I’m so delighted to host Tinthia Clemant today. Tinthia recently self-published her romance novel, The Summer of Annah: A Midsummer’s Wish, her second if you count the robin/bluebird romance she made her mom when she was seven :).
In this interview, Tinthia graciously shares her journey to publication, from hearing difficult feedback about her first draft to working to improve her writing every day.
How long have you wanted to be a romance writer?
I’ve been enthralled with love stories ever since I first saw Sleeping Beauty at the age of four. My parents took my siblings and me to the local library, and I climbed up onto my father’s lap and entered the world of Princess Aurora, aka Briar Rose, her fairy godmothers and, of course, the handsome Prince Phillip. It was at that defining moment that my subconscious made two very important decisions—I wanted to find true love and I wanted to create marvelous stories about true love’s first kiss.
What inspired you to write this story?
The decision to write The Summer of Annah: A Midsummer’s Wish came on the eve of my 59th birthday. I had all these wonderful stories about love clambering around inside me and Annah was the loudest. She spoke to me as I went about my day-to-day life, asking for a chance to have her story told. I like to say I live vicariously through my characters. Annah has the brave qualities I wish I possessed. And she has Eric.
Describe your process for writing this particular book.
When it comes to writing, I’m a pantster. Yes, that’s a real term in the writing world. I get a spark of an idea and I start writing. The words pour out, many of which make little sense but I release them anyway. There are times when the characters take me to a places I hadn’t imagined going. Then at other times, they remain mute and refuse to come out to play.
During the initial draft phase, I kept a notebook with the names of each character. That was it. I foolishly thought my first draft was awesome and actually shared it with an English teacher at the school where I teach. Hey, if other writers could find success with only their first draft, why not me? His comment: “Stay teaching. Your writing is crap.” That was the slap I needed to learn as much as I could about this frightening process called fiction writing and, after long hours of sweat, tears, and Ben and Jerry’s ice cream, The Summer of Annah matured and became the amazing story I’m presenting to the world.
How long did it take to complete?
I typed the first word on March 1, 2015. I finished the first draft in October and had it shot down by mid-November. At the end of January, I completed a second draft, which I ultimately sent out for a developmental read. Elizabeth Davies, bless her soul, provided quality direction and guidance. I placed the third draft on Scribophile for daily critiques and in March of 2016, I hired a professional editor.
Was this the first book you had written?
My first book was also self-published and a huge success, receiving accolades from my audience. It was a story about a love that formed between two unlikely souls—a bluebird and a robin. True love overcame all obstacles and they lived happily ever after. I stapled the pages together and presented the book to my mother for Mother’s Day. I was seven and on my way to becoming the literary world’s newest and freshest romance writer. Since then I’ve written several stories but they have only seen the inside of my shredder. As I mentioned, my characters tend to be far braver than I am.
Did you work on simultaneous projects?
If you count living and keeping a roof over my head working on simultaneous projects, then, yes, I did. Annah became my primary focus in the fiction arena. As a college teacher, I need to write for my job and I blog about my life as a single woman living on the Concord River (concordriverlady.com) and needed to maintain that presence. The story was never far from my mind though. Oftentimes I would need to stop what I was doing so I could record a thought or jot down some dialogue for the book. I’ve lived and breathed The Summer of Annah for well over a year.
How did you fit your writing into the rest of your life?
I’m most creative in the early morning hours. In May of 2015, I adopted a blind Australian Shephard puppy who prefers to be awake early in the day. Four o’clock a.m. early! I would write for three to four hours every morning, including Saturdays and Sundays. I became religious in the process. Every morning I sat at the computer, coffee mug alongside, and write as the sun rose over the Concord River. At night, I would end the day by clocking in another two hours.
Who gave you feedback as you worked through writing the book?
Unfortunately, writing can put a person inside a bubble. For example, I honestly thought the draft I presented to my colleague was good. After all, it appeared to be good to me. Ha. Wake-up call. For the second draft, I enlisted a family member and close friend, and, as I mentioned, Elizabeth Davies. During that time, I also read everything I could get my eyes on about dangling participles and passive voice. Once the third draft was finished, I posted it on Scribophile for daily critiques.
What kept you going through the process?
What kept me going through the process? Chocolate, Ben and Jerry, and daily walks. However, when things got too overwhelming I would throw my hands up and cry, ‘This is too damn hard. I can’t do it’ and my sister, and my son’s girlfriend would push me to forward. Having two people who believed in me so completely gave me the strength to finish the book.
What made you decide to publish independently?
I despise rejection. By now, one would think I’d be used to it after being divorced from the same man twice. But alas, it still stinks. Going the traditional route provided visions of rejection letters stacked around empty containers of Chubby Hubby and I was concerned my blood sugar would spike to dangerous levels. Plus, I’m a control freak. Publishing myself affords me the opportunity to call the shots. It’s a great feeling.
What was the biggest challenge of publishing independently?
The biggest challenge of publishing independently is not being organized. It’s important to have a plan and a goal. Just wanting to publish a book isn’t enough. Once I had my goal, such as knowing I wanted to publish both an e-book and paper format that led me to the next step of what vendor to work with. I read, I asked, I attended workshops, I perused the web, I ate chocolate, and I’m still doing it over again. I also joined an indie Yahoo group where I found wonderful people willing to answer my barrage of questions.
What were the benefits of publishing independently?
FREEDOM! Let’s hear it for freedom. I’m free to write what I want. I’m free to choose my cover (with the help of a cover artist). I’m free to choose the names of my characters. My marketing promotions—mine! Freedom is a wonderful thing. I highly recommend it. If you asked me the downside of publishing independently, I would shout MONEY! It costs money to do it right.
What has surprised you most about the process?
What surprised me the most about the process was (and it still amazes me every day) how helpful other authors are. I’ve met wonderful women, and men, who have offered support, advice, kindness, critiques, encouragement, and praise—even chocolate.
What would you change if you could?
Published authors advise reading the manuscript aloud before sending it to an editor. That’s an important step in the process and I wish I hadn’t skipped it. By reading the words out loud, the energy of the story comes alive and it’s easier to find the areas that need tweaking.
What advice would you give aspiring writers?
Never, never, never take criticism personally. Use comments and critiques to sharpen your skills. And, write every day. Every single day! Even if the words are junk, write them down. You’re only going to improve by working on your skill. Remember what Raymond Chandler said about writing. “Throw up into your typewriter every morning. Clean it up every noon.”
“The true love I desire shall come to me, this I ask, so mote it be.”
When Annah-Belle Henderson cast a spell for love, she never envisioned her wish would be granted in the young nephew of her best friend. With a face that rivals the Norse god Thor, and a body to match, the charismatic Eric Ashworth draws Annah into a dizzying current of emotions. Should she accept the chance for love with a man twenty years younger or should she reject her feelings? As a past darkness threatens to destroy all that she longs for, Annah makes a decision that begins a journey fraught with judgement, betrayal, disloyalty, and perhaps death. If she can hold on, she just might find true love in Eric’s arms. But first, she must survive.
Tinthia Clemant lives on the Concord River with her two dogs, two cats, one son, a flock of wild Mallards, and other assorted river creatures. She is a believer in true love, the magic of love’s first kiss, and the power of chocolate. As the romance genre’s newest author, Tinthia fell in love with love stories when she watched Prince Phillip awaken Sleeping Beauty. That did it for her! Unfortunately, she has yet to find that special kiss. Throwing her arms up in defeat, she decided to write about it and live vicariously through her characters. You can find her lurking in the shadows of Twitter, Facebook and at tinthiaclemant.com.
Book Trailer link https://youtu.be/hMnGnFmYSnQ