eBook Review Gal had the pleasure of interviewing author, Judith Glynn, recently. Judith’s first novel, A Collector of Affections: Tales from a Woman’s Heart entwines cherished travel experiences and travelers’ secrets with a strong emphasis on Spain. It’s been translated into Coleccionista de Amor: Relatos Desde el Corazón de una Mujer and is available in eBook and paperback formats on Amazon.
Judith’s second book, The Street or Me: A New York Story, chronicles her encounter with a NYC homeless woman and how she returned her to her family in Italy.
Judith had a lot of valuable, insightful advice for her fellow writers!
In your own words, please tell us about your books:
The Collector of Affections: Tales from a Woman’s Heart chronicles the journey of a woman who chooses to live life to its fullest. It captures the essence of what a mature woman deals with in a sexual relationship since the older we get the more complicated life and its challenges become. Travel is an intoxicating escape, making my travel writer’s background perfect to create the vivid scenes of Spain, Portugal and New York City.
The protagonist, Leah Lynch, is a divorced woman living in New York City who fears attending her daughter’s upcoming wedding as an unattached woman. To reflect on her past (and invent a new lifestyle with a committed man), she books a flight to Madrid for a little soul-searching. Not included in her plans is a chance meeting with Miguel Santiago, her charming seatmate who, upon arrival, cajoles her straight into bed! But he’s committed to another woman back home. What was to be a two-week fling turns into a deep romance for several years when Leah and Miguel return to the States. When Miguel is diagnosed with a life-threatening disease, the couple confronts a reality that transcends the magic of travel and chance encounters.
The Street or Me: A New York Story is a raw and riveting book that follows my remarkable and unlikely friendship with Michelle Browning in my New York City neighborhood. She’s 33, drunk, a former beauty queen from Italy and homeless for six years. I’m divorced with grown children and struggling to support myself in my adopted city. All changes when a hello between us becomes my fixation to return Michelle’s dignity and her to her family in Italy.
Why bother, I ask myself repeatedly for two years as I take her to the hospital, buy her food, visit her in bank lobbies where she sleeps at night, and I even jitterbug with her in a hellhole apartment occupied by a freak wearing a Batman mask. But I never take her to my home or give her money. Instead, I offer unrelenting hope. But will Browning choose her medieval street life over my guiding light to rejoin society? This is the gripping conflict throughout.
What do you think makes a good story?
All good stories begin with a conflict(s). The diverse, unpredictable complexity of the human personality is the roadmap for the characters to follow throughout the chapters. Dialogue cannot bore; it must move the story along. Don’t forget the fragility of emotions that uncover the heart in the story and its characters. And, finally, a good story needs a good writer, one who’s had rejections, preferably attended writing classes or workshops and is committed to the long haul of getting a manuscript completed, edited and out there.
If I could rescue a homeless person, other untrained people can do it. I was out there all alone with Michelle and slowly gained her trust. I didn’t judge how she became homeless, only tried to convince her she could get out of it. Saving someone’s life against immeasurable odds is nothing short of an amazing lifetime accomplishment. Meeting Michelle fortified me with determination to win other battles in life; I became as fearless as she did.
I’d like my readers to take away a fresh perspective of the homeless among us. Don’t just pass by. Make eye contact and engage in friendly conversation. Take those gestures further. If you don’t walk away, know you enriched an “invisible” person’s life that day.
Do you think most authors understand the importance of marketing their own work?
Yes, but many, like me, don’t know how to do it like a pro. Good marketing is a skill equal to good writing. It must be learned and then implemented. Except for the super-successful authors, the rest are expected to market their book(s) themselves.
What are some of your methods for self-promotion?
For my novel, I paid a reputable book marketing firm $5,000 for a six-week campaign that didn’t work. Never again. For my second book, I secured excellent blurbs from people in the addiction field; used Facebook to tease with a top-notch cover and spent hours scouring websites that promote authors and self-published books. I enrolled in a $200 online book marketing course. I go to conferences to network and learn; I speak at libraries and do interviews. I scour Google Alerts/homelessness for potential leads. Each pitch is tailor-made. Since this book is new, I’m pleased with its great reviews. This summer I’ll do a major press release and plan to hire an “author’s secretary” for the grudge work. And, lastly, I’m miserable at Twitter, Google+ and my FB fan page.
What types of books do you like to read?
Honestly, I write more than I read although eBooks have improved my list since I travel with a tablet. I like memoir and non-fiction. I know, I know…I wrote a novel but a lot of that was auto-biographical.
What would readers be surprised to know about you?
My education — I’m not college-educated but did take college courses, discovering my innate writing skills in my mid-thirties. And to think I almost took a belly-dancing class instead of creative writing 101!
My persona – People compliment me on my good skin, which I attribute to drinking cheap red wine and sleeping with the window open, even in zero-degree weather and no nightwear.
My business life – I dislike the corporate world. At one time, I worked temp to pay bills while I wrote freelance travel. Latest “job” is being a landlady since I own several apartments. I once rented to a hooker, obviously unbeknownst to me for several lucrative months – hers not mine.
How can readers connect with you?
What are you working on now?
I recently attended the IFWTWA travel writers’ conference in Montgomery, Alabama. Fabulous city with an honorable Civil Rights past. I’m gearing up to write several articles.
What advice would you give aspiring authors?
If you stay with the craft for a lifetime, you’ll know yourself better than most people who don’t write. You’ll experience immeasurable pleasure seeing a project through to fruition. It’s an honor to get inside someone’s head when your work is read. Take writing courses, attend paid workshops, listen to constructive criticism and always keep writing.
We just have to ask – did you ever go back and take that belly dancing class?
Damn it, no I didn’t. But I do see pole dancing advertised and daydream about that. Lately, I’ve come to grips with my fantasies and dance while doing housework with a good song playing.
Thanks for chatting with eBook Review Gal! We appreciate it 😉
The Street or Me: A New York Story is available in print and Kindle format at Amazon.com.