Last month (can you believe it? I’ve had this blog for a little over a month now), author Erica Alexander approached me with the romance anthology, Between Hearts to send me an ARC to be reviewed. I obviously accepted because, free books, why not?
When I first read the anthology, the very first short story is Seventeen Wishes. Instantly it became one of my favorite short stories and I didn’t even know it was the author that had sent it to me until I went back so I could write the review. Sometimes I don’t pay much attention, if I like something I do without really seeing who wrote it or anything until I finish it.
Long story short, I finally finished the anthology a couple of weeks ago and I was still sort of intrigued with how Seventeen Wishes came to be so I decided to email the author. Erica Alexander was super nice and agreed right away to answer a few questions about her writing Seventeen Wishes and then some. So here you have it, my Q&A with author Erica Alexander.
Q: How did you come up with Seventeen Wishes?
A: The idea came to me in a dream. It sounds cliché I know. A lot of authors have said they got the idea for a book in a dream. But since I spend a lot of my waking hours daydreaming, it is only natural that in my sleeping hours my brain is also creating stories. For Seventeen Wishes, I woke up with the plot in my head and wrote it down half asleep and went back to bed. Over the next few days it evolved. I’m not a plotter or planner. I can’t even plan dinner a day ahead of time.
Q: Was it something that just popped into your head or did you know someone that you knew and went through something similar?
A: Luckily I don’t know anyone who has gone through similar situation, but I am an organ and bone marrow donor. It is a cause that’s close to my heart (no pun intended). Just imagine how many lives could be saved if everyone was an organ donor.
Q: Is this your first work to be published?
A: It is the first story I published as an author. Years ago I had poems published as part of a college class project and before that I had several articles published on a newspaper.
Q: If you could change anything of the short story what would it be? Or do you love it still?
A: I do love it still. It’s my baby. Yes, I would change things about it. Not the essence of the story but maybe add more to it. I think every author wants to keep tweaking at it. It is so hard to say it is done. We are always looking to improve on what we already have. The original draft went through three or four rewrites as I added and changed things. Every time I edited it or re-read it, I changed something about it.
I was lucky to attend a Colleen Hoover signing event earlier this year and I asked her: “When does she know she’s done?” And her answer was, when she hits a deadline and has to turn the manuscript in to the publisher. She said that when she wrote Slammed as an indie author, she tweaked it and uploaded a new version of it everyday for three months until the publishers took it off her hands.I would love to go back and add a lot more to it and turn Seventeen Wishes into a full novel. Who knows, I might do it one day.
Q: What was the hardest part about writing a short story?
A: The hardest part was trusting myself to do it. Trusting that I could do it. Never mind I have been writing stories either on my head or on paper for as long as I can remember. Self-doubt is every writer’s companion. Also being able to convey an entire story and create some kind of connection with the reader in just 16 thousand words. Most books have around 70 thousand words. It’s easier to create that connection with a full novel. And then letting people read it. It is terrifying knowing people will read your story because a part of you goes into it and it’s like exposing a little chunk of your soul.
Q: What was the easiest?
A: The easiest part was the after. When it was all done and I actually had a story and what was left to do was edit it, do rewrites, make corrections and format it and get ready for publishing. Once you get past that and have something to look at, the rest is easy. At least for me, that’s how it worked.
Q: How did you go about getting your work published?
A: We went indie and published it ourselves. We created the entire book ‘in-house.’ In addition to the story each author contributed with, we also did the formatting and cover design.
Q: Anything in the works? If so can you give us a sneak peek?
A: I have several stories I’m working on. One of them is nearly done and I hope to have it out begin of 2017. I don’t have a title yet, but it will be about twin sisters who are opposite in everything and the boys they will fall for. It is NA, so it will be quite different from Seventeen Wishes.
Q: Lastly, what would you say to aspiring authors out there?
A: There are no shortcuts, no magic tricks and no formula. You just have to do it. Sit down and write. Don’t worry about being perfect. Don’t worry about what others will think and certainly don’t write for anyone but you. The story has to be true to you. Get words on paper or on the screen. First drafts are not perfect. First drafts are the baby steps you have to take before you can walk. And every story starts with baby steps. Be it your first or your hundredth story. No book was born perfect. And lastly, put your heart into it.
Thank you so much Erica for all those words of wisdom about writing. There are certainly no shortcuts if you plan to make it. Nothing is easy in life people remember that.
Seventeen Wishes is part of Between Hearts: A Romance Anthology, so you should all go and buy it, there are some really sweet stories to read. It’s an easy read and it can help you if you are on a reading slump.
Don’t forget to feed your brain! Read.