Thursday, December 30, 2010

Intriguing New Year's Questions for the Reader, Writer, and Unpubbed ... Come See.

Maybe you've been wondering why E-Books are such a rage these days. Take a minute with Anne, and you'll see another reason to be excited about this popular new way to read a book.
Anne K. Albert has taught high school art, sold display advertising for a weekly newspaper, and worked for a national brand water company, but now writes full time. Her debut novel, DEFENDING GLORY, is the first book of the Piedmont Island Trilogy series about a small community where troubles outnumber residents. Released in 2010 by Vanilla Heart Publishing, it is available in e-book format and print. When not writing, Anne enjoys traveling with her high school sweetheart husband, visiting friends and family, knitting, crocheting, and of course, reading.
SKC: Hi and welcome to you Anne. We’re anxious to hear about your book in a bit. I will be asking you to share a blurb if you will. In the meantime, is there a message in Defending Glory you want readers to grasp?

Anne: I believe people come into our lives for a reason, and that’s exactly what happens when Mac meets Glory. The direction of his life changes forever. And, I might add, for the better!

SKC: How long does it take you to write a book? And how would you describe your specific writing routine?

Anne: When I give myself a deadline, I’m able to write the bones (or first draft) of a book in about six to eight weeks. The revision process takes another two or three weeks, but I prefer to take a break in between. Focusing on something other than the story for at least a week or so gives me clarity I don’t have otherwise if I rush through to “the end”.
As for having a specific writing routine, it varies. Either morning or late evening is my most productive time to write. However, my goal for 2011 is to complete two (but preferably three) books, so setting a minimum daily word count will also help.

SKC: I love Critique Partners and Critique Groups both. Are you a member of a critique group, or do you have a critique partner? Why or why not? If so, how often do you meet? And how do you see them as value?

Anne: I agree wholeheartedly about the merits of a critique partner and a critique group. I’ve had both in the past, and learned a great deal in the process. Now, I rely on beta readers to say what works and what doesn’t work in a completed manuscript.

SKC: What keeps you going with your writing in spite of the rejection notices that come?

Anne: I would love to say rejection did not get to me, but it did. I gave up writing twice. The first time was about ten years ago. I did not write a single word for about two months, and was practically bursting at the seams by the time I crawled back to the computer! I wrote three more novels. I also entered contests, analyzed the feedback, and kept writing with those recommendations in mind.

Defending Glory won two RWA sponsored contests for unpubbed writers in 2008. The rejections, however, continued to flow in. Worse, they included comments that praised my writing ability but basically said “not for me”. I found that SO much harder to swallow, and feared that perhaps I was being delusional. Who did I think I was? A writer?!


In August 2009, I broke my wrist, and hit rock bottom. I quit writing for a second time, and the drought continued for months. While my focus was on physiotherapy and healing, I was terrified because I honestly did not know if I would ever write again. The spark and urge to create had disappeared. Then, in the spring of 2010, a wonderful friend asked to read Defending Glory. We met for coffee afterward, and she talked about the story. Hearing it from her point of view, I realized how proud I was to have written it. With her encouragement, I began the submission process all over again, and in September 2010 Vanilla Heart Publishing offered me a contract. (So the moral of the story is never, ever give up!)

SKC: How many books have you written to date? Which one are you most proud of and why?

Anne: I’ve written five books to date. The first will never see the light of day. I’m in the process of revising book number two, and not sure what I’ll do with number three. Number four (Frank, Incense and Muriel, first book of the Muriel Reeves Mysteries), and book number five (Defending Glory) were released in late 2010, and I’m very, very proud of them both.

SKC: Of all the characters you’ve created, tell us about one that holds a special place in your heart and why.

Anne: I admire Glory, the heroine in Defending Glory, because she understands the trappings of a modern, affluent, and often aimless lifestyle does not necessarily equate with an emotional and spiritual wellbeing. She knows less can be more, yet she never lectures. She just lives by example.

SKC: What is the hardest part of writing for you and the most surprising thing you’ve learned from your writing?

Anne: Starting a new story is always the hardest part for me. Not because I don’t have any ideas, but because I’m a seat-of-the-pants author and I write in chronological order. I start at chapter one, scene one, and the beginning scene has to resonate with me before I can continue with the rest of the story and proceed to scene two. I’ll often write ten or more first scenes for the same story before I stumble across the one that “feels” just right.

The most surprising thing I’ve learned is that I am a seat-of-the-pants writer! I’d prefer to be a plotter. I’ve wasted years trying to be a plotter. I’ve even plotted two complete stories, but never written them. Why? Because I know what’s going to happen! Once I figured that out, I stopped trying to change who I am. And how I write. I’m a pantser!

SKC: Are you a glass half-empty or half-full kind of person? Let your answer to the question I just asked help you complete this sentence. “I’m happiest when….”

Anne: I’m a half-full person. Always have been. I believe people are about as happy as they decide to be.

I’m happiest when I’m writing and something happens that takes the story to the next level. That’s when I know I’m onto something worthwhile as a writer.

SKC: Give us a short blurb for your story. When you are finished, for your 3-part reflection question to one of our responders (so I can draw a winner’s name for your book)

Anne: Story blurb: Suffering from survivor’s guilt and unable to resume his career with the FBI, Mac McKeown moves to northern Minnesota to start over as a general contractor and forget that fateful day that changed everything. When he discovers the body of his nemesis on Glory Palmer’s property, along with a warning for her to leave while she still can and abandon her dream of building a Christian retreat, Mac realizes his past has come back to haunt him and an innocent woman’s life is in grave danger. He vows to keep her safe during construction of the retreat, but can he protect his heart as well?

REFLECTION QUESTIONS FOR OUR GUESTS TO RESPOND TO WHETHER UNPUBBED, PUBBED, or mainly READERS:
(1) Being an UNPUBBED WRITER can be an exhausting endeavor, and achieving success can often take years. There is lots of advice on the Internet and in how-to books as to the best way to get a publishing contract. While they all have value, I believe a writer has to remain true to herself. She has to appreciate her limits, and know what line she will not cross. For me it’s writing a sex scene. I do not feel comfortable doing it, and as a reader I always skim over that section. 

IF YOU ARE AN UNPUBBED WRITER, HOW WOULD YOU complete this sentence:
“I’ll do everything and anything to get published, except _____________________________________________________________________________ "
(2) NEWLY PUBBED (and perhaps older) writers like myself have to come to terms with the changing publishing climate. Established NYC publishers are experiencing financial difficulties or bankruptcy, while emerging small and independent publishers are flourishing thanks to e-books.

Are you willing to embrace these changes? Will your views and attitudes on these changes aid or hinder your writing career?

(3) FOR THE READER: Both the heroine, Glory, and the hero, Mac, in “Defending Glory” relocated to Piedmont Island after suffering a personal tragedy.

Do you have a special place that calls to your soul? If so, describe it. What makes it so appealing?

SKC: All your questions are great, Anne. They really make us stop and think. And THANK YOU for offering to give a book to one of our responders!

We want to thank you so much for being here. Before you leave let us know where we can find you and your books.

Anne: The pleasure is all mine, Shirley. Thank you for having me! Readers can learn more about me and my books on my website http://www.AnneKAlbert.com  or at my blog: http://anne-k-albert.blogspot.com . DEFENDING GLORY is available in e-book format or print at various online locations, including Amazon.com, Barnes & Noble, Smashwords, and Vanilla Heart Publishing.

Okay, folks, it's now your turn. To win yourself a great read for the brand new year, write in and respond to one of Anne's questions. I look forward to maybe drawing your name in a few days.

Woo Hoo! A bunch of congrats are in order for Anne Payne of Vale, North Carolina! I know you're going to love Anne Albert's book! Do come back again.  

19 comments:

  1. This was such an engaging interview. It was like so much of my own story. I am a fairly new published author (2 novels, 1 play, all within a year and a half) but have been writing for what seems like EONS. The changing times really are something that we must embrace and roll with. The prospects of writing full time wouls be awesome, but actually making enough to feed oneself is another thing ...

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  2. Very interesting interview. Glad you stayed with your writing in spite of the setbacks.

    Malcolm

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  3. Thanks for the kind words, Tracy. And yes, I can identify with the EONS part. If I count back to the very second in time when I decided to be a writer to receiving the call it was TWO DECADES! Yikes. That said, I'm determined to enjoy everything...even the stuff I don't like! :)

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  4. So glad you stopped by, Malcolm. We're both so fortunate to be associated with Vanilla Heart Publishing.

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  5. Happy New Year,Great interview. I'm a reader not an author so was very interested in learning that there are plotters and plantsters :)

    Question #3. My soul place is a small lake in Northern Saskatchewan in the middle of the forest. I love to walk down to the water's edge sit on the beach and watch the ripples come and go. The peace in the atmosphere with the slight ripple movement distracting the eye can result in all sorts of profound and silly thoughts to wander across the mind.

    wyndyc at gmail dot com
    http://wynsbooks.blogspot.com

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  6. Hi Wyn, Thanks so much for dropping by and commenting. And yes, writers are as varied and different in our approach to writing as we have different tastes in ice cream. :)

    As for Saskatchewan, it is one of my favorite Canadian provinces. I love the miles and miles of golden fields of the south, and the ruggedness of the north. Thanks for taking me there today!

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  7. I don't have a special place that calls me but if I can be near water it calms me and makes me feel good.
    I usually just read a great book to fit my mood and that will take me away better than calgon. lol

    Please add my name to the drawing.

    misskallie2000 at yahoo dot com

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  8. I can't say I have a special place but I love the mountains and water. I can take a beach for short periods of time, but I prefer to be behind closed doors, with a fireplace glowing, my books, my crochet, my computer and especially my Bible

    What would I not do? I will not knowingly cross the line in the sand the Lord has before me. I don't always see it, but he lets me know where it is.

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  9. To #3:
    Mine would have to be Angel Lodge right off the path that goes down into the Grand Grand Canyon. Hubby and I got the last room with a bath. It was created in a log cabin construction. The window looked out on the path leading down to the bottom of the canyon. It's the closest to nature I had been in years due to disabilities. I felt so close to the Lord because of it, too. We thoroughly loved the area! Would go again on a dime!

    I'd love to be a part of your drawing, and am glad you continued to write.

    desertrose5173 at gmail dot com

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  10. Thank you, MissKallie and Bella, for dropping by. There certainly is something to be said about being close to water that soothes the soul, isn't there? Maybe that's why those tiny, indoor water features are so popular!

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  11. Linda, as soon as you mentioned the Grand Canyon, I thought YES, what an incredible place! Why didn't I think of it myself? It's been years since hubby and I have visited...guess it's time for another trip. He can hike while I write!

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  12. “I’ll do everything and anything to get published, except" self-publish. I know my limits and I don't have the time/energy/expertise to venture into the world of self-publishing.

    twinwillowsfarm at gmail dot com

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  13. I love the changes going on. But I also love the print books. As long as there are good books to read I don't care how they come.
    Jay

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  14. Pegg, it's important to know your boundaries. Congrats for understanding what is and what is not important in your life.

    Anonymous said...<>. I honestly could not have said it better myself. Love that line!

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  15. Thanks for the post! I came over from ACFWNorthwest chapter. I'm new there.

    I would do anything to be published except rearrange my priorities. God, family, career. :)

    jess@jessiegunderson.com

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  16. “I’ll do everything and anything to get published, except
    My answer would be: GIVE UP MY SOUL JUST TO BE PUBLISHED!

    Thanks for a great post!

    Diane

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  17. I love to read just about any book dealing with the FBI. Ever since I saw Sarah Plain & Tall, I have wanted to go to Maine and stand on the cliff overlooking the ocean.
    Wonderful interview. Thank you for the opportunity to win a copy!

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  18. Not sure if I was supposed to leave an email or not but here it is...

    homesteading[at]charter[dot]net

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  19. Thank you Shirley & Anne! I am looking forward to reading this book :)

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