I enjoyed a wonderful lunch last week with Amazon Best-Selling Author, Regina Sirois. Who, lucky for me, also happens to be a part of my writers group. Of course, with all those late night meetings, I had plenty to
black mail convince her to do a blog interview. Regina shares her witty personality, brutal honesty, and also reveals who her "secret agent" is. Be sure to read through to the end and enter to win a signed copy of On Little Wings by Regina Sirois.
Your writing style is lyrical and beautiful, without being wordy and slow. What inspires you to write that way? Did your college education help you develop your style or did you find it later?
First of all, thank you. I am not sure how to answer this. I just write the way it sounds in my head. My main training is in creative writing and poetry, so after years of daily critiques I became obsessed about cadence and word choice. When I write I am a little neurotic about the way the words flow off the tongue.
What books or authors do you absolutely love and read over and over?
I read I Capture the Castle by Dodie Smith. That might be why I have a complex and think I will never write well. No one writes well compared to her! But she makes me try so much harder. I have also read every word written by James Herriot, over and over. He taught me how to put humor and heart into everyday people. Jerry Spinelli taught me that a novel could be a sustained poem. He is amazing.
As a personal friend, I know how important family and motherhood are to you. How did being a mom help you be a better writer?
Great question! You are right. Despite the interruptions, frustrations and limited time I could spend working each day, being a mother made this book possible. Whenever I needed to know Jennifer better I looked at my daughter and filled in the blanks. I also wanted to quit - all the time!- and whenever that happened I told myself two things: Just write a story for your daughter. Just write this poem to your sister. If no one on Earth ever pays attention, they will. If no one cares that you tried, they will. Family finished this.
How long did it take you to write On Little Wings?
Ummm, I have no idea. I collected the story and attempted writing it for over eight years. I have many failed attempts. The current version took me over two years. About nine months of writing, six months of editing/querying, one year of quitting and three months of rewrites.
Who did you choose to help give you feedback and why? Do you think writing groups are helpful?
Why, I’m so glad you asked! I had an amazing, supportive, honest, talented writing group. Not only was it helpful, it was necessary. I never skipped a day writing. I brought my chapters every week. Being accountable is essential for me. I went to them to get my butt kicked. Then when I needed my ego stroked I went to my sister. She is an avid reader and always had nothing but kindness for me. Have a butt kicker and an ego stroker. It is a great combination if you give them equal consideration.
Ahem, I was the group butt kicker. (Thanks, Regina!) Which is why I always brought sweet treats to our meetings.
Hell. I mean Hades. Sorry. Heart pounding, nausea inducing, time consuming Hades. That is, until after my Amazon success. Then I had a 30% response rate within days! Then it felt fun and exciting.
Were there moments when you just wanted to smash your laptop to pieces and give up? If so, how did you keep moving ahead?
I thought I hid all the battered laptops! Honestly, I cried a lot of bitter tears in this process. My husband has observed that when I am writing I might not be my most cheerful self. I am plagued with self-doubt and criticism. Then I start questioning my whole existence. If I can’t write this one paragraph why am I even here? And other assorted ridiculousness. I really need to take big breaks from writing to stay sane. Sigh. Anyway, I moved ahead because I wanted to tell my daughter a story.
At what point did you decide to self-publish? Why did you choose to use Amazon?
I don’t really consider what I did “self publishing.” Technically, I did, but in my mind I was just making it available to friends, family and whatever acquaintances heard about it and wanted a copy. That is why I gave it out for free. I had no plans of making money or being discovered or successful or anything else. I just wanted to share. I chose Amazon because they let you offer an ebook for free for five days and then at a low price.
What was it like to watch the design and layout of your book come together? Your cover was professionally done, right?
My husband, a gifted artist and designer, did my cover. The picture was an accident. We were taking family pics one day and when we got home and pulled them up for processing, we both saw the same thing at the same time. “That’s the cover!” I told him my vision to add wings and the rest is history. I love that my daughter, who inspired Jennifer, is the golden girl on the cover. It felt wonderful.
When the magic moment came and you announced On Little Wings was available to purchase or download, what thoughts and feelings went through your mind? What did you think would happen?
I was at a church activity the night before the launch and I kept feeling like I was going to throw up, I was so nervous. Most people don’t even know I write at all. I finally gathered my courage and decided I would tell them. These were my friends right? I said, “I have a little announcement to make.” And then everyone thought I was pregnant and after thinking I was about to produce a human, producing a book was anti-climactic, but they were excited anyway. I forced myself to tell people, even though it was hard. If I was going to do it, I was going to at least try to get it to a few people. I thought a couple hundred might grab it.
Then received over 10K downloads in a just a few days and hit #2 on Amazon. How crazy was that?
Breathless. Miraculous. Horrifying. Please remember I was bracing myself for the judgment of one or two hundred people. Not tens of thousands. I went into a tailspin of terror.
And now, you’ve signed with an awesome NY agent. Will you spill the beans and tell us her name? Or give us some more hints about who she may be?
My agent is great! (I love saying “my agent!”) Her name is WendySherman of the Wendy Sherman agency. She is a former exec at Simon Schuster and Holt and has been a respected and successful agent for more than ten years. She is one of the few agents who comes with a score of Recommended. That is hard to find.
How do you feel at this moment in time? What are your hopes and dreams for your writing career?
I am slowly learning to cope with the anxiety. I didn’t sleep for three weeks. I truly felt like an impostor. I wanted to tell people I didn’t mean for so many people to find me. I was scared everyone would be mad when they realized I was just a girl in Kansas telling her daughter a bedtime story. I am slowly, as reviews from strangers trickle in, realizing that what speaks to me, speaks to others. I am starting to feel calm again. I have never thought of writing as a career. I can’t imagine I ever will. I will keep writing and editing stories until the words are beautiful to me and hope that means they are beautiful to others. This has never been, will never be, about money. I hope this is a way to meet new and wonderful people and encourage them in their talents.
If you could share one piece of advice with other writers out there, what would it be?
Don’t dream of being famous or rich. It will probably never happen. But dream of making something beautiful. When you have done your absolute best, expect more and try harder. Find something to fix. Even if it feels like cutting off pieces of you, trim out the words until all that is left is beauty. Essential, undeniable beauty. I’m not there yet, but I will die trying.
And just for kicks, what kind of socks are you wearing right now?
Dang it! I wanted to say rainbow knee socks! I am, and always will be, barefoot. My toes are sort of free-range digits.
Thank you so much for sharing a slice of your story with my readers, Regina. I wish you the best of the best with the rest of your journey in the publication world!
On Little Wings by Regina Sirois is available on Amazon.com and in the Kindle Store.
Or you can enter to win it here!
Entering is simple:
Or you can enter to win it here!
Entering is simple:
- Follow my blog.
- "Like" Regina's Facebook Page
- Leave a comment on this post. Please include your email address so we can contact you with the good news.
The winner will be announced on Monday, February 6th. Good luck, everyone!