I love that some of your posts at your website are like mini-stories. I would encourage our readers to visit. I’ve had some similar experiences with the UPS guy! How much time do you spend per week/month updating and writing for your web presence? What is your goal or mission statement for the website?
Thank you! My blog began in 2013 as my very first attempt to put my writing into the world, and I cherish the responses to various pieces I’ve posted over the years. Yes – my poor, poor UPS guy. He’s never really sure what he will happen upon when he shows up!
On average, I would say I spend about 5-10 hours a week updating my website and sharing personal stories or links to other blogs. This includes the time spent writing pieces for other blogs that I link to on my site to help expand my own audience. Recently, I have probably spent less time on my own website, simply because I am hard at work on my second novel. But my goal remains the same. To have a place where I can connect with readers – both actual and potential!
I did. The time travel piece was at the heart of my initial idea for Lemongrass Hope, but I still struggled because I really did not want to write a science fiction novel. I wanted to write a story that would incorporate the time travel element uniquely – and so seamlessly that readers might wonder: “Wait, did that really happen? Could that really happen?”
When did you get to the point that you called yourself a writer out loud?
Ah. That’s a big question. I think I whispered it for a while, at first.
I revealed to my Book Club while I was halfway into my manuscript that I was writing a book – and that was after several years of working on my first novel! That was a big moment. I set up a Facebook “Writer” page after I finished my first draft of Lemongrass Hope – while I was in the throes of editing – which was probably a pretty ambitious move! And then, after I signed the publishing contracts for two books (Lawyer Interrupted and Lemongrass Hope) within a few short months of each other in late 2013 and 2014, I certainly felt a bit more comfortable penning “Writer” in the “Mother’s Occupation” blocks on the kids’ school forms. But honestly, the big moment for me came in October 2014 – not necessarily because Lemongrass Hope came out that month, but rather because I stepped down from Vice-President position at a start-up company that I loved and gave myself the permission to finally write full-time (or as full-time as motherhood will allow!) At that moment, I owned my “Writer” status completely – not just as an occupation, but as a vocation.
Name some of your favorite books about the business of writing.
Oh – so many – but the first three “On Writing” books that are coming to mind are Stephen King’s On Writing: 10th Anniversary Edition: A Memoir of the Craft, Donald Maass’s Writing the Breakout Novel Workbook, and of course, the great Anne Lamott’s Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life.
Name some of your favorite websites and blogs about writing.
That list changes and evolves constantly – but if you check my recent history, you’ll find great wisdom from Christina Katz, the irreverent Erika Napoletano, Live Write, Thrive, The Write Life, Women Writers, Women’s Books, Women’s Fiction Writers, and Writer Unboxed, just to name a few.
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I see that Lemongrass Hope is a 2014 INDIEFAB Book of the Year finalist in the romance category and your book cover is up for Cover of the Year 2014 on the fiction blog, The Qwillery. How did you find out about these contests/awards? Did you submit to them or did readers have to nominate your work? What is your experience so far participating in contests?
So, my experience on the Qwillery site was great fun. They actually found my book and reached out to me to ask whether they could include it on their site – which largely features paranormal and science fiction books, so I wasn’t sure how my unique book would be received. But I agreed anyway. Qwillery then asked readers to include it in their monthly Reading Challenge lists and to vote on it for Cover of the Month during its release month – and it won!
Then Qwillery included Lemongrass Hope among its nominees for Cover of the Year 2014, and in an online duel to the finish, my book lost by just 6 votes in a reader poll, ending up the #2 Qwillery Cover of the Month for 2014. Like I said, great fun!
The 2014 INDIEFAB awards are a bit more serious. They are sponsored by Foreword Reviews Magazine, which is like the Rolling Stones Mag for indie authors and readers. Foreword Reviews had given Lemongrass Hope a 5-star beautiful review when it was released and chose it as one of the top 5 Romance books in the Fall of 2014, so my publisher thought it would make great sense to submit Lemongrass Hope for their spring awards, and she did – with great success! The book has been named one of the 14 finalists in the Romance category – hooray! Lemongrass Hope was also chosen as a Finalist by the National Indie Excellence Awards, another huge honor. My publisher, Nancy Cleary at Wyatt-MacKenzie, has been wonderful about carefully vetting awards before submitting Lemongrass Hope. Contests can be a wonderful avenue for emerging authors to have their work recognized more widely – but you have to be careful about all the new awards programs popping up every day. Some of them, frankly, are simply revenue generators for entrepreneurs looking to profit on new authors. A reputable publisher will help authors navigate the contest jungle!
What avenues have you utilized to get book reviews?
Well, in the beginning, it was a much harder process. Asking people to take time to read and review a book from someone they had never heard of is not the most fun exercise, I’m here to tell you! I had to pitch my book to authors I respected, bloggers that I followed, and my publisher pitched my book in the industry. I had to listen to “ I just don’t have time to review your book right now. Thanks, anyway.” And I had to keep pounding the pavement – always looking forward, never back.
And then one day ….
Kirkus gave me a great review (whew!) and The Library Journal featured it (wow!), and Jacquelyn Mitchard blurbed it (Swoon!), and then with each additional review, my book received more credibility and became easier to pitch to more and more avenues, including bloggers and new readers.
What can you tell us about Lawyer Interrupted?
Lawyer Interrupted is my non-fiction debut. It was published by and is available exclusively through American Bar Association Publishing. Lawyer Interrupted is a synthesis of research and interviews with some amazingly inspirational people who just so happen to have transitioned from the practice of law. At its core, it started as a book about leaving the law (which I myself did about 6 years ago, after a 13-year career in corporate law). But really, it’s about transitions that everyone faces – new careers, alternative careers, caregiving, and retirement. On some level, I wish we could sell the book as a template, allowing readers to sub in their own word for lawyer:
Teacher Interrupted, Real Estate Agent Interrupted, Writer Interrupted, and so on!
How do you deal with criticism/rejections?
Ouch. Thanks for reminding me.
Listen, you can be a writer and never write for anyone but yourself and never put your work out there to be reviewed or criticized, but you will still likely face criticism from a writer’s harshest critic – herself/himself. So when you bite the bullet and send your soul into the world, it’s going to land on some people who will stomp on it – or WORSE – never.even.look.at.it. Sigh.
I try to tell myself exactly that when my book lands in the wrong hands. Also I rationalize like crazy. It’s the lawyer in me. Seriously, it’s like my side job.
For example: My only 1-star review on Amazon came from a woman who wrote: “Not for my age group. I’m 72.” Which is exasperating for so many reasons. First, I had just been invited to that very woman’s book club the day before she sat down to write her review. At book club, that reviewer told me, “I had a hard time relating to the character in the book, but I thought the book was so interesting and showed how far women have come since I was the main character’s age.” Great insight! Why didn’t she write that instead? Also, I’ve been to lots of book clubs with women 60, 70, and even 80 years old. And they would disagree whole-heartedly that my book has an age cut-off ….
See? I can rationalize with the best of them.
Plus also, eating Ben & Jerry’s right from the carton can work miracles.
Kidding. (No, I’m not. I prefer Phish Food – you?)
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About the Book Lemongrass Hope
Set in the past, and present, LEMONGRASS HOPE is a captivating and unpredictable love story, with a dose of magical realism and time travel. LEMONGRASS HOPE weaves together ordinary lives and events to tell an extraordinary tale of connection, loss, renewal, and of course, hope. As Kate Sutton’s decade-long marriage to Rob erodes and unravels, Kate fears that the secrets she guards from the world, including Rob’s emergency room proposal, and a whirlwind love affair from her past, have always doomed her fate. When Kate unwittingly receives a glimpse at what her life could have been had she made different choices all those years ago, it is indeed all she could have ever wanted. A confirmation of her greatest hope … and her greatest fears. Read the book hailed by New York Times Best-selling authors and reviewers, including Jacquelyn Mitchard, Oprah’s very first book club selection author.
About the Author
Amy Impellizzeri is a reformed corporate litigator, former start-up executive, and best-selling author. In 2009, she left her 13-year litigation career to write and advocate for working women, later joining the executive team of the award-winning website, Hybrid Her (named by ForbesWoman as a “Top Website for Women” in 2010 and 2011). Through her work at Hybrid Her, and as Vice President, Community & Content, for its later re-brand, ShopFunder, Amy worked closely with hundreds of creative and inspiring entrepreneurs and fundraisers, writing and marketing their stories to new audiences.
In October 2014, Amy transitioned to full-time writer, with the publication of her first novel, Lemongrass Hope (Wyatt-MacKenzie 2014), which debuted as an Amazon best-seller (Romance/Fantasy and Romance/Time Travel). Oprah’s very first Book Club Selection author and New York Times #1 Best-Selling Author, Jacquelyn Mitchard, has called Lemongrass Hope a “fine and fresh thing – a truly new story.” Lemongrass Hope was featured by Library Journal and Foreword Reviews Magazine, and has been a favorite with Book Clubs and numerous Book Bloggers (including as the #1 favorite reviewed selection in 2014 by The Literary Connoisseur). Lemongrass Hope was recently selected as an INDIEFAB 2014 Book of the Year Finalist (Romance) by Foreword Reviews Magazine.
Amy’s first non-fiction book, Lawyer Interrupted (ABA Publishing 2015), is due out Summer 2015. Her essays and articles have appeared in The Huffington Post, ABA Law Practice Today, The Glass Hammer, Divine Caroline, Skirt! Magazine, among more.