You have been invited to share your experience with our readers.
Name: Christee Gabour Atwood
Tell us about yourself – where you are from, how you got started writing, what you do when you are not writing (or anything you want our readers to know)
What do I want people to know? Mainly that I should serve as an inspiration to them. If I can achieve any sort of success in the world of writing, speaking, and promotions, then anyone can.
I’m originally from central Louisiana and I’ve moved around a bit due to my career-induced A.D.D. I love communication in any form and writing is my true passion.
Since I was four years old I’ve been telling people I would be a writer when I grew up. Well, either that or a singing veterinarian who fights fires and solves mysteries in her spare time. That career lost a little interest to me when I hit six years old. That’s when I got a typewriter.
As far as writing goes, I’ve done everything wrong. I wrote columns for free. I self-published first. I quit my day job. I write numerous books at one time so I don’t get bored with any of them. My first draft is often my final draft. I do ridiculous stunts to draw attention to my books. And I would do it all again … for nothing … which is pretty much the amount I’ve made after all the expenses are subtracted.
What inspired you to write your first book?
At four years old I wrote an incredible novel titled, The Lion Who Tamed the Man. Well, it was incredible because it didn’t have a whole lot of words. Mostly scribbles, pictures, and an occasional smear of Hershey Bar. But it was well received by the critics in my house and from that moment on, I was hooked on writing.
I was raised in a house where writing was as natural as breathing. My parents owned and ran a weekly newspaper. Instead of a bassinet, I slept in the bottom drawer of the file cabinet of The Pineville News. How could I not write?
When I was six, my parents gave me a cast iron Royal typewriter. I promptly took over the hot water heater closet at the house and turned it into my office where I wrote novels, short stories, and the typical angst poetry once I hit puberty. I think that was around the age of 20.
How many books have you written?
Five. Two humor. Three nonfiction business titles. The first was my self-published book, Journal of a Midlife Crisis. It was picked up by a publisher after I built up some good numbers on it. Then it was expanded, rewritten, and adapted to become Three Feet Under: Journal of a Midlife Crisis. My business books are Succession Planning Basics, Presentation Skills Training, and Manager Skills Training.
How do you decide on their topic?
The humor books are based on everyday life. I realized that I had gotten to a wonderful point in life where I was starting to get comfortable in my own skin. In fact, I was actually proud of my love affair with elastic waistbands. So it seemed time to share that joy with the world.
I started these books as humor columns for newspapers and magazines. Then I looked at a pile of those columns I had written and said, “Wow, that looks like a book.” And behold, it magically turned into a book!
The business books were selected through a void in the market that was recognized by my new publisher, ASTD Press. Those are some really cool people to work with. They weren’t even scared off by my chicken suit.
What works best to keep you focused and on track?
Writing quickly and in long shifts. I have the attention span of a gnat, so once I get started I have to keep writing for a long time. That’s because once I get up from that chair, I will have to re-read most of what I wrote just to remember where I was and get started again. That’s why I avoid stopping until something like a call of nature or a cat gnawing on my toes in hunger makes it impossible to go on. And if I see a shiny object, I’m lost from my writing for the day.
I also like writing short format materials. My columns are just long enough to keep my attention and I think much of the world shares that short attention span today. So, my writing ends up making a good bathroom book. As long as that’s the only use for it in the bathroom, I’m happy. It’s not on quilted paper, so I think I’m safe on avoiding other uses.
Do you write to make money or for the love of writing?
I’d write even if I didn’t make money from it. And it’s a darn good thing, because quite often I don’t.
I love writing. I couldn’t stand not to write. It’s my form of therapy and it’s so much cheaper than a psychiatrist.
I do business writing too and that’s great because the speaking, training, and consulting from that writing brings in a lot more cash than my humor writing. And I like the idea that what I write helps people in the business world. I write training manuals and books that remind people to treat each other with respect. And my humorous side sneaks in and reminds them that a rubber chicken can be a very useful tool in a board meeting. (You’ll have to read my book to find out how!) So, I get the best of both worlds.
What are some traditional methods of marketing you have used to gain visibility for you and your book(s)?
I’ve used the basic methods of sending press releases, calling for television and radio interviews, and sending out ready-made feature articles and have gotten a really good response from this.
I created a folded handout that includes chapters from my books that I use in my presentations.
I am a columnist and include a tagline in all my columns that promotes my books.
I created a presentation for writers called, “Overnight Success … The 48-Year Method.” We talk about everything I’ve done wrong on the road to getting published. Well, not everything… that would take days, maybe weeks…
I do presentations for writers groups and libraries on topics ranging from “Presentation Skills for Writers” to “Tracking Down the Muse” and “National Novel Writing Month.”
I have more designs for bookmarks than I care to admit. And I spent my entire time at BookExpo America wearing tacky shirts that promoted the book and said, “Will Speak for Food”.
Sometimes I’m surprised that I haven’t ended up putting information on the restroom walls … hey, wait, that’s not a bad idea…
What are some unique methods?
Are you sure you want to hear this? It’s more than a little scary.
Last year, for National Novel Writing Month, I put on a chicken suit and sat in the window of a Waldenbooks for a month, writing a novel called, “Danger, Deceit, and a Demon … named Myron”. I got some incredible press – in fact, you can even see the article on CBS News webpage at http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2006/12/08/print/main2241177.shtml
I was on the national radio show, The Satellite Sisters, and other various radio shows, television shows, and possibly even made it into a junior high school newspaper, but that might have just been a rumor.
I’ve emceed a Menopause Fashion Show for a hospital. Lots of elastic in that one. I’ve done talks for anyone who would stand still – and that includes turning around in elevators and saying, “I suppose you wonder why I called this meeting.”
I’ve offered myself as a fill-in guest for any radio or tv show within driving radius on a very short turnaround time. I’ve gotten calls with “We’re taping in 30 minutes. Can you talk about something?” and I’ve done it.
After the chicken suit episode, I got a reputation and ended up hosting the Harry Potter Release Party at a mall in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. Now, they’ve called me back to be Mrs. Claus. I’m working on a promotion idea right now to do a “mall tour” because I can create promotional events with malls and I can shop at the same time. Sounds like heaven to me.
I created a Girls Night Out group that met at a local bookstore and discussed our midlife adventures. We later moved to bars and liked it much better… although we tended to forget what we had talked about.
Do you sell through a website?
I have a link to places you can buy the book on my website. I believe that web presence is something on which I haven’t focused enough. That’s part of the reason for this tour. It’s giving me an opportunity to start making better use of the web as a forum to visit with potential readers.
I have begun to create humor and business podcasts and podtrainings for companies and will begin to compile these on my site as well as additional related merchandise.
Do you plan on writing additional books?
Whether I want to or not and whether they get published or not, I will continue to write books. The next book will be completed by November 30th as part of National Novel Writing Month. It’s titled, “In Celebration of Elastic Waistbands”.
Writing is my joy. And it’s my opportunity to laugh at myself with others. As I like to say, “If I laugh at myself first, then the rest of the world is laughing with me, not at me.”
Interview Presented by
Nikki Leigh - www.nikkileigh.com/book_promo_101.htm
Author of the Book Promo 101 Series
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