April Howard is local upcoming author who talks about the novel she’s working on and her thoughts on a writing career. She points out in this interview that although she did struggle in her early childhood, she never gave up the dream of becoming a writer.
Teresa Jones: Have you always wanted to be a writer?
April Howard: I had reading issues in grade school due to my family moving during key developmental times. The adults in my life didn’t have much patience with my being behind. During middle school and high school, I willed myself to work hard and overcome these issues. I wouldn’t have ever imagined that I could be a writer. On my first day of college, my English professor had us pull out a piece of paper and gave us a theme in which to write a paragraph. When I received the paper back, it had a big A+ on it. I went on to write many papers and graduated with a degree in literature. After several years and multiple careers, including teaching, owning a business, and being a stay-at-home mom, I began seeing my world change as my husband and I reached retirement. I thought back to my writing skill and, after long consideration, decided to pursue it again.
TJ: Can you give us a little peek about your first book you are writing?
AH: I am writing a book called What I Learned From The Black Cat. It’s subject is a stray, black cat that wondered into my neighborhood and, eventually, into my heart. He was an older cat and I began to see several observations forming. It has such chapter headings as, You Need To Stretch More, Just Because You Are Low Cat On The Totem Pole Doesn’t Mean You Can’t Become Top Cat, and Be Authentically Yourself.
TJ: What has been the hardest thing to learn as a writer?
AH: The world has drastically changed since I was in college. There is an abundant amount to be learned about promoting yourself online and the more technical ways an author relates to others. The books about writing I picked up again from fifteen years ago still talked about mailing your transcripts in to a publisher or agent. I am going to have to become a bit more technical.
TJ: As you are writing your first book, do you also research about agents and publishers?
AH: I am beginning to research about agents. I attended a writer’s workshop in my town and attended writing 101 classes about getting started. There I made a good contact with an editor. This week, I am planning to have coffee with a successful writer to learn more about how she turned writing into a successful career.
TJ: Is there any writing books you recommend that have helped you learn the craft?
AH: A few years ago, someone put a book in my hands by John Wood called How To Write Attention-Grabbing Query and Cover Letters. I began studying it a year ago when I decided to get started on a career and, while it is a little outdated, I have found that the information about how to publish remains straightforward.
TJ: Do you belong to a writing group? And do you feel it helps you as a writer?
AH: I belong to the West Texas Writers. We meet once a month and have speakers and programs to promote our writing. I have met various writers there and, at times, I hear either tidbits of information or solid information that helps me with my career. Either way, I always feel as if I have climbed more steps on the ladder to my goal when I meet with other writers and exchange ideas and information.
TJ: Are you a plotter or pantser?
AH: I lean, heavily, to nonfiction and am definitely a plotter. For my first book, I have a notebook assigned to it with dividers. I have it outlined by chapter.
TJ: Any tips for new writers that you’ve learned along the way to having a writing career?
AH: Have faith in yourself and your ideas. Be open to critique and experience. Set a time to write even if, at first, it’s just a small amount of time. Seek out other writers through writer’s clubs, workshops, book signings and researching area writers. Immerse yourself. Be willing to learn. I also use imagery to see my manuscript going from editor to editor and into the right hands.
TJ: There is a lot of talk about self publishing. Do you consider that as an option or do you want to go traditional all the way?
AH: I learned at a recent writer’s conference that, as difficult as it is to reach success in traditional publishing, it is far more difficult to reach success in self-publishing. Though my beginning book is about experiences that I have had with my cat, I have been writing down ideas for several years that lean towards self-help books that focus on individuals who are stuck and just can’t get over the hump. Also, books about disillusionment in our society and how people can get new perspective. I want to get this message out to as many people as possible. Traditional publishing would be my method of choice.