This is another connection I made on Twitter. Her microfiction stories are so powerful and moving I regularly share them on my social media. She has a way of taking 260 characters and flipping your emotions on their head.
I hope you all enjoy getting to know her as much as I have.
ISO: HI, WHAT IS YOUR NAME?
CBA: Carol Beth Anderson
ISO: Tell us a little about yourself.
CBA: I grew up in Arizona and have lived with my husband in the Austin, TX area for over 19 years. We just celebrated our 20th anniversary. We have two kids. One is 14, and the other is about to turn 12. I call my self a “structured creative.” I love creativity. Writing makes my mind come alive! But I tend to approach writing and publishing in a fairly structured way. For a long time, I hesitated to call myself “a creative” because I thought “creatives” had to be head-in-the-sky, big-thinking people. I realized…I’m a creative too; I just tend to approach my creativity from a more practical standpoint!
ISO: What is your favorite beverage?
CBA: I have a latte maker and make myself a decaf latte almost every morning. That’s probably my favorite drink currently.
ISO: What is your favorite food?
CBA: That one’s tough. I like so many foods! I love really good, artisan sourdough bread. I bake sourdough, but I don’t think mine is my favorite. We just spent a weekend in Napa celebrating our anniversary, and the sourdough I had at a restaurant there was maybe the best bread I’ve ever tasted.
ISO: What is your favorite sweet?
CBA: Cookies-and-cream ice cream.
ISO: Who are your favorite fictional characters?
CBA: I love the four siblings in the Chronicles of Narnia. That’s my favorite series from childhood. In more modern books, I have lots of favorite characters. Michael J. Sullivan is one of my favorite fantasy authors. I love Royce, Hadrian, Gwen, and Thrace from the Ryiria Revelations series; and I also love Persephone, Brin, Suri, Roan, and Gifford from the Legends of the First Empire series. My other favorite fantasy author is Brent Weeks. Kip Guile from his Lightbringer series is one of my favorite characters of all time.
ISO: If you could live in or visit any fantasy world, where would you go?
CBA: Narnia, no question!
ISO: What are your “fandoms”?
CBA: I’ve always been a Trekkie, though I haven’t seen the more recent shows. I was really into Doctor Who for a while, though again, I haven’t seen the recent stuff! My favorite sci-fi show of all time is Battlestar Galactica (the modern version, which, though it’s not so modern anymore, stands up really well).
ISO: What do you love about what you are doing?
CBA: There’s this part of me that comes to life when I’m immersed in creative efforts. I discovered that feeling when I used to act. (My degree is theatre.) It’s tough to do plays with kids, though. When I realized I could achieve that same feeling with writing, I was thrilled! I also love connecting with other authors, finding readers who are passionate about my books, and learning the ins and outs of publishing and marketing. I have an entrepreneurial spirit, so indie publishing is fun for me.
ISO: What is the most difficult thing for you about what you do?
CBA: I tend to set the bar so high that I can’t ever reach it. I’m achievement oriented, and there’s a part of me that feels I’m never selling enough. In an industry that’s so hard to break into, that’s a dangerous mindset that can easily lead to burnout. So I’m working on learning contentment, even if the journey is longer than I want it to be, or even if I never hit some nebulous level of success. It’s hard for me to divorce my self worth from my sales numbers, but I’m learning. In 2020, gratitude is one of my biggest goals—gratitude for every reader and for the privilege of spending so much time doing something I love.
ISO: Who are your support team members?
CBA: My husband is super, super supportive. It’s funny, because he’s not really a reader, and I don’t write in a genre he’s drawn to. So he doesn’t read my books, and I can honestly say I’m 100% fine with that. He’s so supportive in other ways. He believes in me. He doesn’t pressure me to turn into an overnight success—he’s more patient with the process than I am!
Online, the #WritingCommunity on Twitter is fantastic. I’ve connected with specific people there, and we support each other in the ups and downs of writing and publishing.
ISO: Do you attend geek events? If yes, which ones are your favorite?
CBA: I don’t, though I think it would be fun!
ISO: What are your go to snacks/drinks as you work?
CBA: When I’m feeling healthy, I drink water and eat grape tomatoes. When I’m feeling “snacky,” I end up grabbing chips instead! And when I’m really into what I’m writing, sometimes I don’t get around to eating or drinking at all.
ISO: When did you start writing?
CBA: My mom found an old “book” I’d written when I was five or six years old! It was just some little pieces of paper stapled together, with a hand-drawn picture and a few sentences.
ISO: Why did you decide to pursue writing?
CBA: For decades, I said I wanted to write a book. One day, I visited a bookstore and saw a lady there who was selling and signing the two books she’d written. I bought one and read it. I didn’t like it that much! But I thought, Hmm…I could do this. I started brainstorming that night, and a couple of days later, I started writing my first novel. I tend to go “whole hog” when I get into a new activity, so I was committed from the start. Eighteen months later, I rapid-released my first trilogy over the period of three weeks. The pace I set was fun but unsustainable! Since then, I’ve learned to better balance writing with my important commitments (especially family).
ISO: What types of writing do you do?
CBA: I write YA fantasy novels, and I write daily microfiction (tiny stories and occasional poems that fit into one Tweet, 280 characters or less).
ISO: Who are some authors you look up to?
CBA: Michael J. Sullivan, Brent Weeks, and a whole host of independent authors.
ISO: Why do you write?
CBA: I love how it makes my artistic side come alive. I love when my words resonate with someone, and they feel passionate about it!
ISO: What are your favorite books?
CBA: The Chronicles of Narnia, anything by Michael J. Sullivan, the Lightbringer series by Brent Weeks.
ISO: Are you traditional, independent, or hybrid published?
CBA: I’m independent.
Why did you choose that publishing path?
CBA: I wanted to be the only one controlling if and when I published. I wanted higher royalties. As I mentioned before, I enjoy being entrepreneurial, so indie publishing is a good fit. That being said, breaking out as a big name in publishing is really difficult…no matter what publishing path you take. I write YA, and teens tend to like going to bookstores and picking up hardcover or paperback books…rather than shopping online for e-books or paperbacks. I’ve considered querying my next series to see if I can find an agent and a large, traditional publisher. I know, however, what a difficult path that can be, and I don’t know if I want to give up that much control over my process. We’ll see!
ISO: What is your creative process?
CBA: It’s always changing, but here’s how it’s working for my current series,
The Magic Eaters Trilogy:
While I worked on publishing my first series, ideas were percolating in my head for the next series. I started writing some of them down. By the time I was ready to start working on that series, I had some solid, exciting ideas in mind.
I decided to write a prequel before writing the full series. I won’t release that prequel until the trilogy is out, but I loved how writing it helped me establish a really rich world!
Before I write a book, I put together a basic outline of the whole book and a chapter-by-chapter outline of the first quarter of the book. As I write, I usually change some of my original outline, so I don’t outline the second quarter until I’m done with the first quarter…and so on.
I’ll admit…I do some editing as I go. I write a chapter, then do a quick read with some initial revisions before I move on. And if I realize I’m going in the wrong direction with character or plot, I will often go back and make changes to previously written chapters before I continue drafting.
My feedback system is really, really important to my creative process. I have a small, private Facebook group of alpha readers. When I finish each quarter of the book, I send it to them. We discuss their feedback in our Facebook group, and it makes a big difference to me as I revise.
Once I’ve done an in-depth revision (and occasionally even a second round of alpha reading), I submit a fairly polished manuscript to a large group of beta readers. I use their feedback to make my final revisions (or, occasionally, I do a second round of beta reading). I record the audiobook and make a few more changes as I go, and then I give out a good number of ARCs (Advance Review Copies). ARC readers find any final typos, and I have one eagle-eyed friend do a “last pass” to seek out any final errors before I publish.
As I’m working on this series, I have ideas percolating for the next!
ISO: What do you love about writing?
CBA: See the “why do you write” question. 🙂
ISO: Where do you get your inspiration?
CBA: That’s always a tough one for me to answer. I’ve gotten some inspiration through the microfiction I write on Twitter. In general, some inspiration comes over time as one idea builds on another. And some inspiration is hard-fought…it’s me twisting my brain like a pretzel, trying to get all the story details in place, pushing through even when it’s hard.
ISO: What are some lessons you have learned about being an author?
CBA: I saw this advice early on: “It’s a marathon, not a sprint.” I keep coming back to that.
ISO: What is the most difficult thing for you about writing?
CBA: It’s so easy to get “in my head,” for insecurity or fear of failure to smother inspiration and creativity. When I was writing my first series, it was easy to believe nearly everyone would love it. Then I published, and reality set in. I’m never going to write a perfect book, and I’m never going to write a book that everyone loves. It’s easy to worry about what people will think instead of fully giving myself to the process.
ISO: What is something you wish beginning authors knew?
CBA: You probably won’t make a lot of money, and even if you do, it probably won’t happen quickly. Make sure you absolutely love what you’re doing; you’ll need that passion to keep you going!
ISO: What tips or tricks do you have for other authors?
CBA: I have a series on my blog called Author Resources. It’s full of free tips and tools!
ISO: What projects are you working on?
CBA: I’m about 80-85% through with the first draft of The Vine Eater, the second book of The Magic Eaters Trilogy.
ISO: What projects do you want to do if money and time were no object?
CBA: Right now, I’m doing just what I want to do! I dream of a day when I’ve reached some level of real, measurable success and can take some younger writers under my wing, hopefully helping them achieve the same.
ISO: Where can we get your books?
CBA: My books are all on Amazon, and my novels are on Audible as audiobooks. Signed copies of most of my books are on my website. And you can add any of my books to your Goodreads too!
ISO: Where can people find your writing?
CBA: Besides my books, you can find my daily microfiction on Twitter. I also sometimes share microfiction on Facebook and Instagram.
ISO: Where can people find you online?
CBA: Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Goodreads, & BookBub.
@CBethAnderson on Twitter & Instagram; Carol Beth Anderson on Facebookcarolbethanderson.com
Please remember I do not own any of these pictures and the opinions in this survey belong to the interviewee.