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Archive for February, 2010|Monthly archive page

Q&A with Published Author Barbara Watkins

In Q&As on February 8, 2010 at 7:29 pm

How many books have you had published?  

As of today that would be three, Behind the Red Door, Thorns of an Innocent Soul, and my latest release Nightmares and Daydreams.    

What other work have you had published?  

Some of my short stories and poetry are included among other author’s in such Anthologies as “Hope Whispers” “The New York Skyline Review 2008” “WOW Anthology 2008” “Cold Coffee Magazine” second issue, and soon to be released “Another Time, Another Place” from Mythica Publishing.

When were you first published, and how did it come to pass?  

After submitting my manuscript to several publishers, I chose to go with the first publisher that answered back, Publish America. My first novella, “Behind the Red Door” was released in 2005.   

**Do you have a literary agent?**  

No, but I’m working on it. At the time I wrote my first two novellas I didn’t really have a clue how the publishing process worked. I didn’t understand that an agents job was to negotiate you a fair deal with the publisher, to make sure you receive adequate royalties and hopefully a nice advance. Currently, without an agent to represent you, it’s almost impossible to get your manuscript in the hands of a traditional publisher such as, Random House, Penguin, Simon & Schuster,etc. Not to say it is impossible to be published without one, several million authors and I have, but I believe I could have received a much better deal if I’d had one at the time I submitted my work for publishing.     

How long did it take to write your books? How soon thereafter did you see them in print?  

It took me approximately six months to write each of my novella’s Behind the Red Door and Thorns of an Innocent Soul. Nightmares & Daydreams is a collection of short stories and poetry I wrote several years ago over a period of about a year. My first two novellas were published quite quickly after the submitting process, within about six months. Unfortunately, they were published in print with formatting and grammatical errors. At the time I assumed all publishing houses appointed an editor to your work and that any mistakes would be corrected before being released – not a smart assumption on my part. Not all publishing houses are created equal, if you catch my drift. Not to take away from my first two books, they both acquired rave reviews for their storylines, but in all honesty, they should have never been accepted with all the editorial mistakes. After hiring my own editor to polish Nightmares & Daydreams I submitted it to a different publisher, which in turn assigned yet another editor to my work before going to print – six months later I had a book in my hand I could be proud of.        

How do/did you handle writing with children underfoot?  

I do almost all of my writing late at night – and I do mean late at night! I have six small grandchildren and at any given time, I’m usually watching at least one or more. I write anytime I possible can get a free minute, usually that means while they’re napping, or glued to the TV set watching Spongebob. Thank God for Spongebob! Although, most of my productive work I do late in the wee hours of the night.       

How much time do you spend writing daily? Weekly?  

I try to write at least three to four hours every night, including weekends. Recently I’ve taken on some book reviewing jobs and it’s becoming more difficult, but I feel it’s important to write everyday in order to keep a rhythm going.    

How do you juggle your other responsibilities as a writer (marketing, bookkeeping, etc)?  

I have a lot of help. My niece, Christy Bradshaw, is my publicist and web designer – my go to girl, so to speak. My sister, Angela Shuffit, is a tremendous help to me by making sure my book keeping is in order, and has scheduled several successful book signings for me. It really is a family affair.      What has been most helpful to you as a writer?   For me it was joining a writers group. I joined The Heartland Writers Guild shortly after writing Behind the Red Door and Thorns of an Innocent Soul. I attended my first conference in June of 2006 and from the very first minute, I was hooked. These groups are dedicated to educating and promoting published and unpublished writers. I can’t say enough about how important joining a writers group is if you’re looking to perfect your craft.         

From a financial standpoint, does your writing afford you the opportunity to live comfortably?

 The average book sells 500 copies. If you sell tens of thousands (extremely decent) it’s still Chickenfeed! By the time you figure in your costs for promoting, deduct agents cut (if you’re lucky enough to snag one) not to mention hiring an editor – well, you catch my drift. Therefore, no, I’m not getting rich, but I am living my dream. Besides, you never know, your next manuscript just might be THE ONE!    

What more do you hope to accomplish as a writer?

 As of now, I just finished my first full-length novel entitled Hollowing Screams, a paranormal/psychological thriller. It’s being edited as we speak. Last week I received an e-mail from an established literary agency asking to take a look. Maybe Hollowing Screams could be THE ONE? 

Any final thoughts for aspiring writers/authors?  

Write as much as you can. Read as many books as you can when not writing. Always edit your work, edit, edit, edit. Query an agent that is interested in your genre. Beware of publishing scams and always research whom you’re sending your material to. Most of all write in the genre that you know and are comfortable with. I would like to share an e-mail I received from Anne Rice shortly after Behind the Door was published.   “I congratulate you on your success with your books, and I know you will go on having success.  It’s wonderful, this world of being a writer, without doubt.”

You can learn more about Barbara Watkins by visiting her website or reading her blog.

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The Balancing Act

In Writer Challenges, Writing & Motherhood on February 4, 2010 at 2:24 pm

Long time no post, huh? I figured it was time to post an update for those interested in the life of a freelance writer breaking into the industry.

One of the reasons I haven’t been able to update my blogs as much as I’d like is a very cranky 17 month old in the house. He’s recently developed a jealousy of my computer and begins screaming at the top of his lungs whenever he sees me sit at my desk. Thank God for a internet capable cell phone (and thank my husband for buying it) – otherwise I wouldn’t even be able to write this, as I’m pinned under a sleeping little one in bed.

Other than that, the little one spilled hot chocolate on my keybaord and I was out of commission for a bit until I could get a new one. I came down with a stomach virus that had me sequestered to the sidelines for a bit. And as some of you may know, I am back in school working on my Bachelor’s which is taking up some of my time.

What have I learned from all this?? Juggling life, motherhood, and career can often be much like a dance or a tight rope walk – lean too much in either direction and there can be disastrous consequences. Trust me, I’ve learned this the hard way.

As it stands now I am still trying to help the little one overcome this phase he’s going through and figure out the cause. I am in the process of reviewing Charter Schools: The Ultimate Handbook for Parents by Karin Piper (parents can check back for that in the next few days). I am still moving forward with my book, and I have been in touch with a few other talented writers/bloggers about some possible collaborations.

Is it everything I wish I could be doing? Not quite. But some progress is better than none. Balance is not an easy thing to master, especially with children – but I’m getting there.