I love Friday.
As you know, I’ve been interviewing as many artists and parents and artists/parents as I can get my hands on.
There are equally as many challenges as moments of joy in making a living as an artist and I believe the same can be said of parenting. I’ve been curious to know how other artists and parents manage. So naturally, I found a bunch of them and asked a ton of questions! Since I’m a giver, I thought I’d share them with you.
Did you miss a few? Catch up!
Greg Tremblay – voice actor and homesteader.
ML Larson – the awesome uncle who uses British spellings despite living his whole life in the States.
Christine Tate – the Navy wife and homeschool mom who’s published her own bible study series.
Jane Danger – an author with the crazy cool name!
Julia Keanini – a newly self-published author and mother.
Horst Christian – the 84 year old man who moved here from Germany during the war and had my history buff of a step-dad going absolutely gaga over what he must have lived through.
Julie Ann Dawson – author/editor/publisher/gamer girl
Alex King – the author in love with exclamation points raising a little girl she describes as the Queen of Hearts from Alice in Wonderland
Heather Hamilton-Senter – An author, cover designer, singer, very talented lady
Nirina Stone – A newly published author with a beautiful name
And now, let’s welcome Claire Frank!
R. M. Webb: Tell me about yourself.
By night I’m a fantasy author, but my alter ego is a mom of three. I’m married to my high school sweetheart and we live in the Seattle area. I’ve been a writer, in some capacity, pretty much forever but I really started taking my fiction writing seriously in 2014 and released my first novel in December.
R. M. Webb: Why do you create?
That’s a great question and it would be easy to default to something snappy like, “To make the voices in my head be quiet.” And there would be some truth to that, but it wouldn’t tell the whole story. I’ve always loved writing, ever since I was young. I’ve also always loved reading and at some point I realized it would be pretty amazing to write the kinds of novels that I’d love to read. For me, reading is like going on an adventure, getting lost in another world. Writing provides that same experience, except on a deeper level. The bottom line is, I simply love it. I love what I do and I can’t imagine doing anything else.
R. M. Webb: Quick! Chocolate or chips?
Chocolate. Especially dark.
R. M. Webb: Is your art your business? Do you make money (or try to!) for the things you create?
I do consider this my business, absolutely. As an independent author, I have to wear the publisher hat pretty often, and I’ve learned a great deal in just the short time I’ve been published.
R. M. Webb: Do you have a day job?
I stay home with my kids and actually homeschool them, so that’s my “day job” right now. I do work part time from home, but only 5-10 hours per week, so it isn’t a big commitment in terms of time.
R. M. Webb: What advice to parents interested in homeschooling:
I’d also suggest finding a local homeschool group or co-op so you can connect with other families locally. As homeschooling has grown over the last several years, more and more groups have been created and they offer lots of great opportunities to form friendships, for both parents and children. Online groups are fantastic as well and can really help with advice, reviews, suggestions and sometimes a much needed pat on the back. 🙂
R. M. Webb: If you still have a day job, would you like to get to the point where you could give it up?
I basically have tiered goals. I’d like to earn enough from my writing to support the production and marketing of my books (cover art, editing, promotions). Then I’d like to earn enough to replace my part time income. Eventually I’d love to earn enough for things like family vacations and other extras. Supporting my family completely, so my husband could be home and working with me is a dream, but it feels quite far off, if it will ever be possible. He and I collaborate creatively a lot, especially in the brainstorming and planning phases of my books, and he’s a huge support in terms of all the other responsibilities of publishing. If it ever became possible, we’d be all in.
R. M. Webb: What caused you to want to market your art?
For me, writing is a lot like cooking. I love to cook a good meal or bake something really yummy and share it with people. It is nice to make something for yourself, but the real joy for me is in sharing. Writing is the same way. I love to write, but I really love to write for others to read. It is literally a dream come true to be able to make my writing available for an audience. I still find myself thinking, “Wait, did I really do that?”
R. M. Webb: Where/when does inspiration strike?
Pretty much anywhere, but I think well in the shower and when I’m driving. I like to turn up the music in the car and just let my mind wander (although I do have to make sure I don’t forget where I’m going). I usually have my kids with me, so I let them know that Mommy needs a mental break and they understand. It doesn’t always mean they don’t find lots of things to talk to me about, but sometimes it works :). And I carry a notebook with me everywhere so I can jot down notes and ideas.
R. M. Webb: How do you react to negative feedback?
You mean other than crying into a pint of chocolate ice cream? (Kidding, kidding) Negative feedback is tough no matter what. I get critiques from beta readers and my editor, and it isn’t always easy to hear, but it is always helpful. It’s hard to hand your work to someone and say, “Here, tell me everything that you think is wrong.” However, I know my books are much stronger because of their feedback, even if it is sometimes painful.
As far as negative reader feedback, I haven’t had a lot yet, but I know it will come as I reach a larger audience. I realize that no one writes books that everyone will love. It just isn’t possible, and I wouldn’t want to try. I’ve seen bad reviews and negative feedback on some of my favorite books, so if they aren’t immune, I certainly won’t be either. It’s just part of putting your work out there for the world.
R. M. Webb: What’s your greatest obstacle as an artist?
Probably time. I have a busy life and as much as I want to be my “author self” all day long, I have a lot of other responsibilities that can’t be ignored.
R. M. Webb: Who’s your biggest champion?
My husband. Hands down. He believes in me and what we’re creating, and he props me up when I’m being a crazy angsty writer.
R. M. Webb: Quick! Red or blue?
Blue all the way.
R. M. Webb: Do you have kids? If not, do you want to have kids?
I do! I have three: two boys who are 10 and nearly 8, and a daughter who is 5 ½. They’re basically the coolest people I know.
R. M. Webb: If your child showed talent in an artistic endeavor, would you help her pursue a career in that field after having worked in a creative field yourself? Why or why not?
Absolutely. I’ll help them to go into it with eyes wide open, so they understand the challenges and realities they are facing. But I want them to realize that they have the power to make their life what they want it to be. If that means being an artist and making a living that way, they have the power to make it happen. As long as they’re aware of what it takes to make it and understand the importance of hard work and perseverance, they can do anything.
R. M. Webb: How do you structure your day as an artist/entrepreneur/person/parent? How do you get it all done?
Easy. I don’t get it all done.
Honestly, I have lived with the pressure of going to bed each night knowing there are at least 20 things I probably didn’t get to for years, even before I got serious about writing. I’m kind of used to it at this point. My trick is to set priorities, have reasonable expectations and be honest with myself. For example, I know I can’t be the go-to volunteer parent for my kids’ activities and sometimes I have to say “no” to things, even when I’d enjoy them. I know what I’m capable of in terms of time and I try to stick to it. I also don’t sweat the small stuff and I know that there are more important things than whether the sink is empty and the floor is clean. Obviously some things just have to get done, but I don’t worry about the rest.
Or at least I try not to.
R. M. Webb: Describe yourself as a parent.
I’m a pretty relaxed parent. We’re big on manners and respect and my kids are amazingly well behaved (kind of wish I could take credit for it, but I think some of it is just luck), but I’m not strict. Because I homeschool, we have a family rhythm that is a little unique. Although Daddy is away at work all day, the rest of us are together most of the time and we have to learn to work together, cooperate and generally get along.
Homeschooling also means I’m obviously very involved in their daily lives. But we’re big on free time and I like to give them space as they get older so they can learn some lessons from experience (in other words, I’m not a “helicopter parent”). I respect each of them for the unique little people that they are and I take a lot of joy in watching them grow.
R. M. Webb: What’s the best thing about raising kids?
This is where I’ll get sappy, but I love my kids more than I ever thought possible. They’re such amazing little people and I am so grateful that I get to be their mother. I still have moments when I look at them and it blows my mind that this is my family.
R. M. Webb: What’s the hardest thing about raising kids?
I think there are two things that really challenge me. One is the crushing pressure to not screw them up. I feel like I’m a good parent for the most part, but moms are good at guilt and I’m no exception. It is easy to worry about how my decisions now will affect them down the road. I try not to wallow in those sorts of negative feelings, but it can be overwhelming at times.
The other challenge that I have is simply the juggling act that being a parent entails. Every day I have so many balls in the air, I often feel that if I make one small misstep, everything will come crashing down. I’m dealing with their schooling and activities, as well as all the normal tasks of running a household, and when you’re doing those things with children around, everything takes ten times longer than it would otherwise. There is simply a LOT going on when you have kids.
R. M. Webb: Are your kids ever involved with your art? Do they inspire you? Work with you? Would you like to include them in your business as they grow?
They really are, although they aren’t at the point where they are reading my writing yet. But our whole family is involved in what I’m doing. My kids usually ask me in the morning how much writing I got done the night before. And they like to try to weasel out of school work by tempting me with extra writing time. “We can skip math mom, don’t you need to go get some writing done…” I won’t lie, sometimes that works. I am inspired by them, and really I want to show them that I can do this. They know I love to write, and I hope that them seeing me not only dreaming, but chasing the dream down and making something of it, will help them unlock that same potential in themselves. Kids learn what they live, and if we provide an example where our creative work and passions are nurtured, taken seriously and pursued, I hope that they will carry that with them as a lesson for their own lives.
R. M. Webb: What advice would you give someone dreaming of making it in your field?
Read, learn, absorb, persevere. Writing is a craft, and there are skills to be learned. This takes time and effort, but it is well worth it. There is a lot to be learned on the publishing and marketing side, but none of that matters if you don’t write a good story first. Learn the basics of story-craft and go from there. Immerse yourself in the world of writing and publishing. There is an amazing community of writers out there who love to help each other, passing on what they’ve learned. Dive in and make connections!
R. M. Webb: If you could pass one thing on to the next generation in general, what would it be?
I guess that your life is your own and you are the only one who can make it what you want it to be. No one is going to hand you the life you want, but you have the power to create it.
R. M. Webb: What’s the best thing about your life?
That’s actually a tough question to answer! I have a fantastic husband, amazing kids, and I’m living my dream as a writer. There you have it!
R. M. Webb: Quick! Eat out or cook at home?
Both. I actually love to cook, but I’m usually pretty worn out by dinner time. Eating out can be such an enjoyable break.
R. M. Webb: What’s the hardest thing about your craft?
I think authors have to be a little bit crazy to write novels. It can be gut wrenchingly hard, and yet completely impossible to resist. Even when I’m in the midst of writing something difficult, I never dream of stopping. I have moments when I’m overwhelmed and moments that feel triumphant, but never moments where I want to stop.
R. M. Webb: What’s the best thing about your craft?
The creative freedom to put together an entire world for someone else to live in, even if it’s just for a short time. First and foremost, I’m a fan, of reading in general and of fantasy in particular, and it’s exhilarating to be able to contribute to the awesomeness.
R. M. Webb: What’s the hardest thing about the business side of your craft?
Visibility. There are so many authors out there, established and new, and everyone wants a piece of the pie. It is extremely difficult to find ways to get noticed and gain a readership. I’m working on that slowly but surely, one reader at a time.
R. M. Webb: What’s the best thing about the business side of your craft?
I like having control over the various aspects of publication. I get to work directly with the cover designer, I found and hired an editor, and I get to make the decisions regarding my publication schedule, promotions, and content. It’s very fulfilling to know my fate is in my own hands.
R. M. Webb: Quick! Your peanut butter’s on your banana. What do you do?
Eat it up, baby. That’s good times.
Ok, now the fun part! Show off what you can do! (Link to your website, your books, your twitter, whatever you want to do to get more eyes on your work. Please don’t use affiliate links.)
My first book, To Whatever End (Echoes of Imara) (Volume 1), is available on Amazon. It is the story of Daro and Cecily, a couple who left the politics of their capital city behind, for a quiet life on the outskirts of their kingdom. Their peaceful existence is shattered by an unexpected attack. Cecily escapes, but Daro is taken captive. With no trail and few clues, Cecily desperately tracks rumors of a madman conducting human experiments, intent on bending the laws of Wielding magic. Cecily will do anything to find Daro, but his mind may already be gone.
The sequel, An Altered Fate, is coming in May! (Note from R. M. Webb: While this interview is posting on May 15, 2015, I actually interviewed Claire a couple months ago. Since this interview, Claire has been offered a traditional publishing deal. I’m not sure if she took the deal, or if she did, if that will change her book release schedule. Either way, WAY TO GO CLAIRE!)
You can find Claire online at www.clairefrankbooks.com, on Facebook at www.facebook.com/clairemfrank, and on Twitter, www.twitter.com/franklyclaire
Have a question for Claire? Drop it in the comment box!
**Standard disclaimer: The views expressed in this interview don’t necessarily reflect the views of R. M Webb.