It takes a lot of guts to write a fictional account based on a devastating first love, but Melissa Mayberry has not only done it, but relived it and survived. I'm happy to have her take on the Top Ten Questions she gets as a writer.
If you are a writer, you’ve been asked about your book. If you are like me, you’ve been asked the same things more than once. Here’s a list of my most common questions.
10. What’s wrong?
I’m an emotional writer. All the cussing, yelling, and even crying gets a lot of attention around my house (and that one time at work). Granted, sometimes it’s because I want to use a question mark and my word processor is insisting it’s a period. Or, for the MILLIONTH time, it decides that Mellifica or Arien is obviously misspelled and throws the ugly red line under them. “I SAID IGNORE ALL!!” If my characters misbehave, it can foul my mood for days. Then sometimes, when I’m really hitting my stride in the emotional depths of my books, and the tears start falling, my poor husband walks by and stares. No, this article isn’t coming to you from Eastern State Hospital. He hasn’t committed me yet, but if I hear, “What’s wrong?” one more time …
9. Who is … ?
It’s no secret that my book is written about a true life story. My characters are all based on someone, and people that know me now are dying to know who is who. I recently invited my friend from work to a family celebration that included my ex-husband. First thing out of her mouth—is he really Arien? Her assumption wasn’t funny, but her curiosity had me rolling in the aisles. I couldn’t believe the sheer delight in someone reading, and becoming curious about my story. So I wonder, why don’t my friends recognize their characters?
8. How long did it take you to write this?
Okay, so I’m not the brightest person on the planet, I know this and I’m willing to admit it. But really, people, must you act so surprised when I tell you I’ve written a book? Yes, a whole book, but, I didn’t sit down and a month later a readable manuscript appeared.
Even though life handed me an entire plot, I hadn’t written since high school. So, the main rule I followed was, try—and try again. This process took about two and a half years. Not bad? Yeah, well I wrote when we weren’t busy at work. I also wrote the other four nights that I had off. That went on for about a year. Then, it was time for revisions. I revised every night of the week, and most every day. I also had friends read and offer revisions and two editors cleaning it up. Whew. I need a nap.
7. Don’t you worry about reviews?
Sure. I worry about them. I try not to think they are personal, but my main character is me and I’ve poured my heart into this story. Then, when I’m just about bald and have no more fingernails, I have a glass of wine and think about the good reviews I’ve received.
When Mellifica was published, I knew that I would have mixed reviews. Everyone has mixed reviews, especially authors that have sold bazillions of books. And that’s what helps me sleep at night. If I receive reviews—good or bad—then people are reading my book.
6. So, I bet you’re rich now, right?
Yep, we all have this relative. No, he doesn’t need your money, but for some reason he is sizing you up. I don’t usually discuss my finances with relatives, but I’ll tell him my bottom line and then ask him for a loan.
5. Is it one of those eBooks?
Ugh. I hate this question. We’ve all been trolling on the internet late at night, procrastinating, and come across a website that will eliminate all of our problems forever! So for some silly reason, we click the link. After ten pages of an infomercial with a guy drawing on a steno pad, they offer to “let you buy” an eBook on how to cure toe fungus for a one time limited price of just $29.99. And now our vision of eBooks is tainted forever.
So, what’s my answer to this question? The paperback is $12.99 but if you have a Kindle or Nook it’s only $2.99.
4. Can I read it?
Luckily for me, these people get uncomfortable reading over my shoulder, and they’re usually my teenage daughter who has the attention of a gold fish. Thank God it’s published! Too bad that daughter is always broke; I could’ve made a sale …
Everyone else, you can find it wherever books are sold online.
3. Why did you write a book?
The satellite was down that day. I love this question. LOVE IT, because I can be snarky, and they are just begging for it. But some days, I’m sweet and explain to them how my book came to me from a situation in my past. They get to hear how much I’ve always enjoyed writing and about the process I took to begin writing again. Then I wake them and say, “Just kidding. It’s really to get revenge on my ex.”
2. Maybe I should write a book. Think I could do it?
When someone asks me this, I take a good long minute and size them up. I really, truly consider their strength and fortitude. Would they be happy writing, or would it drive them mad?
So far, I’ve only said yes to one person. She reads about four books a week, so she has strong English skills. We worked together, and for a year she worked on call, sometimes being called in twice a night for less pay than she would at another facility and maintained grace and fortitude. Last but not least, she has twin boys, so she’s already crazy, no worries there.
11. What’s your book about?
If you’ve written a book, you’ve heard it. What people don’t understand is how much we, as writers positively hate summing up our work in a few sentences. I’ve got it down now, and don’t keep the note cards in my pocket anymore, but I still cringe every time.
Don’t get me wrong, I love my book. Deep down inside, every author loves what they write. Every author wants readers. In short, we want people to know our story but in its entirety. When I break it down short and sweet, it’s feels like I’m sacrificing my first born—or at least removing his best features so that someone else will like him too. The goal is to find that sweet spot in the description that make people stop in the middle of our sentence, open their Kindle and start reading, and I actually had that happen—once.
What questions do you hear the most?
Thanks Melissa, for sharing with us your most commonly answered question. I enjoyed reading your book, and look forward to the sequel, assuming you have one.
Mellifica is available at Amazon