My Interview with KRISTINA RIENZI!
I love meeting authors, but I am especially excited to meet with you today. I am friends with your editor and proofreader, Christie Stratos, and your publicist, Mickey Mikkleson – both of whom I highly respect and both whom speak highly of you. I am thrilled to meet you and to introduce you to my readers!
1. I always kick off my interviews with the same question because it is so revealing in nature. Therefore, please tell us how you’d describe yourself?
INFJ (Myers-Briggs Type: Introvert/Intuitive/Feeling/Judging). Empath. New mama. Coach. Work-in-progress.
2. In this first section, I would like to talk about you as an Indie author. These questions will be focused on your journey to becoming a published author, and how it has impacted you personally and professionally.
· How did you begin writing? Were you inspired by reading, playwrights, or screenplays?
o Short stories were always my thing. I’ve been writing them for as long as I can remember. I began novel writing ten years ago, inspired by reading my favorite authors like the brilliant storytellers, Jodi Picoult and Lisa Gardner.
· Who influenced you?
o When I decided to write a novel, the first thing I did was I join a local writers group. The talent, courage, passion, and drive of my fellow author friends quickly inspired me.
Ø Do you have a specific genre you prefer to read or write in? Why, or why not?
§ I love reading all books, but I tend to pick up non-fiction and thrillers first, the same genres where I prefer to focus my writing. I follow my heart and passions, so it makes sense that my writing would behave the same way.
Ø Which authors do you feel have impacted your personal writing style or literary voice? How, and why?
§ Jodi Picoult and Lisa Gardner make me want to be a better writer. I resonate with their voice and style because it’s close to how I naturally express myself. Perfecting my own literary voice has gotten easier over the years, but it’s by no means perfect. I work on it with each story.
· Where do you find inspiration for your stories? What makes them important to you to write?
o I’m inspired to tell stories about topics I’m both curious about and afraid of, working through the answers and my fears during the process.
Ø I read that your books have their own message or lesson. What kind of themes do you generally write about, and why?
§ Embrace the Unknown is a tagline I often use and I believe it’s fitting for my stories, too. I encourage my characters, readers, and myself to enter into the unknown with courage, emerging a stronger version of ourselves, and closer to who we were always meant to be.
Ø You have been quoted as saying, ‘Short stories are in my blood’. What do you love best about them?
§ I love the skill it takes to craft them, how you can shock a reader in a line or two, and how it’s a proof that a story is a story no matter how short or long. They’re fun, and super satisfying because you can type THE END quickly!
v Do you enjoy flash fiction as a reader, writer, or both?
ü I enjoy it as a reader, but it’s not for me as a writer.
v Are any of your books anthologies? Why, or why not?
ü I have a series – Ensouled – with two books so far: Choosing Evil and BreakingEvil; a short story, Gone on the Fourth of July, in a Sisters in Crime –Central Jersey Anthology called 30Shades of Dead; and a short story collection, Twisted. With that said, I do prefer to write standalones. As a writer, I’m already onto the next topic I want to explore once a book is finished. Each of my books explores something unique, which keeps me (and I hope my readers) entertained with every release.
v What are the pros and cons between a short story and novel?
ü A short story lends itself to almost instant gratification, both for the reader and the writer, due to its length and, by its nature, getting to the story resolution quickly. For me, a novel is a ton more work. Novels are much more of a time and passion investment and require a marathon mentality. Whereas a short story is more of a sprint. I love both, but when I decide to write a novel, it’s a full-on commitment.
Ø Do you get writer’s block, or when you need to recharge your creative juices, how do you do that?
§ All the time! Going to a writers group meeting, talking with writer friends, reading a writing-related book (or listening on Audible, which is my preference), or taking a writing class always get me back into the creative swing of writing.
Ø Do you like to write in silence, or do you enjoy a certain ambiance? You know, some people like to write in coffee shops, some with music playing… What is your preference, and why?
§ I love to write in silence. Even more so, I need a private space where I can think and not be pulled in other directions based on what’s going on around me. My mind is hard to quiet. My left-brain naturally resists tapping freely into creativity so the best environment for me is my home office, early in the morning, with a cup of coffee and no Wi-Fi!
· I know you enjoy a blend of plotting and freelancing your stories. What about your marketing strategies? Do you keep an annual calendar, planning releases and pre-orders, or let the muses drive your projects?
o I’m terrible at marketing and promotion. The worst. I need to work on this. I rely heavily on my author assistant (Kate Tilton) and publicist (Creative Edge) for guidance to keep me on the right path and hold me accountable. Even so, I try to do some kind of promotion year round with a monthly newsletter, podcasts, and blog interviews and when I have a release, I do a little more.
Ø Do you use beta readers – why, or why not?
§ Not formally. I ask for feedback from trusted reader friends and professional author friends.
Ø What is the hardest part of the writing process for you?
§ Finding the time to write!
Ø What’s your favorite part?
§ Letting the divine download happen! Getting out of my own way and letting the story flow naturally.
· I know you have opted to publish independently with small presses. Why did you feel this was the way to go instead of traditional avenues?
o Choosing Evil, my debut novel, was picked up from a Twitter pitch back in 2013. I had submitted queries to traditional publishers, but when a small press was interested, I gave them the book, and its sequel, Breaking Evil. It was a great step into publishing when I had no idea how to do things on my own. However, after that experience and learning along the way, I preferred to indie publish my future novels.
Ø Had you tried to acquire a literary agent, or did you know from the get-go that Indie was what you wanted?
§ I still don’t know! I prefer Indie right now because it fits with my busy lifestyle. Making a commitment via an agent or traditional publisher isn’t my goal as of today. That may change in the future. I’ve explored agents and would absolutely do it again when the time is right.
Ø What drew you to the Indie community?
§ Freedom. Independence. Control. Three values I have as a writer.
Ø How did you select the small presses you signed with?
§ They selected me. I was honored and agreeable.
· What made you decide to publish in the first place?
o I knew if I wrote a novel, I wanted to be serious about it and do it professionally. The time and energy it took were daunting, and I wanted to have something to show for it in the end.
Ø What drew you to this industry?
§ Telling a story was always important to me. As life marched on, I fell away from writing fiction and fell into responsibilities. One day, I made the decision to write fiction, almost out of nowhere. It had been stirring inside of me and became real when I made it a goal to write a book. I had no idea what the industry was like, or how it even worked. I just wanted to tell a story.
Ø Has your view of literature changed in any why now that you see it from the business side and not just through the eyes of a reader?
§ 100%. I respect authors so much! The work that goes into writing a story of any length is unbelievable. I never knew. As a reader, and lover of language and story, thinking I could just ‘write a book’ was such a naïve idea. I had to do the work. When I read books now that people say are ‘easy reads,’ I think it’s a compliment. To construct a story into an ‘easy read’ so brilliantly is NOT an easy feat. Much respect! That’s what’s changed.
Ø I know how I view a book has changed since I began writing professionally, especially since copy editing. Have you noticed any changes in how you view or perceive books now that you are a professional author and coach? If so, why, and how?
§ Absolutely. I still love a great story, and I appreciate the process so much more. I also edit along the way in my mind, as most writers do.
· If you could go back and do anything different, first of all, would you, and secondly, what would it be?
o No. I would leave everything the same. I’ve learned from every failure as much, if not more, than every triumph. I believe my life experience is exactly how it was meant to be. No regrets. My focus is on growth.
· What has surprised you most about this industry?
o How quickly it changes, mostly, but also how difficult it is to sell a book! Back to the respect topic – authors are some of the hardest working people I’ve ever known. It’s so important for us to support each other, raise each other up, because like anything else in life, if you don’t, it can bring you down. No overnight successes – just hard work!
3. I would like to talk to you about your coaching. I am fascinated to learn that you are a certified professional coach with a background in leadership and psychology. You use this to help other writers, and I am curious to learn more, as I imagine my readers are, too.
· What type of coaching do you do?
o Core Energy Coaching, a transformational process that helps you gain clarity on what you really want, break through limiting beliefs, and create choice in how you think and feel. I’m also certified in the Energy Leadership Index (ELI), a unique assessment for insight into what’s holding you back and how to move forward.
· How did you get certified?
o With an open mind, many hours, and an intense eye-opening year of my life! I was trained at iPEC (Institute for Professional Excellence in Coaching), an ICF (International Coaching Foundation) accredited school, in 2018. It was the BEST thing I ever did for my professional and personal development.
· What sort of services do you provide?
Ø What is individual coaching?
§ A series of one-on-one sessions where we collaborate in a thought provoking and creative process to inspire and motivate you to maximize your potential.
Ø What is group coaching?
§ It brings the coaching process to a small group context.
Ø What are the workshops like?
§ Interactive and engaging instruction and exercises on various topics, with coaching philosophies in mind.
· I know you have a Facebook group, as well. What is the purpose of this group and how can people join?
o Rienzi Rebels is an online community for readers and supporters my fiction. However, don’t be surprised if my coaching shows up in there! I like to blend my worlds, and there may be more of that in the near future. You can join on Facebook here: https://facebook.com/groups/RienziRebels
For information on individual coaching, group coaching or workshops, you can email Kristina.
4. There have been so many changes in the literary industry. What do you think of them, and where do you think our business is headed?
I go with the flow! However, I do think there will be profound changes in industry standards, as there should be. Organizations and authors will be held to the highest of standards, not only in our writing, but also in our behavior.
5. What can we expect to see from you over the coming year?
A focus on coaching and non-fiction. I think the world needs a little more happiness right now, and I’d like to help.
· What is your current WIP?
o Unleash the Wicked, which follows a former NYC socialite forced to move back to her mysterious hometown where she unwittingly unleashes a deadly curse.
· What is the best way for readers and writers to connect with you?
Thanks again for joining us. I wish you all the best in life. Stay safe and healthy!