& Book Giveaway Comments Contest!
Sybil Baker spent twelve years teaching in South Korea prior to accepting a position as an assistant professor of English at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga after earning her MFA in Writing from the Vermont College of Fine Arts. During her extensive travels throughout Asia, she became increasingly interested in the allure and alienation of American travelers and expatriates, and this has heavily influenced her writing. Her fiction and essays have appeared in numerous journals, including Upstreet, The Bitter Oleander, Paper Street, and Alehouse. Her essay on American expatriate literature appeared in AWP's The Writer's Chronicle in September 2005.
Learn more about Sybil by visiting her website: www.sybilbaker.com and her blog, An Ex-patriate's Musings on Writing, Teaching, and Travel.
Sybil has such a great trailer for her book, The Life Plan, that we had to share it with you here! Enjoy the trailer and the interview below, and be sure to comment to be entered in the book giveaway contest!
What would you do if your carefully planned life was falling apart?
Like many women, Kat Miller dreams of having a satisfying career, a loving family, and a house of her own. But Kat has taken things further than most, documenting her dreams in a "Life Plan," so that nothing will go wrong. Yet something has: Dan, her husband of five years. Kat suspects that Dan, recently unemployed, is spending more time in yoga class with his beautiful classmate than he is looking for a job. When Dan announces that he has enrolled in a massage course in Thailand, Kat is convinced she has to go with him to save her marriage.
From the offices of Washington, DC, to the gritty streets of Bangkok to the mountain region of Chiang Mai, from the serenity of ancient Buddhist ruins to the passion of the jungle to all-night beach parties, Kat narrates her quest to have it all, only to wonder if having it all is all there is.
Click here to read the first chapter of The Life Plan.
Book Giveaway Comments Contest!
If you received our Events Newsletter, remember, we are holding a contest to win a copy of Sybil's book, The Life Plan, to those that comment. So, grab a cup of coffee, pull up a chair, and enjoy the chat, and share your thoughts, and comments, at the end.
We will randomly choose a winner from those who comment. Enjoy!
---------------- Interview by Joanne Stacey
WOW: Hi Sybil! We are so excited to have you join us for a blog tour for you new book The Life Plan. It is such a great book in all senses: it is funny, sad, and soul searching. How long did it take you to write The Life Plan?
Sybil: I wrote this novel when I was still living in South Korea. I started it in late 2004 and had a rough draft finished by October 2005. I worked on it off and on based on friends’ feedback and in between other projects until I submitted it to Casperian in September 2007.
WOW: I am always so interested in the writing process for successful authors. I've tried writing with an outline and writing without an outline and found that with an outline, my muse never wants to stay on track, and without one, I can't stay focused. Do you outline before you write?
Sybil: I did use a basic outline for this novel, as I'm "plot challenged." I wrote scenes and ideas on index cards. The book often deviated from the outline, especially the final third, which I rewrote after I got feedback from the editors at Casperian. I expect to deviate from outlines--they're a starting point rather than a final template.
WOW: I love the term "plot challenged!" But after reading your book, I would have never guessed that. Especially since you created such colorful characters. Do you complete full character sketches so you know what each one is like?
Sybil: Thanks! For this novel I did do character sketches of the main characters in the book. I've also met a lot of colorful people in my life and used composites of them to create my characters.
WOW: I'm sure that through your many travels you've met very interesting people to draw from! I love your main character, Kat Miller. She is someone I definitely can relate to on so many levels. How did you decide to write The Life Plan in first person as opposed to third person?
Sybil: My short stories are often darker than this novel, and I really wanted to write something with more humor in it. I thought a first person approach would allow me to create a stronger voice and use my character's sense of humor more authentically.
WOW: There definitely are some great laugh out loud moments in your book! What really drew me in though, are the rich descriptions. They are so well written, it seems it was really effortless for you to write them. Since you lived and traveled around Asia, did you have to do much research?
Sybil: I wish it had been effortless! If you read my blog from August to October you'll know how much I complained about the rewrites and edits I had to do for this novel. I rewrote this novel on many levels many times.
I've been to Thailand five or six times and used my own experience for some of the settings, but I also did a lot of research to fill in the hazy parts of my memory. I also wrote about a few places I hadn't visited, and had to do more research on those areas. I also interviewed friends who had also been to Thailand about their experiences. Research is much easier with the Internet though.
WOW: (laughs) Yes, the Internet. What would we do without it? Can you imagine going back to the system of library card catalogs and sitting in front of those huge microfiche machines, trying to find information? And, how much more difficult it would have been to find a publisher? How did you go about getting published?
Sybil: I'd just moved back to the States and had sent the manuscript out to a few agents with some nibbles and interest but no takers. I decided that instead of querying a new batch of agents I'd try a small press. I was lucky in that Casperian was one of the first small presses I queried, and they wrote back right away.
WOW: I've heard such good things about small presses. When you were looking at them, how did you decide to query Casperian Books?
Sybil: I loved Casperian's eclectic book list--they're open to a wide variety of fiction, and I liked that about them. Also, from their website they seemed well-organized and up front about their contract and what they could/could not do regarding publicity.
I've not been disappointed. It's been a joy working with Casperian and I'd recommend the press to anyone who thinks their work might mesh with their catalogue.
WOW: What a great endorsement for Casperian! Since every publisher is different, can you tell me what Casperian's publishing process is like?
Sybil: As I mentioned earlier, I talk about the different steps of the publishing process in more detail on my blog. Basically though, there is lots and lots of editing and proofreading. With Casperian the actual publishing of the book (cover design, etc.) was a collaborative effort, which I appreciated. Since then it's been marketing--setting up readings, giving out advanced review copies, blogging, etc.
WOW: I do love the cover of your book! I know some authors have no say in any of the artistic process, so I think it's wonderful that it was a collaborative effort. And speaking of marketing, how else will you promote your book?
Sybil: First, I have a great book trailer on YouTube that I'm hoping will help get the word out (see above).
Second, I'll be reading at any place that will take me! For March and April I'll be reading a lot in the Atlanta-Chattanooga-Knoxville area. I'll be in South Africa in May, but am planning on creating my own book tour for parts of June and all of July.
In addition to this blog tour, I hope to continue to host authors on my blog (sybilbaker.blogspot.com), be a guest author on other blogs, and be active in the online community.
And finally, I've been very lucky to have a team helping me at little or no cost. My assistant, Katie Christie, has been a workhorse helping me plan and coordinate readings and other events. My husband, who happens to be an excellent web designer, maintains my website (www.sybilbaker.com). My friend Todd Bradley has his own production company and made my book trailer for free. A photographer Katie who took the author photos.
WOW: You are so together! I love the book trailer, and your blog. Best of luck to you with all your promotions! I know I enjoyed reading The Life Plan and really hope you have something new in the works so I have something to look forward to reading next.
Sybil: I'm in the final edits of a novel tentatively titled "Replay." Readers who enjoy The Life Plan will be interested in this new novel, which takes place in Washington, DC, Williamsburg, Virginia, and Los Angeles. Like The Life Plan, "Replay" has a female protagonist who is having relationship and career conflicts.
WOW: Sounds fantastic, Sybil! Maybe we'll get to see yet another book set in South Africa? Thanks a bunch for taking the time to share some insight with us as your blog tour begins. Do you have any parting gems for our WOW! readers?
Sybil: Thanks for your support of women writers by being such great readers. The best way to sell a book is by word of mouth--readers have the most power to help a book along. And if you're an aspiring writer, find your voice and keep writing.
Thanks so much for hosting me!
Want to join Sybil on her blog tour? Check out these dates and mark your calendar! You can also snag a copy of WOW's Events Calendar HERE.
Blog Tour Dates: Come and join the fun!
MARCH 23, 2009 Monday
Sybil will be chatting with WOW! Women On Writing at The Muffin. Stop by and share your comments! One lucky commenter will win copy of Sybil's book!
MARCH 25, 2009 Wednesday
Sybil will be stopping by Modern Single Momma to chat about developing a life plan. Not to miss!
MARCH 30, 2009 Monday
Sybil will be stopping by Bleeding Espresso to share her experiences about being an ex-pat--a subject both Sybil and blog owner Michelle Fabio have in common!
MARCH 31, 2009 Tuesday
Sybil will be stopping by Susan Johnston's blog The Urban Muse to share her best tips for organizing your writing time. I need to read this one!
APRIL 2, 2009 Thursday
Sybil will be stopping by Liz Lewis' blog Write To Travel to share her tips about travel writing--a subject both are passionate about.
APRIL 3, 2009 Friday
Sybil will be stopping by Mary Jo Campbell's blog, Writer Inspired, for an exclusive interview on novel writing!
APRIL 6, 2009 Monday
Sybil will be stopping by Joanne DeMaio's blog, Whole Latte Life, to share her thoughts on developing a life plan and fitting passion into your busy life. An inspiring and important topic!
APRIL 8, 2009 Wednesday
Sybil will be stopping by Cheryl Phillips' blog, The Daily Blonde, for a surprise post and book giveaway! Be sure to stop by and comment for a chance to win a copy of Sybil's book.
APRIL 9, 2009 Thursday
Sybil will be stopping by Anne-Marie Nichols' blog, A Mama's Rant, to share her expert writing advice on travel writing and how to get press rates!
APRIL 14, 2009 Tuesday
Sybil will be stopping by Allena Tapia's blog, GardenWall Publications, to share her expert writing advice on crafting a novel from your travels. Not to miss!
We also have several more dates to come, so be sure to check out our Events Calendar HERE.
We hope you are as excited about the tour as we are! Mark your calendar, save these dates, and join us for this truly unique and fascinating author blog tour.
If you have a blog or website and would like to participate in Sybil Baker's blog tour, or schedule a tour of your own, please email Angela and Jodi at: firstname.lastname@example.org
** Please feel free to copy any portion of this post.
Oh, be sure to comment on this post to enter in a drawing for a copy of Sybil Baker's book, The Life Plan. Learn more about Sybil by visiting her website: www.sybilbaker.com and her blog, An Ex-patriate's Musings on Writing, Teaching, and Travel.