Continuing the indie author series, I’m excited to have Elena Aitken join us today! Not only because Elena is a best-selling Amazon author with 5 wildly popular books available…Nothing Stays in Vegas, Betty and Veronica, Unexpected Gifts, Drawing Free, and her newest Sugar Crash, but also because today is Elena’s birthday!! Happy Birthday, Elena!!
We are talking about her two most recent books, how she writes and what she’s learned. Let’s get started:
MR: I just finished reading Drawing Free and found myself relating well to Becca and unearthing the feelings I had as a young mother, especially on tough days. As a mom of twins, it’s likely you’ve had days when you just wanted to escape the noise, the arguments, the mess. What do you do to combat that urge and feel better about your day?
EA: Oh, I’ve had these days! Fortunately, I don’t have them very often. But for me, it’s so important to have interests outside of motherhood. Writing has always been a salvation for me. A chance to getaway, even mentally, for a little bit. Running also gives me an escape. More often than not, going for a run resets me and gives me the energy to handle the day.
MR: What did you learn about yourself from writing Drawing Free?
EA: Oh I learn things about myself in every book I write and while the characters are fictional, there’s a little bit of myself in each of my heroines. Becca (Drawing Free) was a hard character for me to write. Obviously she makes some hard moral choices that I wouldn’t necessarily make, but when you’re writing a character, you become very close to her and it definitely makes you question what you would do if you were in that situation.
Sometimes as women and mothers, we lose ourselves and it’s important to retain that sense of self. So I hope that readers can finish Drawing Free and be reminded that they need to take care of themselves, because we can’t give our best unless we feel our best.
MR: You now have 5 books available for sale and they are all big hits. You’re on a roll, Elena! What’s coming next?
EA: Oh I have so many ideas. But, my next project will be the next book in the Castle Mountain Lodge series, following the success of Unexpected Gifts. It takes place in the Canadian Rockies at a mountain lodge resort. I love spending time in the mountains and I get so much of my inspiration from them, it’s easy for me to write about them. I’m expecting it’s release to take place in July.
MR: I’m sure your fans are very anxious for the new book to arrive…but we’ll gladly wait until it’s July release. 🙂 It’s great that you are able to control the release date of your future books and I know that’s due to self-publishing. What made you decide to self-publish and did you have any trouble with the self-publishing process?
EA: I am SO glad I made the decision to publish through Amazon. It wasn’t an easy decision for me at all. As writers, we’ve been told for years that in order to be considered successful we must find an agent and publish with one of the ‘Big 6’ publishing houses. That was a hard mindset for me to get away from. It actually took my father, who started reading ‘Vegas’ to open my eyes to my other options.
I had to finally ask myself what I considered my measure of success. Was it seeing my book in a traditional book store? Or was it to have people read my books and make a living doing what I love? Once I could honestly answer that question, my decision was easy.
As for troubles with the self-pub process, it’s been a huge learning curve for me and one that I don’t think ever ends. Fortunately, I’ve met some amazing people along the way and the indie community is so welcoming and helpful, it’s actually been a lot of fun.
MR: People sometimes treat authors as if writing books isn’t a real job. Sometimes the work itself is criticized. How do you suggest a writer should handle this negativity?
EA: I’m writing full time now, so I get this a lot. Plus I have a lot of flexibility in my schedule so to be honest, it probably looks as if I don’t have a real job. But it’s impossible to peg down my schedule in a 9 to 5 way. I do some of my best writing in the middle of the night. And there’s so much time spent ‘working’ that isn’t actually writing.
As far as handling the negativity from others, the best way I’ve found to deal with it, is to ignore it. I’ve found that those who are negative about what I do usually have some other issues going on and it really has nothing to do with me at all. Those are the people that probably wish they had the courage to follow a dream. I try not to take it personally. After all, I really only have to answer to myself and my family.
MR: Good for you, Elena. That’s a wonderfully positive outlook. What is your best advice for other writers hoping to be published one day?
EA: Just write. I hear from people all the time that they’ve always wanted to write a book or that they used to write and wish they could again. To them, I say the same thing. Just write. If you want to be a writer, you have to write. It’s always possible to find time to do the things that are important to us. Even if you can only squeak out a few hours a week, do it. If writing feeds your soul, you can’t afford not to. And it’s never been a better time to be a writer. Stop waiting for ‘someday’.
Elena, thank you for spending time with us today. From the experiences of published authors, we learn so much about the journey ahead of us.
ATTENTION READERS! Elena has graciously offered to gift a copy of Sugar Crash to one commenter. Winner will be announced on April 18th. Buying Sugar Crash will not only give you hours of pleasurable reading but, a portion of the proceeds will be donated to The Canadian Diabetes Association.
Asking for help is the hardest part.
Darci Thompson has spent the last six years trying to hold everything together. Between raising 12-year-old Taylor and managing the local health food store, Darci’s done it all on her own. But when Taylor ends up in the hospital, her diagnosis of Type I Diabetes sends their carefully constructed life into a tailspin.
For the sake of her daughter, Darci must face a whole new set of circumstances and push past her self imposed walls to prove that Diabetes won’t define them. With the help of new friends and a man who believes in her, Darci must find the strength to challenge the stereotypes and make a difference. But is she willing to face her own obstacles and risk being vulnerable once again?
~Inspired by real life events!~
“What would happen if I just kept driving?”
Moms aren’t supposed to have a life of their own, at least that’s what Becca Thompson believes. Between dealing with her youngest’s never ending tantrums, her teenager’s attitude and her ailing father’s rapidly failing memory, Becca doesn’t have time to worry about who she used to be.
Deep down, Becca knows she wants more than the daily chaos and the quick fixes her self-help books have to offer, but when her husband starts demanding more, the pressure proves to be too much. On the way to pick up her daughter, she makes the split second decision to take a different exit off the freeway and drives towards the mountains leaving her crumbling life in the rear-view mirror.
Fleeing to a remote mountain town, Becca knows she must rediscover her spirit, even if reconnecting with herself comes at the expense of everything she left behind.
I’ve been writing in one form or another since elementary school but, although I always knew I wanted to be a writer when I grew up, instead I earned university degrees in Marketing and Psychology and writing got put on the back burner. After my twins were born I was buried in diaper changes, middle of the night feedings and mountains of laundry, so obviously it seemed like a logical time to start writing again. I guess it took me while to grow up.
I turned to non-fiction and became a regular contributor to local parenting magazines, published in four Chicken Soup for the Soul anthologies, and a compilation by Seal Press. It wasn’t until 2005 that I tried my hand at writing fiction and wrote my first novel. It’s buried on my hard drive where it should be, and I’ve since written five more.
Please feel free to ask Elena questions about her books or about her career as a writer.