"In the end, the best writing comes down to being 9 years old and wondering, 'What if a dinosaur walks past the window?'" said romance author Teresa Medeiros to a crowd of wide-eyed writers Saturday at the Hopkinsville-Christian County Public Library.
Medeiros, the featured speaker at the third annual Author Festival, shared with the aspiring and published authors some of the best practices she used when penning her 24 romance novels.
"Set regular hours," she said. "You've got to pull yourself away."
In the same vein, she said set small manageable goals, such as committing to writing a page a day.
"At the end of the year, you'll have 365 pages, and in these days, that's a substantial-sized book."
Medeiros, who lives in Hopkinsville, is a New York Times best-selling author who was coy Saturday about if or when she will publish another book.
She spoke about how much the industry has changed, and how going the indie route is an option for authors versus large publishing houses.
"If I were to publish again, it would be hard for me to turn, even the cover, over to a publisher because I know how to do that myself now," she said.
Medeiros said a lot of the burden of promoting a new book has been shifted from publishing houses to the authors themselves, which is a part of the process some authors struggle with.
One way she said some authors get their work out and in front of readers is by mailing a number of copies to family and friends or social media followers for free in exchange for them writing an online review about the book.
"It's not buying reviews because you're not telling them what to write," she said. "Readers reviews are very important. That's one of the things that Amazon takes into account in its algorithms," which in part helps books turn up in web searches or in front of people who might want to read it.
Saturday, Medeiros and 22 local authors had a captive audience of readers looking for a new book to consume.
Each author and their books for sale were set up around the library's first floor.
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Author Bethanie Romkey shared with visitors her book, "The Voyage of Mary-Kate Donovan."
Based in 1850s Ireland, the book is a historical romance about a girl who takes care of her parents in the famine until they die and she's forced to live with her aunts. Mary-Kate eventually leaves for America with one of the aunts and a man who escorts them over. Through the arrangement, the two eventually develop a relationship.
Romkey, who recently moved to Hopkinsville from Indian Mound, Tennessee, said although the book is fiction, it was spearheaded by her research of her family's history.
"My grandmother was from Ireland and family was important to her," she said. "I just started to wonder what they went through and what it was like to leave from Ireland for America on faith."
Romkey's adult son, Logan, helped talk to visitors at his mom's booth Saturday, sharing his experience of her writing the book during his childhood.
"I can remember her looking through all these historical documents and trying really hard to be historically accurate," he said. "It's really amazing what she's done, because spending over a decade on a book, that's not something most people can do. So I like it, and I'm really proud of my mom for writing it."
Bonnie Palis traveled from Princeton to promote her book, "Uglier," about a bipolar woman in her 30s trying to live a regular life.
"She's high functioning, but she becomes a teacher and she becomes the lowest of the low because nobody has respect for teachers anymore," Palis said.
She noted that bipolarism is endemic in her own family, and it was her goal to humanize people living with the disorder.
"I wanted it to be a novel so that more people can relate to it," Palis said. "There are no novels out there about it, and shows like 'Law and Order SVU' always portrays bipolar people as extremely violent or volatile and not all of them are."
Indie author W.C. Child, who lives in Clarksville, promoted her book "Not Yet a Woman," which follows main character Eva as she tries to discover who she is after losing her father at a young age.
Child said the book was birthed out of a poem she wrote, which has been a pastime since she was a child.
"I've always written poetry, and one day I said, 'I'm going to sit down and write this book,'" she said.
"Not Yet a Woman" was published in 2018 and, at the end, Child introduces a character who will be the focus of her next book.
Of Saturday's Author Festival, Child said it was nice to be among like minds.
"It's good to see that there's a lot of local people that love to write," she said, "and to have someone of Teresa's stature right here sharing her experience is a godsend."
Reach Zirconia Alleyne at 270-887-3243 or firstname.lastname@example.org.