"In creative work, I think what's important is to find joy, inspiration, and just have fun. If something is taking this away from you as a writer, go on a search to rediscover it...Do whatever it takes to get a hold of that first spark...Discover what's important for you, and go after it. Learn from others, but don't try to copy them. Not everyone's journey is the same. Do what fits yours."
I so appreciate Author Elena Shelest sharing her thoughts with me this month. She teaches both by word and example. I highly recommend you check out her fun and inspiring book The Seven Lives of Grace. Enjoy her insights!
TCA: How did the idea for The Seven Lives of Grace emerge?
ES: Once upon a time, I was wondering about different "what if" scenarios.
What if we could try on different lives? What if there was a way to do it for a few days and see if the shoe fits? Would we discover something new about ourselves? Something that might change things drastically?
A lot of times we are scared to take risks, whether it's in our careers, relationships, or personal growth. So instead we stay in the safe zone.
That was the life of my main character, Grace, before I threw a magical inheritance her way and messed up her orderly existence. Well, she did not regret it in the end, but the journey wasn't smooth. In fact, it led to a lot of funny, awkward, and, at times, tough situations.
My hope is that the readers will find the courage to try out something new as well and go after their dreams. It's a story of personal discovery and healing, but it's done in a fun, whimsical, rom-com style.
TCA: Can you describe a specific moment in your career where you realized you had grown as a writer?
ES: After I wrote my first book, there were a lot of self-doubts. I had a completed story on my hands that I loved, but I wasn't sure it was good enough to be released into the world.
I am a very thorough person, so I wanted to do things right. Thus started a long process of learning about creative writing and self-publishing. I took classes and got lots of feedback from others.
Allowing beta readers to take a look at my rough manuscript had a great impact on me. It might be hard to take criticism on something so personal as a book and even harder to sort through it, setting aside what doesn't fit your voice, but it helped me improve as a writer and provided encouragement.
It wasn't until the first reviews started coming my way from strangers that I started feeling more confident.
TCA: What inspired you to connect with other authors? How has that role as a connector impacted your career?
ES: After researching my options, I decided that self-publishing was a way to go for me. Since all of this was new, I started to seek out authors and groups that were farther down this road.
There are a lot of online communities new writers can connect with. Fantasy Author Network on Facebook is one of them.
Self-published authors are pretty open and supportive. It is not a competitive environment. My best writing buddies came from the beta reading exchange groups. People know that writing a book takes a lot of work and are happy to share their experiences. I also wrote several details articles about the self-publishing journey on my website www.fiveminutediscovery.com
Instagram has monthly writing challenges for authors, and Twitter has an active community as well. Just pick a platform that works best for you and connect.
I've also done several anthology publications over the years, and it has been a lot of fun. You learn a lot of new things when doing the publication with others, although it is not always the case. In the Enchanted Series and What's in the Name Trilogy we critiqued each other's stories and divided tasks.
Other authors and their support was probably the main reason I did not quit writing when things got tough.
TCA: What obstacles have you faced in your own journey toward your dreams, and how have you overcome them?
ES: My initial dream was to publish the one story I wrote. After that happened, my goals changed into growing the readership. I had to adjust things along the way, as the publishing/advertisement side of this endeavor drained the creative side.
Since writing is something I do on the side, I had a decision to make - spend more time growing this as a business or just let go and have fun writing more books. I chose the latter, dedicating most of my stories to charity causes instead.
The point is, gaining commercial success or even any sort of income from books is tough. It takes dozens of well-written books in a popular genre with a solid fan base. I know authors who have achieved it, but it takes time, finances, and dedication.
What's important is asking yourself what your goals are and being flexible.
TCA: What is one piece of advice you wish you had received when you were first starting out pursuing your dreams?
ES: In creative work, I think what's important is to find joy, inspiration, and just have fun. If something is taking this away from you as a writer, go on a search to rediscover it.
For me, I had to take breaks, try something new, go on nature walks, attend writing conferences, join writing challenges like NaNoWriMo, and talk to other authors. Do whatever it takes to get a hold of that first spark. Otherwise, why write at all?
I wished I gave myself that permission from the start. I wasted lots of time trying to do things a certain way before finding out that being a full-time writer wasn't for me during this season. Discover what's important for you, and go after it. Learn from others, but don't try to copy them. Not everyone's journey is the same. Do what fits yours.
Whenever I hear from readers that they enjoyed my story and that it touched their heart, it's enough for me to keep publishing new ones. And plus, it seems I can't stop.
MAY 2023 GIVEAWAY
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