Author Interview: Tammy Hader

At what point do you think someone should call themselves a writer?

The labels you place on yourself are personal. For some, the time to call themselves a writer is the moment their work is published for other eyes to see. I required myself to learn more about the techniques of writing, to educate myself in the process, and to hone my skills for a couple of years before I felt comfortable calling myself a writer. A huge moment of confirmation came the first time a company approached me to contribute content to their website in exchange for money.

Do you hear from your readers much? What kinds of things do they say?

Over the years, I have received many positive comments that often focus on how my stories relate to their own life. Comments like these:

“I think the true measure of a piece like this is what it triggers for others.”

“Without question, the right book at the right time for so many who will look upon Tammy’s personal adventures as a mirror, reflecting slices of life from their past.”

“Brought tears to my eyes as I reminisced through your story.”

“A story the way a story should be told.”

“Brought up so many memories of my growing up with my older and younger brothers.”

“A walk down memory lane that deeply resonated with my own recollections of my childhood and heritage.”

“I have the widest smile as I read your story. I was remembering …”

Do you prefer ebooks, printed books, or audiobooks most of the time?

I prefer ebooks for traveling on a plane and to help me tolerate the time spent on an elliptical at the gym, but I love the old-school touch of a printed book most of all. There’s just something about holding a book in your hands, turning the pages, and opening it up to where your favorite bookmark saves your place.

How do you use social media as an author?

I use social media to market my book. I have constructed electronic posters using quotes from the book on a background related to the book. The posters contain information on where to purchase the book, including a QR code that goes straight to Amazon. I tag friends and followers and ask everyone to share or repost.

If you are planning a sequel, can you share a tiny bit about your plans for it?

I am writing the second book of the series now. The first book covers birth through junior high school and the second book moves forward through my high school and college years. The working title for the second book is Door Number Three – A Memoir of Stupidity and Confidence. I begin to look back at my formative years to determine how I lost belief in my own self-worth. The sake of my future lies in remembering the growth of my youthful stupidity into the confidence to forge my own way.

What books did you grow up reading?

I grew up reading all sorts of books, but my favorites were all the Nancy Drew and Hardy Boys Books my little hometown library had on their shelves. That public library is still there and in fact, I had the book release party for Walking Old Roads – A Memoir of Kindness Rediscovered in that very library. An extra special moment for me was finding my old friends Nancy, Frank and Joe still sitting on the library shelves.

What inspired the idea for your book?

My eye doctor, of all people. I sat down in the patient chair, and he asked me the obligatory question, “What have you been up to since I last saw you?”. Instead of answering with, “Oh, just the usual stuff”, I told him that I had been writing essays on Medium, BizCatalyst360, and WebMD. He was quite intrigued and had lots of questions. His final questions were something like, “What are you going to do with the stories? Are you going to make a book? Is your life interesting enough for that?” His line of questioning was direct but on point and exactly what I needed to hear. What is my plan? Where do I go with the writing from here? Creating a book is a logical path for a writer. Meanwhile, he started talking about what it was like when he was a kid. And that’s when I knew I had to write a book because that’s what my stories do. My words take people back to their own history and remind them of their own stories. I shifted gears and started delving into the idea of creating a book from my essays.

What is a significant way your book has changed since the first draft?

When I first began creating the book, it was a collection of individual essays that were not tied together with a specific theme or thread. After doing some research, I discovered marketing the book as a memoir might be a better option, so I adjusted the essays. I developed an outline of how the book would flow. I began by introducing a dilemma faced by the main characters, followed by stories of how the main characters work through the problem and ended with a solution to the problem. I also added dialogue with my mom which created a relationship thread that flowed throughout all the chapters.

Whom do you trust for objective and constructive criticism of your work?

I do not turn to family and close personal friends for objective review of my work. They are more apt to not want to hurt my feelings. I have developed long-distance professional friendships with a few other writers I met on and I asked one of them to read my manuscript and he not only read it, but also did some editing. He gave me great constructive criticism which I loved. It meant going through the book and adjusting again, but the time and effort made the book much better.

What do you think is the best way to improve writing skills?

I improved my writing skills by writing as much as possible and listening to the advice of other authors I met on writing platforms. Reading the work of other talented people helped me learn a lot about different writing techniques. I studied how my favorite fiction authors painted a vivid picture of a scene and how my favorite non-fiction storytellers made me pull up a chair and listen. Learning how to draw the reader into your world of words is key to becoming a better writer.

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