by Brenda Hill
Good morning, Bree and Maralyn. And, thank you for finding me and my work interesting enough to interview on your most special blog. I’m afraid my extensive traveling wasn't done in as elegant a manner as your own. My husband and I traveled around the country for two years in an eighteen wheeler! I’d dare say I experienced as many different cultures, however. In that time, my innate love for the land and nature was nurtured, and I formed a new philosophy on the big scheme of things. When my husband passed on at a most young age, these experiences and new philosophies, along with a powerful interjection by a brilliant double rainbow etched across the heavens, my healing was facilitated with the creation of my website dedicated to him.
That site evolved into my first book, Fibers In the Web. Fibers was a collection of colorful nature photos, poems and philosophical essays amassed on the highways of America. My ponderings were shown as truth for me, through the survival of the devastating loss of my right side. That experience evolved into the writing of the novel you so loved, Rainy Day People. It is pretty much known, now, that Rainy Day is my memoir masked in just enough fiction to make it one heck of a story. The most common accolade I receive for it was, “the characters are so . . . so real. Amber leaps off the page into one’s heart.” I’m very touched and humbled by this as I sure never felt my rather quirky personality and simple life would be worth writing about! Who’d want to read about me?
You, too, are an Infinity Publishing author. Why do you prefer to be independent author published? I think we used to call it self-published.
Actually, I've been rather blessed in the world of publishing. Fibers In the Web was traditionally published by a small press in Denver, Colorado. I never planned on publishing anything; my goals centered around creating the website honoring my husband, nature, and my philosophy. Whispering Wind Publishing contacted me and asked if I’d ever considered converting it to book form. Well, no, I hadn't, but out of that unexpected inquiry, Fibers, the book, was born. Five years, pouring my soul onto a page, and suffering yet another tragic loss later,Rainy Day People was completed.
Initially, I’d researched the process of acquiring an agent and going the traditional route again. After several of the standard rejection letters all authors seem to go through, I gave up on that idea. They didn't realize that by rejecting my story, they were rejecting my very life! That ignited a fire in me to share my humble words with anyone who may be touched by reading it. I had no desire for fame or fortune, only for sharing the experiences if they just may touch another going through a tragedy of their own.
I had a copy of Writers Digest lying around here and happened to remember seeing ads for Independent Publishers. I drug out the magazine and the first ad I came to was from Infinity Publishing and I contacted them for more information. They immediately sent me their wonderful little book explaining the process and also all the directions in how to set up a book ready file. You know the rest of the story.
Now, four years later, I consider that day as providence. Rainy Day People was chosen as the novel to consider for audio conversion to launch their Spoken Books Publishing division, and that version is what garnered me an Indie Excellence National Book award last year. My networking article has since been included in their “Your Published! Now, What” book, I've sat on a panel at Valley Forge along with three of my co-Infinity authors and the celebrity presenters, and I have a third book coming out the end of the year with Infinity. I've never been sorry I followed that road and have since met such wonderful writers and professionals that I feel I've made life-long friends. As you know, I don’t believe in coincidence, I was meant to be at Infinity.
Tell us about your role with Florida Writer's Association.
After my husband died, I’d buried myself into a seclusion of sorts. Other than my working to earn a living and keep a roof over my head, I spent all my time alone, reflecting, writing my thoughts and my anguish in poems and short essays. My solace came from hours of working in gardens, the woods, memories and animal life. All the little wildlife around me and my cats. My association to the outside world was the Internet.
When Rainy Day People was released, I realized I was going to have to re-establish camaraderie with people if I ever wanted my work to be read! I’d heard of the FWA. I visited the main website and contacted the president, Dan Griffith, to inquire about a Sarasota Chapter only to learn there was none in our county. He immediately proposed that I start one. It’s much too long of a story to relate here. Suffice it to say, I agreed and I entered my first meeting totally convinced I’d had a lapse in sanity, because I was terrified. By the end of the evening, I’d learned a valuable lesson in this business. If you extend yourself beyond your comfort zone and reach out your hand, others will step forward to grasp it.
We are now in our fourth year and the group continues to grow, refine itself, and is now the best it has ever been. We've assembled a great group of people, incredible diversity in genre, and a willingness to help and encourage each other. Like everything else, it IS a process. I've evolved as a comfortable group leader, a columnist for the official statewide FWA publication, The Florida Writer, and present workshops on networking and editing at various conferences and reviews. I credit a good amount of my success in networking to the Florida Writers Association.
Other than working on your own writing, have you broadened your writing resume with other involvements in written expression?
To this day, poetry remains my first love and I’m quite active in poetry work. As coordinator for The Infinite Writer, a popular e-zine founded by Dahris Clair, the Pasco County FWA Group Leader, and also an Infinity Publishing author, I’m fortunate to meet and work with incredible poets from all over the world. I just featured one from England who sat me back in my chair! In the course of doing this work, I've edited and guided many budding poets and made dear friends. I've received awards for my own poetry and am now associated with a fantastic organization out in California, the Redlands Aromatherapy Foundation, helping them promote their fundraising poetry and prose Nature contest. Another product of networking, by the way.
As monthly contributor of articles ranging from humor to politics, networking to editing...I continue to build my network on the west coast as well as nurture friendships with fellow Infinity authors who also take part in John Wolf’s e-zine.
The rest of the time, I spend doing contract copy editing and guidance for other writers while managing to build quite a reputation for my book reviews with the many reviews I've done for AME Marketing out of San Diego and fellow Infinity authors. It pleased me greatly to be able to return the favor, Bree, when I was asked to review yours and Maralyn's wonderful book $ucess-Your Path to a Successful Book. I still say it’s the best book out there for getting an author started on the road to success.
You do more networking than anyone else I know, except for Maralyn Hill. What is your philosophy about networking?
I've written a rather succinct article on the power of networking that is posted on my website: www.sucarha.com in the Rainy Day Room section. I’d invite your readers to read the entire thing as networking is, indeed, the most powerful tool at the writers disposal unless they happen to be mega-rich and can afford prominent publicists and extensive advertising. Here, I’ll sum it up by saying networking is the vehicle that will connect you with the readers of the world and other writers, who are usually also extensive readers. Through my own experiences, I came up with the four basic principles of networking. Strangely, the first principle of networking is meeting and getting to know your self’, your goals, and your comfort zones. Before you can embark upon a journey, you kind of have to know where you wish to go.
Secondly, and possibly most importantly, networking IS a reciprocal process. In order to receive, you first must give, and continue to give back. No one enjoys spending a lot of time around a person who is all about me, me, me! You must always be willing to take genuine interest in others, their goals and work, too.
Thirdly, it’s active; it’s doing something. It’s getting out and joining groups, attending conferences, meeting local independent booksellers, volunteering to take part in community activities. To put a scientific tint on it, it’s action=reaction=action=reaction=circular perpetual motion. Like ripples in a pond, they extend ever wider. Fourth, networking is balance. It’s maintaining a balance between expectations and contributions, listening as well as speaking, being what others want to emulate rather than shy away from. And, it’s a continual re-prioritizing of the first three principles as we grow, situations change, goals change, and WE change.
Do you have any tips for new or seasoned writers?
Write what you want to write and write from your very soul. Never think you are so good that you can’t get better. Never think you reach a point where you don’t NEED an editor. Most importantly, NEVER sacrifice your values or your integrity to climb a rung on the ladder. Be true to yourself and your craft.
Anything new in the works?
Yes, as mentioned earlier, I hope to have my third book out this fall. Infinity is patiently waiting for me to get it together. Soul Songs will be similar to Fibers In the Web in that it will be new poems and new philosophical essays reflecting the growth and progress in my work over the last eight years. This one will be more geared to wonderful experiences I’ve had with meeting other writers and also my passions for the Earth we all trod upon. I’ve developed a passion for the power of free verse poetry rather than the standard rhyme and rhythm of Fibers.
I’m also struggling through the second novel which is about one third done. The House Is Burning is a difficult novel to write. I’m so passionately full of its content; I constantly fight the repetitious rambling that can be the destroyer of an otherwise great book. You know, those parts where you feel you’re cutting a piece of your heart out!
What is the best way to reach you?
I can be reached through my website: www.sucarha.com. I’m always happy to hear from other writers and readers. Thank you both, Bree and Maralyn, I’m quite honored and grateful to be asked to be a part of your site and this art we all three love and share.
Brenda Hill is a freelance writer; food judge; International Food & Wine Travel Writer's Association. Author, Random House, NYC. author, book editor: Boy's Life Magazine; contributor, Where Magazine; columnist: Big Blend Magazine; columnist, Where and What in the World; co-author, Success, Your Path to a Successful Book (INDIE Finalist), Cooking Secrets, The Why and How; co-author, Our Love Affairs with Food & Travel; book reviewer and contributor, Pepper Tree Literary Magazine, contributer, Global Writes, contributor: CityRoom. Media representative, Bocuse D'Or in Lyon, France, 2009 and 2011. whereandwhatintheworld.com