Red came out of the kitchen with a huge tray. The blueberry scones were in the shape of a butterfly. She set it down to shave white chocolate into a white-white mocha whip. Claret knew from the flock of butterflies on the patio who was coming today. The to-do list said: Butterflies, babies, fast food. Wombies have no idea what those have to do with one another. Maybe, Liz Campbell could answer that.
M3: Pass me the butter dish, then talk to me about getting A Month of Mental Moments out of your WIP folder. What surprised you the most?
LC: How involved it is. The book does not just become a book because it is written. There is a whole process after it leaves the writer’s hands that I think many are unaware of. The editing process is not just looking for typos and grammatical errors but checking content and fluidity and readability, and it takes time and patience. It isn’t something that you just give over to your editor and then wait for the book to be published either; there is still lots of work you need to do.
M3: What was your favorite part of the writing process?
LC: My favorite part of writing is to play with the words and turn them into something other than what they seem, put them in a context not often considered, and the best part is when someone else gets it. I like writing as I am thinking and seeing the process.
It was most fun to find my voice and strengthen and hone it to the most optimal way got through to people; then find out it is true to who I am… being able to find humor and present deep subjects with humor, which tends to have a reader more open and accepting of even harsh words.
M3: So, it is a curve for you. What did you learn about your writing during beta reading, both when your book was read and when you read others?
LC: We are not the best judges of our own work. I learned I am a better writer than I thought. My voice is strong, and my message has value. I learned sometimes being so close to it, working so hard and holding it so dear, makes a writer want to defend it, and it’s a bit like having a baby. All parents think their baby is the cutest and are unable to see the reality of what they offered.
I need to pay more attention to punctuation – when I read my stuff, I know what I intended and what I was thinking and my own voice. A comma can change the meaning very easily, and the reader ends up with a different idea.
M3: Which makes editing pretty important. What did editing show you?
LC: I am more than terrible at punctuation and not because I don’t know how. I am so used to seeing my own typos i.e. the damn semicolon instead of the apostrophe, that I need an editor to go after me and catch them. I also think I realize I’m not really that much of a PITA to edit.
Maybe that is wishful thinking, but I felt very good the glaring errors in my book were punctuation not content. I am curious to see if I wrote a fiction novel I could maintain the same standard because there are more things to consider that weren’t necessarily an issue for the book I wrote, like character development and not having holes in the story line.
M3: What would you tell new authors?
LC: As far as writing goes, I would give the advice that was given to me, just write. After that, don’t give up on yourself and your writing because of a few setbacks. Keep an open mind and really listen when your editor, beta readers or previously published authors tell you something. Yes, it’s your vision, but they are the readers and others who have been there before with sage advice. Being the oak will not make you a better writer or successful author. Be the willow.
M3: Such pretty trees. Speaking of pretty, aside from the cover, you provided art for your book. How does your artistic talent influence your persona as an author?
LC: The artist and the author are intrinsically tied together and feed off one another often taking turns in dominating my perception. Sometimes I write from a mental image, and sometimes I draw from something I write.
M3: What is the significance of your beautiful cover art?
LC: Oh Look! A butterfly. I talk about them all the time in relation to being distracted by something shiny or fluttery that took me to something different and that is fundamentally how I came up with almost every single MM – doing something else then following the butterfly.
I could not have told you that at first, but I have a quote on my trailer “a butterfly counts moments not months and has time enough” which you showed me one day and it all clicked into place. It is for following the butterflies that I got where I did. The significance of the spiral the butterfly starts flitting in a wide circle and eventually lights on one spot, or gets to the point. Purple is my favorite color because it can be all things and all emotions.
M3: Now, turn it over. How important is the jackback?
LC: I didn’t even know what a jackback was right up until the time I was told I needed one and asked to write some. Now, I know and it is one of the most important parts of the book itself as it is the hook that gets the reader to open the cover and be interested in what is inside.
You could have the best book in history, but if you have no way of telling your prospective reader what they are going to get from reading it, it will go largely unnoticed.
M3: Self-help books tend to capitalize on trends and fads. What makes MofMM timeless?
LC: It comes from being human, the human condition, thoughts, beliefs, values, held from time gone and time to come and that transcends any trend or fad. The topics will be as prevalent in 50 years as they are today because it is based on our very nature and characteristics. It is as timeless as we are.
M3: You had seen examples of blog books which missed the mark by merely being cut and paste jobs. How is MofMM different?
LC: The MM in the book started from my blog, but I didn’t cut and paste; I expanded them. I even took some of the originals that were only supported with video and completely wrote them. There are somewhere more than 150 MM on the blog and 31 in the book. I did pull many in from the blog, but wiped out the blog references and time references and added introductions to get you thinking.
So, I am not giving you a book that is the same exact thing you can hunt down on my blog. There are a good portion new and never been on the blog at all. There was a lot of trial and error deciding which ones to expand on then deciding if they measured up. It is a completely different environment without the immediate feedback of leaving comments, but you aren’t left out in the cold. I made the blog a book, then took the blog out of it. I guess you would really have to read it to know what I mean. (Grins.)
M3: Some have. How do you feel about the reviews MofMM has gotten?
LC: I am amazed, humbled and validated… I feel more centered that my message has meaning and more confident that I have learned from the things I observed and put out there for consideration are worthy of being considered. It’s almost surreal… Sometimes, I am totally blown away and don’t think they are talking about me.
M3: Being published has changed how you feel about yourself as an author. I hear it in your voice.
LC: For one, I never considered myself an author. An author is more than being a writer, and it’s not necessarily just about writing. That’s not to say I put myself above anyone else because I am not. Anyone who is a writer has the capability of being an author if they pay attention. So, being published and getting through the whole process from writing to the actual publishing and the growing pains that go with it, I now consider myself an author.
The biggest change is I never thought I would be an author. It’s a dream. A desire to be, which many assume is beyond their reach, I did and didn’t realize I gave up on it before even trying. I am also much more confident in my abilities, my voice and what I have to say being meaningful.
M3: How did joining RedmundPro change the way you view your colleagues?
LC: I grew up with a great deal of respect for the written word and books. Books were treasures, those who wrote them viewed with the highest esteem. I have even more respect for authors as a whole because there is more to it than just the writing.
I have also lost some respect because there are so many published works that are subpar, and the writers who put them out tarnished a foundation of my life. The ones at RedmundPro held themselves to the idealistic standards I have always thought were the set standards of printed work and worked hard to meet them.
M3: What was the hardest part of being published?
LC: Bringing real life together with how I thought it would be. I don’t know exactly how I thought it would be, but according to past mulling the matter over – I should be famous …. Right? (Laughs)
M3: Wait, you aren’t? (Grins) What is your favorite social media and how are you going to capitalize on it?
LC: I am still struggling with that. Honestly, I like Pinterest, because you put something there and it doesn’t move, The rest of them I have no favorite, and I think it may be an advantage because I am more open to trying any of the platforms.
M3: What is in your WIP folder readers can look forward to seeing in print?
LC: I have oodles of stuff in my WIP folder, but what I am focusing on is a children’s book from a poem I wrote based loosely on my 6-year-old’s experience with his broccoli.
More Mental Moments which are focused toward particular groups, the foremost being Little Lights in the Dark: Mental Moments for Mental Disorder. It is merely a collection of observations and ways to deal with being diagnosed, specifically with bipolar disorder, but any mental illness really, and the different things you have to deal with and come to terms with: How to handle stigma and medications and all the crap that goes with it to find your way out of the darkness and see the good qualities, and what you have to contribute to the world.
Each Mental Moment is, I hope, a little light that will illuminate the path. And of course more mental moments like these in MoMM – everyday things we do without knowing why.
M3: Who should read A Month of Mental Moments?
LC: Who shouldn’t read it? It doesn’t preach anything in particular or judge anyone for thinking the way they do. It’s really no more than being mindful of why you do what you do and seeing there are other ways to consider things. From that comes tolerance and acceptance; who wouldn’t benefit from it? The people who think it’s not for them are probably the ones who could get the most benefit from it.
M3: Sell it to the M3 Readers in 15 words or less.
LC: It is a home cooked meal for the fast food mind. And butterflies.
Dearest M3 Readers,
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(c) Red Dwyer 2013
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