APKY/AMP: Hello Toneal, and welcome to AuthorMeProfessionals. It’s a real pleasure to have this interview with you. Please tell us something about yourself and how you came to be a writer. What inspired you to write your first book?
I like to describe myself as married, mother of many. In addition to that, I am an award-winning author and life coach. I’ve always enjoyed writing and used it as a positive form of expression; however, it was never part of any business plan to become a published author. A divine intervention is what inspired [me]to write my first book, Pleasing Your Partner: A Spiritual Guide to H.A.P.P.I.N.E.S.S., as the book discusses issues that hinder relationships, and employs the acronym to provide solutions.
APKY/AMP: Right. So, what genre do you generally write and have you considered other genres?
I am not a ‘typical’ writer/author. I write across genres as I relate to many different topics. My second book was a children’s book; Four Girls: A Lot of Choices reflects upon the trials and smiles of parenthood. Currently a follow up to that book is in production.
APKY/AMP: Wow, that sounds like great fun – a lot of choices indeed. Is there a message in your book that you want readers to grasp?
Every book that I write contains a message; it is for the reader to discover the message intended for them.
APKY/AMP: Okay, over to you, readers! Toneal, what have you had published to-date?
A relationship book, Pleasing Your Partner: A Spiritual Guide to H.A.P.P.I.N.E.S.S.; children’s book, Four Girls: A Lot of Choices; a few poems, and blogs.
APKY/AMP: Do you have any advice for other writers?
Perseverance is key. Stay true to yourself, your gift, and your vision despite what others say.
APKY/AMP: That’s a pretty good mix. Can you tell us readers why we should buy your book?
Anyone looking to improve their relationship would benefit from buying my first book. Parents, teachers, or any caregiver can relate to the children’s book, as it helps them to reflect on their journey of parenthood.
APKY/AMP: J I still reflect on mine and there’re a bunch of things I’d do differently now. Anyway, how much of the marketing do you do for your published works or indeed for yourself as a ‘brand’?
Not as much as I need to because it takes enormous effort to build yourself from the ground up. However, I am on most of the social networks (Facebook; Twitter; LinkedIn); my books are also listed on many sites as well (Amazon; Goodreads; Shelfari; etc). I have a website, actually two; and conduct media interviews at least on a monthly basis.
APKY/AMP: Wow, I envy you with the media interview. Have you won or been shortlisted in any competitions and do you think they help with a writer’s success?
I ranked #3 as the 2011 National Black Book Festival’s Best New Author. I do believe that it helps because it contributes an instant credibility to the author.
APKY/AMP: It does. I wish we had something like that for English speaking writers here in Germany. Now, do you write under a pseudonym? If so why and do you think it makes a difference?
I haven’t before, but I’ve been tossing the idea around for this urban fiction novel. I think if you’ve written multiple books, your readers can typecast you, and not give a new work a fair chance.
APKY/AMP: And here I am thinking once you have a readership they’re forever panting to get their hands on your next book! J And do you have an agent? Do you think they’re vital to an author’s success?
No, I don’t have an agent. Personally, I already have a hectic schedule, and what provides a sense of normality is that I maintain control of my schedule. As my degree is in marketing/public relations, I am capable of employing my experience to discover networking events and opportunities to exhibit my works. I find that the opportunities I am afforded because of that knowledge and skill set to be sufficient. Although I don’t think agents are vital to an author’s success, I think that it depends on the author and what they are looking to achieve. One job of an agent is to not only get your book published, but book you for literary events. So some authors may find that a beneficial aspect, especially if they don’t know how to do it themselves.
APKY/AMP: I think I’ll get back to you on a private basis about your skills. I could do with tons of it. You mentioned earlier that you’re working on another book at the moment / next?
Right now, I am working on an urban fiction novel geared towards young adults/adults, as well as two self-help books on the topic of effective communication.
APKY/AMP: Wow. I wish you all the best with them. With so much planned, do you manage to write every day?
No; I know that I probably should, but with my schedule it’s impossible and unrealistic. By the time I take my four girls to school, take care of my household duties, and spend time on my life coaching business, update social networks, time has usually run out. That’s not to mention if I have a meeting or church to attend on a particular day. So I pace myself, and stick with the routine that has proven effective.
APKY/AMP: Toneal, that’s true discipline. I know I’m a hopeless chaotic. What is your opinion of writer’s block? Do you ever suffer from it? If so, how do you ‘cure’ it?
Yes, in fact, I have a severe case of it right now. I believe that when it happens, the best thing to do is just to avoid writing altogether; take a step back, and relax. When it’s time, the creativity will resume its flow.
APKY/AMP: I agree with you there. Do you plot your stories or do you just get an idea and off you are with it?
I am totally spontaneous with my writing, which is ironic because in every other facet of my life I am totally structured. I just find that it flows better when you follow your sense of creativity.
APKY/AMP: Ha, gotcha! But who’s perfect. Could you tell us who your first reader is – who do you first show your work to?
It really depends on what I’m writing, but usually it’s my husband; if not him, my sister.
APKY/AMP: Lucky them, lucky you. Do you do a lot of editing or do you find that as time goes on your writing is more fully-formed?
I think it’s a little of both. As your writing develops more, you adapt to a particular style, so you become acquainted with how you prefer to express yourself. But that said, editing is always mandatory because sometimes you can begin to flow and think that you wrote something that’s not on the paper as your thoughts come faster than your ability to write them.
APKY/AMP: Yes, I know how during the creativity phase those neurons can begin to fire like crazy. J Do you write on paper or do you prefer a computer?
I’m totally old-school; I have at least 20 notebooks; I only use a computer when I am submitting my work online.
APKY/AMP: Okay. What point of view do you find most to your liking: first person or third person? Have you ever tried second person?
I think I typically use second person; depending on what I’m writing, I may employ third person. For me writing comes easier when I’m not talking about myself
APKY/AMP: Oh my, I wouldn’t know where to begin with second person! But anyway, what do you do when you’re not writing? Any hobbies or party tricks?
I am heavily involved with my church; I serve as the President of both the Youth and Evangelist Departments. I am also the LSC Chairperson at my children’s school. I am an online radio personality; Inspirational Talk with Toneal airs Tuesdays from 4-4:30pm CST on Blog Talk Radio. Other than that, I love spending time with my family.
APKY/AMP: Wow. If it’s possible to interview me here on your online radio, I’m right here in Bavaria, southeast Germany! So where can we find out about you and your work?
My website is tonealsto-dos.org. It will give you information about my Life Coaching business, as well as information about my books, and general info about me.
For information specific to my children’s book, visit: fourgirlsalotofchoices.weebly.com.
APKY/AMP: Thank you for the interview, Toneal. And all the very best with your works and engagements.