Over the last few weeks, I’ve been busier than ever with fiction and audio editing, courses, prepping and hosting #MoodPitch, writing, marketing and daily social media engagements, assignments, and just so.many.things. So instead of doing a blog post for each episode (which I’ve been falling behind on!), I’m going to showcase the lovely authors I’ve had the pleasure of chatting with lately! Be sure to click the links to listen to the interviews and writing tips! And there are three bonus episodes, as well!
Listen to a bonus episode with debut author Amy Tector here.
S2 Bonus Episode from Fri, Apr 1/22: Amy Tector has spent more than 20 years plumbing the secrets squirrelled away in archives – whether it’s uncovering a whale’s ear (true story) in a box of old photographs, or working for the United Nations’ International Criminal Tribunal in The Hague, she has been privy to hidden records and extraordinary secrets.
She now works at Canada’s national archives, Library and Archives Canada and is adjunct professor at the University of Ottawa and a sessional instructor at Carleton University.
Amy has a PhD in English literature from the Universite Libre de Bruxelles and lives in Ottawa, Canada with a daughter named Violet, a husband named Andrew and a dog named Daffodil.
Amy and I chatted about finding a whale’s ear while working as an archivist, her writing process, keeping your old manuscripts safely in a drawer because they could be revived at some point (and in her case, they do!), researching, her debut publishing experience for THE HONEYBEE EMERALDS, signing a 3-book deal after her debut, the importance of having a critique group, sensitivity readers, and giving yourself permission to be the writer you are.
Listen to S2E6 with JoAnn Conner here.
S2E6 from Tues, Apr 5/22: JoAnn Conner is a former English and history teacher who has published multiple historical fiction and mystery novels. She relies heavily on research to bring her stories to life with intrigue and unexpected details. JoAnn also recently published a children’s poetry book with her eleven year old granddaughter, Eleanor, as the illustrator.
JoAnn has worked as a journalist for several publications, and has won a number of awards for her poetry and writing, including a national Townsend Press Award for an essay concerning teaching second language learners. She was one of thirty-nine authors in the State of California chosen to represent the profession in the Author’s Booth at the California State Fair in Sacramento in 2019. She often does book signings and is a popular speaker at Author Talks, where she speaks of the importance of research, and the tools to write stories of your own family.
She lived in South Lake Tahoe for thirty-nine years before moving to the Central Coast. She currently resides in Atascadero, CA. Visit her Author’s page under J. Conner Books on Facebook or follow her on Instagram or Amazon for upcoming events and new arrivals.
JoAnn and I talked about publishing a children’s book with her eleven-year-old granddaughter, creating a book to help children process what’s happening with a parent has cancer, different ways of doing research, what an “author book” is and how to use it, her writing process, the difficulties in marketing, and more!
Listen to S2E7 with Ami Maxine Irmen and Santita D’Anjou here.
S2E7 from Tues, Apr 12: Ami Maxine Irmen has spent her entire life moving back and forth across the IL/WI border. She learned to love stories at the feet of her grandfather, someone who could make even the most mundane stories spring to life. Her life has taken the path of writer, educator, and life-long learner because of him, and she wouldn’t have it any other way. She is currently in her thirteenth year of teaching writing at a community college in Northern Illinois.
Ami and I chatted about where her inspiration for writing comes from, what she finds different between writing novels vs short stories vs poetry, creating side stories for characters for future fans, teaching creative writing, her experience teaching memoir to girls in Kenya and having the book of memoirs published to fund scholarships for more girls to attend school, tips for new writers, and more!
Ami is on Twitter @ami_maxine and Instagram @ami.maxine. Her website is http://www.amimaxine.com and the JAMS part of her website where you can find out more about the project she’s worked on is www.amimaxine.com/voices-of-jams. You can find out about the Jane Adeny Memorial School in Kenya at www.jamskenya.org and you can also donate to help fund scholarships. Here are some of the photos (shared with Ami’s permission) of the school situations we discussed in the episode. The first two are from the school JAMS has built, and the third one shows the conditions of a nearby school.
Listen to S2E7 with Ami Maxine Irmen and Santita D’Anjou here.
Also on S2E7 from Tues Apr 12/22: Santita D’Anjou is a natural storyteller and loves anything involving the arts. Although she loves teaching reading, these days she is teaching Theatre Arts to hundreds of middle schoolers and loving every minute of it. She now resides in Georgia with her husband and two middle schoolers of her own, John and Johanna.
Content Warning: there is mention of teen suicide in our chat. Santita and I talked about getting inspiration from her students, themes in her books that many teens struggle with, publishing through Ingram Spark, the hardest and easiest parts of writing, helping to shape children’s minds and lives and drawing on their creativity and experiences for stories that can help them through things, and how to tackle strong themes in your writing.
Listen to S2E8 with Jackie Amsden here.
2E8 on Tues, Apr 19: Jackie Amsden is a mom, a writer, and a podcaster in British Columbia. Jackie first drew inspiration for her novel from her teen years, self-published her first book, The Tokyo Cover Girls, and is now working on a new project. She began her podcast, These Moms Write, when she realized there are so many other mom writers out there that she can connect with, share with, and learn from. One of Jackie’s goals is to celebrate and recognize the unique challenges that mom writers face.
Jackie and I chatted about how she became a writer, drawing on her experience as a teen model in Japan which inspired her first novel, unrealistic expectations of new writers regarding publishing, her experience in the Surrey Writer’s Idol, building a community and brand from the start, giving yourself permission to write whatever it is you want to write about, writing a MomCom, self-publishing goals, how she got started with These Mums Write podcast, celebrating and recognizing the successes of mom writers and the unique challenges we face, ditching the mom guilt and finding the time to write, thinking of yourself as a business, incorporating meditation into your daily routine, and the accessibility of learning thanks to the pandemic!
Listen to S2E9 with LB Harpdog here.
LB started writing at a very young age. But as he grew up, life in a dangerous ghetto area made him stop. He’s now a successful businessman, and he started writing again after heartbreak. He decided to write about his pain and love to help work through his emotions. He writes erotic paranormal fantasy and has now written a five-part paranormal fantasy series. LB helps other authors now by helping them capture three parts of the reader: the mind, the heart, and the body.
LB and I chatted about how he got inspired to write, writing through emotions, writing a five-part series in the span of five months, infusing emotions and thoughts into characters, the importance of finding good writing partners, tips for self-editing, seeing authors as your peers and not your competition, not being afraid to network, and moving from self-publishing to querying agents.
Listen to my bonus episode with Teri M. Brown here.
Born in Athens, Greece as an Air Force brat, Teri M. Brown now calls the North Carolina coast home. She began her writing career helping small businesses with content creation and published five nonfiction self-help books dealing with real estate and finance. In 2020, she and her husband, Bruce, rode a tandem bicycle across the United States from Astoria, Oregon to Washington DC, successfully raising money for Toys for Tots. Teri is a wife, mother, grandmother, and author who loves word games, reading, bumming on the beach, taking photos, singing in the shower, hunting for bargains, ballroom dancing, playing bridge, and mentoring others. In 2017, after winning the First Annual Anita Bloom Ornoff Award for Inspirational Short Story, she began writing fiction in earnest. Teri’s debut novel, Sunflowers Beneath the Snow, is a historical fiction set in Ukraine.
Teri and I chatted about her debut fiction novel, Sunflowers Beneath the Snow, her upcoming novel, An Enemy Like Me, her writing process and journey to publication, biking across the US and turning what she took from the experience into a non-fiction/memoir book (forthcoming), knowing when you’re the right person to tell a story, believing in what you’re capable of, writing vs editing, imposter syndrome, finding your style and process, writing dialogue and using it to move a story forward, and more. Plus, she has a list of ten fabulous historical fiction novels that she believes should be bestsellers and will make you cry!
And finally, here are my first two #AskAgent episodes featuring P.S. Literary Agents Cece Lyra (listen here) and Claire Harris (listen here). Listeners submitted questions about querying and publishing and these two wonderful ladies answered as many as they could!
Cecilia Lyra is an associate agent at PSLA representing adult fiction and non-fiction. She is particularly drawn to books centered around power (dynamics, imbalance, rise & fall), identity (perception, exploration, intersectionality), and dysfunction (familial, societal, cultural) told with originality, nuance, and authenticity. As a mixed race Latinx immigrant, Cecilia is passionate about representing under or misrepresented voices and stories that contribute to a larger cultural conversation. She began her publishing career through the Centennial College Book, Magazine and Electronic program and worked at a mid-sized agency before joining the PSLA team. Cecilia is also a recovering lawyer but asks that you do not hold that against her.
CeCe is acquiring both fiction and non-fiction on the adult side. For nonfiction, she is open to most categories, across the spectrum, including psychology, history, current affairs, science, politics, narrative journalism, nature and the environment, wellness, spirituality, business and economics, mathematics, parenting, lifestyle, and pop culture. As for fiction, CeCe is open to all genres, and particularly loves stories with dysfunctional, messy, and flawed protagonists. Her taste gravitates towards literary and upmarket fiction (in the vein of EXCITING TIMES by Naoise Dolan, WHITE IVY by Susie Yang, THE VANISHING HALF by Brit Bennett), though she is also looking for commercial fiction with smooth writing (such as SUCH A FUN AGE by Kiley Reid and THE HUSBANDS by Chandler Baker). Books that are centered around feminist issues have a special place in her heart. Above all else, CeCe is looking for a story she can’t put down.
Claire Harris (she/her) is a literary agent with a passion for a wide range of fiction and non-fiction for adults. After graduating from UT Austin, she worked at a mid-sized agency before joining the PSLA team. Claire seeks projects with unique voices, interesting writing styles, and compelling characters. She enjoys the creative process of collaborating closely with her authors throughout all stages of their careers, and she has represented everything from debuts to NYT bestsellers. Having grown up in (and recently moved back to) Wisconsin, she has a soft spot for stories set in the Midwest.
Claire is acquiring both fiction and non-fiction projects for adults. She’s actively seeking projects that shine a spotlight on people, places, and events that are often overlooked or not given the attention they deserve. In fiction, she’s looking for adult rom coms, contemporary fiction, psychological thrillers, select horror, and cozy mysteries—all for millennial audiences, specifically. Claire is happiest when reading manuscripts with unexpected endings or new twists on classic genre tropes. For non-fiction, Claire is seeking a range of projects, including lifestyle guides, pop culture celebrations, pop psychology, cultural criticism, humor, true crime, essay collections, and illustrated books for adults. You can find more about her interests on Twitter @claire_m_harris and Instagram @claire_m_harris.