Hello! My name is Emily Ruhl, and I am the author of The Bonds Between Us. This is my debut novel, and the first book in the planned Web of Wyrd trilogy. The Bonds Between Us primarily falls into the genres of romance and fantasy, and although I love writing in these genres (and hope to write many more novels that also fall into these literary categories), I would also like to one day expand my horizons into historical fiction to satisfy my passion for history. I currently have several works in progress in all of the aforementioned genres.
From Planning to Published
When did you start writing and why?
Author: I started writing The Bonds Between Us in early 2020. Writing a book was a childhood dream of mine, and I had many ideas for various novels I wanted to write. However, I never sat down to actually put pen to paper, mostly because I had been told so frequently that being an author was an unrealistic goal in life. In 2020 though, a good friend of mine read a short story I had written years prior, and started encouraging me to write a book. Her support and confidence in me restored my enthusiasm for writing and gave me the courage to attempt writing my first novel. Inspired by Italian courses that I took in college and personal events that I experienced throughout my life, I finally started piecing together in my mind the storyline for what is now The Bonds Between Us.
How long did it take you to finish your first book?
Author: It took me approximately eight months to finish writing The Bonds Between Us. During that time, I spent most days writing anywhere between 4-10 hours.
If you’ve published, how long did your first book take?
Author: From the moment I received notification from Atmosphere Press that they would like to publish my book, to the day the book officially launched, it took about eight months for The Bonds Between Us to get published.
Are you indie, traditional, hybrid, or vanity, and why?
Author: I consider myself to be a hybrid author. Although I did not go the traditional route of finding an agent who would represent me, I still chose to submit my book to a verified publisher. In large part, this was because I knew I did not have what it took to make my book successful on my own. I had never published a book before, I was not entirely confident in my storyline or editing, and I knew absolutely nothing about things like professional editing, cover design, and marketing. Therefore, I really wanted to find a dependable publisher who would be able to provide the support and guidance I needed to help make my book a success. Atmosphere Press provided that opportunity, and I am forever grateful to them for their huge role in helping my book become a reality.
How did you determine your target audience?
Author: For me, I struggled greatly with determining my target audience. At first, I primarily considered The Bonds Between Us to be targeted toward adult readers due to my writing style. However, I also felt that the fantasy and romance aspects of my book could be appealing for young adult audiences. In the end, after “flip-flopping” back and forth ad infinitum, I strove to target the emerging “new adult” audience category, which is where I feel this book truly lies based on factors such as the age of the characters and the central themes of the story.
What platforms do you use to publish your works?
Author: I worked with Atmosphere Press to publish The Bonds Between Us.
How do you get critiques, betas, feedback, and edits?
Author: In terms of feedback and edits, Atmosphere Press editors helped me work out rough spots in the storyline, make corrections, etc. For critiques and reviews, I worked with publicity managers at Atmosphere Press, and also sent out my own requests for reviews from reputable book review sites (such as Feathered Quill) and book reviewers employed by local newspapers.
Katya Anders was supposed to be a monster, cursed by fate to an eternity of solitude. So the soulmark that suddenly appeared on her wrist must be a mistake… right?
It has to be—especially when her soulmate, Matteo, is both incompatible with, and superior to her, in every way: personality, reputation, bloodlines, magical abilities. Pursuing a relationship with him is not only socially unacceptable… it’s potentially fatal. Logically, Katya knows she should stay away from him. But doing so becomes impossible when an old Venetian folktale turns out to be more real than fiction. Forced to work together, can Katya and Matteo defy their very natures, overcome the restrictions of Vaettir society, and learn to trust their soulbond in time to save Venice, and each other, from the forces of Hell?
In The Bonds between Us by Emily Ruhl, we experience the power of destiny, the strength of love in overcoming all odds, and the realization that we are defined, not by who we are meant to be, but rather by who we choose to be.
How do you get reviews for your books?
Author: I get reviews for my books through a joint effort between the outreach of the marketing publicists at Atmosphere Press and my own outreach to book review sites (such as Feathered Quill) and book reviewers employed by local newspapers.
How do you promote your content?
Author: I promote my content through hardcopy promotion one-sheets, outreach to local bookstores and libraries for stocking and events, outreach to blogging sites, and my own personal social media networking (via Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter). I have also found simple word of mouth to be beneficial.
How do you define success as an author?
Author: For me, success as an author is measured by what people take away from my writing. On the one hand, my goal with any book is to write storylines and characters that are engaging and entertaining. However, I also want to create works that are relatable and help reveal things about human nature. If people read my writing and are able to find joy in it, feel like they have gained some sort of insight into the world, or discover things that resonate with their personal experiences or feelings, then I feel that I have done my job as an author.
About Your Work
What type of content do you write and why? Fiction Novels? Poems? Songs? Screenplays? Short Stories? Epic?
Author: I mainly write fiction novels because I simply love telling stories. I enjoy creating tales with complex characters, detailed settings, intricate themes, and exciting plots that take the reader through multiple twists and turns. I want my readers to not only have fun reading, but to feel and think deeply about what it is they are reading. Novels allow me the flexibility to do just that, without any kinds of restrictions regarding length or style.
What genres and subgenres do you write in?
Author: Since I currently only have a single novel published, the only genre in which I have written is fantasy. The Bonds Between Us, though predominantly fantasy, also falls into the subgenre of romance. Although I plan on writing more novels that fall into these genres, I also hope to venture into historical fiction one day.
How many works have you published?
Author: I have only published one work—The Bonds Between Us.
Can you tell us a bit about your most recent publication?
Author: The Bonds Between Us follows the story of Katya Anders, a young American woman who has opted to abandon her life in the United States in exchange for a new life in Venice, Italy. On the surface, Katya appears to be just like everyone else; but she has a secret—she is a Daski, part of an ancient race of magical beings who are notorious for their cold hearts, cruel behavior, and criminal acts. All her life, Katya has fled from this part of who she is. Yet her attempts to deny the reality of her nature becomes all but impossible when she suddenly develops a soulbond—a fated romantic connection she is not meant to have—with a man who seems to be the embodiment of all that is good and pure in the world. Although the connection between Katya and her soulmate is something she craves, she knows that any sort of relationship with him could be dangerous, even deadly. Her internal dilemmas regarding her identity and her future are only made worse when an old Venetian legend comes to life. Torn between who she is supposed to be and who she wants to be, Katya must learn to trust those around her—and even more terrifyingly, herself—if she wants to save the city she calls home from the forces of Hell.
What was your first goal when you started your journey to becoming an author? Has that changed?
Author: My first goal when I started my journey to become an author was simply to fulfill a childhood dream. Ever since I can remember, I loved writing. It was my passion. Yes, I found it to be fun. But it was also much more than that for me. You see, as someone who has always been rather quiet and reserved, writing allowed me an outlet for all of the thoughts, feelings, and stories that I otherwise struggled to express. Therefore, between the joy and the self-expression that I found in writing, my easy, automatic response whenever anyone asked, “What do you want to be when you grow up?” quickly became, “A writer.”
However, as I got older, I was frequently told that being an author was an unrealistic career goal. Yet it was something that always stuck with me. My desire to write couldn’t be hindered, and I have notebooks full of story ideas, scenes, and characters that developed in my mind over the years. But nothing ever came of those ideas or my passion. Not until I met my best friend, Katie—who is practically my sister at this point—did I again entertain the thought of becoming a writer. Katie encouraged me to pursue my passion for writing after reading a short story I had written in high school. She saw potential in me, and pushed me to fulfill my dream of writing a novel. I would never have had the courage to take the plunge and put my writing out into the world without her.
Now that I am a published author, it feels surreal. It is truly a dream come true. Perhaps even more remarkable is the fact that the experience is even more rewarding than I ever imagined it could be. I absolutely cannot wait to continue writing and see where this new path takes me in life.
What do you want your readers to get out of your works?
Author: I want my readers to take away from my works whatever it is they need most at that point in their lives—entertainment, comfort, acceptance, belonging, hope, courage. After all, that’s what makes writing beautiful. Just like music, paintings, movies, and other forms of art, writing has so much flexibility in terms of meaning. It is all a matter of perspective. Two people could read the same book, and both might take away completely different meanings based upon their past experiences, their mindsets, their interests, their feelings. For me, that was always the magic of writing. I could read any book I wanted, understand the story the author was trying to convey, and still have the freedom to find in it whatever it was I was searching for at that time. That was something so important to me throughout my life, as reading novels truly did help me through some incredibly difficult times. Therefore, I don’t ever want to tell my readers what I expect them to get out of my writing. It is much more important to me that my readers find their own take-aways themselves.
What part of the author process are you working on or studying most now?
Author: Right now, I am working on marketing strategies. As someone who has never quite felt comfortable in the spotlight, marketing and advertising my novel has been a struggle. However, I am discovering that there are so many different ways of marketing books, that I can create a procedure that works for me and my comfort level. It has actually turned out to be more enjoyable than I first thought it would be.
What has been your favorite part of the writing and querying or publishing process?
Author: Truth be told, I have several favorite parts of the writing and publishing process. First, writing the novel itself—sitting down with pen and paper, creating new characters, planning out in my head the different scenarios those characters would face—was such a joy. I have always loved writing and thinking up new stories in my head, so writing The Bonds Between Us gave me a chance to do some of the things that I enjoy most in this world. Second, seeing the book cover design for the first time simply blew me away. It was at that moment that my book’s publication finally felt real. Lastly, one of the things I had to include in this list was the first time I saw my characters drawn on paper. Shortly after the publication of The Bonds Between Us, a friend of mine drew pictures of the main characters. She surprised me with the pictures as a birthday gift, and the moment I unwrapped the drawings, I couldn’t help but get a bit teary-eyed. Yes, it was emotional to hold my book for the first time; but to see the characters—all of which I put so much time, care, and love into creating—suddenly brought to life on the page in front of me, was a truly emotional experience.
Have you always read in the genre you wanted to write in? Do you think that’s made it easier or harder to create new stories?
Author: I have always read fantasy novels, although I often read outside of fantasy as well. I frequently read mystery, historical fiction, nonfiction, and occasionally romance works.
Speaking strictly about fantasy works, I think it has actually made it more difficult for me to create new stories. Sometimes, I will get an idea, but then one of the next books I pick up always seems, without fail, to contain that idea. This tends to be discouraging because, as an author, you always want to be different, to have something new to share with the world. It can actually be quite frustrating to come up with something that you think is innovative, to get really excited about it, and then realize that someone else thought of it first.
Along with that, sometimes it can also be discouraging when you read a really great book with a unique concept. You get so caught up in how brilliant the idea is, and immediately think, “I could never come up with something that good.” It can make you lose faith in your own ideas and writing, because you think—especially as a new author—that your writing could never compare with that of other authors.
I have therefore found it very helpful to balance what I am reading and writing—at least during the periods in which I am actively writing. For instance, when I was in the middle of writing The Bonds Between Us, I only read nonfiction. I absolutely refused to pick up any works of fiction. I found that only exposing myself to works of non-fiction during my own creative writing process helped me maintain focus on my story. It also helped prevent me from getting distracted, discouraged, or unintentionally influenced by the things I was reading in all of the other wonderful novels that exist in the world.
What is your writing process, from idea to polished work? Pantster? Plotter? How long does that typically take you?
Author: I write in a strange hybrid style that includes both organized planning and allowing myself to be drawn whichever way the wind takes me. Typically, something in the world around me will spark an idea in my head. I then fiddle around with the idea on paper—planning characters, deciding on settings, creating the overarching plot. Then, I try to start writing. Sometimes, this means starting at the very beginning and working my way forward; other times, I write out whichever scenes appear clearly in my mind’s eye, and then go back and connect them all into a single cohesive story.
Where do you network most with other writers, authors, and creative types? LinkedIn? Wattpad? Twitter? Facebook? Somewhere else?
Author: I network most with other writers and authors on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.
Do you sprint-write like a starving cheetah, or are you a totally chill turtle writer? Somewhere in between?
Author: I would say that I am somewhere in-between. When my ideas are first taking shape in my head, I am definitely the “chill turtle writer.” It may take me several months before I have an idea that is solid enough to start outlining and fleshing out. At that point though, I become the “starving cheetah”—my ideas start flowing like a waterfall, I will start writing virtually non-stop. It is incredibly difficult for me to stop writing once I get into that momentum.
What has been the hardest thing to overcome on your journey to authorship?
Author: The hardest thing for me to overcome has definitely been dealing with the “public” aspects of authorship. As I previously mentioned, I am, by nature, a rather quiet and reserved person. Therefore, making my writing public and stepping out of my comfort zone to promote it has been very difficult for me.
How has the writing and querying or publishing process affected you emotionally? Do you have any tips for budding writers?
Author: Querying was honestly one of the most difficult and disheartening experiences I have ever endured. To spend so much time and effort writing a book, only to have it be rejected—in most cases without any reason being given—can be beyond discouraging. As a writer, you put so much of yourself into the characters and plot of your stories. To have a story rejected can therefore feel like a part of yourself is being rejected, too. After a while, it becomes hard not to lose faith in your writing.
At times, I considered giving up on publishing my novel as a result of the many rejection letters I received from agents. In fact, I did occasionally stop sending out inquiries just so that I could take time to refocus on my writing and renew the enthusiasm and confidence that I had in my book.
Therefore, querying was, for me, the part of the publication process that had the largest affect on me emotionally. However, once The Bonds Between Us was eventually accepted for publication by Atmosphere Press, the process was emotionally taxing for an entirely different reason—mainly that I was trying to balance all of the demands of publication along with a full-time job and graduate school.
When the publication process was completed, though, and I was at last able to hold my book in my hands for the very first time, it did feel like a “proud parent” moment. It was the realization of a childhood dream, and after eight months of knowing that dream was finally coming true, seeing the physical evidence of it was indescribable. It was definitely worth all of the struggles, stress, and emotional turmoil. I wouldn’t trade my path to publication and authorship for anything in the world.
Do you have any tips or recommendations for those who want to go the final step and become authors?
Author: I would recommend two things. First, be prepared to believe in your work. Perhaps that sounds silly, but I think it is extremely important. It’s one thing to write a book, think that it has potential, and send it out for publication with the beautiful mental image of an acceptance email or letter finding its way to you shortly thereafter. The reality, though, is that you might face countless rejections before you finally get the “okay” from an agent or publisher. I have spoken to several people who wrote manuscripts, received rejection letters, and gave up on publication because they no longer believed their books were good enough to be “real” books. I, myself, struggled with that very issue. So, it’s essential, as the cliché goes, to “plan for the worst, but expect the best.” Go into the publishing process knowing that you may be rejected—a lot. But also go into the process believing in your book, and holding firm to the belief that it is indeed “good enough” to one day be accepted by an agent and/or publisher and be put into print.
Second, keep an open mind. Editing, proofreading, cover design, websites and marketing—all of those things (and more) require you, as an author, to work with others in order to achieve the goal of making your book the best and most successful that it can possibly be. Again, this can be difficult at times. As I previously mentioned, as writers, our writing tends to be deeply personal to us, even when the story is entirely a work of fiction. Due to the personal nature of writing and the sheer amount of time and effort that we devote to the works we create, the ways in which we perceive our writing is naturally subjective. Therefore, it is essential for writers to get outside opinions—especially in those areas of writing and publishing that may be unfamiliar or difficult to us. Sometimes, outside sources—editors, proofreaders, copy designers—may have thoughts, ideas, or opinions about our works that completely differ from our own. It can be hard to change parts of your writing, or to be faced with the necessity of surrendering an idea on which you had your heart set, even for the sake of improving your literary work. However, being open to those insights is so important to the publishing process. Indeed, it is only by receiving external, objective feedback that we can truly develop our books into the masterpieces they are meant to be.
If you could do it all over again, what would you change?
Author: If I could publish The Bonds Between Us all over again, I would definitely have started promoting my book much earlier than I did. I would have set up author accounts on social media platforms and started gaining followers well in advance of the launch date (or even the beginning of the publication phase). This would have allowed me to begin promoting my book while I was still in the writing phase, and trying to gain traction for my book prior to its official launch.
Are you a driven & self-advocating author, a gun-shy promoter, or a total marketing procrastinator?
Author: I am definitely a gun-shy promoter. I am not a person who is comfortable in the spotlight, so promoting my book is quite terrifying. This adversity to self-promotion definitely makes me procrastinate with marketing at times.
How do you keep yourself motivated?
Author: I take time for myself, which sometimes requires taking short breaks away from writing. By focusing on writing day-in and day-out, I tend to find myself burning out. However, by balancing my life with other things I enjoy, spending time in nature, and doing things that help me to mentally and emotionally “reset,” I have found that my focus and motivation as a writer improve greatly.
How do you combat writer’s block?
Author: To combat writer’s block, I do something physical. I am a martial artist, so when I am really stumped with my writing, I will usually take an hour or two to do some training. The physical nature of martial arts forces me to stop thinking, which usually helps clear my head and “unblock” whatever it is that is stumping me with my writing. If doing some sort of physical exercise doesn’t work though, and I need some additional inspiration to get past the part of my story with which I am struggling, I love to head outdoors. Being in nature always seems to put my mind at ease, and even the smallest things—like the way the sunlight filters through the leaves of a tree, or the smell of a flower, or the particular shade of green coloring a patch of grass—can help inspire my writing and get me past even the most stubborn instances of writer’s block.
What literary/writer-based term did you not know when you started that has become important and relevant to you?
Author: Copy editing. When I first began, I had no idea how this differed at all from “regular” editing. I never knew that some editors are meant to focus more on storyline edits, whereas others focus more on the “proofreading” aspects of writing.
How did your family and friends react to your writing? Was it what you expected from them?
Author: All of my family and friends have been incredibly supportive of my decision to become a writer. This was not at all what I was expecting. As I explained earlier, I faced a lot of criticism as a child when I said that I wanted to be an author. It was considered an unrealistic life goal. Therefore, when I decided that I wanted to become an author at 25 years old, I was fully expecting a lot of negative responses from those closest to me. However, this was not the case. In fact, every single friend or family member I told about my writing was more positive, supportive, and encouraging than I could have possibly imagined. I consider myself beyond fortunate to have a group of people in my life who believe so unwaveringly in me, and who value my happiness so much, that they did not hesitate to support my decision to change careers and fulfill my dream of writing.
What do you listen to while you write?
Author: I love listening to The Piano Guys and Il Volo while I write. Their music is inspiration for almost all that I do, and has thus been a huge part of my life for nearly a decade.
Where do you write your stories? A tiny office? A loft? The kitchen table? In the bushes while you secretly people-watch like a total creeper? Or a warm café with mocha in hand and feet up on an ottoman?
Author: I write my stories either curled up on my couch during the winter months, or stretched out in the grass outside during the summer, spring, and fall months. Regardless of the environment though, I only ever write in the quiet, when I am by myself. I find it very difficult to write around other people, as I am easily distracted. That’s not to say that I don’t get a bit of inspiration from people-watching, though!
What book are you reading at the moment?
Author: I am currently reading three books at the moment, since I can never seem to pick and choose just a single book to read. I would be thrilled if it were possible for me to read them all at once! The three books I am now reading are The Murder of Roger Ackroyd by Agatha Christie, Lost Moon by Jim Lovell and Jeffrey Kluger, and Failure Is Not An Option by Gene Kranz.
What have you learned about yourself from the writing and/or authorship process?
Author: I have learned that I am much braver than I ever thought. The fact that I have spent more than six months talking with editors, cover designers, proofreaders, etc., and am now actively marketing my book is remarkable. A year ago, I would not have believed it if someone were to tell me that I would be doing all of these things myself… and actually enjoying them! As a result of my quiet and reserved nature, things like this normally terrify me. However, I am finding that I have much more courage—and, oddly enough, am much more of a social butterfly—than I ever thought! It is wonderful that we can always develop and evolve throughout life, no matter our age.
What is your favorite writing snack and drink?
Author: I love snacking on grapes and iced tea while I write.
What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever been given?
Author: “The best story you can ever write is that of your own life.” These words, spoken by my father when I was a child, have always stuck with me. So, too, has the knowing look he had in his eyes when he said this to me. It was like he knew that I would become a writer one day. Although he has long since passed away, his words seem to resonate through my mind every time I sit down to write. For me, this piece of advice is a reminder that writing is something with which people connect on an emotional and psychological level. They may identify with a particular character, relate to a certain event, or find comfort in a specific theme. As such, writing has the power to provide solace, eradicate loneliness, offer new insights into the world around us, help us find and discover pieces of ourselves… the power of the pen is truly endless. So, my father’s words to me all those years ago still encourages me to take my own experiences in life—no matter how trivial or deeply personal they may be—and incorporate them into my writing. In this way, my own life might be able to provide not only entertainment to others, but perhaps something a bit more meaningful as well.