A writer inspired by nature and human nature

Happy Love Month! I can’t think of a better way of spreading love than by sharing my love of reading and writing with you.  So, today, I am sharing with you a fellow author, hard-working mother of four, loving wife, and the unsuspecting author of a true medical drama/unconventional love story called With Angel’s Wings.  Stephanie is a member of Rave Writers – International Society of Authors (RWISA). Join me in welcoming award-winning author Stephanie Collins and learn more about this amazing gal in our interview. ~Bette A. Stevens

Stephanie Collins, author of award-winning memoir With Angel Wings

Welcome, Stephanie Collins. How long have you been writing?

I began writing therapeutically in 1996. It was sometime around 2010 when I started seriously considering turning those writings into a book.

How many books have you authored?

I never intended to be an author at all. As I said, I wrote therapeutically through some rough times in my life, and later turned that into my one and only book—With Angel’s Wings.

Do you have a writing schedule?

I’ve been asked a number of times to write a sequel. That project doesn’t feel right to me, so I “compromised,” and write a monthly blog that acts as something of a continuation to the book’s epilogue. Writing once a month feels like a comfortable pace. It’s fun, it’s therapeutic, and the length of time between posts gives me plenty of time to find a new, interesting subject matter to focus on.

You’re a member of RAVE WRITERS – INTERNATIONAL SOCIETY OF AUTHORS (RWISA). Why do you think you were accepted into this exclusive group?

I was accepted into RWISA because I didn’t have a lot to do with the writing process. I am in awe of REAL authors. I wrote a memoir. I didn’t have to come up with a plot or a storyline. I didn’t have to worry about character development or believable dialogue. Someone with a much higher pay grade (and apparently a rather twisted sense of humor) took care of all that for me. I just had to play my role, then honestly and accurately document what happened. Now, living it…THAT was a challenge. Writing it down was a relative walk in the park. Heck, I didn’t even have to have good grammar; I had a great editor for that!

Modesty aside, what separates your writing from the millions of other writers in the world?

In all seriousness, what sets our story apart is the story, itself; not my writing. It’s all about the content. I’m not the star of my book (as a character or as the author), it’s the circumstances I and the rest of my family faced. Having a compelling, intriguing and thought-provoking story that demonstrates humanity (at its best or worst…or, better yet, a little of both) and touches the reader’s heart—that’s what can make a story great. Like I said, I am in awe of fiction authors when they can create that for us readers. As an author I was “lucky” enough to have all of that taken care of for me. I guess you could say I had the best writer of all on my staff! I WILL take credit for finding a great editor before I ever shared our story with anyone. That’s advice I’ll give to EVERY author. Find. A. Good. Editor!

If you could spend a day picking the brain of one author, who would that be? Why?

There are a number of authors I’d love to sit and chat with. I’m a romance junkie, and something of a history buff, so I’d have a particularly great time talking with any historical romance author who has done extensive research. One that comes to mind (off the top of my head) is Pamela Clare, who wrote a historical romance trilogy that had to do with the origins of the US Rangers. The love stories were great, but I was fascinated by the history of the Rangers, and would love to chat further about all she learned in her research.

Are you a die-hard INDIE writer who loves having complete control of your work, or, if you were offered a publishing contract today, would you sign on the dotted line?

I’m a fan of being an indie author. I’m a bit of a control freak (and by “a bit” I mean JUST shy of obsessive/compulsive), so I guess it fits my personality. I started off with a small publisher (who was also my editor). We were a great team, I learned a lot from her, and was happy to begin my publication journey with her. Unfortunately, she was diagnosed with a brain tumor about a year after we published, so she had to sell her business. The woman who bought the business was NOT at the same level as the woman she had bought the business from. To make a long story short, I fired her and went solo. I have LOVED being an indie author. I don’t know that I would have been so successful as an indie author without the lessons I learned from my publisher, so I’m thankful for that experience, but I can’t imagine ever accepting a publishing deal in the future.

As an author, where do you see yourself in 5 years?

In five years I hope to be pretty much where I am now as an author. I set out to educate people about some realities of special needs parenting. I think I’m rather successful in getting the message out there. If I’m still reaching new people in five years, I’ll be ecstatic.

What is the ONE tool that has been the most beneficial tool in the marketing of your books?

My marketing “plan” heavily relies on social media. It has been an AMAZING marketing tool…at JUST the right price! Twitter has been, by far, the most useful tool for me, but I try to keep up with multiple pages (mostly Facebook, LinkedIn, and Pinterest).

Name one writer that you know of, member or non-member of RRBC, who you feel should be added to the RWISA Roster of elite members? Why?

I read Amie O’Brien’s “The Merchant’s Pearl” months ago, and I still find myself thinking about the story. It was a unique, memorable, and touching read. I can’t think of better qualifiers for mention, recognition, and addition to the RWISA library.

What is the one piece of advice that you could share that would be most valuable for those aspiring to not only be writers, but those aspiring to be great writers?

Write with your heart. If it doesn’t reach you it won’t reach your readers. Then find a good editor.

Do you believe that writers who churn out several books a year are really putting out quality work?

I’ve never paid too close attention to the publication dates of the series I’ve read (or multiple stand-alone books by a single author), so I don’t know that I’m qualified to answer that question. I’ve certainly read books that felt rushed (lack of editing, “shallow” plots, etc.), but I don’t know if that was due to rushing, neglect, or lack of writing talent (or some special combination of the three).

If you had promised your fans a book by a certain date only to find that your book wasn’t the best it could be, would you go ahead and publish your book just to meet that self-imposed deadline and deliver as promised, or, would you disappoint your fans and shelve the book until it was absolutely ready? No matter your reason, please explain why?

I wouldn’t want my name attached to anything that is less than the best I feel it can be. That has actually happened in the past, and I’m still horrified. I had my book translated to Spanish. It was a reputable agency and the translator had a good track record. The book was in Spanish, though, and I’m not fluent in Spanish. I just assumed it was fine and I published it. Not long after publication (and THANKFULLY before I made any sales) I had a friend from Madrid and another friend from Mexico City read a sample. Both women said it was a horrible translation. I immediately pulled the book off the market. After some legal intervention, the translation agency gave me the choice of a few new translators to re-translate the book. I chose a gentleman who I felt would do the best job. He finished the translation months ago, and—despite the fact both of the women who read samples from the previous translation have given it a thumb’s up, I hesitate to put it back on the market until I can find at least one more person to check it over.

In your opinion, what makes a book “a great book?”

A “great book” is one that the reader thoroughly enjoys reading. What might have been a “great book” to you last week might not be this week, because last week you were in a different mood. A book that you’re not enjoying today you may enjoy next month. There are things that, in my opinion, make books more difficult or frustrating to read (editing concerns, proofreading concerns, inconsistencies in the story, etc.), but I don’t think there’s anything specific that makes a story “great.” Reading is subjective—even to a single reader. I read “great books” as a kid that I’m sure I would roll my eyes through today, wondering what I was thinking to ever consider it a “great read.” So, I guess you could say what makes a book “great” is the perfect combination of content and current reader mindset.

If you received a review of your book which stated that there were editing & proofing “issues,” what’s the first thing you would do? And the second?

I have occasionally been alerted to typo’s in my book and I, of course, made the corrections as soon as I could. That process is much easier now that I’m independently published. With other issues mentioned, however, I carefully consider what is said. I recently received a review that suggested I get the book re-edited because the reader didn’t care for the amount of inner dialogue included. I respect and value the reader’s opinion, but I don’t think I will act upon that particular suggestion. I have received reviews that specifically commend the quality of editing, and others who specifically mention their appreciation for the inner dialogue. I think you have to balance out what is truly an editing issue and what is reader preference. Certainly, if you see a trend in reader feedback, you should seriously consider making adjustments. You can’t please everyone, though, so—to some extent—you have to follow your heart.

with-angel-wing-cover-for-rwisa-tourWhy You Need to Face Down the Fear of Publishing a Memoir by Stephanie Collins

In what felt like the blink of an eye, I went from being a young woman wrestling with a temperamental marriage to a single mother of an asthmatic, autistic toddler and an epileptic infant in heart failure. There was suddenly an overabundance of OMG moments, WTH moments, and “Hold my head in my hands in utter disbelief while I try to just breathe through it” moments. I began writing therapeutically.

Then other people (specifically nurses and therapists) began to read what I had written, and urged me to share our story, insisting it would be helpful to other special needs families. I wanted to help others if I could, but my heart was laid bare over those pages, and I feared judgement—as a writer, as a woman, and scariest of all—as a mother. After years of similar feedback, however, I decided to take a deep breath, close my eyes, and offer my exposed, bleeding soul to the world.

I’ve been very pleasantly surprised by the generally supportive response from readers. Here is why I am thankful to have been talked into publication, and why others with important stories to share should work through whatever fears of judgement they may have: A mother in of a special needs, medically fragile toddler reached out to me via social media about 2 years ago. She said, “I recently stumbled upon your book. Reading it gave me hope that things will get better when hope is hard to come by. Also, before reading it, I never felt understood. I’ve ordered 3 more copies to give to family and friends. I’m hoping if they read about you, they’ll better understand me. Thank you so much!” Now, tell me; could there be any bigger reward for taking a leap of faith than that?

Find out more Stephanie Collins, take a look inside her award-winning memoir and follow her:

Thank you for supporting our RWISA (RAVE WRITERS-INTERNATIONAL SOCIETY OF AUTHORS) Members!  Please follow and support the entire tour by visiting 4WillsPub~Bette A. Stevens, Maine author

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Comments on: "Author Spotlight—Meet Stephanie Collins" (69)

  1. Hi Bette,
    A very engaging post. I have put her book on my list and look forward to reading it.
    Shalom aleichem,

  2. Stephanie, you said you were looking for another opinion on your Spanish translation. I can read Spanish. Contact me if you’re interested at Scott at ca dot rr dot com

  3. Excellent interview!

  4. Reblogged this on Viv Drewa – The Owl Lady.

  5. Shirley Harris-Slaughter said:

    Reblogged this on shirleyharris-slaughter and commented:
    Nice Post. Thanks Bette Stevens for sharing Stephanie’s story with us…

  6. Thanks for the marvelous interview, Bette and Stephanie. I particularly enjoyed reading about your editing, and not releasing something until you’re truly proud of it. I considered publishing my novels a year ago, but I had a gut feel that they just weren’t quite ready. Trying to decide myself how hard I want to chase the trade publishing experience. 🙂

    • Hi, Cathleen. So glad you stopped by to meet Stephanie Collins and join in on the conversation. With today’s self-publishing resources, it’s a perfect time for writers to chase the dream and from the beautiful writing I’ve discovered and thoroughly enjoyed on your blog, I hope you’ll seriously consider publishing your novels. Happy reading and writing, my friend! 🙂 <3

    • Thanks so much for stopping by, Cathleen! I respect your decision to hold off on publishing until you feel the material is ready. That being said, I hope you decide to move forward with it. I have learned so much, met so many people, and have had so much fun since publishing! I would hope for that experience for any writer, and “taking the plunge” is the first step along the journey! Take care and have yourself a groovy Thursday! 🙂 ~Stephanie

      • Thanks, Bette and Stephanie. No worries–my work will be published–I already have a short story collection out there. But I was feeling a lot of pressure to get the product out, and really, that’s silly. The only one who was pushing me was me.

        So I’m writing short stories, continuing to edit my novels and upcoming collections, and painting covers. When I have a body of work that I’m proud of, I’ll start hitting that publish button at regular intervals. 🙂

  7. Thank you for highlighting Stephanie. She is such a huge supporter of us all, and it’s nice to see her getting some recognition for her writing. 🙂

    • Thanks so much, Yvette, for stopping by and for your kind sentiments! Take care and have yourself a groovy Thursday! 🙂 ~Stephanie

    • Thanks, Yvette. It’s been a delight to host our talented and wonderfully supportive Rave Reviews Book Club author and friend. Enjoy your day! 🙂

  8. Bette, thank you for this wonderful introduction to Stephanie! I love her thoughts about writing, indie publishing and books overall. How wise and true that a ‘great’ book is not only subjective to each reader but also to the time it’s being read. As for not being a real author…rubbish!! 😀😀 I’m so impressed with anyone that tackles memoir writing, that takes real skill, dedication and yes, great writing ability. This is one book I want to read soon…off to take a closer look.

    • Thanks so much for stopping by, Annika, and thank you for your interest in our story! Take care and have yourself a groovy Thursday! 🙂 ~Stephanie

    • HI, Annika. Thanks so much for stopping by to meet Stephanie Collins and find out more about her award-winning memoir. Happy reading and writing, my friend. 🙂 <3

  9. dlfinnauthor said:

    I enjoyed getting to know you better, Stephanie! I like that you have continued your story through your blog. I have to agree with you, it is hard to put yourself out there, with the worry of possible judgement, but so worth when you do!

  10. tia shurina said:

    I too, am in awe of a writer’s ability to create entire worlds within the covers of a book, &, like you, also feel there is a difference between authors & writers. As a fellow memoir author I’ll agree again…the living of the story can be such a challenge. But, with that challenge comes the beautiful potential to inspire awe, courage & catharsis. Thank you for inspiring me Stephanie…to not just write with my heart, but to continue to lead with it as well. Wishing you & your family much joy, and of course, continued success with your story & your book.

    Bette, a beautiful site you’ve created!

  11. A lovely interview, Bette and Stephanie. I especially like what you said about reviews, Stephanie. It’s disheartening when reviewers allow personal preference to influence their star rating by more than one star. If a book is well-written but not my cup of tea, I generally give it no less than 4 stars. I wish you every success with your book. Shared across my pages …

    • Thanks so much for stopping by, Tina, and big, fat cyber hugs for all of your sharing! It’s pretty easy to have a love/hate relationship with reviews as an author, isn’t it? I break out in a cold sweat the moment I learn I have a new one – before I even know if it’s positive or negative. Such stress! And you’re right; the whole thing is all the more frustrating when everyone has his/her own definition of “review protocol”. I think, as a general rule, we authors tend to be a little more generous with our reviews and comments, since we know how it feels to be on the receiving end! Thanks again, take care, and have yourself a groovy Thursday! 🙂 ~Stephanie

  12. Reblogged this on Room With Books and commented:
    A beautiful blog that I’m proud to share!

  13. Hi, Stephanie, when I read your book, I couldn’t believe how childish, and selfish some husbands could be. I called the husband character in your book a card (sic), but surely he was worse than that. Writing books, especially memoirs can be very therapeutic. I know. It can be so liberating! Enjoy your day.

    • Thanks so much for stopping by Joy! As for my ex – now that I’ve had enough time to recover from my resentment – I feel sorry for him. He has divorced twice and is not in a meaningful relationship with anyone – including either of his children. He has said and done unforgivable things in his life, and now he is paying the price with a very sad, lonely existence. Meanwhile, I’m glad to hear that you, too, have found writing to be as therapeutic as I have. Thanks again, take care, and enjoy the rest of your week! 🙂 ~Stephanie

  14. Stephanie, thank you for sharing more of your personal story and perspectives on writing. I have recently finished reading your heartrending yet heartwarming true story “With Angel’s Wings.” I will check your monthly blog to note the progress of your children.

    Bette, thank you for hosting Stephanie.

    • Thanks so much for stopping by, Peggy, and thanks for taking the time to read our story! I hope you find the blog posts to be entertaining. Take care and enjoy the rest of your week! 🙂 ~Stephanie

    • HI, Peggy. Thanks so much for stopping by to show your support and join the conversation! 🙂

  15. Hi, Stephanie. I enjoyed your post and interview quite a bit. It was interesting to hear from someone who didn’t”set out” to be an author.
    Bette, thanks for hosting Stephanie today. 😀

    • Thank you for stopping by, Rhani! I just read Nonnie’s interview, where she mentioned her deep appreciation for your writing. I look forward to working my way to one of your books on my TBR list! Take care, stay dry (if it’s raining as hard in your neighborhood as it is in mine), and enjoy the rest of your week! 🙂 ~Stephanie

    • Thank you, Rhani! 🙂 xo

  16. lynnhobbsauthor said:

    Such a great interview, Stephanie! I am now anxious to read your book! Thank you, Bette for hosting!

    • Thanks so much for stopping by, Lynn, and I appreciate your interest in our story! Take care and enjoy the rest of your week! 🙂 ~Stephanie

  17. Stephanie, I have your book on my TBR list – I’m working my through to it!
    Thanks for hosting, Bette.

    • Thanks for stopping by, Wendy! I can relate to the challenge of the ever-growing TBR list; oh, if only we had mandatory reading time worked into our daily schedules the way they do for kids at school! 🙂 Take care and enjoy the rest of your week! 🙂 ~Stephanie

  18. Stephanie, your journey is truly inspiring. I can only imagine the lives you have impacted over the years and those who have yet to read your story. Thanks for sharing this with us today. Also, your support for fellow authors is tremendous and never goes unnoticed. Blessings to you. 🙂
    Thanks very much for the warm welcome, Bette. It’s always a joy to stop by your beautiful site.

    • Thank you very much, Natalie, and it’s my pleasure to help where I can. Take care and enjoy the rest of your week! 🙂 ~Stephanie

  19. annemargaretmanay said:

    Great interview, Stephanie. I often refer parents to your book. And I’m grateful as ever for all your support.

    • Thanks so much for stopping by, Anne, and thank you for your referrals, too! Take care and enjoy the rest of your week (and…I believe…welcome home from your cruise? – If so, I hope you had the time of your life!) 🙂 ~Stephanie

  20. harmonykentonline said:

    This is a lovely interview and post, Stephanie, and I for one, am so pleased you did write your memoir 🙂 Best of luck with everything!

    Bette, thanks for hosting Stephanie today 🙂

    • Thanks so much for stopping by, Harmony, and for your well wishes! Take care and have yourself a wonderful Wednesday! 🙂 ~Stephanie

  21. What a lovely interview Bette. Angels wings sounds like a great book.

  22. Lovely interview, Bette and Stephanie. I can see how writing was not only therapeutic but how the story of life and family resulted in a compelling read. Thanks for the info on translations. It would never occur to me to vet the quality of the translation. You were lucky you had friends who raised their concerns. Happy Writing 🙂

    • Thanks so much for stopping by and for sharing your thoughts. Yes, who would have guessed translating would be so potentially troublesome! Like so many other lessons I’ve learned in the publishing process, it’s not NEARLY so easy as it appears! Thanks again, take care, and have yourself a wonderful Wednesday! 🙂 ~Stephanie

  23. Gwen Plano said:

    What a great interview, Stephanie. Like you, I LOVED Amie O’Brien’s “The Merchant’s Pearl.” It is hauntingly beautiful. Thank you for hosting, Bette. Your site is lovely.

    • Thanks for stopping by, Gwen, and I second the thanks to Bette for hosting the interview on her beautiful site! I’m so excited to hear from another fan of Amie O’Brien; you’re right – “hauntingly beautiful” is a great description of “The Merchant’s Pearl”! Take care and have yourself a wonderful Wednesday! 🙂 ~Stephanie

    • Thanks, Gwen! 🙂

  24. A nice interview with Stephanie, And that’s really something about the experience with the Spanish translation! Thank goodness for your friends who were fluent, Stephanie 🙂

    Wishing you the best and much success. Thanks to Bette for hosting today!

    • Thanks for stopping by, Mae! Yes, as much as I love the Spanish language, I’ve developed quite a fear of it after that nasty experience. I’m nearly ready to buck up and re-publish, but it’s scary when you want to be in complete control of quality, but you’re 100% reliant on the thoughts and opinions of others! Take care and have yourself a wonderful Wednesday! 🙂 ~Stephanie

      • Stephanie, I’ve slowly been learning Spanish for the last year and the idea of translating a book from English is utterly mind-boggling to me. I completely understand how difficult it would be to rely on others! 🙂

  25. Thanks, Bette for interviewing Stephanie. I am reading her book now and enjoying it, although it is a heartbreaker. Stephanie, you did a wonderful in just telling the story as it happened and drawing me in with you. I’m a third of way through and will get a review to you as soon as I can. You wrote a great memoir and not everyone can manage that, not even seasoned writers.

    • LOL I guess I should have scrolled down before commenting. I am truly touched by your kind words and I’m thrilled that you’re enjoying the read, Micki. Thanks again! 🙂 ~Stephanie

  26. Reblogged this on mallie1025 and commented:
    Great book, reading it now.

  27. I’m glad I’m not the only “single” author. This sounds really interesting. Thank you!

Thanks so much for stopping by to join the conversation.

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