Tag Archives: interview

Blogiversary | Interview with Author Amanda Gale

AUTHOR INTERVIEW | AMANDA GALE

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Photo Credit: Lisa Schaffer Photography

Photo Credit: Lisa Schaffer Photography

Q: Would you like to start by introducing yourself?

I’m a former English teacher, now a mother of three and a writer of women’s fiction. I also take on the occasional copy editing job. Like most writers, I’ve nurtured a lifelong love of literature. I enjoy history, art, politics, and food! I’m also an incurable night owl.

Q: Can you tell us a bit about your series and the inspiration behind it?

The Meredith books are about an idealistic 30-something woman who reinvents herself after she is forced to accept that life doesn’t always work out as planned. Each of the first three books focuses on a romantic relationship. The fourth book reveals which of the three men she settles down with and what happens to them as they go forth in their life together. It’s the culmination of her journey toward peace and self-awareness. More deeply, the series is about her personal growth, her quest for the “perfect” life and her realization that she must create her own perfection.

As for the inspiration, it sounds funny to say, but I really don’t know! I’ve created characters for as long as I can remember. They seem to come out of nowhere. These particular characters stood out to me as the most interesting and the most complex, which is why I chose to write about them. They first came to me when my oldest son was a baby. I was home with him, adjusting to my new life as a mother, spending a lot of time by myself. I began developing scenes of dialogue around them, and I would think about these scenes as I was pacing back and forth with him or folding laundry. The stories became a release for me, something all my own to keep my mind active, and I cared deeply about them.

Actually, my original idea focused on the three men. I thought I had three separate stories, but as I added details to their personalities and backgrounds, I realized that they had something in common—the woman in their lives—and that they were in fact merely part of a much larger story. Once I began connecting the three stories into one, it became clear that the woman would move from one to the next, always searching, and that the men would have their own baggage, as well. I think this concept, of people’s flaws and insecurities colliding and working either with or against each other, is something everyone can relate to. I loved focusing on the woman, chronicling her growth and creating a character who was flawed but lovable. It seemed very real to me.

Q: When did you first realize you wanted to be an author?

When I was little, I loved to write poetry, and I dreamed of being an author. This was before I was disillusioned by adulthood. When I grew up and had real responsibilities, being a writer seemed like a fantasy, something that I could never practically do. It was only when I began writing the series, during my second son’s first year, that I saw that it could become a reality. That’s when I became dedicated to educating myself and working as hard as I could to make it happen.

Q: What inspired you to start writing and what continues to inspire you to write now?

I started writing because I had these characters in my head that just wouldn’t go away. They were so vivid, and I felt compelled to bring them to life in some kind of tangible form. Discovering that I loved writing and that it would make me feel good about myself was actually a happy accident. It enabled me to grow as an individual with my own identity while I was home with my kids, something I wasn’t even aware I needed. And once I started, I liked the idea that my characters could be as much of an escape for other women as they were for me. That thought spurred me on, and I tried to write stories that were thoughtful and relatable but also sexy and romantic, to sweep readers away. Now that the characters are out there, on paper, in other people’s minds, they are even more real to me, and as valuable as they were to me then, they are so much more so. I continue to write about them because they continue to let me know what they’re up to. They’ve become part of who I am.

Q: What are you working on at the moment?

My big project is a novella, a spinoff of the series. It takes place in the 1960s and focuses on a character in his youth, one who in the series is approaching the end of his life. This story has been so much fun to work on. I researched 1960s culture and history and have learned so much by exploring how the Vietnam War and the feminist movement might have affected some people’s motives and decisions. Also, writing about an older character’s younger days is very satisfying to me. The novella can stand alone without the series, but readers of the series will recognize a lot of details. I think new readers, who start with the novella, will enjoy learning in the series what happens to the main character as he grows older.

Aside from the novella, I’m working on a couple of posts for a blog I hope to start this year. Also, I have a short story in the works, another Meredith spinoff. I like taking minor details from the books and placing a magnifying glass to them, to round them out and make them important in their own right. I think part of the attraction is the acknowledgment that every person we meet, no matter how small a role he or she plays in our lives, has his or her own story.

Q: Do you have any writing superstitions or rituals?

I don’t have any superstitions, but I do have a ritual. I like to go for long drives on the highway late at night and think about the characters and plot lines. These drives help me refocus after the rush of daily life. I’ve thought of a lot of my best ideas during these drives. If I’m having trouble figuring out a way to tie up a loose end or close a gap in the story, a long drive usually helps me come up with a solution. Non-writing days become thinking days, which to me are just as important.

Q: Where is your favorite place to read?

I’d have to say my living room. It’s dimly lit with red walls, and it feels cozy for reading.

Q: What are some of your favorite books to read?

I gravitate toward the classics, literary fiction, and sometimes toward poetry and non-fiction, but I love mysteries and women’s fiction, as well. In recent years, some of my favorite novels have been Pillars of the Earth, Atonement, and The Red Tent. I’ve also enjoyed “modern classics” like I Capture the Castle and Auntie Mame. Agatha Christie remains one of my favorite authors.

Q: How do you keep yourself motivated to write?

Many writers will tell you that you should write every day, whether you are inspired or not. I have not found this to be true. This is one of those rules that work for others but not for me, and I don’t try to force it. I am motivated when I feel inspired by the characters, and when I’m not, I use that time to think. After publishing the Meredith series, I spent months trying to write, but it was tedious, and I felt lukewarm about the results. Since I was struck by the inspiration for this novella, the words have been more forthcoming. I’m in love with my characters again, and it’s such a wonderful feeling. The presence of the characters, the pressure I feel to bring them to life, is what keeps me going.

Q: What advice do you have for aspiring authors out there?

I would advise aspiring authors to worry less and do more. Don’t worry that it won’t be good, because you’ll edit it. Don’t worry that no one will like it, because you are writing for yourself. Don’t worry that there will be obstacles and setbacks, because there absolutely will be. With hard work, you can overcome them—just don’t stop until it’s done, and learn as you go. Also important is to be able to navigate all the advice. Don’t feel pressured to follow any one writer’s process, because your process will be your own, depending on your goal and your project. Make your work the best it can be—develop a thick skin, solicit and accept feedback, and take constructive criticism seriously—but also recognize that you will never be able to satisfy everyone. Most importantly, trust your gut, and don’t be intimidated by the magnitude of the work. It’s a lot of work! But having done it, you’ll look back on where you started, and you’ll feel like you can accomplish anything.

AMANDA GALE GIVEAWAY

Amanda has generously provided an e-book copy of the entire series. Her giveaway is running from March 22nd-29th.

Enter here: a Rafflecopter giveaway

STORIES UNFOLDED BLOGIVERSARY GIVEAWAY

Don’t forget to enter the Stories Unfolded Blogiversary Giveaway that’s running from March 1st – March 31st.

(1) Grand Prize Winner

  • $25 Amazon Kindle Gift Card
  • (1) Signed physical copy of The End of Feeling by Cindy C Bennett
  • (1) Audiobook of The End of Feeling by Cindy C Bennett
  • (1) Signed physical copy of Family Inheritance by Terri Ann Leidich
  • (1) Signed physical copy of From a Grieving Mother’s Heart by Terri Ann Leidich
  • (1) Signed physical copy of For a Grieving Heart by Terri Ann Leidich
  • (1) Physical copy of Finding Zoe by Brandi Rarus and Gail Harris
  • (1) E-Book copy of the Off The Map Series by Lia Riley (Upside Down, Sideswiped, & Inside Out)
  • (1) E-Book copy of any Ginger Scott book
  • (1) E-Book copy of Cemetery Tours and Between Worlds by Jacqueline Smith
  • (1) E-Book copies of three children’s books by Alva Sachs (Circus Fever, I’m 5, & On Your Mark, Get Set,Go!)

(1) Prize Winner

  • $10 Amazon Kindle Gift Card
  • (1) E-Book copy of any Ginger Scott book
  • (1) E-Pub copy of Family Inheritance by Terri Ann Leidich
  • (1) E-Pub copy of From a Grieving Mother’s Heart by Terri Ann Leidich
  • (1) E-Pub copy of For a Grieving Heart by Terri Ann Leidich
  • (1) E-Book copy of Cemetery Tours and Between Worlds by Jacqueline Smith

(1) Prize Winner

  • $5 Amazon Kindle Gift Card
  • (1) E-Book copy of The End of Feeling by Cindy C. Bennett
  • (1) E-Book copy of any Ginger Scott book
  • (1) E-Book copy of Cemetery Tours and Between Worlds by Jacqueline Smith

(1) Prize Winner

  • $5 Amazon Kindle Gift Card

Enter here: a Rafflecopter giveaway

Amanda Gale week continues tomorrow with her guest post.

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Blogiversary | Interview with Author Jacqueline Smith

AUTHOR INTERVIEW | JACQUELINE SMITH

WEBSITE | FACEBOOK | BLOG | TWITTER | GOODREADS

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Photo Credit: Kaylynn Krieg

I’ve been working with Jacqueline Smith since mid February and she’s been so great through this whole process.  I wanted to get to know her author side a little bit more.  So, here’s her answers to my author interview questions.

Don’t forget to enter both the Jacqueline Smith Giveaway and the Stories Unfolded Blogiversary Giveaway at the end of this interview.

Q: Would you like to start by introducing yourself?

Hi! I’m Jacqueline. I’m 27 years old and I’m from Dallas, Texas. I love writing, photography, and nature. And I’m a YA Literature enthusiast.

Q: Can you tell us a bit about your latest book and the inspiration behind it?

My latest book is called Boy Band. It will be released April 21, 2015. It’s the first I’ve published that is not part of the Cemetery Tours series. It actually started out as a NaNoWriMo project. I wasn’t sure if I would publish it, or even finish it, to be honest. But I ended up really loving it. My sister and I are totally into boy bands, all boy bands, and so I started out writing it just for fun after binge-watching music videos on YouTube. It became a really fun story. I can’t wait for people to read it!

Q: When did you first realize you wanted to be an author?

I first realized I wanted to be an author in my junior year of college. It was spring break and I was sick as a dog, so I spent the entire week curled up on the couch with blankets, tissues, and a stack of guilty pleasure romance novels. In the middle of one, the author describes this bungalow on the beach, right next to a lighthouse. I remember thinking to myself, “Hey, I could do that.” And that was it.

Q: What inspired you to start writing and what continues to inspire you to write now?

I started writing when I was a little kid, actually, but back then, all I was doing was rewriting books and movies that I already loved. For example, every Disney movie I owned. It was kind of like a kid version of fanfiction. I wrote for fun all the way through high school, but I never thought it was something I’d actually end up doing.

Now, I have a million different things that inspire me to keep writing. For one thing, I have at least fifteen other stories in my head waiting to be written. Anything can inspire a story. Sometimes it’s a song. Sometimes it’s a cool picture. Sometimes, it’s a simple phrase. All I know is I need to tell these stories. And I love it.

Q: What are you working on at the moment?

I’m putting the finishing touches, revisions, and edits on Boy Band before its released next month. I’m also designing the cover, which is kind of exciting. I’ve never designed a cover before, so I hope it looks alright! I’m also in the process of finishing the third installment of the Cemetery Tours series.

Q: Do you have any writing superstitions or rituals?

When I first get an idea for a story, I do two things. First, I make a playlist on iTunes that serves as a writing soundtrack specifically for that story. And second, I make a secret Pinterest board to help me visualize what I’m writing. When I write, I’m usually at my desk, I have a giant glass of water, and I burn a candle. I love candles.

Q: Where is your favorite place to read?

Oh, I can read anywhere. My favorite place used to be on the living room couch, where my cat, Jasmine, would always sit next to me. Sadly, she passed away last year and I’ve found it difficult to go back to our spot to read.

Q: What are some of your favorite books to read?

I love anything by Meg Cabot or Nicholas Sparks. I’m a big fan of YA, which I’ve been binge-reading recently. I have a huge pile of books on my bedroom floor just waiting to be read. Oh and of course, I love Harry Potter and The Hunger Games.

Q: How do you keep yourself motivated to write?

I remind myself that I’m so lucky to have found something I love and that I’m passionate about. It’s something that never gets old for me. And perhaps, most importantly, I read. Reading reminds me of why I started writing in the first place. It also reminds me of what I want, which is for readers to enjoy my books as much as I enjoy the books of so many other authors out there.

Q: What advice do you have for aspiring authors out there?

Never give up. Write what you love, not what you think other people will love. There will be plenty of nay-sayers out there, but don’t let them get to you. Find an editor that you trust. Appreciate your readers. Support your fellow writers. And while it is very important to present yourself and your work professionally and with pride, it’s also important to have fun. Enjoy. You’ve earned it.

JACQUELINE SMITH GIVEAWAY

Jacqueline has generously provided (3) kindle copies of Cemetery Tours and (3) kindle copies of it’s sequel, Between Worlds. There will be (3) Winners who will receive one copy of each book. This giveaway will run until March 7th.

Enter here: a Rafflecopter giveaway

STORIES UNFOLDED BLOGIVERSARY GIVEAWAY

Don’t forget to enter the Stories Unfolded Blogiversary Giveaway that’s running from March 1st – March 31st.

(1) Grand Prize Winner

  • $25 Amazon Kindle Gift Card
  • (1) Signed physical copy of The End of Feeling by Cindy C Bennett
  • (1) Audiobook of The End of Feeling by Cindy C Bennett
  • (1) Signed physical copy of Family Inheritance by Terri Ann Leidich
  • (1) Signed physical copy of From a Grieving Mother’s Heart by Terri Ann Leidich
  • (1) Signed physical copy of For a Grieving Heart by Terri Ann Leidich
  • (1) Physical copy of Finding Zoe by Brandi Rarus and Gail Harris
  • (1) E-Book copy of the Off The Map Series by Lia Riley (Upside Down, Sideswiped, & Inside Out)
  • (1) E-Book copy of any Ginger Scott book
  • (1) E-Book copies of three children’s books by Alva Sachs (Circus Fever, I’m 5, & On Your Mark, Get Set,Go!)

(1) Prize Winner

  • $10 Amazon Kindle Gift Card
  • (1) E-Book copy of any Ginger Scott book
  • (1) E-Pub copy of Family Inheritance by Terri Ann Leidich
  • (1) E-Pub copy of From a Grieving Mother’s Heart by Terri Ann Leidich
  • (1) E-Pub copy of For a Grieving Heart by Terri Ann Leidich

(1) Prize Winner

  • $5 Amazon Kindle Gift Card
  • (1) E-Book copy of The End of Feeling by Cindy C. Bennett
  • (1) E-Book copy of any Ginger Scott book

(1) Prize Winner

  • $5 Amazon Kindle Gift Card

Enter here: a Rafflecopter giveaway

Jacqueline Smith week continues tomorrow with her guest post.

Student Spotlight: Jacob Fuertes

Every student has a story.  Even a campus as small as Woodbury University has a diverse background with students from different countries and cities.  Some students are from Italy while others grew up five minutes away.  The point is everyone is different, but everyone also has the same thing in common…they are working towards their education.

I want to put the spotlight on current students with differing backgrounds.  My first interview is with Jacob Fuertes, a Woodbury University graphic design student.  I met Jacob in February of 2012 when I was interviewing him for a position with the Woodbury University Phon-A-Thon.  I instantly knew that he would be a great addition to the team with his great work ethic and energetic personality.

The Pacoima native is currently in his second year of the graphic design program at Woodbury University and he agreed to answer a few of my questions about being a college student.

Q: What do you like most about Woodbury University?

What I like about Woodbury University would have to be the size of the campus.  The reason for that is a student fresh out of high school it’s easier to cope with the transfer from high school to college due to the size and not becoming overwhelmed.

Q: Do you work? If so, tell me about your job(s)?

Due to my hectic class hours it became hard for me to find a job out side of school. However, I was lucky enough to find a wonderful job on campus with the Phon-A-Thon with great people!=)

Q: What is it like being a full-time student and working?

Well at times it can become very overwhelming, for me the days would begin to blend together, but thanks to the support of family and loved ones it made it easier to keep a leveled head.

Q: What are your plans after graduation?

After graduation I know most of my classmates will continue on with there education, but for me that is the moment I start my life as a true adult. Meaning finding work and leaving my mark in the world every where I go.

Q: What is your most memorable moment at Woodbury?

The most memorable would be my first day at Woodbury because I remember I was running late and was scared of making a bad impression the first day. So like a freshman I was running all over campus not knowing where the classroom was until I ran into a student from SOAR and he pointed me to right direction.

Q: What was you favorite class and why?

So far I would say Digital Practice.  The reason for that is because it gave me an idea of the different programs that I would be using in my major.  Plus we had a really cool teacher (Brian Herbberts).

Q: What are the goals you have from now until graduation?

My goals is to keep my grade point average up because with that I receive a grant from the school. Also to make great friends and making those connections that might come in handy in the future.

Q: Where do you want to be in 10 years?

Hmm in 10yrs. I hope I have a great job and a house of my own, but honestly I’m not completely sure.  When I get there I’ll let you know=)

Q: What advice do you have for incoming college students?

My only advise would be hit the ground running, give 100% of your effort and you will get 100% in return. Keep in mind no one can make it in life with out an education!! Also if money is tight try to finish general ed. or classes at community colleges, but do it a month before summer break so you the best chance in getting in.
Jacob is an amazing student and I am really glad I had the chance to work with him in the spring.  I truly believe that he will do great things in the future and during his time at Woodbury. 🙂
Please let me know about your college experience or if you would like to be interviewed for my blog.  Thank you again Jacob!!!

A Day at Dun & Bradstreet Credibility Corp. – Working as a Marketing Intern

Just like so many college graduates, in May of 2011 I found myself looking for a job.  I was literally online searching for jobs every single day for several hours.  At this point, I have lost count of how many I have actually applied for.  For a while, it seemed like there was nothing out there for me and nobody would give me the chance to prove myself!  That was until Dun & Bradstreet Credibility Corp. came along…

I had heard of Dun & Bradstreet Credibility from a friend who was able to obtain a full-time graphic design position.  She was so excited to let me know that her company was hiring interns like crazy and suggested that I should apply.  At the time, I hadn’t thought about applying for an internship because I was looking for that full-time position.

However, I had enrolled in the MBA program at Woodbury University, so my time was still split between work and school.  Then I thought….”Hey, a part-time internship might actually be better for me”.  Considering it’s a paid internship, I would still be making something!  I looked into Dun & Bradstreet Credibility and found that I actually liked the company.  They are in the business of helping small businesses.  As a student who studied entrepreneurship, I felt this was a perfect fit.

After a rough holiday season, (still no job offers, went on countless interviews, and no word from DandB) I was falling into a state of depression.  I couldn’t sleep, I had anxiety from bills piling up, and at times I would sit in my car just to cry.  But then I got a call…..”Hi, is Danielle there?”… “This is Danielle.”…”Hello, this is Catherine from Dun & Bradstreet Credibility Corp.  We would like to bring you in for an interview, if you were still interested.”

Finally!!! I immediately said YES! I scheduled the interview and started preparing. 🙂

The Interview

To prepare for the interview, I printed out several copies of my resume, cover letter, writing samples, and brought  a business plan I had written for a competition.  I was prepared for this interview! I knew the questions I would ask at the end of the interview, knew where I had to drive to, and where to park.  I showed up an hour early and sat in my car going over everything I had printed out about Dun & Bradstreet Credibility.  I made sure I knew enough about their products/services and the company’s history, in order to show my genuine interest in working at the company.

Lets just say, I was extremely nervous (like I am for most interviews).  There is always that voice in the back of my mind saying, “Danielle, don’t mess this up.  You need this.  Stay calm.”  When the time came for me to head into Dun & Bradstreet Credibility, I was greeted with a smile and an excited “Hi!” from Catherine, the Marketing Coordinator.  The atmosphere in the office had a fun vibe to it; walking in for the first time, I literally almost got run over by someone riding a scooter.

Catherine brought me over to one of the conference rooms overlooking the ocean! It’s such an amazing view and it was such a beautiful day!  Once I got settled into the conference room…the interview started.  This interview was very different from all the ones I had been on with other companies.  Each person I met with talked so passionately about Dun & Bradstreet Credibility and I knew that this would be a good place to work (If they offered me the position of course). I left that interview feeling confident in myself and what I could bring to this company.

About a week after my interview I got a call.  I looked at the number and thought to myself, “This is it!”  Sure enough, it was Catherine letting me know they wanted to hire me as a Marketing Intern!

Meeting Jeff Stibel, CEO of Dun & Bradstreet Credibility Corp.

After I was offered the marketing intern position, I was told I had to meet with the CEO of the company.  This was another indication that Dun & Bradstreet Credibility is very different from most companies.  I had never met the CEO of a company I was interviewing with, so I was extremely nervous.  It wasn’t even an interview, but the concept of meeting the CEO made me sweat a bit.  So, I scheduled the meeting and met with Jeff Stibel.  He told me about himself, how he started Dun & Bradstreet Credibility Corp., and asked about me.  I am quite certain that he knew I had this whole blurb about myself memorized word for word.  After that meeting, I was even more excited about my first day as a Marketing Intern!

Working at Dun & Bradstreet Credibility Corp.! 🙂

When I was getting ready for my first day at Dun & Bradstreet Credibility, I told myself that I am going to work extremely hard!  I am going to make myself stand out of all among the rest!  I will make a name for myself here!

I started working on Valentine’s Day! Since my first day, I have learned so much and have been given more responsibilities than I thought I would.  This is in no way a bad thing because the more responsibilities I am given, the more I learn and the more opportunities I have to prove myself.

Not only do I like the work I am given, but I like the company culture.  Dun & Bradstreet Credibility is one of those companies that is not just about the customers, but also about their employees.  From my time spent here, I can tell that Dun & Bradstreet Credibility wants to make sure that their employees are motivated and happy.  This is why people working here are so passionate about their work and making Dun & Bradstreet Credibility a success.

As a group, Dun & Bradstreet Credibility employees are all about working hard and playing hard.   Every month there is at least one party in the break room.  The break room itself is an employee’s dream!  Equipped with a pool table, two televisions, video games, a ping-pong table, an arcade game, an air hockey table, and did I mention the drinks and snacks; this break room makes everyone I know jealous!  While Dun & Bradstreet Credibility employees may take breaks to challenge each other to a game of ping-pong, this company is extremely hard-working!  Dun & Bradstreet Credibility is in it to win it!  That’s how I see it.

Overall, I am extremely grateful to be a part of this amazing company.  I know that I will learn a lot from my days working here and I can’t wait to continue contributing to the success of Dun & Bradstreet Credibility.

As a College Student, What Can You Learn From This?

Before you apply for a job:

  • Make sure your resume is up to date, has no spelling errors, and looks and sounds professional.
  • Create a cover letter stating the reason why you are applying and why you think you are qualified.

When you get the interview:

  • Be sure to research everything about the company (i.e. products/services, history, requirements of the position you are applying for, etc.).
  • Print out several copies of your resume, cover letter, and any other materials you feel is necessary (I would say print out at least 3 copies of each).
  • Be sure to arrive early.  You NEVER want to be late!

When you get the job:

  • Take on as many responsibilities as you can.  This will help you prove yourself in the company.
  • Show that you are interested in the company and get to know your coworkers.
  • Most of all you should be having fun!

Please tell me about your amazing job! 🙂

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