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 That makes every unknown, previously unpublished author, a very tiny fish in a giant ocean of authors.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.

jl-rothstein-vengeance
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.

Author, expectations, experiment

Experimenting with Great Expectations

pink-fruit-pineapple-avocado-grapes-kiwi-banana-experimenting-with-great-expectations

What did you think of my first author interview in last month’s blog post? I hope you enjoyed it and like the variety I have here now. See, you don’t know if the month will bring an interview or my personal journey, so you have to follow along to find out. Hmm, I wonder what will next month have… You will see! Just click “Follow” at the bottom of the page and you will receive the monthly email with my post.

But as for this month, I want to ask a question. Are you a scientist? Most people will answer, “No” (I don’t think I have a huge reader audience of scientists but maybe I will be pleasantly surprised!). I am not a scientist, but realize I need to act as one in this great experiment I have gotten myself into with being an author. With having a new career as a novelist, I am learning as I go, therefore needing to experiment but also to check my expectations. Sure, I have researched as much as possible ahead of time and always think through every single thing I say in public, but I also have to try some things out to know if they work. This isn’t as easy as it sounds. It comes with self-doubt, anxiety, fear, endless time devoted, money spent, and probably more that I am blocking out. Kidding, not kidding. But hey, let’s not forget about the high of success in an experiment; the smiles on readers’ faces, the kind comments about my book and my presence online that I receive, and the surprises that are unpredictable. Sometimes I aim for a one result and get another, sometimes I receive an unexpected bonus, and sometimes I f-f-ail. ☹ Ok, that’s a strong word, but still, you get my drift.

Now, think about your own expectations with an endeavor. This could be as simple as making a trip to Target. Maybe you expect to get there in 5 minutes, shop and find everything you need, then come home and start laundry. Ah, but what if there is traffic on the way, the store is out of your common you-can-bet-that-they-have-it item, and you get home so late you don’t have time to start laundry before going to bed? You expected a yellow pineapple and got a pink one, so to speak. If you had your heart set on the yellow pineapple you may be disappointed with the pink one, but if you were open to any color pineapple, you would feel fine. There would not be a mood shift and no impact on your night. Perspective is everything. That’s how an author scientist needs to approach all activities for marketing.

This month is Italian Heritage Month, so I have many activities planned.

italian-american-heritage-month-october

It’s the first full week and already I have come across challenges, reminding me of those pesky expectations that crept in again. My one day $.99 sale began and ended earlier and later than desired due to websites loading at different times then price matching back and forth. Next, my first giveaway post ever went out on the day after the Instagram and Facebook blackout. I thought the platforms were fixed by the next day because my pages were fine, but this wasn’t the case for everyone. So, problem solving mode ensued and all was/will be fine. Expectations had to get in check and remembering about experimenting had to take over. It was a great reminder that this has to happen with anything I try. If an error occurs, I will try to solve it. Just like Vanilla Ice (‘90s kids anyone?). “If there was a problem, yo, I’ll solve it.” Now I have a huge urge to continue to recite the song, but I’ll spare you. 😊

Where did this genius idea of viewing activities as experimenting come from? My wonderful author friend, Debbie Cromack, who is the kindest human and also a new author, shared it with me this year (go check out her social media and books). It helped me tremendously to give myself a break from my high standards that sometimes are out of my control. I do not know how an action will translate into sales of books, so I have to try what I can to the best of my knowledge. Entering a promotion for my book The Difference, a new way to post or blog, or anything else I may madly experiment with needs to be approached with eyes and mind wide open but also through that lens of “It’s just an experiment.” This phrase helps my mindset if a mini disaster strikes, but sometimes Debbie still needs to remind me (thanks, friend!).

So my pointer to you for keeping expectations in check would be to visualize success but accept a different outcome because it’s all an experiment in this thing we call life. That’s it. Just try something and see what happens. Trying will always lead to some result, whereas not trying will get you nowhere fast and possibly leave you with regret and thinking, “What if?”

I will be talking about my written words the rest of my life and will continue to find ways of sharing about it, all with hopes of reaching more people in this great experiment of sharing my art. I will just have to embrace the wins and let the lows roll off my shoulders. I’m not great at that, but I will keep learning. That’s what experiments do for us after all; give us knowledge for future action. Happy experimenting, all.

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

Author, Italian American Author, Women's Fiction Author

I Gotta Be (Uncool) Me

Uncool-Me

Do you consider yourself cool, “in,” or on-trend? Are you a person who wants to do what others are doing, read what others are reading, and live the life like the Jones’? I’m still not so sure about me…or am I?

As this new year began, I thought about whether I want to change my approach with my social media accounts. No, not the themes of what I post (don’t worry!), but who I follow or even the books I read to then be able to share with others online. I’ll come back to that in a second, though.

What sparked this blog post was that I was surprised to read over and over in accounts over the last few days that others had the same thought about who they want to interact with online. So many people even declared they want better relationships with followers/who they follow versus only thinking about the numbers of people on their account for the sake of having high numbers. I feel like I am rarely in the majority of common thought, but maybe 2021 has changed that pattern. Haha, yeah right. What’s funny is that at this point in my middle-aged life, I don’t completely want that anymore (gasp!).

See, I have never been a cool person. I’m a nerd. I have embraced it by now, for the most part. During adolescence it was a different story! I was never a person who wore the best clothes, who wanted to be the center of social attention, or who knew how to throw or catch a ball with any success. Yes, I was the person picked last in PE every single time. But I always had good friends, tons of laughs, many hobbies, and excelled in school and the arts. If that is part of the criteria for being uncool, I’ll take it.

But back to the present. How can I fit in with the author culture online but remain myself? How can I play with the popular kids?

I feel like the picture at the top is a good example of how I perceive myself. I am an author, like all the other, ahem, pencils, for most major aspects, but I am also different like the green pencil. I want to draw like the rest of the best, be with them and be considered part of the group, but I don’t want to do what everyone else is doing. In this industry, though, that can be a problem at times. Yes, I want to continue on my traditional publishing path (for which I am extremely grateful to be in that company), but I also like to stand out within that path for uncommon and unique reasons. Maybe it’s my niche interests I integrate into my novels like genealogy or the nuggets of Italian American culture I hope people find as interesting as I do. Yes, fun facts are my jam.

If you follow me on social media, you know I have high engagement with my followers. I also try to comment and connect with people who don’t follow me, of course hoping they will, but that’s not the reason I do it. I like chit chatting with everyone. I love giving to others, and online that means making comments, liking, and sharing what someone worked hard on to show to the world that day. I want you to know someone sees you and is rooting you on. By doing this, I’ve made true friends. This is why I have been particular on who I follow back. I want to see posts on my feed that are interesting, clean, inspiring, and beautiful, from kind people. I would rather that any day than having high following numbers from people I would rather not be associated with for my brand. It’s hard to remember that some days, though, but I know I’ll get there.

Another thing you may notice is that I usually do not read huge books of the moment. Maybe I should more often, but I am usually months or years behind. It’s like when capris became popular and I purposely rejected them because everyone was wearing them (plus I have long legs and just wanted a pair of pants that fit!). Sometimes I go the opposite direction of something everyone is doing. It’s my own personal protest. Yes, I know it doesn’t make sense, but it does in my head. I like to be more of an individual and do not like to be told what is good or what I should be doing. I like to read books that may even be embarrassing to post to the world. You know, uncool type books (for example…just kidding. I’ll leave you wondering). In fact, that’s why I don’t post every single book I read on Goodreads. Some info will be left private. I’m even shy to post a #shelfie!

This quote from my favorite artist is an example of how I perceive my choices for my online presence.

Van-Gogh-quote

I can’t have both ways of interacting in either of my author dilemmas. A choice must be made. I need to stay the path I have carved out for having maybe less followers than others but better engagement with people I admire. Also, to continue to be at peace with not reading every new release and hot book of the month. Oh yeah, and to quiet the voice of guilt or the question of fitting in online in my author world. I’m not a true bookstagrammer anyway. I adore the bookstagrammers, don’t get me wrong, because they make my feeds gorgeous and they bring new books to my attention for when I’m ready in ten years. I guess my “color” ismy uncoolness. My being me. My continuing to post what makes me (and my followers) happy. My color lets me shine and stand out from the other authors because they are doing their own things and I continue to do mine.

I may change my opinion in the future, and I am okay with that. Right now, my focus is on getting The Difference published this year (date released soon, eee!) and continuing to edit The Visitor for querying. If you relate to this post, you will love The Difference. My main character Rachel’s journey of self-discovery involves feeling different for her entire life and struggling to find her meaning. Oooh, I can’t wait for you to read it.

I hope you love my genuineness in my posts and my vulnerability here today. I’m just being me. Plain old, uncool me. And I’m great with it. I encourage you to be you as well. There’s only one of each of us, after all.

Dr-Seuss-quote

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

Author, Italian American Author, Women's Fiction Author

Vulnerability: Steps and Lessons 

If you follow my social media (and I sure hope you do! 😊), you know that I just submitted my first round of line edits back to my publisher. During this process, I started to think about the amount of vulnerability that is needed in the author world, as well as lessons I have already learned. Let’s look at the meaning of the world “vulnerability” before I go any further.

Vulnerability- the quality or state of being exposed to the possibility of being attacked or harmed, either physically or emotionally. (Oxford Dictionary)

These words strike me especially strong at this time in the world. They are powerful, anxiety provoking, and just plain scary! What is your reaction? What have you been vulnerable with or are being vulnerable about right now in your life? (Pause for self-reflection, lol…but seriously)

Okay, you’re back. So, I’ve given deep thought to the concept of vulnerability in the past, due to my role as a mental health therapist. I’ve thought about it for my clients and in my own life, but never as much as lately. I’m happy to share some insights here, in hopes you can connect to them for your own benefit. But first, a slight backstory. You know that’s how I work by now!

From the moment I opened myself up to the public as an author, when I started my website and social media platforms in December 2018, I had to get more comfortable with the risk of others’ thoughts, responses, and opinions…risk meaning the possibility of something negative or hurtful. I hoped and thought that most people would be kind souls, but you never know. “Attack” is always possible. That was level one for my vulnerability, in my mind, as I reflect back. It’s a constant threat, as I open up my heart every single time I post something or respond to other people’s posts. Of course, it’s a risk I’m willing to take. Just as the next steps.

Level two came as soon as I sent my first query letter in June 2019. Now, you see, I was not only exposing myself to the public, but specifically to experts in the publishing field. Cue the racing heart and flood of second guessing my work. But I persisted. I had to in order to meet my dream of getting published.

The stakes kept rising with each risk I took; the pitch parties I participated in, the interactions with agents and publishers, going to classes, and joining webinars to build my skills. Every bit was allowing a piece of me to escape, without knowing where the piece would end up. This is wayyyy out of my comfort zone, let me tell you.

But then came the call with my now publisher. Level three was in action. She already knew I had not published books in the past, but during this call she mentioned a popular website I hadn’t heard of, which I told her I didn’t know, and I’ll never forget her response. She commented on me actually being a newbie to the field (not in a rude way at all, more like a “oh yeah” moment). The comment stayed with me because I always want to be known as knowledgeable and intelligent (that’s just a part of my personality). I love to be as prepared as possible for any circumstance, but can’t be, obviously. Also, what stuck with me was that it was okay with her that I was new. It wasn’t an issue at all. In that conversation, nor in future correspondence, did she ever have an issue with my past experience.

From that point on I felt a large increase in comfort with being able to be myself during our work together. The lesson of “honesty is always the best policy” is one I abide by and it was reinforced from the start of my relationship with my publisher. There is always going to be a first time for people. We all have to start somewhere and thank God she is giving me a chance.

The next lesson I learned from the requirement of being vulnerable in the author domain is that my desire to learn works for me and my success. Although I want to know everything I can, I know I don’t. Even if I was one of the experts in this field, I still wouldn’t ever consider myself an expert. I have a mentality that I’m always learning. There is always better and more I can do. I love to learn, as written about in last’s month’s blog, so why would this journey be any different? I know I need to listen to my experts (editor and publisher; also, another lesson) to make my book the best it will be. Otherwise, I may as well have self-published.

As I have read through the editor comments in my manuscript these last two rounds, I always try to keep an open mind. I need to be flexible and be able to ponder other people’s opinions of my writing, in order to make it shine. Don’t get me wrong, sometimes I don’t agree, but that is okay. We can have conversations about both of our thoughts and go from there. Sometimes though, it may be that I first don’t agree, think about it more, come back to it at a later point in time, and then see the opinion is correct. Sometimes, even after thinking about it, I come back and still don’t agree, but change the issue anyway, just to see what it would be like. Then, magically, it does work better. Most of the time, the editor is spot on, in fact. It’s not easy to see some things within your own work; you need others. When your art includes your heart, which it always does and yes I rhymed on purpose, it can be difficult to know what can make it better. Even some published books can still be better, I’m sure. The experts are there for a reason, so let them help you. They are on your side. Defensiveness or ego be gone. They won’t get you anywhere, in my opinion.

Maybe the steps are endless in my journey, as I continue to embark on new and exciting aspects in the author world. I know I will be expanding in the future for areas in marketing and such, so there may be a hundred steps of vulnerability. Who knows? What I do know is that as I continue to open my heart and soul, I am becoming a stronger person. This gift is earned and takes time. I’m curious and excited to know all the steps and lessons that are to come in my future as an author.

Tell me if you can relate to being vulnerable at this time and any teachable moments you have had, below in comments. Thanks for reading!

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Copyright © 2020 C. D’Angelo, Author. All rights reserved.