Welcome to the six hundred and fifty-fifth of my blog interviews with novelists, poets, short story authors, biographers, agents, publishers and more. Today’s is with children’s and non-fiction author Anne L. Terio. 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, Anne. Please tell us something about yourself, where you’re based, and how you came to be a writer.
Anne: I’m retired from the U.S. Foreign Service and reside in Alexandria, VA. I wrote a children’s book in my 20s, but life got in the way. Had one rejection then and put writing aside until I retired. Then I re-edited this children’s book and had it published.
Morgen: Was there a reason to choose children’s books?
Anne: I’ve written two children’s books and two nonfiction adult books. I haven’t limited myself to one genre. I wrote children’s books at first because I have children and later grandchildren. I was always making up bedtime stories for them, and they were easy to make into books. Later I wrote a nonfiction book about our dog Caesar Augustus who travelled with us wherever we went. This books is for adolescents and adults. We loved that dog, he was so smart and sweet. My Mother is 96 yrs. young and I wished to write a short book about her Park family.
There is so much history there, and since it is the 150th anniversary of the War Between the States, I decided to write a memoir during this time period. I used a diary, family Bible etc. to write this book for her.
Morgen: What have you had published to-date? Do you write under a pseudonym?
- “The Adventures of Edward the Clown” published in 2007
- “When All the Planets Came Together! Easter Came to the Polar Bears” published in 2007
- “All Hail Caesar! An International Dog” published in 2008
- “Southern Memories During the War Between the States” published in 2011
Morgen: What age group do you write for?
Anne: I enjoy writing for various age groups. I also write some poetry and may publish it someday. I have some poetry my Mother wrote too.
Morgen: Do you think it’s easier writing for children than adults?
Anne: Yes, one uses simpler themes and you can tell the story with illustrations too. My grandchildren enjoy my children’s books.
Morgen: Do you get a second opinion on your stories before they’re published – if so from adults, children or both?
Anne: Both, I permit my children and older grandchildren to read my final draft. I don’t always use their suggestions, I do try to use the ones about correct use of English. There is a point where it is my writing, not theirs. Everyone writes differently.
Morgen: Do you have any tips for anyone thinking about writing for children?
Anne: Keep it simple with clear and lovely illustrations of the story.
Morgen: You’ve self-published, what lead to you going your own way?
Anne: I waited until I retired and I was impatient to get my books out where they can be shared. My sweet husband requests that my next book shall be submitted to agents or publishers, hopefully they will like it enough that they will publish it (paying for it). All my books are available at online bookstores like Amazon, Barnes & Noble, iTunes etc. My books are also available in the four public libraries in my area of Fairfax County, VA.
Morgen: Are your books available as eBooks? How involved were you in that process? Do you read eBooks or is it paper all the way?
Anne: “All Hail Caesar! An International Dog”, “Southern Memories During the War Between the States” and “When All the Planets Came Together! Easter Came to the Polar Bears” are all available as ebooks.
Morgen: Being a dog-owner I love that title. 🙂 Do you have a favourite of your books or characters? If any of your books were made into films, who would you have as the leading actor/s?
Anne: I must say the Caesar book is my favorite so far. It is a true story and does make the reader cry.
He died at nearly 15 yrs. old. We had him most of our married life. Chuck and I have been married for 25 yrs.
Morgen: Silver anniversary. Congratulations. Did you choose the titles / covers of your books? How important do you think they are?
Anne: Yes with self-publishing you can name and illustrate your book as you like. On my two children’s books I did most of the drawings myself. My son drew the cover of “The Adventures of Edward the Clown” book. Of course, sweet Caesar graces the cover of his biography.
Morgen: 🙂 What are you working on at the moment / next?
Anne: My family has been going through various medical issues this year, so I have only worked on an outline of my next venture. This is to be a mystery, my favorite reading. I do enjoy doing various types of writing.
Morgen: Sorry to hear that. Writing is therapeutic so it’s hopefully helped. My next novel (hopefully out by the summer) is a mystery too. Do you manage to write every day? Do you ever suffer from writer’s block?
Anne: When I am working on a book, I develop the outline and rough draft rather quickly. Then I develop the details and more dialogue. I give myself days, weeks, breaks so I can come back with a fresh look.
Morgen: Do you plot your stories or do you just get an idea and run with it?
Anne: I plot my stories. With the last book about the Park family, the actual history made the outline in the proper order.
Morgen: Do you have a method for creating your characters, their names and what do you think makes them believable?
Anne: I am influenced by family and friends who I dealt with all my life. I am sure I am also influenced by books I read, movies and TV over a lifetime. I am inclined to use my grandchildren’s names if I can. Makes it fun for them to read and see their names.
Morgen: I included (and promoted!) a friend of mine in one of my stories… she loved that. Do you have to do much research?
Anne: Not for children’s books. They are based on what my children enjoy. For the nonfiction, absolutely I want things in the correct order and hopefully correct story and dates.
Morgen: Do you have pieces of work that you think will never see light of day?
Anne: I’m sure we all have writings that mean something to the author, but we know or think we know that they will not be enjoyed by a large audience of various feelings.
Morgen: I’ve written stories that people love or hate (one saying she’d never read anything by me again, having enjoyed previous stories!). If everyone liked the same things, we’d be writing the same as each other and that would never do. Have you had any rejections? If so, how do you deal with them?
Anne: Only once in my 20s. I filed it away for 30 years. Should have kept trying, but I did not have the support that I do now with my husband Chuck. He has always encouraged me in my writings.
Morgen: He does sound great. Do you have an agent? Do you think they’re vital to an author’s success?
Anne: Not at this time. I believe they can help get your book out there and have a publisher pay for it.
Morgen: How much of the marketing do you do for your published works or indeed for yourself as a ‘brand’?
Anne: Through the self-publishing firms, I’ve purchased advertising packages and supported websites for the first year of my books. Placed informational ads in the local papers in my area. Also paid to have my book included in trade shows in Miami and San Francisco.
Morgen: It sounds like you’re doing all the right things. What’s your favourite / least favourite aspect of your writing life?
Anne: I enjoy expressing myself and sharing stories and real life experiences. I do not like trying to promote my books, because I am a little shy in this respect.
Morgen: I used to be but have been to a few open mic nights. I’m doing a talk on blogging at The Poetry Café near Covent Garden, London mid-March and am not nervous… yet. 🙂 Being confident about your subject does make things easier and that it’s talking about something I do day in, day out does help. What advice would you give aspiring writers?
Anne: I know it is used to often, but follow your dream and don’t let others take over the way you want to express yourself.
Morgen: It’s good advice. If you could invite three people from any era to dinner, who would you choose and what would you cook (or hide the takeaway containers)?
- I would like to meet Ernest Hemingway. Prepared a research paper on him in college and enjoyed reading his books. Shocked me that such a vibrant person would take his own life. Serve steak, baked potatoes and salad.
- Definitely Queen Victoria, wish to discuss how she planned for her children to marry into the royal houses of Europe. Serve a light cuisine of soup, halibut and dessert.
- George Washington [after his retirement from the Presidency] Discuss his life and his true feelings about his accomplishments. Prepare a seafood dinner with a cherry dessert. I know he liked cherries.
Morgen: I thought the same about Ernest Hemingway, and for one of his daughters to do the same. Just tragic. Is there a word, phrase or quote you like?
Anne: “Aim High Reach Higher”. My sister told me this long ago and I have tried to live by it.
Morgen: I love that. What do you do when you’re not writing?
Anne: I am active in the DAR and Colonial Dames 17th century. I love history and wish to preserve historical sites and historical writings. My husband and I donate to the DAR, Williamsburg and Mount Vernon to support these goals. I am also the Chaplain of my local DAR Chapter Nelly Custis, writing many cards to members for birthdays, deaths, weddings, babies etc.
Morgen: What do you think the future holds for a writer?
Anne: I think you must go with the times – ebooks etc. However I will always enjoy the feel and smell of a good book one holds in their hands. My Mom taught me about looking for and purchasing ole books with handwritten names and dates in them. She said to value these, for these books were loved by their owners.
Morgen: Where can we find out about you and your writing?
Anne: There is an author write-up on both the Authorhouse and Xlibris websites. As I stated, I only keep the websites about my books open for a year after publishing. Cannot keep funding these forever.
Morgen: I’d heartily recommend a WordPress website as it’s free unless you go for extras. I haven’t yet so everything you see on my site you could do on yours… and http://anneterio.wordpress.com is currently available. 🙂 Thank you, Anne.
Anne L. Terio was born in Lafayette, Georgia and grew up in Burlington, North Carolina. She is a retired Foreign Service Officer. Anne has a passion for history and writing. She is a member of the Daughters of the American Revolution (DAR) and the Colonial Dames XVII Century. The author has previously published two children’s books: The Adventures of Edward the Clown and When All the Planets Came Together!! Easter Came to the Polar Bears; two adult books: All Hail Caesar, An International Dog and Southern Memories During the War Between the States. She resides in Alexandria, Virginia with her husband Chuck and spoiled chocolate Labrador Lucky, near her grown children, their spouses and her grandchildren. For more information about Anne’s books go to her Amazon.com Author Page.
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