Tuesday, June 6, 2017

PUYB Chats with Evy Journey, author of Hello, Agnieszka

Evy Journey has always been fascinated with words and seduced by beautiful prose. She loves Jane Austen and invokes her spirit every time she spins tales of love, loss, and finding one's way—stories she interweaves with mystery or intrigue and sets in various locales. SPR (Self Publishing Review) awarded Evy the 2015 Independent Woman Author bronze for her writing.
She's lived and traveled in many places, from Asia to Europe. Often she's ended up in Paris, though—her favorite place in the world. She's an observer-wanderer. A flâneuse, as the French would say.
The mind is what fascinates her most. Armed with a Ph.D., she researched and spearheaded the development of mental health programs. And wrote like an academic. Not a good thing if you want to sound like a normal person. So, in 2012, she began to write fiction (mostly happy fiction) as an antidote.



About the Book:

Elise thought she knew her mother. Agnieszka Halverson is a caring woman, a great cook, and an exceptional piano player; but living in a secure, predictable world, she’s also a little dull. Her world is devastated when her oldest son attempts suicide, and Elise finds her mother has a past—both sweet
and bitter—that she must now reveal to explain the suicide attempt. A past rich with a passion for music and shattered dreams, betrayal of a sweet but tragic first love, second chances and renewed hopes.

Born to immigrant parents weighed down by their roots, Agnieszka takes solace in learning to play the piano, taught by a sympathetic aunt who was a concert pianist in Poland before World War II. But when her aunt betrays her and her parents cast her aside for violating their traditional values, can Agnieszka’s music sustain her? Can she, at eighteen, build a life on her own?

When she finally bares her soul to her children, Agnieszka hopes they can accept that she has a past that’s as complex as theirs; that she’s just as human, just as vulnerable as they are. But do her revelations alienate her husband and can they push Elise farther away from her?


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Before you started writing your book, what kind of research did you do to prepare yourself?

I’ve never lived in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania but my husband has. I chose that setting for Hello Agnieszka because my internet research showed that many Polish immigrants settled there. I spent hours listening to my husband’s account of his life in Pittsburgh as a student in the seventies, the time when Agnieszka lived there. But I read about the place, its demographics, and looked it up on google earth to get a sense of what it’s like. I also did research on traditional practices (including religion) and values of the Polish.

Did you pursue publishers or did you opt to self-pub?

Hello Agnieszka is Book 2 of a series. I did try for Book 1, but I wasn’t quite sure what genre to fit it into, so I sent it to romance publishers, but a couple said they didn’t publish stories with cheating in it. Obviously, I was ignorant about genres. I just eventually got tired of trying because it’s so easy to go the self-publishing route. After that, it seems natural to go self-pub all the way.

If self-published, did you hire someone to format the ebook version for you or did you do it yourself?  Can you tell us what that was like?

I formatted the book using Book Design Templates I bought from Joel Friedlander‘s outfit. It was easy from that point on.

Did you purposefully choose a distinct month to release your book?  Why?

No. I admit I wasn’t thinking of book promotion and marketing at that time, which might have been a naïve newbie mistake. Maybe, that’s an area in which a publisher might have been a great help.

How did you choose your cover?

A cover designer did my book covers after we “talked” about the books in the series. She presented me with choices and I made my selections. I didn’t like her choices for Hello Agnieszka, though, so I went on photo and graphic art sites and chose one. I think I lucked out because the image of the young woman at the old piano fit the book to a T.

Did you write your book, then revise or revise as you went?

I revise as I write a draft. Then I keep on revising after the draft is finished. I send the book to beta readers, then I revise some more. At some point, I get reasonably satisfied with the book, so I send it to an editor.

Did you come up with special swag for your book and how are you using it to help get the word out about your book? 

No. Do they actually help?

Did you consider making or hiring someone to make a book trailer for your book?  If so, what’s the link?

I don’t have a trailer for Book 2. I made one for Book 1. I’m currently talking to my nephew to see if he’ll do me a trailer for the series. He’s finishing film school at San Francisco State.

What’s your opinion on giving your book away to sell other copies of your book?

I’m all for it. I write to offer escapist fare to those who want a short break from messy living. I think it’s a time-honored practice in sales of new products. With such stiff competition these days, most authors have to find ways to make their books visible and accessible.

What kind of pre-promotion did you do before the book came out? 

I had a blog, an FB page and twitter before the book was published. That’s all, I’m afraid. I’m still learning.

Do you have a long term plan with your book?

I tried some advertising and promotion for all three books the last couple of years, after consulting with book marketing experts. I don’t think they led to any appreciable sales, except in one case. I have no plan this year. I felt I needed a break. Promotion can cost a lot of money and time. Maybe, this book tour will inspire me to renew my efforts.

What would you like to say to your readers and fans about your book?

Women are more likely than men to find themselves in Agnieszka, especially if they’re mothers to grown-up children. A lot of us take our mothers for granted. We never stop to think that these caring women who put the needs of their families above their own also had lives, in their youth, as rich, as complex as ours. Hello Agnieszka may also appeal to those who love music and have experienced its potential for healing.

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