Today we sit down with inspiring blogger and author Amy Bovaird. She is going to share her inspiration, a bit about her writing process and some of her work.
Please enjoy this edition of 20 Questions:
Q1) When did you first realize you wanted to be a writer?
I gradually realized I wanted to be a writer. I enjoyed creating newsletters from wherever I lived and taught abroad. I liked experimenting with the layout in MS Publisher to make them look as professional as possible while depicting the humor of the experience by creating a picture. Those were the days you could first superimpose pictures on each other and create a unique piece of clipart to fit a piece of writing. Nowadays, we have real photographs now but I kind of miss the creativity that went along with designing personalized clipart. In 2006, I returned to the United States to live and thought I would become a freelance writer and put those newsletters into a book. Whew! I didn’t have the discipline to make it then. I took some distance writing classes and learned the rudiments of good writing, joined a critique group, and started sending out articles. Finally, I was ready for my first book. That turned out to be a ghostwriting opportunity that fell into my lap. It took ten months to complete that book and then I was ready to be serious about the books I had in mind. I independently published my first book in 2014.
Q2) How long does it typically take you to write a book?
There is no typical time. The book I ghost-wrote took me ten months, six months of really serious writing. My first memoir took me four months. My second memoir took me a year and a half. I thought it would be easier to write slice-of-life stories but it was actually easier to keep going with the momentum of a chronological story in terms of the story arc rather than have to ensure each small story had its own arc.
Q3) What is your work schedule like when you’re writing?
I am glued to the keyboard most mornings Monday through Friday and I fit in more writing afternoons and evenings as time allows. I stop at 3 or 3:30 pm to prepare dinner for my mother and brother. I follow the WED technique—write every day and send something out on Wednesday to a magazine. If I’m into a story, I write into the wee hours of the night.
Q4) What would you say is your interesting writing quirk?
The closest I have to a writing quirk is that I bat words back and forth over the phone with a close friend. I also have a penchant for creating misplaced and dangling modifiers, which make my sentences sound even more comical aloud.
Q5) How are your books published?
My first memoir was independently published. My second one was snagged up by a smaller international publishing company. I was so fortunate to find it publicizing my first book.
Q6) Where do you get your ideas for your books?
My books come from my personal experiences, which I write to bring awareness to ongoing vision loss and Usher Syndrome, the rare, incurable genetic disease I suffer from. Usher Syndrome is the leading cause of deaf blindness in the world. I also write about living abroad to teach about culture. Sometimes my stories have Christian takeaways. However, these, too, are based on my life experiences.
Q7) If you don’t mind sharing, when did you write your first book?
Though I had attempted to write my own book earlier and even received personalized feedback in an intense mentoring email program with an agent, I didn’t finish it. I wrote my first published book for a ghostwriting client four years ago in 2012. I loved fleshing out my client’s love story into words but it was a steep learning curve as I had so much to learn about the craft of writing. I revised the first chapter repeatedly for two months (at no charge to my client) until my critique group pronounced it “compelling.”
Q8) What do you like to do when you’re not writing?
I like travelling, tasting international cuisine, hiking, spending time with friends or family and meeting new people from other countries. I also love to lose myself in a good novel set in another country.
Q9) What is your favorite book?
I don’t have a favorite book but I love to read well-crafted love stories, especially Amish ones by Wanda E. Brunstetter and Beverly Lewis. But I also enjoy reading international memoirs, like Angela’s Ashes and Stolen Lives: Twenty Years in a Desert Jail by Malika Qufkir. On the other hand, I loved great literature like Lonesome Dove by Larry McMurdy and novels by Amy Tan, Egyptian compilations by Naguib Mafouz and A Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel García Márquez
Q10) What do your family and friends think of your writing?
I think most people enjoy reading my accounts since they’re entertaining. My mother is not as impressed. She’d rather I cook dinner on time and leave the writing to someone else! J
Q11) What was one of the most surprising things you learned in creating your books?
I was surprised to find I could intertwine humor and culture to engage my readers. My humor tends to be gentle, slapstick and I poke fun of myself more than anything else. Humorous writing takes a lot of crafting.
Q12) What do you hate most about the writing process?
I really hate trying to be a perfectionist but I can’t let go of rewriting a piece so many times. I wish I could get my manuscript down in all its imperfections and then rewrite because I slow myself down by having to have each piece read the best it can be before moving on.
Q13) How many books have you written? Which is your favorite?
I’ve written three books but have no favorites. There are several down the pike I plan to write, however.
Q14) Do you have any suggestions to help us become better writers? If so, what are they?
Three suggestions: Discipline, join some kind of critique group for accountability and learn the craft of writing.
Discipline is so important. Blogging regularly helped me become more disciplined. It also captured more of my experiences, giving me more fodder. Discipline looks different to each person. Some say get up earlier and others say stay up later. Develop it in a way that works for you.
I moved forward in my intentions most when I joined a critique group. I tried online and face-to-face groups. Each gave me something important: accountability. The face-to-face group gave me a sense of added confidence.
Learning the craft can be accomplished in several ways. I don’t really like reading about the craft but I took time to research writing for my genre. What helped me learn more about craft was attending local writing conferences, reading and critiquing my colleagues’ work and learning from the ensuing discussion.
Q15) Do you get feedback from your readers much? How and what kinds of things do they say?
Yes, on my blogs. They are quite surprised by a lot of insights I provide about hearing and vision loss. They love my travel blogs and contribute their own anecdotes.
Q16) What is your preferred reading audience?
Anyone I can entertain, encourage or teach through personal experience. My audience is usually Christian, armchair travellers, vision-impaired or hard-of-hearing or educators themselves.
Q17) What do you think makes a good story?
A good story must have strong emotion, unexpected twists, good pacing and lots of dialogue to seamlessly move it forward.
Q18) As a child, what did you want to do when you grew up?
When I was growing up, I don’t remember having any big career goal but in high school, I developed a stronger sense of what I wanted to do: learn languages, be a missionary, a Peace Corps volunteer or work for a NGO overseas.
Q19) Where can we find your books?
You can find my books on Amazon, iTunes, Audible.com and on my website: amybovaird.com
Q20) Will you give us an excerpt from one of your own favorite works?
This is an excerpt from a story in my new book called “I Didn’t See the Flood” It takes place at a southern church social.
A little while later, I changed my mind. The thought of a glass of sweet iced tea seemed to fit the bill. “I’ll be right back,” I whispered, making my way over to the refreshment table. There, I picked up the only cup, a Styrofoam one, and placed it under the nozzle of the large iced tea container and flipped the lever forward.
Whoosh! The cup flew to the floor.
Uh-oh. I bent over to pick up the cup but forgot that the ice tea was still flowing out since I didn’t actually see it. Suddenly, I heard it. To hide what I thought was a little mistake, I thrust the cup under the spigot again to catch the iced tea.
A woman I didn’t know rushed over. “Dear, cain’t you see….” That’s when she spied my cane. “I mean, you cain’t see it. But there’s a ho-wel in the bottom of youh cup,” she said, drawing out the word ‘hole’ as only a southerner can. “Don’t worry. Honey, it’s…it’s… allll right,” the lady said, her voice sounding more than a bit panicked.
The next moment, a cascade of sweet tea shot through the cup in my hand, sending it flying once more while the rest of the tea gushed with the unchecked power of Niagara Falls over the edge of the table.
“Turn it off, turn it off,” shouted another church-goin’ lady speeding to the scene.
The click of high heels followed as another called, “Get that cup!” Like it was a runaway fugitive. Stop! Don’t let the baddie get away.
Soon, several blurry bodies sped over to organize a lined flood patrol, passing down paper towels. With dropped jaws, they spoke in hushed words of disbelief.
“It’s the strangest thing….”
“I’ve never seen anything like it!”
“…a ho-wel in the cup.” At this point, several heads moved in to inspect the defective cup, now in custody.
I felt my face heat up several degrees as I slunk away from the small crowd. One older lady took charge and sat me down, “Now honey, you don’t worry none about this. You have youhself a slice of pe-can pie.”
About Amy Bovaird:
As an international traveler and teacher, Amy was diagnosed several years ago with a dual disability—progressive vision and hearing loss due to Usher Syndrome—but continues to enjoy running, hiking and traveling. Amy is an accomplished public speaker on a variety of topics based on her life experiences and also volunteers with local and national animal rescue organizations.
She blogs about the challenges she faces as she loses more vision and hearing, shares the lessons God reveals to her through her difficulties and manages to find humor around almost every corner.
Connect with Amy and find her books:
Cane Confessions doesn’t come out until November so no link as of yet.