Wednesday, October 26, 2011
I met Christian Children's Author Jennifer Mauter last year via Facebook and through this meeting had the opportunity to read and review her book Illumination Station-The Big Adventure . I have seen many creative characters through the years, talking vegetables, animals, robots, and insects; but I must admit that this was the first time that I had ever seen anyone use light bulbs as characters.
Jennifer's characters were not only creative, they were also fashioned in such a way that children will be able to relate to them. The storyline shows children that good or bad, there are consequences for all actions. I enjoyed this story so much that I bought a copy for my niece last Christmas and she seemed to enjoy it as well.
Jennifer recently shared with me some of her thoughts on being an author. I hope you all enjoy getting to know her as I have.
1. Tell us a little bit about yourself: Where you are from, Your book, etc…
I am a mom and grandma from Gibsonburg, Ohio. I taught Sunday school for many years and wanted to find a way of one, getting children to class, and two, holding their interest once they got there. I wrote a Christian Children’s Book “Illumination Station-The Big Adventure.” The idea came to me after praying for an idea that would teach children about God’s Word in a unique, fun way.
God gave me the idea of using special light bulbs that only illuminate through God’s Word.I then developed the town of Illumination Station and its two streets; Commandment Drive and Temptation Highway. I researched light bulb terms and named my characters after them. Whenever a towns person is led into temptation, their light goes out and everyone knows why. The only way to earn their ‘illumination” is through community service. It teaches children that there are consequences to their actions.
2. Are there any authors that greatly influenced your writing style and what were some of your favorite books as a child?
I can’t say that any authors influenced me, but my favorite author was Dr. Seuss and of course, Nancy Drew.
3. How long did it take you to get your first book published? Were there ever moments when you became discouraged?
I was very fortunate that the first publisher, Tate Publishing Co., Inc. awarded me a contract.
The discouragement is from marketing. It’s been very difficult, if not nearly impossible to “get the word out.”
4. What made you decide to write for Children/YA age groups? Are you currently working on anything else?
As I mentioned above, I was a Sunday school teacher for many years and found a great need in getting children interested in God’s Word. I wanted to make it fun to learn about God.
5. What do you find the most difficult part of being an author?
Marketing is without a doubt the most difficult part of being an author. I don’t sell myself well, and therefore struggle to market my book. I feel that it takes a strong, confident person to market a book, because you have to sell yourself as well. I’m really not that person, but I’m going to keep trying.
6. What are some of your hobbies, other than writing?
I love scrap-booking, sewing and doing creative art projects. Interior decorating is another favorite hobby of mine.
7. What words of encouragement would you give to children who might not be great readers?
I tell children that the whole world opens up to them through reading. There is no limit to where they may travel or what they can do. We are so blessed to have the ability to read and explore everything through literature.
8. Do you hold any other jobs outside of your writing? If so, do you find that this helps your writing or gets in the way?
I am disabled due to a neurological disorder that causes chronic nerve pain from my neck down my spine and into my arms and legs. I don’t however let the bad days discourage me. I’m so grateful to wake up every day. I choose to overcome the pain, not let it overcome me.
9. If you could meet one author, living or dead, who would it be? Why?
I would love to meet Joel Osteen or Oprah Winfrey. Joel’s soft-spoken, spiritually uplifting words fill me with encouragement, and forgiveness. Oprah’s life class is a life-saver. After experiencing a very difficult situation, I am now able to put my focus where it belongs, not where it’s been.
10. Do you have any other information you would like to share, such as a website, author page, awards won, etc.?
My blog is called Illumination Station. (Now I have to remember to update it!)
I would also like to invite everyone to read my book reviews on Amazon.com. I am so grateful to all the people that took the time to write these for me.
Thank you to Aileen Stewart for your support! Thank you for this interview.
You’re the best.
Sunday, October 23, 2011
Do you ever have moments when you wonder why you ever became an author? I know I do. I have those depressing moments when I wonder is my book ever going to take off, when I wonder what will I do next, when I wonder is it worth all the effort. And then, I remind myself that Rome was not built in a day. I say a little thank you prayer and put things back into the hands of the one who knows all.
I don't believe anything in this life is random and I believe that the creator of the universe has a plan for both me and my book. The problem lies in the fact that I can not always see what the plan is ahead of time. I have found, however, that when I am able to relax and simply trust in my Heavenly Father things have a way of turning out for the best. Hind sight, as they say, is definitely 20/20 and looking back I can see a pattern of good things happening at just the right times.
Last week is an example of this. Not only did I find out that I was a winner in The Authors Show "50 Great Writers You Should Be Reading" contest, I also found out that Fern Valley was selected to be part of the 2011 Kart Kids Book List.
It's times like these that makes me wonder why I ever doubt. Although there seems to be this eternal struggle, I feel that I am becoming a stronger person because as I mentioned before those times of doubt are but moments. Ultimately I choose whether or not I will continue to entertain such negative thoughts. The answer of course is always a resounding "NO". As a good friend of mine always says, "I choose joy."
So when your literary endeavors seem to be less then stellar and you too have those I wonder moments, remind yourself that a little faith is all that's needed. Signing off for now with wishes for a bright and beautiful day!
Tuesday, October 18, 2011
Not all authors have a marketing and sales background like me, but that really doesn't matter. You too can become a fabulous marketer and you can even have some fun along the way. I know many of you are cringing as you read the word "marketing" and you are probably beginning to grumble under your breath, but it is true. Marketing can be enjoyable especially if you are a new author with a book about to be released.
Hosting a launch party for your book is a fun and creative way to initially get the word out, and who doesn't love a good party? Before my book was even half way through the publishing stage, I began to cultivate a good relationship with my children's librarian. Through this relationship I not only found a great supporter and friend, but I also found a place to host my party. At the suggestion of my librarian friend, the library agreed to allow me to hold my party in their multi-purpose room free of charge. They also posted information about my launch and told patrons whom they thought might be interested in attending.
Seeing that I was under a tight budget, like most new authors, I kept my party simple and inexpensive. Since I opted to throw a Birthday party for my book,I had magnets and pin on buttons made for party favors; I made cupcakes resembling some of my characters; I found a simple online origami craft for the children to do; I threw in some chips, punch, and pretzels, and I read from my book. My launch was in February and only about twenty or so people showed up because of the threat of bad weather, but we had a great time.
Once the novelty and newness of my new book wore off, I was left wondering what to do next. So I do what I do best, I started to research. I joined author groups for support and ideas, I read marketing articles, I began looking for outlets for my book. I told myself that if I was creative enough to write a book, surely I could think outside of the box and find marketing ideas; and that is how I decided to approach the manager of the local hospital gift shop. If you have a romance why not check out flower or candy shops and see if they might like to carry your book on consignment, If you have a western how about contacting Dude Ranches or farm and tractor stores, If you have a book about dogs or cats why not partner with the local animal shelter, and so on.
I have found that the key to marketing well and enjoying marketing is related to getting to know people. If you are friendly, if you are truly interested in getting to know other people, it will help you tremendously. Definitely get to know other authors with whom you can exchange reviews and interviews or promote each other by on the social networking sites like FB and Twitter. Most of my radio interviews and newspaper articles are a direct result of having gotten to know other authors who in turn gave me leads. Show people you are excited about your book and more then likely they will become excited as well.
Become an expert in some field related to your topic. As a children's author, I joined Goodreads where I review children's books. I also draw on my marketing background and often post about marketing opportunities that might be helpful to others. I look upon it like being a teacher. I am opening the eyes of the students to the wonders that have been shown to me by all those that came before. Instead of a chore, I look upon marketing as a scavenger hunt where I am in a constant state of searching for clues that lead to the treasure. They say the journey is half the fun, so start thinking of marketing as part of the journey and not just a necessary evil. Signing off for now with wishes for a bright and beautiful day!