Saturday Evening Interview 9-3-16

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Hi everyone! Today I’m concluding part two of fellow blogger Sonni Quick’s interview here. Sonni is currently working on a book about letters she and inmate Jamie Cummings have exchanged for years. In case you missed part one of the interview, you can check it out here. Part 2 talks more about Sonni’s book and life. You can follow Sonni on Twitter here. You can check out/follow her blog here. 
ME: Tell us more about your upcoming book. The first draft of the book on Jamie’s life is done, “Inside The Forbidden Outside.” There is still a lot of work to do.  I found out there was a lot I didn’t know about writing a book, too. One of those things is I need a mailing list.  Books that are listed at Amazon or Barnes and Noble and others don’t sell themselves. That is another skill set that needs to be learned if I want it to be successful.  I started a monthly publication called ITFO Newsletter. There is an update on the book and snippets of chapters to gain interest. The newsletter has a variety of articles about the prison system. People who subscribe will have the opportunity to downloading the e-book version for free when it is published. When the book is published, my goal is to speak at schools and communities to start. When I get my feet wet, I want to work as a paid speaker. It’s important to dream big.  Reach for the stars.  This way if you fall short you will at least land on the moon!
This book is only part one. Jamie will not be out of prison yet when I’m done. Groundwork must be laid for him to have a life. How does the book end? Part two will be awhile coming. It will be about what happens from here, the process of getting out and what happens when he does. A lot can happen in six years. He will not be going out into a welcoming society. In between I will write another book and am mulling over some different ideas.  Possibly a book of short stories of actual inmates or break away to a different idea?
ME: What advice would you offer writers who want to publish their first book? Where do I begin to answer that since I am also a first time author?  I can pass along the things I have learned up until now. A person says to himself, “I have a great idea for a book.” Not too many years ago it was almost impossible to publish a book unless you were already known. Book publishing went the same way as music publishing. You don’t need a record contract to get your music out there anymore. There are ways through social media of gathering a following. There are many good musicians and many good authors that never had an alternative. Now there is. A book publisher who offers you a contract owns your book and can change it, including the title any way they see fit. It will then take another two years to see the light of day. You get less profit per book because the publisher needs their money, too. Also, they won’t touch a book without an agent, who also gets a cut of the sale. There is little or zero up front money unless you are a well-known author and you are still expected to market your own book. Many good editors lost their jobs because the industry changed. Self publishing companies began springing up all over the web and many ads also started appearing to teach people the ropes. If you ever click on one of these ads be prepared to have every book publishing business follow you around the internet forever. Be careful of these companies. They are like snake oil salesmen. If an author doesn’t do their homework, they are going to pay through the noise and likely be disappointed with the product. They also realize they haven’t laid the groundwork to market their book and feel overwhelmed. They may not have the skills to learn the marketing that is required or they are tired and need a break. I’ve talked with people who at this point just took what sales they could get and crossed their fingers. The average self-published book sells less than 100 copies. Many people who write a book get scammed by one of these companies who take your money, tell you how great your book is, then puts out a sub par product with lousy editing, charges you for things you don’t need, and when it’s done and you find problems, they won’t answer your calls. I talked to many of these salesmen and they are very convincing. There were several I wanted to go with because they sounded so good.  I researched them and was glad my internal scam meter was going off at full tilt.This is the best piece of advice I can offer: Pay an editor; one for content (story) and a copy editor for grammar, phrasing and much more. You cannot edit your own writing no matter how good you think you are with the English language. There are things we can’t see in our own writing but other people will know because it won’t feel right. Sometimes we make the same mistake over and over. I read a lot of samples at Amazon from self-published and well-known authors. Study what works and what doesn’t work. Find out what feels wrong when you read and don’t repeat it. It is a free way to study writing. Poorly edited books will only sell to people who love you and the rest you’ll give away for free.
ME: How would you describe yourself in one word and why?
I thought about this question and saved it for last. That one word for me is ‘passionate.’ I do everything intensely. I often push myself through a wall of pain that is there every day. I could give in to it and look for sympathy, but no one could ever understand what it means anyway. But it helps me see and understand the pain in others and it allows me to be there for them. That requires passion.Some people want to leave a legacy when they are gone so they aren’t forgotten. They want to do something great or pass on a lot of money. But a true legacy is how you have affected other lives. Because of you, did you change someone’s life in a positive way, and then they, too, have affected other lives? This is how you live on. This is the only way we can truly change the world. If people can’t manage that on a small scale we will never see great change.

ME: What is your life mantra and why? My life mantra is: Nam Myoho Renge Kyo. It is Japanese and it translates into “Devotion to the mystic law of cause and effect through sound and vibration.” I am Buddhist. Most people really have no idea what that is and think of the Dalai Llama or zen, monks in robes, etc. and it is nothing like that.  It’s like the difference between Pentecostal and Mormons. It would take too much to now to explain it to you but if you want to take a look at what it is go to You would probably find it very interesting. I’ve practiced Buddhism for almost 30 years.  I don’t think I would have survived without it.
ME: When you aren’t blogging or writing, what are you doing? I spend time with my mom.  When she comes home from the nursing home on Sept. 3 after 5 months because of a stroke, I am her caretaker.  Without me she couldn’t come home.  Her needs are my first priority.  I can see how much she has failed since the stroke. I will even be sleeping there until I’m sure she will be able to move around safely.  Right now she can’t.  I’ll be preparing her meals, and well . . .everything. Hopefully my sister will continue to come out one day a week, but she is 2 1/2 hours away. She has friends who can come and visit but they are all old to help her physically.
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  1. My life is upside down. I have to stay at my mom’s house – too weak, setting up physical therapy but pretty much she needs help with everything so it has been hard to do more than just the basics to keep up with things. Next week a helper will come for 4 hours a day 2 days a weak – no much, but I can at least go say high to my old hippie. I’m a night person. Usually to bed at 4 and up at 11. I’ve definitely lost my night time writing hours and she gets up twice a night and But with time she’ll get her strength back – I sincerely hope – but you do what you gotta do and things will work out all right.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Reblogged this on My Name is Jamie. My Life in Prison and commented:
    ……. This is the second part of the interview from last week, talking about the book “Inside the Forbidden Outside” and also advice I would give first time authors based on what I found as a first time author myself. I had no idea how much I didn’t know about writing, and also the business and marketing knowledge needed to be successful. It can be overwhelming because you can only do one thing at a time. Prioritizing your time so you always have time to write can be hard, especially if you are also a blogger.


  3. Thank you Ritu -hope to see you at my blog as I continue to help this young man go home to his son. And thank you again Lisa for helping me promote my work. It is ver appreciated.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I’m doing great love, will be giving birth the end of November and my baby shower is next month 🙂 Sophia is getting huge and has been doing so great with potty training its basically 100% complete.

    Liked by 1 person

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