Say, has anyone notice a month missing around here? Thirty-one days, usually cold (in this hemisphere)?
How is it the last few days of January already?
I guess time's getting wibbly-wobbly again.
Enough of that! Time to get into our first author interview of the day! I have Kristina Carmela here today, so why don't I step back and let her take the stage?
HI- I’m Kristina, the author of the Nelsonville series!
Stories and characters are always swirling around in my head. For the first time, I had the courage to take my favorite character of them all and write her story! Everything flowed from that one moment of bravery.
Being creative has always come natural to me. I’ve always gravitated toward creating or challenging myself with making something new. It probably all started as a kid who loved to write songs. I had no musical talent at all, but song writing was a unique way to express what was happening in my busy mind. Over the years, I have taught myself to sew, paint and probably tackle every kind of DIY project imaginable. But writing a book has always been the one thing that scared me!
Writing my first book gave me such a sense of accomplishment and joy! Sometimes I still can’t believe that I’ve written and published several books. But writing the Nelsonville series has given me not only a new found confidence, but in so many ways, it’s healed me. I owe a lot to the characters and the stories that I have only begun to tell.
When I’m not writing or now thinking of new stories to write, I enjoy spending my time with my dog Goob, my family and friends. I love animals more than humans usually, so you can often find me at the Bronx Zoo or finding people's dogs to pet. I love exploring new places and having new adventures with my favorite people. Experiences make the best memories which is why I’m often looking for something new to enjoy! I’m a classic Leo who loves dreams and numbers. I have an irrational fear of ceiling fans and the monkeys from the Wizard of Oz still give me the heebie jeebies.
DCU or MCU? MCU
Reboots – a great idea or a lack of creativity? Hate to say it but a lack of creativity
Coffee, tea, or cacao? Black tea all day, everyday!
When did you first realize you wanted to be a writer?
I grew up reading & loving books, as a kid I always thought it would be so cool to do that one day. But I didn’t know how to start nor did I think that I was worthy to be an author. So this has been a dream I’ve had since I could ever remember! It was in my mid-twenties when I realized I was allowed to take a shot on myself and try. So that point in my life was huge even though I didn’t end up finishing my first draft back then.
When did you write your first book and how old were you?
This Time Around has always been the title of my first book. This is the one I started in my mid-twenties and got through maybe writing six chapters when I stopped. The timing in my life wasn’t right, and I’m so thankful for that. I picked the book back up accidentally when I was 31 and the timing was right, the version of myself I had become was right and both of those things led me to run with the story!
What do you like to do when you’re not writing?
I volunteer a lot in my local community as a part of our Lions Club! I plan & organize fundraisers, volunteer in our town & fun things like that. I also have been teaching myself to oil paint & love to sew.
Do you have any suggestions to help someone become a better writer? If so, what are they?
I think finding your style is really important. You don’t need to sound like anybody else when you write, it’s ok to be unique. Trusting the way you need to tell your story will only make you stand out more! With that, you have to take your time to figure it out, so don’t rush it, give yourself the space to hone in on it.
What do you think makes a good story?
If I put my reader hat on, the stories that have stuck with me after I’ve been done reading them all have made me feel that connection. When I can feel like I’m right there with the characters, living the story with them, it makes a story really powerful. We’re all looking for connection and to feel like we belong, and that can be done so well in books.
Does writing energize or exhaust you?
Both! Writing is my favorite thing to do and when I’m deep in the zone, it gets me so excited and pumped up. But when I’m close to being done with a final edit, I really feel the pressure. I get really weighed down by the details and it can lead you to second guess yourself. It can be extremely draining.
What are common traps for aspiring writers?
Feeling like you have to do everything everybody else is doing. Everybody has to figure out what is best for them & sometimes that means trying a bunch of things to see what sticks. But you can really make the writing & publishing journey your own. Being true to yourself and knowing your path, your story might be different, is totally ok.
Do you try more to be original or to deliver to readers what they want?
I really try to trust my gut and listen to my characters when I write. That’s where my main focus tends to be when I’m writing & I’d like to think that my readers appreciate that because they’re getting authentic stories that way. They’re always going to get the twists, the chosen family, romance, friendships and more when they read one of my books so they know what to expect!
Do you want each book to stand on its own, or are you building a body of work with connections between each book?
I am writing a series! So it’s basically five main female characters who will each have their own trilogy within the series. The stories bounce around from woman to woman, but storylines intertwine. They’re all best friends so you get different perspectives on the group, the side characters, our location in Nelsonville! You really feel like you’re jumping right back in with your best friends when you pick up each book!
If you could tell your younger writing self anything, what would it be?
Just go for it. Don’t be so shy or afraid. Make connections with indie authors. Don’t worry if you feel like you’re talking about your book too much because chances are, you’re still not talking about it enough.
What was the best money you ever spent as a writer?
My editor is the best investment I have made on my self publishing journey! She has elevated my story and I couldn’t do this without her. I always recommend self published authors to save money for an editor, understand what types of editors there are & what you need, then find the right person for you. Not every editor will be right, you might have to take time to find the right one, but it will be worth it!
Are you traditionally or self published? Or both? Do you feel there are advantages to one over the other?
I am self published! Once I learned about self publishing, I knew this was the right path for me personally. There are pros and cons to both but I think having full control of everything was the big pro for me. I love putting my story out exactly as I know it should be. I love choosing my timeline of when books will be published, using the editor I trust, having full creative control over my cover, and things like that. But this is also the biggest con to self publishing. You begin on an island alone, and depending on how you grow, you might remain that way. We have to figure out marketing, make our own opportunities, and be responsible for getting books into peoples hands! It’s exhausting and can be really difficult to start off without any support system and needing to build that.
What do you owe the real people upon whom you base your characters, if anything?
I have a bunch of characters based on real people! For me, it’s important that they all know this and know who their characters will be. They’re always side characters who are there to amplify my stories in positive ways. They get the chance to name their characters and add some fun spins on their people which makes it fun! If anybody wasn’t comfortable with it, I would remove that side character to respect their choice.
What do you have coming next? So much! 2024 is looking to be an ambitious year for me. I am planning on publishing the next 2 novels in my series along with 2 novellas in my novella series that tie into the main novels too. On top of publishing, I am organizing an Indie based awards to honor and recognize not only indie authors, but the many creatives it takes to help indie authors get their books out there! So that means we’ll be recognizing editors, cover designers, podcasters, bloggers, and so many more!