10 Questions For... Melissa Foster

Melissa Foster is quickly becoming a superstar in the literary world, having already published two award-winning novels, Megan’s Way and Chasing Amanda, which firmly established themselves in Amazon's bestseller rankings. She is also the founder of the Women’s Nest, a social and support community for women, and WoMen’s Literary Café, a literary community. Melissa has written for Calgary’s Child Magazine and Women Business Owners Magazine, she hosts an annual Aspiring Authors contest for children, and she has painted and donated several murals to The Hospital for Sick Children in Washington, DC. And, if all of that wasn't enough to keep her busy, Melissa is currently collaborating in the film production of Megan’s Way and is about to release her third novel, Come Back To Me. So, without further ado, here are 10 questions for Melissa Foster.

1. What would you like readers to know about Chasing Amanda?

That it almost ended up in the trash! I had received many inquiries from agents, but none of them picked it up, and I really let that get to me. I began to think that since it was the first manuscript I had written, though not the first published, that perhaps it wasn't worthy. Thank goodness for my good friend, Geraldine Solon, who pushed me to send it to her publisher. Solstice Publishers offered me representation 24 hours later and I am very grateful to both Solstice and Geraldine.

2. Who are some writers that have affected your storytelling sensibilities? 

I take something from every author that I read, whether it is something I want to learn from and expand my writing to encompass or shy away from, there's always a bit of knowledge to reap. In that regard, I'd say that all authors that I read have helped shape my abilities. However, I really fell in love with Jodi Piccolt and Harlen Coben's writing styles early on (as different as they are). Both touched me with a very "real life" feel. I'm sure that played into the way I shape my characters' emotional journeys.

3. What methods and strategies have you employed in order to promote both yourself as an author, as well Chasing Amanda?

I've done everything from paid advertisements and networking at events to writing articles for publication and cross promoting with other authors. I reach out to readers daily and to other authors, and it's one of the things that I enjoy most about being an author.

4.  Writing a book is such a complex exercise that I imagine no two authors do it exactly the same. Can you summarize your process for me?

For me, writing is a very solitary act. I write when I'm home alone with my radio on and a big glass of water or mug of coffee—don't forget the Skittles or brownies—always something sugary, even if not much of it. I write in a few steps—as detailed in this article, "The Hidden Aspects of Writing." First I write the entire story from start to finish—it's rough, and often way too long, but the general idea is there. Then I go back and work through the story to take out the "fluff." Then, I polish, edit, rewrite, edit, rewrite, edit, edit, rewrite, fight with my editor <sigh>, edit, rewrite, polish, and voilà—a story is born. The one thing that I do that is probably very odd is that I act out scenes as I develop them. I find that crawling into my characters' minds is very important. I need to feel their fear, their emotional roller coaster, in order to parlay it effectively to the page.

5. With two novels under your belt, Megan’s Way and Chasing Amanda, has writing gotten any easier for you?

The actual writing process gets a little speedier, though I'm not sure if easier is the right word. I agonize over every scene and every word. What gets easier is the process of understanding where/when I need to add certain peaks and valleys.

6. Where do you see your writing career five years from now?

I love to write. I would hope that I'm writing with several books under my belt. It would be a dream come true if people knew my books when they heard my name instead of getting a raised eyebrow and feigned knowledge.

7. What drove you to write Chasing Amanda?

I was a runner for many years. When I moved to Boyds, I ran down White Ground Road, the secluded rustic road that is mentioned in the book. There is a portion of the road that is lined with trees on both sides, thick woods during the Spring, and eerily bare during the winter months. While running down White Ground, I began to realize how easily someone could disappear into the woods, and my mind wandered from there. I never ran down White Ground Road again after that day.

8. Can you sum up the journey of getting Chasing Amanda published?

I queried my heart out, received probably twenty-five requests for the manuscript, and none of the agents took the book. At that point I decided that perhaps it wasn't meant to be published. I had recently met an author by the name of Geraldine Solon, now one of my very close friends. We were commiserating about the woes of snagging an agent, and she suggested that I query her publisher. After much pushing from Geraldine (thank you, G!), I agreed. 24 hours later I had an offer of representation. Chasing Amanda sold 30,000 copies in September alone, and now I am repped by the magnificent Jenny Bent of The Bent Agency. I am very blessed to have had a friend to push me, and even more blessed to have readers who enjoy my work (thank you all!).

9. What are you currently working on?

My third book, Come Back To Me, will be released November 1, and we are having an enormous virtual launch party with 35 other talented authors. All books will be 99 cents, including my newest release—for 3 days only. It will be a magnificent event for readers. We're giving away free ebooks, and a one-of-a-kind leather-bound edition of Come Back To Me. Readers can join us Tuesday, November 1 - Thursday, November 3, at  www.womensliterarycafe.com

I'm also working on rewrites to Chasing Amanda for Jenny Bent, and a second suspense novel, Traces of Tara.

10. What advice would you give to an aspiring author who hopes to see their work published one day?

Hone your craft, and never stop. Learn from everything you can get your hands on. Have a professional edit your work multiple times. The publishing industry is in a state of flux, but that is not something that should stop writers from writing or from querying. Agents are still making deals. Indies are publishing to an enormous audience, and self-publishing is making it's way to the forefront (or perhaps we can say it's already there). Do what your heart tells you to do. If you were meant to write, write. And, finally, learn to market your book. I'm launching WoMen's Literary Cafe as a means to help authors learn to promote and cross promote without spending all of their hard-earned and much needed money. Join the community after November 1st, and grow with us. We're already over 1000 members strong. Alone, you are one, together we are a force to be reckoned with.

Thank you, Martin, for giving me the opportunity to take part in your "10 Questions For..." series. I am happy to chat with readers and book clubs, and look forward to connecting with your commenters.

And there you have it. I'd like to thank Melissa Foster for being so generous with her time. If you want to learn more about her, you can visit MelissaFoster.com. You can also connect with Melissa on Facebook and GoodReads and you can follow her on Twitter.