Virtual Book Tour: Interview with Tori Kropp, author of THE JOY OF PREGNANCY

Tori Kropp is a Perinatal Registered Nurse and an international figure in the field of women’s health, pregnancy and early parenting. She is known as the “Dear Abby of Pregnancy” and has helped deliver thousands of babies.

Tori is particularly passionate about the need for women to balance their lives. The years throughout pregnancy and raising young children are critical life stages during which women need the support of other women through their shared experiences. She remarks that, “We have surrendered our intuition and common-sense to the so-called “experts”. Those with knowledge and experience can provide us with guidance but the time is long overdue for us to reclaim that trust in ourselves”. Her mission is to help women make sense of what they learn and to apply what’s right for their own lives. “It is so important, in the current climate of our culture, to come to a place of greater lightness and humor, especially in approaching the joys and challenges of pregnancy and parenting.”

She is the author of The Joy of Pregnancy, The Complete, Candid and Reassuring Companion for Parents-To-Be. The book celebrates the wonder and delight of expecting a baby. Tori offers the sound advice of a medical professional and parent in the voice of a trusted friend.

She is also the founder of two companies in San Francisco, PillowTalk®, Modern Childbirth Education, and Wild Wild Web, Inc. which created the website, Stork Site® in 1995. StorkSite.com was discontinued in 1999 by Women.com/iVillage and her newest venture, StorkSite.net continues with the uniqueness of a true Internet community.

You can visit her website at www.torikropp.com.

About the Book:

Women today are celebrating pregnancy like never before. The new attitude of expectant moms is one of cheerful anticipation, optimism, and pride in their changing bodies. The Joy of Pregnancy reflects this positive spirit by emphasizing what’s normal, fun, and even funny about pregnancy. In a lighthearted and encouraging tone, Tori Kropp helps mothers- and fathers-to-be concentrate on the miracle of pregnancy and birth rather than on possible complications. The month-by-month format provides the essential information that expectant parents crave: how the baby is developing, how the mother’s body is changing, how to prepare for birth and baby, and the pros and cons of various pregnancy-related choices and issues. Tori’s tone is reassuring, nonjudgmental, and often humorous. Questions and answers from her online community Stork Site®, highlighted tips, and facts make the text fun to read as well as informative. With this book by their side, expectant parents will be prepared to take an active role in ensuring a healthy, happy, and truly joyful pregnancy.

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

It is great to be here. Thanks for having me.

I have been a Perinatal nurse for more than 20 years. Even years before that I had a fascination with birth that has led me on this long and expanding road of pregnancy. There is nothing I know more about than “birthing” babies. I have seen more that 2000 babies come into the world in hospitals, birth centers, bedrooms, bathtubs, hammocks and even in the back of a pickup truck!

I have been writing since I was quite young but more along the lines of journaling in those teen years of angst. As an adult, I feel as though I am constantly carry on conversations in my head. Often, I find myself talking aloud as well. Personally, I write about subjects that are passionate to me. My motivation for writing The Joy of Pregnancy was to transfer all that was in my head and heart to the written page. I wanted to reach out to more people with something I could share. It isn’t easy to be sure that your voice comes through, even after editing. That was very important for me and I can honestly say that my voice shines through in The Joy of Pregnancy.

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

Many years ago, I began to recognize that many women who were “prepared” for birth by having read books and taken classes were coming into their births ill prepared for actual labor. They were trusting a variety of “experts” and writers more than they trusted themselves. They were struggling to “think” their way through and to try to control the very primal and uncontrollable experience of childbirth.

Women today are more worried, anxious and serious than I have ever seen. Where is the humor of that expanding belly, the funny stories, and the old wives’ tales? It seems as though the common sense and lightness of this wonderful time has been replaced by dry facts about procedures, tests, and nutrition. These are all important things but certainly not the whole picture.

I have been able to use the skills I have in my work with pregnant women in a variety of ways. I have worked with women during labor, through my childbirth education company, PillowTalk® and online via my community website, Stork Site. And I know I have been able to have a positive impact. My heart warms when a woman, with a child (or two or three) in tow, makes a beeline across the street to say, “Tori, do you remember me? You were with me eight years ago when my son was born, “ or “Thanks! We learned so much in your classes. They made such a difference for us.” What could be more fulfilling?

I have always wanted to reach out to more women through a book and the time finally presented itself.

What kind of research was involved in writing “The Joy of Pregnancy”?

I have accessed everything that I know from my own clinical work as well as the knowledge and experience of my colleagues. It was critical for me to be certain that all of the medical information was accurate and current. I have attended several thousand births and have seen nearly every situation imaginable and I currently work in a very well respected, family centered women’s hospital in San Francisco. I also have been fortunate enough to spend so much of my life with pregnant women and their families. For a very long time, I have been able to really connect with this audience. On a very visceral level I understand pregnant women and am able to share that ability with them in a very personable and supportive way.

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

Harvard Common Press has been wonderful in giving me to opportunity to provide input all the way through the design process. It was so important for me that the book have the same “look and feel” that I envisioned. The Harvard Common Press’s art department created the book cover design and I was able to share my thoughts on all the design features. As a team we really created the perfect image for the book. I would not change anything.

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

I honestly have to say that it has been a bumpy ride. The book is so much more than merely a resource book. It is something that I have wanted to do for many, many years. It is also something that was very difficult for me to complete.

Some people are writers who can write about any topic—they simply love the process of writing. That isn’t me. I need the desire and passion behind it. Otherwise, it is almost impossible for me to write. What I have found works best for me is to just let the words come out without worrying about how the sentence reads or whether or not it makes sense. That is what revisions are for. Sometimes I felt as though I had “homework” and that was quite a stumbling block. I had to let go of that.

While I was writing the book, my life took a heart-wrenching turn. The love of my life, my husband Ray, was shockingly diagnosed with terminal cancer. At the time, our son, Alexander was 3 ½ years old. After a grueling course of chemotherapy, Ray died 14 weeks later. I wasn’t certain I could finish the book, but knowing how happy Ray was for my opportunity to write it helped me continue. Ray was my best friend and best critic, and his strength and spirit will always guide me. The Joy of Pregnancy stands a monument to his enthusiasm for the work I so love.

I feel I am much better at speaking with people than writing. I like the human interaction so it was hard, at times for me to sit alone in front of the computer. Although, over half the book was written after Ray died and I was really unable to interact with people at that time. Writing the book was the best thing for me. The Joy of Pregnancy is truly a work from my heart.

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

Harvard Common Press first contacted me in 2003 and the book came out this past April 2008. The whole process took about five years. The publication date was delayed by a year due to my family’s personal tragedy and the time I needed away from writing.

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?

Yes, I do have a wonderful agent. Her name is Linda Konner, Linda Konner Literary Agency in New York. She was able to guide me in securing my contract and in advising me through the writing and editing in ways that have been invaluable for me.

Do you plan subsequent books?

Yes, I would like to write another book in the future. What I am really enjoying now though is being able to passionately reach out to this audience and share what the book has to offer. I honestly do want to help women find more of the joy during this incredible time of their lives.

Are you a morning writer or a night writer?

Hmm. Great question. I am actually a “block” writer. Morning, noon and night in focused blocks of time. I don’t do well writing small amounts over long periods of time such as an hour or two a day. I write big chunks all at once. Sometimes 2-3 days at a time with incredible focus. Deadlines seem to be very motivating for me.

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

I am actually taking a lot of personal and financial risks currently. I so want to promote the book because I so passionately believe it can help so many people. If money truly were no object, I would allow myself the opportunity and access to be very publicly talking to anyone and everyone I could about this. In addition to being here with you on the web I hope to be on TV, radio and in magazines spreading the word!

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

I think it is very, very important. As much as anyone says they will help and promote you, we are our best advocates and are the best people to spread the word. I am currently on a virtual book tour and am writing targeted magazine articles. I am also walking the book into bookstores and professionals myself. I have done several book signings and will be doing question and answer sessions at Babies R Us stores.

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

Follow your dream and your passion and absolutely DO NOT believe you cannot do it. There is not enough passion in the world and without it; I think we won’t find a reason to keep dreaming. Be smart about the work you do. For me, writing a proposal was a better idea than completing the entire book on my own. I would have had a lot to redo! When you are rejected keep going. You never know who will find your proposal a couple of years later and like it. That is what happened to me.

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

The Joy of Pregnancy is widely available wherever books are sold, as well as at Target, Babies R Us and on Amazon.

Yes, I have a professional website --- www.torikropp.com

The book has a website --- www.thejoyofpregnancy.com

And we have a wonderful online community website called Stork Site --- www.storksite.net

Thanks so much and I appreciate the opportunity to share all of this with you and your readers.

~~ Warmly, Tori Kropp

THE JOY OF PREGNANCY VIRTUAL BOOK TOUR '08 will officially begin on August 4, 2008 and continue all month. You can visit Tori's tour stops at www.virtualbooktours.wordpress.com in August to find out more about her and her book!

As a special promotion for all our authors, Pump Up Your Book Promotion is giving away a FREE virtual book tour to a published author with a recent release or a $50 Amazon gift certificate to those not published who comments on our authors' blog stops. More prizes will be announced as they come available. The winners will be announced on this blog on August 31!

Tori's virtual book tour is being brought to you by Pump Up Your Book Promotion and choreographed by Cheryl Malandrinos.

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