author interview, support, Writer

Interview with Author JL Rothstein

author-interview-jl-rothstein

JL Rothstein is being highlighted this month in my author interview. She has the most realistic and helpful words of wisdom in this blog, so make sure to take it in, sit on it, and use it for your future endeavors. New writers will especially benefit from her answers.

What would you tell yourself 5 years ago about facing the challenge of publishing?

I thought I was prepared for self-publishing. I have a business background and manage an accounting department for a privately held company. I went into the project with the understanding that publishing is a business, that your book is a product.

You have two jobs as an author; finish the manuscript and get it into the best polished form you are capable of. The second is to pitch its worthiness, either to agents/publishers or directly to clients if you are self-publishing. The latter is so much harder than it sounds. I think there is a misnomer out there that since Amazon has knocked down all the barriers to publication, that you can just reach this mass of readers and sell, sell, sell. Nothing could be further from the truth. Understanding who you are writing for, who that audience is, and what they are willing to pay for it, is so important. I wish I had understood that more and that I had spent more time researching it.

I believe more than 1.5M manuscripts are self-published each year in the U.S.A alone. If you add in the other markets, it climbs to over 2M. That makes every unknown, previously unpublished author, a very tiny fish in a giant ocean of authors. Not to mention that the reader market is still in flux. They say not as many people are reading anymore, but you do have a growing audio book audience, so you need to acclimate to an ever changing publishing environment. Understanding this ahead of time helps to set realistic expectations.  

I don’t write this to discourage young writers from entering the market, please enter the market. The more the merrier, truly. It is important however to understand what you are getting yourself into and to know the chances of getting some big publishing contract or replacing your current salary with the income from writing may not happen.

Those in the industry often say, “you don’t write books to make money.” Those who have written books roll their eyes and smirk. It’s true, you should write for the love of it, but we’d all like to make enough money to earn a living and there’s nothing wrong with that desire. Don’t give up, reach for those goals, but do it with the understanding that it’s an uphill battle and there will be a lot of mistakes and frustrations along the way. Knowledge is power. Do your research, be patient, and keep writing. That is the best advice I could have given my younger self.

What gives you energy and joy?

I think if you are not getting joy from writing, then you shouldn’t do it. It’s simple, but it holds true no matter what you are doing. If you turn your love for baking into a business and then you lose your passion for baking, then it wasn’t meant to be a business.

When I want to reconnect to my inner creative self, I like to walk in a beautiful garden or visit the ocean. One of my favorite places near our home is a small art museum I like visiting a couple of times a year. When COVID happened, most of us lost all of that, our creative wells dried up.

Being around family and connecting with friends gives me energy. Being in nature sparks creativity and writing brings me joy. I think everyone should answer those questions. Understanding what brings you joy is necessary to living your best life.

Talk about a life lesson you have learned while on the path to publishing your book(s).

You need a support structure. No matter how confident you are, no matter how much experience you have, you will need support. If you don’t have a partner or a big family, then create a different kind of support system, one that works for you. Join a writing group or volunteer to help others. Support comes in so many forms.

I am so grateful that I have my husband, Alan, who has been an amazing partner on this journey. I have a large family and a group of friends who have been very encouraging. I am blessed to have that in my life. I do what I can to help others who do not have what I have. Being grateful is something I focus on and I find that staying in that state of mind is in itself its own reward.  

Thank you, JL, for taking the time to help our writing community, as well as all who want to reach for the stars and dream big.

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Click on picture to purchase

JL’s biography and how to connect:

I am a published author, my debut novel Atonement: Heaven Sent Book One launched June 2020. I was born and raised in Boston, Massachusetts USA. I come from a large Irish Catholic family and spent twelve years in Catholic School where the concept of Heaven and Hell were deeply ingrained. I write in the Fantasy genre with an affinity for the supernatural.

I have a BS from Suffolk University and I’m currently pursuing an MBA in Creative Writing. I live in the central part of the state with my husband Alan, & two cats, Brady, and Mr. Thumbs. Book Three in the Heaven Sent series, Vengeance released in July 2022.

You can visit me at my website for more information about my upcoming projects http://www.JLRothstein.com or on social media; Instagram & Twitter @jlrothstein1 or via Facebook @authorjlrothstein.

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Copyright © 2022 C. D’Angelo, Author All rights reserved.

Author, inspirational, Writer

Interview with Author Debbie Cromack

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This month’s blog features Romance author Debbie Cromack, who will have THREE books out by the end of this month. Kiss Away Your Pain is the second book in the Wounded Hearts Series. Let me tell you how much I adore her books…and her as a person! I fell in love with her first book, Untouchable Zane, and read each book thereafter immediately upon release. I know you’ll love her slow-burn, realistic stories as well (especially if you like a lot of steam- whoa!). Read her inspiring words about continuing on when times get tough.

What would you tell yourself 5 years ago about facing the challenge of publishing?

Keep going. As with most things in life, there are ups and downs, challenges and victories. The best thing you can do for yourself is to surround yourself with those you admire, those who support you, and those who want to help you. Anyone who isn’t supporting you isn’t helpful in your journey. Focus on being around people who lift you up and want to help you make your dreams your reality. My philosophy is that when we all work together and help each other, we all get to where we want to be a lot faster.

How do you cope with disappointment or setbacks?

Disappointments and setbacks are part of life and definitely part of building a career. The hits will come and they’ll sting. It’s okay to feel knocked down for a bit. Just don’t unpack and stay there. When you work on your mindset and believe in your worth, you’ll know that you can pretty much accomplish anything you want in life. Look to others for guidance and help. Above all, LEARN from the experience and make adjustments. Fail often and fail fast for it’s through failure that we usually learn the most. Then keep going.

Talk about a life lesson you have learned while on the path to publishing your book(s).

We’ll never have it all figured out. Things change so quickly. Spending time, effort, and energy trying to figure out the magical recipe for success will likely only lead to disappointment because there is no one recipe. The best you can do for yourself in your business and your life is to be true to who you are, even if it doesn’t match anyone else. Your soul-joy comes from your self-worth and that comes from showing up as your authentic self. Do things your way because that’s how you’ll succeed. Sure, you may want to try something that seemingly worked for someone else, but there’s no guarantee that it’ll work for you. And, you may not enjoy the process of what they did. Pushing yourself to do something the way someone else did and not liking it at all…I can assure you, that is NOT a recipe for success. Do it your way, make tweaks along the way, and keep going.

How do you quiet your inner critic? (the voice of internal negativity)

The inner critic is telling me untrue stories. It’s only highlighting my doubts and fears of, basically, the unknown. So, in truth, it doesn’t offer me any helpful value. Sure, it still pops up from time to time. I give it a moment. Then I toss it. If it’s not helping me get to where I want to go, I have no space for it in my life. I’m only available for thoughts and feelings that serve my purpose and where I’m heading. So, I hear it out, realize it’s not true…and move on. Just keep going (you’re sensing my theme by now).

Share one meaningful aspect of you that appears in your writing. This can be personality, physical attributes, or anything else.

Oh, these are hidden little nuggets for those who take the time to get to know me. There’s always a piece of me in the heroine somewhere. Some characters more than others. It’s my way of sharing a piece of myself with my readers in hopes of connecting with them a little more deeply. When those who know me take the time to send me a message that something about the heroine reminded them of me and they enjoyed it, that makes me feel truly connected to them.

What is your next project or goal? If it is a book, tell us about it and when you hope to publish it.

Kiss Away Your Pain releases July 22nd and I’m so excited!!! This book was born because my readers loved the character of Candi from Someone Exactly Like Me so much that they asked me to writer her story.

You want to read everything she writes now, right? I knew it! Well, lucky for you, the preorder link is in the picture below, along with all the ways to connect with her. Happy reading.

Click on picture to preorder

How to connect with Debbie: Social media, website, Etsy shop (SO MANY CUTE ITEMS), other books- https://linktr.ee/Debbie_Cromack_Author

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Copyright © 2022 C. D’Angelo, Author All rights reserved.

Debut Author, Women's Fiction Author, Writer

Leaping Out of the Box

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When have you gone beyond your comfort zone or “out of your box” in your life? Take a second to think (insert Jeopardy music). Okay, are you back? 😊 I hope you were able to think of an example, but if not, do not fear! I’m here to tell you about my author experiences lately and to hopefully encourage you to take that leap into the great beyond.

Let me clarify why I use the word leaping instead of getting out of the box or stepping out of the box. First, I use the term because getting out of the box is way too normal for me and I’m a quirky lady. LOL! But second, I think sometimes people contemplate taking a risk, possibly peek over the side of the metaphorical box, then either decide to stay or leave. Leaping means you boldly go into the wild by following your gut and to me that’s a leap of faith. If you choose not to leap, there’s no judgment here. Of course, this post is about encouraging you to push yourself so I’m going to say try it out. Just once. Something small. Come on, please?

As I approach the release of my debut novel, THE DIFFERENCE, this year I’m finding more and more opportunities for me to leap than expected. I’m thrilled about it and more than ready after my long publishing journey, but there’s another side. Translation= facing anxiety provoking tasks.

Do any of you relate to feeling anxious leading up to speaking to the public? Where you will show your heart to strangers? Where you will talk to people you look up to in your field? Welcome to my world. I am now in the stage of preparing for author interviews to talk about my book, giving my art and soul (get it? Haha) for public viewing and criticism, and communicating with people I only dreamed of chatting with in the past. I’m SO lucky to be in this place, but guess who I have to keep pushing to say yes. Me!

During brainstorming for one of my potential release parties, I was asked by the host if I wanted to do something on camera and my panicked reaction slipped from my mouth without thinking. A loud “No!” spilled out, but seconds later I was able to process how wonderful the idea is and say “Sorry, that was my fear.” I’ll most likely engage in the genius suggestion whenever that party happens and urge myself to be vulnerable.

Even though avoiding is my usual first reaction, I generally do the fearful thing because I know it will be good for my big picture goal. For my book, I need to take every opportunity kindly given to me, and I have done so this whole time already, from my pitching business to even writing a novel at all. I can’t stop now when it’s most important. What I have been finding is that I freak out a little upon the idea of the opportunity, the moment I accept an invitation, or whatever the case may be. Then, I prepare to the max, while still anxious usually, sign on to do the event, for example, and… all is fine. In fact, I usually feel a huge sense of accomplishment and joy and realize that I worried for nothing.

You know by now that I am always genuine so I’ll be honest in the moment and share if something goes awry anyway. I’m not going to hide it, and people respond to that relatability. Isn’t it better to show we are all human and imperfect? So again, why stay in the box? It doesn’t make sense. Being free is so much better, especially when we free ourselves from the fear of sounding a certain unflattering way or making a mistake. Nobody cares as much as you. Nobody is as focused on you as you. Nobody will remember these silly moments, so let’s not let the possibility of them keep us from wonderful new experiences.

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Instead of thinking about failing, I try to change my mindset to what beauty can come from taking the leap. I have the analytical side and the dreamer side in me, so I try to embrace the positive “what if” side for these circumstances.

A theory I use in my clinical setting as a psychotherapist is called *Cognitive Behavioral Therapy. The basic idea is that thoughts lead to feelings which lead to behaviors. So, if you have an unhealthy or illogical thought, you may feel a certain negative way, which makes you act in a certain way. For example, if I think “I’ll make a fool out of myself if I do the live interview,” then I may feel sad, anxious, and fearful. The behavior is that I may decline the interviewer or maybe I will avoid even responding to the invitation. But I can try to challenge my thought with evidence from the past, such as how no disaster has ever happened during interviews, only good outcomes. I also may ask myself what I would tell a friend, because aren’t we easier on others verses ourselves? A final question I may ask is what is the worst, best, or most likely outcome that may occur? Well, in this case, the worst may be I that misspeak or some other insignificant action to everyone else. The best outcome may be that my book sales go through the roof because it was a fabulous interview! The most likely outcome may be that people enjoy the exchange and are interested in being in my author world, buying my book or otherwise. Ah, now there’s relief as a new feeling overtakes me and I may go ahead and say yes to the invitation.

Comfort-zone-magic

Going outside of your comfort zone usually is where the magic happens. One type of faulty thought is trying to predict the future. The beauty in this is that if we avoid predicting by challenging the thought, we most likely will be pleasantly surprised by the unexpected possibilities and invite goodness to flow our way. Trusting the process is a big phrase in the therapy world, but I think it also applies to life. Sometimes we have to give in to the process and trust it is a good step along our path. That’s why I say leap, don’t inch out of the box. 

So, as I venture into making reels on Instagram (eek!), doing live interviews (ahhh!), and soon going outside my natural comfort zone of asking “Hey, want to buy my book” instead of just giving it to people, I’ll continue to push myself and challenge anxiety provoking thoughts. I’ll also be thinking of you inspiring me. We will catapult out of our boxes. That’s right, we will bust out together. I know we can do it.

*The description of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy is not to be used in place of therapy.

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Copyright © 2021 C. D’Angelo, Author All rights reserved.

Behind the scenes, Debut Author, Writer

Lessons from a Beginner

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Who has been a beginner at something in their life? All of you can say “yes” to this question. I mean, who hasn’t had day one of learning at a new job, a first day of school, or the first time you attempted to learn a hobby. For this second career of mine with being a writer about to be published, I am constantly learning. Let me say that again. Folks, it’s constant. Just when I think I have something down, new challenges come my way. For a perfectionist spirit, that can be tough at times, but it’s fine. No seriously. I swear I mean it! It lets me continue to grow, which I know I need. We all need it, so I’m going to share a little bit of what’s been happening and give you some pointers to help you on your learning journey, no matter your beginner area.

The process of publication (specifically the very new area of marketing for me) and social media have been my latest topics of gaining knowledge. They are intertwined in many aspects, but first I’ll tell you about the publication for my debut novel, The Difference (date being released soon, yay!).

Oh, so many lessons have been learned over the last year or so while I wait for that book to be in both of our hands. For one, I have been lucky enough to be able to join groups online for debut authors. These groups have been a Godsend for me. The support and kindness of the other authors have warmed my heart every day. Nobody is in competition. Everybody is there to cheerlead, vent, learn, problem solve, and continue to get motivated for future greatness. I’ve met wonderful people and without them, I wouldn’t know half of what to expect in the months leading up to my release for marketing opportunities. Let me tell you how many mistakes I would have made as a novice! I believe my delay in publishing happened for a reason and part of it was that I had to be more prepared for what was coming my way, learning from their choices and advice. Sure, I’ll make mistakes on my own, but I know I have a group of people who will help me through them and won’t judge me.

Part of what I have learned from the other authors and with my own experiences is how to be in less control. Argh, the horror. Ugh, the beginner’s blindness to this not being reality. This independent, Type A, workaholic author loves a plan, loves to be excellent immediately, and loves to be in complete control. But guess what…it’s necessary to accept I am not in control. I chose to be traditionally published, so that gives up my total control from the start. I work with my publisher to have a schedule for editing, marketing, release, and promotion. Nothing is solely up to me (which brings me comfort to know I have an expert leading me, but still you may feel my pain). And my God, the beginner questions I have had to ask. It’s like a huge neon sign in Vegas pointing to me reading “newbie.” But yet, I force myself to ask and am better for having done so (and knowing the answer I needed).

So, back to social media. Has anyone figured out the algorithms yet? I know that’s a huge “no,” but a girl can still hope. If you ever do, tell me, okay? I am active daily on Instagram and Twitter and have been experimenting lately with when I post, the hashtags I use, how I write my narrative, and how I post in stories. I’ve even made a few videos, which is realllly outside of my comfort zone. Learning how to do something better is always an interest for me, but I do get frustrated at times. You know why? Because sometimes there is no rhyme or reason to posts that get more activity. If you read last month’s blog post (scroll down to read later) you know I am more interested in relationships than numbers, but I do want to keep growing of course. This means, I’ll continue to take webinars from trusted pros, put more of my face out there (so scary!), and keep on trying out new things. I won’t ever have a perfect account, but it will be a step closer to a personal excellence I can be satisfied with for putting in the effort. All I can do it try. That’s how learning happens sometimes.

Van Gogh is my favorite artist, but little did I know until recently he has many brilliant quotes as well as paintings and drawings. This quote below summarizes the needed attitude of being an author this day in age.

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It’s a must to learn much more than how to write a great book as an author these days. I didn’t expect I would learn Marketing 101 and more going into this field, but it’s been fun and fulfilling so far, even with being a beginner over and over. Here’s some major points I’ve learned and want to encourage you to think about in your life:

  • People are generally on your side- Others, especially in a community of your interest, want to help you. Also, I’m sure there is reciprocal inspiration and admiration, so put your stuff out there. I think most people are kind souls who want to see a person succeed when they notice hard work. At least I hope so. If not, they aren’t for you. Move on.
  • Force yourself to try new things (even things you thought you would never do)- You never know what positives will come from merely trying something new. If I didn’t start talking with people on social media platforms, I would not be anywhere near as knowledgeable or prepared for every step of my publication adventure. And making my videos recently? Deep breaths and my heart feeling like it stopped occurred when I pressed that share button, but I’m better for it. I faced my fear, no matter how small that seems. Who cares more than me anyway? It’s just a video. There are millions out there. Which leads me to…
  • Be more outgoing- Maybe you extroverts out there don’t need this one, but for this introvert, I have needed to take many steps that require getting past my shyness and gathering up my energy to be social, especially for my pitch party business. I have promoted my services with others live; the ultimate nerve-wracking activity for someone like me. But I push myself and do it! And I always will. I’m grateful for any opportunity. It matters more than fear. And speaking of…
  • Don’t be afraid to fail; it’s okay to make a mistake- Not every choice will lead to glory. Not every effort will pay off. What matters is that we keep trying, with knowing the risk of messing up is present and still rolling forward. It’s not life or death most of the time, so just do it! Maybe an unexpected positive will come from a perceived failure. You never know.

Even though none of us start off excellent in a new activity, we can get there with practice and determination. I’ve taught myself many art forms in my life (drawing, crochet, ukulele), but writing is the most complex, has social requirements, and has financial implications. I’m choosing to continue to practice my beginner status in any related writing activity until, well, until I’m a beginner in another writing related activity because I’m convinced they’re endless. 😊 That’s exciting in a way, to be the new kid on the block and learn from the best. I hope my perspective has helped you you’re your current situations and that you can feel my support from across the page. We can be beginners together!

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Copyright © 2021 C. D’Angelo, Author All rights reserved.