It is my pleasure to introduce all of you to a wonderful new published author, Bonnie James. We became fast friends in the Flying Lessons class ..when I found out she had just published a book titled Just Breathe, I ordered my copy immediately! I am thrilled for her success...Please enjoy reading about this talented author..her tips, fears, networking ideas & how she squeezes in writing a novel, while raising a family!
Author - Bonnie James
My name is Bonnie J. James. I am a writer and the author of the contemporary romance novel JUST BREATHE. I live in Minneapolis, MN with my husband and two sons.
I've always loved writing,but only when I began staying home with my two little boys did I consider turning my passion for writing into a carreer. Four years ago I decided to take a writing course and my drive to write a novel sparked from there. I haven't looked back since!
Tell us about your fears and how you faced them..
My fears ebb and flow and come in a wide variety. I often battle the fear of not succeeding, of being a terrible writer, of actually succeeding and then not being able to write another book! Other fears include not being able to juggle a writing career with parenting, not giving my husband and boys enough attention because writing sometimes consumes me. And sometimes I fear that my house will turn into a pigsty because I can't seem to find the time to clean! All of these fears appear and disappear on a weekly basis, and I'm beginning to understand that I can smother them pretty well. My biggest force against them is self-assurance in the form of affirmations. I have a small journal of affirmations that I've collected over time and I write some of them down every day, depending on what I need to hear. Today's affirmations are: "I love and accept myself exactly as I am; I am kind to myself; I release all doubt and self-criticism; I am at the right place, at the right time, doing the right thing."
What makes you different, unique or sets you apart from the others?
I think what sets my writing apart from others is my ability to describe characters and settings. When I write I try to paint a vivid picture for my readers. I think that this need for descriptive writing stems from my artistic side. I have always loved to paint and draw, to take photograhs and to sew. This love makes me want to create a beautiful setting for my readers to spend time in. It also makes mme want to write all of my main female characters as artists and creative women (so far my heroines have been a designer, a photographer, a musician, and a painter!).
Any secrets you'd like to reveal about your techniques? What do you do to make your stories unusual or special - and interesting to captivate the reader?
Because I am a romance writer, I like to surround myself with romantic things. I use journals that represent the story, look at pictures of flowers, and couples, and romantic settings for inspiration, listen to music that is full of love and hope and sometimes heartbreak. All of these things help me get into the right frame of mind so that I can step into a story and really give it feeling. If you pop over to my pinterest site you'll get an idea of how each story is influenced by photos. http://pinterest.com/BonnieJJames
What are your goals? ...It may be too soon to ask, because you just happily reached the goal of getting published!! ..But, I know there will be more new goals created by you, because you're "taking off", Bonnie and you'll continue to fly.... and soar! Tell us your dreams!!!!
On one hand I find it a little difficult to think ahead to what I want next, because I'm so happy with where I'm at now. I am writing from home while my boys are in school and I'm completely flexible and avaiable for my family when they need me to be. I am getting paid to do what I love, and I'm having so much fun everyday! So it's hard to think of where else I would like my life to go. But, I do let myself dream BIG sometimes, and I find myself aspiring to be a best-selling author of many many books... having a huge reader base.. traveling for research and for book signings...having an assistant to handle all of the details that can take up so much writing time...a girl can dream, right?
Where is your creative space? ...that magical spot where you write these creative, romantic stories?
My creative space is in the family office. I have a huge desk that my father designed and built for me. My computer is set up here and all of my writing books and favorite romance novels are shelved in it as well. Inside of my desk I have a ton of scrapbooking, stamping, and card making materials, and beside all this is my sewing machine. I haven't been able to do much creative playing lately because my writing schedule is so packed, but I do want to get back into my sewing and crafting!
How much time do you devote to your writing? Do you have to get into a creative mood, before all the ideas flow for you, to be able to write?
For the last two years I've devoted every free minute that I could spare to my writing. Last year this was during my youngest son's preschool class or when he was resting. This year both my boys are in full time elementary school so I use those six hours of the day for my writing. You'd think this would be plenty of time, but it never seems to be enough! Between networking, marketing, blogging, and writing, every minute gets swallowed up. I'm trying really hard to put away my computer when my boys walk in the door in the afternoons, but it's not always easy. My boys have been home from school for an hour and her I sit, writing on my computer! But it's just so much fun for me to write (or write about writing!) that I sometimes can't help myself.
What are your "whispers" or callings begging you to do?
Lately my whispers are turning into something more like shoutings... I think I need to pay attention! I've had many, many whipersings that I need to let myself do other creative things than just write. Last week I took a painting class and Wow, was it fun! I felt so inspired and energized for days afterward. (Here is the painting, it says "Hold on Girl!! You are in for an amzing ride!!")
Since then I've had an itch to paint, sew and even visit the craft store and just take pictures of fabric, yarn and thread. I think that these whispers became so strong when I started our Flying Lessons e-course and saw all of the amazing artwork from our talented classmates. The colors and textures, the vibrancy, the heart that goes into each piece of work...just makes my heart soar. And it makes my fingers itch to do something creative!
Do you keep a daily journal or maybe write in a diary?
I write in a journal on a daily basis. If I go a few days without journaling I start to get kind of crabby and feel all out of sorts! Journaling helps me organize my days, my thoughts, my fears and my goals. And do you know what I just noticed? My latest journals all have little birds on them. How appropriate, considering I'm taking this e-course to help me find my wings and soar!
How do you market yourself? Any tips on getting "the word" out there? Maybe using a blog, facebook or web-site?
I'm really glad I took a few marketing course in college because WOW am I putting them to good use now. These days authors have to do alot of the self-marketing and I think that's what takes up so much of my writing time now. Every day I'm on my blog, visiting others' blogs, on facebook, twitter, pinterest, my publisher's web-site, amazon, Barnes & Noble, newspapers, etc, etc. One thing I remember most from my marketing courses is that I need to get my book in front of as many people as I can, in as many different ways as possible. So that's what I'm trying to do! I think it's working, slowly but surely. My audience is growing, my reader base is getting bigger. I celbrate each and every email, fan, and blog coment that I get!
Here's where to find me:
What type of music (if any) do you listen to when you create?
My favorite music comes from popular hits on the radio. I'm in the car alot for errands and when I'm carting the kids around, so I get attached to many of the songs on the radio. This is also where music for my writing comes from. Many times I'll be driving along and a new song is played that sounds right for my hero and heroine.
Who is your favorite artist, or author, that possibly influenced you?
There are so many artists and authors I admire! My favorite authors are Nora Roberts, Kristan Higgins, and Becky Wade. And I adore the artists Kelly Rae Roberts, Ali Edwards (AliEdwards.com), and Allison Harris (Cluckclucksew.com). There are so many others.
Are you encouraged to follow your creative path by your family or friends?
My husband is my biggest cheerleader and my toughest coach. He wasn't so sure about this writing gig in the begining, but when he saw how much I loved it and how much I wanted to succeed he stood behind me and has been incredibly supportive ever since. He's great at keeping me motivated and focused and is excited about my first published book. My boys are my little cheerleaders too! They're very proud of mommy and even tell me when they see some "romance" in movies or on television, because they know that I "like that stuff".
How do you come up with titles for your work, whether it be your stories or your artwork?
So far my titles have come from a phrase in the story. It usually hits me as I'm writing - something will pop out as a catchy title and by the end of the story I have a little list to choose from. My current title Just Breathe, came from a scene where the main character, (Lola) is practicing yoga for the first time and her instructor tells her to "just breathe!" That phrase takes on a whole new meaning for her as she wades through new adventures in the rest of the novel.
Do you work on one project at a time...or do you juggle several?
Right now I can only work on one project at a time. There is so much going on in my life and with my busy little boys...I'm afraid I might explode if I try to focus on more than one book!
I'd like to offer a HUGE thank you to Joan for setting up this interview! It's been really fun to answer all of the questions, and actually quite an eye-opener for me. I've learned a little about myself that I hadn't thought about lately, and I'm really thankful for the experience. Thanks Joan!!
Thank you, Bonnie. I am thrilled to do this interview with you. We hit it off immediately and I was thrilled to get to know you with this interview! I wish you much success with your book and all your future books to come! This is just the beginning for you!!
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