October 9, 2012
I first met J M Leitch when I reviewed her book, The Zul Enigma. She contacted me on Goodreads and asked if I would review her book. After checking out her book, I was thrilled and said yes. I reviewed her book in August, and you can read the review here. We have stayed in touch since through email. Here is a little about her:
When Mum picked me up after my first day of primary school I was in tears. ‘Whatever’s the matter?’ she asked. I spat out my words between heaving staccato sobs. They were an accusing finger. ‘YOU said they’d teach me to read!’ It took much longer than I expected… but they did teach me and I’ve not stopped since. They also taught me to write and I published my first novel in 2011, The Zul Enigma (www.thezulenigma.com). As to my background? Well, I was born just outside London, England, and moved to Asia where I’ve lived half my life. I now spend my time between Singapore, Assam in North East India, Bali in Indonesia and the UK.
Now, let’s start the interview.
Christine: How, and when, did you decide to become a novelist?
J M: I have enjoyed writing for as long as I can remember. I used to love writing essays at school and when I was 17, in my GCSE ‘O’ Level exam for Greek Literature in Translation, I wrote about Orpheus visiting the Underworld when he tried to bring his beloved wife, Eurydice, back from the dead. I described how Orpheus, after using his beautiful music to soften the heart of Hades, King of the Underworld, persuaded him to agree to let Eurydice leave, and how Hades insisted on one condition: that Orpheus must walk in front of her and not look back until they both had re-entered the world of the living. But Orpheus, scared that Hades would break the agreement, on reaching the upper world turned to check that Eurydice was still behind him. She was, but because she hadn’t yet entered the world of the living Orpheus was the one who broke the agreement. Anyhow, by the time I got to describing the agony Orpheus experienced at loosing his wife a second time… this time forever… I was crying and my tears dropped onto the paper splodging the ink. Fortunately, they didn’t make the paper illegible and I ended up getting an ‘A’!
So I always thought I’d end up writing. In fact, I’ve started three books over the years, the first in my mid twenties, but I never got any further than the first few chapters because I either ran out of steam or I let other things get in the way.
Christine: What types of writing do you do?
J M: Throughout my working life I’ve done many different types of writing including reports, technical manuals, training proposals, training courses, business profiles, resumes, articles for magazines, content for websites – all kinds of things. But until The Zul Enigma, I’d never before written anything creative. Now I also write a blog, which I enjoy.
Christine: What is a typical day like for you as a writer?
J M: When I wrote my novel I spent every free moment sitting at my computer writing – usually eating breakfast and lunch there, too. For a while I used a laptop, which was good, because it meant I could move around the house and garden as I fancied.
I don’t have a set routine like some people, to write for so many hours, to finish so many words in a day, or to work from this time to that time. I just stick at it for as long as I’ve got. I don’t need a special place or surroundings or music. My special place is in my head and I can get there anywhere, any time.
J M: I was in Bali lying on a deckchair watching my daughter swim while thinking about a recent BBC documentary a friend had told me about. It was about several reports from different scientific disciplines – ice core samples, marine temperature studies, marine life studies, climate change studies – to name a few – and how the data quoted in all of them showed our planet’s oceans were cooling. The result of this phenomenon is the slowing down or, in the future, the possible stopping of the conveyor or North Atlantic Drift that traditionally brings warm water from the south to the north Atlantic, keeping the east coast of North America and the west coast of Europe warm. In other words it’s feasible that North America and Europe are heading for a mini Ice Age.
Oh no! I thought. My poor Mum… she lives in England.
Then I started fantasising how wonderful it would be if a bunch of friendly aliens appeared and relocated us onto an identical planet with a stable climate! And that’s where the original idea came from, although it’s now changed beyond recognition.
Christine: Why did you choose to self-publish and not go down the conventional publishing track?
J M: When I first started writing I planned that the main action would take place in 2020. Then I began reading about the end of the Mayan calendar on 21 December 2012 and how different groups of people believed this would be a special time for many different reasons – the occurrence of cataclysmic events perhaps, or a time of spiritual enlightenment. It piqued my interest and I thought it would be fun to build my book’s plot around that date.
The problem was I hadn’t taken into consideration how long it would take me to finish the book. I thought a couple of years, tops… then 3… then 4… until last year I realised that if I didn’t publish it soon I’d miss the boat completely! I knew it could take years to find a traditional publisher, so I decided, oh well… I’ll have to go ahead and do it myself.
Christine: What marketing techniques do you use to promote yourself as a novelist and your novels?
J M: The most effective marketing tool for me has been the KDP Select programme that allows authors to offer their eBooks free on Amazon for 5 days every 3 months as long as the title is exclusively available there. In addition, I have a website for the book, book and author Facebook pages, I write a blog once every couple of weeks or so, and I also Tweet. I am learning that successful marketing is the combination of many different initiatives and I would love more exposure in the way of interviews on the Internet or in print and press. The key is to get your name and the name of your books out there. It sounds so easy, but the reality is that it takes a huge amount of work.
Christine: If people want to purchase your book, how do they go about it?
J M: It’s probably easiest to buy the paperback from Amazon or The Book Depository. It costs a couple of US Dollars more at The Book Depository but they will ship it anywhere in the world for free.
Amazon UK Paperback Edition – www.amazon.co.uk/dp/9810703252
Amazon UK Kindle Edition – www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B0073M876M
Amazon US Paperback Edition – www.amazon.com/dp/9810703252
Amazon US Kindle Edition – www.amazon.com/dp/B0073M876M
Waterstones UK – http://bit.ly/WcJOIM
October 2, 2012
Today I will be interviewing Katrina Rychling, a published writer and scholar. We met at the Yahoo! Contributor Network where we published articles, poetry, and other writing assignments to their online platform. I haven’t written for them since the end of last year, but Katrina and I have remained in touch through Facebook.
Katrina Rychling enjoys networking and helping fellow writers. She holds a Bachelor of Science – with a concentration in psychology – from Charter Oak State College; a Master’s of Science in Educational Leadership from Central Connecticut State University; and a writing diploma from the Institute of Children’s Literature. Katrina is published in the May/June 2011 issue of Writers Digest Magazine. She lives in Connecticut with her husband and three pet snakes.
Now, on to the interview.
Christine: How, and when, did you decide to become a writer?
Katrina: Sometime after high school I rediscovered my love for reading. My love for reading then developed into an interest in writing and then a passion for writing. I had not considered writing as a career, only as a hobby. It has only been in the past few years that I have decided to turn my writing into a career.
Christine: What is your writing experience?
Katrina: In high school I began to despise writing. By my senior year when I had a paper due I would throw tantrums and become hysterical. In college I found myself taking more and more writing classes to help overcome my fear of writing. Somewhere along the way I slowly found writing easier, but my fear was not totally gone. I would turn papers in late and reuse the same piece multiple times.
Now I have come to realize that I was sabotaging myself because I wanted it to be perfect. I would stress out so much about getting it right, that I did not get it done at all. I have since learned to let go and find it much more enjoyable to write. I still have my days where I can’t seem to finish anything, but then there are others when I write for 30min and come out with something fantastic.
Christine: What types of writing do you do?
Katrina: I write a little bit of everything. I’m not sure there is a genre I have not had an idea in or tried writing. This makes my skills versatile and helps me find more ways to earn a paycheck through my writing.
Christine: What have you published recently?
Katrina: I try to update my blog, Star’s Escape, as often as possible. Star’s Escape is about everything and anything writing related. It has tips on writer’s block, marketing, improving your writing, and finding more time to write. I’m always looking for more contributors to help build the community and to support each others’ writing. Contributors get a link to their website of choice and are welcome to write anything, as long as it pertains to writing. I also publish my non-fiction, poems, and an occasional short story on the Yahoo! Contributor Network.
Christine: Are you solely a writer or do you have multiple occupations?
Katrina: Currently, my only source of income is through my writing.
Christine: What is a typical day like for you as a writer?
Katrina: Since becoming a mom, I have learned to write whenever and wherever I can. My writing time has taken a drastic drop, but the reward of caring for my son is worth it. I am still learning new ways to squeeze more writing time in every day.
Christine: How do you come up with ideas for your writing?
Katrina: Many of my ideas for my non-fiction and fiction work come from reading other people’s work. I also get a lot of ideas from things I wonder or am interested about. As for my fiction writing, I find myself using what happens in some of my dreams as a springboard for a story. On rare occasions I actually dream in words, so I guess you can say I write in my sleep (which is a good thing, because I love to sleep).
Christine: What interests you about writing nonfiction?
Katrina: Reading non-fiction books and articles is one of the things that has made the biggest impact on my life. I love learning new things, and I constantly strive to become a better person. Reading teaches me how to live and how to improve every aspect of my life. Since others’ writing has made such an impact on my life, I want to return the favor and help even more people to become the person they are meant to be.
Christine: What do you like to read?
Katrina: When reading non-fiction books I tend to gravitate towards self-help books because I’m constantly striving to improve my life. My favorite genres of fiction are fantasy and science-fiction. I get enough reality in everyday life, so when I read I want something completely different.
Christine: Do you find you “mentally edit” other writers’ works as you read them? Does doing this help you or bother you?
Katrina: Yes! I find myself constantly editing other writers’ works as I read them. The biggest problem with this is I always want to tell the author what they did wrong. I sometimes need to work on holding my tongue, because if an author does not ask for criticism I feel it is rude of me to mention their flaws. However, another part of me wants to tell them so that I can help them improve and become an even better writer. It would be interesting to hear what other writers think about unsolicited advice from fellow writers.
Christine: Where can we find you on the Web?
Katrina: My website: www.katrinarychling.com
My writing blog: www.katrinarychling.com/blog
My health blog: www.cavemanparty.com
Facebook page: www.facebook.com/KatrinaRychling
Christine: Thanks so much for joining us today, Katrina!