There comes a time in your life that a book is published that just blows the competition away. Now that I think about it there is no competition as there is nothing you can compare Bertha-Size Your Life to. I’m not even sure what category or genre it may fall under, inspirational comes to mind.
Introducing Bertha: How do you really introduce a woman of her legendary status other than in pictures so you can get the gist of who Bertha really is.
Hello Bertha, I’m happy to have you visit my blog today.
Thank you, Madison. It’s lovely to be here. You might notice that I shopped before our interview. I hope you like my magnetic magenta sundress and matching stilettos. Normally I like to wear spandex capris but I thought I should wear a dress today.
Is there a particular reason that you always dress in bright colors?
Actually, there is. Bright colors remind me to enjoy myself in whatever I am doing. I wear my brightest, prettiest colors to do things that I normally don’t enjoy like housework. They just make the task seem more pleasant. I’m all about Bertha-Sizing my life.
That’s interesting. I’ve never considered that but it makes sense. What exactly is Bertha-Sizing?
I’m so glad you asked. In simple terms it’s all about living a bigger life. You know a lot of people equate ‘Bertha’ with big…like the golf club. So Bertha-Sizing is just living a bigger, happier life. I talk about ways to do that a lot in the book.
Speaking of the book, do you ever let Jane talk?
Occasionally, if she has something to say. I may let her talk more in the sequel. She’s working on it now. I think she’s starting to catch on to what I’ve been teaching her so it may be time to let her say a thing or two. But not the cat—the cat will never get a speaking role.
I can relate, I have read the book, but please tell me what’s up with the pink Flamingos?
Flamingos are another symbol for me. I’m a big believer in The Law of Attraction and they remind me that anything is possible. In fact, you won’t believe what happened when I planted a flock in the front yard one time. I just paraded around them in my purple bikini and the neighbors gave me a trip to Miami…just where I was wanted to go. Flamingos ROCK!
One of my favorite parts of the book. Rock on Bertha!
Do you like how you have portrayed in the media?
Yes, I would say that I do. I’ve been portrayed as wise and kooky. What could be better than that?
Without further a-do, please welcome Author Jane Carroll!
Hello Jane, thanks for stopping by. I think Bertha is just swell, but I have a sneaking suspicion that Bertha and Eleanor would butt heads. Although Agnes would make a good referee.
I think the girls would all get along just fine. Bertha’s a couple of years younger but what’s a few years among friends.
I have since read the book and must agree with you on that one Jane.
To me the character of Bertha is who you would get if you crossed Lucy with Oprah and dressed her like Peg Bundy…zany, wise, and wearing spandex. I can see her blending right in with Agnes and Eleanor but I’m not so sure she’d pack a gun…although she does consider it at one point…hmmm.
I sure hope not! Bertha would stop at the beauty shop first and then, oh my!
I love the artwork on your cover, who is responsible for doing it and how much input if any did you have?
Thank you so much. My sister, Cynthia Dendy, did all of my art work. I let her read the stories and Bertha was born. I love that Bertha’s face looks a little different in each picture because I truly want all women to identify with her. I think that helps. I think the balloon jockey picture looks the most like me and I think the pink flamingo picture looks like Cindy. The others, I’m not so sure who they look like…maybe you, Madison…now that I think about it.
Thanks Jane, I needed a good laugh, lol.
How did you get the idea for Bertha and did you think it was a great idea?
Bertha was a fluke! I was attempting to write a book of exercises to help women discover themselves after their children left home. The only problem was—it was boring. I didn’t even like it. And you know when a ‘mama’ says her ‘baby’ is ugly…it’s really ugly! A friend left me a message one day that her daughter had moved out and asked what she should do. She wasn’t home when I returned her call so I shot her an email, telling her to name her nest. I named mine Bertha and the rest as they say is history. Bertha swiftly took over the book and my life. Nothing has ever been the same since.
Thank the good Lord for that Jane.
Basically, Bertha is a series of short vignettes that each teach a life lesson in a fun and usual way. Whether Bertha is writing her desires on balloons or learning to fly a hot air balloon she usually finds a soapbox and manages to hop aboard to help me see things in a positive light.
When you finished writing Bertha Size Your Life, did you have any unusual experiences? For instance when I finished the edits for Armed and Outrageous I got chills. Anything like that you’d like to share?
You know. I don’t think so. Of course I was in the process of selling my house and moving at the time so I probably would have just thought it was from exhaustion.
Besides online what else have you been doing to promote your book?
Bertha has been around a while. Don’t tell her I said that…she’ll say it makes her sound old. Anyway, in the beginning I did a lot with bookstores and speaking engagements. I carried a book in my purse at all times and shoved it in anyone’s face I met. Social media just wasn’t what it is now. I did a little online but not much.
I do find now that my online efforts are actually more productive and cost effective than driving all over the country. Especially since I have joined the MasterKoda group on Facebook. There’s a lot of support and advice there which has really revived my promotion efforts. I’ve also joined the Twitter world and other social media sites. I really find them effective and I’ve met a lot of great people.
I must add that MasterKoda is where I first noticed Bertha-Size Your Life. I really liked the cover and Jane’s blog.
I do believe that it takes a bit of both. Getting out there in the community whether it is real or virtual is what it’s all about.
In fact, it was a combination of efforts that took the ebook into the number one Amazon bestseller slot in the category Dreams earlier in the spring.
Congrats Jane, that’s a huge deal!
Tell us a little more about your publishing journey, I think it’s pretty interesting by the way.
Sit down and get another cuppa. This could take a while. It has been a journey. I started out with a small press agency and released Bertha-Size Your Life! in 2005. They went out of business in 2008 and Bertha was rereleased as self-published.
Right after Bertha was originally published I began the sequel which I never finished. I didn’t like it either. I must have a thing for ugly babies. Anyway, I am currently working on it again and talked with Saga Books in January about publishing it. They decided to go ahead and re-release Bertha-Size as well as the new manuscript when it is complete. So, Bertha was just re-released by Saga this month. I’m really excited to be a part of the Saga family and feel like it is the right place for Bertha and me.
Where do you get all your ideas? Are any of your characters based on anyone living or dead?
My ideas are based on everyone. I’ll see someone at the supermarket and I’ll get an idea. I’ll read an inspirational book and I’ll get an idea. Ideas are everywhere. However, Bertha is truly the inner sense of wisdom that we all have. I just gave her spandex capris, high-heels, and big red hair. Rita was based on my fear of rejection and Lizzy on my feelings of insignificance.
The cat stars as itself. Something can’t be made up.
The cool thing is that just after the book was released I met an 83 year-old woman named Bertha. Of course she had red hair and was wearing high-heels. She had even belonged to a Flamingo Club at one time. Even though I was selling books at the time, I gave her an autographed copy. I thought it only fair.
What are you working on now?
I’m currently collaborating with Bertha on the sequel to Bertha-Size Your Life!. As Bertha said, it looks like I’ll get to talk a bit in this one as I truly discover who I am. I’m really getting excited about it and hope that it will be out by fall.
What question do you feel is asked too much? I for instance hate when people ask me where I was when I first typed my first story, like I remember.
I think the question that I get asked the most is, “What would Bertha do about ___?” And honestly I love to answer it. The answer usually starts out with something like, “Well first you’d want to get your nails done cause everyone knows that a journey of a thousand miles starts with a great pedicure!”
Tell everyone where to find your books and any other links that are related to Bertha or your writing.
I would love for everyone to visit my website http://www.janecarrollauthor.com there they will find my blog, Life According to Jane, which often has a guest appearance from Bertha, as well as more information on Bertha-Size Your Life! and links to Amazon. There are follow me links on the blog page for Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest.