On Being a Small Press Author – Ellen L. Ekstrom

Running a small press is just like running a business with a group of employees – well almost. I don’t actually get to see them every day and we can’t gather around the water cooler to chat. Since we all see each other only virtually, I thought it might be nice to ‘introduce’ our authors to both each other and their readers via a series of short interviews. These interviews will run every couple of days for the next month or so – it’s a neat way of finding out how similar authors can be, and yet so different.

I take great pleasure in introducing you to Ellen L. Ekstrom, one of our very first authors. Ellen is the creator of some wonderful historical fiction, including The Legacy and Armor of Light. But she’s got a softer side, too: she’s also written some great stories about the lives and loves of contemporary women, including A Knight On Horseback and Tallis’ Third Tune. I met Ellen via social media. I remember going and reading a short story she had written on her blog and liking it so much that I asked if I could publish it. I’m glad she said yes, she’s been a great supporter over the years and I’m glad she’s stuck with me.

1. The first book I can remember reading is: The Littlest Angel

2. The first book I ever wrote was: The San Francisco Earthquake – I was nine.

3. An average day in my life goes like this: Time with family, writing, secular job, time with family, depending on the week, research and write sermon, pastoral care and administrative duties for parish. Write at the end of the day.

4. I found out about Central Avenue Publishing from: Got a Tweet from the publisher after she read a short story I posted on my blog and linked at Twitter.  She had just opened her doors and was looking for authors. I decided to submit my book because: The publisher was new, innovative, and I wanted to help her as much as she wanted to help me.

5. The last book I read was:  Her Highness, the Traitor by Susan Higginbotham

6. In order for me to sit down and write, I need:  I pretty much can write anywhere and anytime.  Diet Pepsi helps.  And I finally discovered coffee.  Bike rides and walks.  Knitting.  I think about my writing while I ride, walk, or knit.  Eventually I get somewhere or I have made something warm and cozy for myself or someone else.

7. My ‘day job’ is: Clergy in the Episcopal Church – I’m The Rev. Ellen L. Ekstrom, Deacon.  I also am a legal secretary to pay the bills.

8. I carve out time to write by:  Staying away from the TV as much as possible.

9. In order to find time to write, I feel as though I sacrifice: My legal secretary job wears on me and it is a necessary evil, as it pays the bills and the pay is obscenely good compared to other jobs.  I guess the sacrifice is time doing absolutely nothing, what we in the church call “Clergy Wellness.”

10. I am currently working on: The sequel/companion to “Tallis’ Third Tune,” which is the same story, but told from the boy’s point of view.  It’s called “Scarborough.”  Like “Tallis”, it has been an emotional roller coaster and extremely satisfying to write.  I also work on sermons that I preach from the pulpit at Episcopal Church of the Good Shepherd, Berkeley, and a prose version of “Romeo & Juliet” based on the histories and works that Shakespeare drew his play from.  It’s set in 14th century Verona and deals with the politics, intrigues of the Guelph-Ghibelline conflict.  The story is set over a period of months, rather than days, almost a year.  So far.

11. The best piece of advice I ever got was from: my late sister Kathy and it was: don’t worry about what other people are doing.  Write from your mind and heart, your experience, your imagination.  Write for yourself.

12. The best piece of advice I would give is: First, what my sister Kathy told me and second, Twilight and 50 Shades of Grey have been written. Move on. Write something else.  Make people think while they read, give them a rollercoaster of emotions, make them remember your characters, make them fall asleep dreaming about your hero or villian, give them a sensory experience.


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