Don’t be afraid of what others will think. Don’t let anyone judge you or make you feel as though you need to justify what you have written what you have. As long as you remain true to your heart, then that is all that matters — not what anyone else thinks.
As part of my interview series on the five things you need to know to become a great author, I had the pleasure of interviewing Elizabeth TenHouten. Elizabeth is an international bestselling beauty author and poet. She has authored two beauty books with Random House and is currently working on her first poetry book, titled: The Softest Sting.
Thank you so much for joining us! Can you share a story about what brought you to this particular career path?
My love for natural beauty recipes and how they can topically heal the skin was the source of inspiration for my bestselling book, titled: Natural Beauty. It includes topical beauty recipes that can be applied to your skin for a glowing complexion, and also beauty tips and tricks!
Can you share the most interesting story that occurred to you in the course of your career?
In the course of my career, the most interesting story that comes to mind is when Pet Home Magazine, an online publication wanted me to model the cover of their winter issue with my cat! I would up doing an entire photoshoot with my cat and it was hilarious. Luckily she was an easy going Persian cat and didn’t make too much of a fuss.
What was the biggest challenge you faced in your journey to becoming an author? How did you overcome it? Can you share a story about that that other aspiring writers can learn from?
The biggest challenge is not to become disheartened when you don’t get that offer you were hoping for. You have to stay true to the message of your book. One story that comes to mind is when Penguin Books approached my literary agent about my first manuscript. I flew to New York to meet with the executive editor and she had mentioned wanting to omit the front matter of my book, which in my mind was really the heart of the book, as it redefined beauty as one’s natural, authentic self. The rest of the book was antioxidant recipes for glowing skin. That philosophical front matter was important to me so I was honest and told them that I did take issue with removing it. They thanked me and upon my return to LA, I no longer had interest from them. I was demoralized. But, low and behold, but sticking to my integrity of what was important to me, Hatherleigh Press, distributed by Random House made me an offer and they actually loved the front matter. So I overcame the disappointment with the first let down publishing deal by staying true to what I believed in and waiting for the right fit to come along and they did. The rest is history and they published both of my books!
Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?
The funniest mistake I made when I was first starting was not really a mistake after all. In fact it was a blessing in disguise. I hired professional food stylists (yes that profession exists) to have beautiful photos of my food for my book proposal when I sent it out to publishers for consideration. It actually helped make it a more beautiful proposal I think and impressed potential publishers. My literary agents loved it. So, it wound up being worth the investment.
What are some of the most interesting or exciting projects you are working on now?
The most exciting project I am now working on is a poetry book, titled: The Softest Sting. It is a collection of love poems.
Can you share the most interesting story that you shared in your book?
In my upcoming book I share a poem that is the story of meeting my fiance and the love story that we have from meeting an experiencing love at first sight to getting engaged just weeks later! His name is Eric Albert, and he is the love of my life.
What is the main empowering lesson you want your readers to take away after finishing your book?
I want them to take away from my poetry book that you can take your pain and become empowered to turn it into something beautiful like a poem or even a song!
Based on your experience, what are the “5 Things You Need to Know to Become a Great Author”? Please share a story or example for each.
- Be true to yourself. Always write from the heart. An example of this that I went through was writing my poetry book. I bare my soul in it and share intimate poems, but that is what makes it great. The purity and honesty.
- Write what you know. Always write from a place of your own knowledge base. If i have experienced divorce and then falling in love again and getting engaged to be married, then that is the content of what I will write about! That is what my poems express.
- Don’t be afraid of what others will think. Don’t let anyone judge you or make you feel as though you need to justify what you have written what you have. As long as you remain true to your heart, then that is all that matters — not what anyone else thinks.
- Let your book stand on its own. What I mean by this is that once you write your book and publish it, it is out there for the world to have and interpret. Let it be interpreted different ways than you may have anticipated it to be. For example, poetry can be taken literally or metaphorically and the same poem can mean two different things to two different people. I am saying that is okay, so just let your book stand on its own.
- Don’t have any regrets as to what you have exposed in your book. Writing is like art, and with any art you might go back and read a part or a poem and think to yourself, “oh gosh, maybe that was too revealing? Or… Maybe I should have left that out?” But that is the nature of how an artist works and a book is essentially a work of art.
What is the one habit you believe contributed the most to you becoming a great writer? (i.e. perseverance, discipline, play, craft study) Can you share a story or example?
I believe that devoting any and all time to my book has made me become a great poet. If I am falling asleep and a poem comes to me, I have the perseverance, and discipline to get up and grab the notes section of my phone and write it down, because I know that in the morning the thoughts will be gone.
Which literature do you draw inspiration from? Why?
I draw inspiration from e.e. Cummings and Shakespeare because they are the masters of love poems and my poetry book is a collection of love poems.
You are a person of enormous influence. If you could start a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. :-)
I would start a movement of what I would call Collective Poetry, wherein anyone could contribute to a grand poem. This would be bigger than just one person. The poem would draw inspiration for all different types of people with all different types of pain, and love, and anguish. So, it would be a way to have a collective poetry book from the minds of many, added to and written by not one individual, but by the masses.
How can our readers follow you on social media?
I am publicly on LinkedIn as Elizabeth TenHouten and on Twitter as @etenhouten, and privately on instagram as @etenhouten.