|Posted by Matt Posner on August 21, 2014 at 7:40 PM|
I am happy to have exchanged interviews with fellow teacher and YA author Leti Del Mar. I love teachers who write -- and I especially like Leti because she has a huge cat! Read on!
I like to start each interview with a sense of place, so let's talk about where you live. Sunny Southern California -- greetings from currently sunny but frequently gray NYC. Tell us more about the lifestyle where you are. also, where else have you lived.
I love where I live! It is within an hour drive from just about everything, the city, the beaches, the mountains, the desert, concerts, museums, shopping and lots of natural beauty. There is always plenty to do to keep me and my family busy. The downside is we only have two seasons, summer which lasts about 8 months and not summer, which tends to confuse us.
You have an abnormally large cat. Talk about the cat, and send me a picture I can share. Please tell me this cat could squash Grumpy Cat. Oh, please tell me that.
My 20 pound cat is a ragdoll tabby who is very loyal and protective. He has scared away every dog, cat and lizard for blocks and despite what the pictures looks like, he has yet to eat my daughter. (See a picture of the cat in this site's photo gallery.)
We're both teachers. My field is English; yours are math and science. So let's talk about teaching and then about teaching and writing.
How has Common Core changed your experience of teaching?
Common Core seems to be having its biggest effect on Math and I am happy to see that change. For my entire teaching career, I have felt that Algebra is pushed too early for kids not yet ready for it. I look forward being able to take my time and teach depth not breadth.
What was the reaction in your area when you got the results of Vergara v. California, overturning your tenure? What's next for you guys? We have a similar suit filed here in New York state now, so we should soon understand what you guys were going through while waiting for your own case to make its way through the courts?
I can understand the feelings behind the case. I have seen some truly awful teachers not get fired, but instead get passed from school to school. The verdict won’t change things for most of my colleagues. We don’t don’t try to be the best teacher we can because we are afraid to get fired, but because our kids deserve it.
The stress and energy demands of teaching strongly interfere with my writing time. Have you any advice for me and fellow writers who are trying to write on top of a demanding job?
Make your writing time golden. Don’t do anything but write. Try to set a word count goal or time goal. Make it reasonable and don’t get up until you reach it.
How has being a teacher informed your subject matter or your understanding of human nature?
As a teacher, I am always reading. Sometimes I read to improve as a teacher, better understand my subject matter, improve as a writer or just for pleasure. An example of a great crossover was when I read a book on genetics by Nobel Prize winner James Watson to help me with the biology class I teach and it inspired my YA Dystopian series.
Let's begin talking about your writing.
You have a volume called How to Self-Publish: A DIY Approach. It's hard for me and some of my writer buddies to be entrepreneurial. How can your book help?
This book started as a series of blog posts about my own journey as an Indie author and the feedback I got was extraordinary. Authors were thanking me and saying that they could pick out something they found helpful with every post. So I compiled these posts, expanded them and asked some fellow Indies to contribute a chapter. I have a little bit for everyone, like formatting an e-book, establishing an author’s platform, and making your own covers. There are hundreds of ways to self-publish. My book outlines one of those ways and is for authors just getting started and for people who want to do as much of their self-publishing on their own and inexpensively.
The Confederation Chronicles is a YA Dystopian Romance that deals with the theme of changing your appearance vs. being true to yourself. You are writing in a crowded field (as I am myself). What makes your book stand out?
Two things. It is very much a romance and told from the dual points of view of the hero and the heroine. So you get to experience the long romantic journey through both of these young people. Also the heroine, Rose, comes from the ruling class and is in line to be the next ruler of this dystopian world. It may be out there, but I haven’t come across a dystopian book told from the point of view of someone in significant power. Over the three books in this trilogy, we get to see what Rose does with that power, which is kind of cool.
Introduce your romantic couple from the series, as well as an interesting supporting character or villain.
Rose comes from the capital of the Confederation of Cities where its citizens live in luxury and the greatest fashion statement of all is being Altered. People change everything about the way they look as often as they do their hairstyle but Rose is different. Her position of privilege has made her an outcast and led her to suspect that something sinister is happening to the citizens and flees the capital along with a past that imprisons her in search of a fresh start in the Land of the Unaltered.
Flynn lives in the Land of the Unaltered and hates the capitol and everything it stands for. So when a spoiled capital girl is assigned to work with him, he wants nothing to do with her and is prepared to make her life miserable. But Flynn was not prepared for someone like Rose. She doesn’t fit the mold he expected and finds himself strongly attracted to her. As she continues to surprise and outwit him, they begin to forge a bond that is tested when they discover a secret that could change everything they know about Land of the Unaltered.
I had so much fun with the main villain in this series, Rose’s father. He is controlling and narcissistic and on the hunt for perfection and power that will crush anyone who gets in his way.
Your website's promotional scheme uses some sites called NoiseTrade and Diesel. I haven't heard of them before. What are they? What are reasons to use them?
Diesel is a place that sells paperbacks and is a nice alternative to Amazon for Indie authors. Some feel strongly against Amazon, so I like to have another place to get my books in print.
Noisetrade is a great place to get music and books for free. People can download whatever you put in and it is up to them if they want to leave a tip. I put long samples of my fiction on there (20%) and saw a nice correlation of put up those samples on Noisetrade and increased sales. In the future, I plan to put up novellas and short stories.
Like me, you have chosen to interview authors as a way to keep your website's traffic active. What made you decide to do this? What are two or three interviews you have hosted that make good starting places for reading your site (with links)?
Here are a few favorites with authors who have become great friends after interviewing them. I’ve learned so much from their experience.
Tell an interesting story from your writing life.
I am also a book reviewer and I had no intention of that happening. You could say that I am an accidental reviewer. It started with my own hunt for people to review my books. I thought I should pay it forward by review what I read. Then because I am almost OCD about organizing my reviews, I started a website to put them all.
Soon I started to get authors requesting a review and now I work with 4 blog tour companies and a handful of publishers who send me my pick of books to review. This means I rarely have to pay for what I read, I get to help out fellow Indie authors and I have been able to use book blog tour services at a discount. Lots of perks for an accident!
Tell an interesting story from your non-writing life.
I love to travel and so far, have visited 13 other countries. Being a serious Art History junkie, I love to explore museums all around the world. So far I've been to 43 museums in my travels (yes I've kept count) and have explored some of the greats like the Louvre in Paris or the Ufitzi in Florence and some hidden gems like the Chester Beaty Library in Dublin, which was about a hundered times more impressive than its more famous counterpart in Trinity College. I have mostly kicked around Europe and the Caribbean, but I’m planning a trip to India this fall. Even though I love where I live, I am always planning a trip to somewhere far away.
What would you like to say to readers to close this interview?
I would love for readers to give Indie books a chance. You can discover some fantastic reads at a fraction of the cost in a major bookstore. That means more books! Who doesn’t love more books?