After 20 years in PR I decided it was time to...just write. Now, I am a published, award-winning author, developmental book editor, author mentor and partner publisher (www.ocpublishing.ca). I post thoughts on my writer's journey and share my experiences as an author, editor and publisher. I love to read and have done the odd book review from time to time. I welcome guest bloggers and do author interviews. Enjoy my blog and feel free to comment.
It gives me great pleasure today to interview my new favourite children's book author, Alison DeLory. I must admit, I'm a bit biased as Alison and I have known each other for years, both did public relations at Mount St. Vincent University in Halifax, NS (where she now teaches) and even shared an office during a PR co-op work term! Her first children's book was Lunar Lifter and she is now celebrating the recent launch of her second, Scotia Sinker. As Alison explores this new genre, she continues her work as a university professor, freelance writer, editor and communications consultant.
Here's a look into Alison's writing life:
Alison DeLory, author, editor, teacher
Tell us a little bit about your new book, Scotia Sinker
In Scotia Sinker, Cameron, 10, and Erin, 6,
take a new adventure in their gigantic cardboard box —transforming it with
their "magic" markers into a small submarine that plunges them into
the Atlantic Ocean. They're pulled far from home and become disoriented. They need
to be brave and enlist the help of some merpeople to find their way home. All
the while they're outrunning Lydia, a great white shark whose character is based
on a real shark that's been tracked swimming through the North Atlantic for the
past two years. Scotia Sinker is the
sequel to my 2012 book Lunar Lifter.
Both are middle grade (early chapter) fiction.
Where do you get your
inspiration when writing?
My inspiration comes mainly from living — watching, listening,
reading, thinking and talking. I also do school visits. When the kids laugh,
make connections, or ask questions it inspires me. When I'm in the process of
writing I'm inspired watching the words pile up, and even more so in those
glorious moments when ideas are racing off my fingertips before I even knew
they were in my head. I like when my characters surprise me.
What’s your favorite genre
to read and why?
For pleasure I usually read contemporary and literary
fiction. I'm a big proponent of supporting local so read books by Nova Scotia
authors. Plus I read a ton of news. Right now I'm teaching a course in creative
non-fiction so reading widely in that genre and loving it, too. I'm captivated
by well-drawn, three-dimensional characters — anyone from Max in Where the Wild
Things Are to Gatsby. Plots are secondary for me but I do like a sense of
foreboding. There should be tension.
Are you traditionally
published or self-published? Why did you choose that path?
I've published two books and a young adult story each time
using a different model: hybrid, traditional, self. This new book, Scotia
Sinker, I self-published under my new label Sketch Publishing but I had help.
My writing group and several friends were beta readers, plus I work-shopped the
manuscript with a grade 3 class. Then I hired a copy-editor and later a
proofreader. My closest relationship was with Joel
Duggan, my illustrator. He designed a beautiful cover and provided four
interior illustrations. I have a background in laying out newspapers and
magazines so was able to format the text myself for upload.
Do you have any helpful
tips for other authors when it comes to marketing and publicity?
Marketing and publicity start long before a book is
published. It's all about relationships and those are cultivated over time. You
must give support to later receive it. This means going to book signings and
readings, reviewing books, attending industry events like awards, joining local
writers' associations or writing groups, and then enthusiastically sharing all
this activity on multiple social media platforms. Luckily none of that feels
like work to me.
How did you become a
I have degrees in journalism and public relations, and a master
of public relations. I was a journalist and in-house communications specialist for
many years before I started writing fiction. I took a creative writing course
in 2008 on a lark and found I enjoyed it and had some aptitude for it. Two
years later I joined a poetry collective at my university and that was life
altering. I'm always looking for new challenges and in this vein wrote and
performed a spoken word piece as part of a writing mentorship program. It was light
years outside of my comfort zone but I keep pushing and occasionally find my
What does your writing
process look like?
Fits and starts. I write a lot in a short period of time
then not at all while I'm busy editing or teaching.
What are you
currently working on?
I'm seeking a new project. Have any ideas? My training makes
it easier for me to write nonfiction but I'm not afraid of fiction.
What do you do when
you’re not writing?
I parent my two boys, teach in the Department of
Communication Studies at Mount Saint Vincent University, write freelance copy
and articles for websites and print publications, spend as much time as I can
being active outdoors, volunteer in my community, sing, and spend probably too
much time on Netflix, Facebook and Twitter.
As I sat down to start writing this blog
about being persistent, I mentally stumbled because, well… persistence is
tough. Especially during the lull that inevitably comes after the flurry of a
book launch. Actually, it’s not a lull, it often feels like a crash and burn!
How can I write about persistence when all I want to do is hide away and curl
up with a good book?
those Sugar Highs
It’s like the crash after a sugar high. My
new book, Deep Deceit, came out with
a bang! It reached the Kindle Top 10 in mystery/suspense on Amazon.ca during
launch week. Heady stuff. The problem is, there’s no way, other than huge sales
or continuous free downloads, to keep it there. But, the idea ultimately is
sales, right? My book is in a very popular genre so I’m competing with some
heavy hitters, but I persevere.
I read self-publishing and marketing books
voraciously. One I read a while back and pulled out again recently is called Let’s Get Visibleby David Gaughran
(also the author of Let’s Get Digital). It does a deep dive into understanding Amazon’s algorithms. For new authors, he recommends finding sub-genres that aren't as crowded, so I search. It’s complex and detailed but… I’m determined. And, my background is in PR and
marketing (20 years!) so I’m not afraid of doing what needs to be done… but I would also
like to get down to writing my next novel.
A Healthy Obsession?
But, I’m obsessed. The action has slowed
down to a trickle. All the experts warn authors about that, but it’s hard to
watch the sales graph flatten. But, I will persist. The reviews have been
stellar (even from people I don’t know) so, I’ll keep my nose to the marketing
grindstone and keep sending it out to reviewers, scheduling author appearances
(coming up next month in my hometown of Halifax, NS), finding new online
listings to add it to, doing guest posts and author interviews and promoting on
social media (just to name a few things I’m doing). I'll let you know if persistence does pay off as everyone keeps telling me and I keep telling myself.
I know the real secret is to
get the next in the series written (and the next... and the next) so I’ll be clearing the decks to make time
this summer to get started on Deep Freeze,
the next Susan Morris Expat Mystery!
On the positive side, during the launch
activities of Deep DeceitI did also
see more attention and an uptick in sales of my first novel, Mental Pause. So, the advice that keeps
popping up as I scour the shelves for more advice and guidance is, write more…
while, of course, doing at least one thing a day to market your existing books.
I’ve just started reading Jessica Bell’s Self-Publish Your Book, which she gave
me in return for an honest review. I know there will be some great new nuggets
in there so I’m looking forward to sharing. In case you didn’t know, Jessica is
also the author of the ‘In a Nutshell’
series, which I highly recommend.
Have a great week and watch for my review
of Jessica’s new book. In the meantime, happy writing!!!