A (Mostly) Real Adventure With Amber West

Amber and Mr. Tennent

Amber and Mr. Tennant at the Tardis just before takeoff

So there we were… hanging out in the Tardis, zipping around the universe, when it struck me ~ I’m with Amber West! I told you a little about her coolness and her excellent book back in December, but man-oh-man, was this ever so much more exciting. I had her all to myself! Mine, mine, mine. The only thing that would’ve made it better was if David Tennant was there.

But wait! It’s my imaginary adventure with Amber, so of course Mr. Tennant was there. Duh. Who else could fly the Tardis? Not me, that’s for sure and Amber was too busy looking for wine. She’d had a brilliant night out with a book club the previous evening and was feeling a bit sluggish. When she couldn’t find any wine, she went for the Scotch. It seemed fitting considering the present company.

Amber settled back, pulling her old grey baseball cap over her eyes. Yankees, if you must know.

“So, Amber,” I said in my best indoor voice, “what do you think of garden gnomes?”

She lifted her cap, gave me a look that could curdle cheese, and grunted. “Meh. I’m indifferent. I do like to hide garden figures on other people’s lawns, though, and see how long they remain there.”

I thought of my yard and figured she’d be waiting a long, long time for me to notice. I had more questions for her, but Mr. Tennant announced we were at our first destination.

It seems he took us to a galaxy eons from Earth. The creatures were all made of paper and bound together with words written all over them. It was the planet of Bookishness. What a perfect place to visit since Amber is a huge proponent of reading. In fact, all this month she is donating 100% of her proceeds from her book, The Ruth Valley Missing to Kids Need to Read. You can check it out here on her blog and while you’re there ~ check out her #GoWithout Movement. That’s where you #GoWithout something like a latte all week and donate the money you would’ve spent on the coffee to someone who needs it. Like, Lisa Libraries.

After a lengthy stay we said farewell to our new bookish friends and took to the stars. Since Amber and I both adore Shakespeare, we traveled back in time to lunch with him, then we caught one of his plays. For some reason, after that, Amber kept saying, ‘Complicated’ with a Scottish accent. Apparently, that’s her favorite word at the moment.

She’s a bit eccentric, but that’s why we love her. Speaking of love ~ she has the sweetest Little Man who is 3 1/2 and loves reading. Right now his favorites are the Pigeon books by Mo Willems, which is really cool because Amber just happened to have a set of them in her office long before she ever thought of becoming a mom.

As we waited for our next destination (I was kind of hoping for some place tropical with fruity drinks. I’m not much of a Scotch girl. Tastes like lighter fluid if you ask me), Amber kept twirling a little screwdriver looking thingy and every time she flipped it in the air, David looked queasy. Yes, we’re now on a first name basis with him, isn’t that fabulous?

I thought maybe I’d distract her with a few questions. “What was your favorite book from childhood?”

“The first one that comes to mind is Matlida by Roald Dahl. I loved how outlandish Dahl seemed compared to other children’s writers. And being that I was a little girl who didn’t always feel like she fit in, the story of Matlida was mesmerizing.”

A girl with special powers. Yep, I can see that. “If you were a super hero, what power would you possess?”

“The power to heal.”

“Aww! Now I feel lame for wanting magical abilities that allow me to create and destroy. Although, I suppose I could heal, too. And fly. I would totally want to fly.” I decide to change the subject before she gives me stink eye again. “What do you do when you’re not writing?”

“I’d say sleep, but that happens rarely. Listening to music, {Mumford and Sons are currently crooning over the Tardis’ loudspeaker} cooking, dinner with close friends: those top the list. When I have time, dusting off the camera is up there, too.”

For those of you who don’t know, Amber is a fabulous photographer. She’s just too humble to say anything.

Amber finally sets down the screwdriver thingy and David visibly relaxes. He still hasn’t told us where we’re heading, although I keep having flashbacks of visits to several planets and galaxies. Could it be the Tardis is messing with my imaginary memory?

Magically, a fancy cheese plate appears on the table in front of us. Next to it is another glass of Scotch for Amber and a Long Island Iced Tea for me. Score! I could get used to this imaginary Tardis adventure stuff.

“Now that you’re a rockstar writer, what’s been the best part of being published?” I ask in between bites of a cheese I can’t pronounce the name of, but am in love with immediately.

She thinks about this for a minute. Takes a sip of Scotch, eats some grapes, then says in a very humbled voice, “I’ve been fortunate enough to have my book rank on Amazon, and in a brief period, I’ve had a lot of positive reviews roll in. Hearing from readers has been the coolest part of it all.

I got an email just the other day from a woman who told me the kids at her school were taking photos of their teachers holding their favorite books. She had her picture taken with mine.
That’s the kind of thing that makes me swoon a bit.”
A bit? I’d be over the moon, shouting it from the rooftops! But like I said, Amber’s cooler than that. “Are you still loving the self publishing journey?”
She stretches out, giving cats around the world envy. I’m thinking maybe she’s getting a little too comfortable in the Tardis…
“I really am. I’m not gonna lie. There is part of me that wanted to go the traditional route. Self-pubs still have a stigma attached, and not without good reason. There are still plenty of writers who are putting sub-par work out there, which makes it that much harder for hard-working, talented folks to take advantage of self-publishing.

Yet, I skipped querying because I wanted to be in control of the process. I wanted every choice to be mine. And the results have been greater than what I expected, so I really can’t complain.”

David announces we’re almost to our final destination. Final? So we were bopping all around the galaxy while I thought we were reclining in the Tardis. Time travel is tricky that way.

I’ve only got time for one more question, I have to make it count.

“If someone told you they wanted to be a writer, what would you say to them?”

“Ohhh…that one is tough. I try to be a positive person. And I think that if someone enjoys something, they should do it. I never wrote with the intention of publishing or being any kind of success. I did it because I enjoy doing it. If that’s what someone means when they tell me “I want to be a writer”, I tell them to go for it. Have fun!

Now, if someone says, “I’ve always wanted to write a book”, my response is a little less enthusiastic. I don’t discourage people, but I try to remind them of a couple of things.

1) No matter how much you love writing, putting a book out there is work. It’s more than having a great story idea. It’s more than putting that story on paper. If you aren’t ready to work, writing a book is not for you.
2) Just because you love to write, doesn’t mean you are good at it. I love to sing, but that doesn’t mean I should stat posting YouTube videos of it. Be honest with yourself.
3) Even if you are good, there is a lot of content out there. Don’t go in with pie-in-the-sky expectations.
4) Be ready for criticism. Any kind of art is subject to critics. If you put your work out there, you HAVE to be prepared for someone to hate it – and that’s if it’s good.”

That’s probably the best advice ever. I wish we had more time with Amber, but we’ve arrived and David is telling us we need to disembark. He can be so bossy at times!

We step out of the Tardis and are… home. Amber on the east coast, me on the west. Someday we’ll make the adventure real, but for today, it’s all been in my mind.

5x8front-e1353075832646Please do check out Amber’s book, The Ruth Valley Missing and buy it for yourself, a friend, anyone you can think of! All the proceeds benefit children who just want a book to read. It’s available in both Kindle and paperback. Check it out on Amazon here.

Thanks for hanging out with us today!

What did you think of our adventure? Where would you want Doctor Who to take you? Would you travel back in time or to another universe, or both?

Got a question for Amber? Have you been keeping up with her Tell Me A Story posts? You should be. 🙂


36 thoughts on “A (Mostly) Real Adventure With Amber West

  1. Your interview was out of this world! Sorry. I had to look up Tardis… I am behind in the sci-fi genre.
    What a dream come true to have someone say it is their favorite book!
    Congrats Amber! Thanks for sharing your publishing process.

    • I swear, I somehow struck reader gold. I get the most wonderful emails, facebook messages; I even had a Skype chat with a reader the other day. They’ve all been super kind.

      And this might be the the most fun interview I’ve done to date. I mean, really, the TARDIS and Tennant!

      • As I work on the sequel, I’ve gone back to The Ruth Valley Missing and looked at bits thinking, “Ugh – this could be better”. But I guess that’s what we all do as we grow, right? 🙂

      • Thanks Susie! It was super fun and you’ve learned something new. So the next time you’re at a party and someone mentions Doctor Who, you’ll know what he travels around the universe in! Amber’s book is great. I can’t wait for the sequel (No pressure, Amber, but my birthday is in March. Jus’ sayin’.)

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  3. Did you have an imaginary hangover? I want to go to Wonderland. Can the Tardis take me there? And to Cleveland. I want to go to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. I would like to know from Amber: how do you split your time between writing the next book and marketing the current one? I’m always wondering if I have the balance right.

    • Haha. I felt great. I think that had something to do with the TARDIS.

      To answer your question: I focus more time and effort on the next book. My reasons? I set low expectations for what my book would do once I published. I’ve exceeded those, so while I do still tweet here and there, book marketing isn’t my focus. Getting my next book finished and out there is.

      As far as having the right balance – I don’t dare answer that. It depends on what you personally want to get out of it, and what you are comfortable with. I’m a big advocate of NOT listening to any one “expert”. Find your comfort level, be authentic, and the rest will fall into place. 🙂

      • No hangovers here either. It definitely has something to do with the Tardis! I’m noticing Amber always capitalizes TARDIS, I must be writing it wrong. She’s quite the Whovian, I’m a newbie.

  4. The power to heal—so Amber! Such a fun interview, ladies. I want to have a Scotch and grapes gathering with both of you, perhaps while enjoying time travel around the universe…

    Wishing you loads of ever-evolving success and happiness, Ms. West!

    • I know, it’s not a terribly exciting super power, but I’d love having it. (Comes in handy if you are accident prone, too. Ahem.)

      Scotch and grapes, eh? Too bad you ladies didn’t have an excuse to come out to Florida for the signing in March. If only the TARDIS was available…

      • Oh, man. If only. I wish I could get all my friends together for one long weekend where we could just hang out and chat. That’s my idea of heaven. Scotch and grapes included.

  5. This is one of the best author interviews I’ve read in a long time. Absolutely loved the format of it! Many congrats, Amber, on the success of your book. If someone took a photo with my (not quite finished) novel and said it was their favorite book, I’d be over the moon. How wonderful for you to have had that happen!

      • Thank you so much, Tami! That’s a huge compliment (I’m blushing).

        Getting invited to a book club is so cool, then to have someone email that their favorite book is yours? Over the moon cool. It’s been a great ride for Amber and I am so excited to see what life has in store for her next.

  6. What a fun interview! I wasn’t sure what the Tardis was either, but when I got to the end, I assumed it had something to do with Dr. Who (???). I could go for an adventure like that. I’d like to go back in time, too. Superpower? Healing would be nice, but so would super speed. I could literally add hours to my day with that one.

    Sounds like you’ve got a great book, Amber! And a good solid plan. I agree with you. It’s more important to keep writing than it is to spend too much time marketing. 🙂

    • Oh! So many people here need to be introduced to the wonderfulness that is Doctor Who.

      Thanks for the back up on my “plan”. When it comes down to it, I write books because I LOVE writing, not because I want to be rich and/or famous, so writing more is always going to be my M.O. 😉

      • I think that’s a hugely important reason to write, Amber. I’m starting to think I should’ve had a disclaimer about who David Tennant is and what the TARDIS does!

  7. This is the best interview I ever read, too! What a great twist on the usual Q & A! Amber, it was fun getting to know you better and I look forward to reading your book. I love your very down-to-earth approach to life and writing. I’m not surprised you’re exceeding your expectations with this book. I’m looking forward to being where you are now in writing/publishing later this year. Good luck with the 2nd book! Tameri, you are just awesome – your imagination and sense of fun is apparent in everything you write on this blog!

  8. Awesome interview, and so much fun, Amber and Tameri! Loved this. I’d definitely want to have lunch with Shakespeare and watch A Midsummer Night’s Dream! After that, a few days in Camelot and then off to Hobbit Land to spend time with Legolas … er … all the characters of LOTR. 🙂

    • Hello my darling! I wish you were closer, Midsummer’s is playing at the Old Globe this summer and I’m super excited to see it. You could come with us!

      Ahh, Legolas… I Love him. Like madly, deeply, truly.

      • Oh my, I’m absolutely green with envy, Tameri! Midsummer’s is my mostest absolutest favoritest play! Have a wonderful time! (And ahhhh Legolas, yes! Madly, deeply and truly, I was smitten at first sight … so swoon-worthy!) xoxox

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