Thursday, May 24, 2012
Special News for a Special Book
It's not everyday that we get to share an accomplishment like this, but today we have an opportunity to support one of our own.
Regina Sirois, a fellow MMW, whose debut book 'On Little Wings' was featured on our blog here, has some exciting news - after competing against 5000 other entries, Regina's book is one of the top three finalists for the Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award (ABNA).
The winner of this award is determined by public vote, which opened May 22 and closes May 30, 2012, with the presentation on June 16, 2012. Voting is free, and one simply has to click on any one of the banners to go to the Amazon site. There you can read all three of the excerpts and cast your vote.
If you have had the wonderful opportunity to meet Regina or read her amazing book, please go show your support by voting. If you haven't had a chance to get to know her, visit her website here, or go read the free excerpt. If you love what you read (the first chapter alone had me thirsty for more), let Amazon know with your vote! Don't be afraid to pick up a banner as well, and pass along the word. Together we can help 'On Little Wings' fly to great heights.
To celebrate this amazing accomplishment, here's Regina with some thoughtful responses to the questions I had a chance to ask. Enjoy!
1. First the book. You've probably already answered this question a hundred times, but where did the inspiration for 'On Little Wings' come from?
This is always the first question and I have the worst answer. I have no idea. I have no secret aunt or seaside cottage. My ideas come like everyone else. One second there is nothing, the next second there is a thought, a voice, a smell, a picture. My characters would drop in at the most unexpected moments with a line of dialogue or a thought that intrigued me. I let them feed me the story slowly. Sometimes I tried to force it and I ended up writing junk. I had to wait and listen and think. The words came because I was listening for them.
2. Which character in the book do you identify with most?
Every character has a different piece of me. Surprisingly, and unfortunately, I identify with Claire's need to keep the painful past in the past at any cost. I identify with Jennifer who swallows the world whole. She observes everything, watches everything, processes everything, analyzes everything. I've always done the same. Sometimes I wish I could put my brain in a sleep mode!
3. What was the hardest part of the process for you, from the moment you wrote the first word until you decided to publish it to Amazon?
What a fascinating question. It gets sort of personal. There are two worst moments. The first is the day I got a call from a tiny publishing company that was considering my manuscript. It was a rejection call. I said thank you and all the polite words before I hung up. I sat down at the top of my stairs and didn't cry. It hurt too much to cry. I just sat there and felt it. It was disappointment so tangible that I could feel it moving in my chest. It ended up being a huge blessing, but at the moment it felt like the end of any chance I would ever get to share my words.The second worst moment was after my book was very successful on Amazon. The attention hit so unexpectedly that it left me in a panic. I felt like many eyes were upon me and I was going to nosedive into epic failure while they all smirked. I got three hideous reviews in a row and that was my fire to walk through. That night I cried until my husband's sweatshirt was soaked through! I begged him to take the book down and make it all disappear. Like all feelings, you walk straight through them and come out stronger.
4. Next, the contest - How did you learn you would be a finalist?
This is a long, long answer. I will abbreviate. I knew the day the finalists were getting called. I knew it wouldn't be me. I drove to the middle of nowhere (gravel roads and all) and parked my car and sat by the side of the road with a squirrel and bees and a mockingbird. (the first I'd ever seen) I told myself every reason why I am fine without contracts or publishers. As I was taking a picture my phone rang and the voice asked if I was Regina.
That is when my heart stopped.
Then she said, "This is Livvy from Amazon."
I tried to take a breath but the world ran out of air. I squeaked, "you are?" and burst into tears.
I remember reaching down and touching the road as if I were checking to make sure I was still on solid ground. I remember my tears hitting the dust.
I remember the mockingbird.
I remember a feeling of shock and happiness so big I was glad I was out in the middle of nowhere because it would have never fit inside a little house or a little car or a grocery store.
5. Did you read any of the other entries? Where there any that stood out to you, and that made you feel - I'd love to be in the running with those ones?
I read very few. I remember one that made me wince because it had the F word several times and I had trouble believing it was supposed to be for young adults. I read 'Dyad' by Jaima Fixsen and I thought it was very well done. I hope to see it in print someday.
6. Where there any moments in the last six months that you though, this can't possibly be happening? It's so surreal?
I am glad I took pictures of that gravel road before Amazon called because I might think it was all a dream without documentation. When my book made it to the front page of kindle for the third time I looked at my husband and my true and honest thought was, "I have a guardian angel who cheats and loves my book!"
7. What advice do you have for those of us looking to that future day when we hold our first book in our hands?
Find one or two people whose literary opinion you trust implicitly and who love you and write for them. The world has too many opinions and they are all conflicting. If I tried to write for critiques my book would be tangled in so many knots. "it's too dramatic, it's too boring, it's too intelligent, it insulted my intelligence..." Trust me, I have heard everything! Pick one kind and honest person and write for him/her. When you've refined it to the point that one person loves it, so will others.
Thanks, and good luck Regina!