What would you do with a month in Italy?
After watching a romantic Italian movie together, four women in a therapy group discuss the question, “If Italy is so wonderful and therapeutic, what are we doing in Ohio?” Dubbing themselves “The Crazy Ladies of Oakwood,” they all take off for Florence, packing their worries with them.
Their lives will change forever in this seat of the Renaissance, but not at all in the ways they expected. Possessed of more than artistic treasures, the Italians have the unique gifts of agape (unconditional love) and phillia (sisterly and brotherly love). It is this balm that is applied gently into their weary souls. The Crazy Ladies slowly transform while embracing these Italian virtues. They discover buds of romance, as well as a healing that binds them together and puts them on the road to recovery, “The Only Way to Paradise.”
A couple of month's ago I reviewed G.G. Vandagriff's book Cankered Roots which was one of her first books, today I am happy to review her latest, The Only Way To Paradise. After 11 books many writers begin to get a bit stale, G.G. is getting better!
I really enjoyed getting to know the ladies of Oakwood and found the details in both their past and present made me like them all. The large amount of time and energy that must have gone into making the ladies come alive on the pages comes out in how very real they seem. The pain and suffering that each has had to deal with is universal. We may not know each issue personally but I bet we all know one or two at least. They have hard pasts and long roads ahead, and I was cheering for all of them. There are serious moments and humorous moments, the journey they take evolves and grabs you right from the beginning and you don't want it to end.
I highly recommend this to everyone who likes women's fiction and on a more general spectrum, to all women!
G.G. was gracious enough to take part in the Self-Publishing Month interview.
Tell us about yourself.
I am a graduate of Stanford University (BA) and George Washington University (MA). I grew up in CA, but after my undergraduate years I moved East and lived in Boston where I was assistant Treasurer of Harvard University, and later assistant Bond Analyst at Fidelity Investments. While getting my Master's Degree, I also taught Money and Banking at Benjamin Franklin University. After my marriage, I moved to Chicago and worked as an International Banker to put my husband through law school. After that, I was finally able to be a stay at home Mom (except for teaching college classes) and WRITE. I have three grown children, two married, and two beautiful grandsons who are the delight of my life. My favorite pastime (other than playing with them) is traveling. I need to go to Florence every year for medicinal purposes. You will understand why if you read The Only Way to Paradise. We now live on the bench of the Wasatch Mountains in Utah, where I can see the whole valley, a lake, and a distant mountain range from my office window.
Tell us about your writing experience.
I am the award-winning author of The Last Waltz: A Novel of Love and War, as well as eleven other books. My most recent books are Foggy With a Chance of Murder and The Only Way to Paradise. They are both award nominees. I studied writing at Stanford University. Though I had been writing since age nine, once I started writing seriously, it took many years before I was satisfied enough with my writing to submit anything. I was very fortunate, because my first book, Voices In Your Blood was accepted immediately, as was my first mystery, Cankered Roots. I love to genre hop. I believe my next book will be another historical romance.
What lead to you coming up with the idea for this book?
The Only Way to Paradise literally came to me in my sleep. I woke up with all four of the female main characters in my head, as well as the certainty that they would travel to Florence. I wrote detailed character sketches, taking each woman through a day in her life (these, of course, are not in the book). Each of the women has a bit of myself in her. They are in therapy together, but decide they are not getting anywhere. One of their number offers to finance a month's sojourn in Florence, and there they have a variety of experiences that try them in the ways they need to be tried. During the course of three trips, I spent 2 months in that city, and finally learned what I needed to learn from the wonderful Florentines--agape--or unconditional love. For my "crazy ladies" this is the Only Way to Paradise.
What led to your decision to self-publish?
I am basically looking for a new audience. I have been a best-seller for my publisher, but they are a niche house, and their reach is only to people in the Intermountain West. I felt that this book would appeal to women like me as it is more substantial than my mysteries. I loved writing my mysteries and my historical romance, but this book really stretched me. My husband has a blog about self-publishing (www.passivevoice.com) so I knew quite a bit about it. I knew that PR was going to be my biggest challenge. I hired a publicist to do a blog tour for me that included not only Paradise, but three of my other books and covered all parts of the country and a bit of Canada. I have a newsletter, a blog, and a website (http://ggvandagriff.com
What obstacles did you come across in the process?
There are a lot of books out there! The trick is to find a way to stand out. My husband decided to put my first mystery up on Amazon for five days for free. I had 3,000 downloads!
I think this will be my breakthrough move. I was in the top ten for female sleuths. I have five mysteries in that series, and hope people will want to read them, and then move on to my other genres.
Would you / are you planning to self-publish more books in the future?
Definitely. The more books you have out there, the better your sales. The better your sales, the more word of mouth. The more word of mouth, the more sales, etc. Watch for my next two books: Misunderstood (a Regency Romance) and Renaissance Roots, another Alex and Briggie Genealogical Mystery (#6) taking place in . . . FLORENCE! If you would like to subscribe to my blog, do so at http://ggvandagriff.com/blog. If you would also like my monthly newletter (so you can be apprised of future free downloads and the release of new books) go to the contact page on my website!
To find out more about how to get a copy of
The Only Way To Paradise
go to http://www.ggvandagriff.com/books/