This is the first of a two-part interview with author Judith Natelli McLaughin. I met Judy on Twitter and read her book This Moment. I invited her to Tabor Lane today to talk about her books and her writing experience. But first my review of This Moment.
Now, please welcome Judy to Tabor Lane:
1. What was the first thing you wrote, and how old were you when you wrote it?
My first book is a children’s book titled The Bunny and The Eggs. I wrote and illustrated it in the first grade. I was seven-years-old. I bound it in masking tape and had my mother write “The End” in cursive, (I couldn’t write in cursive yet—I didn’t learn that until third grade). I was very proud because, to me, TBATE is what a “real” book looked like. You can’t find it on amazon, but luckily I still have it! Sometimes I tweet it for #throwbackthursday!
2. What have you written since then?
Lots! Both published and unpublished. I love writing poetry and short stories. I also wrote three middle grade novels—one for each of my daughters when they entered the fifth grade. Their book is not about them, but rather a story I made up that I knew would capture their attention. But concentrating on published works, since the debut of The Bunny and the Eggs, I have had several of my children’s poems published in Bruce Lansky poetry anthologies, alongside the greats like Lansky, Shel Silverstein, Jack Prelutsky and Judith Viorst. What an honor. I also wrote and illustrated the children’s picture book Poems on Fruits & Odes to Veggies – Where Healthy Eating Starts With a Poem. It is a fun nod to healthy eating. Finally, I e-published my first novel, This Moment, a work of contemporary women’s fiction, in 2012.
3. What made you choose your genre of writing, and what about your genre fascinates you?
I like contemporary women’s fiction because I am one of those people who can’t turn her brain off. I overthink nearly everything—it drives my husband nuts—love, marriage, life, work, children, family, friends. What does a person need to survive? What happens when tragedy strikes? What is nervous laughter about? You name it, I think about it. And then, I like to explore my thought process even further and put it on paper, hopefully spinning stories that make readers think and feel.
4. Would you ever consider writing in a different genre?
Well, since I’m a poet and a writer of middle grade fiction, I feel like I do step out of my contemporary genre on a regular basis. It keeps my writing life interesting.
5. Much has been written about how a book will change from the original intent of the writer, as it's being written. How did your book change as you created it, and did it surprise you how it came out?
I don’t know if This Moment changed per se. I wanted to tell a story about survival, and what it takes to survive when unexpected tragedy strikes. And I did. But what I think surprised me the most was how it became my characters telling the story, not me. There are so many times when they (Lydia and Ryan) truly spoke for themselves, pushing the novel along in a very real and organic way.
6. What is the most difficult part of writing a book?
For me? Editing. Which sometimes can turn into lots and lots of rewriting. I happen to love first drafts. You get the nugget of an idea and you turn it out. Fast and furious. I don’t edit while I write, I just get it out on paper. Then the subsequent edits—getting into the heads of the characters, allowing them to talk through you, all the while staying on track, for me it’s years of work—exhausting and rewarding all at the same time. Also, I never know when the end is the end. I always wonder, for example, did J.D. Salinger go back to The Catcher in the Rye, and wish he had added more about, say, Phoebe? How do you know when you’re done? That’s why us writers need really good editors. Knowing when it’s done is their job. Phew!
7. Would you consider changing over from indie publishing to traditional? (Or vice versa). Why or why not?
That is a big, huge YES! I self-pubbed This Moment. It is only available as an e-book. I so badly want to be “discovered” by a publisher who loves Lydia and Ryan and their story as much as I do. I want to see it as a traditional book. I can’t tell you how many people read this book and said they “saw” a movie playing in their head. So I am open to that as well. I just don’t seem to have the connections to make that happen myself, whereas I believe an agent/publisher would. So, I’ll repeat the answer, YES I am open to traditional publishing.
8. What is the most difficult element in selling your book, and how do you overcome it?
The most difficult element for me is sustainability. I have, at certain times, climbed to the top of the Amazon e-book charts. This Moment even spent a day among the top twenty-five books in women’s fiction. But sustaining that rating, for me, was impossible. In other words, despite its success, This Moment hasn’t caught fire yet, spreading globally. I don’t know how to overcome that. All suggestions welcomed!
9. What mistakes have you made in regards to publishing and marketing your work, and what will you do differently in the future?
With This Moment, I think my greatest mistake was not doing enough pre-marketing for the book. With my next novel, You Got Friend, I will try to create a buzz surrounding the book before I hit the publish button, not just after. (Unless, of course I hear from, say, Simon & Schuster and they want to publish it!)
10. Tell us a bit about your current book, and where it's available.
A captivating love story about a normal love affair in an abnormal world, This Moment strings together the ordinary and extraordinary moments in the lives of Ryan McGuire and Lydia Errico, moving the couple from dating to marriage to family, leaving us forever filled with equal parts inspiration and devastation…Ryan McGuire spends nearly his entire life on the up-end of a lucky streak, a concept he is okay with, until he meets Lydia Errico and is intrigued by her passion, candor and sexy ankles. Lydia challenges Ryan, for the first time in his life, to question the value of luck. While not sold on the concept, Ryan is sold on Lydia. Together they provide a glimpse into a love so deep, so strong, it has the power to sustain unimaginable heartbreak. Ryan and Lydia's unique love will linger in our souls forever.
This Moment is available for Kindle, Nook and all other e-reading devices.
11. Do you have an idea for your next book?
I am currently working on my second novel, You Got Friend. It is an exploration into the lives of two mismatched souls, both of whom come from dysfunctional families. They come to the realization that in life, it is vital to have at least one good friend. It is currently in its eighth draft! I anticipate a fall 2014 pub date.
12. How do people get in touch or follow you?
Follow This Moment on FB! Follow me on twitter @judynmclaughlin or email me. Also check out my blog and website.
If you missed my writing & marketing tweets and retweets yesterday, here they are again:
- The Kill Zone: Don't Let Your Characters Act Like Idiots http://ow.ly/pFnQ0
- Why Google Plus is Essential for Authors - The Savvy Book Marketer http://ow.ly/pFnT6
- Pitch or Publish? Microsoft Word Templates Go Both Ways — The Book Designer http://ow.ly/pFnVD
- Time Limited Sale: Want To Learn More On Self Publishing Success, Book Marketing Or Writing A Novel? http://ow.ly/pFnYT
- Planning a Book Launch Party - The Fictorians http://ow.ly/pFo4n
- How to Tackle Large Book Projects: Tips from a Pulitzer Prize-Winner - BookBaby Blog http://ow.ly/pFo7X
- Amazon’s boxing man on Kindle’s potential | The Passive Voice | http://ow.ly/pFocj
- Goodreads’ app is to go onto Kindle and has already been described as ‘the killer app for the new Paperwhite’ http://ow.ly/pFofr
- Improve Your Character Instantly: Just Add a Ghost - Helping Writers Become Authors http://ow.ly/pFonD
- Indie Authors And The Future Of Twitter http://ow.ly/pGDzn
- Notes from Tabor Lane: Today's Links to #Writing & #Marketing Blog Posts http://ow.ly/pGFSU
- Business Plan Basics for Authors & Bloggers | Molly Greene: Writer http://ow.ly/pGGjM
- How To Create YouTube Videos That Connect With People http://ow.ly/pGGAy
- Three Top Strategies to Guarantee Book Sales - The Savvy Book Marketer http://ow.ly/pGGOS
- Why I Self-Published | The Passive Voice | Writers, Writing, Self-Publishing, Disruptive Innovation and the Universe http://ow.ly/pGGXR
- Want To Learn More On Self Publishing Success, Book Marketing Or Writing A Novel? | The Creative Penn http://ow.ly/pGHce
- 50 Ways to Help a Book Author You Love | Book Marketing Bestsellers http://ow.ly/pGHsc
- Writer Unboxed » Story First, Writing Second – Especially Come November http://ow.ly/pGHEG
- Sizzling Book Sales? Hello, BookBub - Christine Nolfi http://ow.ly/pGIhL
- 7 Reasons to Write an Entire 1st Draft before Going Back to the Beginning | WritersDigest.com http://ow.ly/pGIFw
- How Do You Maintain Steady Book Sales at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, etc.? | Lindsay Buroker http://ow.ly/pGJnq
- As the Bird flies... A blog about travel and other journeys: Ten Things All New Self-Publishers Must Do http://ow.ly/pGYwF
- Blood-Red Pencil: Free E-book Experiences with @jinxschwartz http://ow.ly/pGZKg
- 11 Points of View & What to Do with Them – Part 1 | Janine Donoho http://ow.ly/pHSgo
Happy writing & running, Kathy
Check out these links to writing & marketing blog posts. Click to Tweet.