Josephine Strand

Josephine Strand was born in Italy, grew up in South Africa, and is a long-time resident of the United States. Her travels between the three continents have strengthened her love for the sea and the outdoors. When not writing or absorbed in the latest gripping page-turner, she loves to cook and enjoys long nature walks. Misty Dreams is her first novel.

Tell me about your latest book and what inspired you to write/create it?

Misty Dreams is a dual-timeline romance novel set partly in New York City and partly on a fictitious island in the Southeast. As a child, Clare is separated from her family in mysterious circumstances. When a tragic accident in a department store leaves her injured and without a memory, Richard, a student at the time, rushes to her aid. The abandoned girl stirs up a protective instinct in him, and a friendship develops between them. But when Clare’s absent family suddenly makes an appearance and whisks her away, that bond is abruptly severed. Seventeen years later, present-day Richard and Clare cross paths again, and the memory of Clare’s tragic childhood experience comes back to haunt her.

When people ask me what inspired me to write Misty Dreams, my answer is always: my characters. In my mid-twenties, I wrote a series of novellas set in a vacation resort in Florida. It was superficial, frivolous stuff, unfit for publication. But two of my characters stuck with me, Clare and Richard, and when years later I decided to try my hand at a full-length standalone novel, I knew I wanted to write a story just for them. The Southern setting is somewhat similar to that of my earlier series, while the idea for the plot sprang from a daytime TV show I was following, where sibling rivalry was at the core of all the drama that took place between two sisters with very different personalities. I’ve always loved romance novels with a lot of family drama, and that’s essentially the premise of the story.

Share your personal publishing story. Did you choose self or traditional? How did you go from book manuscript draft to finished book available for purchase?

Like most aspiring authors, my dream was to capture the attention of a traditional publisher or agent. I submitted dozens of queries and waited months only to receive a handful of polite rejections. I was clearly facing an uphill battle, and since I wasn’t getting any younger, I decided to take the leap and publish independently. Despite the higher upfront costs and being fully responsible for marketing my book, I don’t regret having made that choice. Besides, I like having full creative control of my work. I’m a slow writer and being tied to a deadline terrifies me.

How do you name your characters (if fiction or names changed for nonfiction)?

I usually think of names that in my mind fit the image and stature of the characters. Two of the secondary characters in Misty Dreams are of different nationalities, ergo the naming of Philippe, the French-Canadian pilot/business owner, and Tommaso, the homonymous restaurant owner, who’s Italian born. In the book I’m currently working on, the main character’s name is Emma, which was inspired by my granddaughter. My granddaughter’s name is Emilia but her brother couldn’t pronounce it when he was still a toddler, and called her Emma.

What is the most difficult part of your creative process?

The most difficult part for me is finding the right balance between my writing, my day-to-day responsibilities, and maintaining a presence on social media. Carving out time to write is harder than it was when I was still fully committed to finishing my manuscript while working at my day job, and it’s easier to lose momentum with all the distractions.

How many unpublished or unfinished books have you written and set aside? What are your plans for them?

When it comes to unfinished manuscripts, I’m a serial discarder. I still have all the old manuscripts from the novella series, though a few got lost over the years, as life took me from city to city, and from one continent to another. They were written in a different era, when writing and reading styles were different. I have no intention of resurrecting them, but I may draw inspiration from them in future stories.

What do you do for book marketing? Describe your plan, how it is working, and what you want to add or change to that plan, if anything.

I didn’t have a marketing plan before publishing my book, and I regret that. I was never a fan of social media, and the thought of putting myself out there for the whole world to see was terrifying. Since launching in April 2021, I’ve realized the importance of having and maintaining a plan to promote your books. As a result, I’ve managed to shake off most of my social introversion and allowed myself to go with the flow. I created a website and blog where I talk about mostly bookish stuff, I’ve set up a Facebook page and opened accounts on several other platforms. I’m also attempting to build a newsletter following, though with only one published book to my name, that’s proving to be a bit of a challenge. I’ve joined a few cross-promotion groups. I find that collaborating with other authors is a great way to gain visibility. As for paid advertising, I continue to run low-cost ads on Amazon and I’ll do the occasional Facebook ad once or twice a year. I’m still learning the ropes as I trudge along, and probably still have a lot more to learn.

How do you go about obtaining book reviews? Do you read them? How do you deal with the good and the bad ones?

I’m very bad at asking for book reviews, which is probably the reason I don’t have many. I usually ask in an indirect way to anyone who’s read my book to please leave a review telling me what they think of it. I haven’t received any bad ones yet, but if I do, I’ll take it as constructive criticism. After all, we can’t please everyone.

Do you prefer reading print, audio or ebooks? Why?

There’s nothing like the feel of a real book in my hands, but for practical reasons I also keep an ebook on hand, as well as an audiobook to listen to while doing chores. Throughout the day, I’m often reading in some form or other.

Who is your favorite author, book? The last book you read?

I have several favorite authors. Nora Roberts, Sandra Brown, Jojo Mojes are a few. But the author I’ve drawn the most inspiration from is Nicholas Sparks. The last book I read is The Wish.

There are many trends in self publishing that have come and gone. What do you think is going to change next in the self or traditional publishing landscape?

I think the future of self-publishing is headed towards gaining an even bigger share in the market, as the advantages make it more appealing to authors. I hope we’ll see more self-published books show up in best-seller lists as the trend grows.

Now that you have published a book/new book, what would you do differently this time?

Before publishing my next book I’d make sure I have a launch program in place, something I had no clue about the first time around.

What advice do you have for aspiring authors?

Don’t let self-doubt and lack of self-confidence hold you back. Learn the fundamentals of writing and become more competent in your craft. Finally, look beyond your goal. Writing a book doesn’t end at the words ‘The End’. There’s so much work to be done before and after the publishing process. Start right away the moment you decide you want to write a book. Find your niche and build your audience by starting a newsletter or a blog—or both. Ultimately, all this can be immensely gratifying almost as much as the writing itself.

Josephine’s Bio

Josephine Strand was born in Italy, grew up in South Africa, and is a long-time resident of the United States. Her travels between the three continents have strengthened her love for the sea and the outdoors. When not writing or absorbed in the latest gripping page-turner, she loves to cook and enjoys long nature walks. Misty Dreams is her first novel.

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