Every Word

by | Sep 1, 2014 | Community, Features

“Tasha knows how to write a story and pull you in right from the beginning. It definitely kept me wanting to read and turning the pages to see what was going to happen next.”
“WOW, ummmm I don’t even know how to start this… WOW. I have been put through so much during this book! I felt sooo much emotion…”
“I am still in a state of euphoric bliss from how fantastic this novel was. I feel it is impossible to properly express how much I loved this book and do it justice but I am going to try. Every Breath should have an enormous neon sign above it blinking, ‘I AM AMAZING!’ I am completely shocked by the emotional and physical reaction I had to this book.”
“All I can say is that Tasha Ivey is amazing. She grabs me and I hold on tight.”

The endorsements above are just a few of the over 2,800 reviews of Tasha Ivey’s book, Every Breath. The book rated an average of 4.28 stars out of a maximum five on the popular book lover’s social network, goodreads.com. With two more books in print – each with similar reviews — and the planned release of books four and five this fall and winter, the 35-year-old Dover resident is making waves in the literary world. Tasha’s books fall under the new adult romance genre. They feature college or fresh out of college characters making the transition into adulthood, and they have a large and growing fan base across the country.
Despite her national appeal and rave reviews, Tasha isn’t a full time writer… yet. Besides writing novels that garner emotional reviews from readers, Tasha is the office manager at Dover Elementary school.
Tasha was born in Helena, Arkansas, and moved to Russellville in 1991. She moved to Dover in 1996 and graduated from Dover High School in 1997. She is married to Robin Ivey, and is the mother of Chase, age 14, and Caydee, age 10. Wife, mother, writer and administrator makes for a busy life, but I was able to sit down with Tasha for an inside look at the writing aspect of her life.
Johnny Sain: Did you write when you were younger? Did you keep a journal or anything?
Tasha Ivey: I wasn’t much of a writer when I was young. I was a reader. That was my hobby; I read. My mom even jokes that when I was a baby, couldn’t read yet, she would set, me on this pallet on the floor and I would look at this book for an hour and never move. She said she couldn’t figure out why everyone thought having kids was a big deal because she could just put me on the floor and I would look at books forever. I was an early reader, started reading at about four. I didn’t really start writing until I was around 30.
JS: We have some similarities here. I didn’t write anything, creative or journalistic, until I was 39 or 40, but I’ve always been a reader.
TI: Well they say if you want to perfect the craft of writing you need to read.

JS: What about the relatively late start to writing? Do you think that has to do with collecting life experiences?
TI: Probably. A lot of writers I’m friends with didn’t start taking writing seriously unto later in life. So yes, I’d say getting life experience has a lot to do with it. What else do you have to write about before that? You don’t really have anything to write about before that.
JS: Why and how did you start writing?
TI: I was bored. I’m not a T.V. watcher; I can’t sit still and do nothing. My mind has to be busy. I was out of new books in the house and didn’t want to get out and buy new ones, this was before everyone had an e-reader, so I wrote my own story.

JS: So after you wrote that first story you’re still a long way from getting a book published. Give us the timeline from then until book publishing.
TI: That story took, I don’t know, about a year… maybe a little over a year.

JS: So this story, you basically wrote a book?
TI: Yeah, this is it {Tasha points to her first book, Destiny Ever-Changing}

JS: Wait a minute. This book is the first story you’ve ever written?
TI: Yes. So I wrote the story and sent it out to several publishers, and a small one in Atlanta picked it up. But I ended up firing them. They released the book, but we had some contract problems. I asked for my rights back and they gave them back to me.

JS: But just being picked up by a publisher is a big deal.
TI: Yeah, it’s a big deal. It’s hard to get your foot in the door. But the more I got into the book world, the more I realized there was a whole world of self-publishing out there. It doesn’t have the same stigma that it used to. Self-publishing was frowned upon before, it was tough to get your work out there, but Amazon and Barnes & Noble and all those online retailers all allow authors to upload their work and self-publish their books. I actually use an Amazon affiliate to publish my books. And right now I’m really enjoying the whole self-publishing thing. You maintain all your rights. You control release dates. You have control over what goes on your cover and your content. Independent authors can do more with the content of their story; cross some lines that maybe traditional publishers won’t let their authors cross. You’re not going to get the cookie cutter stories like in traditional publishing.

JS: I’d imagine the downside to self-publishing is promotion.
TI: Promotion is hard. We do a lot of social media. Without social media it would be really tough, but if you keep putting out books you increase your reader numbers. I have authors who are friends of mine that make $200,000 to $500,000 a year self-publishing.

JS: So just making a living as a writer is very doable?
TI: You can’t put one book out and live on it. You can’t put three books out and live on it. You have to keep a steady stream. You release your second book, it drives sales back to your first book. You release a third book and it drives sales back to the previous two. And you can release quickly if you self-publish.
JS: So it helps to be a prodigious writer, and you are a prodigious writer.
TI: If I had the time, and wasn’t working full-time, and family, and all that other stuff, I could write a book in a month.

JS: Do you have an outline for your stories?
TI: I’m not an outliner. I have a whiteboard at home and I’ll jot down some scenes in order. All the rest of the story just happens.

JS: How do you keep everything in line?
TI: I do have a notebook, and you do have to keep track of everything and tie up loose ends, but most of it is in my head.

JS: So do you know how the story is going to turn out before you write it?
TI: The stories never end up where I initially intended for them to go. I always come up with a little more or something a little different than I intended, and I think it’s always a little better. People always ask about what I’m working on now, what’s it about, and I’m like well, what I’ve written so far is… It sounds kind of weird, but you really are that character in your mind, and I’m not sure what that character is going to do. Really, I’m just an over imaginative person. Some might call me a borderline schizophrenic {Tasha laughs}.

JS: This is a good segue into the work involved with writing. Most people don’t understand that it’s hard work, and it never ends.
TI: It is hard work, and it never ends. My mind never shuts off. I keep a running list of character names, story ideas, and I add to it all the time because you see stories everywhere. Stuff you see on T.V., something somebody said, somebody you see in Wal-Mart, they’re everywhere. I had a story idea from a T.V. commercial, a jewelry commercial, not long ago. Of course jewelry, and romance and all that is my thing, but still. It was from a commercial. And sometimes they just happen organically, even when you’re not seeing something, you can just have a thought.

JS: Are your books a series? Do they all have the same characters?
TI: This {picks up Destiny Ever-Changing} is a stand alone. Everybody wants me to write another story {as a follow up} with a different set of characters, but I just haven’t done it yet. Then I had an idea for this book {picks up Every Breath}, which actually spurred off an assignment in comp one at Tech. We had to write a little short fiction assignment so I made up this story about a soldier that became pen pals with a woman here in the states, and it led to this book.
JS: What writers have influenced you?
TI: I’m a sucker for sappy love stories so probably Nicholas Sparks. I’ve always been a Nicholas Sparks fan; he’s my biggest influence. Sappy, girly, love stories – that’s what I like.

JS: How has small town living influenced your writing?
TI: I typically write small town. My characters are small town because that’s what I know. You have that tighter knit community in the books where everybody knows each other. I like the smaller towns with the Mayberry feel to it.

JS: Speaking of small towns, now I don’t keep up with the genre, but I haven’t heard about you in the local or state media, and your books sell really well across the country. What do you make of that?
TI: Other than the Dover newspaper, no, nothing local in media. I’m friends with the book manager at Hasting’s, and I’ve always told her that it’s really funny I can have a signing here, and might have a few people come out, but I can go off to Cleveland, and sell out with a line of people to come see me. There was a big signing in Orlando, and they sell a couple thousand tickets for this one, and people are lined up with books for me to sign. Everybody outside Arkansas knows more about me than people here.

JS: Do you think you can step into full-time writing soon?
TI: I think maybe at the minimum a year. I think. It’s pretty volatile just like anything else. The market changes. Lots of people see what some of these self-published writers are doing and making, and they want to write. So then the market is flooded with all these new authors that want to be big time writers. And it’s not really the love of the craft that’s driving them. It’s I want to be famous, and I want to make some money. I think readers will eventually see through that, and these writers will feel that rejection and drop off. It’s not an overnight thing; I’ve been doing this for five, six years.

JS: Where can people connect with you and buy your books?
TI: You can go to my Facebook page, Author Tasha Ivey. And you can search my books online, but you can find them at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, iBooks, and Kobo. They sell them at the local Hasting’s on the Romance shelf, and I think there’s one in the young adult.

JS: Any last thoughts you want to leave with readers.
TI: Buy my books {Tasha laughs}. No, really, the third book in the Every Life series is Every Glance, and I’m releasing it mid-September. The other one is a stand alone called Stolen Beauty. I normally write puppies, rainbows and fluffy clouds, but this one is a little darker than what I normally write. It’s still a romance, but goes into the world of human trafficking. I hope to release it around January.

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