Like Melissa Reyes, I too feel more like my true self when I’m writing. It takes a certain something to be able to write about and share personal experiences with readers. I’d also like to note this is the second-to-last author interview I will be posting now that I’ve gone to posting once per week. There’s something so bittersweet about that. Enjoy.
1. Please provide a brief synopsis of your book.
My book is called This is the Sound of My Soul. It is a self-reflection journal-style book that tells a story of transformation. When I was going through hard times in my life, I turned to writing, keeping a journal, and blogging about my life to help me through. During this process, I found my passion and determined a destination for my journey in life.
2. Tell us a little bit about what motivates or inspires your writing.
Writing gives me great pleasure. From using a pen on paper or typing on a keyboard to crafting words, phrases, and sentences to reading and re-reading my work – I love every aspect of writing. I feel more comfortable sharing my thoughts and feelings through writing than speaking about them. I love to share my voice in this way.
I once read the book A Woman of Independent Means by Louisa May Alcott, and I thought I would like to write a book like that someday. I was about 11 years old. I always thought it would be neat for future generations to know me through reading my journals. They could know the real me. My true self comes out best in my writing.
When I began writing a blog and sharing my thoughts, feelings, opinions and ideas with the world I learned that I enjoyed meeting all sorts of people from far off lands that I never would have met if it weren’t for blogging and social media. Writing and reading is a deeper level of communication than that of a conversation alone. I believe it requires more contemplation and thus a better understanding of one another. It is this level of understanding that I love and helps me to thrive. Writing in a way that others can “see into your soul” is artistry.
3. It’s hard to pick just one, but what do you consider your favorite novel and why?
If you have read my book and blog, you might find this hard to believe – but I love crime drama and detective novels! I loved reading Tony Hillerman’s books about Joe Leaphorn set in the Southwest where my mother’s family was from. My husband and I loved reading and discussing Dan Brown’s books and the mystery-adventures of Robert Langdon.
My favorite novel is The Godfather written by Mario Puzo. I was inspired by his screenplay adaptation, his infusion of the real-life stories of the five mob families, and the attention to detail and continuity throughout the novel with the various characters and their back stories. Much like the book I loved as a child by Louisa May Alcott, the influence of generations of families and how they shape our lives has always intrigued me. This transfers to my own writing as I am always thinking of the influence my parents and grandparents had on me, and how that will affect my own children and grandchildren someday.
4. What is the name of your blog and what can readers expect to find there?
The name of my blog is Miz Meliz ~ Discover Your Passion, Live Your Purpose This blog is an opportunity for me to express myself creatively, it is a journal of my experiences, and a place to connect with people. My vision is to help others, through friendship, coaching, consulting, and teaching while applying my gifts and talents in an effort to make a difference in our world .
I am learning new lessons all the time and experiencing new challenges along my journey of life. I wish to share my insights and light the way for others. . . in a fun and real way! I do this by being open and accepting of all people and things that I encounter. I am always searching for new adventures. Everyone is a part of the journey!
5. Are you traditionally published or self-published?
I self-published This is the Sound of My Soul because I wanted to learn the self-publishing process. Since it is my first book, I wanted to know firsthand what the entire process involved. I quickly learned the value of having help with editing and graphic design! I downloaded my body of work onto a program form on CreateSpace.com. I also used their program to design my own cover using a template. My husband helped me with the editing.
6. Can you offer one or two helpful tips for fellow writers when it comes to marketing and publicity?
For me, having a book signing and a hosted reading worked best for sales of copies of my book. That in-person experience made such a big difference. All the exposure via social media has not matched the satisfaction that I get from having a personal connection with readers, family and friends and other supporters. It has been surreal. I have given away more books to date than I have sold. I would love to sell more because I want more people to know my story. I love to get feedback from those who have read it. I am surprised when men tell me they like it and enjoy reading it. I don’t know why. I wrote it for myself and my husband and sons, so I suppose it appeals to all people.
The advice I received for selling self-published books is to write more books. So, I have yet to see if this works. If I do, I will be sure to let you know!
7. Describe your writing background.
I attended a college prep school for middle school and high school and all of my writing and grammar skills stem from that early foundation. I have worked for many years as an administrative and executive assistant where I gained experience writing in the style and voice of other people. This combined with reading various styles of poetry and writing over my lifetime is how I developed my own writing practice. When I wanted to write professionally, I practiced. I wrote as much as possible about anything, just to get a rhythm. I have never attended a writing conference or workshop; however I would love to do so. I also love to read books about writing and do writing exercises.
8. What does your drafting and/or editing process entail?
I write in flow. I self-edit as I go along. I try to write exactly what I am thinking as I am thinking it. When I write poetry, I do it entirely in my mind and don’t write it down until I am pleased with it. If I am writing a sponsored post for the blog, I usually make an outline or list of points I want to make, then I fill in paragraphs. Most of what I post on my blog are first drafts.
9. What future projects can we look forward to?
I hope to write and self-publish another book by October with more excerpts from my blog and my feelings about how determining your core values can lead to a happy and stress free life. Other topics for the book include my insights on mindfulness, finding your passion and living a life of gratitude. I also plan to publish a book of original poetry and photographs by December of 2014.
10. Is there anything else you want your potential readers to know?
I became a Certified Professional Life Coach during the process of writing my blog and book. I look forward to helping more and more people find happiness in the everyday and in reaching their life goals. I would love to meet you at a conference or event that I am speaking at or attending. If you see me please don’t hesitate to say, “Hi Miz Meliz!”
What else might you like to know about Melissa Reyes?
You can connect with Melissa and her social sites via her blog. Please follow the link below to explore the sample pages of her memoir on Amazon.
***THE TWO YOSEMITES is now available!***
The images in this post appear courtesy of the author.
Join me on Finding our Way Now for my latest guest post: The Popularity of Farmers Markets.
What a treat to see someone I know. Like Melissa, writing a blog and sharing my stories has taught me that I can write and the joy it brings to me when others enjoy them. As it is with Melissa, I’ve met all sorts of people I would have never met otherwise.
I would agree, having face to face time with my audience through book signings would be a treat and one I need to consider going forward. I wish Melissa the best in her effort going forward. 🙂
Thanks my friend!
Great interview and I absolutely am on board with the face-to-face connection with readers! Book clubs are great for this also…they were my very favorite thing when I was marketing my first book. I’ll check out her blog and her book too:)
Thanks Jacqueline, I look forward to hearing from you. Tell me about your experience with book clubs. I think I should try that.
Great – like me, another writer who loves everything about the process. I was interested too that you started with a journal which is how I did too. I can imagine it must be a real buzz having that personal connection with your readers. Congratulations on getting your book out there.
Thank you, that means a lot.
I found I could completely relate to her journey within writing. I guess for many writing is a cathartic experience and I am no exception. It was really re-assuring and empowering to hear her answers to your questions. Thanks.
Tim, Writing has definitely been cathartic for me and has changed my life for the better. Good luck to you in your journey.
I do quite a bit of writing about anything too. Crazy when you think most of what I write is never seen by anyone else. Good luck moving into the next book.
It’s nice to see the thoughts of someone who has become a successful blogger and self-published author. I enjoy the writing process as well and am just starting my first ebook. It’s nice to know that writing and self-publishing a book can be done, even if it seems scary!
It can be done Jennifer! I did it by not only setting the goal, but I also set a firm deadline for myself. It was stressful to reach that deadline but I pushed myself really hard and made it happen. I am a new person because of that. I know what it feels like now and I love it! You can do it too!
I enjoy reading articles like this. It is nice to get to know an author better. Sometimes it is hard to understand or picture the person behind the work.
Melissa, thanks for sharing with us today. I am curious as to whether see yourself giving fiction a try at some point or will you most likely stick with nonfiction?
I absolutely hope to write a novel and would love to write a screen play. I have an outline for a one act play that I am planning to submit to a contest for actors. If my play is chosen it will be performed on stage. That would be a dream come true for me! There are a lot of stories in me that are yet to be told!
Great Interview, Jeri & Melissa.
I loved reading about Melissa’s process & passion.
Since I only breathe normally when I write, I so much appreciate
reading how others do this, too.
Thank you for this post & CONGRATS on your new book.
Thanks! Normal breathing…sounds nice! I think I hold my breath a lot when I write.
Jeri, thanks for another good interview and Melissa, thanks for the insights. It is interesting how many good writers start with a journal, the very essence of writing about what you know about. The experience as an administrative assistant and learning to write in the style and voice of others also resonates as I have met several people who did this remarkably well. I assume that for novelists this must help immensely in creating convincing dialogue. Jeri, sorry to see this series drawing to a close but understand the new priorities and look forward to them
Thanks Paul, I loved when my memos and letters started to sound like my boss wrote them, it was appreciated by my boss because it made his life easier. He could tell me the essence of what he wanted to say and I could polish it up. I got a kick out of it. I liked that I understood him and could relay those nuances. I never imagined what useful tool it was that I had learned. I can’t wait to make characters come alive using similar techniques.
Thanks for bringing Melissa into the spotlight… I really enjoyed the interview, particularly the excerpts as regard to writing process and sources of inspiration…
Best wishes, Aquileana 🙂
I want to know how long it took you to decide on your favorite book, Melissa. Was that an instant know or a pondered choice? Because I’m just impressed that not only could you name one, but articulate so clearly what it was about it that made it special to you. This is coming from someone whose memory of books read is really shady. 🙂
It was an instant know for me, but I will admit I’ve been asked the question a lot since I wrote my book. Seriously, the the things that come to mind when I ponder would be enough to fill another book! I did have to look up names of characters to make sure they were spelled correctly. I am pretty foggy about things I’ve read long ago, but I have read all of my favorites multiple times.
Nice to meet you through Jeri’s site. It is easy to pick up on your love of writing. I have been infected with the bug since age 7, and I’ve never looked back. Thank you Jeri for a great interview, and thank you Melissa for sharing your passion. What kind of work was involved in arranging hosted readings? Did you meet with resistance, or was it fairly easy?
Great question Bill, As things turned out I had written a blog post that was in my book about a place that I fell in love with. It was a coffee house. Once the book was published, I went back there and asked if I could have a book signing there. The owner offered to host it. It was an amazing experience sitting in that place, reading an excerpt from the book, which was about that place. The best part was sharing my “find” with all of my family and friends who attended.
Interesting interview. Isn’t it funny how something we read when we are young can have an impact on our lives. Used to love and read The Three Musketeers by Alexandre Dumas a lot when I was 8-10 years old. Not sure I became like them:-)
Was contemplating this statement Melissa made: “Writing and reading is a deeper level of communication than that of a conversation alone”. In my opinon that depends. Sometimes it is, sometimes not. If you really read the person you are having a conversation with with all your senses I can be really deep.
I agree with you Catarina,
A personal connection can be really deep, and conversations can be revealing. That is truly a gift when that happens. For me, when developing new friendships, I have found that the relationships that I have made online through writing and reading one’s thoughts and feelings have accelerated to a more complex relationship more quickly than that of an in-person relationship with conversation alone. In my life, I don’t always have the time to spend really reading the person I am in a conversation with with all my senses. Yet, I am grateful to have had that experience and you are right, it is amazing using all your senses that way. Thank you for pointing that out. 🙂
Great interview Jeri. Thanks for introducing us to Melissa.
I love your writing philosophy: in the flow and editing as you go. I have a question: how were you able to use the song title as your book title?
Going over to check your blog now.
Thanks for asking Patricia, That was a highlight of my life! I would say check out the book to find out, but I am a story teller and I can’t resist. I have always loved Spandau Ballet and I mention a few phrases from their songs in my writing now and then. When I decided on the title, I requested permission from the publicist for Gary Kemp, the song writer of “True”- “This is the Sound of My Soul” is a phrase from that song. I was granted permission to use it as my title by the company as long as I listed “Used with permission by Gary Kemp.” It was so exciting! All it took was a little research and a few emails. Totally worth it!
Wow! That’s a fascinating story with the story! Thanks Melissa.
Mix Meliz sounds delightful, like someone I could really relate to. Thanks for sharing her with us. I’ll miss these interviews!
I met Melissa at a conference in Atlanta this past March. We fell into an easy, comfortable conversation, and before long we decided to continue the conversation over dinner. We spent quite a bit of time together, and when the conference ended we went our separate ways, each of us knowing that a great friendship had been forged. Melissa was kind enough to send me her book, which I thoroughly enjoyed. Her writing is friendly and honest, and does indeed come from her soul. She cannot know fully just how much of an influence she has been for me, how inspirational her encouragement has been, and how the peace and joy she feels in life emanates from her and draws everyone in. Thank you, Miz Meliz!
Ditto Denise! It was a joy to make friends with you!
Thanks for sharing your writing process, Miz Meliz. One of my favorite things is learning about other writers writing lives.
I dread the question about favorite books–there are so many! For me, the favorites change over time. It’s not that I stop liking previous ones; I merely add to the pile. My current fave is “We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves” by Karen Joy Fowler.
I used to dread the question as well, Jagoda. I always feel like I don’t read enough or as much as other writers and readers. So, I really thought about overall influences throughout my life. What am I drawn to, again and again. Why are my current favorites my faves? Is it because they are similar in style or genre to my original favorites? For non-fiction I love Don Miguel Ruiz’ The Four Agreements. Huge influence for me!
Melissa, You are right up my alley. I love journaling, inspirational books, and anything uplifting. I will have to look up your book. Good luck on your future endeavors. 🙂
Thanks Crystal, I’m on Twitter @MizMeliz and you can find my book at CreateSpace eStore: https://www.createspace.com/4467005 I hope you like it!
I can definitely relate to the writing process, as I am sure all writers can. It is interesting that the first book was self-published. I think this is becoming a popular (yet expensive) trend for writers who are publishing for the first time. I am definitely considering it.
It was very low cost Karoly. I used the free templates in Create Space and I spent more on business cards and post cards than I did on publishing.
Interesting interview. I like to hear about other writers’ processes. I found it interesting that Melissa self-edits as she goes along. Often writers are told to turn their inner editors off and just get that first draft written. I find that I need to do at least some self-editing as I go along, although my first draft is nowhere near my final.
I do re-read a few times before I post my writing on my blog and I make some changes now and then. I find reading it aloud helps me to edit. Since all my work had been published on my blog, I basically just edited for continuity and grammar for the book. I didn’t want to change it too much. I think my process will be much different when I publish a novel. When writing from the heart about myself, I use the “what you see is what you get” mentality. Sometime people don’t get me. I have learned to accept it. 🙂
I loved this interview with Melissa. She sounds like such a modest person and I am sure her book will be interesting. Welldone to her for getting her book published.
Thank you Mina!
Very nice to be introduced to Melissa and learn more about her writing process. Each writer has a slightly different story so I like getting the inside scoop!
Hi Melissa and Jeri – this was a wonderful interview and great background on Melissa – makes me want to know her better and I think that’s what interviews are supposed to do. I was really interested in her use of Create Space and will check it and her blog out.
Thanks Lenie! I hope you enjoy the blog, that’s what it’s all about. Getting to know each other.
Thanks for a great interview as always Jeri. Having a lessons learnt blog myself, I like the fact that Melissa speaks of learning new lessons daily. I am thinking about having a guest on my blog and she could be just the one…your views?
That was a very interesting interview. I am not a writer and it never seizes to amaze me when someone writes so well and then to maybe take it to the next level and maybe write a screen play. I like reading books because they can take to place that even though it is the author’s idea we tend to add our own spin to visualize. I am going to check out Melissa’s blog because the interview left you with wanting more
Very thorough interview. I need to check out her blog and some of her works.
I really enjoyed this look into the writing process of Melissa. For someone always searching for ways to change things up, it’s great to get insight into an author’s background and writing process. I agree with her that reading and writing trump conversation any day of the week.
Thanks for the introduction. Another author who writes like me, except for the poetry part. LOL Best wishes for selling lots of books!
Great choice on the Godfather as I STILL own that book to this day, Melissa! Another terrific interview, Jeri 🙂
Enjoyed the interview! I like that you step outside of social media and promote through book signings and readings. I hope you managed to fill the house! Your passion for writing is an inspiration.