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Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Author Jeff Rivera: Telling His Story, Offering Advice and Writing Tips

Author Jeff Rivera is an example of what never letting go of your dreams will help you accomplish. From his hometown of Hillsboro, Oregon to his current residence in New York City, he is living the life that many creative individuals could only wish to have, but his journey has not been easy. Through setbacks, personal disappointments and the trials of everyday life, he has push forward---allowing nothing to stop him. Among the projects he is currently working on is The Write Stuff Literacy Campaign. In this exclusive interview with Cyrus A. Webb of Conversations Book Club, Conversations LIVE! Radio and Crunk Book Club, he talks about the journey and where he is looking for it to take him next.


Jeff, thanks for talking with Crunk Magazine and Conversations. First of all, I want to say congratulations on the success of your debut novel Forever My Lady and your other projects. I have to ask you, if someone had told you 10 years ago that you would be doing what you are today, would you have believed them?
Thanks, I'm still in shock with the way that things have come together for me but it hasn't been without it's ups and downs. So many people didn't believe in me, I had to move forward and not listen to the nay-sayers. I always dreamed of having great things but had no idea how it would happen, so in a way, yeah I'm just as shocked as anyone else and thank God literally everyday for everything that's happened.

When did you first realize that you had a love affair with words?
At a very early age, when I was in first grade. I didn't even know it was called writing. It was just what I did, wrote stories about the kids in class. The stories didn't make any sense but I didn't know that back then.

Would you say that your love of words was something that was encouraged by those around you?
Not at all. I mean, my teachers and parents encouraged me to do it but not as a way to make a living. But I dreamed of one day making that happen and thank God at least God was listening.

I was impressed to find out that your journey through live has not always been so easy. Take our readers into some of the challenges you have faced in your life and more importantly how you overcame them?
Name it and I've probably been through it. I grew up in American poverty, homelessness, child abuse. It hasn't been easy but let me tell you there is always someone who's been through much worse. So, I'm not complaining.

There are many aspiring writers that will read this interview that will want to know how you were able to be picked up by a major publisher with your first book. Before we get into that, however, tell us how the idea for Forever My Lady developed.
Forever My Lady began when I was working at Kmart. I met a friend of mine who came from a work release program and was trying to turn his life around for his lady, that was the inspiration for me to tell my story of a fictional character named Dio who would stop at nothing to win his lady back. It started out as a screenplay but after many rejections I decided to self-publish the book from there the novel grew a huge following online and Warner (now called Grand Central Publishing) got wind of it.

A question I know you get a lot is how much of Jeff Rivera is in the book. What would you say?
I would a good 90% of Jeff Rivera is in the book in each of the characters, I can relate to each of them in different ways.

Your book was published by Grand Central Publishing, formerly Warner Books. How did it get to them?
I had sent it to them and it rotted on their desk for 3 months, then when I got an agent, she made a phone call and they read it over the weekend and had an offer within 7 days. Come to think about it, I think it was like an offer in like 3-4 days. It was very fast. When it's meant to be, and the timing's right, it happens quickly and effortlessly.

A misconception that some aspiring writers have is that being published by a major publishing house lessens the amount of work they have to personally do to promote the book. Were you surprised at how much the book's success still depended on you?
Not at all, I was warned ahead of time that I would be doing most of the work. I wasn't doing any less than I was doing to promote the book when I was self-publishing.

Among the other projects you are doing is GumboWriters.com. Tell us about it.
GumboWriters.com is a one-stop shop for writers who want to get an agent or who want to self-publish. I work with editors formerly with the major publishing houses who will edit your manuscript and bring it to the level expected for a major house.

You are also working with Shadow Play Entertainment as part of The Write Stuff Literacy Campaign. You will be sharing 10 writing tips in 60 second segments. What do you hope aspiring writers get from those tips?
These tips go beyond the obvious tips you always here. I think aspiring writers will hear some things they've never heard before publicly like what it really takes to get published.

What's next for you?
I'm working on a kids book and some other projects up my sleeve, including the sequel to Forever My Lady.

Jeff, thanks again for talking with us. If our readers want to find out more information about you, how can they do so?
Definitely check out: http://www.GumboWriters.com

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