Author Interview Series (11): Julie Cassetta
Here is our 11th author interview blog post! I'm really enjoying getting to know new authors every day, and I was very delighted when Julie messaged me on Instagram and shared about her new book, Magical Mia. This is a truly beautiful book with an important message. Check out the interview and get to know more about Julie and her book!
Hi Julie! Can you tell us a bit about yourself?
J: Hello! I have held many titles in my lifetime, but author is the most recent. I’ve often said that I have ‘been there – done that’ syndrome; although as I’ve gotten older, wiser, and kinder to myself, I choose to look at this as a love of life and desire to experience as much of it as possible. I have always adored and written poetry; however, until the release of my first book I kept my musings private aside from numerous love poems to my husband. I am constantly learning, obsessed with growth and personal development, and I am relentlessly optimistic.
What inspired and motivated you to write your first book and how long did it take from the initial idea to publishing?
J: I am a mother to a brilliant, empathetic, and very aware 7-year-old little girl. Without her I never would have had the inspiration/motivation to write my first book. She loves to write and especially loves to write comics. I’ve often thought of writing children’s books but didn’t consider it a possibility until last year. I think self-doubt always prevented me from moving forward with the idea.
I had been meditating very regularly last year and searching for more purpose in my life. One day my daughter and I were discussing what makes a good story; instantaneously this idea came to me for a series that would appeal to children as well as convey all the lessons I was trying to teach her. It was divine inspiration. One of the concepts I’m always trying to teach her is to move forward in her life without fear of what other people think and without self-doubt. Not only could my writing add the purpose to my life I was looking for, it could also show her by example everything I was trying to impart.
From the initial idea until I hit the publish button it was 6 months. I was very driven because I know how inspiration works, and I didn’t want to lose any of the initial momentum. I also knew I wouldn’t be able to forgive myself if I didn’t go for it. This was the purpose I was asking for and it wasn’t to be wasted. It’s not often one feels ‘in the flow’ and a powerful connection to something greater.
Wow - this is truly inspirational! How wonderful that you can combine the lessons you wanted to teach your daughter with your books and find a greater purpose at the same time!
What are some of the challenges you have encountered on your author and self-publishing journey? How did you overcome them?
J: I ran into a lot of issues with the creation of my website. My original desire was to create it myself so I could easily update it whenever I needed to, and not have to hire someone for every little thing. Plus, I wanted some creative control. I spent many, many hours over a period of months trying to do it myself. The original website/software that I went with was not user friendly and the learning curve was too great with the limited time I had. The program was recommended to me, so I incorrectly assumed it was the best option available.
I was very frustrated, so I finally resolved to hire someone to build the website for me. Then, with the person I hired, there were numerous delays and issues. It seemed like every day there was a new problem or barrier. It wasn’t working at all and he eventually stopped responding to me. I think I had 2 or 3 total months of frustration and things not working out. With the book release looming, it was a very stressful and frustrating time. Having all the social media accounts and website set up well in advance of a book launch is step one in a self-publishing journey. There’s no advertising that can happen without these things in place.
Finally, I found the simple website builder through GoDaddy and in an instant it all came together. I was able to be creative and make the website myself which was exactly what I originally wanted. All those difficult moments were just pointing me in another direction and showing me where I wasn’t supposed to be. In the end it worked out perfectly and I absolutely love my website and am proud that I was able to do it all myself. Because of the struggle I think I’m just about as proud of the website as I am the book!
I've just had a look at your website and I'm so impressed. It looks very professionally made! Good job making it all yourself!
What is something you wish someone had told you about self-publishing before you started?
J: Even though I thought I was well researched about the self-publishing process, I didn’t really have any idea just how much time would have to be spent on things beside writing books. I spend so much more time marketing than I do writing. I’m hoping that will change at some point but, maybe not.
Oh, absolutely! I think all self-published authors feel the same way!
Have you had any negative experiences or disappointing moments throughout your publishing journey? How did you handle them?
J: I’ve been blessed so far and haven’t had any truly negative experiences aside from the website challenge previously mentioned. My friends and family have been extremely supportive. I did hear some fearful comments regarding self-publishing that at the time I didn’t take well; however, I quickly realized that any comments reflect their fears and not my own. I was, however, careful and protective in the beginning and didn’t tell many people what I was doing until the book was almost done and it was time to tell the world and start advertising. I didn’t want to hear anyone’s doubt, fear, or negativity. I love and appreciate my eternal optimism but I also recognize many people do not have this worldview.
I can relate... I didn't tell anyone until I was almost ready to publish because I didn't want anyone telling me it was a silly dream or doubting me. Well done getting through it and pushing forward to the finish line!
What’s the best thing someone has said about your book? Or something they said that made you really happy.
My daughter and I LOVE this book! It’s our new #1 reading choice. It is a beautifully written book and the illustrations are so pretty. I love that there are examples of how to spread kindness, whether it’s something big, or something simple.
What is your favourite place to read or write?
J: I’ve got the comfiest recliner in the world and it’s where I do all my reading and some of my writing. It’s big enough that my daughter can curl up on my lap every night for story time.
What are some of your hobbies besides reading or writing?
J: I LOVE growing things! I love all plants and trees, but I especially love to grow food and lots of fruit trees. I even grow something called a Cotton Candy Tree!! It has little berries that taste like cotton candy! Do you know what kind of fruit this is in the picture?? (on the right) It’s a papaya! Have you ever tasted a papaya? It’s one of my favourite fruits!
What does ‘a day in the life of an author’ look like? Describe your typical day.
J: Well, a day in the life of a self-published author with one book, looks like me going to work at my day job. I’m an environmental scientist who cleans up soil and groundwater that has been contaminated. I find time to write and work on my author business in the early morning hours and in the evenings. It takes hard work to follow your dreams, but it is worth it.
Your day job sounds like important work too! It's hard to balance. Sounds like you have a good schedule going!
Ok, let's play a little game - finish the following statements: If I had never published my book(s), I would / would not…
J: ... be fulfilling my purpose. I’d also have something to regret which would be a shame. Note that I believe I have many purposes in this life and purpose is a fluid concept. If I could only read one book for the rest of my life, it would be …
J: there’s absolutely no way I could choose. Books come into my life at different times depending on what I need to hear/learn.
I would love it if (someone famous) could read my book.
J: Brené Brown. I absolutely adore her and I feel like she has championed me on this journey.
What advice would you give to other aspiring writers or authors?
J: I have two main pieces of advice. Number one: just go for it! So many people are weighed down and rendered immobile by self-doubt. I was there, and it’s no way to live. You haven’t peaked yet. Plus, there are so many resources in today’s world to help you along your way. I’m always amazed at how many people are willing to offer their knowledge, advice, and encouragement. No one ever regrets taking a chance and putting themselves out there but most of the population have many regrets about what they haven’t tried. What kind of person do you want to be?
Number two: always hire an editor! I’d bet many people think an editor isn’t necessary for a children’s book, but this couldn’t be further from the truth. Editors are trained to see things that you can’t, and will always make your writing better.
I completely agree with both of them! Excellent advice!
Finally, can you tell us a bit about your book?
J: Magical Mia – Kindness is Contagious is about the ripple effect of our actions. It is an inspirational story of friendship and connection and shows how one small act of kindness can make the world a more magical place. My wish is that children read this story and feel empowered to make their life and the lives of those around them even more beautiful. I want everyone to see life through my eyes.
What are you working on now? What’s your next book about?
J: As soon as my amazing illustrator is free, she’ll start on the next book in the Magical Mia series. Spoiler alert: it’s about soccer and overcoming negative self-talk. If you don’t know what negative self-talk is, it’s talking to yourself in a mean way. So many of us do this all the time and we don’t even realize it. Do you ever make a mistake and call yourself names inside your head? That is negative self-talk and I want everyone to be kinder to themselves!
That sounds great! I'm looking forward to reading it!
Check out the video below for a sneak peek of the book!
Connect with Julie at the links below:
Purchase the book on Amazon: Magical Mia: Kindness is Contagious
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