Indie Support Sunday: Allie Samberts
Romances featuring teachers have seen an increase recently and I am here for it. While I have never been and could never be a teacher, I admire all of the people who take on those jobs. One of them is Allie Samberts, who released her debut The Write Place in April this year. Allie and I connected over Instagram randomly one day and now here we are! I also just finished reading her debut and let me just say…Allie’s writing is wonderful and captivating, it will hook you from the first page and you will fall head over heels in love with Miss Mac. Using her experience as a teacher, Allie wrote a love story about a best-selling author who is suffering from writer’s block and shows up at a small town public school to get his creativity flowing.
Like me, Allie majored in English and then went on to do creative writing, is also a distance runner and goes for runs when she needs to get her creativity flowing. If it wasn’t for the need to worldbuild, Allie would totally write a fantasy romance. Her second book The Write Time releases July 11th, but she’s already working on the third which features a marriage in crisis!
Everybody needs to pick up Allie’s debut and then go preorder the second book, because after meeting Jenny and Ben in the first book…I am beyond ready for their story!
BEING AN AUTHOR
Who or what inspired you to write?
I feel like I have the same answer as a lot of other writers out there–I’ve always written! I started writing in notebooks when I was a little girl. I majored in English literature and creative writing in my undergrad. I teach high school English now, and I also have a master’s degree in English Studies. For a long time, I wrote op-eds and had a blog, but I turned to romance recently.
What’s the best and worst part about being an indie author?
The best part is that I’m on my own timeline and can select my own team. I know a lot of writers with traditional publishing house deals who don’t get a whole lot of control over their finished product.
The worst part… that’s hard! I love this so much. But I do think that the risk burnout is real, especially when you can’t outsource any of this because of financial restraints, or if you’re trying to balance writing with a job and a family like I’m trying to do.
Why did you choose to self-publish instead of going the traditional route?
I’m impatient. Seriously, though, I’m not getting any younger, and being a published author was always a dream. Self-publishing has changed a lot in the past few years, and it’s easier than ever to put out a professional-looking product that is just as good (if not better) than a traditionally published book. No shade to trad publishing; it just isn’t for me.
When you’re not writing, what do you do to get the creative juices flowing?
I run! I’m also a distance runner, and I always find that a good run frees up a lot of mental space that helps me be creative, especially if I’m stuck.
If you were to recommend books to me (in any genre), what would they be?
I can’t stop thinking about The Bargainer series by Laura Thalassa. I read them in October of 2021 and they’ve lived rent-free in my head ever since. I’m a big fantasy romance fan, and I thought this was so well done. I believe she independently published these before she signed a trad deal, too!
What are your top 5 tips or pieces of advice for aspiring authors?
REST. For the love of everything, you do not need to be creating all the time. Rest is productive, too.
ENJOY IT! Why are you doing this if it isn’t fun? Sure, not all of it will be fun, but if you hate most of it, maybe this isn’t the game for you.
DON’T BE SHY! SELL YOUR WORK! Promotion seems to be a good 9/10ths of the game. You can have the best book in the world, but no one is going to buy it if they don’t see it.
GET A SUPPORT TEAM. Street team, other indies to celebrate/complain with, good friends. Find people who will hype you up and share your accomplishments, and then hype them and share theirs, too. When one of you succeeds, you all succeed.
ONE BITE AT A TIME. My classroom neighbor told me his mom used to say: “How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time.” Writing and selling a book can look like an insurmountable task. Just do one piece of it every time you can, and before you know it, it’ll be finished.
ROMANCE AS A GENRE
Why did you choose romance as the genre to write in? What is your favorite thing about the genre?
The simple answer is that I just liked it. I started writing my first book just for fun without any real intentions to publish, but I had read a lot (and I mean A LOT) of romance, and it really just stuck with me.
The complicated answer is that I gravitate toward romance as a genre is geared toward women. Women’s pleasure and enjoyment and happiness is vitally important, and we don’t spend enough time or energy on promoting and celebrating things that make women happy. In fact, we spend a lot of time disparaging the things that make women happy (pumpkin spice lattes, anyone?) because we tend to see women’s happiness as a byproduct of men’s happiness, or as unimportant because women are seen as unimportant. I love a good story that gives women consent and agency and a happy ending.
It’s also worth saying that romance is not a panacea, and it also not ALL about or written by women ALL the time. But I do think, when we talk about romance as a genre, women are at the center of the conversation.
If not romance/subgenres of romance, what genre would you like to write in?
I’d love to write fantasy romance, but I can’t do the worldbuilding. I also really miss blogging, believe it or not!
What are your most and least favorite tropes?
I’m so basic. I love enemies to lovers and workplace romances. Single dads are cool, too, but I’ve yet to see a romance about a single mom. Can someone write that or recommend one?
I can’t do anything with pregnancy. I mean, a pregnancy epilogue is fine, I guess, but if the story itself centers around pregnancy, that’s a huge turn-off for me.
What are some tropes you want to write in the future?
I’m really excited to continue working on my third book, which will be a marriage in crisis. HEA is great, but marriage is work, and I’d love it if more romance acknowledged that.
What are some topics (sensitive and otherwise) that you think should exist more in romance?
SINGLE MOMS! I’m also totally here for characters who are processing their own mental health issues, their grief, and their past traumas. Give me all the complex, three-dimensional characters!
If you write open door romance, why did you choose that and what inspires your sex scenes?
So far, my books are open door. I honestly wrote the kind of book I’d want to read, with a lot of intellectual connection and some spice to seal the deal. I think both the intellectual and physical connection is vital to a healthy relationship, and I wanted to portray that with my characters.
That said, book 2 is a lot spicier than book 1, though there’s still a lot of character development. But you do have to honor your characters and their motivations as a writer, and this couple has physical touch as a shared love language… and it shows up on the page, which was fun to write.
What inspired your published stories? How and when did you come up with these stories and plots?
I am a teacher, and I’m writing about teachers, so I think it’s probably safe to say that I was inspired by my real life. The characters in both books are kind of a mashup of people in my life. As far as where I got the ideas, it was mostly while I was on my long runs or in my car on my way to work. I let my mind wander, and then take notes when I get a chance. It’s kind of amazing what just letting your mind go wherever it wants to can lead to.
Can you briefly tell me about your books?
My debut novel, The Write Place, was released on April 11. I intended it to be a romance, but also a love letter to teaching, writing, and the friendships that get us through grief. It’s about a famous writer, Daniel, who shadows an English teacher, Mac, ostensibly as research for his next novel (but, really, it’s a way to cure his writer’s block). He’s rich, handsome, and charming, and she loves his books. It’s a recipe for romance, for sure!
My second novel, The Write Time, is releasing on July 11. It follows Mac’s best friend, Jenny, as she finally comes to realize that the love of her life has been right in front of her since she started teaching nine years ago. Jenny and Ben are both English teachers at the same school (with Mac), but Jenny has some tough self-doubt to overcome before she can really love him.
Do you already have a favorite character from the stories you’ve written?
I don’t know if it’s because it’s the book I’ve worked on most recently and I’m gearing up to start publicizing it before release, but I’m obsessed with Jenny and Ben. I love Mac’s dedication to her job, but I identify with Jenny’s self-doubt and her perception that she’s being left behind as those closest to her get their lives together. Jenny was the funny best friend in The Write Place, but I think underneath a lot of humor is a dark reason for it. Her story is raw and complex, and I love the way she was fleshed out in The Write Time.
How much of yourself do you put into these characters?
The most frequent comment I’ve gotten from friends is that it is clearly my voice–almost that they can hear me reading it to them. I think this probably means there is a lot of me in my stories and characters! I’ve been teaching for a long time (almost 2 decades, which is wild to think about), so it’s safe to say I’ve experienced every emotion these teachers feel and then some, and all the scenes with students are inspired by my actual experience. I guess it’s safe to say I put my heart on my sleeve with these two books.
What is a story/stories that you really want to tell?
The third installment of this series is going to be a marriage in crisis. I know these romances exist, but I don’t think we see a lot of them, and I wish there were more. I’m excited to tell this story because I think it’s important, but also because these characters will be my first non-teacher characters, and I’m ready to branch out!
Is there one common element that readers can find in all your stories?
I’d like to think that my stories have a lot of heart. It’s not just about the romance for me. The romance is there, for sure, but so are really important discussions about grief, mental health, doubt, imposter syndrome, and ride-or-die friendships that help us through it all. Falling in love is one piece of the puzzle.
What’s next on the bookshelf for you? Anything you can tell us about a future project?
The third book in this series will be the final one (though never say never…), and I have an idea brewing for a standalone after that which will involve enemies to lovers, a workplace competition, maybe a single parent, maybe some furbabies… it hasn’t fully taken shape yet, but I’m excited about it!
When you write these stories, what are you hoping your readers will feel?
I hope by the end of the book, they’re a little happier than they were when they started. If I can achieve that, it was a success. But, ideally, I would love it if my readers found something they could relate to in the books. I love hearing that my books reminded them of a cozy moment in their past, or brought them back to the good parts of high school, or felt like a good friend coming back.
Paperbacks, hardbacks, ebooks or audiobooks—I read them all, but I probably reach for my Kindle most often. It’s just so convenient when you are also carrying around teacher stuff or toddler toys or a million other things! (And I’m never without a book!)
Contemporary, fantasy, historical or romantic suspense
Single or Dual POV
Standalones, series or standalones in a series - This is so impossible to pick! Probably series. I like knowing what my next read will be.
Open door, ajar door or closed door romances - I think these all have their place! But I do prefer open door. That said, it’s got to be substance over sex for me.
Music or silence when writing - Music! But usually because I’m trying to drown out my children ;)
Plotter, pantser or plantser - Plantser! I always have an outline, but the outline is a living document. If the characters or a spark of inspiration take me somewhere else, I follow that.
Water, tea, coffee or….wine? - About a decade ago, I probably would have said wine, but now I need my coffee.
Cold or warm weather - Cold for writing, warm for fun.
Write better in the morning, afternoon or night? - As a parent and a teacher, I have to make it work whenever I can, but if I could choose, I’d say morning.
Illustrated or photo cover? - Illustrated!
You can find Allie on Instagram, TikTok Goodreads and Storygraph. You can even find merch for her debut series online. Make sure to visit her website for all updates and don’t forget to sign up for her newsletter!