January 08, 2010
Who is more passionate than a mother about her children? Only a mother who is also a writer! Meet Corin Wiser, mother, wife, and successful author of the book Matters of the Heart: A Guide to Living and Loving Your Teen Years. As Corin puts it, her book “offers simple and straightforward tools to help the reader connect with her inner voice, or ‘internal guidance system,’ and to overcome negative influences on the way to reaching her full potential.”
Well, it’s definitely working. After publishing her book, Corin has seen it snapped up by mothers and daughters everywhere! A series of workshops have sprung up to accompany the book, and it’s even been embraced as required reading in some forward-thinking schools! Not bad for a mama with something to say, huh?
WordHustler sat down with Corin to get her opinion on what to do when the drive to write overtakes you, how to market yourself as a new author, and why sometimes breakfast for dinner is the best solution. Read on to find out more about this amazing mother/writer!
WordHustler: You have a background as a speaker and have your Masters in Education- what made you decide you HAD to write this book?
Corin Wiser: That’s precisely how I felt – I felt that I HAD to write this book. A few years ago, I was drawn to my old journals, journals that I’d kept since I was nine years old. I sat on my bedroom floor for two days and just read, reconnecting with my younger self. What I discovered in those journals was a young adolescent who had a pretty good childhood, but who also experienced self-doubt and insecurity, feelings of uncertainty and insignificance, and plenty of unanswered questions and regrettable mistakes. Looking back, I wish I’d had a roadmap – a guidebook – to help me discover and focus on the things that really mattered to me, and to help me develop the strength and courage to live by those things.
As the mother of three daughters, I realized that I had a responsibility to help them on their own imminent journey through the challenging teenage years. And so I began writing what was originally intended as a book for my three daughters, Rebecca and Leah (12 ½ year-old twins) and 8 ½ year-old Hannah. Several months into my writing, I realized that I simply had to share my message with as many teen girls as possible, and that realization fueled my passion even further! I felt inspired and “guided” in my writing, and I loved every minute of it! The result was Matters of the Heart: A Guide to Living and Loving Your Teen Years.
Looking back now, I can clearly see what was taking place. I believe that we all have a deep-rooted need to contribute and to leave the world a better place than we found it. Some of us become aware of this need and live a life filled with meaning and purpose. Some of us go through life searching and searching, not really understanding why we don’t feel fulfilled. But the moment we connect with this need and commit to contributing to others, we feel purposeful and joyful, even when things don’t go our way. And that’s what writing Matters of the Heart became for me: my purpose and my contribution.
WH: How long did it take you to write this book? Then how long until you decided to publish it?
CW: I’ll never forget the day I started to write… I honestly had no idea that what I was writing would eventually become a book, and that I would publish it! I just started writing and, as strange as it sounds, the words literally began to flow through me. I became so immersed in my writing that I had time for very little else. I took my daughters to school, came back home, and did nothing but write until it was time to pick them up from school. I skipped meals – eating them and preparing them (thank goodness my family had grown accustomed to eating breakfast for dinner!), and I sometimes went days without speaking to close friends and family. I just wrote – six days a week. At that pace, I was able to complete the book in about five months.
Then it was time to edit… My husband is an amazing editor, and he was committed to helping me get my message out there. After he had edited the book, I sent the manuscript to Joyce Sweeney, an acclaimed author and editor. Joyce was tremendously helpful in pointing out things that my husband and I had overlooked. Once the final edits were complete, I sent the manuscript to the publishing firm that, from day one, I had envisioned publishing my book. I had seen it in my mind’s eye, and I was absolutely certain they would publish Matters of the Heart, so when I received their very polite rejection letter several months later, I was absolutely crushed! I consulted with a friend of mine, a successful author who had become my mentor, and discussed the self-publishing option. And the rest is history!
WH: Do you see this book as part of a series? Are you interested in bringing this message to different groups like teenage boys, etc?
CW: Even as I was writing Matters of the Heart, I knew that my next book would be written from the perspective of Nicki, the book’s fictional teenage character. You know, it’s amazing to me that any time I speak to an audience of teen girls, they always ask about Nicki. They want to know whether she’s real or fictional. I think my audience connects better with the book’s message when it’s presented from the perspective of a teen girl. I’d love for Nicki to “write” the next book, but she hasn’t started that one yet! I’ve been asked by a number of people to write a Matters of the Heart book for teenage boys, and while I know that boys would benefit tremendously from the book’s message, I’m not sure I’m the right messenger. Put it this way, I’ve been blessed with three daughters for a reason – I was meant to write a book for teen girls!
WH: What for you is the most challenging part of writing a book for teens? Convincing prose? Educating without talking down to kids? Etc?
CW: Matters of the Heart was initially intended for my three daughters, as a guidebook for them, and so my voice was the voice of a mother offering advice to her daughters. Once I made the decision to share this book with as many teen girls as possible, I became more aware of the importance of not speaking down to my audience – of speaking from a place of honesty and integrity, without sounding too preachy. After all, I wanted my message not only to be read but to be heard.
What’s interesting is that I think I was able to accomplish that by presenting two distinct voices in my book – mine and Nicki’s. Mine is the voice of the caring, loving adult who made her share of mistakes as a teen. Nicki’s is the voice of a 16-year-old girl who openly shares her struggles but who is still a good role model – someone the readers can learn from. Incorporating Nicki helped me to create a balance between the “motherly” voice and the teen voice with which teen girls can easily relate.
But the book was not intended to “sound” like the teenage girls portrayed in the media. I wanted to speak to teen girls based on who they can become, not on how they’re perceived by the media. And keeping it real (literally) is what I think allowed me to create more convincing prose: For the most part, every story in the book is a true story – something I experienced first-hand (or someone close to me experienced first-hand).
WH: You are doing a fantastic job of marketing yourself and your book since self-publishing it last year, especially in conjunction with all the workshops you teach. What advice do you have for other writers out there who are looking to market themselves?
CW: Networking is a must. Being out there in the community, getting involved with groups that share similar interests, and volunteering to speak at a variety of events is always helpful. You’ll never know with whom you’ll eventually connect. Just recently, my twin daughters were asked to speak to a group of women about the work they’re doing for the Give a Girl a Chance organization. I was there to hear my daughters speak, and at some point someone mentioned that I had written a book for teen girls. After the talk, a woman walked up to me and took down my contact information. She was the very same person who put me in touch with WordHustler!
I’ve discovered that teens benefit greatly from reading my book within a group setting, where topics can be discussed and insights shared. Consequently, I’ve begun conducting as many workshops as possible for schools and mother-daughter groups. Actually, doing these workshops is really what it’s about for me. I love seeing someone’s face light up when they have an “aha” experience! Last year, through The Ophelia Project, I gave a talk at several Tampa schools. One of these schools decided to incorporate Matters of the Heart into their middle school curriculum this Fall.
Another school, in Puerto Rico, made my book required summer reading for their middle school girls. I recently had an opportunity to visit with these girls and to discuss, in a group setting, what they gained from reading the book. It was an awesome experience for me! My dream is to continue marketing the book through my workshops so that it’s read by girls in a group setting and by mother-daughter groups all around the country!
WH: What are a few of your favorite books out there today (besides your own, of course!)?
CW: I love to read – and I frequently find myself reading several books at a time. I just finished reading The Rabbi and the CEO, by Thomas D. Zweifel, Ph.D. and Rabbi Aaron L. Raskin, an excellent book on leadership. I’m also re-reading The Power of Now, by Eckhart Tolle. And I’ll never get tired of reading Og Mandino‘s books.
WH: What is your preferred writing method? Do you have a certain writing spot/technique?
CW: I rely quite a bit on my laptop (a gift from my husband to encourage my writing!) and I do best when I can write in a peaceful, natural setting with few outside distractions. What’s interesting, though (and I’m sure other writers have experienced this) is that most of my ideas come to me in the middle of the night. When I wrote Matters of the Heart, I kept a journal on my nightstand and jotted down ideas that came to me during the night. It’s as though my mind takes a break at night, allowing my more creative nature to emerge. I love the steady flow of ideas, and I welcome it, even if it means not sleeping very much!
WH: What are three things you’d advise aspiring writers to do?
CW: First, I’d advise them to just start writing. Don’t postpone writing for a calmer or more “inspired” day. It’s easy to put things off; but if this is your passion, then go for it now! I would also encourage them to connect with other successful writers – learn from them! Ask about and read about their trials and errors; grab what speaks to you and let go of what doesn’t. And following this, I would encourage writers to discover and stay connected with their own unique voice, especially when writing a book that reveals elements of their own personal lives. Although Matters of the Heart is a self-help book written for teen girls, with a fictional teen character, the book is an accurate reflection of who I am, of my values, and of my vision for teen girls.
WH: What are three things you’d advise aspiring writers to NEVER do?
CW: Never force the writing process. Let it flow and come from a place of inspiration. Although I believe that one should not wait for conditions to be perfect before beginning to write, I also believe that it’s important not to force the process. Be committed to writing regularly and consistently but also know that there will be days, months, or even years where you may need to take a break from your writing. Never be afraid to express through your writing what feels right to you, even if you think it won’t have a mass appeal. And finally – and I know it’s been said before by other authors, but I’ll say it again – never, never, never give up. No matter what.
WH: Do you think WordHustler is a valuable resource in helping writers successfully get their work out there, professionally and effectively?
CW: Absolutely. I only wish WordHustler had been around to guide me on my journey. As a first-time published author, a true novice, I could certainly have used your help! Yes, I was committed to getting my book published, but WordHustler‘s resources and support would certainly have made the process smoother and more effective. Maybe my next book?
Listen to Mama, all you WordHustlers! She knows what’s up. Is your book ready to be criqitued by editorial maven Joyce Sweeney? What’s that? You’d like to WIN a free critique from Joyce? Well y0u still have time to enter WordHustler’s Literary Storm Novel Contest– the deadline is January 25th and besides a manuscript critique from Joyce, you can also win a chance to be published by Flatmancrooked, as well as Barnes and Noble gift certificates! Now THAT’S something to write home about! Enter TODAY!