1) First, I want to thank you for taking the time to do this interview with me! When did you know that writing is what you were called to do? What is it about being a writer that you love the most? What about being a writer frustrates you the most?
I was 10 years old when it was “revealed” to me. I was a writer. During those early years, I read 30 to 55 books a week. Was I ever an avid book reader! Reading was and still is a passion that I appreciate having. I’d been reading a book of poetry by Gwendolyn Brooks. My sister had brought the book home from school. After I finished reading that book and sat on the bed, I felt this strange, warm, deep feeling. I paused and waiting. Then, it came through that I was a writer. Today, I refer to that as my burning bush instant.
The ability to create engaging stories and complicated characters is what I really love about writing. Marketing and figuring out how to connect with readers to where they purchase a copy of my books is the most challenging part of being a writer.
2) Can you tell us a little about your book(s) and where our readers can find out more about them and you?
My books at http://www.chistell.com are written to empower women. They range from inspirational to Christian fiction to murder mysteries, friendship books and a self-help book. Rosetta The Talent Show Queen is written for middle-school aged readers. It’s my first YA book. Look for the second book in the Rosetta series in early 2022. Also, keep your eyes open for Escaping to Freedom and Pathways to Tremendous Success in 2022!
3) Where do you draw your inspiration from for the stories that you manage to weave together and the characters that you create?
Great question! Inspiration for stories that I write come from a range of places. Ideas for Escaping to Freedom came while watching a TV show. Portia came from a real life breast cancer scare I had while I was in the Navy in my early 20s. Then, sometimes a story concept arises seemingly out of nowhere. Sometimes I create an outline to flesh out an idea. Other times, I just sit down and start writing. Because I respect readers and their extremely high intelligence, I put manuscripts through several rounds of edits before I publish a book. By that time, the story has changed from inception. It’s a fascinating journey from the genesis of a story to finish.
4) Do you have a schedule for when you write? Do you outline your novels? How long does it take you to finish a novel? What projects are you currently working on?
I write just about every day. Sometimes I use an outline to flesh out a story. It can take me anywhere from one to three years to draft and sharpen a story. Currently, I’m putting the final touches on Escaping to Freedom, Pathways to Tremendous Success and Rosetta’s Great Hope. I’m also still tightening the novel Gada’s Glory (working title).
5) What’s the first book you ever read that really moved you emotionally? Who is your favorite author to read? What book are you currently reading?
My all-time favorite children’s books are the Pippi Longstocking books. Love Pippi’s independence and courage. Among my favorite authors are James Baldwin, Joyce Carol Oates, J. California Cooper and John Irving. Right now, I’m reading “Restavec” by Jean-Robert Cadet. It’s an autobiography — very well written, moving.
6) What has been your most significant achievement as a writer? Where do you see yourself within your career in the next five years?
Great achievement is continuing to believe, write, publish and market after 49 years of writing. Have no idea what I’ll be doing in five years. Would LOVE to have enough book lovers treat themselves to my stories to afford to earn my entire income from writing books?
7) How have you dealt with rejection within your writing career? What is your advice for other writers to better be able to cope or navigate their way through the publishing process, be it traditional or self-publishing?
The experience that led me to know I was a writer has propelled me through all the challenges that I’ve encountered, including rejection. Advice to other writers is to create daily writing and sales goals. Study the industry (assume nothing – learn and enter the state where you “know”). Network with other authors. Share your experiences and listen as other authors share theirs. Attend book festival, literary events, etc. Keep learning. Also, learn about offline and social media, newsletter and direct mail marketing. Don’t expect things like book sales to “magically” happen simply because you want them to. Try new marketing and sales methods. Measure the results of your time and money investments. Make sure that your sales are increasing month-over-month and year-over-year. To do this, you might have to write and publish new books and try different marketing strategies. Keep at it!
8) Do you find it hard to juggle the creative side of being a writer against the business side of being a writer, in terms of marketing and promotion and things of that nature? How hard has it been (or easy) for you to build up your author platform?
Because I enjoy writing and marketing, it’s not a challenge to do both. Marketing allows me to engage with readers, podcast owners, radio station hosts, book event organizers, etc. Those are huge rewards for me! Above all, writing books and marketing put me in touch with wonderful book readers and book buyers!
9) What unique quality is there about you, about your art, that you feel represents your authenticity? How does writing help you to be more empowered in your purpose?
Readers have told me I write from my soul. Stories that I write come from deep inside me. I write to tell a powerful story, and I hope readers pick that up.
10) How can readers find you and your books?
Readers can find my books at http://www.chistell.com. I’d love for you to stop by and visit! Read free book excerpts! Purchase a book! Sign up for my free Book Lover’s Haven newsletter! Thank you!
Book links – https://www.chistell.com
Synopsis – See https://www.chistell.com
Social Media Handles – DTWriters (Twitter); Denise Turney (Facebook) and WriterDeniseTurney (Instagram)