Where Readers & Writers Connect
My father used to tell the story of how I would read the newspaper and discuss it with him by the time I was seven. Whether that is a true story or not, I don’t know, but he was telling that one since I was a teenager. Regardless, I was an avid reader virtually out of the womb, and devoured everything that caught my interest.
I thought that I wanted to be a Veterinarian when I grew up. So when I was in high school, I concentrated on taking science and biology courses. Meanwhile, I hid novels under my desk and read during class. My freshman year of college was a near disaster, as the science and math courses I hated but forced myself to take overwhelmed me. Sophomore year, my (future) husband advised me to change my major to my favorite course in high school. I switched to English, with a creative writing emphasis.
The introspection made me consider little things I’d done in the past. When I was about nine, my father bought a typewriter for Christmas, because that was what I wanted. In elementary school I remember taking an aptitude test, and arranging my answers so that it would turn out that I should become a writer. In my college courses, we concentrated on short stories, but I’d always wanted to write a novel. I attempted to write at least 20 novels over the course of my life, but I never got past a chapter or two of any until 2011.
What happened in 2011 that made the difference?
In 2011, I had a miscarriage. At 35, I really felt like it was my last chance to have a child. The depression that followed was overwhelming, and it made me reassess what I wanted to do with my life and what goals I’d like to reach. Writing is hugely therapeutic, so I emptied my soul on paper with pen and ink. The result was a subsequent blog, several magazine articles about faith, and my short devotionals, which I self-published.
What led you to choose self-publishing for your devotional books?
I had been a member of ChristianWriters.com for several years, but had taken a two-year hiatus due to pouring myself into my “day job” of training and taking care of horses during the rough economy. Before the hiatus, self-publishing still had a huge stigma attached to it and was looked down upon in the same manner as vanity publishing. But when I returned to CW, I found that many of my “friends” had joined the self-publishing revolution.
I was shocked. But also curious, so I read some of their books to see if they were sub-par, and found they weren’t. This woke me up to the reality that if authors could directly reach the reader without “middlemen”, it would open up a whole new world. So I experimented in this world with my four devotionals.
What do you like most about self-publishing?
My friends know that I’m a bit “Monk-ish” and having been a business owner for almost 15 years, so I’m used to being in control. Although self-publishing has a mystique about it for those who have never done it, it’s surprisingly easy if you read all the fine print and follow all the rules. My “Monk-like” ways make me obsessive about reading fine print, so I had no problem with it.
A writer who self-publishes gets to choose their cover, the price point, and doesn’t have to wait for a publisher to accept their work before the editing and publishing process, can begin. A book used to take 2-5 years to go from 1st draft to print, but with self-pub, it can take less than a year.
What do you like least about it?
I hate the lack of standards. As a Top Reviewer for Amazon, I want to promote Indie Publishers, whether they are small publishers or self-published authors. So most of what I read is Indie. I mentioned earlier that my friends’ books were equally as well-edited and written as any traditionally published book. Now that I’ve read about 100 self-pub books, I must say that my friends were in the minority. Out of 10 self-pub books I might read: 2 can go right into the trashcan, 3 need major formatting and editing help, 3 more had so much potential if only they had more editing, and 2 are as good as traditionally published books – 20%, and that’s a maximum, unfortunately.
Would you recommend it to other writers? Why or why not?
I hesitantly say yes. If an author thoughtfully writes and edits their work, then self-pub is a viable option. Editors, beta-readers, and proofreaders are indispensable. The author needs to take their time and edit their work. However long it took you to write your first draft, expect it to take at least four times as long to edit it. So if the book took you four months to write, expect it to take at least 16 months to edit. This was a wake-up call for me when I wrote my novel.
You’ve had several short stories published. Do you prefer to write short stories or longer fiction?
I am a short-story-writer who has always wanted to be a novelist. In November 2011, I participated in NaNoWriMo for the first time, and my novel, “Catalyst” was born. I ended up writing it by scenes, with each scene having a short story type format. Additionally, I have five point-of-view characters. It seems like a complicated way to write a novel, and I’ve been told by my editor that I chose probably the worst sort of novel to write for my first stab, but it couldn’t be helped.
Meanwhile, I continue to write short stories. They are so easy for me. A short story is a small slice of someone’s life, a few breaths out of a million a person would take. For that moment, I become the main character. It’s like playing pretend. And since I not only have OCD, but ADD, I get bored if I pretend to be one person for too long.
What avenues have you pursued to improve your writing?
I read. Part of my ADD can also be shown in the way that I read. I tend to read 6-8 books at once. Different genres, authors, and characters fill my mind all at the same time. I commit myself to reading a few pages of each book/day even when they are boring. Then one will suddenly strike my fancy, and the others will get neglected while I devour that one. In any given week, I typically finish 3-4 books. That’s how I became a reviewer. It’s also an expensive habit, which is why I started searching for free books on my Kindle and started my book blog, Spirit-Filled Kindle.
Your Spirit-Filled Kindle blog is popular and becoming even more so as time passes. How do you manage your activities so you can take care of your blog, your reviews, and still have time for writing?
It takes me about 2 hours/day to research and update my SFK blog. I have approximately 1500 subscribers to it at this time, and knowing that I will disappoint many people if I don’t update today presses me forward to get it done.
I feed on deadlines. If I don’t have them, I’ll procrastinate. The subscribers to my blog give me a daily deadline. If I don’t review a few books/week, I’ll lose my Top Reviewer status, so that gives me a weekly deadline. I joined Write1Sub1 (write a short story/week and submit a short/week) to give me a deadline for my short stories. My novels have been kicked to the wayside because I don’t have a deadline. So Camp Nano (June and August) has my name all over it.
Do you have any parting words of advice?
Life is boring when you set reachable goals. Always set a goal you can’t possibly reach, and amaze yourself when you reach it. And the times when you don’t reach it, you’ll always do better than you thought possible.
Also I would like to give a FREE KINDLE Edition to the first 3 people to leave comment with their email address in this format: Name (at) email (dot) com, and let me know if they would like The Prodigal Life, 101 Notes of Thanksgiving, or 40 Devotions for Horse Lovers. I will gift the book through amazon directly to that email.
Pauline Creeden is the author of 101 Faith Notes, which has been #1 in Free Bible Meditations for over 3 months. You can find out more about her reading, writing, and reviewing life at Fat Free Faith.