Today I am doing my first author interview and giveaway with Bonnie Lamer. Recently I reviewed Bonnie's book, True of Blood (read interview here), and she has graciously agreed to do an interview and giveaway on my blog. Two lucky winners will receive ebooks of True of Blood as well as another of Bonnie's titles of their choice. That's right, 2 winners will each win 2 ebooks!! This giveaway is international. To enter, please leave a comment with your email address. The deadline for entries is Wed, June 29 at midnight, PST. Winners will be chosen by random.org. This giveaway is sponsored by the author.
Interview with Bonnie Lamer:
How did you get started writing?
My love for reading started at a very young age. Being the youngest of five with a large gap in age between myself and my youngest sibling, I had four dedicated teachers who taught me to read fairly fluently at age four. This was mostly due to the fact that I threw a temper tantrum if there were words on the television screen or on signs that they didn’t read to me. Teaching me to read was the only way to save their sanity.
This love for reading grew into a love for writing. Throughout my childhood, I wanted to be a journalist. I loved writing high school and college papers, even though I usually procrastinated until the night before they were due to write them, and I was good at it. Growing up, I wanted to be a journalist. This dream got pushed to the wayside for years after I discovered a love for the medical field. As life events unfolded, though, I was given the opportunity in the last couple of years to once again pursue the dream of being a writer. Only now, I prefer novels to journalism.
Who or what encouraged (or still encourages) you in your writing?
I am fortunate enough to have close friends who believe in me and my writing. They are brutally honest, which I love. They would tell me if they thought what I was writing was a complete disaster, and I think that’s what a good friend should do. But, when they don’t like something, they don’t just tell me to give up. They give helpful suggestions and insights that I think make my writing better. I know they want me to succeed as much as I do and I value their input and their unwavering support.
What challenges have you faced and how did you overcome them?
I worked in the area of women’s health for years providing counseling and education to women of all ages. I eventually left this field to focus on hospital work and surgery in particular. I moved up the management ladder and eventually took a job as a consultant for large hospitals such as Stanford University Medical Center and the National Naval Center in Bethesda.
A divorce and a custody battle ended my consulting career. Travel was part of my job and the courts didn’t look kindly on a woman with this type of job fighting for custody. So, I was forced to choose between a career I loved, and had worked hard to make successful, and my children. My children won hands down and I have never looked back. The positive part of this story, other than having my children with me, is that I was suddenly able to focus attention on the field that I had once sworn adamantly that I would pursue. I became a writer.
I started writing two years ago and it has been a hard road requiring many lifestyle changes. I believe, though, that I am teaching my children to not only follow their dreams, but to not be discouraged if life throws you a major curve ball. We all dream of many things and just because one thing doesn’t work out doesn’t mean that you forget about all of your dreams.
Why did you self publish? Did you try to go the traditional route?
The easiest answer to this question is the difficulty any author has in finding that first break. The more honest answer is that it was cathartic for me to see my work out there and having people around the world enjoy what I wrote. After all the struggling I did to get to this point in my life, I needed some self-affirmation that I had made the right choice and publishing through PubIt and Amazon helped provide that much sooner than a traditional route would have.
How has this experience been for you?
It has definitely been a learning experience! Overall, the experience has been positive. It is always slow going getting your name out there, but Amazon in particular goes the extra mile in helping authors find their market. I am starting to get some recognition and my sales are most definitely improving. I’m glad I chose this route.
What advice to you have for others who would like to self publish?
Write what you love is the most important thing. The next step is to find people who will be honest with you and give you feedback that can help improve your story. People who tell you they love your book when they really don’t are hurting you more than they are helping you. Editing is also crucial and most of us can’t afford to pay an editor as we start out. The advantage to self-publishing is that as reviewers give feedback, you have the opportunity to go back and fix the errors they found.
The last bit of advice – don’t let reviewers get you down. Most reviewers’ hearts are in the right place even if they don’t give you a great review. Ultimately, most want you to succeed and they are just giving constructive criticism. The occasional reviewer you run into that would rather be unkind isn’t worth worrying about. Take what they say in consideration and move on.
What do you do when you are not writing?
With five children underfoot and a menagerie of pets, I am never at a loss for things to do during the day! When the day is done, and the kids are in bed, I get my Mommy time. With this time, I occasionally go out with friends – I love playing pool, but mostly I revel in the silence and read or write or enjoy the company of friends at home. I have a few television shows that I enjoy, but the TV isn’t on much.
How do you incorporate writing into your everyday life? How do you fuel your writing?
Since I am able to be a full time writer, I am lucky enough not to have to set aside a particular time to write. But with such a busy household, distractions are constant! Fortunately, as a mother of so many, one learns to multitask. I have trained myself fairly well not to lose my train of thought amidst all the interruptions I have throughout the day. I am also good at tuning out the television, video games, music and loud children at play. I have a hard time sitting at my desk as I write. I am much more comfortable curling up on the couch or in the recliner with my feet up and my laptop on my lap amidst the controlled chaos of the household as opposed to writing in seclusion away from the noise. The phone is probably my biggest distraction. I like to turn off the ringer when I write.
Having been an eclectic reader over the years, I knew the areas that inspired me the most were paranormal fiction and romance. For paranormal fiction, it was the challenge of finding new ways to write about mythology, witchcraft and fairies that hadn’t been done to death. With romance, my years in women’s health and my own personal experiences were my inspiration. For the latter, I like to joke with my friends that those who can’t do, write.
Do you have any special routines or rituals for writing?
Other than finding a comfortable spot and fitting it in around the kids’ schedules, not really. I do have lots of little scraps of paper in my purse because I have scribbled notes for books while I’m out and about doing things like attending Little League games or helping out at school.
I found I loved the imagination displayed in your book, for example the ghost parents and the witch fairy. Can you tell us about this?
It’s important to come up with new ideas in any genre because there are so many books available based on the same ideas. I knew I had to come up with something fresh and exciting. I’ve always loved mythology and have done a lot of reading on the mythology of different cultures; so some of my ideas come form lore around the world that has fascinated me over the years. I used my knowledge to create building blocks that inspired my imagination, and my brain took if from there.
Ideas for things like the ghosts as parents come from a simpler place. Home. I was joking with a friend one day about children’s behavior. Often, when children suddenly become very quiet, chances are good they’re doing something they don’t want you to know about - and wouldn’t it be great to be able to see through walls to know what they were up to? From that sprang the idea that being able to walk through walls would be even better. And another note was jotted down on a napkin for later consideration. The challenge of writing parents who were ghosts fascinated me and I enjoyed creating an atmosphere where this seemed almost normal.
Is there anything else you want to tell us about your book?
In my Eliana Brennan series, I created a male character that was charming, supportive, and considerate and everything else a girl would want in a boyfriend. I had fun creating a male character in this book who is not necessarily the direct opposite, but he certainly tries to be at times. Evolving him into a character that grew on you as you read further, despite his character flaws, was fun.
What new projects are you working on or are excited about right now?
I am very excited about my current project. On my blog, http://bonnielamer.blogspot.com/, I have asked readers to critique my next novel in my romance series as I write it. Readers may give their opinions, ideas, criticisms, and whatever else they want to offer every step of the way as the book is written. When it’s done, I’ll publish the name of every contributor in a section of the book titled, “My Opinion Mattered.” (Contributors may remain anonymous if they prefer.) I have had a lot of fun with this! I love that readers are taking an active interest in my next book.
Thank you so much to Bonnie for answering all of my questions.
Here is your chance to win 2 great titles from Bonnie Lamer. Just leave a comment below with your email address so we can contact the winners!