Welcome Amy Bovaird
Author of memoir and devotional memoir under the full name of Amy L. Bovaird.
Please tell us a little about yourself.
A small-town girl from northwest Pennsylvania, I’m the third of four siblings. My father had his own tree removal business, and was the hub of our family. My mother served as disciplinarian and kept us in line. We grew up with a faith basis, serving as the cornerstone of my life. Always quiet and studious, when I taught and traveled overseas, I released the ‘adventurer’ in me. In 1988, I was diagnosed with an incurable eye condition. I’m now legally blind. Nevertheless, I’ve had a fascinating life—having traveled to thirty-three countries and lived in seven! I fell in love and married an Egyptian Army Captain, and dealt with child loss, miscarriage and divorce. I inherited my sense of humor and fun from my dad, and developed my faith from my mom. Both have shaped my response in facing my challenges. I continue to be grateful for my extensive and unforgettable experiences, the people I’ve met and the many friends I still have from all over the world.
What first inspired you to write?
I started writing at a young age—silly rhyming poetry, journals and school essays. My overseas teaching positions inspired me to write more – travel and cultural stories I sent home in professional-looking newsletters. MS Publisher had just come out and I was an expert on using it to showcase my stories. My eye condition, humorous outlook and observations of how I interact with my environment keep me writing.
In what genre(s) do you prefer to write?
I publish memoir or a devotional memoir. This may be a coined genre, specific to me.
How and/or where do you get the ideas for your stories?
I find ideas for my stories from my everyday life with my sight loss and life lessons. My family also inspires me, so they feature in my stories as well.
Are you working on another book?
Yes, several. The two principal books on my agenda now are A Time to Dance: Finding Joy After Child Loss, an inspirational e-book I’ve published. I’m creating a smaller print version people can gift to encourage others, and Second Sight: Milestones in Mobility (the third in my Mobility Series).
If your books have required research: What do you consider the best resources?
To ensure I have my facts in order, I use personal knowledge, my contemporaries, and the Internet when writing my memoirs. I double-check information about locations, especially. I also check information to remind myself of the rich cultural details I may have forgotten.
Do you consider your books convey messages to readers?
Yes, most definitely! A principal message I want to convey is sight loss is not the end of the world. It can be managed and people who are blind or experience sight loss can live full, joyful lives. Also, I have an underlying faith message, which strengthens my outlook to encourage others.
What advice would you give to authors who are just starting out?
First and foremost, writers need to establish a writing routine. Hiring a writing coach can help you reach your goals more easily, so find one that meets your budget. I also recommend you join an active, critique group you’re comfortable with and regularly run your writing past them. Of course, develop a thick skin! Read in the genre you write in. Finally, liaise with other authors. Authentic conversation leads to a richer understanding of marketing principles.
Do you self-edit or do you think a book should only be professionally edited?
I do both. I have a strong critique group who help me form and re-form my stories. They provided feedback and I make the corrections if I feel they’re right. I use two professional editors for each book. I have a terrific formulative professional editor both in developmental and copyline editing. The follow-up editors have varied from book to book. My first follow-up editor from Long Ridge Writing Group, where I studied writing. She was expensive but so worth it. I also used beta readers and paid a lot of attention to their feedback—and these consisted of several vision-impaired readers who commented on my content. I have only had one editor I haven’t cared for in my seven years of writing. I love the process of seeing a piece become more polished.
How do you go about marketing your books?
Marketing has always been a challenge for me as my niche appears narrow, but actually includes inspirational, Christian and vision-impaired readers. Marketing in my sight support groups works best for audio books. I make sure they are accessible in as many formats as possible, so that’s part of my marketing outreach. We love Memoirs Facebook group is one of my better groups to market in and e-books sell best there. I’m also part of a Facebook Inspirational Authors and Readers group, which has been helpful. Monthly Author Takeovers are popular there. I’m growing my Facebook Audience through this method. I’ve hired marketing “experts”over the years, but that has never really aided me and I’ve spent more than I’ve brought in. I’m pro-active and do well as a speaker in face-to-face groups (church, sight support rehabilitation, civic groups). This year, I’m also establishing my reputation as an expert on sight loss by speaking in panel webinars through a volunteer organization called VisionAware, which is part of the American Printing House for the Blind. I’ve written for them since 2015, but the webinars are new.
How important do you think reviews are?
Reviews are a challenge for all of us! I think they’re important but try not to go overboard in asking. Those with vision loss tend not to give them, even with guidance. I’m always thrilled when I receive one.
If you consider reviews important, how do you go about obtaining them for your books?
If someone tells me they loved my book, I ask for a review. If they don’t follow up after one prompt, I stop asking. I do post excerpts from my reviews on Twitter and my author page, in sight support groups and, in particular, author and reader review threads. Since I feel reviews are important, I take time to review the books I read. Sometimes the other authors will reciprocate, which is nice. But that’s not my criteria.
Do you have a preferred genre for when you read?
I love to read memoirs, especially travel and faith-inspired ones about life on the missionary field – focusing on culture and adjustment. But I also like any kind of romance. In addition, I like reading historical books about WW I or II.
This is an age old question but one many find of interest. If you were stranded on a desert island, which three books would you like to have with you?
I’d choose Wild Swans: Three Daughters of China by Jung Chang because every time I read it, I find the eras, characterization and cultures captivating. Also, Nelson Mandela’s Long Walk to Freedom. His strength and optimism in the face of hardship inspire me. I’d also want a copy of Tom Sullivan’s Adventures in Darkness: Summer of an Eleven-Year-Old Blind Boy. It has irrepressible enthusiasm. Every word is crafted to showcase his adventuresome attitude.
Please share with us links to where readers may obtain more information and insight into who you are.
Insights Blog (humorous insights into sight loss, overcoming, faith & culture)
Thank you Amy for sharing with us your experiences, advice, and inspirations.
Reviews for two of Amy’s memoirs may be accessed by clicking either the cover or text link below:
Note: Some of the spelling utilised in the interview reflects Amy’s USA citizenship.