Amanda M. Thrasher
Born in England, moved to Texas, resides there still. Author of several children’s books including picture books, middle-grade chapter books, YA and a reader’s theater titled ‘What If… A Story of Shattered Lives.’
Amanda M. Thrasher conducts workshops. She shares her writing process with children of all ages, contributes to a blog, an online magazine, and as Co-Founder and Co-Owner of Progressive Rising Phoenix Press, assists authors with their work. Works in progress include the third installment of the Mischief series and two adult novels.
A Gold recipient of the Mom’s Choice Awards for The Greenlee Project, YA, and General Fiction. The Mom’s Choice Awards® (MCA) evaluates products and services created for parents and educators and is globally recognized for establishing the benchmark of excellence in family-friendly media, products and services.
Using a rigorous evaluation process, entries are scored on a number of elements including production quality, design, educational value, entertainment value, originality, appeal, and cost. Around the world, parents, educators, retailers and members of the media trust the MCA Honoring Excellence seal when selecting quality products and services for families and children.
What got you into writing, and what do you enjoy most about it?
I’ve always been a fan of reading, and creative writing and poetry were favorites as a child. Writing seemed a natural progression of my adult life since I often took comfort in words and found joy in writing stories that others might enjoy reading.
Which writer influenced you the most?
I have always loved the works of Jane Austen, the classics. Like most that admire her style, I find her work witty and entertaining for her time. I read all different genres and find myself equally drawn to new authors as well as my go-to favorites. John Grisham, James Patterson, Gillian Flynn to name a few.
What turns a good story into a great one?
I’m sure this answer can differ according to whom you ask. For me, what turns a good story into a great one is when it leaves such an impression emotionally (laughter, tears, thought), that you can’t wait to read it again, again, and again. But each time you read it, you loved it as if it were the first time. The story never gets old.
How do you balance your schedules and artistic goals with everyday life?
Unfortunately, now that I’m a publisher as well as an author, my time isn’t balanced at all. I’m hoping to change that now that the company is headed in the right direction. Ultimately I’d like to schedule specific days for myself, days to write. I think it’s important to write every day. I honestly believe that; yet have been too busy as of late to write myself. I sincerely hope to change that in the near future. My desire to write is as overwhelming as it has ever been.
What do you aim to evoke in the readers of your books?
It depends on what I’m writing. For my younger early readers, as in the Mischief series, I always entwine gentle life lessons throughout the books. Subtly teaching consequences to actions. But I try to make them laugh. Laughter. For the tweens & teens, YA pieces thought. I’ve been told I write emotional pieces, which my characters from The Greenlee Project make you feel as if you’re right there; experiencing what they’re going through. I hope so. If this is true, then thought is a wonderful thing to evoke. Thinking about what you do, your actions, before you hurt another person. The Greenlee Project was written with a message. Direct message. It’s such an important piece, one that helps tweens and teens. I believe I pulled off the message and evoked several emotions in this piece: fear, heartache, and empathy, to name a few.
Please tell us about your latest work, what inspired you to write it, and the research involved.
I’m working on a couple of pieces. The one I’d like to wrap up right now is the third installment of the Mischief series. The Greenlee Project took a lot more research; it’s about cyberbullying but specifically written for tweens and teens. I spent over a year talking to teens. Also spent time on school campuses, in school cafeterias, high school football games, events, talked to coaches, teachers looked up past cases, etc. A lot of research. This book is an ongoing series. Fantasy. Most pulled straight out of my head.
Can you give us a story outline of your book?
The fairies are about to experience an event, the fairy games, as in a Spider Web Scramble. The games are special because at this particular time the stars will come out and play. Once the scramble is complete (fairies jumping from web to web, sprinkled in fairy dust for the games, throughout the forest), they will fly toward the stars.
Playing the game, the stars will drop and come toward the young fairies. Each star will bear the name of a fairy. The fairy must try to touch ‘their’ star. If they do, and they’re pure of heart, their wish shall be granted. But, what danger exists during the scramble? Will the fairlings reach the stars? And if they do, who is pure of heart? …. Find out more in ‘A Spider Web Scramble in the Mushroom Patch.’ Or something like that J Needless to say, Lilly, Boris, and Jack are back. But don’t count out beautiful little Pearle! J
My other book is an adult novel. I shall have to do additional research to finish it. Medical research. I’ll have to speak to doctors and surgeons or complete extensive research in the area that my main character Sean, specifically spelled that way, is about to undergo life-changing surgery in order to do this piece justice. My terminology needs to be correct. I’m over 100K words into this piece, Twisted Deception Copyright © 2015 Amanda M. Thrasher so it’s impossible to walk away from.
What was the most difficult part of writing this particular book?
Spider Web Scramble, time. Due to Progressive Rising Phoenix Press. I’m an owner and the CEO. It’s time-consuming, but we’re getting to the point where I should have at least some writing time back.
Can you tell us about how you had your book edited, published, and its cover art created?
Editors, good editors, are found by trial and error. That’s the truth. I have spent thousands of dollars and have still found mistakes in pieces. I believe editors, and at PRPP they are held accountable for their work. They are paid first, in cash, but authors are often judged by an editor’s work, good or bad. We use, I use, contractors or freelance editors. I do this and would advise the same to any author on our label or anywhere else.
(1) Interview your editor.
(2) Make sure they edit in your genre.
(3) Request a sample edit.
(4) Make sure the contract covers three rounds of edit. (5) Proofread prior to print from a person that IS NOT your editor. Fresh eyes are key.
What made you ultimately decide between self-publishing and conventional publishing? And will you use the same structure for your next publication?
I was with a publisher; they had three of my titles. Barnes & Noble, Small Press Division NY, bought them. Since then over time, they’ve added The Greenlee Project to that list. They don’t stay there long, in the store buyer’s category database (this isn’t barnesandnoble.com, the small press dept. for store category buyers). I pulled my titles with the desire to start a company founded by authors, for authors.
While we figured the ‘business’ of publishing, my business partner, and me for the first year operated much like self-publishers. It didn’t take long before we realized running a publishing company under a ‘self-publishing’ type theory would be a mistake. NOT EVERYONE WILL AGREE WITH THIS, BUT NONE-THE-LESS IT’S STILL WHAT WE BELIEVE. We changed our business model. Stopped using the printers that everyone else was using, and got out of the ‘self-pub’ way of thinking.
We elevated what we do all the way around. We do not believe merely selling one book at a time is the way our business model should be nor the way our authors should act. Authors, green authors, do not realize that they will exhaust their resources, time, and energy (for the most part), by pursuing the business of selling books this way.
Yes, I know, some author’s do well ‘selling’ on his or her own. But the majority does not. Especially in today’s oversaturated market of garbage that’s out there. We decided that we would start by building the business first.
This is why my writing and promoting, personal works, was sacrificed in the short run. Temporarily I hope until everything is in place. We started to sign award-winning authors. Only take work that we want, and do not book mill. We have a publishing freeze at this time (until 2016), unless something is so spectacular we just have to have it. All work is contracted out to wonderful teams or independent contractors, which can keep up with the stringent requirements that our printers demand.
We put all new titles on returnable status and pull them off of returnable after the first year unless the author chooses to leave on returnable status. We print hardcovers with dust jackets (if we see the need, biographies, etc.), soft covers, and eBooks, and due to experience have the final say on layouts and covers. Why? Because we’ve learned authors sometimes make terrible decisions, and it reflects on the label. Everyone is represented on the label.
We have to protect them all. We learned the hard way, if we do not insist that they follow industry standards and way of doing it, they won’t. We send out review books on behalf of our authors, the ones that we believe qualify; we send letters on their behalf with marketing packages requesting purchase to B & N, NY, Small Press Dept. We attend large trade shows, book, ALA, TLA, and have marketing in place to assist with their efforts. In other words, we do not think ‘like’ nor operate ‘like’ a self-pub because bulk sales, sell more. Finding bulk sales, takes time.
Building the relationships, providing the p.o’s for schools, universities, stores, libraries, and taking the time to offer the titles on our author’s behalf. The authors should still be doing their part. And we have reliable authors. We try to encourage them to think like a ‘whole’ as a ‘label’ and not in ‘me’ ‘me’ ‘me’ mode. We tend to get more done in numbers than by ourselves. We’ve been in business for less than three years; it’s just now starting to take hold. Being bumped to full publication has helped our process. This isn’t for everyone, but it is for us. I’m hopeful I’ll regain my time, writing time, soon.