Tuesday, September 11, 2012

10 Questions: Renee DeAngelo

One of the original goals of 10 Questions was to interview not just authors, and aspiring authors, but readers. Without readers, authors would be left holding an empty bag. But how do we connect with our readers? How do we attract new readers? And most importantly, perhaps, how do readers select their next book? Meet Renee DeAngelo, Avid Reader.

About Renee


Renee is a teacher currently working with first grade students.  Between that and her two boys (ages 19 and 12) she rarely has time for her true passion, writing.  However, she has recently made a commitment to change that by starting a blog (reneedeangelo4.blogspot.com), spending more time social networking (@reneedeangelo4 on twitter), and setting aside time each day to write.  Renee has been working on the craft off and on for the past twenty years.  Her current projects include editing her first novel and she recently started a young adult novel.  Her goal is to work to improve her writing and eventually see her stories published.
 
In my free time, I read as much as I can.  As mentioned earlier, I read an average of five books a week.  The kindle is one of the best inventions ever (although my husband disagrees with that when he sees the bill each month).  It doesn't get better than having all of those wonderful worlds created by writers right at my fingertips.  The stories that interest me most are young adult fiction and adult romance (but there has to be a great story behind it, not just continuous love scenes).  Many of my co-workers, friends, and family come to me for book suggestions because they know how much I enjoy everything about books.

The Interview

#1: You mentioned in your bio that the Kindle is one of the best inventions ever. How do you find books for your Kindle? Explain your selection process. All of us indie writers need to know how to reach people like you.

The best thing a writer can do to get my attention is get the buzz going about their book.  I find a lot of my reads on book review blogs and from the people I follow on twitter.  The more people talk about the book, the more inclined I am to check it out.  I also like to find great books at bargain prices.  I am more likely to download several books under a price point of $2.99 rather than one or two books at $9.99.  The description of the book is also extremely important in my selection process.  Those few short paragraphs have to hook me and leave me wanting to read it.

#2: You teach first grade, so you get to work with kids just starting to discover the world of learning. How can teachers nudge their students toward a love of reading?

As teachers, I don't think we always realize what an impact we have on the children in front of us.  These early years are so important to instill a love of learning and reading.  One of the first things I ask my students is "Who likes to read?".  As the years have gone by, fewer and fewer children raise their hands to that question.  When I asked this year, hardly any students raised their hands.  I actually gasped when I saw this. Technology has taken over and children would rather play video games or be on the computer rather than curling up with a good book.  I always tell them about my love of books and how I read everyday.  I will continue to talk about this throughout the school year and tell them about some of my favorite stories.  Also, I learn about the interests of my students.  I find stories and stock my classroom library with books about these interests, especially for my most reluctant readers.  I also do a featured author where I will display a collection of books by an author and have the students partner to read and discuss these books.  

It's hard work inspiring some of these students to want to read, but when that child who didn't raise their hand in the beginning of the year asks for free reading time or picks up a book without being prompted, it's totally worth it!    

#3: Where did your love of books come from? How much were you exposed to reading as a child and do you think that had an impact?

I actually had to think really hard about this one.  I'm not sure where my love of reading came from.  I don't remember books being a huge part of my childhood.  My mom always had magazines around the house, but not a huge collection of books.  In high school, I remember getting Love Story and Oliver's Story from the library, and I was hooked.  I was on the couch all weekend reading and couldn't wait to find something else to read when I was finished.  I haven't stopped since.

#4: Writing truly is a passion for so many of us. How much time do you set aside for it each day?

When I am working, I try to spend one or two hours a day writing. When I'm on break, I attempt to increase that time whenever possible to about four hours a day.  Unfortunately, it doesn't always work out and I don't write as much as I would like. I'm in awe of people who manage to work full time, juggle a family, and still make time to write.  Tell me your secret, PLEASE! 

#5: What are your plans for publication? Will you try the traditional route or indie? 

That's the exciting part of publishing, there are options.  I have researched both and am not ruling anything out right now.  I may try the traditional route first, but am prepared to try indie if that doesn't work out.  The successes of the indie writer's in recent times is encouraging and inspiring.    

#6: Social networking is a great place to meet other writers and readers. Talk a little bit about your experience with social networking thus far.

I have made some great connections with people (you included of course) through social networking.  It's a special  community you create for yourself where the people you interact with have the same interests.  It's like an online support system that helps you talk to people who you may never have interacted with otherwise. It has opened my eyes to a whole new world.  I love it! 

#7: You read an average of five books per week. No wonder you don't have much time for writing. Have you considered cutting back and devoting more time for writing?

I've actually decided to do this just recently, although it's going to be difficult.  I am limiting the times I will read and am trying to cut back to two books a week.  I don't know how that's going to work out though.  I get so addicted to the worlds authors create and I hate putting a book down and leaving the characters behind.

#8: Tell us about your blog. What is it's focus?

My blog basically focuses on writing and reading.  I post a weekend read on Fridays that discusses books I've read and enjoyed.  I sometimes give those books away as well.  I don't review the books, it's just my way of getting the title out there and telling a little about the book.  I have an author interview coming up soon and hope to do more of those in the future.  I also post about some of my reading and writing experiences and inspirations.  The blog is fairly new, but I'm having a great time writing about two things that are important to me, reading and writing.

#9: What writing projects are you working on now?

Right now I am working on editing my first young adult novel (which is actually turning into more of a total rewrite at this point) and I've started my second novel. I love both of these projects and hope to have the edit project done by the end of the year.

#10:  Let's do something different. There has to be a question you were hoping I would or wouldn't ask. Ask yourself that question (please let us see the question), then answer it.

I have to say that all of your questions were totally awesome.  I think you may have missed a calling as an interviewer.  I guess the only thing I would hope you would ask is: "Would you be willing to come back and do another interview once your book is published?"
To that I would say that I'd absolutely love to come back if you would be willing to have me.  This has been so much fun.
 
Conclusion
 
Create a buzz about your book; get reviews; craft a good summary; interact with readers on social media. The one questions I didn't ask Renee -- the one to really put her on the spot -- was if she had read The Night Train. Should that be question #11
 
It should also be no surprise that Renee has writing ambitions. Readers love books, so why would they not want to create them? I wish Renee success with her own writing projects and, in response to question #10, yes, please do come back for another interview when you publish your book.
 

6 comments:

  1. In response to question #11- I actually just downloaded it onto my kindle and am looking forward to reading it.

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  2. Renee, I like your meditative answers to Carl's poignant questions. You really struck a chord by describing the drop in kids' reading habits (or even desire to read!). When I taught fiction writing at a private arts school, half my students for Fict I classes admitted to reading fewer than a couple books a year, and others said they read only magazine articles. This from "writing" students! While it was easy for me to see who HAD and DID read vis-a-vis their writing, the others fell away and are probably quite satisfied in a clerk's career.

    I must take umbrage, however, with your following remark: "I am more likely to download several books under a price point of $2.99 rather than one or two books at $9.99." Okay, while we all want a deal on what we consume, the willingness to pay so little for literature cheapens what we writers do, and how much time and effort we put into creating works of art. I've heard the arguments, especially those from Kindle owners: "It's digital, I can't even hold it; therefore $2.99 is plenty to pay." For one thing, just because you don't have a "book" in your hand doesn't mean you don't own something. Secondly, the pleasure of reading literature needs to be properly valued. Compare, if you will, a book (Kindle dig or print edition) with a movie: you'll not think much of paying $10 to see a film, or pay $15 for a CD, or $12 to visit an art museum, or $100 for a day at DisneyWorld ... yet you'll pass up books simply because the "price point" doesn't fit your sense of value?

    After you leave the theater, that $10 is gone, and you don't go home with a copy of the film. Your visit to the art museum leaves you with pleasurable sensations, but the best you can hope for is a $1 postcard of your favorite painting that day. The $15 CD is yours and for 2wks or 2mos, you play it over and over, then it gets sifted into the pile. While your book, after you read it, can stay with you for days, weeks, or, if a real work of art, years. And then you can read it again.

    Society's constant search for the "deal" has cheapened so much of life and about life, but art should never be cheapened, nor should artists -- writers of strong literature included -- allow their work to be sold at bargain rates.

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    Replies
    1. Very good point Mark and I totally agree with you. What I was referring to is that I download so many books that I can't keep buying the more expensive works all the time or I would go broke. There are many great stories in all price points and I don't take any writer's work for granted. As a writer myself, I know what it takes to create a finished piece. I will download the more expensive books when I can afford to splurge, but really have to watch my budget. Reading five or more books a week can get very expensive.
      I have great respect for all writers and their hard work. But I also feel that we as writers need to be realistic about our audiences and their resources. For me, it's more about my craft and hoping people will enjoy my work. Any monetary compensation is like icing on the cake. As a writer you need to decide your motivations and what you hope to get out of your work. This will be different for everyone and I respect that. I would never intentionally offend writers, they are some of my favorite people on this planet. They give me wonderful worlds to explore, and you can't put a price on that! Thanks for commenting.

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  3. I think one reason self-publishing has gained such traction is because it allows authors to price their e-books much lower than bookstore shelf prices and still make a decent profit on each sale. I haven't spent $30 on a hardback from my local bookstore in so long I can't recall. Even before I bought my Kindle I was buying my books from Amazon (most often used) at much better prices. Authors are now free to price their books at the price they deem fair (within some very loose guidelines) and readers are free to buy them or pass them up for something else.

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  4. No offense taken, Renee. The pricing of books by the major publishers have sometimes been fair (given the book), but over the last 20yrs (yes, I'm that old) those prices had become a crutch for the industry. On the other hand, writers get far less for their work. To take 2-3 years to write a book, and then to price it at 99 cents (or even $3.99), I'd have to sell hundreds of thousands to make a living. And let's face it, writers want to make a living at their art. But the "readers" keep demanding lower prices, like this is Walmart (actually, many shop at Walmart for that very reason), never taking into consideration what went into that book. I wonder if most people would be amenable to working for 99-cents per hour for the cars they make, the roof they repair, the computer software they write. ;-) Keep on writing!

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