Interview with Fiction Author Michaela Riley

Michaela Riley was born in 1960 and grew up in the Northern Panhandle of West Virginia in a town that borders the Ohio River and is surrounded by beautiful rolling hills.

As a child Riley would spend most of her time reading every book she could carry home from the school library. She admits, “Being a writer was a fairytale for someone else’s life. Then I found a story that needed to be told.”

Riley left West Virginia to join the Army in 1981 and quickly realized that the quiet life of West Virginia was very different than the screaming platoon sergeant. She decided early in her military career that she would go to college and that law was her first career choice.

During her college years and after completion of her active duty tour during the Gulf War, she supported herself in a variety of healthcare positions. She plans on retiring from the Army Reserves this year and smiles as she says, “It was the best job and career I have ever had. I love my country.”

Nearly twenty six years later Riley has completed a Bachelor of Science degree in nursing and a Master of Business Administration degree. She has been practicing as a Registered Nurse for almost twenty years and is the CEO of her own Professional Development Company.

Riley began to pursue writing when she was had the misfortune of spending time in a local court room. Research revealed increasing rates of plea bargaining and malicious prosecution. “I have always been an advocate for people in need. When your right to speak for yourself is prevented, something has to be done. The story must be told, everyone has a story. Writing has become something I am passionate about and I am working on two other fiction novels.”

Riley lives near the Eastern Shore of Virginia. She has a son (born in 1977) and a Labrador retriever. When not writing, Michaela gardens, cooks, and enjoys the outdoors with her family. Her favorite pastime is spent reading, going to movies or walking on the beach.

You can visit her website at http://www.michaelariley.com/.

Welcome to The Writer's Life, Michaela. Can you tell us a little bit about yourself and how long you’ve been writing?

If journal entries, business plans and technical writing counts…about 20 years, professionally as a published author about a year. I have been in the military for 26 years in the Army Reserves and practiced as a Registered Nurse for nearly twenty years.

Can you please tell us about your book and why you wrote it?

Inspiration for the book started when I had the personal misfortune of spending time in a court room. I listened carefully as cases were presented and the fates of defendants were left in the hands of the defense, prosecution and a judge. The types of cases were diverse but the single common element was about making a deal or plea agreement. I watched in horror as the conversations in the hallway were whispered about what a defendant would accept and how lives would be changed forever. It didn’t seem to matter what the elements of the cases were; only that the outcome was based on the networking experience of the attorney. The secretive proceedings would cast doubt in my mind on the legitimacy of the system that had no respect for the defendant, innocent or guilty. Legal or administrative bodies with strict ruling and secretive proceedings metaphorically are sometimes called star chambers. This term is intended to cast doubt on the legitimacy of proceedings in the judicial system.

What kind of research was involved in writing your book?

Research for Embittered Justice began with interviewing real life victims of wrongful prosecution. Website and the Department of Justice website provided statistics and information about plea agreements and the number of cases for each offense. Hours spend in the court room listening and observing actual proceedings provided information for the judicial process from arrest to sentencing.

How much input did you have into the design of your book cover?

I had an idea about the cover but ultimately it was the Publisher that decided what the cover would be based on their professional experience.

Has it been a bumpy ride to becoming a published author or has it been pretty well smooth sailing?

Being a published author is really not as hard as some say. It has been much easier for me now that I have realized I had to use expertise of other authors and marketing specialists to promote my book. I have had a huge learning curve to overcome; this is unlike anything I have ever done. I am learning from my mistakes and want to help other authors succeed.

For this particular book, how long did it take from the time you signed the contract to its release?

I signed the contact in August of 2007 and the final version was released in January 2008. Unfortunately the publisher didn’t really do any editing and this was a shock to me when I read the first release. Lessons learned about editing, get it done before getting published, it saves a lot of time and reduces your stress level.

Do you have an agent and, if so, would you mind sharing who he/is is? If not, have you ever had an agent or do you even feel it’s necessary to have one?

I don’t have an agent right now but would consider this is the future with other books.

Do you plan subsequent books?

Yes definitely! I am writing a sequel to Embittered Justice and plan on writing several other books when I retire from the Army Reserves.

Are you a morning writer or a night writer?

I find that writing at night is the best for me. When all the obstacles that occur during the day are taken care of I can take the time to write uninterrupted.

If money was no object, what would be the first thing you would invest in to promote your book?

That is something I wish I had right now…I would hire marketing and a PR firm to do all of promotional things I want to do. Then I would find an agent that believed in my books as much as I do.

How important do you think self-promotion is and in what ways have you been promoting your book offline and online?

Self-Promotion is vitally important to every author. Creation of a web-site, press releases and blogs have been instrumental in creating a buzz about Embittered Justice. I have been busy placing ads, and networking on author sites daily. There are many resources for authors; we just have to find them. I am blessed to have the opportunity to have a virtual tour coming up in May.

Any final words of wisdom for those of us who would like to be published?

Believe in yourself enough to finish that book you have been thinking about. Being an author is the best thing I have ever done for myself!

The key to realizing a dream is to focus not on success but significance - and then even the small steps and little victories along your path will take on greater meaning.
Oprah Winfrey, O Magazine, September 2002
US actress & television talk show host (1954 -

Thank you for coming, Michaela! Would you like to tell my readers where they can find you on the web and how everyone can buy your book?

Autographed copies of Embittered Justice can be purchased on my web-site at http://www.michaelariley.com. The book can be purchased on traditional sites such as Barnes and Noble and Amazon.com.

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