Author interview – Heather Hamilton-Senter

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!

R. M. Webb – former ballerina turned teacher turned choreographer turned author and host of this blog. She wrote these books. And this post about raising kids. And this short story.

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

And now, let’s hear from Heather Hamilton-Senter!

Heather Hamilton-Senter author of Bound in Blue
Heather Hamilton-Senter

R. M. Webb: Tell me about yourself.

I’ve had many creative careers. I began as an actor and singer and am still a member of Canadian Actors’ Equity. I’ve been a graphic designer, silk artist, wedding photographer, and jewelry maker. Now I’m a digital artist/book cover designer, and the author of the Sword of Elements Series. Most importantly, I’m a stay at home Mom of Summer (19), Holly (14), and Stephen (7).

R. M. Webb: Why do you create?

I find it impossible not to. It is all I’ve ever wanted to do.

R. M. Webb: Quick! Chocolate or chips?

Chocolate!

R. M. Webb: Is your art your business? Do you make money (or try to!) for the things you create? Do you have a day job?

Writing is my main gig.

R. M. Webb: What caused you to want to market your art?

I’ve never been able to pursue my creative interests as hobbies. I’ve always had a drive to turn them into commercial enterprises.

R. M. Webb: Where/when does inspiration strike?

Generally either late at night while everyone else is asleep, or driving alone in the country.

R. M. Webb: How do you react to negative feedback?

I’m learning to not give it greater space in my life than I do positive feedback.

R. M. Webb: What’s your greatest obstacle as an artist?

Writer’s block, and not having enough uninterrupted time.

R. M. Webb: Who’s your biggest champion?

My husband.

R. M. Webb: Quick! Red or blue?

Despite the title of my first book – red!

R. M. Webb: Do you have kids? If not, do you want to have kids?

Have kids, love kids, wish I could have more, but those days are gone.

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?

My eldest daughter is studying piano performance at university. When it comes down to it, you have to follow the path of your greatest strengths.

R. M. Webb: How do you structure your day as an artist/entrepreneur/person/parent? How do you get it all done?

With kids of different ages and a husband who also works form home, I find it really difficult to create a daily consistent schedule. I drop my youngest off at the school bus, and then usually take a quick trip into town (I live in the country) to get a bagel for breakfast. The drive helps to clear my mind. When I come home, I answer emails and try to get cover design work done, as I find I need uninterrupted time for writing. I shower around 10:30, and once I’m dressed and ready, that’s when I begin writing until the kids come home. I usually write from around 11:00 at night as well, sometimes as late as 2:00 in the morning. That’s a productive day. Unfortunately, a lot of days get sidetracked – like today when I had to help my Mom take her cat to the vet!

Cover to Bound in Blue - designed by Heather
Cover to Bound in Blue – designed by Heather

R. M. Webb: Describe yourself as a parent.

Nowhere near as disciplined with our family schedule and activities as I should be, while being a bit strict at the same time. Nurturing and physically affectionate, very hands on. We spend an unnatural amount of time together as a family according to some people!

R. M. Webb: What’s the best thing about raising kids?

Hugging their little bodies close.

R. M. Webb: What’s the hardest thing about raising kids?

Them getting too big to hug and hold!

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?

My middle daughter is also a beta reader and the best proof reader I’ve ever found.

R. M. Webb: What advice would you give someone dreaming of making it in your field?

Quit dreaming and actually do something. If you try for the moon and fail, you’ll still likely get a bit off the ground – which is better than just sitting there like a lump!

R. M. Webb: If you could pass one thing on to the next generation in general, what would it be?

To know that life is too short to let a fear of failure keep you from trying.

R. M. Webb: What’s the best thing about your life?

My faith which sustains me, and my family which loves me.

R. M. Webb: Quick! Eat out or cook at home?

Eat out!

R. M. Webb: What’s the hardest thing about your craft?

Starting and finishing. Getting in gear and actually beginning, and knowing when to let go and say it’s done. This applies to both digital art and writing.

R. M. Webb: What’s the best thing about your craft?

The freedom to work from home.

R. M. Webb: What’s the hardest thing about the business side of your craft?

Not letting the business side take up all the time I need for the creative – because it can if I let it.

R. M. Webb: What’s the best thing about the business side of your craft?

To be honest, the financial possibilities.

R. M. Webb: Quick! Your peanut butter’s on your banana. What do you do?

Throw it all out! I hate them both!

Just one more question for you. It’s commonly believed that an author’s first book won’t sell well until the next couple books are out. You certainly were an exception to that rule with Bound in Blue! What do you think brought so many eyes to your book? (For the record, it’s well written and the premise is intriguing.)

It’s a difficult question. I honestly believe mostly luck is involved, but for lightning to strike, you’ve got to be in the right place at the right time. Or, in a book’s case – cover, blurb, editing, keywords. I think my cover has a lot to do with it, my blurb is just OK but does highlight a somewhat new concept, the book is well-edited so regardless of the actual quality of the story writing, the grammar and punctuation are correct…..

The last is keywords. I personally believe that being #1 to #3 in some sub-genres and in the top 10 of several others immediately after publishing made all the difference. My careful choice of keywords helped me hit these categories. Now, these are small sub-genres, but being a “#1 Amazon Bestseller” for a couple of weeks made Amazon itself take notice and they highlighted me as a Kindle Daily Deal without even letting me know! So my book went out in one of the newsletters and things exploded.

Well, you can’t count on Amazon doing any of that for you, but getting all the other elements in place is the only thing you do have control over!

Ok, now the fun part! Want to get to know Heather better? Interested in her books? Follow the links below! (For the record, when I type that last sentence, ‘follow the links below,’ I sing it in my head to that song from the Wizard of Oz. Follow the yellow brick road!)


Website

Book Cover Artistry – Heather’s design site.

Have a question for Heather? You know how to use the comment box! 😉

**Standard disclaimer: The view expressed in this interview don’t necessarily reflect the views of R. M. Webb

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