Welcome to the two hundred and first of my blog interviews with novelists, poets, short story authors, biographers, agents, publishers and more. Today’s is with memoir novelist and spotlightee Ann Pietrangelo. A list of interviewees (blogged and scheduled) can be found here. If you like what you read, please do go and investigate further.
Morgen: Hello (again) Ann. Please tell us something about yourself and how you came to be a writer.
Ann: I came to writing rather late in life, at the urging of my husband. What began as a dabble into the world of blogging quickly morphed into serious territory.
Morgen: I know that feeling. What genre do you generally write and have you considered other genres?
Ann: I freelance on a wide variety of subjects, but health has been my focus. I don’t mind research and am open to whatever topics my clients request.
Morgen: A client’s dream by the sound of it. What have you had published to-date? If applicable, can you remember where you saw your first books on the shelves?
Ann: My first book is a memoir, “No More Secs! Living, Laughing & Loving Despite Multiple Sclerosis”.
Morgen: I like the play on words. Is your book available as an eBook? If so what was your experience of that process? And do you read eBooks?
Ann: In addition to paperback, my book is available in eBook format for Kindle and for Nook. It can also be read via free apps on other mobile devices. And speaking of Kindle, I am crazy about mine! I received it as a gift a year ago, and I’m hooked. It’s easy, convenient, and practical. I still adore printed books, but I don’t believe it’s an either / or thing. If you love reading, having more options is a good thing, right?
Morgen: Absolutely. There are several discussions on this topic on LinkedIn and I always say they both serve a different purpose. I read a paperback around the house but eReader (actually on my laptop) when I go away (which is rarely so it’s paperbacks in the main). Do any of your books have dedications? If so, to whom and (if appropriate) why?
Ann: Yes, I have a rather long dedication for my book. I thanked each of my three children for their support and encouragement. I always believed I was supposed to inspire my kids, but it turns out that I am inspired by them. I acknowledged a writer friend, Steve Williams, who helped by keeping me on task and on schedule. I also gave a heartfelt thanks to my loving husband, who has seen me through so much and allowed me to write about our life together.
Morgen: I really like your cover, who designed it?
Ann: My husband, Jim, is a web professional and handled the cover design. We came up with the concept of a pair of legs with high heels and a cane because it would illustrate so well what the book has to say about the on again / off again nature of relapsing / remitting MS.
Morgen: What are you working on at the moment / next?
Ann: I’m working on my first work of fiction, something I’ve long dreamed of doing, and I’m beyond excited with my idea and with the process.
Morgen: I love fiction. Actually the only non-fiction I write are articles about writing, maybe that’s all I know. Do you manage to write every day? What’s the most you’ve written in a day?
Ann: I do write every day because it’s how I earn a living. It’s not all exciting, but it’s certainly interesting. Now that I’ve begun the novel, I need to work on scheduling time for it each day without burning myself out.
Morgen: It doesn’t need to take much; 300 words is a 100,000 book in a year. Have you ever received feedback from your readers?
Ann: Yes, I’ve been blown away by the response to the book. Apparently, I touched a nerve and people seem to understand and appreciate my efforts. I can’t begin to tell you how gratifying that is.
Morgen: I can imagine. My books have only been up three weeks and every purchase / review notification I get from Smashwords is a thrill – I sit and clap. Do you write on paper or do you prefer a computer?
Ann: If I had to use paper, I’d never get anything done. I don’t know how authors ever managed without computers!
Morgen: I learned on an electronic typewriter with carbon paper, I wouldn’t want to go back to that now. Some writers like quiet, others the noise of a coffee shop etc. Do you listen to music or have noise around you when you write or do you need silence?
Ann: I cannot listen to music while I work because I end up singing and unable to concentrate. I prefer silence or low background noise. I love when the weather permits open windows and I can listen to the birds outside.
Morgen: If anything, what has been your biggest surprise about writing?
Ann: That I’m doing it at all, and that I’ve managed to turn it into a full-time gig in my 50s. Will wonders never cease!
Morgen: Well I’m hoping to do the same in my mid-40s (next year) so I may come to you for some tips. What advice would you give aspiring writers?
Ann: First, call yourself a writer. Say it. Believe it. Be it. Then be stubborn about it. You are a writer – not because someone pays for your work, but because it is a part of you that won’t be stifled. This isn’t a job for those who aren’t fully committed to the idea. When the powers that be say “no,” you’ve got to figure out how to get around them.
Morgen: Find the right person for the right thing. Are there any writing-related websites and / or books that you find useful and would recommend?
Ann: I’m a member of the American Society of Journalists and Authors (http://www.asja.org), and I get a lot of practical information there.
Morgen: Ah yes I’ve heard of them. We have a couple of equivalents (at least, I’m sure) http://www.swwj.co.uk and http://www.bajunion.org.uk. Are you on any forums or networking sites? If so, how invaluable do you find them?
Ann: I’m active on Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, and Google+. It’s interesting. I’d probably enjoy a little Facebook time no matter what my career, but if not for writing, I most likely would not be much of a social networker. I’ve found this to be the best way to reach my audience – online and eBook readers.
Morgen: I feel the same but yes, boy do they eat time. Where can we find out about you and your work?
Ann: My main website is AnnPietrangelo.com. If you don’t find what you’re looking for there, there’s a handy contact form. My husband designed the site and I’m proud to show it off.
Morgen: It’s very simple and ‘clean’, I like that. Some sites try too hard (she says hoping she doesn’t mean her own). What do you think the future holds for a writer?
Ann: These are confusing and interesting times for the writer. Traditional publishing is shrinking and it’s more difficult than ever to break in, but self-publishing, particularly for eBooks, is booming. The writer shoulders increasing responsibilities for publishing and marketing, but also has more control and can possibly earn more in royalties. I imagine there will be many more changes in the next few years and I, for one, am excited about the possibilities.
Morgen: Oh me too, I can’t wait. If you could have your life over again, is there anything you’d have done differently (writing-related or otherwise)?
Ann: Most definitely. I’d have allowed myself to pursue the writing dream earlier.
Morgen: Yep ditto. Had I realised (earlier than my late 30s that it’s what I wanted…want to do). Is there a question you’d like to ask me?
Ann: Not ask you – tell you. You are doing quite a service by promoting authors the way you do. I believe in thanking people who do good things, so thank you, Morgen.
Morgen: Oh you’re so welcome. I really enjoy doing what I do (or I wouldn’t do it, I guess) and of course it gives me blog content and I’m hoping an audience for my books too… so a win-win.
Ann Pietrangelo is the author of “No More Secs! Living, Laughing & Loving Despite Multiple Sclerosis“. Making peace with multiple sclerosis, surviving triple-negative breast cancer, and continuing to pursue a career as a freelance writer … well, let’s just say she’s fairly stubborn and doesn’t lack a sense of humor. A member of the American Society of Journalists and Authors, her writing covers a wide range of topics for sites all around the web. Ann and her husband, Jim, are partners in WebCamp One LLC, a full-service website development company. Not every couple can manage to live and work together, but these two seem to thrive on it. “No More Secs!” Is a poignant and often humorous memoir chronicling their experiences with midlife, marriage, and multiple sclerosis. Ann is currently working on a novel.
If you are reading this and you write, in whatever genre, and are thinking “ooh, I’d like to do this” then you can… just email me and I’ll send you the information. They do now (January 2013) carry a fee (£10 / €12.50 / $15) for the new interviews on this blog but everything else (see Opportunities on this blog) is free.
If you go for the interview, it’s very simple; I send you a questionnaire (I have them for novelists, short story authors, children’s authors, non-fiction authors, and poets). You complete the questions, and I let you know when it’s going to go live. Before it does so, I add in comments as if we’re chatting, and then they get posted. When that’s done, I email you with the link so you can share it with your corner of the literary world. And if you have a writing-related blog / podcast and would like to interview me… let me know.
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