Allow me to introduce you to Monica Bruno. It’s been two months since I last posted an author interview, and it’s high time I got back into the swing of things with a monthly author interview. I hope you’ll agree that this interview is worth the wait. It’s inspiring to see how much luck Monica has been having with her first book release.
1. Please provide a brief synopsis of your book.
Rachel’s Folly is my debut novel. It’s a story set in Austin, Texas that takes a serious, thoughtful look at the consequences of adultery. It begins with an assertive sexual seduction, develops into a psychological drama, morphs into a mystery, and finally ends up a fast-paced suspense-thriller.
2. Tell us a little bit about what motivates or inspires your writing.
I’ve never considered myself a writer, but I’ve always been a pretty good story teller. Even at a very young age, I loved making up stories. So, one day, when I was 38 years old with the impending “four oh” lurking on the horizon, I decided to write a book. Not for monetary reasons or to gain notoriety, but solely as a personal goal. It took me four years, and many, many drafts, but I finally completed it.
I love writing because it’s a self discovering journey for me. I usually start at point A, with a general idea of where I want things to go, only to have my characters take the story in a different, often more interesting direction. Writing makes me more conscious and open to the world around me. I become very aware of my surroundings. I find myself eavesdropping on stranger’s conversations and listening to their language, tone and mannerisms.
It doesn’t come easy for me. I have to make writing part of my daily routine, with a minimum goal of 250 words per day. It can be laborious at times, but when it does come together, when the words come out effortlessly, like the characters are acting and speaking through me, it’s nothing short of magical. I can write thousands of words without thinking about it.
Plus, knowing a reader wandered through a world I created, and enjoyed it, is a total rush!
3. It’s hard to pick just one, but what do you consider your favorite novel and why?
My knee jerk reaction would be to site Stephen King’s Misery, but, I would have to say, the novel I come back to the most is Rosemary’s Baby by Ira Levin. I absolutely love Levin’s style. He has a way of telling the story without drawing attention to the words. Without using overripe prose, he moves the tale forward effortlessly. I aspire to write in the same fashion.
4. What is the name of your blog and what can readers expect to find there?
I started my blog, Runner Girl, to share my experiences with writing, running and life in general. However, I admit, I don’t blog very well or very often. I prefer to use my author Facebook page to post pictures and information regarding Rachel’s Folly and my writing. I find Facebook more natural and easier to use to connect with readers.
5. Are you traditionally published or self-published?
Because my book started out as a personal project, I never considered approaching a traditional publisher. I self-published via CreateSpace. I formatted and uploaded the text myself (it wasn’t hard, it just takes practice). I also took the pictures used for the book cover (with my iPhone) and had a graphic artist friend design and format them for me.
6. Can you offer one or two helpful tips for fellow writers when it comes to marketing and publicity?
The first thing I did when I decided to try and market Rachel’s Folly was to get legitimate reviews. I looked for book critics who were specifically interested in my genre and were open to reading independently published work.
I was terrified to read the first review I received. When I finally built up the courage to read it, and realized not only did the critic like my book, he actually loved it, I was literally brought to tears. Sometimes encouraging words from the right person is enough to motivate you to do anything.
Once I had some reviews under my belt, I planned and promoted my book launch through Facebook. We ended up with a packed house. I had five door prizes, each correlating with a different character in the book. We sold out of books before the night was over.
In addition to trying to build awareness and a fan base through Facebook, I try to attend book festivals and get into local independent bookstores. I also held a giveaway on Goodreads and had over 400 readers add Rachel’s Folly to their “to read” lists.
I try not to get too bogged down with the ups and downs of sales and focus on building one reader at a time.
7. Describe your writing background.
I have a bachelor’s degree in Liberal Arts from St. Mary’s University. I have no formal training in creative writing. I do, however, attend writing workshops and writing groups.
8. What does your drafting and/or editing process entail?
I write the rough draft by myself. Once this is complete, I’ll work with an editor (sometimes two) to look for holes, check the tone and flow and make sure it is structurally correct. The pruning process begins and scenes are cut, I write new ones and slowly build a stronger story. When this is complete, I’ll have three or four beta readers (good friends who’ll give me their honest opinions) take a crack at it and give me their feedback. If any of their recommendations resonate with me, I make changes. Once all of that is done, my editor will do a final proofreading, and then it’s complete.
I know there are a lot of writers who do not like to use editors. But working with the right editor is an absolute must for me. An editor can’t write a novel for you, only you know the story in your head. But a good editor can help you tell your story in a better way. And a great editor can ask the right questions to help you uncover things you never knew you had in you. They can see your blind spots and can help you build the bones and expose the soul of your story.
9. What future projects can we look forward to?
I never intended on writing another book, but because the response to Rachel’s Folly has been so positive; I’ve been inspired to write a sequel. The working title is called Reprisal, and I hope to complete it within the next two years.
10. Is there anything else you want your potential readers to know?
Since the protagonist of Rachel’s Folly is a runner, a lot of people ask if Rachel is me. My answer is yes. But, I’m also her brother, her best friend, her husband, and her mother. I’m all the characters to some extent. I may not have had all their experiences, but I have felt all of their pains, their hopes, their insecurities and their fears.
Is there anything else you would like to know about Monica Bruno?
You can connect with Monica and her social media sites via her blog. Please follow the link below to explore the sample pages of her novel on Amazon.
The images in this post appear courtesy of the author.
Article by Jeri Walker-Bickett aka JeriWB
This sounds like a good one Jeri and she sounds delightful! Nothing like an accidental writer, eh? Laugh! But one that knows she had to develop her craft…I love that 🙂 I love that she has been inspired to write a sequel and I will definitely check out Rachel’s Folly
Thank you for your kind words, Jacquie! 🙂
Jeri, thanks for sharing this thoughtful interview with Monica Bruno. I enjoyed learning her writing and publication process and particularly relate to the idea of writing as a “self discovering Journey”
Thanks for your comment Paul. Writing is quite an awakening experience! 😉
I consider myself more of a story-teller and less of an “author” too. Rachel’s Folly sounds like my kind of book! Jan
Cheers to you Jan, my fellow story teller! 😉
I enjoyed reading about Monica’s “coming to writing” story and about her process. I especially like how you, Monica, focus on winning one reader at a time.
Thanks for telling us about Monica, Jeri.
Thank you Jagoda!
Great interview, ladies! Thanks for bringing Rachel’s Folly to my attention 🙂
So glad you liked it DV 🙂
Isn’t it fun having all those voices talking in your head, even when they are all a part of you?
Yes, Jon, it is fun … and a little scary, too 😉
Really enjoyable interview, and very encouraging to hear of Rachel’s success. Thanks so much for sharing your process, both on writing the book, but also the marketing. All good stuff:-)
Thanks for your kind words A.K. 🙂
MB dixit: “Writing it’s a self discovering journey”
Hi Jeri and Monica…
So good to read about Monica´s “Rachel’s Folly” and the coming up sequel…
Just wanted to say here that “Rosemary’s Baby” is one of my favorite horror movies and that Bruno´s first portrait photo is beautiful…
Thanks for sharing and all the very best, Aquileana 😛
Thanks so much Aquileana 🙂
It’s nice to see that something that started off just as a personal project, has had such a great response and that there is going to be a sequel to Rachel’s Folly. That first awesome book review must have been incredible and made you feel like you could accomplish anything after that. Congratulations on your success! I look forward to reading Rachel’s Folly.
Thanks so much Susan. Yes, it was an amazing moment when I read that review. I felt like even if no one else ever read the story, all my hard work had been validated. I know we shouldn’t put so much value on someone’s opinion (good or bad) since, it’s just that, their opinion, but, I’ll never forget that feeling. I hope you enjoy the story 🙂
Congratulations! I love the book, and the subject matter. Thank you for the great information about self-promotion. You are a wealth of knowledge and determination when it comes to writing and getting a project completed! I can’t wait for the sequel, especially since I’ve had a preview of the main character’s intriguing inner conflicts. Seriously, kudos. It feels so good to see someone stick to it and succeed.
Thanks Susannah. Your support and encouragement mean a lot to me. I look forward to writing Ben’s story and your help with improving my developing my craft! 😉
Monica, it was so great to have you here today. I can totally relate to how you state the words don’t come easy. I fuss over mine way too much, but in the end, it’s always worth it.
Jeri, thank you so much for interviewing me. It was such a pleasure to share my story. I wish you and all your fellow followers/writers great success.
A great deal of this resonated within the deepest recesses of the labyrinth that is my writer’s mind. What I loved most was the ‘are you Rachel?’ comment, and the answer to it. I get asked that question a lot (although, admittedly, not Rachel, but I could be . . . ). What it says is that Rachel is entirely believable; Monica MUST be Rachel to be able to bring that character across so authentically in order for the question to be asked. But, that said, every character also; each and every one of them is a part of a true writer, and I love that she alludes to that; each and every one a window to the writer’s soul–which is often not realized from a reader’s perspective. Well done Monica, you are what I consider ‘born to it.’ Isn’t it great when you, finally, realize that?
Thank you for the kind words S P. I don’t know if I’m “born to it” as it’s still a lot of hard work. The magic happens too few and far between for me. But, when it does, I absolutely love it. The satisfaction of “falling into the page” is enough to carry me through the daily chore of getting there.
I loved reading about Rachel’s Folly starting off as a personal goal. What I find even more exciting is that Monica’s book is taking off. Congratulations to Monica and I wish her much success with her writings.
“I find myself eavesdropping on stranger’s conversations and listening to their language, tone and mannerisms.” A great example of life being a writer’s research. 🙂
Thanks Denise, you’re very kind! 🙂
This sounds like a book I should read, as I’m a mystery fan. Monica obviously understood how to promote her book. I’m never going to write a book, but I’m curious to know how she identified reviewers who are willing to review self-published books. Maybe the walls are coming down and reviewers are learning that self-published authors can write a good read, too!
Hi Jeannette, thanks for your comment. 🙂
I found a few websites that compile book critics who are open to reviewing independent authors for you (i.e. The Indie Book Reviewers List http://www.theindieview.com/indie-reviewers/ ). Altough, I still had to visit each book critic’s blog and read their guidelines first. I also combed through Amazon and looked for top reviewers who had reviewed similar books to mine. I do feel like critics are beginning to be more open to reading independent works, as long as they have been edited by a professional.
Sounds like an interesting read. So glad to hear of her success self-publishing. It gives the rest of courage to try it too. 🙂
Thanks for you comment Cheryl. I don’t think there’s ever been a better time for author’s to publish independently. Good luck and I hope you publish soon! 🙂
Interesting interview, Jeri. Thx for posting.
I find it fascinating how each of us writers has a different platform that we prefer. Although I have an author’s page on FB, I don’t use it much. I far prefer my blog. And I’ve never tried a Goodreads giveaway, but it sounds like it produced tremendous results for Monica, so maybe I should try it!
Thanks for your comment, Doreen. Just FYI, I gave away 10 copies and my giveaway lasted 30 days. You may find even greater results if you give more books away and/or hold it for a longer period of time. Good luck! 🙂
Fun interview. Her book sounds like a fast paced riot. Monica makes the process of promoting a book sound so easy. I think its interesting that she prefers Facebook over blogging to promote he book, promotion really is about the personality of the author.
Thanks for your comment, Debra. And, I think you’re right. Marketing can be a lot more fun if you do it in ways that come more naturally for you. Maybe, one day, I’ll be more comfortable blogging. 😉
I like that Monica says she is all of the readers to some extent. That is so true, as they all do come from the same mind 🙂 This is a great interview for what sounds like a terrific read! Thank you Jeri for introducing us to Monica.