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Inspirational Indie Author Interview: Aurora Winter – Mastering The Pivot, From Screenplays To Nonfiction To Fiction

Inspirational Indie Author Interview: Aurora Winter – Mastering the Pivot, From Screenplays to Nonfiction to Fiction

My ALLi author guest this episode is Aurora Winter, the author of several award-winning fiction and non-fiction books. She has a background as a TV executive and wrote an award-winning screenplay for a TV movie. Aurora is also a master of the career pivot, from investor to TV executive to fiction and nonfiction author. She shares her advice on how to change course wisely.

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Listen to the Inspirational Indie Author Interview: Aurora Winter

On the Inspirational Indie Authors podcast, @howard_lovy features Aurora Winter. From screenplays to fiction to nonfiction, this author has mastered the pivot. Click To Tweet

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Inspirational Indie Author Interview: Aurora Winter. About the Author

Aurora Winter, MBA, is an award-winning, bestselling author. She's the founder of SamePagePublishing.com and the creator of the Spoken AuthorTM method, which helps people create award-winning books. Aurora left her lucrative career as a TV executive decades ago to become a full-time author, trainer, and entrepreneur. Using storytelling for business, she created a life of freedom, creativity, and contribution. Now she helps her clients create books worth talking about. Aurora's book, Turn Words Into Wealth: Blueprint for Your Business, Brand and Book to Create Multiple Streams of Income & Impact, won Outstanding Non-Fiction Book of the Year, 2022. She's also the author of a fantasy trilogy, Magic, Mystery and the Multiverse, which won the Readers' Choice Award, Best Teen Book, 2023. Aurora Winter has been featured on ABC-TV, CBS-TV, KTLA-TV, CBC-TV, Hallmark Channel, Success magazine, Elle magazine, Maclean's magazine, The Huffington Post, and numerous podcasts. Aurora would love to stay in touch through social media. You can find the relevant links on her linktree here.

About the Host

Howard Lovy has been a journalist for more than 35 years, and now amplifies the voices of independent author-publishers and works with authors as a developmental editor. Find Howard at howardlovy.comLinkedIn and X.

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Read the Transcripts to the Inspirational Indie Author Interview: Aurora Winter

Howard Lovy: My guest this episode is Aurora Winter, the author of several award-winning fiction and nonfiction books. Aurora is also master of the career pivot, from investor to TV executive to fiction and nonfiction author, and she has some advice on how to change course wisely. I'll let Aurora Winter tell her story.

Aurora Winter: Hi, I'm Aurora Winter. I am a successful serial entrepreneur, TV producer, and the award-winning author of Magic, Mystery, and the Multiverse, which is a YA fantasy series that won Reader's Choice Award and also won the American Fiction Award, and also the author of several nonfiction books, including Turn Words Into Wealth, which was honoured with the Outstanding Nonfiction Book of the Year Award by IAN, and so that was really fun.

My goal is to help contribute to fellow authors today, with Howard's help.

I was born in the United States in Ames, Iowa, but only lived in Iowa for a short time and then grew up in Canada. So, I have the benefit of being a dual citizen, which certainly helped me later when I got into film and television and became a TV producer, because all roads lead to Hollywood if you're in the film business.

But along the way, I launched my first business in my twenties, sold my first business in my twenties, launched my second business in my twenties, and I've basically pivoted every couple of years.

I've had businesses from selling boats as tax shelter investments to launching a film and television production company, raising $5 million to do that and making eight films, working as an executive in film, having a company that trained coaches, and now I have a boutique publishing company called Same Page Publishing, and that's focused on publishing books worth talking about.

Howard Lovy: Aurora took to reading and writing at an early age.

Aurora Winter: I wanted to study English. So, I've loved writing ever since I was nine. I remember being nine years old and reaching up on tippy toe in the school library to get down the last book in the Narnia series, because I love the Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe. The last book is called The Last Battle, and I actually remember the moment my fingers touched the spine, and I had this mix of excitement and anticipation, but also anticipatory grief because it was the last book in the Narnia series.

In that moment, I realized that authors are like wizards. With just black ink on white paper, we can transport our readers to another place and time, and I really couldn't imagine anything being more magical than becoming a writer. So, at age nine, I decided I wanted to be a great writer like C. S. Lewis, and I'm still working on it.

So, when I went to university, I wanted to study English. I did take a minor in languages, but my dad, who's an economist, said, do something sensible. So, I studied business, and I went into business, until many years later, I'm like, you know what, about that writing thing, I really do want to be a writer.

Howard Lovy: But before writing, Aurora and her husband launched a series of businesses.

Aurora Winter: First, my husband and I, we were just kids, we were in our 20s. We're like, what business can we start with no money?

So, we started a business that rented other people's boats. So, a yacht charter business. So, most people use their boats like just a couple of weeks a year and the rest of the time they are sitting there. So, we started a company that rented those boats and took a management fee.

Then we sold boats, sold brand new boats into our charter fleet, and the first seven figure business was launched, because in Canada at that time they had tax shelters and you could get tax benefits for renting real estate, 7 percent investment tax credit, and 33 and a third straight line depreciation, which is a huge tax write off, and I asked the million dollar question, I wonder if we could do this renting boats, and the answer was, yes, we could.

That actually doubled our profit margins and created a seven-figure company from nothing. Basically, we were the little kids that the other brokerages, the other business owners looked at us and were like, yeah, they're not going to be back here next year, those kids are eating rice and beans, and it became the largest yacht dealership in Western Canada.

Howard Lovy: And then, seemingly out of nowhere, tragedy struck.

Aurora Winter: What happened next was surprising. My husband died. He was 33 when he died. I was 31 and our son was four. So, that was like being run over by a truck. That was completely devastating and unexpected, and it felt like a twilight zone. Really, people's lives continue on, even though my life has been completely crushed.

At the time I was writing a screenplay, I'd been hired and was paid to write a screenplay, which became a TV movie and had a small theatrical release called Eli's Lesson. It starred one armed push up Jack Palance. A few months after my husband died, I was going to a Heterite colony in Canada to research Heterites, and it was just like, this is just so weird, I can't even believe this is my life. Anyway, it did make an interesting research project, but I was certainly ungrounded for quite some time.

But because of various things, including being invited to pitch my screenplay at the Banff Television Festival, now the Banff Media Festival. I pitched the movie that I was working on in front of 600 executives from Hollywood and from around Canada, around the world, and I'm like, oh my gosh, in the next few minutes, I could destroy my career forever or possibly have a breakthrough. It actually turned out to be a breakthrough. So, that pitch was filmed. A documentary filmmaker followed me around Banff, and it became a half hour documentary which was aired on CBC and later actually used to teach the art of pitching, kind of cool, and so that indirectly landed me a job as head of development for Canada's largest film and television production company at that time.

So, I moved to Toronto with my son. I was a widow at that time, and I've been a widow ever since, and I just dug into film and television. It was so amazing to have a hand in 250 hours of TV production, have a budget of one and a half million dollars just for screenwriting, and I went to the Cannes Film Festival and other festivals. It was pretty fun.

Howard Lovy: Aurora emphasizes that if you're going to pitch a screenplay, it helps to have a book first.

Aurora Winter: I started writing books and I'm like, instead of writing a 400-page book, I could just write a 100-page screenplay, and that seemed like a better deal to me at that time. Now I've come to believe that writing a book is a better choice, because once you publish your book, you've got intellectual property, you've got copyright, you've got something.

Whereas if you have a screenplay, I don't know, I've been in Hollywood too long, screenplays are easily adapted, ideas are easily stolen, so to speak, I have one experience like that. Whereas, if you have a book, you've got something.

For example, when I pitched Magic, Mystery and the Multiverse to the BBC, I handed him a book. An award-winning book and with a beautiful cover, and it's something. Maybe they want to do something with it, maybe they don't. He said he's interested in a half hour TV series. We shall see because talk is cheap, but I still have the book., Whether or not a TV series gets made. So, that's fine.

Howard Lovy: At first, Aurora wrote about the process of grieving for her husband.

Aurora Winter: My first book is actually my diary of healing, after my husband died, it's called, From Heartbreak to Happiness: An Intimate Diary of Healing, and I was very blessed because my hero, Dr. Wayne Dyer, actually endorsed that book, which was very touching, and I had a happy dance, like that the book made a difference, and I was again inspired by C. S. Lewis.

What are the chances that the same author would have inspired me at two pivotal moments in my life?

So, when I was 31, I read C. S. Lewis's book, A Grief Observed, which is his diary of healing, basically, and I realized, you know what, maybe my diary of healing would help other people. So, I published the book, From Heartbreak to Happiness, and then that led my life in a whole other trajectory.

I'd like to say that I thought these things through very strategically. But the truth is, after that book came out, and I was promoting the book, I was on radio and television, that was before podcasts were such a big thing. People would come to me and, can you help me through grief? I really, in my naivete, thought they should read my book and that's all the help that they need, but people want more support. So, people came to me, and I helped them over lunch or helped them over coffee, and finally realized I had to either turn people away who wanted my help through their grief or start charging.

I thought, I'll start charging and then they will stop bothering me and I can go back to working on my book. But the opposite happened, and people really liked to know that they would talk to me the next week and the week after, and that we had an ongoing relationship, and then I would see them all the way through their heartbreak to happiness.

Then in one week, two people said the same thing to me, two young widows. They said, I really love my therapist. One said, I've been seeing my therapist for two years, she's a great therapist. The other one said, I've been seeing my therapist for six months, he's a great therapist. And then they both finished, but in this last one-hour session, you've helped me more than they have helped me in all that time. Can you teach me?

And I'm like, there's an idea, I guess I could do that. So, I launched the Grief Coach Academy, and for many years I helped people through grief.

Howard Lovy: Aurora's work straddles the line between screenplays and books, but what makes for a successful Hollywood pitch? Aurora has that down to a science.

Aurora Winter: The good thing is to really think high concept and get the pitch really quick. Just really quickly, I think it would help to talk about the neuroscience of communication, no matter what you're communicating. So, you want to do the opposite of what they teach us to do at university.

At university, they basically teach us that if you communicate the verbal equivalent of an Excel spreadsheet, the other person will receive the spreadsheet and process it, but that's not how our brains work best. So first you want to, whether you're pitching a book to turn it into a TV series or pitching anything, you first need to appeal to the croc brain. That's the ancient reptilian brain, and that is looking for, is this new? Is this dangerous? Is this sexy? Is this something tasty to eat or something that might eat me? You want to be new and a little bit dangerous, but not so dangerous that it runs away.

So, the croc brain is basically clickbait, but it could be just the title of one of my nonfiction books is Turn Words into Wealth. So that's an example of, oh, I understand this is about turning words into wealth. If the person's interested in that, they'll give me another few seconds to talk. So, first you want to connect with the croc brain.

Next, you want to connect with the midbrain, and you need to do it in this sequence. The midbrain is all about social relationships. So, when I say that Magic, Mystery and the Multiverse was a Reader's Choice award-winning book, that lets you know other people like this book; that's midbrain. Being on this podcast with you, Howard, is also appealing to the midbrain. It's, who else thinks Aurora is worth talking to or worth reading?

So, after you've done those first two steps, then you get permission to get a little bit more time and to address the cerebral cortex. So, the cerebral cortex is the most expensive part of processing information, and our brain does not like to use the cerebral cortex at all, and it has all kinds of hacks to avoid doing that because it uses a lot of fat, a lot of calories.

So, you want to be careful also not to trigger the analyst brain. If you get somebody deep in the numbers, you've triggered their analyst brain. The analyst brain does not buy. The analyst brain only wants more data. So, avoid that, avoid triggering that.

For example, the pitch for Magic, Mystery, and the Multiverse as a TV series sounds like this:

it's Harry Potter meets Doctor Who. It's an award-winning book. It won the American Fiction Award, Best Book for Pre-Teens and the Reader's Choice Award Best Book for Teens, and I think you'll really like it, and it will appeal to your audience. Here's what the story is about.

It's about Anna and her younger brother who accidentally go on a joy ride which takes them to another multiverse, and they have adventures in that multiverse and also they get into a lot of trouble with censors who are going to either crush them and crush the society where they've landed, or if Anna can step into the prophecy that has been predicted, perhaps she can not only free herself and her brother, but she can transform this planet in the multiverse and save these people who are under the oppressive rule of these censors.

So, quite quick, but you see how I did it in that sequence.

Howard Lovy: Aurora is also welcoming crowdfunding into her business.

Aurora Winter: Kickstarter is certainly helping me get really focused and bring all the material together. I love that I can add things to the package that I couldn't if it was just published on Amazon or Barnes and Noble or wherever.

The book cover is an award-winning book cover and I'm having that designer also do a full colour art for all the top dozen characters, so that's something I can put on the Kickstarter and other stuff like that. If people are interested in Kickstarter, please follow my Kickstarter and you can find out about that at MagicMysteryAndTheMultiverse.com. It's got the Kickstarter link on there.

Howard Lovy: Aurora has mastered the art of the pivot, changing from one focus to another, and she has advice for other authors on how to pivot wisely.

Aurora Winter: I actually do have some practical questions that will help everyone, I think.

So, every time I pivot, I ask myself some questions, and they're simple questions, but the answers can help you choose a new direction or double down on the direction that you're in.

So, question number one, what do I love to do? Long ago with selling yachts as tax shelters. I was crunching numbers, I was using my economist brain and that was lucrative, but after a certain while, I did not like crunching numbers so much and being like a tax shelter expert.

I didn't love it. So, it failed the first test.

So, after asking yourself, what do you love to do, the second question is, who is that worth the most to? Who is that worth the most to?

So, after I took my MBA in Italy, I asked myself, what do I love to do? I love writing. I love creating. Who is that worth the most to?

Who it's worth the most to is Entrepreneurs and business owners who have six, seven or eight figure businesses and who would like to have a book to help them become a public speaker or do a TED talk or have more influence or have a bigger legacy, and they're not authors. Okay, so that was a very clear filter.

Most people forget to ask who's that worth the most to. There are so many different ways you can express your creativity or any particular talent. Why not filter it by what's going to actually pay the rent or the mortgage.

then the third question is, how can I add more value? For example, with my publishing company, Same Page Publishing, I thought one of the ways I could add more value is to use something else I love to do. I love to hear people's stories. I love to interview them, like you're interviewing me, Howard. I love to find the gold in their backstory. I love to find the moments that changed their life or changed their business, whether those were hardships or breakthroughs, and I'm very curious about people.

So, I thought how I could add more value is to take that skill and that thing that I love to do, and instead of forcing people to try to write the story on the typewriter, to speak it.

So, when I use the spoken author method and I interview people and each chapter makes a podcast like episode. So, they get audio and video. They get comfortable talking about their topic and we go deeper than they ever would in some other ways of writing. So, ask yourself, how can you add more value?

Then the fourth question that I asked myself when COVID hit and other times is, if not now, when? That's the memento mori question, and that helps me stop thinking about it and make a change. Because if it's something you want to do, if it's something you love to do, you've determined who it's worth the most to and it seems viable. You found a way that you can add value or add even more value so it's a good return on the investment for your clients or the readers of your book. You're even adding value if you're writing a book that solves a problem or you're writing a book that entertains; that's adding value.

Then if not now, when? What will I regret on my deathbed if I haven't done that?

Author: Howard Lovy

Howard Lovy is a novelist, nonfiction author, developmental book editor, and journalist. He is also the news and podcast producer for the Alliance of Independent Authors. You can learn more about him at https://howardlovy.com/


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