Monday, April 22, 2013

Author: Kori Miller Interview + Giveaway!

I'd like to welcome Kim Boykin to the blog today to celebrate and promote her recently released memoir! Welcome to Books à la Mode, Kori! Let's get this interview started.

Will you please share a brief bio with us?

I, like many writers, have spent my life writing. It's a way for me to clear my head, create, communicate, and have fun. As a child, I wrote plays for my friends, poetry (really bad poetry, actually)and short stories.

During college, it was my ability to write(under pressure, usually—I had a tendency to procrastinate)that frequently gave my grade a boost. I could write brilliant (I thought) BS at 3 a.m.

I'm thankful that my parents raised me to be a reader, and that my English teachers (especially in college) challenged me. (Except one—he always expected more from me. It was so annoying. Seriously though, he was the best English professor I had throughout my college career.)

Writing is challenging, and writing well is an art. Some writers make it look so easy. I strive to be one of those writers.

What is your debut memoir, My Life in Black and White: A Book of Experiences about?

Page Count: 68
Release Date: 15 September 2011
Publisher: CreateSpace (self-published)
Genre: Race Issues, Interracial, Memoir, Non-fiction

If you could be just one race, which one would you choose? How would you decide? Through a series of early life experiences, one woman made this choice, and she made it by the time she was twelve years old. Get ready for a few tears, a bit of anger, and a lot of laughter, as she offers glimpses into her experiences from grade school into adulthood. 

What was your inspiration to write it?

This may seem strange, but I had two reasons for writing my book. First, I thought my experiences could help other interracial people, especially young people, who may be struggling with identity formation. Second, I enjoy challenges and wanted to learn how to self-publish.

Tell us about your journey in self-publishing—the hardships, benefits, and things you picked up along the way.

I used KDP and CreateSpace. Both are user-friendly. The biggest challenges were figuring out how to format everything and how to create a cover. I ended up hiring someone to design the cover. She's the same person who created logos for our other two businesses, so I trusted her to come up with something I liked. I gave her the concept of the book, and she did the rest.

There are HUGE benefits to self-publishing, but you have to be willing to do all of the work, and hire others when necessary. The stigma once associated with self-publishing is quickly fading. As a self-publisher you control, marketing, pricing, and your profit. When people traditionally publish, they have a crew helping them get their book to market. Those people all need to get paid. That reduces your profit. Self-publishing is a way to have better control of your bottom line. I know, I know, people (writers) don't necessarily want to discuss that, but it's true. After the writing is completed, the writer has to "get about the business" of selling the book. This also is true for traditionally published authors, but they tend to have a little more help. The self-published author really needs to think "marketing strategy" before the book is printed, and can be as creative as she wants. There's a lot of freedom in self-publishing.

I agree with you that self-publishing is on the rise. It sounds like you've had a great experience with it, so far! What do you consider your biggest strengths and weaknesses as an author?

One of my strengths is that I'm not easily discouraged. My husband and I own two businesses—one for nearly ten years, and the other for just over three. You can't be an entrepreneur and get easily discouraged. Entrepreneurs are creative, forward-thinking, go-getter types.

I tend not to dwell on weaknesses unless I believe I can change them, but if I had to pick one, it's a lack of patience. It's something I've actively sought to improve, mostly through reading, and for a number of years, practicing yoga. Now, my martial arts training helps me with this.

Name some novels that have made the biggest impact on your life or on your writing.

Interesting question. I tend to focus on those books that fall within genres I write: children's, middle-grade, and cozy mysteries (I really like Janet Evanovich's style). I've read many creative non-fiction essays that I loved. One by Mohammed Ali titled, "I Am Still the Greatest" is very inspirational. As a young reader, I enjoyed Judy Bloom, and as an adult, one of my favorite stories still is The Sneetches.

My father has had the greatest influence on my writing. I've been fortunate to have a family filled with great role-models. There are people I admire, but they tend not to be those one might expect, and none of them have written a novel. So, the best answer is, experiencing life and observing others experiencing life, has had the biggest impact on my life and writing. Okay—I also love Harry Potter and The 39 Clues!

Give aspiring writers a piece of advice you wish you had known before getting published.

Get over your ego—quickly. Get out of your way. Rejection is part of the game, and it is a game. You're either in it for the long haul or you're not. It's your choice.

Very tough, very motivating! Now give us your best personal advice—something you wish you had known when you were younger and would offer to your own kids.

What you feel or think in this moment, isn't necessarily what you will feel or think 1, 5, or 10+ years from now. Always trust your instincts.

What would you say are the most important attributes to remaining sane as a writer?

An ability to be like a duck. Water slides off of a duck's back, just like rejections should slide off yours. Get a duck whistle as a reminder. Many writers spend too much time thinking about rejections. Analyze them to determine if the problem is your writing, then fix your writing. If that's not why you're work is rejected, then you really don't know the answer. Be willing to let some stuff go.

Love that advice! So, what are some occupational hazards to being a writer?

Writer's cramp and the occasional brain freeze.

What are your goals as a writer?

My primary objective is to become a stronger writer; a better storyteller.

What dreams have been realized as a result of your writing?

My book was picked up by Keene Memorial Library and I was invited to speak there. This was a big deal! Many librarians shy away from self-published authors. I was very fortunate.

That's incredible, and definitely a big deal! Congrats! What is the message in your book that you want readers to grasp?

What you do speaks volumes about who you are, and everyone is watching.

What’s next for you?

In March, I launched Back Porch Writer: The Show for Writers, About Writers and Writing on Blog Talk Radio. It airs, live, each Tuesday at 9:30 a.m. CST. I've chatted with a few great writers, and the archived listens for the show are increasing daily. Of course, I'm pursuing the publication of my writing. Many people asked if I'd write another book of essays, and I am, but it's not about race or being interracial. It's about fear.

Your radio show sounds great, Kori! I'm all the way across the world so I won't be able to tune in but I'll have to take a listen through the archives sometime. And I'm looking for your next book, too. Fear... should be interesting! Where can you be found on the web?

It was a real treat having you over at the blog today, Kori! Thank you so much for joining us, and good luck with your future endeavors.


Here's a quick message from Kori about a fantastic giveaway she's generously hosting at Books à la Mode:
I'm going to copy something I heard recently on NPR. It's called "The race card project." Tell me a story in six words. Not more, not less. Just six words. Mine is: Interracial people create a peaceful world. The two best stories, as determined by Books à la Mode and me, receives a signed copy of my book. Thank you, Karielle, for hosting me at your blog!
Oooh, this is going to be a fun one! Here's mine: Darling, escaping individualism is escaping identity.

This will be an easy-peasy one-entry giveaway. All you have to do is comment with your six-word story and you're entered! Be sure to leave your email address or Twitter handle so I can contact you when you win.

Rules and Disclosure:
Giveaway ends 6 May 2013 at 11.59 PM (your time).
Open to US readers only. Sorry, rest of the world! Check out my sidebar for giveaways that ARE open internationally!
Winners have 48 hours to claim their prize once they are chosen, or else their prizes will be forfeited.
Although I will be selecting winners, I am in no way responsible for prizes, nor for shipping and handling.
As a reminder, you do not have to follow my blog to enter, though it is always very much appreciated ❤ Please follow Kori in some way, as she has been kind enough to provide the wonderful prizes!
Good luck!