Love, The Critic, discusses her book, her journey as a writer, and self-publishing on Kindle.
DAVID WISEHART: What can you tell us about Love, The Critic?
AMY CORWIN: Love, The Critic is a historical romance written straight from my heart about a subject all authors are all too painfully familiar with. How can creative people handle criticism of their most deeply felt work, and worse, what if you fell in love with your worst critic without realizing it? Like all authors, I’ve got a 2” thick notebook of rejections, as well as criticisms from critique partners, editors and agents, even after having several books published through small publishers. You’d think it would get easier or you’d grow a thicker skin, but it never does, and the heroine of Love, The Critic discovers the same thing. Her first book of poems is lambasted and she feels so humiliated that she stops writing except in secret. When she meets her new neighbor, she falls in love with him, not realizing that he’s her worst critic and responsible for the reviews which convinced her to stop writing.
But like all writers, she can’t stop expressing her feelings through her writing, and eventually, she must find the courage to pursue the things most dear to her: her writing and the man she loves.
DAVID WISEHART: What historical research did you do for the book?
AMY CORWIN: As I have several other historical novels set in the same time period, I’ve done a great deal of continuing research over the last ten years. For Love, The Critic, I found a strange new avenue of research: chickens! While I raise chickens myself and have a smattering of knowledge about the various breeds, I did have to supplement that by researching what breeds were common in the early years of the 19thy century. It sounds so bizarre, doesn’t it? But one can’t take even minor aspects like chickens for granted—I wanted every aspect to be as historically accurate as possible.
In addition, I needed to research medicine in the 19th century as one of the characters is injured and the treatment of that injury needed to be portrayed accurately. Fortunately, I was able to get copies of two medical books written during the period and made liberal use of their information.
DAVID WISEHART: How do you develop and differentiate your characters?
AMY CORWIN: Characters, like people, must have their own unique voices, tastes, and personalities. I actually write up histories for each character, exploring their past, their habits, and their thoughts to try to make them as “real” as possible. In addition, I apply basic character types—combinations of traits you often find in personality tests we are all so fond of. Each character has his or her own pet phrases, habits, and way she views the world. For example, some of us are visually oriented—for those people learning is done via sight (versus hearing or doing) and their language may be peppered with expressions such as, “I see.” Others are more dependent upon other senses, such as touch/working with our hands, and they may use expressions such as, “I can’t quite grasp that.” Each of my characters has their own sensory mode to go along with all the other traits and characteristics which make people unique.
DAVID WISEHART: Who do you imagine is your ideal reader?
AMY CORWIN: My idea reader is everyone! Seriously, Love, The Critic, was written for anyone who enjoys a light, historical romance. It’s appropriate for any age, and I hope that young women in particular will find this to be an easy way to slip into the wonderful, romantic world of historical fiction. If I were specifically targeting this, it would be women between the ages of 13-90, although honestly, I know the readership will break down as follows: Women 13-20 as their first introduction to historical romances; and Women 40-90 who grew up on historicals such as Georgette Heyer and Jane Austin and prefer a sweeter romance over the more explicit material available today. (Sorry, men. Although I know men who read historical romances, they are less common than women readers.)
I’m really hoping older readers will pick up on Love, The Critic, as the Kindle makes reading much more appealing for those of us who need reading glasses. It’s easy to increase the font on the Kindle and in many cases entirely eliminate the need for reading glasses!
DAVID WISEHART: What was your journey as a writer?
AMY CORWIN: My journey has been long and arduous—just like many other writers. I wrote on and off for many, many years, but seriously started writing about ten years ago. I’ve got a pile of rejections, to prove it, too! Over the last few years, I’ve had two agents and several contracts with small publishers. It’s been frustrating and yet amazingly rewarding to see my manuscripts turned into published novels. The hardest thing to deal with is precisely what Love, The Critic is all about: criticism. How do you handle criticism and use it to produce the best work possible? All of us have room for improvement and writing, like any skill, improves over time if you are willing to accept and consider criticism.
DAVID WISEHART: What is your writing process?
AMY CORWIN: Generally, I start with character sketches of the hero and heroine, along with the first conflict between the two. Then I write an outline and synopsis so I know where the story is going to go. Once I know the basics, I start writing. The first few chapters go swiftly, but as the characters gain depth and the conflicts get deeper, the story often changes so the original outline gradually morphs. If the characters are drawn well enough, they grab hold of the story and twist it to fit their temperaments, so often, I have to abandon the original outline half-way through.
Once the first draft is written, I revise and send it to my critique group to get comments about all aspects of the story. Then I typically re-edit the manuscript two or three more times to polish it and get it ready for submission to my publisher (or if I wish, to publish on the Kindle).
DAVID WISEHART: What authors most inspire you?
AMY CORWIN: Saki (H.H. Munroe), P. G. Wodehouse, and Georgette Heyer inspired me to write. I love the diabolical humor of Saki and Wodehouse, and Heyer made me fall in love with the early years of the 19th century. Recent authors such as Charles Todd are amazing, too. Todd’s mysteries are brilliant for their portrayal of the post-WWI era and characterization.
DAVID WISEHART: What one book, written by someone else, do you wish you'd written yourself?
AMY CORWIN: Georgette Heyer’s Faro’s Daughter. I laughed myself silly over that book—I just can’t resist a good story that makes me laugh and leaves me with a smile on my face. There’s one scene where the heroine has the hero tied up in the basement. When she realizes there are rats in the basement, she goes to untie him because she doesn’t want him scared. He gets so incensed that she’d think him such a sissy that he demands she leave him tied up there! It’s an absolute RIOT to have the captive demand to remain in captivity just to prove he’s not a sissy!
DAVID WISEHART: How did you create your cover?
AMY CORWIN: The cover is a composite of a photo of an old book I own from the period, and a quill pen. I wanted something that represented the heroine’s work, i.e. the book, and the cruel pen used by the critic to lambast her work, and the cover seems to do justice to that idea.
DAVID WISEHART: How have you marketed and promoted your work?
AMY CORWIN: I have a very active blog at http://amycorwin.blogspot.com and have been a “guest blogger” on various other authors’ sites. In addition, I’m active on a great many Internet loops that cater to readers, and share excerpts, contests, and other interesting tidbits. I hold contests, as well, and generally “chat up” my books as much as possible!
DAVID WISEHART: Why publish on Kindle?
AMY CORWIN: All of my books with small publishers have been available through a variety of storefronts and Kindle was the most prominent of them. When I got my own Kindle and realized what a great way it was to read, I was totally enthralled. I no longer needed reading glasses or had problems with my wrists/hands caused by trying to hold open physical books. I was so excited that I wanted to take one of my shorter novels, i.e. Love, The Critic, and make it directly available to others who enjoyed lighter historicals. The Kindle seemed to be the perfect choice to me.
DAVID WISEHART: What advice would you give to a first-time author thinking of self-publishing on Kindle?
AMY CORWIN: I have several pieces of advice, including: read Konrath’s blog as he has gone into great detail about publishing on the Kindle; know what genre you are writing so you can effectively market your book; have a marketing plan, preferably including a website, blog, and membership in Internet readers groups.
Publishing on the Kindle is not that much different from publishing with a small publisher or even a traditional NY Publisher. You still must market your book and much of the promotion falls on your shoulders. To be effective, you must know how your book fits into the market (genre) and know your audience.
DAVID WISEHART: Thanks, and best of luck with all your books.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Amy’s books include the two Regency romances, Smuggled Rose, and Love, The Critic; three Regency romantic mysteries, I Bid One American, The Bricklayer's Helper, and The Necklace; and her first paranormal, Vampire Protector.
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