APKY/AMP: Hello, Sylvia, and thank you for giving us this interview. Please tell us something about yourself and how you came to be a writer. What inspired you to write your first book?
Writing has always been a passion of mine. I began writing news and feature articles for a small town newspaper in Southeast Missouri at the age of nine. Because of the nurturing and encouragement by the news editor, I developed a love and a need to write. By the time I was working on my graduate degree, several of my poems, short stories and feature articles had been published. Since that time, over one hundred of my short stories and poems have found their way into literary magazines. I have been a featured poet in several literary journals over the years. Later, I was participating in open mic events, at one of the events there happened to be a publisher present who liked my poetry, and wanted to know if I had more. I most did have, and the publisher want[ed] to read them. The next thing I knew was that the publisher wanted [to] publish them in a book. I was excited, but a bit anxious as well because they were almost a memoir of my life and reflected my experiences from childhood through adulthood. I agreed to do it, if I could set up the format, and illustrate the poems. The publisher agreed, and my first book became a reality.
APKY/AMP: Wow, what a journey, and with poems directly to a publisherJ. What genre do you generally write and have you considered other genres?
Actually, I have books in several genres. They range from poetry, espionage, a children’s’ book to my latest which is an inspirational memoir.
APKY/AMP: That’s quite a repertoire, Sylvia. Is there a message in your books that you want readers to grasp?
My latest book, Traveling a Rocky Road with Love, Faith and Guts, has a very definite message. It was inspired by a young man that has some very serious heart problems, and all the people I have met over the years as a teacher, mentor and a bladder cancer survivor. I have tried my best to encourage them, and to give them hope. To not give up on themselves or life. As I have traveled along life’s highway, I keep running into people who have let the rocks that have been thrown in their life’s road giving up on themselves, or life in general. The truth is that life is harsh, and it is not like the movies that give a false impression that it is smooth sailing. Being the hero that toughs it out and keeps on regardless of the situation is difficult, but with faith, it can be accomplished. It often takes a backbone, humor and a wishbone to survive it all.
Because of this, I decided to write a book to share my life’s experiences so that it may inspire someone to come back fighting when life knocks them down. The book is a journey though time from childhood to mature adulthood. The stories and poems in this book reflect the lows and highs of life. The loving memories, the hardships and the things we learn as we travel the road of life. It covers an abusive mother who had mental problems because of being abused as a child, childhood polio, a rocky marriage with a husband who was often abusive, the role of caregiving, death and grief, coping with bladder cancer, asthma, losing a home and more. Therefore, to not to scare you off with gloom and doom, there are funny stories along the way and an ending that I never dreamed would happen. My hope is that the book will bring about understanding to others, and be inspiring to even more. Our journey in life has a purpose, finding it is often the most difficult task of all.
APKY/AMP: That’s true. What have you had published to-date?
My poetry book: Pulse Points of a Woman’s World Espionage novel that is based on how our language is manipulated and could be used to control society and their thinking: An Under Ground Jewell.
A children’s bedtime story book in rhyme: Merchild Land.
A memoir: Traveling a Rocky Road with Love, Faith and Guts.
APKY/AMP: I find all that pretty amazing. Do you have any advice for other writers?
Never give up writing. The more you write, the better you will get. Never lose hope of getting published, your never know when that will happen, and it may happen when you least expect it.
APKY/AMP: Something I agree with completely. Why should we buy your book?
Everyone who has read it has said that it is a must read. I have had great reviews, and I do not keep any of the money from the proceeds of any of my books. All the money is given to the American Bladder Cancer Society. I am a 17 yr. cancer survivor, and I want others to have the information and support that was not there when I was diagnosed.
APKY/AMP: Very commendable, young lady. All power to youJ. How much of the marketing do you do for your published works or indeed for yourself as a ‘brand’?
As much as I can. I have a website, a blog, an Amazon Author Central page, a Facebook fan page. I Twitter, do interviews, book signings and public speaking engagements whenever I can get the opportunity. I also have a blog that is dedicated to interviewing others in the publishing world as well as providing other information as I come across it.
APKY/AMP: Then I invite you to post your blogs with us at AuthorMePro.eu/conversation. Have you won or been shortlisted in any competitions and do you think they help with a writer’s success?
I haven’t really entered any myself, however, my poetry book was nominated for the 41st. Annual Georgia Author of the Year Award. I work full-time, and I really squeeze my other activities and writing into my schedule. I have thought about entering the latest book in some competitions. Yes, I do think they help. I plan to do that with this one.
APKY/AMP: Do that, and I wish you all the best with it. Is there a special place that you prefer when you write?
I write in my office at home. It is on the end of the house and is perfect for the quiet one needs. However, when I get an idea, I am jot it down immediately or record it on my little recorder so I don’t forget.
APKY/AMP: That’s something I should religiously adopt because often I think: Oh, I’ll remember that ; only to realize later that I can’t. Do you write under a pseudonym? If so why and do you think it makes a difference?
No, I do not. Just mine.
APKY/AMP: Yours truly here too, although my name is quite a mouthfulJ! Do you have an agent? Do you think they’re vital to an author’s success?
I have never had an agent, and I really think you could be successful without it into today’s world. It is difficult to get an agent if you are a new author. I am sure having one could help getting your book published by a traditional publishing house, it depends.
APKY/AMP: I know; writing is no longer so much an art as it is a business. What are you working on at the moment / next?
I plan to do a revision or sequel to my memoir, and I have a fantasy novel that I have had on the back burner for a while. Right now, I am working on my platform. I plan to retire in December, which will give me more time. I have expanded what I am doing other than writing. I designed my first book cover for another author, and I have discovered that I love creating videos. I think I may branch out to doing those things once I retire.
APKY/AMP: I’ll remember (cross my heart) to get back to you on the cover design and videosJ! Do you manage to write every day?
Yes, but it may not be on a book. Between blogging, interviewing and reports as work, I write a lot.
APKY/AMP: So my next question is probably not for you but I ask it anyway: What is your opinion of writer’s block? Do you ever suffer from it? If so, how do you ‘cure’ it?
Not really. I begin to write and the ideas come. I don’t worry about errors for initial rough drafts. I want to get my ideas down. Once that is done, I can go back edit and re-write. Finally, work on proofing.
APKY/AMP: Yeah, being fussy with each chapter written often makes me procrastinate. Do you plot your stories or do you just get an idea and off you are with it?
It depends. On the espionage novel, it began with a short story. I decided I wanted to expand it because of a lot of research I had conducted with how language can affect our perceptions of reality.
The first thing I did was to develop the main character so that I knew her as a personal friend. Then I began working on why she would have written the book about her experience of being accused of espionage. After that was the setting, and other characters who came into the picture to carry the plot forward. The characters took over the story, and I went with it.
APKY/AMP: I’d love to read that one, Sylvia, because the subject alone intrigues me. Do you have a method for creating your characters, their names and what do you think makes them believable?
I don’t have a method for the names, I like to create their personalities first, their appearance, and their role in the story. Finally, I come up with a name.
APKY/AMP: Could you tell me who your first reader is – who do you first show your work to?
This last book, my memoir, the first reader of my rough draft was Dr. Aman Kay, who is a friend and an internationally published author. I wasn’t sure if what I was writing was something that would be of value, or should be published. He loved it and encouraged me all the way. He even made suggestions and did the final proof for me. My hero!
APKY/AMP: He certainly should be; not many internationally published authors want to give a minute of their time and knowledge to aspiring authors. Do you do a lot of editing or do you find that as time goes on your writing is more fully-formed?
I re-write and re-write. Sometimes, I need someone else to say, “Stop”!
APKY/AMP: I know that one. All my MSS are overwritten until an editor begins to chop it to pieces while I howl at the full moon. Do you write on paper or do you prefer a computer?
I prefer the computer because my handwriting is not the best, but if I have an idea, it doesn’t matter how I preserve it.
APKY/AMP: Right. What point of view do you find most to your liking: first person or third person? Have you ever tried second person?
I have written in all three. I don’t know that I have a preference, it all depends on what it is I am writing.
AMP: Absolutely. What do you like to read?
I love poetry, science fiction, fantasy, research articles and even a good mystery.
APKY/AMP: A wide choice. What do you do when you’re not writing? Any hobbies or party tricks?
Working as a bladder cancer advocate. Other than Communication, I have majors in Art and Theatre. I love to paint, draw and sculpt. I love going to live theatre productions, especially musicals. I love to work in my yard and nurture flowers. One of my favorite things is time with my husband.
AMP: Where can we find out about you and your work?
Authors Den: http://www.authorsden.com/sylvialramsey1
Original webpage: www.sylvialramsey.com
Traveling a Rocky Road with Love, Faith, and Guts, http://love-faith-and-guts.blogspot.com/
Thoughtful Reflections Blogspot
My Amazon Author Central Page:
APKY/AMP: Sylvia, thank you so much for this enjoyable and informative interview. I invite you to include an extract of your writing:
My memoir is scattered with poetry that was written along the way as well as some serious and some funny stories. This is one of the poems that is in the book, Traveling a Rocky Road with Love, Faith and Guts.
Armor for Survival
Let me love
may go unrequited,
An empty heart
is much heavier
than a stone.
Let me have faith,
be often blighted,
we are not
to walk alone.
Let me laugh,
even if it
is bitter laughter
Mocking my own
I need not fear
tomorrow, nor, tomorrow.
APKY/AMP: Inspiring. Again, thank you, Sylvia.