Welcome to my weekly blog series – Author Interviews.
Every Saturday I get to interview inspiring authors who let me into their creative world. I get to hear how they overcame tough literary challenges, the highlights from their book writing journey and their answer to the big literary question – what do they wear whilst working on their literary masterpieces?
This week I am joined by author and blogger Allie Potts. She describes herself as a ‘writer, geek and a constant self improver.’ I read her book ‘An Uncertain Faith’ last year and struggled to put it down, so she has been on my author hit list for sometime.
I do love Allie’s Twitter profile which reads ‘my Twitter activity may sometimes seem all over the place, but that is just how my mind works.’ This reminds me of how I approach Twitter.
Please welcome Allie Potts!
1. Hey Allie, tell my readers about yourself and the books you have written.
I was dreading this question. Blatant self-promotion is like my kryptonite. I feel like I am getting weaker just from answering.
Quick – drink more virtual coffee!
For example, I was specifically told under pain of most severe punishment that I needed to tell you I’d come up with a logo idea for you, if you were interested. Did you know I’ve started a graphic design business on the side including author logos, book covers, and book formatting? (Because my hair wasn’t going grey fast enough chasing after my two boys, maintaining a full-time day job, or writing novels) No? Well that may have something to do with the fact that I am terrible about telling anyone anything about my business.
Which is rather odd if you think about it, considering I’ve created an entire blog centered on my oh, so glamorous life as a working mom and growing authorpreneur. Telling people all about my somewhat personal business as well as my observations about life is what I do weekly.
Anyway, let’s talk books instead. Currently I have two books in print, An Uncertain Faith, which is Women’s Fiction / Cozy Mystery and The Fair & Foul, which is futuristic speculative fiction aka earth-bound science fiction.
While on the surface, the genres may not look to have anything in common, but both feature human characters (read at times flawed characters) as well as trust, relationships, and motivations that are neither black or white.
An Uncertain Faith stars Charlotte, an average working mom who comes home one day to find her husband and child missing and left to answer the question, did they go willingly or is there a more dire explanation.
The Fair & Foul introduces readers to Juliane, a brilliant programmer determined to change the world, but Juliane may just as well cause its ruin.
Gosh – you have been busy! I would love to have a look at your logo. Here have a virtual biscuit.
2. When did you write your current book?
I have two books in process at the moment, so tricky question. I started the one closest to being done in January of 2016 and the newer one at the end of October.
3. Why did you become a writer?
Originally I wanted to write a book my sister would read because she wasn’t a reader and I just couldn’t understand that at all. But that project was lost a long time ago.
Then it just sort of happened. I’d told people I wanted to one day write a book for years, even joining a writing circle for a brief period, but life continued to get in the way. Then one day, when I had some extended leave from work scheduled, I gave myself an ultimatum – I would either write a manuscript draft from end to end or I was never to bring it up again.
4. What writing issues did you encounter along the way and how did you overcome them?
I learned that no matter how many times you think you have edited something including sending it out to professionals, typos are still going to somehow find their way into the work like the worst game of whack-a-mole imaginable. I’m starting to think my computer may simply be inserting them in the last seconds as way of sabotaging my career on the off-chance that I might actually one day have the funds to upgrade my systems.
Weirdly I am having the same issue with my laptop…obviously an international system issue.
5. Did you go through any bad writing patches and what kept you going?
I typically hit a wall around the 30K to 40K word count mark. It just feels like I have been working on the same story forever at that point and yet the end is so far away. The temptation to give up is incredibly strong at that point and when I first started out, I shelved a couple of projects for that reason.
But I am a wee bit stubborn.
One of my favorite Hemingway quotes goes “Always do sober what you said you’d do drunk. That will teach you to keep your mouth shut,” and its one I’ve adopted as a personal motto. I told my friends and family I was going to write a novel and so that was what I was going to do.
6. Are you a plotter or a ‘just write / see what happens?”
I am a bit of a hybrid. I create an outline, but it is fairly high level so that I can be flexible if the characters decide to up and rebel against the story line (which has happened more than once).
7. What is the best thing about being a writer?
There is so much. I love the connections you can make and the act of creation, but I think I love the flexibility of the profession the most. You can write non-fiction, or fiction, write at any time of day or in any location. I also love that it is a profession that benefits from all sorts of backgrounds. You can have a background in IT, or shoe sales, or underwater basket weaving and provided you are determined enough and can tell a story, you can be a success.
8. What is the worst thing about being a writer?
The waiting. There is so much waiting. You have to pace yourself to get the work done without burning out or getting distracted by another shiny object. You have to wait for editors, and designers. Wait for proofs and for reviews. The waiting is maddening.
9. Have you ever considered quitting?
Almost every single day. Being a writer is just one of my titles. I am also a mom, wife, daughter, sister, friend, and full-time employee. Fitting writing into that crammed schedule isn’t always easy and in dark moments of doubt a small voice asks me what is the point? If I were to walk away, who would notice? Would anyone care? Then I remind myself, I would care. I would notice. The point is I decided this was no longer a dream, but a destination and I will get there.
I LOVE your last sentence. I need to adopt this mindset.
10. What does a typical writing day look like?
I treat my writing as a job and so a typical writing day looks much like any work day and includes several cups of coffee as well as at least one crisis of the day, demanding child, and/or other technological mishap.
11. How do you go about researching your book?
I read. A lot. For my science fiction, I troll through material science journals and gadget reviews (many of which I share on Pinterest if you ever want to get your geek on). I also read similar books written by other authors and try to incorporate what I like about them while cutting out what I don’t.
12. What have been your 3 biggest writing learnings?
a) I’ve learned that in addition to being typo prone, I am overly fond of the passive voice.
b) Don’t write a prologue unless you absolutely, positively, have to. While I read from cover to cover, I’ve learned that there are many readers out there who skip them, meaning if you do write one, you have to hook readers like me in the prologue, but you also have to make sure your chapter one will hook readers who skip ahead as well. Why double up your anxiety level if you don’t have to?
c) Treat your character’s back story like the special features on a DVD. Write it, but publish it on your blog or as part of a mailing list extra as a reward for your fans, but leave it out of a story unless it helps propel the action forward.
13. Do you have any advice for budding authors?
Writing is the easy part compared to book marketing. Create a marketing plan for every book with task list and due dates. Ask for help and start early.
14. Do you suffer from writer’s block and if so how do you overcome?
I do. There are days in which the words either refuse to flow because there are too many swirling in my head, or days in which the creative well has simply run dry. When this happens I first try to change locations (thank goodness for laptops) as the change in scenery can be enough. If that doesn’t work, I go for a walk, or do something mundane as far away from a screen as I can be. Many of my best ideas have come to me while putting dishes away or walking the dog.
15. Did you ever think about your next book whilst writing?
I try not to as they can be distracting. If it is a good idea, I’ll jot it down quickly and store it away to revisit later. If it a really good idea, I might use it in a piece of flash fiction or short story prompt, but that’s the most I can allow myself to think about it until the time is right.
16. What do you wear to write?
Typically blue jeans and a business casual top. While I do occasionally write in my PJs, semi-professional attire helps me focus my mindset.
17. How can my readers read your books?
For now, I am published exclusively through Amazon for the e-book version. Click on the covers to go to my Amazon site.
Wow Allie, fabulous interiew!
Here are some things that I am going to take from this:
- I think the ultimatum you gave yourself about either writing a book or never talking about it again was a fab idea.
- I agree. Writing is very much a waiting game. We need so much patience and this at times can be so frustrating. This is one of the things you don’t realise when you are a fresh faced newbie writer.
- Ugh – book marketing is so hard. I struggle with promoting anything other than my blog. Love the idea of creating a marketing plan and task list before the book is finished.
- I am loving the semi-professional writing attire Allie!
Thank you so much Allie!
If you are an author and would like to feature in this popular blog series please get in touch.
Next week: one of my chick lit author heroines is going to be sat on my chair – Lacey London, best selling author of the hugely popular Clara Andrews series!