Author Spotlight With Elle Botz
Elle Botz is a mom, wife, author, coffee fiend, terrible dancer, and bad joke connoisseur. Writing under a variety of pen names, she brings her wit, humor, and heart to genres like clean romance, general and women’s fiction, non-fictional humor, and mysteries.
She lives in Wyoming, a place where the beautiful landscapes and warm people have inspired the best parts of her writing.
Can you tell us a little about yourself as a writer?
I’m still a little all over the place as far as genre. The first book I published was a cute little YA Romance. I’ve dabbled in some general fiction short stories, and I have a Sweet Holiday Romance series out as well.
Under a different pen name, I’m working on my first Cozy Mystery, and I have some women’s fiction and am working on a book about self-love and healing. I basically just love to write and read. And I haven’t yet figured out if there is one genre in particular that I should write, so I write anything that comes to mind.
When did you first realise you wanted to be a writer?
I think I was about 7 when I wrote my first story. Since then, I’ve kept a journal or been writing something for most of my life. But It wasn’t until I was in the 6th grade and my teacher, Mr. Schaer, told me that I was a good writer and that it was something I could actually pursue, that I thought it might be possible.
I unfortunately let everyone else talk me out of that and ended up getting a Marketing Degree. But I’ve always been writing, even when I haven’t been focusing on publishing or sharing it with anyone. I think it’s part of how I process the world and life.
What publishing route did you choose, and why?
After finishing my first book, I queried agents for a while before I decided to self-publish. That process was such a learning curve, and I made so many mistakes along the way. But I also loved it. I’ve gotten to work with some small and indie publishers over the years, which were all great experiences as well, but most of my books have been self-published.
What was the moment like when you held your first published book?
It was surreal to see something I’d put so much of myself into come to life. Especially as a bookworm who loves the feel and the smell of a book–getting to hold one with my name on it and my words inside of it was such an incredible and unforgettable moment.
Can you share some of the challenges and successes you faced while trying to get published?
I made SO many mistakes while self-publishing. I learned the importance of hiring a good, dependable editor. Unfortunately, I had to learn this several times the hard way, but I finally have a team of people who I trust and who make my writing better.
I also learned how important a good, genre-appropriate cover is. No matter how cute it is, if it doesn’t speak to the right reader, it’s hard to get them to pick it up.
More than anything, though, I’ve learned that I have to give myself permission to suck at writing. No matter how much I’ve written or read, I have to accept that, as Hemingway said, “the first draft of everything is shit.” Once I learned to embrace that, it makes writing that first draft easier. Not easy. But, easier.
For too long, I was letting the fear of the book being bad stop me from finishing so many projects. I had to have some hard talks with myself and remind myself that I can’t edit what doesn’t exist. So, just get the words out and THEN worry about fixing them.
How has the publishing process changed for you since your first book?
It’s a bit easier now than it was in 2015. It’s more accessible. Even being able to talk to some publishers seems easier now than it was when I first started. It feels like the internet has made it easier to connect with everyone: readers, publishers, editors, etc. If it’s not easier, it at least feels more possible than it did when I first started. It was so daunting in the beginning. And now, it feels like a smoother system altogether.
How do you find your inspiration?
I am very much inspired by my life and the world around me. I’m not one of those writers who creates these fantastical and complex worlds. I’ve always written to process the world around me.
I saw a quote once that said “I don’t know how I feel until I read what I write.” That has always resonated strongly with me. Often, my characters experience things I have experienced or something close because it’s my way of processing and healing. I try to do so in a way that doesn’t make every character I create some idealized version of myself. But I’d be lying if I said most of my characters didn’t at least have qualities that I recognize in myself. I think it’s a natural consequence of my motivation for writing.
Do you have a specific writing routine or schedule?
I’ve been trying to build a consistent routine for years. At times, I will be really disciplined about sitting down and writing every single day at a set time. But, for the most part, I try to steal moments through the day as often as I can. Lunch breaks, early mornings, or while I’m waiting in the parent pick-up line – I’m always trying to find little opportunities to get a few words or ideas down.
Do you have any interesting writing quirks?
For some reason, it helps to see my story laid out in front of me. I love typing it out, but I usually have to have my plot points laid out in front of me as I do. Something about seeing where I’m going or knowing where in the story I am helps me stay on task and not get overwhelmed.
How do you handle criticism and rejection?
I like to think I handle rejection like a pro. One of the benefits of having a rough start, I think. I try very hard to put my work out into the world and hope the right people find it. I think having that expectation helps me handle criticism and rejection well.
Not that I disregard it. Well-intentioned and constructive criticism is actually something I welcome because I want to make improvements whenever possible. But I don’t spend much time focusing on people who just say, “this sucks,” without offering any helpful reasons as to why.
What do you think is the essential ingredient that makes a great story?
A few years ago, I tried to rush out a Christmas Romance. I was in the middle of a divorce. I was stressed, and I was hurting. And I was trying to write this sweet, cheesy, cute little romance story – in a hurry.
What I ended up with was a story. But it wasn’t a great one. I’m still in the process of fixing it because every time I read a piece of it, it’s clear to me that the story has no heart. I think the writer has to feel passion or excitement for the story they are telling. I can definitely tell a difference between stories I wrote because my heart was in it and stories I wrote because I had to.
What is the most valuable piece of advice you’ve received as a writer?
Not direct advice, but a lesson learned from other authors. It’s that failure is a part of success. Not the antithesis. It’s never too late to fix your mistakes.
As I mentioned, I really botched my first release. It took me years to fix it. But I did fix it, and it didn’t ruin my ability to keep writing. It didn’t ruin my career. It did teach me a great deal about the process, and it introduced me to so many amazing and talented authors.
What advice would you share to inspire a new writer?
Just write. Write what you know. Write what you love. Write what you hate. Write about situations that move you.
Reading and writing can be such emotional experiences. But the emotion comes from the writer. So, write about the things that make you feel something.
Where can people find your books?
My Sweet Holiday Romance books are on Amazon, and available through Barnes & Noble. You can also request them at your local libraries and bookstores, and ebook versions are available. Basically…anywhere books are sold, as they say.
My other works, under my pen name (Danielle Botz) can be found on Amazon, and I have an audiobook from my Women’s Fiction short story series as well.
If you’re a Novlr writer who has published a book, we’d love to hear from you. If you’d like to tell us about your work and share your writing journey with us, please email [email protected].