I am delighted to welcome back author Abbie Johnson Taylor to the Sunday Interview and before we find out which questions she has selected, let me introduce her properly.
About Abbie Johnson Taylor.
I live in Sheridan, Wyoming, where for six years, I cared for my late husband Bill, totally blind, who was partially paralyzed by two strokes soon after we were married. Before that, I was a registered music therapist and worked for fifteen years in a nursing home and other facilities that served senior citizens. I have a visual impairment, and during this time, I facilitated a support group for others like me. I also taught braille and served on the advisory board of a trust fund that allows persons with blindness or low vision to purchase adaptive equipment and services.
I’m the author of a romance novel, two poetry collections, and a memoir and am working on another novel. My poems, short stories, and essays have been published in various journals and anthologies. I belong to several writers’ organizations and a women’s singing group and take water exercise classes at the YMCA
We will take a look at Abbie’s books later in the post including The Red Dress with an excerpt from this latest release.
Welcome back to Smorgasbord Abbie. When you look back on your life, what key elements such as childhood, education, inspiration, experience motivated you to write?
My writing is mostly influenced by memories of my younger years and stories I hear. I was inspired to write my new novel, The Red Dress, after attending a memoir writing workshop where an elderly woman shared a similar true story about a red blouse. Her story’s ending isn’t the same as mine.
How long have you been an author, and how has your writing changed between your first and most recent book?
I started writing in 2000 as a hobby while I was a registered music therapist, working full-time in nursing homes and other facilities that served senior citizens. Five years later when I married my late husband Bill, he persuaded me to quit that and write full-time, which was what I wanted to do.
Since then, I’ve published five books. Through years of participation in writers’ groups and workshops and reading books on craft, I learned when to show and not tell and how to write effective dialog. I still need to work on description, but at least I know when it’s not relevant to a story.
Are your books indie or mainstream published and please tell us about your publishing process and the pitfalls you may have encountered?
Most of my books are self-published. Only my poetry chapbook was produced by a traditional publisher, Finishing Line Press.
My first two books were published by iUniverse. I found them hard to work with because they charged way too much for just the production of the book, which did not include copyediting. The proofs they emailed me weren’t accessible to the screen reading software on my computer. After my first novel was released, I kept receiving phone calls from the same person in the marketing department, trying to sell me this or that expensive promotion package, which I thought was inappropriate.
With Finishing Line Press, everything had to be submitted in both hard copy and electronically, which was inconvenient, time-consuming and, I thought, unnecessary. They also expected to receive a certain number of pre-orders for the book. When that didn’t happen, I was expected to pay the balance for the book’s production. This is ridiculous, and I doubt I’ll work with them again.
My last two books were produced by DLD Books in Denver, Colorado. David and Leonore Dvorkin are also authors with published books, and their business helps writers with copyediting and formatting books for Amazon, Smashwords, and other online retailers. The books are made available in print and eBook formats. For the benefit of those, like me, who have an impairment that makes reading difficult, the Kindle versions are text-to-speech enabled. They do great work, and their rates are reasonable. As long as they’re in business and willing to work with me, I won’t publish with anyone else.
What would be your advice for an aspiring author before they put pen to paper?
Do a lot of reading. Read books in the genre in which you wish to write. Also, you should read books on craft in your particular genre and subscribe to such magazines as The Writer and Poets and Writers. These offer advice and information about markets where you can submit your work. And of course, learning proper grammar usage is important, maybe not for fictional characters but definitely for narrative. Find local, state, and national writing groups in which you can participate, especially those that offer feedback on your work. Don’t feel like you have to do any of this before you start writing. I’ve published five books, and I still do these things.
What is your editing process, and do you use any software that you have found particularly helpful?
Because my late husband was a baseball fan, I’ve developed the three-strikes-and-you’re-out approach to editing. I read through a manuscript three times before submitting it. Why stop there? You can edit and edit and edit until the cows come home, but you’ll never get anything published. Even now, when I read something that has already been published, I see something I could have written differently.
I use Microsoft Word for most of my writing projects. Because of my visual impairment, I use screen reading software that tells me what I’m writing and helps me navigate the screen. I also use a braille display.
About the Red Dress
When Eve went to her high school senior prom, she wore a red dress that her mother had made for her. That night, after dancing with the boy of her dreams, she caught him in the act with her best friend. Months later, Eve, a freshman in college, is bullied into giving the dress to her roommate. After her mother finds out, their relationship is never the same again.
Twenty-five years later, Eve, a bestselling author, is happily married with three children. Although her mother suffers from dementia, she still remembers, and Eve still harbors the guilt for giving the dress away. When she receives a Facebook friend request from her old college roommate and an invitation to her twenty-five-year high school class reunion, then meets her former best friend by chance, she must confront the past in order to face the future.
An excerpt from the book
“Oh, look at this!” said Charlene.
Eve turned and could only stare at the bright red dress she’d almost forgotten.
Charlene held the garment at arm’s length, admiring the three–quarter–length sleeves, low neckline, and gathered waist. “Oh, my God! This is beautiful! Where did you get it, and why do you keep it way off to one side in your closet?”
Eve then heard on the radio the mellow strains of “Lady in Red,” the song she’d pushed to the back of her mind and hoped never to hear again.
Charlene laid the dress on Eve’s bed and hurried to her side. Kneeling and taking her hand, she said, “Hey, what is it?”
Eve could hold back no longer. With tears streaming down her face, she said, “I wore that dress, and we danced to that song.”
“Oh, God,” said Charlene, leaping to her feet. She hurried to her side of the room and turned off the radio, then returned.
The next thing Eve knew, she was crying on Charlene’s shoulder as her roommate knelt on the floor next to her chair and held her. The incident had occurred several months earlier, but the wound was still fresh. Finally, when no more tears would come, Eve sat up and blew her nose.
Head over to buy the book: https://www.amazon.com/Red-Dress-Abbie-Taylor-ebook/dp/B07VJK8S82
and on Amazon UK: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Red-Dress-Abbie-Taylor-ebook/dp/B07VJK8S82
Other books by Abbie Johnson Taylor
One of the recent reviews for My Ideal Partner – Amazon
After having just lost my husband 6 weeks ago to brain cancer and being his caregiver, I found myself in this book. Similar thoughts and feelings. I never knew before I was one how difficult it was to be a caregiver. Watching your big strong husband decline and doing everything in your power to try and ease their suffering is beyond difficult. This was a very good book and well-written. What a beautiful love they shared. Anyone who’s gone through a similar situation will relate and those that haven’t will gain some insight into our world.
Read the reviews and buy the books: https://www.amazon.com/Abbie-Johnson-Taylor/e/B00GDM1BWK
Read the reviews and follow Abbie on Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/801698.Abbie_Johnson_Taylor
Connect to Abbie
Thank you for dropping in today and I am sure that Abbie would love to receive any questions or comments that you might have for her.. thanks Sally