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The Ice Cream Theory: Interview with Steff Deschenes

Despite a failed attempt at majoring in ice cream in college, Steff Deschenes is a self-taught ice-cream guru. After publishing the now twelve-time award-winning The Ice Cream Theory, she began exploring food on a more universal level. As a result, she now photo blogs daily herself at dinner and the challenges of being a vegetarian in a predominantly seafood-oriented state. Steff also writes two articles a week entitled “Maybe It’s Me” (personal essays and reflection on life and the living of it) and “Fact Is Better” (real life conversations she couldn’t make up if she tried); all of which can be found at www.steffdeschenes.com. You can also visit her at www.theicecreamtheory.com.

About The Ice Cream Theory

The Ice Cream Theory is ice-cream guru Steff Deschenes’s charming exploration of the parallels between human personalities and ice-cream flavors, a tongue-in-cheek celebration of the variety inherent in a well-lived life.

The Theory was hatched when Deschenes was trying to make sense of her first heartbreak.  In the midst of that grief, she realized that, in the same way humans have ice-cream preferences, humans have people preferences. Like ice cream flavors, social preferences shift based on age, experience, even mood. There are exotic flavors that one craves when feeling daring, comforting flavors to fall back on, flavors long-enjoyed that eventually wear out their welcome, and those unique flavors that require an acquired taste. Like people, no ice cream flavor is perfect every single time . . . and it is in this realization that the crux of Deschenes’s theory lies.

Deschenes neatly brings together anecdotes from her own adventures with broader-reaching social commentary to help others recognize the wisdom and joy inherent in a beloved dessert.

With its cheeky self-help slant, The Ice Cream Theory is an endearing and light-hearted addition to any bookshelf.  It’s a must read for anyone bruised by life’s tough lessons and in need of a cheerful pick me up!

Q: Welcome to Beyond the Books, Steff.  Can we start out by telling us whether you are published for the first time or are you multi-published?

The Ice Cream Theory is my first published book, but technically I’m multi-published.  I was a sports writer for a Maine newspaper for seven years.  And although my article byline always read “Staff Writer,” I knew it was just a typo for “Steff Writer”!  What’s one vowel, right?

Q: What was the name of your very first book regardless of whether it was published or not and, if not published, why?

I actually wrote and illustrated a children’s book called Sam and Tinky All Year Round when I was in the fifth grade. It was based around my childhood pets – Sam our Siamese cat and Tinkerbell our calico.  I got an “A” on it and still have it – actually, I think it’s on my book shelf in between Where the While Things Are and A Million Chameleons!

Q: For your first published book, how many rejections did you go through before you either found a mainstream publisher, self-published it, or paid a vanity press to publish it?

Countless.  But I had a back-up plan: if after one full year of rejection I hadn’t been picked up, I would self-publish.   It was as easy and simple as that – this book was going to be published one way or another.  But, it was still a long, rough year filled with hundreds of versions of “no,” “you’re not right for us,” or, my personal favorite: getting no response back at all.

Q: How did the rejections make you feel and what did you do to overcome the blows?

It certainly didn’t derail me at all.  I had wanted to be a writer since I was eight years old.  And now that I had a book – a mighty good book if you asked me – I wasn’t about to let someone else prevent that dream from coming to fruition.

Q: When your first book was published, who published it and why did you choose them?

I chose a company called BookSurge; they were the baby company of Amazon.com.  And Amazon.com is such an online powerhouse that I thought it would be ideal to use a company they had created specifically to help self-published authors like me succeed in a non-traditional way.

Q: How did it make you feel to become published for the first time and how did you celebrate?

It was surreal.  I remember getting the proof of my book in the mail and literally just staring at it.  Years of hard work, countless hours of writing, and thousands of miles travelled to put it all together were summed up in the pretty little package I held!  I drove to my mom’s house to show her – she’s been the biggest champion of my cause since day one and there was no one else in the entire world I wanted to share such a feat with!

Q: What was the first thing you did as for as promotion when you were published for the first time?

My sister and I went on an “ice cream bender.”  We took the book and travelled to all ten ice cream parlors in my town to eat ice cream and talk to people about The Ice Cream Theory.  You can actually watch the videos online!

Q: If you had to do it over again, would you have chosen another route to be published?

No.  Knowing what I know now about the massive shift happening in the publishing industry (more books are now self-published than traditionally published every year), I would have jumped on the self-publishing route a lot faster.  There’s nothing wrong with being an indie writer!

Q: Have you been published since then and how have you grown as an author?

I haven’t been published since then – it took a tremendous amount of effort to self-publish The Ice Cream Theory and, to be honest, I’m still hard at work marketing and promoting it.  Which is how I’ve grown the most as an author.  Writing was the easy part; the patience and dedication it took to self-publish along with the thick-skin I’ve developed from dealing with bad reviews, no-shows at book-signings, and the general negative and exclusive attitude some in the business have towards self-published authors has forced me to grow in leaps and bounds.  All of which I’m thankful for!

Q: Looking back since the early days when you were trying to get published, what do you think you could have done differently to speed things up?  What kind of mistakes could you have avoided?

I should have used the resources available to me and not held back.  I’ve always done an excellent job at networking, but I was shy about reaching out for help from the talented and generous people around me.

Q: What has been the biggest accomplishment you have achieved since becoming published?

The Ice Cream Theory has won eleven awards.  Eleven awards!  That’s huge!  When I won the first one, I remember thinking it must have been a fluke or that the judges were just throwing me a bone.  But ten awards later, I know without a doubt that there’s something very special about The Ice Cream Theory and its being recognized and appreciated by people from all walks of life.

Q: If you could have chosen another profession, what would that profession be?

I’ve been an alcohol spokes model for several years now (it’s been an incredible part-time job and has proven to be an excellent source for professional networking), and if I could do it forever, I would!

Q: Would you give up being an author for that profession or have you combined the best of both worlds?

To be honest, I’m not quite at that point where I’m making my living from being a writer, but everything I do is to get me there.  Even being an alcohol spokes model at this point is.  And it’s actually what I plan on writing my next book about!

Q: How do you see yourself in ten years?

Writing for living.  And going on adventures.  And eating!  But most importantly, being surrounded by the people I love.  Everything else after that is just icing on the cake.

Q: Any final words for writers who dream of being published one day?

Everybody is going to offer their two cents on how to become a published writer.  But, in the end, just as it is with living life, you’re going to have to pave your own way.  You simply gotta believe: believe in yourself, believe in the process, and believe that your book is good enough.

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