Tell us about yourself and how many books you have written.
My name is Althaea and I am a professional witch, writer, and bone thrower. I specialize in helping people with spiritual struggles and the way those struggles intersect with other aspects of their lives. My books and articles are pulled from 20+ years of personal experience as a witch and emphasize a no-excuses approach to spiritual practice that is based firmly in common sense and efficacy.
Although I have been blogging and writing articles on witchcraft and polytheism for nearly a decade, this is my first book on the subject. However, I do have a number of books published under a pen name and am a freelance writer, writing primarily content but also ghostwriting a few books on magick.
When not writing or cavorting with spirits, I spend my time wrangling six half-feral children with my husband, wandering about the American West, and living off grid in the wilderness. My life is thoroughly wed to adventure and I am unapologetically living life on my own terms and sharing the adventure on social media whenever I can track down reliable wifi.
What is the name of your latest book and what inspired it?
My latest book is “By Rust of Nail & Prick of Thorn: The Theory & Practice of Effective Home Warding.” Initially, this was meant to be a ~1k word article for my blog. When it easily hit 2.5k words, I became concerned and sent out a cry for help to my amazing twitter followers. They loved the topic and responded with an overwhelming cry of, “keep writing!” Another hour went by and the first draft was now at 4.5k with no signs of stopping. Another cry for help was sent out into the twitterverse. My followers were thrilled, with multiple suggestions of turning it into an ebook.
Having worked as a ghostwriter for a few years, I was familiar with what it would take to finish and publish it. I was also familiar with how verbose I can be, especially with topics that I feel passionate about so having enough good, on-topic material to warrant a small book wouldn’t be an issue. So I let the words keep flowing.
About this time, I created a patreon page for my writing, with this book as a reward for my patrons. The continued support I’ve gotten for my writing, as well as the feedback for this book has been amazing. So many of the comments I’ve received for this book have truly blown me away, as I’ve clearly been underestimating my ability as a writer (ah, lack of confidence, that loathsome demon that plagues all writers…) As of the time of this writing, I am already working on a few more book ideas, including a companion piece to this my first book.
Do you have any unusual writing habits?
My writing habits aren’t that much different from most writers: I cry, yell at my laptop, walk away in frustration, and wake up in the middle of the night with the perfect words rolling about my head. I drink too much damn coffee and stay up far too late because it’s quiet, still, and that’s when the best words like to be born. More than once, I’ve stopped everything to jot down notes on a scrap of paper or mostly-clean napkin in order to not lose an idea for a new book, article, or just the perfect phrasing for a section I was having difficulty explaining both succinctly and coherently.
What authors, or books have influenced you?
My reading habits are a touch on the boring side as I’m nearly always reading nonfiction. So, rather than any one particular author or book having this profound impact on me, it’s been subjects and styles that have affected me and shaped the way I write and view the world. That clear and authoritative tone of text books is definitely found within my books (and likely in the way I speak,) but it’s tempered with my own voice -which vacillates between colloquial and authorial thanks to appropriately placed humor and curse words (yes, you can be professional and curse, I promise it works as long as it’s authentically you.) My approach to nonfiction writing is driven by the topic. I don’t fluff out the subject with copious amounts of anecdote. Rather, the focus is on what the reader needs -and they don’t need to hear personal stories that too often come across as boastful rather than helpful. They need the what, why, how it applies to them, and how to implement it within their own life and unique circumstances. That approach, along with too many commas and the heavy use of parenthesis are clearly, also, influences.
What are you working on now?
Although I’ve worked as a freelance writer for years and published under a pen name, I’ve only just published under my own name. At the moment, I’m really riding that “just published a book” high and have three books that I’ve been outlining and jotting down notes for in order to feel out which one needs to be written now. For sure, I will be writing a companion piece to my first book, but it’s looking like I’m going to diverge from that and finish another book first. It’s also nonfiction and in the same category but a different topic. All the trashy fiction is staying tucked safely away behind a pen name.
What is your best method or website when it comes to promoting your books?
Aside from doing the obvious things, such as ensuring that my book is listed on all major retailers so it can actually be found and seen, my promotion relies entirely on the strong platform that I’ve built online over the last several years. I have been blogging consistently on my own website, with my own domain, for nearly a decade now, publishing focused content that directly relates to what my books are about. In this way, every blog post is a sales opportunity.
In part due to the need to promote my blog (though it is not monetized,) I’m also on a variety of social media sites. Social media is grossly misunderstood when it comes to effective marketing, but if you remember that the entire point of it is to be social -to build relationships with other people- than it can really help get your books visible and sold. I am so thankful for the amazing people that I’ve met entirely thanks to social media -people who have become close friends, who provide encouragement for my writing, and help share my content and books with their followers. But, regardless of how awesome anything write could be, it’s because of those relationships that social media works.
I’m also only recently appreciating just how essential a newsletter is to any marketing strategy. My own newsletter began as a sort of experiment, as the most unsalesy newsletter ever, with the sole purpose of just connecting with my readers on a more intimate level. I share news when I have news to share, but otherwise I still always get in touch with my subscribers twice a month, just to ramble, strengthen those relationships, and let them know more about me. It’s been about a year now, but the results have proved very worthwhile and I’m kicking myself for not starting a newsletter years ago.
Do you have any advice for new authors?
For the love of coffee, please do not approach social media as the place to endlessly post links to your book! No one wants to see that. It’s boring. No one who may want to read your book is going to follow you if you’re boring. You are first and foremost a person and since you’re an author, that means you’re probably pretty weird. Flaunt that weirdness. Social media was made for weirdness! Post pics of where you’re writing, talk about what you were thinking about during your morning coffee, talk about how you’ve had three pots of coffee today and the words are flying out of you, but yes, you have to talk about coffee because you’re an author and coffee makes the words go. Final advice, if you don’t drink coffee start. But don’t forget to be a *person* who drinks coffee.
What is the best advice you have ever heard?
Never whittle toward yourself or piss into the wind.
What are you reading now?
“The Road Taken: A Memoir” by Therese Powers Kramer. It’s the memoir of the mother of a friend who said I reminded her of her mother. Her mother had nine children and was widowed when her youngest was just a couple years old. Because grief makes you do crazy things, she decided to take her brood to Europe for the trip of a lifetime. So, she bought a VW bus in England, and they proceeded to drive about Western Europe, having the kinds of adventures that only a woman with so many children could have. As the mother of six children, currently living life on the road with my husband and our children, there’s a lot to her tale that is very relatable and deeply humorous.
What’s next for you as a writer?
This month marks the anniversary of when I first began sharing my writing publicly. In looking back at the road to this point, I’ve been thinking a lot about “what now?” But, the road is laid out strongly for me: I’m going to keep writing. There are blog posts that need writing, and a pile of ideas for future books. The only thing I need to truly figure out is how to squeeze more hours from the day so I can write more without sacrificing time away from my husband and our children.
If you were going to be stranded on a desert island and allowed to take 3 or 4 books with you what books would you bring?
The complete works of Ray Bradbury, the largest collection of folk tales (divided by theme) that I could get my hands on, a blank book to fill with my own words, and the complete works of Emily Dickinson.