Bold Story Press Interview
What made you want to write a book? Where did you get the idea for it?
I was inspired by my brother’s memoir. He put his life’s story on paper. While in my creative writing class at the Helene Mills Senior Center in Atlanta, I had an idea that if my brother could write a book, I could, too. It helped that our teacher never stopped reminding our group of “Over 55s” that we had a voice. At the time I didn’t think I had much of a voice, but I gained confidence in writing week by week for several years. It occurred to me that I wanted to write a light-hearted children’s book to pay tribute to all the cats I had rescued.
How did writing the first few chapters feel?
Having so many cats around the house easily lent itself to writing the prologue. All I had to do was describe what was at hand. I became more excited as the plot moved ahead. The genesis was my move to Atlanta which started the ball rolling. A grand adventure was in store for the cats and me.
But then what? I was in the habit of driving my grandkids to elementary school at 7:30 a.m. We were just waking up. One morning, I asked my grandkids if they’d help me write a book about two kittens. “Sure, Nana!” they said sleepily. This was a wake-up call. Each morning they’d erupt with new ideas. All I had to say was, “What did the kittens do next?” and we were off.
What obstacles did you encounter along the way?
Both personal and external.
There was such a jumble of chapters that I finally decided to lay them out on the floor to establish a timeline. I organized the book by seasons of the year to help make sense of it. The worst obstacle I had was ending the book. I kept waiting for it to end itself—that the ending would be revealed. It didn’t happen.
How did it feel to finish writing the book?
The book sat on the shelf for almost a year, until, on a fall weekend in the Blue Ridge Mountains, I woke up early one morning after a rainstorm to witness a surreal sunrise. From that moment the ink started flowing until the end. It was like a robot took over. What an exhilarating feeling to experience the book finishing itself! I felt terrific at the end. “By cracky, I did it!”
How did you hear about Bold Story Press and why did you decide to work with us?
My sister, who lives in Garrett Park, MD, saw the link for Bold Story Press, and forwarded it to me. I signed up excitedly for Emily Barrosse’s free publishing webinar. I enjoyed it so much that I took the logical next step and joined the 8-week class on how to write and publish a book. In this class, a group of 11 aspiring women writers bonded and grew under Emily’s experienced and caring wing. At the end we would be prepared to publish our own book, or we could choose to go with a hybrid publishing package that Bold Story Press offered. The latter was a tantalizing offer because I had so little expertise in the vast world of publishing. I polled my entire family and received varying responses. I weighed my options a thousand times. Ultimately, I said to myself, “This may be your best chance. You already feel at home and supported by Emily and the class.” I jumped over the Grand Canyon of my doubts and found a happy future waiting on the opposite rim.
How did it feel to sign a book deal?
There’s always a sense of wonderment about the book you have in hand. What did the author do to have his or her words put into print? Each one must find a publisher and sign a deal. What would that be like for me? Of course, this was beyond my reach and the reward belonged to only a select few.
After submitting my manuscript and hearing it was accepted, I knew how lucky I was. It was a stunning moment and a clear path out of the morass of uncertainty. Millions wait and falter. Still, I wrestled with my angels and devils and discussed a possible contract with my family. What also held me back was the great unknown –this was uncharted territory. Then reason took over. Why in the world wouldn’t I reach for the outstretched hand? Emily Barrosse, the wise and experienced publisher and founder of a new press created to hear women’s voices offered that hand and I took it.
How did your family react when they heard you were going to publish a book?
My family was thrilled to hear the news. All the naysayers have become yea-sayers and they are as excited as I am to see the result. They may also be a little relieved that the pressure is off. I’m no longer asking them to read this or that chapter or validate my awkward prose. My guess is that they will avidly read the book and feel a little pride.
Are you planning on writing more in the future?
It is a pleasure to put my thoughts and fabrications on paper. I plan to expand my cat family and place more furry characters in new river settings. My own life has been shaped by many rivers, where these future cats will reside. My special cats and special rivers form a combination that I shall enjoy exploring.
What are your favorite types of books to read?
In the past several years I’ve been more conscious of how other writers
frame their stories and develop the plot.
draw their readers in and hold their attention.
write dialogue and keep the conversation going.
how their characters interact and grow.
I learn these lessons from reading fast-paced thrillers and mysteries – especially ones with cats. I read children’s books to try to fathom a third-grader’s mind. I like classics, established authors and emerging writers. In a big way I was guided by Homer’s Odyssey, where Odysseus sets out on a journey and is beset with terrible odds against finding his way home. Poetry helps me find the essence of ourselves and our world.
Anything else we should know about you?
I have an interest in reaching out to the homeless and encouraging them to find a path out of their situation.