Category: books

Becoming an author – with Bethany Atazadeh

Becoming an author – with Bethany Atazadeh

Learning new skills, like writing a novel, learning how to self-publish it and how to market it can be a bit daunting. But many authors, who have learned how to do it, have decided to help other new writers on their path.

Bethany AtazadehOne of these authors is Bethany Atazadeh. She is the author of several novels including Evalene’s Number and Pearl’s Number from the Number Series as well as The Stolen Kingdom Series. To help new authors she also co-wrote, together with Mandi Lynn, three books on book marketing. These books are very helpful to any new author, especially to self-published authors who want to learn how to market their books.

Bethany’s help to new authors extends to her YouTube channel where she regularly posts videos with advice on writing, publishing and marketing. Moreover, Bethany also offers guidance via her Patreon page where she goes deeper into all these details.

When I decided to write my first novel I started only with an idea of the book I wanted to write. Bethany’s materials on YouTube and Patreon have offered me the basic understanding into what I need to do with respect to every aspect of the book writing, publishing and marketing. She is very engaged with her community and here she answers some questions about her publishing path, her books, and she gives some advice for new authors.

Bethany Atazadeh books

Q&A with Bethany Atazadeh

How did you decide to become a writer? What was the trigger?

It’s hard to say if there was any one moment… I grew up enjoying writing things and was a writing major in college, but NaNoWriMo 2016 was the first time I really started taking novel writing seriously. It was honestly a very gradual development.

What do you love most about writing novels?

Drafting is my favorite part. There’s something so freeing about the first draft, that you know no one will ever see. I love that creativity and not worrying what people will think (that part comes later)!

What was your biggest challenge in writing your first novel and how did you overcome it?

I truly didn’t understand how to write a novel–the sentence structure, creating characters, dialogue, world-building, any of it. Like I said, I was a writing major in college (English with a Creative Writing Emphasis technically), and so I first took a shot at novel writing for my senior project. But my professor didn’t know anything about novel writing, so it was a shot in the dark and completely discouraging. She preferred poetry and autobiography, so her disinterest in my work led to me dropping the novel for almost ten years.

How did you come up with the numbering system for Evelene’s Number?

During college and the following ten years, I worked in the hospital system in varying roles. The hospital differentiated those roles through the colors of our uniform and when I forgot my brown scrubs one day and had to borrow light blue surgery scrubs to work, I was treated so much better. The difference in respect reminded me of the caste systems in India, which led to picturing a culture where everyone had a literal number defining them, and that’s was what first got me truly excited about writing the story.

What inspired you to write The Stolen Kingdom?

Stolen KingdomI was more technical with TSK. I knew I wanted to write fantasy, but I wasn’t sure what. One day my hubby (who is from Iran) was making fun of Disney (as he likes to do), and told me that Genie is actually “Jinni” which is a persian word for “devil.” Being the researcher that I am, I decided to look it up and found them described as a “supernatural creature who could be either good or evil” which made me think of angels and demons, and the idea of an Aladdin retelling with Jinni spiraled from there.

Which one of your novels is your favorite and why?

The Stolen Kingdom. (1) Because I can see how much I’ve grown as a writer since I first began and feel like this is where I truly began to understand novel writing and (2) I just love the story so much, writing fantasy is SO fun!

If you could be any character from one of your novels for one day, which one would you chose to be and why?

Hmm, I think it’d be fun to be Arie. Even though she’s afraid of being revealed with a Jinni’s Gift, it’d still be fun to be a princess who can read minds for a day. 🙂

Can you tell us something about your upcoming novel(s)?

The Cursed Hunter is up next. It’s the third novel in The Stolen Kingdom series, although it can also be read as a standalone because it is a companion novel, telling the story of a separate character in another part of the world during Arie and Rena’s stories. It will be novella length, and is a retelling of my favorite fairytale of all time, Beauty and the Beast.

From all the novels you’ve read, which is one that you enjoyed so much that you could read several times?

The book I’ve read the most in my life (at least four times now) is called Redeeming Love by Francine Rivers. It’s set in the gold rush era in America about a young girl who’s been taken advantage of in life and has lost hope… I won’t say any more because spoilers, but it will always be my favorite book.

After writing and publishing five novels you have a different experience and insight into the world of indie publishing than you did when you first started. If you could go back in time, what advice would you give to Bethany as she started writing her first novel?

I do! Hmm, I’d say pick up Save the Cat Writes a Novel and learn how to structure your story!! Lol, learning the art of story telling, specifically in novel format, would’ve saved me so much time. Any book on craft really would’ve been wise.

What would be your first advice for new authors who want to take the path of indie publishing with respect to marketing their books?

When it comes to publishing/marketing a book, I’d say you can’t do it all. People will try to convince you to market your book a million different ways, but you’re only one person and if you try to do everything, you’ll fail at everything. Better to become a master at a limited number of things. Pick one to three things to focus on at a time, and master them before moving on. This will make you so much more successful at everything you choose to do.

How books improve our lives

How books improve our lives

Ever since I can remember, I’ve always loved books. I still remember the first time I visited our school library. I had just started reading and I went there to borrow books to read. Entering that magical place felt like entering a new universe. I was mesmerized by the feeling of being there in the library surrounded by so many books. It felt like heaven then and it still does whenever I’m in a bookstore, a library, or just around books.

My books are my most precious possession and I care for them as if they were part of my family. I have this game I invented around books… I buy a book in every new place I visit, or in every new airport I travel through. And if I go to the same place in two different years I’m allowing myself to buy another book, or two, or three… Every book I have has the location and year of purchase marked on it. My books are not just reading material, but also memories of all the places I’ve been to. And I’ve been to many places, so you can imagine I have quite the collection.

There are so many reasons I love books, but here are my top three reasons:

The joy of exploring new worlds

Exploring new places always comes with the thrill of discovering new things. That’s why we love traveling, going to new holiday places, new museums and new restaurants. (Just a side not here… I also love food very much so I just had to add the restaurant reference, otherwise my list wouldn’t be complete.)

book quote Walt DisneyWith books you can be an explorer with every new page you turn. Writers have that special ability of catapulting you to a whole new world by using such a simple tool as the word. They will throw you in right there in the middle of all the action. Once engulfed in that whole new world, you’ll actively participate in uncovering mysteries, solving murders, and meting new people. Imaginary as these new people may be, great writers can make you love or hate a character. They can bring all these new worlds to life and so a new adventure begins.

Escaping reality

We all have our imaginary stories that we create when we are children. Unfortunately this creativity steps aside as we grow up and we exchange our imaginary worlds and people for the real ones. We start living in the real world and forget about the ones we used to create as children. In my case, and in the case of many others who love to write, these imaginary worlds keep on living through our creative writing.

With the help of books and great authors we can temporarily return to those imaginary worlds. And sometimes that is all we need to get a break from the hardships of the real world. Books have helped me through some of my toughest times. It’s a way of escaping reality for few moments (hours) and relaxing my brain. And when I’m ready to get back to the real world, thanks to my short trip to a different world, I can better evaluate situations and find solutions to my problems.

Learning new things

You’d maybe assume this is more for non-fiction books. While it’s true that you can learn a lot from non-fiction books, the truth is you can learn just as much from reading fiction. There is so much to learn from fiction books!

To start with you learn about new places that you haven’t had the chance to visit. A good writer will describe the places in such a way that will make you see them through your mind’s eyes. Learning about all these new places from fiction always makes me want to go visit them, and, thus, I get new ideas for future holidays. The best example here are Dan Brown‘s books. Reading his books always makes me very curious to visit all those places where the action from his books takes place.

Another great example of books from which I’ve learned a lot are the books of James Rollins. I love his books because, on one hand, they’re packed with action, and, on the other hand, he always describes in the end of his books which details from his book were real. You get to learn a lot of new fascinating things about the world from his books.

And one more as a bonus… reading benefits the brain

Oh yes! This is a big one! And it’s backed by science!

Neuroscientists have shown that reading can have great benefits for the brain. Don’t assume they’re talking about reading non-fiction so that the benefit you got would be from the fact you’ve learned something new. No, I’m talking about fiction books here.

The neuroscientists have shown how reading fiction and putting yourself in the shoes of the characters can help improve theory of mind. That means that it will help you improve your social interactions by becoming more aware of other people’s feelings, beliefs and perspectives. Moreover, in another study, neuroscientists have shown that reading fiction can also improve brain connectivity. Who wouldn’t want that?! You can read the full details of these study in this Psychology Today article that summarizes the findings of the different research studies on the effects of reading on the brain.

Stephen King, the greatest living writer, in my opinion, depicts the psychology of people extremely well in his books. He dives so deep into the minds of his characters that he makes you think you’ve known each character for years. His books definitely help you become more aware of other people’s beliefs and perspectives that can be very different from your own.

So… next time you’re thinking of binge watching a TV series on Netflix, consider reading a book instead. Your brain will thank you for it!

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