Welcome back, once again to meet another fun author. Today, we’ll be chatting with Gloria Antypowich from Horsefly, British Columbia, Canada. Gloria, why don’t you get us started with a little about yourself, and where you’re from?
- As a person, I have deliberately cultivated open mindedness. I truly believe that we all have our own individual life path to follow and since I cannot walk in anyone else’s steps, who am I to judge them or criticize their choices and actions.I am totally fascinated by human relationships and instinctively notice how people interact. I am curious about what makes some relationships work and what makes some relationships fail.Life experience and common sense have taught me that the idea of a fairy tale romantic relationship is just an unrealistic fantasy. After the initial burst of heart pounding lust and romantic dreaming, real life has to set in. Long term relationships don’t just happen; they take a lot of care and attention along the way. I believe all relationships have an ebb and flow—maybe even a few bouts of stormy weather that can seriously threaten the relation”ship”.
I have always been enamored with the power of words and I love to use them to paint images of characters that I hope become so real to my readers, that they feel like they are someone they know.
I grew up on a farm near Daysland, Alberta, Canada and I came from a loving home, with parents who had very strict religious values. I was the oldest child of four, and I had a terrific relationship with my mother. I learned to love reading from her. She read Harlequin romances, and at the age of 90 she still does!
- In July of 1960, I graduated from high school, and I went to the big city of Edmonton and began to train as a psychiatric nurse. I had just turned 17 at the time, but I had already met the love of my life and the man who became my husband 54 years ago. The following April 1st, (2 ½ months before my 18th birthday) we got married.We were poorer than church mice by today’s standards, but we thought nothing of it. We were renting a farm near Stettler, Alberta and we had big dreams and plans. Determination fuelled our drive to succeed and neither one of us were afraid of hard work.We both loved children and by design, three months after we were married we were expecting our first baby. By the time I was 22 years old, we had four children, 5 years old and under—and one of them was adopted. (Suckers for punishment eh? But I don’t regret having any of them.)
I worked side by side with my husband and as the children arrived (a couple were an “oops”, but welcomed and thoroughly loved) they accompanied us wherever we went.
When I look back at it now, I realize we were insanely busy, but we were young and thought nothing of it.
- Asthma ran in my family, and shortly after we adopted our last child, I began to experience symptoms. Looking back later, we both realise that we should have clued in to what was happening, but I had always been so healthy it never occurred to us that I could have developed allergies and asthma. In hindsight, my grandmother and my father had both developed asthma at the age of 22, and my life followed the same pattern. We spent 12 years on the farm at Stettler. Then my health became such an issue, it became imperative that we leave our dream and the prairies.We moved to the mountains and my husband became a shift boss at Fording Coal near Elkford, B.C. Away from all the environmental issues, I completely regained my health. My husband had always dreamed of being a rancher, and I believe our path in life unfolds as it should. Once I was better HE decided to by a ranch in the interior of British Columbia. Note: I said HE…I was not the least bit happy about that idea, but he was determined, so we ended up at Horsefly, B.C.Shortly after we bought the ranch in 1973, I went to work as a filing clerk and later a draftsperson for the B.C. Forest Service at the office in Horsefly. I worked for the BCFS for over 10 years and then I bought a computer and developed a serious interest in writing.
- I attended three RWA conventions during that period of my life. I listened to Nora Roberts, Danielle Steel and Debbie Macomber speak—all authors who I admired and whose books I had been reading. I also met Amanda Scott in the airport when we were heading home after the first convention I attended. We chatted and I had no idea that she was a well-known and prolific author of historical fiction. The next year, when we were at the RWA convention, she and her husband invited me to breakfast one morning and she told me that she had read the manuscript for my first book (Hearts at Risk) and loved it. I was stunned, certain she had mistaken me for someone else. She assured me that she had read my book, and when she started to describe what it was about I knew it was true. I had entered it in one of the contests and she said she felt she could give an honest opinion of the book, even though we had met. The book did not even get a mention, but what a thrill that was for me!Vanessa Grant and I met when we shared a room at one of those conventions. We became friends and I went to visit her when they lived on their sailboat at Prince Rupert, B.C. She read the manuscript for “Hearts At Risk” and liked it. She introduced me to an agent, who submitted the book to Harlequin. I got a very polite rejection—they had too many ranch stories at that time. My husband isn’t a romance reader and when the manuscript wasn’t snapped up immediately, he encouraged me to write something different.
- I’m a true Gemini! Instead changing what I wrote about, I became a traveling salesperson for five years, and then life carried me into different paths. Our children got married and I became a besotted grandmother. Many years later my husband and I retired. We spent most of our summers at Quesnel Lake for 5 years, and during the winter months I went online and immersed myself in the process of researching and compiling information about our family genealogy.I didn’t give another thought to my writing until a friend, whom we had met during our summers at the lake, published a book in 2010, using the services offered by Xlibris. The spark was re-ignited and I brought out the old manuscript for Hearts At Risk, polished it a bit and sent it to the same company. Both of our books pretty much bombed, and I discovered that being successful as an author and marketing your work is far more complex that most writers imagine. I’ve learned a lot about writing skills, branding and marketing books during the past four years!
With everything that’s happened, do you still remember when you started writing?
- I always loved working with words and in 1957, when I was 14 years old, I wrote a short article about fashion and it was published in the Western Producer. I received $2.00 and a few cents for it. What a thrill that was for me and at that time $2.00 was not just a coin that you carried in your pocket, the way we Canadians do now! The amusing and sobering truth is that, last year (all these years later) after I instructed Amazon to take two books that I had previously published in 2011 and 2012 off the market, I received a $2.79 cheque from them. LOL!! Some things haven’t changed—however, I didn’t cash Amazons cheque—I kept it as a reminder!
- I didn’t actually begin writing until the early 1980’s…so now I often asked myself how is it that at age 72, I have finally gotten serious about publishing and marketing my work. I still believe in the stories and the characters in my original books, but my attempts at publishing in 2011 and 2012 had many flaws and were complete failures. There was no branding and I had no presence in social media. I published through two different companies trying to save costs. The first cover for Hearts at Risk was sentimental and dismal—a picture of my grandchildren as they walked away with their horses. The cover of You Can Run, had no resemblance to the first book, even though they were supposed to be part of a series. I did not truly understand how important an author’s personal responsibility is in the success of marketing. I had paid a company to put the book out there, and I didn’t feel that I could justify tapping into extra resources to get recognition. Now I realize that if it’s going to happen I have to make liaisons and reach out to other people.
- Have I done better this time? I hope so, but right now I also understand that logically I do not have 30 years to build a career, so I write what resonates true to me and because I love to do it.
Sounds like you’ve had quite an adventure to get to where you are now. Are you taking a break, or forging on into a new project?
- In 2014 I did a total rewrite of the book I had published in 2011, and it became Book One of The Belanger Creek Ranch Series. I also revised my second book, and it became Book Two of the series. Then I wrote Books Three and Four.
- In 2015 I published the complete series. I used Create Space and Kindle KDP. The Second Time Around, Book One of the Belanger Creek Ranch Series is in the KDP Select program until August 17th, 2015. Then I will use Smashwords to publish it to broader areas in the market.
When you’re writing, do you try to keep to a particular style, or do you let the story influence the way you write?
- I’ll have an idea and I’ll do thorough research as background material. Then I’ll just jump right in and start writing—for hours and days and weeks.
- My husband also writes now—when he is writing that is OK, but when he isn’t I think not having “a wife” for weeks on end gets frustrating, but he doesn’t say much…although sometimes actions speak louder than words! My kids rag on me for living an unbalanced life—no exercise and sitting at the computer non-stop. Our oldest daughter and her family live upstairs (we live on the ground floor of the same house—not in a basement) and if she looks out of her bathroom window at midnight and sees the glow of the light from my office, she will go into their spare bedroom just above where I am working and stomp on the floor to let me know that she doesn’t approve! Our children and grandchildren are proud of my accomplishments—I have to correct myself here-they are proud of both of our accomplishments—but they just don’t get what it’s like to be a writer!
I can bet that gets to be an interesting discussion point from time to time. Do you work with him to come up with your titles, or is it all from your own efforts?
- This question makes me chuckle! I invariably change the title many times before I settle on the one that works for me. “The Hand of Fate, Book Three of The Belanger Ranch Series” was originally going to be “The Bastard and The Barren.” At one point it was going to be called “The Gift” and then when I did the final edit, I decided that “The Hand of Fate” best suited the book.
What about your covers? Do you develop those on your own, or work with someone?
- Laura Wright LaRoche, at LLPix Designs, (http://llpix.com/) designed the covers for the Belanger Creek Ranch Series. I wanted something different than what you see every day—will it work? Time will tell, but Laura was a pleasure to work with, and we keep in touch as FB friends now. She is working on Book Trailers for each book now.
As someone who tends to just browse covers from time to time, I can honestly say thank you. Seeing the same stock image time and again gets boring. Just out of curiosity, based on your titles I’d guess you hide messages in your work for readers to grab. Am I close to the mark, or way off base?
- I always try to give the reader food for thought, as well as an enjoyable read.
- In Book One, I draw attention to the effects of mild depression and how it affects the life of the person who deals with it. I am not a stranger to the mild form of depression myself, and I have seen the illness in many people—some who have plumbed the very depths.
- It is not the focal issue of the book, but it is the impetus for the story line. One reviewer wrote “The Second Time Around is one in a series of western romance novels by Gloria Antypowich who demonstrates a good knowledge of human nature in this take of a woman who has suffered three devastating losses in a short period, something most of us have also experienced. … My main interest was in how she handled Frank’s depression and although, she does not belabor the issue, Frank’s attitudes and behaviors reflect the condition well…I was delighted with this review (even though it was not a 5 star) because it made me feel that I had accomplished what I set out to do. Depression is a mental illness, and many people are embarrassed that they suffer from it, but they would not hesitate to go to a doctor for heart trouble or cancer. Mental health issues are very prevalent in today’s society and I feel they need to be brought to light.
- Book Two is about a woman who had a dysfunctional child hood, a father who did not accept her, and circumstances that lead her to a point where she shut herself off from all personal relationships, but still craved human touch and companionship on occasion. She pretty much became a whore, until the hero in the book came along and persistently pursued her heart, refusing to sleep with her until they had built the beginnings of a relationship.
- Book Three is about a woman who loves children, but cannot carry them because of a genetic condition. This book was inspired by a woman that I know, who acted as a surrogate for her sister who could not carry a child.
- The spark for Book Four was ignited when my son and daughter-in-law were talking about a friend that they knew who went to jail because of a freak accident. I did not know that individual, but I knew his name and where he lived, and before I wrote the book I phoned him (cold call), told him who I was and asked if he would be willing to talk to me about his experience, how it felt to be incarcerated and how it had affected his life afterward. He was a wonderful, open man and I built on the thoughts he had shared when I wrote about the lead male character in A Second Chance. Also, at a pivotal point in this plot, I wrote a dramatized incident of something that happened to me in real life. That instance taught me a healthy respect for a cow and her calf, and I learned that your life could change in an instant if you aren’t aware.
- I am not writing right now—I am marketing, marketing, marketing. But I am researching a possible rodeo series—I know a stock contractor, a bull fighter, a chuckwagon owner, a chuckwagon outrider and a bull rider, as well as a tie down roper. I do much of my research on line, but I like to get a feel for what characters would think and do from real life people if possible. Most of what I learn never makes it into a book, but it makes me feel that I can write with authenticity.
Do you have any favorite books you read when your writing, or between sessions? If so, can you share?
- I read so many genres—I can’t say I have a favorite author. One book that stays in my mind is Windfall by L.J. Martin—I loved that book. I am a big Claude Bouchard fan and I read every one of his Vigilante Series. I absolutely loved Melissa Foster’s books Megan’s Way and Come Back To Me. And then there is Widow, Virgin, Whore by Deanna Lynn Sletten and The Soul Bearers, by Sylvia Massara. Besides that I have read most of the books written by Kathleen Ball, Linda Lael Miller, Amanda Scott, Juliette Douglas, Stacy Eaton, Bev Pettersen, Giacomo Giammatteo, R.E. Donald, Bobby Hutchinson, Linda Gillard, Francis Guenette, Vanessa Grant, JD Robb/Nora Roberts, David Baldacci, Jodi Picoult, Danielle Steel….I could go on and on!
Are any of those on your reading stack now, or is it someone new who’s captured your fancy?
- I am reading Ted Tayler’s Olympus Project, The Phoenix Series, Book 1
- I read mostly Indie Authors right now. I have an essential tremor, and initially found it easiest to read on my Kindle—but now I prefer to read ebooks—how else can I take hundreds of books anywhere with me?
Since you are focused on helping indie authors (by reading their work and talking about it), do you see writing as your career now?
- Yes—I am fascinated by human relationships and I believe in the power of love, so it is natural for me to write about love, romance and relationships.I love the creative process and I see myself writing and publishing until I am no longer able to do so.
Outside of the family, do you have a support network to help you through the rough patches?
- There was far more than one: my friends, my community and of course Vanessa Grant, who gave me the courage to put my book out there in the very beginning.
When you are writing, have you run into any challenges you’ve had to overcome?
- Editing, editing, editing—over and over—and I had beta readers and an editor, but yesterday when I opened the published ebook file of The Second Time Around, Book One—I found a word that should not have been in a sentence! I would have sworn on my life that I had caught everything!
Did that help you learn anything about yourself, or the writing process?
- For me I need to write and edit, have it edited and then ideally I should let the manuscript sit for two or three months, so when I go back to it I see it through fresh eyes. I simply become too involved and get so “lost in the forest, that I don’t see the trees.”
And, now the big question: What advice would you give to other new, lightly experienced, or up-and-coming writers?
- Just go ahead and DO IT! Spend money on a professional editor—it’s possibly your best investment. And don’t expect to become a millionaire or famous as soon as your book goes public! Yes it does happen, once in a while, and it could happen to you, but be prepared to work your tush off to even get noticed. My heartfelt advice is to write because you love doing it.
Gloria, thank you so much for stopping by today. Before I wrap up, do you have any last words for our readers?
- I always have a love affair with my characters. I hope that you will feel the same way about them. And please leave a review after you read a book. Don’t worry about fancy words-write from the heart and share how you felt about my books—for that matter every author’s books that you read. It doesn’t matter if you loved it, just liked it or had to “hold your nose” to finish it—please just take time to express what you think. That is how authors learn how readers feel about their work, and all too often a review is the most significant reward an author gets for the hours spent on a labor of love!
I fully agree with you there. (Well, that, and it’s the only way to make the characters be quiet, so I can focus on school!)
If you enjoyed the interview, and would like to connect with Gloria, you can find her on her blogs:
If you’d like me to host an interview for you as well, please stop by my Offered Services page, and send me a submission. I’ll get back to you soonest to discuss details.
::glances at the door, and smiles at Gloria, who’s sticking her head back in::
- Psst, Kat, thank you for interviewing me.
Quite welcome. It was wonderful to have you over to visit.