Irish Author, Fiona Hogan Celebrates Her First Book
We will learn today what Irish author Fiona went through to write and publish her book, The Lights Went Out And Other Stories.
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Marsha Ingrao: Today I’d like to introduce Fiona Hogan, an Irish author, one of my new blogging friends from the Intentional Blogging Course I’m taking. Fiona suffers from social media craziness and is a member of in excess of twenty author, blogging, tweeting and general writing groups not to mention the writers’ pages I have liked. She is sociable and loves sharing and absorbing all your writing knowledge. Fiona keeps busy as a mother of five and a writer trying to publish her work both through self-publishing and the traditional route. I’ve put her new book, The Lights Went Out And Other Stories, at the top of my reading list.
Welcome to California, Fiona. Let’s talk about your writing experiences. What is the one thing that you do, that you feel has been the biggest contribution to your success, so far?
Fiona Hogan: I would have to say reading; I have always had a great hunger for books. Ever since I was able to read I have escaped through literature. Books take me to places I never want to leave, introduce me to characters I carry around with me. It’s always a joy to discover an author who excites me and then to know that I have access to their entire collection.
Great books inspire me. Writers like the Bronte sisters, Thomas Hardy, Jane Austen, Paul Auster and Susanna Clarke make me want to be a better writer. It was a natural thing for me to want to write and I have been composing stories and writing poetry ever since I can remember.
I write stories I would like to read myself. But mostly I write because if I don’t I am miserable. It took me a while to make that correlation.
Marsha Ingrao: Writers do seem to have that misery of not writing in common, don’t they? You keep awfully busy with five kids, a cat, and social media, and yet you find time to write. What concerns or obstacles have you overcome in your career?
Fiona Hogan: Three years ago I injured my leg, an Achilles tendon rupture (painful as hell and it happened on the dance floor whilst letting my hair down at my school’s 25th reunion – doubly painful!) Anyhow, I suddenly found myself with a lot of time on my hands. So I outlined and wrote my first novel – “Martha’s Cottage”, this was a defining moment for me. Whatever happened next I had written a book! I sent a few chapters off to a couple of agents and when the rejection emails came I put it away for three years until I was able to face it again. It’s fair to say I took it hard.
But I was continuously writing, all through those years, I was building up my collection of short stories. I love a good short story or novella and I picked through my notebooks and hardback jotters until I had twenty-two stories that I was more than pleased with. But I was wary of putting my work out there. In truth, the biggest obstacle to overcome in my writing career was – myself. I always lacked the confidence, the belief in my writing, regardless what others had said to the contrary.
I was holding myself back from the next step. It was time to take action and get over myself! Due to the fact that I had tried the traditional route with my novel, I decided that I would try self-publication. So last October I published my first book of short stories – “The Lights Went Out and Other Stories” a collection of humorous, poignant, eerie and romantic fiction. Martha’s Cottage is being edited before publication in the next month or so. There is a third novel, an untitled horror, and I am a third of the way through it. I also am working on a chapbook of poetry. It seems there is no stopping me. All I needed was a push.
Marsha Ingrao: I ordered, The Lights Went Out, and I’m looking forward to reading it. I’ll have to read Martha’s Cottage because Martha is both my mother’s and great-grandmother’s name. Since I lisp many people call me that too. I noticed one of the stories on your Facebook page. What is one opportunity that you attribute to blogging or publishing your work?
Fiona Hogan: Blogging is a great inspiration for me; it’s a way for me to share my thoughts, my poetry, and excerpts from my work. I love to share and tweet the work of other bloggers and really appreciate it when they do the same for me. It’s a great way to get your work out there and if people follow the book links that’s great too. But mostly it’s about connecting with the world and sharing my thoughts and writing and any tips or advice I can. There are many great blogging groups online and it’s easy to get support and advice on any subject you can think of.
Marsha Ingrao: Groups build community among writers and are a great help, and you mentioned that you are involved in about twenty groups. Wow! What one person or resource helped you the most as a new blogger?
Fiona Hogan: I have made a lot of writer friends in the many writing groups I am a member of and when I put my book up on Amazon first there were a few in particular who advised me to change my original blogger site to WordPress. I had to learn a lot of information in a very short time in order to get my blog up and running. I learned about self-hosting through SiteGround who helped with any teething problems I had and I figured out a lot of the technical stuff on YouTube (you really can learn how to do anything on YouTube, an amazing tool). I had been a member of a writing group called My 500 Words run by Jeff Goins. In fact, it was my first Facebook writing group and it’s such a supportive network of writers. Jeff also runs a group affiliated with 500 called Intentional Blogging and I joined in on a blogging challenge which helped with setting up landing pages and email lists etc. This is a great group for advice, comments, and sharing, with many splinter groups which are really good for individuals looking for guest writers or to guest themselves.
One thing I have learned is that support is everything, along with the annoying but essential promotion of your book, networking and connecting with other writers is a must. I am always surprised at how helpful and generous other writers can be with advice and sales and even book reviews. I review a lot of other author’s work. I know how important reviews are for writers especially fledgling indie authors like myself.
Marsha Ingrao: I think My 500 Words was my first group, too. A good friend, Tonia Hurst, invited me. Then I did Jeff Goins course, Intentional Blogger. No wonder we are on the same page, so to speak. It has been so much fun to get to know you better, looking at your Irish blog, and Facebook. I look forward to connecting for many more years and watching our friendship grow. You can also connect with Fiona on Pinterest and Twitter.
If you enjoyed this interview, you can connect with Fiona on her blog, Unusual Fiction and Random Musings, if you enjoy a bit of everything from poetry to jogging. Thanks again, Fiona, for taking your time to do this interview.
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