Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Supporting Independent Authors---and enjoying one heck of a good story.

If you've read some of my previous posts on here you'll know that I am very supportive of independent authors. Not all of us have the connections of best selling authors, and those of us that write know that seldom does an agent you query actually take the time to read what your synopsis is before telling you to piss off. It is too risky for them to try to make money off of a new writer. That's why most of the time these days authors sell a lot of books on their own and then the agents come out of the woodwork to sign them...when they have no risk but can share in the piece of the pie. Ever heard of Fifty Shades of Gray? Rich Dad, Poor Dad?

Before I rant, you should meet author Wendy Willett, author of Amber Shadows and the Missing Wands. I recently asked Wendy a few questions regarding her writing and experiences with her book.

What inspired you to start writing and when?

I've always had a creative side. Since I was a kid my talent and thirst for creativity has gone through several changes. First it was singing, then it was acting, then it was writing. While I can still sing and act, I prefer to be behind the scenes, creating the story.  Writing started for me when I wrote an article in grammar school for our class newsletter and found it fun. After school I went to college and found it extremely boring. I wasn't taking courses I wanted, rather the courses they told me I had to take first year. They felt like nothing more than repeats of my senior high school classes. I graduated from Carmel High School for Girls, a college prep high school. They separated the girls from the boys back then and boys were only in my advanced courses, like Drama and Art. Now it is an integrated school. After I graduated, back then, the College of Lake County did not have a drama department and theater. Had they had those classes, I would have added them to my classes and stayed. So I decided to join the work force. I became a secretary for a sign company, met my ex husband and married. I retired 2 years later when I was near my due date to deliver my first born. From that point on, I was a stay-at-home mother. Time passed and I was expecting my second child. During that pregnancy I decided I needed something more in my life than just being a mother. I was bored and felt there had to be more to life than being a mother and wife. It was my creative side calling out to me. That is when I became a student of Institute of Children's Literature. My daughter was born in 2001. This made time hard to come by for studying, but I was able to get my diploma by studying when my children slept. During my last months of studying, the character Amber Shadows popped into my head. I felt it was time to write about a young female protagonist who had magically abilities, yet had emotional turbulence going on in her family life. Most books I had read had male protagonists and it seemed to me that it was done to death. Suddenly I was developing a story. Meanwhile, my professor wanted me to continue my education in advanced classes because of my high grades and talent for writing. She wanted me to go into journalism-writing articles. Now while writing articles was fun for me as a kid, it simply was not what I wanted to learn and do in my writing career. I told her I wanted to write and learn how to develop books, so she taught me to develop my talent of writing a full story from beginning to end. I have been working on writing various projects since then, when I am not working. A big influence on me in writing Amber Shadows would have to be all the works I read on science fiction, the supernatural, and of course my favorite...magic.  Movies even influence me! I'll be watching a movie and for some reason, I'll find myself paying attention to the script more so than the whole movie. I'll be sitting there saying, the line should have been this... or that. I'll even ruin the ending for myself and guess the ending because I can not shut my writer's imagination off! When this started, I found that I like script writing and editing and decided to write the screen adaption to Amber Shadows and the Missing Wands, my first book in a planned series of four. I've edited scripts with others in the indie business, and found it was more enjoyable than writing scripts.

Tell us a bit about your future projects.

Projects I have started are still works in progress. I wrote the pilot to Maniacal Witch and although written and complete, it sits up on a shelf until such time as I can be free to pitch it and continue writing the series. I am open to a producer wanting to read it, buy the rights to it, and offer me a contract to consult on each episode with another writer, and receive a percentage of royalties.  After having to deal with many disappointments in partnerships, people not following through because they weren't who they said they were, etc. I made the decision to remain solo as a writer on projects I am doing now. Currently, I am editing the Amber Shadows script adaption because it needs to come down in pages. I had put so much description in it because I wanted the director who contracts me to make the movie, to visualize the book as I had written it. So unless I can find a reputable producer and director who wants to read it at 140 pages, I need to get it down to the norm of 120 pages. The bad part of having to edit it down is, I feel I am taking away from the script in having to follow these formalities of the film business.   I am also developing book II in the Amber Shadows series, Amber Shadows and the Crystal Locket of Lost Time. Each book I do in the series, will have a script adaption made for movie options. I will be writing the scripts but wouldn't mind another writer adapting each book so long as I have a say-so in the making of the movie. I want the filmmakers to stay true to the stories I write in the series just as J.K. Rowling did with the Harry Potter movies. There is another script project that I have been wanting to write about, possibly even make it a book first. The ideas are spinning around in my head every day so it will be written.  I'm keeping it hush, hush though, because I do not want the idea stolen by another writer who decides to claim it as his/her own. That happens way too often in this business. There are also a couple other ideas brewing in my head for books to write. However, right now my focus is on the Amber Shadows book series and script adaptions. Once the Amber Shadows series is done, I will be moving on to my other projects. 

Who is your favorite writer?

I don't have any. I enjoy many works of various writers, but to say one of them is my favorite would be playing favorites, so I won't say. I did enjoy the Harry Potter series and the Charlie Bone series, stories I've read from my friends such as Pot of Gold, which would make an awesome screenplay by the way. And I've always loved the works of Sir Conan Doyle and J.R. Tolkien. I've recently taken to reading the Fallen Series by Thomas Sniegoski when I can find time.

What kind of experiences have you had promoting your book?

For the most part I promote on FB and Twitter. I have done book signings/readings for the grade school my children attended. One reading in particular stands out in my memory. It was the first time I was asked to talk to the 5th grade students and teachers about writing books and screenplays. They wanted to inspire their students to write short stories and develop them properly, so they asked me to read for them an excerpt from Amber Shadows and the Missing Wands book and talk about my experience as an author/writer. To make them see how amazing reading and writing is, I read each character as if I was the actual character. I found this extremely fun to do because I was able to put my acting abilities to use too.  Afterwards, I received a standing ovation. The kids stormed up to me for autographed posters of the book cover. That was such a rush and one I will never forget! I only wish I could do more book readings/signings. Another time I was asked to teach book writing at another grammar school in Libertyville Illinois. I gave them a project to work on and their teachers only had to follow up on how well they developed their stories.  I miss going out to meet students and fans for book signings, but the reality is I have to maintain a paying job while writing in my spare time. Perhaps in the future I will be able to resume book signings and readings. The kids/fans are amazing and fun to talk to. If I can inspire at least one child to write and develop their talent, then it is more than worth the time given. There is such a joy in reaching out to kids about reading and writing.  

You can find Amber Shadows by searching Amazon and all other major online book retailers.