Let's get to know Amy Rivers
1. What was the inspiration for your novel?
I’m an incurable romantic and prone to falling in love. When I started writing Wallflower Blooming, I intended to write a story about two people – Val and John – who fell in love with each other but couldn’t figure out how to make it work. Well, several chapters in, John didn’t love the idea of breaking up with Val. In fact, he was ready for some serious commitment. And surprisingly, so was Val – my sweet avoider who was so comfortable in her rut that it was completely out of character for her to embrace love. My inspiration for novel came from people and places and experiences I’ve had in life but the characters took over and made their own way in the world.
2. When did you take up writing?
Until a few years ago, my writing was mostly academic or business-oriented. I was a marketing consultant and wrote copy for websites and PR campaigns. And I wrote papers about social justice and violence prevention. Then my family moved to Colorado and I was given the once in a lifetime opportunity to write for a living. As with most things in my life, I jumped in with both feet. I enjoy writing fiction. I’m also especially fond of personal essays.
3. How important is setting/place in your writing?
Setting/place is becoming more important in my writing. Many of the pieces I’ve written have been personal essays that revolve more around the characters than any particular setting. But I love to travel and I’ve been making a point of experiencing new places that I can incorporate into my writing.
4. Do you have a favourite character (s) in your current novel?
My main character, Val, is definitely my favourite. She’s smart and capable, but suffers from a mountain of doubt, which I think we can all relate to. I know I do. Val has spent most of her adult life afraid to really live. But she learns (sometimes painfully) that she doesn’t have to settle for the status quo. She can mix things up and even when it’s uncomfortable, she’ll survive.
5. What’s the best piece of writing advice you were ever given?
Write! It’s so easy to get bogged down by the business of writing, rejection, and all the non-writing things that happen in the daily life of a writer. Those things do deserve attention, but the bottom line is that I need to write, every day.
6. Do you have a schedule for writing?
I have to balance writing time with all the administrative stuff on my to-do list each day, so I have to schedule time to write, especially when I’m on deadline. I don’t always do my writing at the same time, but I make sure I put aside time every day.
7. Are you a plotter or someone who tends to wing it?
For the most part, I wing it. When I come up with an idea, I do a little bit of written brainstorming, but then I let my imagination run wild. I’m the queen of “talking it out.” I like to talk about my characters as if they are real people in my life. The more I talk about them, the more they come to life in my mind.
8. Can you name three of four of your current favourite books?
I’m a voracious reader so this is a really hard question. I love chick-lit and thrillers, horror and memoir. I will read anything that has interesting and relatable characters. Some of my favourite authors are Isabel Allende, John Sanford, and Ishiguro Kazuo. Recently, I enjoyed reading Stephen King’s Bazaar of Bad Dreams and Paula Hawkins The Girl on the Train. In nonfiction, I loved Notorious R.B.G. and We Should All Be Feminists (a must read).
9. Can you tell me a little bit about what you are working on now?
I’m an ongoing contributor to Novelty Bride Magazine and ESME.com. I’ve also got two book projects in the works. One is a follow-up to Wallflower Blooming and the other is a novel about unlikely friends. I can’t wait to introduce readers to new characters. And there’s a lot in store for Val, John and Gwen.
10. What advice would you give to a fledgling writer to assist them on their journey?
Write! You can’t be a writer if you’re not writing. Make time. Develop habits. Create a routine. And find fellowship. No matter where you are in your writing career, there are groups of writers out there who will help you along with advice, support and encouragement.
Amy Rivers was born and raised in southern New Mexico and currently resides in Colorado. She had an idyllic childhood despite a severe visual impairment and, perhaps because of her disability, she learned a lot about compassion and empathy from a young age. Her keen interest in social issues and violence prevention led to a Master's degree with concentrations in Psychology and Politics. She was the director of a sexual assault response program and remains an advocate for social justice. Amy has been published in Chicken Soup for the Soul: Inspiration for Nurses, Novelty Bride Magazine, ESME.com and Splice Today. Wallflower Blooming is her first novel.
Facebook Page: https://www.facebook.com/amyrivers.writer/
Twitter Page: https://twitter.com/WritingRivers
Goodreads Book Page: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/28668820-wallflower-blooming
Knowing where your strengths lie is a good thing
Isn't this pretty? Look at all those pretty book covers standing side by side looking proud.
I've been meaning to get a banner like this I can use for promo and Facebook advertising for ages. when I say ages I mean maybe six months. Six months is a long time on the internet and in the land of publishing.
Why didn't I do it earlier I hear you ask? There are lots of reasons (laziness, organisation, money) but the simplest one is I don't like to admit defeat.
If there is a skill you should learn out here in cyberspace or a way to DIY something I believe I should learn it and then do it. That's very noble I'm sure but also wildly impractical. No one is good at everything. No one.
The problem is there's this funky graphic design site called Canva.com. that lots of authors I know use to do their promo materials. You've probably heard of it and you may have even used it. (It's incredible, it was invented by a young Australian woman and you should check it out).
Well, I have tried to use it and everything I make is ugly. Not just a little bit ugly but unprofessional, sloppy and embarrassing. But I'm no quitter so I'd wait a few weeks and have another try...for six months. And what did I create? More ugly. And then it occurred to me I'd probably wasted 10 hours and I had no results.
Lots of people I know have mothers, sisters and husbands with a knack for these roles but that's not my story so what could I do to change things?
I outsourced it. And the results are really pretty. (I'm happy anyway.)
The same week I outsourced a Mailchimp template done for my newsletter. I can do it but it takes me time I don't have and now I have a template I can work with. I haven't sent a newsletter in months because I was having issues...again wasted time and energy that led to stagnation.
Authors don't make that much money, well most of them don't. We already have to pay editors, cover designers, proof readers. (Some people (I usually do) outsource formatting as well). So we're reluctant to pay people to do jobs for us.
Sometimes though I think you need to look at where your time is best spent. Are you wasting valuable writing time messing around on a job that takes you away from that core business? Everyone is different. (For example I am going to format my books from now on because I've done it in the past and I know I can do it again and save myself some money. There are also some other practical benefits as well so I think it's worth my time).
Does that mean I'll never conquer Canva? Probably not, but for now I'm unstuck and that's important. Being an indie author is hard enough without getting in your own way.
So do you outsource things or do you hold on tight and do everything yourself?
1. What was the inspiration for your novel?
Crossing Lines is the third book in the Behind Closed Doors series. The first book in the series, Tainted Love left so many unanswered questions about what happened to McKenzie children, questions that really didn’t answered in book two, Blurred Lines, because I had to introduce you to the Anderson and Valentina Family, with whom this series really began. Crossing Lines ties the two families together.
2. When did you take up writing?
I’ve been writing my entire life. I wrote my first series at 12 and my first novella at 14.
3. How important is setting/place in your writing?
I really focus on settings and places anymore. I focus on the characters, their mannerisms, and actions. The setting is built around those.
4. Do you have a favourite character (s) in your current novel?
Haha! That’s like asking a mother if has a favourite child. I love Ashleigh and Sean, this whole series began with them, I wrote their story (book 6) first and then the series was built from their. I wanted to know how Sean’s sister Julia would go from am abusive relationship to trusting another man enough to remarry. In doing so I found Darryl, whose major conflict was deceiving Julia and yet falling for someone who’d been through what his sister went through knowing that he wasnt strong enough to support Julia. Not in the way she needed to be. And in finding Darryl, I met Faith, who will always have a special place in my heart.
Crossing Lines (Behind Closed Doors Book Three)“For every life you can’t save, there are hundreds more you can.” – Faith McKenzie
Seven years ago, psychiatrist Darryl Hawthorne ran out of time to save his sister, Faith McKenzie, from death at the hands of her ex-husband. Now, he’s running out of time to protect her children from the secrets still tearing them apart. With the family spiraling out of control, the last thing Darryl needs is multi award-winning actress, Ashleigh Jordan, begging for help. As a specialist in domestic abuse, Darryl knows pretending to be Ashleigh’s lover in order to counsel her best friend, Julia, is a line he should not cross. But it’s one he must bypass if he’s to save Julia from her abusive husband.
Despite the walls he’s constructed around his heart, Julia reaches deeper into Darryl’s soul than anyone ever has. She views his life, his family, and his past with a clarity he’s never had before. In Julia, Darryl sees the light at the end of a very long, dark tunnel and delving into Julia’s relationship with her husband resonates deep with Darryl’s conscience. So deep, the lines between doctor and patient blur to something more akin to friend and lover. Too deep, in fact, for Darryl to ignore it when Julia becomes the key to saving his family and changing the very core of who he is.
Falling for a patient is not acceptable, falling for another man’s wife is just as wrong, but when faced with both, will Darryl do the right thing by Julia and her marriage? Or will he prove to Julia that in order to live, and love, and to be loved the way she deserves to be loved, that sometimes, you have to cross the line?
“What's wrong with Caleb?” I ask.
“He's already tried,” Ashleigh sighs. “Julia knows who he is. He and I, we've been trying to get her to open up to him for years. She doesn't trust him. She knows what he's trying to do.”
“Krystal, this isn't going to work. Caleb's much better at this than me. He's been working with abused women since he was sixteen. How do you propose I counsel her, if she's already knocked you both on your asses?”
“We’d have to do something you probably won't like.” She says it quietly, like she already knows what I’m going to say. I’m suddenly struck by the memory of her confession in my office on Friday. She thinks she knows me better than I know myself. And because she thinks that, she’s always a step ahead. “We’d have to take advantage of how well she knows me.” I frown. She’s right. I’m not going to like this. “Men don't sleep over at my house, Darryl. I'd certainly never invite one into my personal haven, my home, and then leave him there while I went away for a few days to work—which is just what I’ll be doing with you if you agree. I have a promo tour next week.”
“What?” I choke on the air trapped in my throat. She is not serious. “Are you suggesting I pose as your lover?”
“She knows you and I have been seeing each other for years,” she whispers. “I’ve never confirmed or denied it, because I don’t want people to know I need a psychiatrist.”
“It’s nothing to be ashamed of.”
She slides me a look that says it has nothing to do with what other people think. “D, I'm just asking you to embellish a little on what we do during those meetings.”
“No, you're asking me to lie and keep secrets for you, while I deceive your friend because you will conveniently be on the road.”
“I'll do my—”
“No,” I tell her firmly. “I’m not doing this. And you've harmed our friendship by asking me to do it. And far worse than that is what this says about your friendship with Julia, because you’ve thought about deceiving her this way. If she really is in trouble, it’s likely she already finds it difficult to trust people, even without her closest friend betraying her. She can’t afford to lose you now, and you certainly can’t afford to risk her shrinking further into isolation by choice.”
Well, at least she has enough shame to look at the floor.
“I know.” She lifts her eyes to mine, and I can barely believe what I see there. Desperation. “But I’ve already done irreparable damage to our friendship by keeping records, asking questions, and not dropping this subject when she’s repeatedly asked. I have all the evidence to support her defense, but she wants me to destroy it. And I want to, Darryl, really I do. I want my best friend back. I need her back. But I … I can’t do it, knowing what it will mean for her. I know I'm asking a lot from you …”
I’m surprised how difficult I’m finding it to say no—not to Krystal per se, but to the help her friend needs. “I said no!”
She makes moves to object again and I’m about to tell her to go to hell, when I hear footsteps behind me. “Someone ask for coffee?” Caleb stops dead just inside the doorway. “Ah.” His gaze flickers between us several times before he settles on Krystal. “You don't waste any time, do you?”
“I don't have time to waste,” she replies.
“Wait.” I look from Caleb to Krystal and then back again. “You knew about this?” Shamefully, he looks away and my eyes roll. A sigh of pure exasperation escapes my lips. I don't believe he would be so stupid. “Without everything else that's going on, especially with Lisa, you know the law. You know what will happen if anyone finds out about this. Why would you put her up to this?”
“The law?” he repeats. “What laws are you breaking? She's just a friend.”
A silence falls between us as I look at Krystal, and I’m not surprised when she doesn't volunteer the truth. Caleb might be inside her circle of trust, a friend even, but she keeps him at arms’ length just like everyone else.
“I'm sorry, Darryl,” she whispers, placing her untouched drink in my hand. “I didn't know where else to turn.” She steps back, gives Caleb a silent nod, and walks across the hallway into the den. She returns moments later with Macaulay in her arms and then leaves, without another word.
I turn to the window and the street below, watching her lift the sweatshirt hood over her head and place the dark glasses back on her face before she crosses the road. I’m not going to risk everything I have by agreeing to help her. Not like that. “There has to be another way,” I mutter to myself, even though Caleb is still in the room.
“When you think of it, let me know. I've tried everything to get Julia to talk.” He sighs. My mind draws a blank and I turn to him. He shrugs, “You can't save everyone, right? Otherwise, we'd have saved Mom.”
The shot hits me square in my chest, flooding my entire body with a regret so strong it’s difficult to form words for a few seconds. “That was low, Caleb.”
“Did it work?”
I take one last look at Krystal as she turns at the end of the block and out of sight, then turn back toward him. I can’t change what happened to Faith. Her death and John’s are both scars that somehow I’ll have to learn to live with. But Faith said something over and over again, something I’ve tried to live by since she died, but never truly believed her words until now: “For every life you can’t save, there are hundreds more you can.”
I know I can’t let Julia become that one life I don’t save. Not without trying.
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I mean literally - where are they located, the people who read your books?
hen you do an author marketing plan you're asked to look at the demographic of your readers and who your ideal readers are.
I'm pretty sure most of my readers are 28-50 year old women but where are these people residing? In order to target my advertising, branding and social media I should try and work that out.
So with that in mind I thought I'd try and find out.
One thing I did this week was a little experiment - I asked people on my Facebook page their location. I wanted to know where they were on this amazing planet of ours.
The results are :941 people saw that post and 14 people liked it.
In case you were wondering for me that's pretty good. I have around 1100 people who have liked my Facebook page but some posts are only seen by a handful of people most weeks I have a couple of posts at least that reach 300 or more people, ( If just in case you don't understand not all of those are the people who like my page - some are my twitter followers and some are followers or the various hashtags I use).
Now let's break this down:
32 of those people that shared their location:
USA - 24
UK - 3
Australia - 5
Other - 3 (India (a travelling American), South Africa and Fiji (my very Australian husband))
So let's look at that...
I'm an Australian author but look at that number there...only 5 Australians and only 1 of those actually lives near me and is known to me.
That told me a lot.
Firstly - my friends, neighbours and relatives either:
a) are not seeing my Facebook page (more on that later*) - probably
b) are genuinely not my audience and don't care to read my novels - sadly also probably true
c) a little of both.
Secondly - My Facebook page for whatever reason reaches a lot more Americans than Australians. And where do I sell more books? America. ( I know every person who visits doesn't intend to buy books but I'm just looking at who I'm even reaching, because if I'm not reaching people they're definitely not buying my books. Also anecdotally I know fewer Australians read on devices so that is a factor but let's just use what we have).
That's not true for most Australian authors I know so that's kind of interesting - most Australian authors especially independent ones seem to sell more to the Australian market.
I guess the question now is what do I do with that information?
1. Skew my marketing towards American readers
2. Try and get more Australian readers
3. Do both of these things using segmented marketing.
I guess I need to work that out
Authors do you know where your readers are?
* While I've been writing this blog post I asked my Facebook friends who also like my Facebook Author Page if they've seen my page this week. 60% said they hadn't , 40% said they had and the others weren't sure.