I’m very pleased to have Phyllis McManus joining BACKSTAGE today for a chat.
Phyllis began writing when both of her parents were killed in an automobile accident. While struggling with the massive loss, her doctor suggested she begin writing a journal. Despite her skepticism, Phyllis went home and started writing – but it wasn’t a journal.
To date, she has self-published eight books and is working on her ninth. Phyllis has also written for several magazines and does public speaking on how writing was the rainbow God gave her to know things would get better in her life.
BC: Tell us first about your most recent book release as well as what you are working on, currently.
PM: My latest book is Southern Patchwork QuiIt. It’s my collection of my poems, quotes, short stories and flash fiction that I had been writing over the years. It’s like a patchwork quilt and I just added piece to piece to complete it. It was my first book with pictures. I am working on my 9th book now. It’s about a Southern girl that comes back home after her divorce. After arriving home she has to bury her home and solve some secrets that have been kept quiet for many years.
BC: How did publishing your first book change your process of writing?
PM: My first book was written totally for therapy. I had lost both my parents and found myself wanting to die as well. After going to my doctor, he told me to try to capture my feelings in a diary. I took it several steps further and started writing my first book. It started out to be about my parents, but I found more tears on my paper than words. I decided this wasn’t going to work for me, so I kept the names of the characters, but changed it to fiction. Now I write entirely for fun and pleasure.
BC: Do you think someone could be a writer if they don’t feel emotions strongly?
PM: I honestly think that anyone can be a writer, but if the words aren’t from the heart, it’s only empty words on paper.
BC: What was the best money you ever spent as a writer?
PM: The best money I have spent as a writer was for someone to format my work. I can’t format!
BC: What are some of the most important magazines you feel writers should strongly consider subscribing to?
PM: The magazine I think is the best is Southern Writers Magazine. I enjoy reading the articles and have had the honor of doing work for them.
BC: Do you read your book reviews? How do you deal with bad or good ones?
PM: Yes, I do read my reviews. If the review is bad I just put on my big girl panties, take a deep breath and keep writing. You can’t please everyone, but I sure do like to try.
BC: What’s the best way to market your books?
PM: I have found that having an author page on Facebook and also doing public speaking is the best tool for spreading the word about my books.
BC: Are there any particular scenes in one of your books that you remember being particularly difficult to write?
PM: A scene in my book, The Southern Belle Breakfast Club, was very difficult for me to write. I had to keep telling myself that if I could get over this scene and go to the next chapter that I would be able to write without crying. This was because the characters in this book had become my family. My husband used to tease me when we were taking road trips that my characters were probably in the back seat of our car. I would just smile and nod my head, yes.
BC: Where is your favorite place to write?
PM: My favorite place to write is in my office area in our master bedroom. It’s comfortable with all my work placed in front of me. I bought a new desk and that certainly helps also.
BC: Any resources you would recommend to other authors or aspiring authors?
PM: The best resources I have found to help me is being able to search for research from the computer. When I am using a special place that I want my characters to live, my husband and I will take a quick road trip to the area. That is not only informative, but fun. In one of my books, I had to have a grave yard scene. Needless to say, I visited many graveyards until I had the knowledge of old spooky grave yard settings.
BC: Do you have any unique or quirky writing habits?
PM: The only quirky writing habits I have is making sure when I can write “The End” after each book that my husband and I will be at Myrtle Beach, SC. This way we get to celebrate not only the finishing of another book, but also be at one of our favorite places.
BC: What do you consider to be your best accomplishment?
PM: I think the best accomplishments would be The Southern Belle Breakfast Club books. I am constantly getting email, phone calls and snail mail from people wanting to learn more about my Southern ladies. They have been around for a long time and yes, they feel like family. It gives me joy that others want to hear more from these crazy close friends who have stuck together for many years.
BC: Give us an interesting fun fact about one of your books.
PM: The fun fact about each one of my books is that although they are fiction each one holds some truth. After finishing each book my readers know that they can contact me, and I will let them in on the secret of what was real. Many have been very surprised about finding out what was true in my book, The Ghost of Deep Gap.
BC: That is so cool! Thank you so much for your time, Phyllis. It’s always a pleasure to learn from other successful self-published authors.
A North Carolina native, Phyllis McManus is a wife, mother, grandma, and Southern Fiction author. You can learn more about Phyllis and her books below: