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Today we’re flying all the way to Australia to talk to poet, author, and illustrator Lauren Hancock. Also known on her blog and instagram as Alice Well! I can’t thank Lauren enough for the time and effort she put into collaborating with me. Check out my review of her recent publication here. Now let’s begin!
Where did you get your ideas from for “Our Whimsical World”?
My ideas generally came after drawing the image for the stories. When creating art, I become lost in the process, because it can be such an enjoyable state of mind to be in, being awash with a sense of creativity and joy when creating an image that is fun, lively and bright.
From then my imagination would take over the story point of view: having an image to work from allows me freedom to create. Having words written first is more limiting, because I need the consequently drawn image to adhere to the already-present words. My ideas mainly come spontaneously, either before the drawing was commenced, during, or after. This process speaks of how when I create something “All is well”: Alice Well, the creative name I am also known as.
How important was it for your stories in “Our Whimsical World” to have a moral or a message?
It was important for me to write stories that were not just stories. They needed to have depth; a message, a moral, something for the readers to learn from. It was not enough for me to simply write something cute that entertained. I wanted there to be a reason for reading these stories, and for a message to be quietly presently to sink into the minds of the children or older readers while they felt they were simply being entertained.
Did you consider that some vocabulary used may be too complex for younger readers? If so, why did you make this decision?
Using complex vocabulary that may be out of the scope of some of the readers provides them with the opportunity to learn new words and reach for a greater understanding of language than they had previously grasped. It is like when my former violin teacher would present myself and other students with pieces of music that were slightly out of our level of expertise: – it extended our skillset and encouraged improvement for our musicality and proficiency. The same idea is present here.
I notice on your website that your writing has taken a different direction from the style that your book is written in. Could you explain this a little further?
Yes, my writing has altered from short, generally amusing and light-hearted stories, to more serious and deeper themed poetry. It explores the self, love, acceptance, longing, encouragement for others, and being hurt by the actions of others. I felt it was time to move on from the short story style and begin to create poetry that spoke of my internal being, to show the vulnerability I am willing to display. Hopefully my poetry shows a depth of self and the revelations I speak of can resonate within some of my readers. Knowing or at least hoping that others can or are able to relate to one’s words and/or works is one of the greatest feelings we can hope for as poets, writers, or artists.
At what age did your passion for writing surface?
I was a fervent reader from a very young age. My grandparents and parents provided me with books upon books — Enid Blyton’s tales, Peter Rabbit, and so on, and I read these increasing collections with vigour and excitement. Being immersed with written language and beautiful imagery from such a young age allowed my own vocabulary to develop over time and my imagination grew and grew. I turned to writing to create worlds and stories that lived in my mind, and I still have the collection of writings and illustrations to view.
What did you find that the most difficult thing about self-publishing?
For me, the hardest thing in self-publishing my book was the marketing/promotional side of things. I went into the experience with little idea of what I would need to do or how to prepare myself to introduce my new book to potential readers. I knew, but didn’t completely realise that the responsibility initially fell entirely upon me to generate interest and attention. But, I have been blessed to have my editor who has greatly helped me along the way with advice and support when I most need it, and he has made the marketing side of things clearer for me.
Sometimes I feel like when I do mention my book online that I may be viewed as too pushy, when I am really just wanting to share what I created with others. Being relatively new to this blogging community, I wasn’t aware that people organised ‘blog book tours’, or what ARCs were, or anything like that, but I know that for next time around I can be more organised and prepared in an upcoming launch of a second book.
Today we have Jamey Boelhower who has published many collections for the years! Jamey writes poetry, blogs, and a fiction novel Under the Lights. Since Jamey wrote a collection along side his son, one could guess his collection circle around family and life tribulations.
What’s the biggest difference in your poetry from your first collection to your most recent?
One aspect I have noticed is that I am more observant of people and events. I have tried to let the description of the moment reveal the meaning to the reader. My earlier poems spent more time telling the reader how I felt, or gave away the meaning of the poem. I hope my work now allows the reader to feel something as they consider the importance of the moment.
What was it like putting a collection together with your son?
My son was always asking me to give him feedback on his poems, but he just kept them in his notebooks. I tried to get him to submit the poems to literary publications, even to Teen Ink. But he was too busy (and as his dad, I can attest to that). One night at dinner I told him that we could do a book together if he would at least give me some poems. I would handle the rest. We spent a month just deciding on which poems he wanted to share, but the whole process was fun. What is funny is that a few months later he published his own collection and is now working on his next poetry book.
You’re great at including so many descriptions for your reader’s senses, what sense to you most enjoy writing to?
I enjoy trying to recreate the moment that inspired the poem. I carry a notebook with me and jot down ideas, or even write down the first draft of the poem at that time. One of my favorite poems of mine is “Air Jordans and Big Gulps.” I wrote that poem on the back of a carton of cigarettes while I was working the graveyard shift at 7/11. I still have the original poem. My goal is to describe things so that the reader feels like they are in the middle of the moment. The fun part is to discover what senses are important for that moment.
I’m a big fan of repetition and line placement on the page so I really enjoyed those techniques of yours! Do you have a favorite technique to employ?
Thank you. To be honest, I have always worried about my writing technique. I don’t use punctuation much, I like using the line break to create the pause. I also have this style of using words or phrases in threes. There is just a flow I have with that style. I don’t use rhyme much, so line breaks and placing words or phrases on the page creates the pattern to follow for the reader.
What’s it like being an indie author?
I am a husband and father of six children. I maintain two blogs. I am a teacher and a coach. Trying to get my work to the reader is hard. As an indie author I am responsible for every aspect of the publishing journey. It is hard. I appreciate you conducting this interview. For me, and for most writers, we want to know that people enjoy our work. That is why some writers go through all the work it takes to get a book completed, so that someone reads the words and enjoys the experience.
The talented author and illustrator Lauren M. Hancock, (also known as Alice Well) got in touch with me earlier this month and swapped books, here’s my review of Our Whimsical World: Illustrated Stories.
Our Whimsical World offers bright rhymes, vibrant illustrations, and profound lessons. Majority of the characters are animals and inanimate objects that really plays into the whimsical theme. Yet they all face struggles and human emotions us, readers face throughout life. It was great to see so many issues touched on by the characters struggling with anxiety, death, hatred, sadness, and feelings of being left out.
The colorful illustrations brought an added layer to every story. The collection of short stories is broken up into 3 sections: For the Younger Ones, Slightly Older, and Older Ones. This really allows an array of readers to enjoy Lauren’s insightful stories. Some of my favorites were:
For the Younger Ones:
Morgan the Star Child for not letting the negativity around her bring her down and Super Sponge for using his talent to help heal others.
For the Slightly Older Ones:
Hippobottom the Heiress for her generosity and dedication to understanding victims and Bert the Turt and Trudy the Beet for showing readers what true friendship is and facing discrimation.
For the Older Ones:
My heart broke for Mother the Vase and her losses but my heart fills with laughter for The Prince Who Could Carry a Tune.
I wanted to review some poetry collections since my collection Where I Ache has been getting some lovely buzz here on WordPress.
From this, I Bloom – Emily Jane Burton
You might remember I actually interviewed Emily early this year as part of my Poet Interview Series. This might be my favorite poetry book I own! The trouble with Chapbooks is, you’re always left wanting more! I love the variety of topics that were included in this collection from family, dealing with losing someone, and finding strength within yourself. I was happy that these poems have titles since not all poetry books do that and I enjoyed the variety of how the poems were placed on the page. This poet also created great imagery and had me using all of my senses. I would definitely buy this poet’s next collection.
A Rose, Unbloomed – Angel Blackmon
My absolute favorite thing about this collection was the poems that had bolded words creating a secondary poem within the overall one! The book didn’t have page numbers nor poem titles which was really only a bummer because it’s not as easy to go back and find your favorite poem. The collection touched on a lot of deep topics and emotions, it was philosophical and captivated my attention. I was really happy with how many poems got to be included in this one collection and that they weren’t all micropoetry. I can’t wait for the next publication!
Megan O’Keeffe’s ‘Cracked Open’ is the work of a young poet exploring the journey of love. It will appeal primarily to young readers who have loved, been hurt, and are in the process of recovery but are by no means done with love. Read our recent review!
read more here
Fiona: When did you first consider yourself a writer?
MO: I guess I started to consider myself a writer when I launched my blog Debatably Dateable. Before that I wasn’t consistently sharing my work and had actually tried to stop writing a few times.
Fiona: What inspired you to write your first book?
MO: All the positive feedback I was receiving from my blog really encouraged me to put a collection together. I wanted the collection to tell a cohesive story and was inspired deeply by love and love lost. Love poems are really a cornerstone of my writing but I’ve been evolving into various topics.
Fiona: How did you come up with the title of your new book?
MO: The book Where I Ache focuses on depression, self esteem, grief, and self love and there’s a lot of mental and physical pain here. The chapters refer to different parts of the body (head, heart, spine) focusing on different parts of where the speaker is aching.
Read the rest via Here is my interview with Megan O’Keeffe
Thanks so much for the interview Fiona!
I was recently interviewed on Sakura Publishing! – full interview here
Your poetry collection, Cracked Open, has recently been published. What was its genesis?
I started a blog Debatably Dateable two years ago that is a mix between my poetry and dating related articles. Nearly all my poetry is about love and relationships so the two mix well. Cracked Open was born from that blog and heavily follows my own dating history craving a journey from failed love to a deep and healthy love. I had planned on my first collection being something else but Cracked Open had already begun to wite itself.
Is there a second book in the works? What do you find most influences your current writing?
There was a second book in the works as soon as I had categorized my current poems for my first collection. I found some common themes and keep them in mind when writing new poetry in order to complete my next book. I’ve also begun thinking of some non poetry book ideas as well that will hopefully come to fruition in the future. I’ve always loved Love which heavily influences the topic of my poems. I also have a big hang up on honesty so I try to always share my work even if it is sad, embarrassing, or hard to hear.
Get your copy of Cracked Open here
Dream a little.
- Fantasize about how you imagine your poetry collection to be. Do you have a theme or topic you want to focus on, how do you want to touch your audience, and maybe start considering details like how long you want your collection to be. (Time: You could have been toying with the idea of publishing for months or years now)
Create a catalog of your poetry and organize it.
2. I created columns for Title, Message, Length, and Likelihood it would end up in this book I was focused on. This was extremely helpful to me because I realized I had my next two books ideas already forming just based on the theme of poem messages. It’s a smart idea to take stock of your inventory so you can make a strategy for your next steps. You might learn you have more poems on a topic you weren’t planning on including in this book which could lead to you switching directions. I knew I wanted to write some new poems exclusively for this book which allowed me to learn where I was lacking so that I could start filling in the holes with new poems. (Time: A few hours, you should be about to catalog in a day. The question is how you want to catalog and what information you want. I added the column called book collections when I realized I had 3 different collections forming. This could take another day)
Take in stock.
3. Now that you know which poems are going to be included, you can start organizing them. Do some have a theme, will your book have chapters, do you want long poems or strict forms grouped together. (Time: You might do this the same day as your catalog or you might do it in the few days following.)
Group poems to form book structure.
4. You absolutely should take breaks from this so that you can look at the collection with fresh eyes. This is your dream, no need to frustrate yourself and take the fun out of it. Set a generous timeline for yourself. Allow yourself a week for every grouping. One day, think about how each poem flows to the next. Another day, think about how each poem looks on the page and focus on making grammatical sense if that’s what you’re after. (Time: 2 months might be a good marker, but you know how you work and the type of collection you’re trying to achieve)
Sometimes you need a creative break and some time apart from your collection.
5. This is normal and healthy. If you want, now you can research. Research publishing sites and talk to fellow poets about their experiences. Visit a bookstore and browse through the poetry section. What do you like about some of the books and how do you want yours to be different? (Time: You can start this while you’re working on editing your poems/chapters and also take 3 weeks after)
6. As I mentioned, for my collection, I knew I wanted new, exclusive poems. There may be other ways in which you want to make your collection more desirable, such as art work or collaborating with other artists. (Time: 2-5 months)
Now your collection draft is complete! It is time to edit!!
7. There is a suggested three edits: grammatical, format, and cohesion. For me, the hard work was definitely putting the draft together but I absolutely hate editing! Even with editing over 10 versions, I’m still looking for an outside editor to also review my draft. (Time: 2-4 weeks depending on your process)
8. Once you’re happy with your edited draft, it’s time to submit to the self publishing site/company you’re using! I used CreateSpace, it was super easy to navigate, they tell you exactly what you need in order for your draft to be accepted, and offer helpful services along the way. (Time: A few days for filling out the information and your file being reviewed and approved).
9. You’ll be sent a proof once your files are reviewed and approved. This will be your final proofreading and editing before having your book ready for sale.
Finally set a Launch Date and promote the heck out of your book!
10. Use Social Media, in person marketing, and relevant message boards online. It’s also common for Author’s to throw a Launch Party to inform locals about the release.
Get a copy of my book here!
Debut Poetry Collection CRACKED OPEN is now available on Amazon!!
I’ve dedicated many long hours putting this collection together with poems I have written over the past five years! You can now have one for you bookshelf here!
Cracked Open, my first poetry collection will be available next Friday, April 20th!
Preorder your Kindle version here!
Take a look at my Timeline for putting my book together:
January 11 – I officially decided to publish my poetry collection!! (after months and years of wondering if I could really do something like this)
Feb 5 – I hired my first illustrator
Feb 11th – I hired my second illustrator
Feb 24th – Exclusive Illustrations completed
March 5th – I completed the 20 exclusive poems for Cracked Open
March 14th – publicly announced poetry collection – began marketing Cracked Open
March 18th – submitted complete draft for review
March 29th – ordered physical proof for final edit/review
April 1st – Instagram Cracked Open promoting
April 20th – launch date!!
A more in-depth step by step article will be posted in the near future!