Friday, September 2, 2011

An Interview with Heather Hummel

Heather, since you write fiction and nonfiction books. I would like to start this interview by asking about the books you've ghost written and what it's like to be a ghost writer?

Being both a ghostwriter and a novelist has rounded out my career in ways that are incredibly rewarding. As a ghostwriter, I’m challenged with writing in my client’s voice. This means leaving my ego and any personal agendas aside while I embrace their project. I’ve written two nonfiction books, the first was Gracefully: Looking and Being Your Best at Any Age (McGraw-Hill, 2008), co-written with Valerie Ramsey (my mother), who became a model at the age of 63. For this project, I really thought about the reader and what they would get out of the message of the book, which is to accept and seek new challenges at any age.

The second nonfiction book is almost ready to be sent to the publisher. In this case, I’ve signed a Nondisclosure Agreement, but I can say that it’s a book that will change the way you perceive dating and finding the love of your life. I will be able to promote and discuss it next spring when it launches.

The third project is a terrific novel titled Malocchio: The Evil Eye Murders, cowritten by Michael Chiaradonna and James T. Vance. They cowrote this book twenty years ago, and recently handed it over to me as their editor and publisher. It’s not quite a ghostwriting project per se, but is one I’m proud to be a part of nonetheless. As a ghostwriter, I allow others to check “Author” off on their Bucket List, and that’s exactly what this project let me do!

I am also negotiating contracts with two public figures/celebrities to ghostwrite their books. Every client is different. Some are okay with allowing me to have public credit (often seen as “with Heather Hummel”) and others, usually due to their branding, want full credit for their book. In these cases, a ghostwriter can negotiate higher royalties and pay in trade for nondisclosure.

Next up I of course need to ask about your writing schedule. What type of writing schedule do you have and how would you improve upon it?

Because I ghostwrite for clients as well as write my own Journals from the Heart series, I wake up each day with any number of projects awaiting my attention! I often work on client projects in the morning, especially if I need to talk to the cleint or e-mail back and forth about a chapter. Then after lunch I either swim, bike or take my dogs for a long walk to decompress and shift gears. Exercise is my muse! In the early evenings I handle my social media¾Twitter, Facebook and Blogging. Then after dinner I indulge in writing my novels. I’m often up till midnight writing! It’s become a routine that works really well for me, keeps my clients and me happy and the projects moving along!

Okay let's talk about your ebooks and do you like the ebook process? Please fill us in a bit what goes in to publishing an ebook?

I have a theory about eBooks…they’re like microwaves. Microwaves did not replace ovens; they gave us another way to cook! eBooks give us another way to read! For now, eBooks are coexisting with print quite well, and I’m just happy the topic is not about whether or not to read, but in which format to read!

Besides my Journals from the Heart series and my nonfiction book GO BIKE & Other Signs from the Universe, I’ve formatted and uploaded several eBooks for other authors. It’s something that is, surprisingly, best initially done in Microsoft Word, which is then converted to either a PDF or an HTML file (Kindle). Kindle has a Mobipocket Creator that converts the HTML file to the necessary formats. You can also use Smashwords, which again requires a Word document. The trick is to keep the formatting simple. eBook readers come in all shapes and sizes¾from iPhones to iPads to Kindle to the Nook, the screens vary in size. Because of this, eBooks (such as Kindle) do not need page numbers, headers or footers. The text shouldn’t be larger than 14, and should be in a simple font. It’s very different than a print book in that regard.

Just a few days ago, I formatted Maloccio: The Evil Eye Murders and loaded it to Kindle. It was live that night! Anyone could have been reading it within 12 hours. You can’t do that with print (though we are also launching Malocchio in print in a few weeks). People also love the ease, convenience, and (for the most part) low cost prices of eBooks.  

 Now we would like to know about Heather, the woman, the author and the person behind the book?

Victoria Moran, a radio host and best selling author of spiritual books, once called me a “writer’s writer” in a radio interview I did with her. I remember being so flattered that she saw me that way. I now call myself The Gypsy Writer because I love to combine traveling with writing.

What are your future writing plans?

I’m in the process of writing a new novel titled $1 and $100. It is a fictional view of how people relate to money. The main “characters” are a $1 and $100 bill that pass through many people’s hands from different walks of life and through about three decades. I’m really excited about this novel. The money starts with a seven year old boy and his young, widowed mother who is a waitress. Each bill then leaves their possession and travels through time and the hands of others. Writing the other side stories is one aspect that is not only challenging (especially as time passes), but exciting. It starts in the 1970s and will end in the early 2000s. This book will launch in November.

I’m also writing the third novel in my Journals from the Heart series. As you can probably guess, each novel uses journal writing as its theme. In Whispers from the Heart, Madison Ragnar, a high school English teacher, helps her students cope with the death of a classmate through journal writing. In Write from the Heart, Samantha Sounder uses journal writing as a reflection of failed relationships. She turns to positive and gratitude writing, which allows her life to take a turn for the better. The third, Wisdom from the Heart, will explore a fourteen year old girl who finds out she’s adopted. This novel’s chapters alternate between Jamie as a fourteen year old and as a forty-something year old.

By becoming an author what has given you the most pride in your profession?

I love it when a client’s book comes out in print. When they receive their first copy, it’s always rewarding to know that it’s in their hands because I helped them realize that dream. At the same time, I do pride myself on being able to write in many different genres and platforms. One of my first paid writing gigs was for a family magazine. Even though I hadn’t been married, let alone birthed any kids, I was the top writer for the magazine. That’s when I knew I could write in other people’s voices. When I write my own fiction, I take on the role of ghostwriter for my characters…it’s an interesting perspective to take.

Do you belong to a writer's group, or have a critique partner?

I have belonged to critique groups in the past, but I don’t currently belong to one. I actually wrote an article on my blog titled Writing Workshop Etiquette: 10 Tips for Writing Groups (, which receives a lot of hits. I learned a lot of great workshop methodologies in my Secondary Education classes as a student of the University of Virginia.

I find a lot of writers tend to stay in their critique groups too long. At some point, writers outgrow one another, and it’s in their best interest to move on. It’s easy to get stuck in a comfortable rut with familiar faces, but to really grow as a writer, it is worth moving on. You’ll know when the time is right.

Is there something you would like to say to your readers?

Most of my followers know that I am, at the core, a spiritual writer. My one nonfiction book that is based on my life is GO BIKE & Other Signs from the Universe. It addresses the signs we receive on a daily basis when we’re open to them. This one piece of advice at the end relates to everyone who has a faith system…

“The final step in seeing signs is when you are so completely open to the Universe/God that you will not need to look for signs; you will not need to ask for signs¾why? Because you will just know.”

Leave us with some words of wisdom and this can either be by one of your characters or by you.

Be open to possibilities! I am the self-proclaimed Gypsy Writer. I brand myself as this because I’ve lived in 5 different states, but at the same time, I love writing in different genres and platforms. By keeping myself open to new ideas and projects, I have not pigeon-holed myself into one genre. That can certainly work against a writer, but if done right, it can push you in directions you never thought possible.

Heather Hummel is the author of the Journals from the Heart Series. She is an award winning author and celebrity ghostwriter. Her published works include:

Fiction: Journals from the Heart Series: Whispers from the Heart  and Write from the Heart

Nonfiction: GO BIKE & Other Signs from the Universe (2011 eBook) and Gracefully: Looking and Being Your Best at Any Age (McGraw Hill, 2008), - Merit Award of the 2009 Mature Media Awards,

Heather's books have appeared in newspapers such as: Publishers Weekly, USA Today and the Washington Post; and in magazines that include: Body & Soul, First, and Spry Living, a combined circulation of nearly 15 million. Visit Heather’s website at


  1. What an interesting interview. Lots of irons in the fire but you seem to be keeping them hot! Followed this link from Twitter. Alice Lynn

  2. Thanks, Alice Lynn! I greatly appreciate the feedback...and yes, irons are always hot.

    Pam and Terri - thanks again for having me as a guest! This was a fun interview.

  3. Great interview. It's so cool following your examples of just being. I had thought for myself after I shed this UVa thing, that I wanted to be a nomad writer. Gypsy sounds better, but that is yours and you really are one. You juggle so many projects so well. You truly are an inspiration.

  4. Heather,
    I love an interview that both inspires and motivates.
    I'm off to write. (LOL)


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