Tuesday, February 9, 2021

The Path to Publication with Rita Woods, Author of Remembrance

Today, I have the joy of interviewing not only an amazing writer, but someone I call friend. Dr. Rita Woods is the author of Remembrance which was released in January 2020 by Forge Books.

What is Remembrance about?

Spanning three centuries, Remembrance is the story of four women connected both by their individual powers and tragedy. They are linked across the centuries through Mother Abigail, a voodoo priestess who uses her powers to create Remembrance, a parallel universe that is a stop on the Underground Railroad.

As one of your critique partners,  I know the story started out as a young adult paranormal fantasy. Mother Abigail created Remembrance as a safe space for slaves and Winter was in training to replace her. When you met Joanna Volpe at the Midwest Writers Workshop in Muncie, Indiana in 2009, she asked for pages and the journey began. During the years between then and the sale of the book in 2018, the story changed. Were you happy with the changes?

I struggled with their requests at first. Not all of the suggestions were problematic. Many of the questions surrounding the story regarding arc, character development, etc. required some deep diving into areas that initially had not seemed central to the story. In the back and forth (which was quite a bit) the story continued to evolve. There is also the element of being a debut author and not feeling confident to question some things. Early on, acquisition editors wanted to know more about the adult characters. Then they asked for a contemporary character. So the character Gaelle was added. The story went from young adult fantasy to Black & African American Historical Fiction and Black & African American Women's Fiction. I feel more confident now about standing up for a story and saying no if I think a change will hurt it.

How did the acquisition process work and how does the advance payment work?

Remembrance went through several rounds of submissions before it found a home at Forge Books.

The first half of the advance is paid upon delivery of finished manuscript. The second half is paid when final edits are completed and approved. You have to earn back your advance before you earn royalties, which Remembrance has done. I received my first royalty check with my first advance for the second book. I received a five figure advance, but still work as a full-time physician.

After the book is submitted, the editor sends notes, usually one to five pages of suggestions and issues. My editor is all about motivation. Why does this happen? Why does the character do that? Then the pages are returned for thoughts. Next are extensive line edits.These are painful. Every character and locale is given a sheet to track continuity, arc, etc. In Remembrance, the level of detail included notations that streets have a period after them and avenues do not and discussions as to what exact year St. Louis Cathedral became a cathedral and stopped being referred to as a church and what the exact GPS coordinates of the Atchaflaya Basin were relative to Baton Rouge and New Orleans. Final copy edits and ARCs are then done and approved. The second advance check is cut. We are now in the process of interviewing voice actors for the audible version of Remembrance. Not all authors have this much input into the audible version and cover design but this was both contractual and a function of the collaborative team at Forge.

What was it like once the book was released? What is expected of you as an author? 

I really enjoyed traveling around the country for live events. I thrived on hearing from readers about the way the book inspired them and what they took from it. Every reader is unique and comes to a story with a different viewpoint. I would fly to destinations once or twice a week, often fielding texts about the next book. I still attend events and interviews a couple of times a week, occasionally twice in a day. Speaker fees run $50 to $1000 for a first time author. When the shutdown happened, everything went to Zoom. Then Zoom conferences started getting hacked and we had to switch to Comcast. I miss the audiences. I have been interviewed by well-known writers such as Veronica Roth, TJ Klune, Hank Phillipi Ryan, and Joshilyn Jackson.You are expected to continually post on social media. There is also the expectation that you will write multiple essays (I think I ended up writing close to a dozen) for inclusion in different magazines and papers, blog posts, even a short story, prior to launch. So it has been really exciting, but also very busy.

Remembrance earned you an additional two book deal. How is that going? 

Before you finish the first book, they are asking for pages for the next book and the process starts all over again. The next book to be released is titled The Last Dreamwalkers and is due to be published in Spring of 2022. The first draft of the third book, which is still in the concept phase, is due May of 2022. 

How did the pandemic affect you? 

There were days when I wondered, "Why does this matter?" I know people are looking to art and literature for comfort and escape but when the whole world feels like it is on fire, you ask yourself, "What is the point?" I have editors with goals for me to hit, though. So I persist. 

Any final words of wisdom for aspiring writers?

I read somewhere recently: Writing is art. Publishing is a business. And I think that is the truest way to capture it. If you want to write then write. It is incredibly important to find a tribe. People who will give you support, honest feedback and keep you on task. Writers are some of the most generous people I have ever met. But writing is hard work. 

Thank you for the gift of your work and a glimpse inside the life of a traditionally published author.

I thoroughly enjoyed Remembrance and highly recommend it. I can't wait to read her second book, The Last Dreamwalkers. I critiqued some of the first draft and can't wait to see it realized in print. Rita is, in my humble opinion, one of the best wordsmiths of our age. Even her first drafts are magical. Members of the Ladyscribes are lucky to have found one another. Having a supportive and knowledgeable critique group is invaluable.

To learn more about Remembrance and author Dr. Rita Woods, the writing life, and how a book is born, check out these reviews and interviews: 

Interview: Rita Woods, author of Remembrance

Interview with The Debutant Ball 

Washington Independence Review

Meet The Author Sip and Flip Bookclub

Interview with Carly Heath  

You can pick up a copy of Remembrance at

Publisher : Forge Books; 1st Edition (January 21, 2020) Language : English Hardcover : 416 pages ISBN-10 : 1250298458 ISBN-13 : 978-1250298454

Amazon

Barnes & Noble

Indiebound

Kobo

Apple Books

You can follow Dr. Woods on:

https://ritawoodswrites.com/

https://www.facebook.com/rita.woods.14

https://twitter.com/RitaWoodsAuthor

https://www.instagram.com/ritawoods723/

 

Rita Woods is a Board Certified Internist, currently serving as Medical Director of a Wellness Center that serves one of the largest trade unions in the nation. A former bodybuilder, she lives in suburban Chicago with her husband, sons, perfect granddaughter, and four cats.

When she is not busy working or writing Dr. Woods spends time with her family or at the Homer Glen library where she serves on the Board of Trustees.

 







Interviewed by Diana Hurwitz who is the author of Story Building Blocks: The Four Layers of Conflict, Story Building Blocks II: Crafting Believable Conflict, Story Building Blocks III: The Revision Layers, and the YA adventure series Mythikas Island. Her weekly blog, Game On: Crafting Believable Conflict explores how characters behave and misbehave. Visit DianaHurwitz.com for more information and free writing tools. You can follow her on Facebook and Twitter.

4 comments :

  1. Great interview, Diana and Rita. It was so interesting to read how your story evolved. Congrats on it's release and the newer contract.

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  2. Great interview questions, Diana, and I love the detailed answers from the author.

    Hearty congratulations to Rita Woods for the success of her first book and for garnering a contract for 2 more. Well done, Rita. As a writer myself, I know the tremendous amount of work that goes in to taking a story from concept to creation and then to publishing. In addition to doing that, you have a career that isn't writing-based, as well as a family and other interests. You're a wonderful example for all of us.

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  3. Remembrance sounds like a good read. Congratulations on the new release.

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  4. First of all, congratulations for finding a publisher willing to work with you. Secondly, more congrats on the success of your book. Best of luck with the series.

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