Allow me to introduce you to my former student and now friend, Amanda Michelle Moon. Her book, Stealing the Ruby Slippers, was just released, and I can't wait to read it! I'm so excited about everything she's doing that I asked her if I could interview her and she graciously said yes. Read on! And check out her Kindle Countdown Deal that starts today (details at the end of the post).
AMM: Jared Canning is in over his head with gambling debt, and has a bookie on his trail. He gets an opportunity to earn the money he needs by breaking into a small-town museum, stealing Judy Garland’s Ruby Slippers, and selling them to a buyer in New Orleans. The robbery goes off perfectly. But Hurricane Katrina wipes out New Orleans, and his buyer, and Jared is stuck—both with the shoes and with a debt he can’t pay.
CRD: Did I see somewhere that this is the first of a series?
AMM: I wrote it to be a stand alone book. Then, while out walking the dog exactly two weeks before the release date, the major plot details for a sequel came to me. Right now I’m working on outlining and doing character sketches for the sequel.
CRD: Where did you get the idea for the book?
AMM: I grew up in Hill City, Minnesota, fifteen miles south of Grand Rapids, where Judy Garland was born. The museum there was the summer home of a pair of Ruby Slippers she wore in The Wizard of Oz. In August of 2005 I was newly married, living with my husband in Nashville, Tennessee, watching coverage of Hurricane Katrina when I saw the headline across the ticker at the bottom of the screen: “Ruby Slippers stolen from museum in Grand Rapids, Michigan.” I freaked out. Grand Rapids, MN, is really small, and almost always confused with Michigan. I called my parents (they still live there) and confirmed what actually happened. The two events, while in reality have no connection what so ever, have been linked in my mind ever since.
AMM: I’d had the idea for this book in my head for years, but I’ve been (and still am) working on another novel, so I didn’t actually sit down to write it until November of last year. It took 21 days to get the first draft done, but I had a very detailed outline. 2014 is the 75th anniversary of The Wizard of Oz and I knew that releasing the book to coincide with all of the festivals would be the best free publicity I would ever get, so I worked my tail off to get it completed. With a timeline that tight, indie/self publishing is the only option. I didn’t have time to query agents or publishers, or to get on a publisher’s schedule or timeline. Indie publishing is a lot of work. I was lucky—a teacher at Hamline put me in touch with a former editor from one of Minneapolis’s publishers, and he talked me through the whole process. A friend of mine, Joe Hart, has had great success self publishing and he gave me a lot of insight and resources. I’m still working on/struggling with marketing and getting the word out. I have a great base of friends and family, and there is a wonderful Wizard of Oz fan base that I’m tapping into. But wider visibility is hard. If you are willing to give up half (or more) of your writing time to the business side of publishing, I do think indie is a good option. I have a history in the music industry and have seen the shift there from the major labels to indies and how good that has been for the artists. Everything we’re seeing in the publishing industry now I saw when I was at labels in the early 2000s. That’s not to say the major houses are going away—or that the prestige of publishing with them is any less desirable—but I know, at least sometimes, it’s a better move to go indie, retain control, and work your butt off.
CRD: When you're not writing novels, what do you do?
AMM: I’ve got two kids, Lily is six and Austin is almost five, so they keep me busy. One of them is always home. I can’t really even imagine what life is going to be like when they’re both in the same school at the same time next year. I’ve also got two dogs, a husband, and a jewelry line (spiralingforward.com). When I’m not busy with any of that, I’m enjoying life in Minneapolis. This town is awesome. From the lakes to the Institute of Art…I love it here. Oh—and yoga and Pilates. I used to teach Pilates and might start again when the kids are in school next year.
CRD: You're currently working on your MFA at Hamline. You and I worked together at the Writer's Loft in Nashville. How has going to school affected your writing?
AMM: I’m a lot more critical, which isn’t a bad thing. I hate the whole editing process. I write really fast, and it’s not awful, and for a long time that was good enough. But having to turn things in for grades and comments…I had to make peace with editing because getting minor issues pointed out is embarrassing. Also, deadlines are awesome for getting work done.
CRD: Having worked with you in the past I know you produce prodigious amounts of writing. Can you tell us a bit about your schedule?
AMM: Well…for a while I was working a retail job with a completely erratic schedule that meant both of my kids were in daycare and the days I had off I could focus on writing. Those days it was common for me to knock out 7-10K words. Ahhhh…the good old days… Now, with at least one kid home at all times, and a husband who is self employed and works from the basement, I’ve had to get more purposeful. Until 9:00am is my time every morning. For a while I was getting up at 5:30 (it was required to get StRS out on time) but I need more sleep than that. So most days I’m up around 6:30 and in my office, working, by 7:00. I have several projects I’m working on now: a sequel to this, the aforementioned novel, a YA book, and a collection of short stories. I break my time out into chunks and dedicate a certain amount to each project. I use a lot of the time management tools that Kimberly Wilson talks about at Tranquility Du Jour, and I recently discovered Nozbe, which I think is going to help with the organization a lot.
CRD: What is your best advice to other writers?
AMM: I have two: 1) Find a writers group. You need to get regular feedback (and camaraderie) from other writers that you trust. Writers can spot problems with your work that your beta readers don’t. (let’s face it—your beta readers are there because they like what you write.) 2) Have more than one project going at a time. That way, when you get stuck, you won’t just give up, you can move on to something else. At the same time, if one project is going really, really good, (provided you’re not missing any deadlines) let the other projects drop away for a bit. Find the best time of day for you to work.
CRD: Anything else we should know about your book, your writing, or you?
AMM: My blog is amandamichellemoon.com. You can see a lot pictures of my kids and dog if you check out my instagram (amandamoon) and on Facebook (AmandaMichelleMoonWriter) I actually post about my writing.
CRD: Thanks, Amanda and good luck with the book!
If you'd like to buy the book, Amanda is running a Kindle Countdown deal the next few days. Details below.
Stealing the Ruby Slippers will cost:
0.99 Thur-Sunday, June 19th-22
1.99 Monday & Tuesday, June 23 & 24
2.99 until 11:59pm PST Wednesday June 25
Regular price (5.99) 11pm PST on June 25.