A Storyteller at Heart
The Writer's Prompt Author Project 2022
Today we travel to the State of Iowa in the USA and get up close and personal with Grace Augustine, an internationally known author and editor.
Grace has been writing since she was old enough to hold a pen, and is a true storyteller at heart. Her love for the written and spoken word has seen her publish 22 books to date and lead many question and answer sessions at different public events.
Writing in a multitude of genres has given Grace a well-rounded backlist from which to choose. Whether you enjoy a good fantasy, contemporary romance, poetry, self-help or women's fiction, she has you covered.
Born and raised in Northern Montana, she now resides in Iowa. She is the mother of two grown sons and a kept servant to an adorable cat named Bou.
Full disclosure - Readers if it wasn't for Grace sharing this project on her Facebook page on November 7, 2021; it might not have come to fruition. I struggled with navigating the algorithm process for over a month and was just about to give up. I remember the post that was to be my last about the project; it went something like this, "WOW! I didn't realize how difficult it would be to find 365 authors who want to promote their work for free. And yet, here I am still searching."
I don't know how or why the "Algorithm Gods" allowed this post to be seen by Grace, but I am glad they did. Grace liked, commented, and shared it, whack-a-moleing those nasty algorithms, and setting the project in motion. Since then, the initial idea for the project has changed. I only found thirty-six authors to interview. But that is okay because now I have time to work on promotional videos for the project and each of the authors.
Grace, thank you so much for helping me with my project and visiting with me today; let's begin.
What inspired you to become a writer?
I've always been a storyteller, from weaving stories about animals to my dolls at 8 yrs. of age to teaching adult education crafting classes to writing newspaper articles and then my own novels. The English language fascinates me and has since 7th grade. I had some wonderful teachers who encouraged me to do the best I could in grammar and composition. To this day, I love the written and spoken word.
I have that same passion, but for creating art. How long have you been writing?
I took grammar and composition each year of high school, so I guess you could say I have been writing since 1971 in one form or another.
What type of writer are you? For example, do you plan out your storyline and have a bio for each character, or do you let the creativity flow and see where it leads you?
I have a 3-ring binder with a lot of lined paper. I first decide on names. A valuable resource for me is the book titled THE SECRET UNIVERSE OF NAMES. Then after reading all I can about qualities and traits associated with those names, I begin forming the characters to the story I already have mapped out in my head. Then I begin writing.
WOW! That is an interesting way to create characters; I might have to try it.
Do you follow a strict writing schedule, or do you sneak writing in when you have time?
Lately, it has been sneaking in writing when I have time. I also am a very busy editor for other authors, so my doesn't always allow me to do my own writing. I can assure you, though, I do have a couple in progress.
I, too, have a couple of stories that I started, but I'm not writing them because I have writer's block. I even hired a professional book cover artist for one of the stories at the beginning of last year, hoping that the cover would inspire me to write; it hasn't. (Insert frown here)
So, when you have time to write, what is your writing style? For example, are you a meat and potatoes leave it to the readers' imagination kind of writer, or are you a heavy with description, dialogue, and lots of extra gravy writer?
I am a descriptive, dialogue, readers' imagination, extra gravy writer. How's that? It all depends on the story and the heaviness/lightness of the storyline.
I like that description. I also suppose that it depends on the storyline as to how much detail to add or leave out.
Since becoming a writer, have you acquired any unusual peculiarities? For example, do you find yourself studying people more and critiquing their habits or editing their speech?
Because I also edit, I find reading for pleasure a job. By that, I mean I read with an editor's eye instead of for pure enjoyment.
I can see how that would make it difficult to read for pleasure. I am not there yet. I tend to either not notice the mistakes or skip over them, my writing and others. So, reading for pleasure is still, well, pleasurable.
I remember reading about JK Rowling and her writing process, so I added this question to the mix; Do you have a purse or pocket full of napkins that have ideas written on them?
No, but I do have paper and pens all over the house and in the car and notes on my phone. Does that count? lol
LOL! Yes, it certainly does, but do you also have new, unused writing journals and how many? Did you buy them for future projects or because they look pretty or because you can't remember where the other ones are?
I only have one journal. I belong to the Silk & Sonder journaling club. It is a wonderful way to focus on the word for the month that is given to you and to track habits. I also do nightly prayer journaling and personal daily journaling (weather, feelings, happenings, conversations). When I write, I usually sit in front of my laptop and type. It is easier for me to do that than to use pen and paper.
You have interesting writing habits, which reminds me of someone else. My step-grandfather kept daily journals as well. After he passed over, my grandmother gave me one. For sixty years he was a beekeeper, and the journal is full of daily bee activity and weather conditions. I found it quite engaging. I might start a daily journal. It would be interesting to look back on my activities for the year.
What scenes do you have the most fun writing? For example, fight scenes, heavy dialogue scenes, or scenes where your character is pondering the meaning of life.
I love dialogue. When my characters start fighting in my head over who is going to say what… it's a lot of fun to decipher and put on paper and make a story from it. I also love scenes where I can describe the surroundings of a particular room. In the 4th book of my first series—HOLIDAY HIDE & SEEK—I describe in detail the Christmas decorations in a pub and how cozy it is. I've received bad reviews because of the detail, but I felt it was necessary to the storyline.
When I write, I like writing dialogue, especially when the characters are bantering. I, too, tend to be descriptive. I'm not well known enough to receive bad reviews because of it. But I have had a reader tell me that reading my book was like watching a movie. So, I took that as positive feedback.
Are you a single project writer, or do you have several projects on the go?
I have several folders with partially started projects.
What have you learned about yourself from being a writer regarding your strengths and weaknesses?
Because each of my characters is an extension of me, I put myself into all that I do. So, the reader sees my strengths and weaknesses. I'd like to say I am strong in emotional situations, but I'm not. I sure would like to be, though. Having a disability has made me aware of the use of time and how important it is to rest when I can so I have the energy to be strong.
Interesting. I never quite thought of character development that way. When creating, I often say, "I forgot" to eat." The creative process is a time gobbler. It's important to know your limits and ensure you are nourished and rested, especially with a disability. Thank you for sharing that with my readers.
Are you strictly a writer, or do you have other creative outlets? For example, do you enjoy participating in Paint Nights or know how to strum a guitar, or can you knit a sweater?
Oh gosh, I like to say I am a Jill of all trades. I've designed kitchens, led worship at church, organized community holiday concerts, taught adult education crafting, knit, crochet, do acrylic painting, sing, play Scrabble, am a former floral designer, and last Christmas, my obsession was cut-out sugar cookies decorated with flood icing.
Grace, I think you are my twin sister from another mister. LOL! Kitchen designing, floral arranging, word games, crochet and acrylic painting; I do all of that too. I wish we lived closer; we could be crafting buddies. LOL!
Have there been any exciting changes in your life due to being a published author? For example, do strangers ask for your autograph, do you have a movie deal in the works, or can you now live solely off your writing income?
My dream is to be a best-selling author and be able to put it on the cover of my books. No stranger has ever come up to me for my autograph. The closest I've come to a movie deal is a manuscript that I edited that has won many awards in different film festivals globally and is waiting for a movie deal. I wish I could live off of my writing income, but sadly, with the market being so flooded with authors, it isn't possible at this time.
I think being on the best-sellers list is every authors' dream. I want to be on that list and the best-written list; the two, as we know, are not the same. It is still exciting to be part of a project that has won awards; you never know where that might lead.
What publishing route do you prefer, self-publication, traditional or hybrid, and why?
I've never tried to publish traditionally. I have self-published every book and done it myself.
I self-publish as well. I tell people it's because I am a bit of a control freak. But in reality, I think it was because I felt the rejection notices would stop me before I began.
Now that you are a published writer, what sage advice do you have for budding authors looking to publish their first book?
Stay true to yourself. Write what you know. Write what you love. If you aren't that savvy with grammar and composition, take a class. Learn. And find a good editor to work with who will not change your voice in your story.
That's excellent advice; thank you for sharing it. In 100 words or less, tell us what you have planned for your writing career in 2022. For example, are you releasing a new book/s and or attending author events.
My plan is to have two books out in 2022. One is a women's fiction titled PERFECT MORNING. And the other is book 3 of the DALGAARD CASTLE SERIES. There are a couple of anthology stories to complete and always more ideas to stuff in folders for the future.
Wonderful! You're right; there are always new ideas floating around, just waiting for us to act on them. Thank you so much, Grace, for visiting with me today. No words can honestly describe how grateful I am that you saw that Facebook post all those months ago. I wish you all the best with your new releases this year.
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