Name: Eleanor Parker Sapia
Book Title: A Decent Woman
Bio: Puerto Rican-born novelist, Eleanor Parker Sapia, was raised in the United States, Puerto Rico, and Europe. Eleanor’s life experiences as a counselor, alternative health practitioner, a Spanish language social worker, and a refugee case worker inspire her passion for writing. When Eleanor is not writing, she facilitates creativity groups, and is making plans to walk El Camino de Santiago a second time. A Decent Woman is her debut historical novel. Eleanor is the mother of two adult children and she currently lives in West Virginia.
Check out A Decent Woman on Amazon.
Thanks for letting us interrogate you! Can you give us a go-for-the-gut answer as to why you wanted to be an author?
I was an exhibiting multi-media artist for over twenty years when I discovered the book, The Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron. I loved it so much, I invited eight friends to ‘do’ the book with me the following year. By encouraging others to live a more creative life, I discovered a new passion—writing.
I also come from a long line of oral storytellers, so it feels very natural to me. I love telling stories, and my kids will tell you that I have a lot to say! I can’t imagine doing anything else.
Tell us (we won’t tell promise!) is it all it’s cracked up to be? I mean what are the perks and what are the demands?
The perks for me as a full time writer and blogger are many. I don’t need an extensive wardrobe, and very often, I work in my pajamas or sweats. I work hard at the craft of writing, and the perk of seeing my book in print is a thrilling one. I’ve always had a good sense of self, and don’t mind working alone for long periods of time, but the sense of gratification of seeing my book in reader’s hands is priceless. Leaving a legacy for my children is also the best thing ever, and meeting new people in the writing world is awesome. I’ve made new friends this year, many of them are fellow authors, and I love that I’m not alone. We are a great, supportive community.
The demands are many! Long, lonely hours sitting at my writing desk; working on holidays and sunny days when my friends are traveling and getting together; the enormous learning curve (for me) in social media and marketing, are some of the demands placed on a writer. I’ve woken up and fired up brain synapses that have been dormant for years, and my writer’s brain doesn’t rest for very long. I have to force myself out for fresh air and exercise.
Which route did you take – traditional or self-published – and can you give us the nitty gritty low down on what’s that like?
I had a CreateSpace account for my novel, A Decent Woman, and I couldn’t download my manuscript. Something kept telling me to wait a bit longer. After two years of querying agents and getting nowhere, I submitted to Booktrope, an Indie publishing company based in Seattle, Washington, and six months later, I had a publishing contract. I’ve been with them a year and it has been great experience.
As a Booktrope author, you select your creative team from talented people within Booktrope—an editor, proofreader, cover designer, project manager, and a book manager. It took a few months to get the perfect team together, and we’re very supportive of each other. Everyone receives a certain percentage of books sales after the book is published, so it behooves every team member to work hard and to be professional. I love my publishing team. I call them my dream team.
Tell us for real what your family feels about you spending so much time getting your book written, polished, edited, formatted, published, what have you?
When I was writing A Decent Woman, good friends were annoyed as all get out. Everything was new to me, and I was MIA for months on end. Then I started writing and researching for the second book. Almost immediately, I started researching and writing the second book, and they weren’t so patient then! They didn’t understand that the marketing never ends, and you have to put another book out. I have to; let’s put it that way. I’m obsessed, driven, and yes, a little nuts. I now compromise by taking two weekends off from writing a month, and I make plans with family and friends. Honestly, when the book came out, and most of my friends and family read it, they understood, and I think they looked at me with new eyes. Writing is a full time job. You must be committed.
Many of my friends also think I should starting dating again…we’ll see about that.
Do your pets actually get their food on time or do they have to wait until you type just one more word?
Ha! You must be spying on me. My pets get their food after I do my social media stuff, which usually takes an hour in the morning. I am awake around 8 in the morning, so they don’t have to wait too long. My dog and cat know the food drill, but they will jump on me when I forget to let them out. They are very tolerant with me, and I know they love me, but I’m sure they shake their head at how easily I can block out distractions when I have great writing momentum.
Are they actually still alive?
For Mother’s Day, my daughter presented me with a fuchsia-colored orchid that I’m happy to say is still alive and thriving four years later. It is actually flowering right now with five blooms and two buds. It’s incredible because although I have a beautiful garden outside, I have absolutely NO green thumb for inside plants. I think it’s because I place the plants where I like them decoratively, not where they will thrive. But I baby the one I have.
In writing your book, how did you deal with the phone ringing, your family needing dinner or your boss calling you saying you’re late?
I was an at-home Mom of two teens when I wrote my book and an empty-nester when I finally got back to the manuscript, and finished editing it. Now I live alone and write full time, so I don’t have to worry about family, dinners, or a boss. But I’m as busy, if not more busy, than I was when I had a family to care for! I have much respect for authors with children and a husband; I don’t know how they do it.
What was the craziest or insane thing that happened to you in the book publishing process?
While learning my way around LinkedIn, I was prompted to invite my Gmail friends and family to join me on the site. What I didn’t realize was that every single person I’ve ever corresponded with since I opened that Gmail account was invited! I am now friends with the guy who inspected my house, my vet, and two former boyfriends. It was insanely funny to me at first, and then irritating because the ex’s thought I wanted to get back together. They were immediately deleted!
How about the social networks? Which ones do you believe help and which ones do you wish you could avoid?
I love social media, and always recommend Twitter, Facebook, Goodreads, and LinkedIn to new authors. If you’re writing your novel now, join those sites now. Most authors I know have a personal Facebook page and an author page. That helps a lot. I lurked around Wattpad for a bit, and I might post the first few chapters of my work in progress on that site. Fellow authors haven’t seen many book sales from Wattpad, but hey, you never know. Everything is worth a try in marketing and publicity.
Book sales. Don’t you just love them (or lack of?)? How are you making the sales happen for you?
My historical novel, A Decent Woman has just come out, so I am pounding the pavement at local bookstores with my book, signing up for local book fairs and festivals, encouraging my friends and family to create book clubs, which of course, could feature my book (!) and I’m lining up speaking engagements with book signings. Radio and Podcast interviews are also in the works. All this is time consuming, but necessary. An author must put him/herself way out there for their book.
What is one thing you’d like to jump on the rooftop and scream about?
I don’t jump on the rooftop and scream about this issue, but writers who publish their book without a good editor makes me extremely sad for the writer. A great editor is critical for a great book. I’m always surprised when I meet an author who tells me he or she self-published without an editor. Unless you’re an experienced editor, don’t try that at home. Invest in yourself by investing in a good editor! They are worth their weight in gold.
Okay, too much sugar for you today! Here’s a nice cup of Chamomile tea and come on over and sit under the cabana and watch the waves roll in. Now…can you tell us what you love about being a published author and how all those things above doesn’t matter because it’s all part of the whole scheme of things and you wouldn’t have it any other way?
I love it ALL. Plain and simple, complicated and complex, sane and insane; I love it all, and can’t imagine doing anything else but writing and living a creative life.
Thanks for having me, Straight from the Author’s Mouth! I’ve enjoyed my time with you! Eleanor x