Welcome to Day 11 of #NJ12DaysOfAuthors June Series! @MauraBeth2014 #TheEdgeOfFear @RRBC_Org @RRBC_RWISA @Tweets4RWISA #RRBC
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On the 11th day of the June “12 Days of Authors” Series… Nonnie’s gift to you…
AUTHOR, MAURA BETH BRENNAN!
I grew up in the 50’s in what, I think, would now be called an “exburb.” We were really far out from everything and from other kids, and so I learned early on to use my imagination. I went to an all-girls Catholic high school, married young, had a daughter, got a divorce, remarried and eventually got a job writing job descriptions and other materials for the Department of Defense. I had gone to classes at night to get a degree, and also took some creative writing courses along the way. After my early retirement, I decided to spend some time pursuing my dream of writing a novel. Okay, that’s it. I mean, how boring is that life story? Nothing too exciting there, although I did manage to get a short story out of one of my experiences. I won’t tell you which short story as I must protect the guilty.
NJ: Hi, Maura Beth! Thanks for joining me here today. I know we’re behind schedule but, it’ll be fun all the same. So, let’s dive right in so that we can learn more about you. Is your author name a pen name or your birth name?
MB: First, I must warn you, Nonnie, I am the most ordinary and boring person possible. Maura Beth Brennan is a pen name.
NJ: What made you decide to write under a pen name?
MB: When I started writing and decided to publish, my husband was nervous about me using my own name. He imagined all sorts of nefarious things that could happen (in our family, we don’t lovingly call him “Mr. Doom and Gloom” for nothing. I could write a story just with some of the cautionary things he says that seem hilarious after the fact.) Anyway, I did it to make him feel better. Maura and Beth are really just shortened versions of my first and middle names. Brennan is my paternal Grandmother’s maiden name, and since both my father and she were great story tellers, I thought that would be a good name to use. I try to “channel” them when I write.
NJ: OK. How long have you been writing?
MB: I started writing when I was pretty young, making little booklets up with illustrations and stories to give to my parents. I entered a county-wide writing contest when I was in about fifth grade, won first prize, and was encouraged to keep writing stories that I sometimes sent away to magazines so I could begin collecting rejection notices at an early age. As I said, I took a number of creative writing courses as an adult and then signed up for National Novel Writing Month, I think in 2017, through which I wrote the first draft of my first novel, The Edge of Memory. The bug had bitten me pretty badly by then, and here we are.
NJ: Are you indie-published or traditionally published?
MB: My first book was published by what is called a “hybrid” publisher, because I was so new and couldn’t figure out how to do anything. I have nothing bad to say about them, they were very easy to work with, but what I didn’t like was that I couldn’t manipulate the price for sales and promotions. So I decided to go the total-indie route after that, and sort of practiced with my short stories. My second novel, The Edge of Fear, was done independently and I love the freedom that gives me.
NJ: Which is your favorite books out of the ones you have published thus far and why?
MB: Now, Nonnie, that is a Sophie’s Choice sort of thing you are asking! I love each piece while I am writing it, and constantly fall in love with my characters. But since you ask, I would have to say that although “The Edge of Memory” is especially dear to me, because it is my first full-length novel, “The Edge of Fear” is my current favorite because it my newest and all those characters are still fresh in my mind.
NJ: OK. Give us just a little background on that book. What is it about?
MB: The Edge of Fear is the continuation of the story of Hattie, the heroine of my first novel. It is a stand-alone though, and can be read without reading the first one. It picks Hattie’s story up after she is married and is living the life of her dreams, with an adored husband and daughter, a beautiful home, and a job she loves. But she is troubled by premonitions of something bad about to happen. Her ex-husband has found out about her good fortune and wants to get some of her money for himself. He comes up with a devious plan, and novels being what they are, of course something very bad does happen and Hattie’s life is shattered. Eventually, when all else fails, Hattie decides she must take matters into her own hands. She sets out on a journey with her best friend to reclaim her life. At its heart, this story is really an exploration of friendship, and a good part of the story centers on the interaction between Hattie and her best friend, Celine. I had a dear friend in mind when I wrote that aspect of the story, and I dedicated the book to her. We’ve gotten each other through quite a few bad times.
NJ: Where can readers purchase your book and how much is it?
MB: The book is available through all major on-line retailers, and is currently still $.99 on Amazon, although the price is scheduled to go back to $3.99. The universal link is: https://books2read.com/u/m0Ko7Y
NJ: Maura Beth, I must say, I am so pleased that you give answers to questions just as they are posed. I mean, did you happen to sit in on Patty Perrin’s interview? OMG! I’m drinking now because of that interview! No, seriously! Geeez! 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?
MB: I try to stay within the norm for like products, whether a novel or short story. I price the items like those of other indie authors. No one will buy a book from someone who is not famous, if it is priced too high.
NJ: You got that right, Maura Beth. People are close to their dollars and some refuse to take a chance on a name they aren’t familiar with. Best to price competitively and sell more books than to price high and sell no books at all. Maura Beth, 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?
MB: Twitter was basically something I started using when I got frustrated with Facebook. I tried following a few people and found it to be so much fun. I really enjoy it.
NJ: I’ve never even put too much time into Facebook. I didn’t like what I saw there coming from folks on a personal level so never ventured there long enough to find a real interest in it. Twitter is fun for me and it serves a real purpose in book promotions. What other social media platforms do you use to market your book(s), and have you found them to be beneficial?
MB: The only other platform I am using now, with my pen name that is, is Facebook. But I find it difficult to get people to “like” my page, and the ads never seem to do much for me. It seems like such a cumbersome process somehow. I am on Pinterest and LinkedIn, but under my own name, so I don’t try to advertise or mention my books. I mostly seem to look at pictures of puppies and kittens. I am not very good a social media, and still have a lot to learn. (Note: advice welcome!!)
NJ: I’m sure you’ll have some visitors in the audience to offer you that advice you’re seeking. 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?
MB: Well, of course through RRBC I am a member of the Tweet Support Team, which I absolutely love. I was doing lots of retweeting of other authors before that, just not with any particular group. Now, I so enjoy tweeting about indie authors, because they do not have the advantage of a big publishing house behind them. So we fellow authors have to give them a helping hand. It is so much fun! And, I get so much support from others, it really makes me smile! That is all due to RRBC, really.
NJ: That’s great to hear, Maura Beth! RRBC is truly thebomb.com, isn’t it? (I heard that from a teenager on television). It is amazing!!!! So, 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?
MB: I absolutely always read any tweet I retweet or blog I reblog.
NJ: Wise woman. Maura Beth, 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?
MB: Well, of course, I would love them to race to buy my books, especially my latest, and then leave a review. And, if they could tell a friend or two, tweet on Twitter or post on Facebook to say they liked my story, that would be the icing on the cake.
NJ: Did you hear that, audience? Support her! Maura Beth, 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.
MB: I must recommend a book that was very helpful to me, and that is Stephen King’s “On Writing.” I once read that another “must read” for writers is Dorothea Brande’s “Becoming a Writer.” Although it is very old, as a new writer I found that one helpful, too. Now, I am taking courses through Coursera, which has a writing program of five courses. They are excellent. And, not least by any means, RRBC and RWISA are helpful in establishing contacts, being part of a community, and continuing to improve writing skills.
NJ: Authors are always seeking good formatting services. Who do you use to format your books, and would you recommend them?
MB: The publishing platform I use makes it very easy to format. So, I do it myself. They give very broad guidelines that seem pretty straightforward. The platform is Draft2Digital.
NJ: Can you share with our audience 2 or 3 of the top methods you use to market your books?
MB: Ugh. Marketing. My biggest bugaboo. I use Facebook (not very well, though) and Twitter. Also, I will be scheduling blogs soon and am hopeful that those will be useful. 4WillsPub created my trailer and WOW! Nonnie, I really love this trailer. The music is perfect and really conveys the feeling I was hoping to create in my story. Also, the hooded figure – I got chills, and I wrote the book!! The Hattie image at the end was great, and the vehicle driving into the distance – loved it. You nailed it!
NJ: Maura Beth, I’m flattered that you love your trailer! The more I watched it, the more I loved it, too! Thank you! We’re happy if you’re happy. 4WillsPub aims to please! Now, what is the one bit of writing advice you would give to any author, experienced or newbie?
MB: The best advice I ever got was through NaNoWriMo, which is: just write every day and DO NOT STOP TO EDIT!!! Get to the end of the book. Let the book (and yourself) rest. After at least 2-3 weeks, then go back and let the fun begin! Have a shot of Scotch (okay, that wasn’t part of the advice. I added that).
NJ: I sort of figured you added the Scotch advice. Hahaha! Is your reputation as a writer important to you, OR might we look up one day and find that you are in a Twitter brawl with someone?
MB: I think a writer’s reputation is everything, so yes, reputation is very important to me. I would never take part in a Twitter brawl. I use the “block” function if I see someone who seems nasty and is looking for a fight.
NJ: Good for you, MB. In your opinion, what is the biggest difference between the writers you see today around social media, versus the writers of old?
MB: That is such an interesting question, but difficult to answer. I guess I would say that writers of old had less immediate distraction and didn’t have to contend with maintaining a social media presence. They did have to contend with reviewers, newspaper reporters, and fan letters and the like, but I doubt the distractions and worries were as constant. Now, it seems writers just can’t get away from it. Also, they weren’t under pressure to have some “big event” on the first page, or in the first chapter, so I find that the classics often have a slower pace, build the setting and characters more thoroughly, and delve into issues more deeply. I love that.
NJ: Do you value professionalism in the literary arena and worry that the lack thereof makes it harder for those of us who wish to be taken seriously in this business? Or does the unprofessional behavior of some around social media not bother you at all?
MB: I don’t like to see mean, nasty, or unprofessional behavior in this business. I prefer a “we’re all in this together” sort of attitude. Meanness is like a cancer, and tends to spread, so – stay away from it!!
NJ: Well said. If you have ever received any, how do you handle not-so-flattering reviews of your book(s)?
MB: Ah ha! Bad reviews! I have received a few, and I will admit, they smart and the bad feeling stays with me for a few days. I try to take the comments to heart, though, and take a look at what they point out in order to learn from them. I got a two-star review of one of my short stories once, though, that made me scratch my head. It said that the story, which was clearly marked “a short story” on the cover, was too short! I admit it was tempting not to respond to that one with, “Well, duh.”
NJ: Too funny! Now here’s my most favorite question as I’ve found that some authors don’t appreciate you telling them the truth at all. And if you do, you better run for cover! That is, if you’re not like me. I welcome those unprofessional attitudes, because someone needs to point out the unprofessionalism of tantrums being thrown, when you’re not feeding the egos of those who have allowed their heads to swell, due to all the nonsense and untruths they’ve been fed in the past. These unprofessional tantrums give us all a bad name, especially if we’re Indie. 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?
MB: No, I prefer honesty. It doesn’t do any good to say things you don’t mean in a review, or to another writer. Honesty is how we learn and improve. Also, false or dishonest “great” reviews hurt the reader, because they will buy the book and be disappointed. That leads to distrust in the reading community, too. But, just as we certainly shouldn’t be afraid to leave a poor or critical review, I do think we shouldn’t be afraid to praise and give great reviews, or 5-star reviews, to books that we love and that seem to meet all the criteria – great plot and pacing, realistic dialog, good writing with few or no errors. We want those authors to be encouraged and rewarded for their hard work. So, honesty in all things, just like my Mama told me.
NJ: Your Mama was right. Maura Beth, we know that you have a blog. Do you blog about any specific topics or are you a random-topic-blogger?
MB: Well, Nonnie, I am a very naughty blogger, in that I hardly ever blog. I was dragged to having a blog kicking and screaming, by a couple of people in RRBC who shall remain nameless, like you, Nonnie.
NJ: (Is it me, or did anyone else hear her say that folks were going to remain nameless? Am I not a folk?)
MB: I mostly reblog at this point but am planning to highlight some interesting people I know in the near future. Life seems pretty funny to me sometimes, so maybe I’ll share that viewpoint.
NJ: Maura Beth, thanks for allowing me the pleasure of highlighting you today!
OTHER QUICK FACTS ABOUT MAURA BETH…
I think of what I write as Women’s Fiction, but I have also listed both novels as Thrillers, specifically Domestic Thrillers.
I have published two novels and four short stories two date, with two more short stories ready to go, one being for the Alpha and Omega competition through RRBC.
- Writing is a hobby
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