it. My inspiration probably comes from sights and stories that I see and hear during work. Over time all these are processed and changed, taking another form. My books deal with the difficult issues of life, not necessarily dark, humorless stories, but most subjects that people don’t openly talk about—the worldview from the eyes of a Nazi criminal or a pedophile, the point of view of our perfect enemy, or that of the most cunning deceiver who ever entered our lives. All these are presented to the reader as one piece, so at the end of the insights, the reader can agree or deny them. In every story I write, there are at least three layers and many plots that intersect each other into an entire story that moves on a past-present timeline. The reader will enjoy the first reading of what the eye views; during the story he will try to guess where this story leads him. In this context, I have not met anyone who has read my books and managed to think the end of the story during the reading, at least not until he finished the last word of the book. Mainly because what happens in it depends very much on the perspective of the reader at the same point he is at, and his willingness to penetrate the story’s guts, sometimes even finishing the book and immediately rereading it to find this time he is reading a completely different one.
Tell me about your publishing process and your publishing team. How much input are you allowed? How much marketing is expected by you as the author?
Every time someone asks me what is important to me in my books, I reply that I want my stories to be read by as many people as can be. It’s not a matter of money or profit and loss. I have important things to tell the world, and this is my real calling. In that aspect, I was fortunate to be a beginner in Israel. When I published my books in Hebrew, they immediately received considerable attention. As far as I am concerned, it was a complete surprise, mainly because I am an indie writer who corresponded with his readers on Facebook and did not invest too much in marketing. The decision to go on Amazon in another language was not easy for me. There are many aspects here, each of which can significantly reduce the quality of the books— mainly translation and editing, but in this case, marketing is also a significant factor.
So, after I finally made the decision, I made a great effort to find the right professionals, and I’m glad I did, despite the enormous financial cost to me. I believe that the readers who will be exposed to my books will enjoy a high language and a story that stretches and is tightly written, just like in the original language. As for marketing, I rely on the group of professionals who stand behind me and support me; it will allow me to keep in touch with my readers and write them new books instead of spending my time marketing activities. As long as it’s up to me, I’ll go on like this until I’ve run out of money and the last reader in the world will read what I have to say.
Talk about your support system. Whose praise motivates you? Who keeps you motivated?
This will be a concise answer; I write because I have to write. Otherwise, I’ll probably go crazy. The only prize that interests me is the one I already won many years ago, a fantastic wife who contains my obsessions of writing books and allows me to spend all our money on them and two amazing children who, despite their adolescence, are still very proud of their father.
As a humanitarian, how does your life influence your writing? Does your writing influence your life?
I think I’ve written all my life, just from a young age. It was a mechanism I had developed to relieve all my frustrations and disappointments over the years. Writing accompanied me at school and later in my adult life without even planning to publish it as a book. In this sense, my life always influences my writing and vice-versa; everything I experienced went into my books and I processed into a story. Therefore, that everything becomes a story never bothers me anymore. As someone who is responsible for managing a complete medical response to extreme humanitarian events, this system helps me deal with the main sights, smells, and sounds that remain in me. Writing too, like psychological therapy, for example, does not clean everything out of your system, but allows me to continue to function and live a completely normal life.
What do you love most about your creativity?
After I published my third book, questions began to arise that intrigued many of my readers, “Why are all your heroes bad people in essence, and why is the end of the story never good?” I think the answer to these questions is that even though we want to, our world is not a right place to live. I try in my books to show the other side of life, but people argue that despite the controversial issues and controversial characters, my books provide a more optimistic view of the world, basically, that we all end up only human beings, and the change begins with our understanding of each other’s motivation. I think it’s a matter of perspective that my books and short stories provide to the reader.
As for that legitimate question regarding my sources of inspiration about my written heroes, I have never known a Nazi criminal nor a pedophile, and I have no idea how they feel like in real life. However, I certainly give my heroes fears and desires, punish and reward them when I am sad or happy, and they end up getting a slice of my own life.
Writing is a calling—it fills my colleagues and me with happiness and pours a smile on our faces every day anew. It’s an excellent reason to wake up in the morning, knowing that someone else reads your words and soon, he too will write you a response. So, if you wish to tell me about your reading experience, just put your review on the Amazon book page or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Vashti Alcindor inherits her aunt’s B&B in Catalina Cove, where she grew up, and where she ran away from over a decade ago. She wants to sell the business and put her hometown behind her for good. Enter the sexy, widowed sheriff. Then secrets come flying out of the past, changing Vashti in ways she would never have expected. The secrets are not so surprising, and some are a bit too coincidental, but in the end, a good story is hidden among the unnecessary repetition by multiple characters of Vashtis’ background and overly emoted revelations. A good beach read, a nice weekend romance read, Catalina Cove also shares a bit of Creole history, as it’s set on the coast of Louisiana, with a creole main character. I was graciously given an early copy by Harlequin through NetGalley.
Tuesday, December 14, two black mambas attacked Dr. P–, biology researcher with the University of S–, as he was observing the behavior of the reptiles. Black mambas are normally shy, and they will turn away from human contact. When they feel cornered, they can rear up four feet in an attempt to frighten an attacker.
In a rare event, two snakes worked in a tag team effort to bring down a human being. Dr. P–’s assistants, L– and J–, biology students at the university, watched the first snake bite him on the left thigh, then chase the researcher toward them, when they saw a second snake bite his other thigh. Dr. P– first told them to help him to the car, but at the second snake’s appearance, urged them to run.
The two assistants stated that they sat in the car, and every time they opened the door, one of the two snakes would race toward them. The most deadly snake in the world, the black mamba’s bite is 100% fatal without antivenin within minutes. Therefore, it was too late to help Dr. P– when they arrived with help an hour later.
Dr. P– was the procurer of reptile species for the university’s natural history museum. He also produced articles for their scientific journal on reptile behavior, including a recent article on antivenin procedures. He is survived by his wife and two daughters.
Jenny Jaeckel is the author of House of Rougeaux, her debut novel, which made Bitch Media’s 25 Must Read Books of 2018 list. Her previous titles includeFor the Love of Meat: Nine Illustrated Stories and Siberiak: My Cold War Adventure on the River Ob. In 2016, Jaeckel published the graphic memoir Spot 12: Five Months in the Neonatal ICU, which was the winner of the 2017 Next Generation Indie Book Awards and a 2016 finalist in the Foreword Indies Book Awards. She has worked as a translator, an editor, a Spanish teacher, a graphic arts teacher, and an illustrator. Jaeckel is currently working on her second novel, yet to be named, a continuation of the Rougeaux family epic.
And she agreed to be on my little blogblogblog! If you haven’t read House of Rougeaux, I recommend you remedy that as soon as possible—must be ready for the sequel. Links to connect with Jenny and purchase her books follow the interview.
Tell me about your writing process, the mechanics of it, schedule, strategies to keep you going, where you write, research procedures, and what inspirations surround you or motivate you.
Wow, where to start… All the aspects of the process, whether internal or external are quite varied. As a writer, I have to have a whole mental “team” going on: the passionate one, the researcher, the emotional digger/investigator, the critic, the cheerleader, the scheduler, etc. etc. My biggest inspirations are my favorite books, the ones I love with all my heart and soul, and have made me want to be a writer in the first place. I always aspire to those literary heroes. They function like my North Star. I may be down in my clunky little rowboat, with my one broken oar, paddling furiously and getting nowhere, but when I look up, at least I know where I’m trying to go. J.D. Salinger, Toni Morrison, Merce Rodoreda, Eduardo Galeano, and Edith Wharton are some that I return to again and again.
Tell me about the publishing process, including your publishing team, and your responsibilities as the author.
One of the most key parts of the process for me is working with my editor, Neesa Sonoquie. When I first showed her the manuscript for House of Rougeaux, I thought it was in pretty good shape. I’d already gotten some feedback from readers I trusted and done a lot of revising. But I had not worked with Neesa before. She absolutely demolished it. I’d sent off a book and got back confetti. It was humbling, but it turned out to be a transcendent moment. The revision process transformed the book and made me grow tremendously as a writer.
I am currently in such a moment again, because Neesa has just demolished a draft of my next book—a coming-of-age/love story that will be finished before the House of Rougeaux sequel (I’m still working on a first draft of the Rougeaux sequel.) What a good editor does is see the book you are trying to write inside the draft, which is full of wrong detours and other flaws. The demolition is all about cutting the crap so you can get to the true heart of the matter. It’s challenging but very exciting.
Describe your support system online and IRL—who are your biggest cheerleaders?
I don’t exactly have a cheerleading squad, but I have a small group of friends and acquaintances who have, at one time or another, said, or written some very wonderful things about how my work has touched them. When I get this in an email, for example, I print it out and put in on the wall by my bed, where I have a little collection, and when I get discouraged, I read them over and over. I also talk pretty regularly with three writer friends of mine. Though we all deal in different genres, the process and the struggle are the same, and being able to engage in that mutual support is essential. My lovely family is very supportive too. My partner and child give me regular feedback on my blog posts and written interviews (like right this second).
I know you’ve written about a difficult time in your life through a graphic memoir as part of coping and healing. In what other ways has your life influenced your art and vice versa? How do you choose your subject matter?
Art and life have a complete interface for me, like body and mind, or heads and tails sides of a coin. My first three books were all memoirs, the next two pure fiction, so while my relationships to all those topics varied, it was all deeply personal. When writing memoir, it has been much easier for me to see the therapeutic aspects of storytelling. Curiously though, putting key chunks of my life into these packages called books has made me identify with the stories less, as if these events happened to a human, and that human just happened to be me. It’s very liberating.
With fiction, though I’ve been exploring lives that couldn’t be more different from my own, every choice I make, and the ways I try to connect with my characters and get to know them, has everything to do with who I am. At the moment, working on this coming-of-age/love story, I am blending autobiography and fiction for the first time, and the process is extremely strange. I have to get to know the protagonist, for example, as the fictional person she is, but she is also so like a young version of myself that it’s a real mind-bender.
What do you love most about your creativity?
I am grateful to creativity for being the force that animates me. I think without it I’d be a lifeless hulk, a Frankenstein’s Monster pre-electrification, misshapen and covered in scars and moldy clothes (but smaller). I was lucky that as a child I was encouraged in art (so many are discouraged or even shamed for their efforts,) and lucky that since then I’ve had countless opportunities to grow creatively. Creativity takes infinite forms, I think it’s our birthright as human beings, and I think the more we can bring it to all aspects of our lives the better off we are. Once I heard the singer Krishna Das say in an interview that his music was how he stayed alive. He didn’t say music was his bliss and all that, he said it was how he literally stayed alive. I really appreciated that. It’s survival. Creativity is not the icing on the cake, it’s the cake itself.
Grace Dalton watched her husband die after being struck in a hit and run accident. After a brief period of submerging herself in the grief, she begins to move on, speaking with his lawyer to learn of a secret bank account and life insurance. Then she sees her husband, sending her best friend into conniptions for some reason, and she ends up in several bizarre emergency sessions with her psychiatrist. Much of this story, once you get past the repetition (and the repetition continues throughout the book), lacks credibility, such as Grace’s phone sessions with her psychiatrist, and then her best friend dragging her to so many emergency sessions instead of listening to Grace. Her best friend comes across as more like a mean sister, making the ending even less likely. This story had such potential, and then Grace ended up being more crotchety than the damsel in distress. The reader does not need reminding in every chapter that Grace wallowed in her grief for six weeks. The story is in there if you want to earn it! I was graciously given an early copy by Bookouture through NetGalley.
Brian Barnett is a Central Florida artist and designer who specializes in fine line abstract ink and pencil drawings, painting and other mediums. He is also the SO of my high school friend, and though I only know him online, he’s friendly and interesting, and his work is astonishing. I have to share it. After learning about him, follow the links at the end to contact Brian, scope out more of his work, and purchase pieces.
Tell me about your artistic process, from ideation to finished product, including medium / material, schedule, environment, and inspirations tangible and abstract.
The process for my art can take a second or be meticulously planned for weeks months or even years. For example, if I’m working with pens, the process is almost instant. I don’t have a pre-planned route or image I am seeking when I create using the pens; it’s just free and letting the ink flow as it wants to create the images. But if I’m working on a sculpture, I may have thought and planned it for months, looking through the bins of mixed media for that certain piece that make it perfect. I don’t have a preferred medium. I tend to draw mostly as it is most accessibleof my mediums at any time. I prefer lately to work with my hands, sculpting or building creations, with my next step being woodcarving and the eventual goal of teaching myself and being able to carve my wife’s face out of wood or sculpt from clay. I’m constantly challenging myself with new mediums.
How do you find buyers—short-term and long-term strategies and venues; do you create art from your own vision and / or commission art?
When it comes to selling my art, it’s just not the goal. I do markets and online sales, hang in local galleries. and sometimes I post randoms for sale, but when I found this talent, I didn’t find it for fortune. I found it for sanity. I am always honored to sell a piece. To me, it means that person liked something that came from inside of me enough to spend money on it and hang it in their house. To me, that’s amazing. To me, it means I touched them; they connected with the image or the sculpture. That’s a priceless payday for an artist to see the viewer connect. I have done and am available for commissions—I love to work with a client to reach the perfect piece.
Describe your support system online and IRL—who are your biggest cheerleaders?
Support systems, hmm. That’s an interesting one. I have two support systems online and in real life. Earlier in the interview, I said I found art for my sanity—this is very true. I am a recovered addict and alcoholic for almost 14 years now. I found art as a great filler and escape from life, and the things that make the mind go astray. So, when it comes to my support, my art is my release that allows the people who support me to connect to me in a way they wouldn’t have been able to before. If it weren’t for the Orlando art community’s support, and that of my family and friends, I couldn’t have as much joy on this mission of art as I do.
How does your life influence your art and vice versa?
My art influences my life for sure,. My world and the people in it are filled with canvasses and sculptures and the artists that made them. I’m always in the mix of what’s going on in town, and art is truthfully my air. My art is influenced by the past lives I’ve lived, the people I’ve been, and the things I’ve seen n this 47-year mission around the sun. I hide imagery in my linework, with lots of little stories in many of those pieces. I find art a very healthy way to deal with life now and the recovery from the ones I lived.
What do you love most about your creativity?
The thing I love most about my creativity is where it has taken me, the people I’ve met. The things I get to do and be all because I choose to make art, its almost unfair to those that don’t. I found a community of people from all walks of life, and all races and orientations, with one common core bond—ART! These people are my people, and I hope that once you’ve finished this interview, and checked out my art, you’ll also become one of the amazing folks in my circle of life.
Leiyin learns she has three souls upon her death, souls who explain they are trapped with her ghost until she atones for some egregious transgression in her mortal life. They witness her, through memories, rebel against the patriarchal traditions of her father, suffer the consequences, and live with regrets for her naivety. In the early 20th century, Leiyin controls little about her life, and this during a civil war and Japanese aggression. Epiphanies hit her hard and fast reliving her memories. She must communicate with mortals to appease the gods by rescuing the fates of her loved ones in order to ascend to the afterlife with her souls. Chang’s blending and bending of Chinese culture and history create a compelling narrative of inadvertent espionage and acceptance of one’s place in society. The speculative elements placing Leiyin outside her own story fascinate the reader as they astonish Leiyin. Chang’s novels are educational in many ways, to the anticipated appreciation of readers of historical fiction, speculative fiction, and fans of Tatiana de Rosnay and Laura Spinella.
Israeli author I.V. Olokita has translated his flash fiction “Three Stories” so that I might share it on my blogblogblog. Enjoy! Look for an Artist Interview with this wonderful author soon!
Three stories stand between you and the end of this day. Three more stories, and if everything goes according to plan, you’ll exit the elevator, enter your home within a step and a half, to your prince charming who is waiting for you at the same spot for the last eight years. You married him at the age of twenty and wanted to have a child right away, but this job, this important job, you got in a far-away city forced you to push back the decision to turn the passive into active by making the dream to have children come true. Meanwhile, he’s scratching his balls, and waits for you to come back from work every day, bearing baskets of money. You’re not angry with him, just disappointed in yourself that out of all the places in the world, you compromised for a house in the suburbs, and couldn’t convince him to move to the big city.
Stomping your feet, you think—Just three more stories and this awful day will be over. It’s not the work that’s killing you every day; it’s the drive, the long distances, and the long line for the elevator, especially during the summer. Sometimes you feel like you stew in your own juice. You know there are surveillance cameras everywhere, but it doesn’t bother you. If there’s an unpleasant smell, you’ll make sure that it’s not you, and even if there are zillions of other people at the elevator, you’ll still spray your cologne all over yourself peacefully. They can go fuck themselves; it’s definitely better than their stench.
You smile. Theoretically, the elevator’s screen shows that you’ve reached your story, and the door will open in a few seconds, you know that it’s the end now—you’ve finally arrived. So you smile. The door opens while exciting scripts are running through your mind of how you’ll enter your home, how he’ll run toward you and scoop your body into his arms. Maybe later he’ll take you to bed to make a dream of yours come true, or he’s prepared a romantic dinner to make it up to you for the awful day you had, although it wasn’t his fault. Your smile widens a little more, and your eyes are closing when the elevator door completes its divide for you. Taking one more step with your head bowed, you suddenly stop.
You’ve never loved any girl. In the locker rooms at school, you were always one of those who said “yuck,” but this woman that stands in front of you now—her smile does something completely different to you. For a moment, you can’t take your eyes off her, and you lower your gaze again. I wish I had such a lovely smile—you think to yourself, and fall in love with her even more. It all happens so quickly; she throws a shy “hello,” and enters the elevator in your place, and the door slides closed. You’re left there, standing alone, right at the entrance to your home, and you think if only you had the courage to shoot your hand into the closing gap between the doors and ride down the three stories with her.
But you don’t have that kind of courage. You just go home. He sits there in his briefs on the couch and doesn’t even mutter “hello” to you. The remainder of the shy smile you had is wiped off your face. You remember that during the last few years, there were countless smiles wiped off your pretty face. Once upon a time, it was different. Eight years ago you had an alluring smile, just like the woman from the elevator, and now all you have left are the scripts running through your mind during the three-story ride on the elevator. You think again about the smile of the woman and fall further in love with it, hoping you’ll meet her again tomorrow at one of the three stories on the elevator.
You don’t know, or maybe just don’t care, that this smile she wears, is the smile you lost a long time ago.
Tall Poppy author Heather Webb’s works have been featured in the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Entertainment Weekly and more, as well as received national starred reviews. In 2015, Rodin’s Lover was selected as a Goodreads Top Pick, and in 2017, Last Christmas in Paris became a Globe & Mail bestseller and was also shortlisted for the 2018 Women’s Fiction Writers Association STAR Award. When not writing, you may find Heather collecting cookbooks or looking for excuses to travel. She lives in New England with her family and one feisty rabbit.
Describe your writing process, including schedule, environment, strategies / techniques, and inspirations abstract and material.
My daily process changes based on the needs of my household, but I try to sit down at least 3 (but hope for 6!) hours per day to write, edit, plot, or research. Sometimes that means I’m just picking at one paragraph and moving things around, if I’m feeling stuck that day. I do, however, try to aim for 1,000 words per day and 5,000 words per week if I’m in the drafting phase. If I’m editing, it depends entirely on the draft. If it’s a second or third draft, I’m still doing a lot of overhauling and layering, which means I move fairly slowly. Later drafts move much faster once the bigger elements of the story and characters are in place.
I tend to work at Starbucks, my kitchen table, or at my desk, but it’s in my bedroom due to space restrictions so I don’t have a devoted office space, unfortunately. One day! It’s on my bucket list.
Walk me through your publishing process, from final draft to final product, explaining who on your team does what, and what marketing you do as the author. Elaborate upon going international, winning awards, and public speaking, please.
Publishing is a tricky and dangerous process. Ha! Just kidding. Each of my books is very different, including many of the team members who work on them, so I’ll keep this simple. Each book is in process for about a year once it leaves your desk from multiple rounds of edits, to cover design, to marketing and sales materials so the book you read that hits the shelf has been finished for at least a year. If it took awhile to find a publishing home, it may be much older than that, and chances are, the author is either working on something else entirely or may even have another entire novel completed. In terms of marketing, authors do as much as they can to help promote, but at the end of the day, we don’t move the needle all that much unless we’re a very big name. It’s the incredible sales teams behind us, book placement in physical stores, and ads and promotions with online retailers.
Tell me about your support system—online and IRL—and how that may shift during the progress from idea to launch. Who are your biggest cheerleaders?
My biggest cheerleaders (beyond my family!) are my critique partners. They read early drafts and deliver feedback that is sometimes painful but always helpful. I can’t imagine where I’d be without them. I also happen to love them dearly as people. I have to give a shout out to some of my favorite organizations who have been incredibly supportive as well: the Writer Unboxed community, Tall Poppy Writers, Rocky Mountain Fiction Writers, Historical Novel Society, and the Women’s Fiction Writers Association. I feel incredibly blessed by my community. My colleagues are wonderfully talented, supportive people, and if I started listing names, I’d never finish. The writing community is truly special and unique that way.
Did I read that you had a dream about Josephine, inspiring you to change your career from high school teacher to author? I find that astonishing! How does your life influence your art / work and vice versa? Where does research fit in, and do you have assistance?
I did have a dream about her! It didn’t make me quit teaching, however. I resigned because I was expecting my second child and daycare would have eaten my entire teaching salary. (Pathetic, right?) So I made the choice to stay home with my babes. Before I resigned, however, I did have a persistent dream about Josephine, and I knew very little about her, so it was quite odd. I decided to check out a biography to learn about her and I fell in love instantly. I hadn’t even finished that first biography when I told my husband I was going to write a book. He looked at me like I was from another planet. So whether or not I resigned, I was going to write a book, damn it!
As for research and assistance, I wish I had an assistant! I’m on my own, but I do love it. I try as often as possible to visit locations in person, utilize primary source material, and when necessary, I reach out to experts in certain fields.
What do you love most about your creativity? (You may shamelessly plug your editorial services here as well!)
Indulging my creative side fills me with a kind of peace I can’t attain anywhere else. There’s something about going into your head and letting it riot with ideas and thoughts and dreams. I love the act of doing it as much as the end product, whether it be writing, cooking, or doing fun projects with my kids. Though at times, I have to admit writing can be frustrating when things aren’t working. But this is all part of the growing and expanding and trying new things. The challenge. We writers relish that part of the process on some level or why bother? Living a creative life feels like a gift and I definitely don’t want to waste it.
Author Extra: What’s your next book?
Here’s a little blurb on my next book, Meet Me in Monaco, set to the backdrop of Grace Kelly’s wedding in 1956. It releases in July 2019, and I’ve co-written it with author Hazel Gaynor. We hope to have a cover soon!
Set in the 1950s against the backdrop of Grace Kelly’s whirlwind romance and glamourous wedding to Prince Rainier of Monaco, New York Times bestselling author Hazel Gaynor and Heather Webb take the reader on an evocative sun-drenched journey along the Côte d’Azur in this page-turning novel of passion, fate and second-chances.
Movie stars and paparazzi flock to Cannes for the glamorous film festival, but Grace Kelly, the biggest star of all, wants only to escape from the flash-bulbs. When struggling perfumer Sophie Duval shelters Miss Kelly in her boutique, fending off a persistent British press photographer, James Henderson, a bond is forged between the two women and sets in motion a chain of events that stretches across thirty years of friendship, love and tragedy.
James Henderson cannot forget his brief encounter with Sophie Duval. Despite his guilt at being away from his daughter, he takes an assignment to cover the wedding of the century, sailing with Grace Kelly’s wedding party on the SS Constitution from New York. In Monaco, as wedding fever soars and passions and tempers escalate, James and Sophie—like Princess Grace—must ultimately decide what they are prepared to give up for love.