Interview with Elizabeth Walker, Author of The Tablet of My Heart

Elizabeth Walker is the author of the memoir, The Tablet of My Heart. You can visit her website at www.tabletofmyheart.net. To read an extended bio, click here!

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

About myself, I’m a mommy. That requires the bulk of my time, but please don’t mistake that as a complaint. I have four sons, the oldest is 13 – and they are by far the best people who have ever happened to me! I have spent a few years climbing out of holes (figuratively) and it has made me recognize strengths that I would never have realized otherwise. A few years ago I got it in my heart to encourage other people to start climbing out of holes, too! I decided that I would use my love of writing to accomplish that. I have been writing, honest to goodness, as long as I can remember. I write for the love of it.

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

I would love to. The Tablet of My Heart is a journal of loss, abuse and healing. It begins in the heart and mind of a six-year-old girl facing the reality of death as her father battles with a fatal illness. During the most devastating stage of his illness a friend of her uncles begins sexually molesting her. The molestation continues after her father passes. In the whirlwind of circumstance surrounding her and her family, her abuse is swept under a rug. She is bound emotionally by fear and heartache and she turns to a tablet that was given to her as a birthday gift. The tablet becomes her journal. In it she writes her hardships along with poetic entries that lead the reader through her fathers death, an extended battle with sexual abuse, and her mother’s refusal to acknowledge the abuse as she marries and has children with the perpetrator.

It is a story of ruin and then recovery, a journey from devastation to deliverance that is illustrated through poetic excerpts (and narration) from her journal that remind us … circumstance does not define us, it motivates us to change. I wrote it originally to demonstrate healing to my children during a time when our struggles were immense, but published it to inspire healing in many. A portion of the proceeds are committed to Childhelp USA for the treatment and prevention of child abuse.

What kind of research was involved in writing The Tablet of My Heart?

I only had to get in back in touch with my childhood memories and read a journal. The Tablet of My Heart is my own childhood journal.

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

A lot actually. I designed the cover art and the publishing company added the title and author. I really wanted the book to look like a used tattered cover, and it does. I was pleased.

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

I self-published (print on demand) so Publishing in itself was quite simple and exciting. The bumpy ride for me is getting my book noticed from behind the "self published" label. I have had some minor victories!!! I am steadily learning to concentrate on those rather than on the puny defeats :0) the first time that someone came to me and said that they too had a secret of abuse that they had harbored throughout childhood and into adulthood – but that my book stirred the desire to deal with the pain rather than pretending it isn’t there, I cried. I moved somebody with my story to the beginning of healing. Yes, the ride is a little bumpy but I am finding that the scenery makes up for it.

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

Because I self-published there was not an in-depth contract to sign. From the day I submitted my manuscript for publication to the day that I actually held the published book in my hand was about 8 weeks.

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 do not have an agent. I am in the process of writing my next book and I am definitely considering the need for an agent while deciding whether to publish traditionally or self publish as I did with The Tablet of My Heart. I suppose this will be a question better answered on my next time around.

Do you plan subsequent books?

Absolutely! My pen is full of ideas and my fingers are itching to dance with it!!

Are you a morning writer or a night writer?

I often find myself writing at night after I have put my kiddos down for bed. But (don’t tell) when it is slow at work (at my regular boring 40 hour a week job) I look super busy tap-tap-tapping away on my keyboard. If only they knew – I hope I didn’t just jinx myself :0)

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

Ummmmmm – someone else to promote it for me! :0) hee hee. Don’t get me wrong, I love being involved in discussions and events that surround the book when I am approached. It is just difficult for me to open conversations and to approach people about promoting the book. I guess it’s difficult because it makes me feel vane or something. I do it, but it’s weird. I never realized how much self-promotion would be involved.

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

It is incredibly important! As I said earlier, I never realized how much self-promotion would be involved. As uncomfortable as it can be to approach people, it is essential. People don’t get interested without information – and people who want information love to get it from the source (the author). I have been flattered repeatedly by people who are excited to meet the person behind the story. I contact news papers and radio stations trying to get people to review the book or interview me. I contact book stores and present them with all of the fine reasons why they should carry my book and I have even managed to book a couple of signings. Online I have a website and a blog. I have even done some mailings. When an Idea comes I do my best to entertain it :0) It’s all quite new to me.

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

So far my only experience with publishing is self publishing, which has been Gratifying in many ways. I would suggest that if you are considering self publishing your book, that unless you have knowledge of punctuation and talent for polishing a work until it shines, you have someone else edit it so that you have a professional manuscript to publish. Be willing to put a lot of hours into your book after it is published to make the public aware that it is out there. If you plan to publish traditionally – just like anything else in life, the more sweat and tears you put into something the more it shines when it comes to fruition. Don’t give up! I may not have dealt with rejection from publishers (yet) but I have most certainly dealt with rejection in getting my book out of the basement and in to an audience. A self-published label seems to make influential people and stores automatically question whether it was self published because it wasn’t good enough for traditional publication, and that makes them cautious to assume that it is good enough for an audience. If they don’t have the time to read it to find out, they feel safer with that assumption. Use rejection to fuel your motivation. Be willing to make adjustments but never loose focus and NEVER question whether you can accomplish your goal or not. YOU CAN, as long as you think you can. You can.

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

Absolutely! Visit me on my website www.Tabletofmyheart.net. Learn more about child abuse treatment and prevention, the purpose behind the book, upcoming author events and find my blog there too! You can purchase The Tablet of My Heart in Select Barnes and Noble stores (you can check if they have it in stock on line) or on Amazon.com, Borders.com, BN.com – all sorts of places on the web. There are also links to order the book on my website. Thank you so very, very much for having me!
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