Tuesday, December 4, 2012

An Interview and Review with Author Monica Mathis-Stowe of Where did we go wrong?

How did you start out your writing career?

As a child, I wrote in my diaries and journals faithfully every day. I didn’t realize it at the time, but it was the start of my love for writing. When I had a boring day, I would create something more interesting to put in my diary. At age ten, I was introduced to the world of romantic fiction by an older cousin who worked at a local library, and it was "love at first read"--I simply couldn't get enough. Reading for fun opened my mind to a whole new world. As a teenager, I decided to become a writer on a hot, summer day while reading and sweating profusely in my bedroom. I had just finished reading a chapter where the author described a ski resort in the mountains so vividly, that I got up from my bed and looked out my bedroom window expecting to see snow and feel frigid temperatures. I wanted that power. The ability to make people feel and experience life through my words and stories. Instead of just reading novels, I studied them, determined to join the ranks of the many published authors whose work I enjoyed.

What did you learn while writing this book?

I learned that writing a book, telling a story, comes easy to me, but the business side of it was something I had to learn. I took classes and read lots of material on how to market my book and create a brand. New authors can’t just a write a great book and expect readers to flock to it. You have to create a marketing plan that will pique readers’ interest and bring them to your product. It requires a lot of time, energy and patience.

What did you hope to accomplish with this book?

I wanted readers to experience the bond and the connection between these three women as they deal with the challenges in their lives and relationships. No matter what they’re going through and no matter how wrong they are, they stick together and support each other through it. Their bond is admirable and I think every woman should have a friendship like theirs. Not all female relationships or friendships are negative like the ones portrayed on reality TV and I wanted readers to see the positive side of friendship between girlfriends in Where Did We Go Wrong?.

What has surprised you most about becoming a published author?

I was shocked when Where Did We Go Wrong? hit the number one spot on Amazon’s African American Drama category and the amount of positive reviews just blew me away. I’m still surprised to see the number of readers who have downloaded my book in foreign countries. The book was released on April 1, 2012 and I still get excited when I see that readers in the United Kingdom and Denmark have downloaded my book. It’s a blessing.

What aspect of writing do you love the best, and which do you hate the most?

I love to write freestyle. I enjoy sitting at my computer and letting the story come out without an outline or any expectations from the characters or the plot. I don’t like creating outlines for my stories because it blocks my creative process and I feel like I’m stuck with no wiggle room to take the characters or the plot off course if something better pops into my head.

I hate the editing process, but I know how important it is. Receiving negative feedback and recommendations on changing a story you created is hard, but I’m learning that it’s beneficial. Editors help authors make their work better and they are important to and needed by authors.

How do you conquer writers block?

I usually get writer’s block when I take a character or the plot completely off track. I’ll take a day off and work on something else or read a novel and then read my work in progress over, from the beginning to get a better understanding of where I wanted to go with the story. It’s frustrating at times, but once I figure it out and get back on track, those are usually some of my best chapters.

What books are on your to read list?

I’m looking forward to reading The Power Trip by Jackie Collins, Dangerous Consequences by Lisa Renee Johnson and Raging Blue by Renee Daniel Flagler. I’m currently reading Love in a Carry-On Bag by Sadeqa Johnson and it’s an excellent read.

Has having a writing career always been your dream?

Yes! I used to go to book stores and think, my book is going to be here one day. When I first saw Where Did We Go Wrong? on the bookshelf at Books-A-Million, I screamed like a crazy person. I took pictures and posted it on Facebook. There is no greater feeling in the world than setting a goal and accomplishing it.

Can you give us one do and one don’t for those aspiring to be a writer?

DO have your work professionally edited before you publish it. DON’T quit. Reviewers can be harsh, but truthful. Negative feedback will sting and hurt your ego, but listen and learn. Use it to make your work better.

What is your writing process? How do you feed your writing muse?

To get my brain in writing mode, I sit at my computer and listen to music to relax. This process can last anywhere from five minutes to over an hour, depending on how quick the idea for a scene comes to me. Once I start typing, I turn off the music and peck away at the keyboard until my family needs me or I’m too tired to continue. My best ideas come either early in the morning when I’m waking up or just before I fall asleep at night. I’m always jumping out of bed to write something down before I forget it.

Within the next five years what stage do you expect to be in your career?

In the next five years, I would like to have at least five published novels completed and make writing my full-time career.

When you're not writing, what do you like to do in your spare time?

I spend time with my sexy firefighter husband and my adorable son. I love taking road trips and reading fiction novels.

What do you do to interact with your readers?

When I’m extended an invitation from book clubs, I make myself available to attend their meetings. I do a couple of book signings a month and always respond to readers’ emails, Facebook posts and tweets. If readers can take time out of their lives and busy schedules to read my book and contact me, I respect them enough to return the favor and respond.

Can you give us a sneak peek of your next book?

Where Did We Go Wrong Again? picks up immediately after Where Did We Go Wrong? ended. The first chapter reveals who was shot. Being held hostage by Joy’s deranged husband, Dean, made the characters do things they wouldn’t necessarily do. Their friendships are tested and strained. There are several topics in the book that I want readers to think about. Would you forgive a man you love who cheated on you? Would you reunite with your abusive husband even when your family and friends disagree with your decision? Is good sex enough to make you lower your standards and forget a man’s criminal background and his wife? These are just a few of the issues Gabby, Joy and Maxine deal with in the sequel.

How can readers get in contact with you? (mail, email, website)

Follow me on Twitter @MMathisStowe.

Become my friend on Facebook @ authormonicamathisstowe.

Rating: 5 stars

Where did we go wrong? is a powerful question that most of us ask ourselves in any relationship. Stowe explores the friendship between three different women with a bond as tight as those in love and marriage. Positive, creative, and nail biting are only a few words to describe this good book. This is a fast paced read that starts off with drama and takes you on a ride you'll never forget. Often times in a novel we meet a group of women that are two consumed with their personal lives to even think about a friendship with girlfriends is nearly impossible. Through challenges, suspense, confrontation, and love for each other Joy, Maxine, and Gabby will make you fall in love with them. Stowe writes with a witty smooth confidence that allows the reader to transition easily from chapter to chapter and character to character. Where did we go wrong? is not only a book to share with your girlfriends but a classic read you want be able to put down.