Welcome to Day 4 of #NJ12DaysOfAuthors June Series! @MartaBeaman #MennoniteDaughter @RRBC_Org #RRBC
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On the 4th day of the June “12 Days of Authors” Series… Nonnie’s gift to you…
AUTHOR, MARIAN BEAMAN!
For 21 years, I taught composition and literature at Florida State College in Jacksonville, Florida. Before that, high school English. My memoir, Mennonite Daughter: The Story of a Plain Girl, reveals the charms and challenges of growing up in the strict culture of the Lancaster Mennonite Conference in the 1950s and 60s. I share my story to preserve these memories and to leave a legacy for future generations. I write Wednesdays on my Plain and Fancy blog. My work has appeared in The Gutsy Story Anthology, The Mennonite magazine, the Arts and Antiques magazine, and Story Circle Network Anthology. My artist husband Cliff and our grown children and grandchildren make Jacksonville, Florida, home.
NJ: Hi, Marian! Thanks for joining me today. I understand today was not the best day for your interview, so we’ll be sure to promote it heavily tomorrow. How’s that? Let’s get right to it so that you can rest. Is your author name a pen name or your birth name?
Marian: No nom de plume for me. My author name is not the same as my birth name. I happily exchanged my birth name, Longenecker, for my married name, Beaman, which is easier to spell and doesn’t arouse chuckles as “Longenecker” might.
NJ: How long have you been writing?
Marian: I began writing stories in 2013, when I started my blog, “Plain and Fancy,” including snippets of my early life in Pennsylvania. Readers latched onto the characters in my family and urged me to write my memoir. I love blogging because the short pieces connect me to readers from across the globe: Australia, South Africa, Spain, Germany, Canada, and of course the USA. Story writing is an art, so I took two memoir-writing classes to learn the skill, which is SO much different from the academic writing I did as a teacher.
NJ: What genre or genres do you write under?
Marian: Up to this point, only memoir. However, many RRBC authors began with one genre, and expanded to another. Thrillers and para-normal books seem to be selling like hotcakes now, but I don’t feel the urge. Maybe, historical fiction would be a fit for me. I have enjoyed Bette Stevens’ Dog Bone Soup, and I can imagine recreating a believable character using dialogue and a snappy plotline. I know I’d enjoy the research involved.
NJ: Are you indie-published or traditionally published?
Marian: I’m a strong advocate for indie publishing. I own the rights to my memoir and can make changes to my text and control the price point for each format without consulting a corporation.
NJ: Good for you, Marian! Indie is the only way to go in my eyes! No one controlling the baby you gave birth to but you, the rightful owner and head parent in charge! If you are traditionally published, can you give our audience a pointer or two as to how you found a publisher, in the event that someone reading this interview is attempting to go the traditionally published route. By the way, I am a strong advocate for Indie publishing and would not have it any other way.
NJ: How many books have you published to date?
Marian: My memoir only. However, my husband and I are collaborating on a story book with the working title Kids and Oaks, inspired by a blog post of the same name. Our goal is to have it published for Christmas release, as it would appeal to readers who want to inspire their children (or grandchildren) to grow roots down deep and develop wings to fly, pursuing their dreams.
NJ: How exciting to publish with your other half! All of RRBC will be waiting to support it upon its release! You’ve only published one book so I’m guessing it’s your favorite thus far?
Marian: Of course! At first, I wrote to leave a legacy for my children, but then as I persevered, I discovered a path toward forgiveness of parental abuse in childhood. The writing/revising was like giving therapy to myself. My keyboard was often wet with tears as I relived some chapters, so my readers would be transported to the scene. I felt the same depth of emotion about happy scenes in Grandma’s kitchen and walks in the woods playing Robinhood with a neighbor.
What if the Mennonite life young Marian Longenecker chafed against offered the chance for a new beginning? What if her two Lancaster County homes with three generations of family were the perfect launch pad for a brighter future? Readers who long for a simpler life can smell the aroma of saffron-infused potpie in Grandma’s kitchen, hear the strains of four-part à capella music at church, and see the miracle of a divine healing. Follow the author in pigtails as a child and later with a prayer cap, bucking a heavy-handed father and challenging church rules. Feel the terror of being locked behind a dark cellar door. Observe the horror of feeling defenseless before a conclave of bishops, an event propelling her into a different world. Fans of coming-of-age stories will delight in one woman’s surprising path toward self-discovery, a self that lets her revel in shiny red shoes.
NJ: I love those red shoes! Where can readers purchase your book and how much is it?
Marian: My book on Amazon is currently priced at $11.99 for softcover and $4.99, e-book. Expect a special to run during the 12 Days of Authors Promo.
NJ: I have been in this business long enough to know that quite a few readers have a purchase price point and will only spend so much on an e-book. How do you price your books and what is your logic behind the pricing?
Marian: When the book published in 2019, readers at my launch party happily paid $16.99 for a print book. Since then, I have adjusted the cost for RRBC authors to special pricing at times, for example: $2.99 for the e-book and $7.99, softcover. Because my softcover book costs $6.00 to print, I’ve found it unprofitable to go much lower except for special offers. Like other authors, I have done giveaways to create buzz.
NJ: As regular purchasers of books, we appreciate those specials, Marian! Thank you! I got on Twitter many years ago because my social media manager at the time, told me that I needed to be on Twitter. He did not give me an actual reason as to why (I had to learn my “why” on my own), just that I needed to be there. What was your main reason for getting on Twitter? For support? For fun?
Marian: One of my long-time friends, Colleen, advised me to set up a Twitter account, so I did with the “pen name” Marta Beaman, my husband’s pet name for me: @martabeaman Although I publish my blog every week on Twitter, I can’t say I enjoy it. It’s too easy to click “Like” and let it go at that. I find Facebook more personable. However, I do promote other authors with tweets, which they seem to appreciate.
NJ: I find it the total opposite between Twitter and Facebook. Twitter is, by far, my favorite! But, what works best for some, won’t work that way for others, right? What other social media platforms do you use to market your book, and have you found them to be beneficial?
Marian: Lately, I promoted my memoir on Facebook for Mother’s Day. Fortunately, someone on a Facebook group “Growing Up in Elizabethtown,” my hometown, saw the ad and bought 3 copies. Last week, I posted a blog post about window washing, the theme of a friend’s comment and got 2 more sales. Actually, that’s my take, who knows WHO buys my books as purchases are not tagged with names – ha! I have one loyal author on LinkedIn; we support each other’s books with posts and reviews. Instagram, for me, is just FUN. I grab my camera and post whatever strikes my fancy. A few shots ended up here as a travel blog post: https://marianbeaman.com/2021/05/05/sisters-road-trip-river/
NJ: Supporting others is a huge part of my identity. I believe that when you invest your time and support in others, you find that your circle grows by leaps and bounds of others giving the same to you. When I first got involved heavily on Twitter, I was pushing others more than I was pushing myself – I continue to do so. Do you support others on social media? If so, how?
Marian: I support other authors on their blogs, Facebook pages, and Twitter—also on the RRBC website. I spend a chunk of time every day supporting others, sometimes with book reviews. I believe in reciprocity. I can’t expect others to promote me unless I do the same for them. My online connections are true friendships: some close connections—others are acquaintances which may grow into something more. I love the friends I’ve found at RRBC.
NJ: And we love you back, Marian 🙂 Now, do you actually take the time to read tweets from others before you retweet them, or do you just hit “retweet” without ever engaging in the tweet?
Marian: I’m a fast reader, so I usually take in the gist before retweeting.
NJ: If you could map out the perfect way that you would want others to support you on social media, how would you ask your followers to support you? Just imagine that everyone who reads this interview will run out and follow you. How could they best support you? What would you have them do?
Marian: To readers here: “Subscribe to my blog, follow me or Facebook and Twitter. Oh, and buy my book!” I’ll probably return the favor.
NJ: Marian, we all learn something new almost every day while on social media and I like sharing what I have learned with other authors, in hopes that it will benefit them in some way. Have you come across any writing resources that might benefit other authors? If so, share 2 or 3 of them with us, please.
Marian: Write Your Memoir in Six Months by Linda Joy Myers and Brooke Warner: https://writeyourmemoirinsixmonths.com/program-details/ a course that taught me the art of storytelling. A book I cherish on my “literal” desktop: The Story Cure by Dinty Moore, a fun read with useful tips
NJ: Can you share with our audience 2 or 3 of the top methods you use to market your books?
Marian: My blog, Facebook posts, and offering books on consignment at independent bookstores in my city. Initially, I sold many books at my launch party in 2019 and on the book tour to Pennsylvania, which followed.
NJ: What is the one bit of writing advice you would give to any author, experienced or newbie?
Marian: Warm the seat of your writing chair every. single. day. Even if you have a full-time job, grab a few minutes each day, or carve out time on weekends. I admire RRBC authors who have fulltime jobs and produce fine books; for example, Robbie Cheadle, a prolific author, who by day is a stockbroker in South Africa.
NJ: Is writing only a hobby for you or do you write full time?
Marian: Retired from teaching, I write full-time along with enjoying walks with a neighbor, lunches with friends, time with grandchildren and the daily grind of laundry, grocery shopping and cleaning, though I hardly ever dust. At this stage of life, I I am lucky to have the leisure to write.
NJ: In your opinion, what is the biggest difference between the writers you see today around social media, versus the writers of old?
Marian: As I see it, all had their struggles—Jane Austen publishing as a woman, Charles Dickens contending with poverty, and Hemingway, striving to be taken seriously. I don’t know that I see a clear difference. Writers then and now, have to struggle in one way or another. Millions of books are published every year. Even with great writing, it’s hard to stand out.
NJ: If you have ever received any, how do you handle not-so-flattering reviews of your book(s)?
Marian: At the moment, I am blessed with a 4.8 average on Amazon: 81% 5-star, 15%, 4 star, and one 3-star. The one low rating bothered me at first, but then I thought, ”Either this reader has super-high standards or may be meanspirited.” Who knows? I have done my best, and I can’t control what others think, or guess their motivations. I have to respect their opinions, because they are just that: opinions.
Marian, it’s baffling to me how some authors view a 3-star review as a low rating. It’s not. It’s in the middle. It basically says the book was just OK. And, I am one of those readers with super high standards, by the way, and proud to be. Now, do you appreciate honesty regarding your writing because you know that only honest feedback allows you to grow as a writer, or are you one of those who would prefer that others lie to you and tell you only what they know you want to hear?
Marian: No lies, please, only honest.
NJ: Marian, thank you so much for sitting down with me today for this informative interview! Now, off to bed you go to rest those beautiful eyes!
OTHER QUICK FACTS ABOUT MARIAN…
- Loves the friends she’s made at RRBC!
- Never rants. It’s a waste of time and energy (so we’ll never see her in a Twitter brawl!)
- Tends to cultivate friendships with writers she share values with
- “Grateful for several RRBC authors who comment on my blog, and I do return the favor.”
- Blogs about random things
- “Very important to note, I have a Christian world view, which is subtle but obvious in my writing.”
FOLLOW MARIAN ON…
Guests, thank you so much for dropping by to support Marian on Day 4 of the June “12 DAYS OF AUTHORS” Series! It would be awesome if you would pick up a copy of her book above, and after reading, share your review to Amazon. Ensure that you leave her a comment below, and also LIKE her feature before you leave, for your chance to win the grand prize package listed above! We’d both appreciate it if you would share this feature to Twitter and Facebook, as well.
To follow along with the rest of the features in this series, visit the “12 DAYS OF AUTHORS” home page! There will be a new series beginning in July! I’d also love it if you would #follow my site, as well as following me on Twitter @NonnieJules, as my truest joy is in service to others. I’d love to support you, too!
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DISCLAIMER: Any guest material appearing at WATCH NONNIE WRITE! is not edited, proofed or changed in any manner by the the owner of this blog. Material is posted as it is written and submitted. It is not my place to make changes to someone else’s writing, as what I view as needing correcting, just might be the way the author intended the material to read.