Interview with Milena Portney

Author of Learn to Speak and Understand American English. A Book of Helpful Tips

Learn to Speak and Understand American English. A Book of Helpful Tips

Where are you from originally and where do you reside now?

I was born in the capital of Ukraine, Kiev. I graduated from the National University Linguistics Department and worked as an interpreter/Assistant to prominent scientists. In 1991, I had an opportunity to move to the USA with my family. We settled in Baltimore.

If you currently reside somewhere besides where you were born, what’s the story that lead from there to here?

Since my arrival in Baltimore, I got more involved in teaching English as a Second Language and eventually worked out a system that worked successfully for adult learners. That is how my book “Learn to Speak and Understand American English” has come to be.
I came to the US for freedom of choice and expression, as well as an opportunity to test my character and skills

What made you decide to write and publish your first book?

I did it on the spur of the moment.
Actually, my 1st book was an experimental collection of stories in Russian.
But that is another story, no pun intended.

How would you describe your books to first time readers?

although there is technically nothing in common in contents of my 2 books, they both help readers not to get lost in their new surroundings, help them not only survive, but succeed in their new life.

Who do you feel is most likely to connect with the topics you write about?

People who would like to improve their abilities in English and understand America through the language.
As to the book of stories, it appeals to Soviet immigrants’ sense of humor and encourages them to think outside the box.

What unexpected or surprising thing did you learn during the process of writing and publishing?

The whole process was fascinating. Xlibris publishers were so efficient and the speed of the process was unbelievable. I remember how slow and painful publishing was back in the old country…
I was holding my own books in my hands, I was a published author!

If you could, what advice would you give to your past self before embarking on this journey?

Don’t rush, get better prepared, read and re-read the manuscript, then put it aside, and read again.Be your own editor, proofreader and critic.

How many people would you ideally like to reach with your books?

Everyone who needs to improve their spoken English.
Everyone who can read in Russian and has a sense of humor (the book of stories)

What has been the biggest challenge and frustration during the process to date?

To reach more readers

What’s your biggest strengths when it comes to book a) writing, b) publishing and c) marketing?

Determination. Never give up. Believe in success (a,b,c)

What’s your biggest weakness when it comes to book a) writing, b) publishing and c) marketing?

Perfectionism, lack of aggressiveness, lack of funds

When do you think you will write your next book?

I am already writing it in my head. It will be a story about my parents. I will write it in English for my nieces, nephews and their children.

Are you self published or did you use a hybrid publisher, or a traditional publisher?

I was self-published. I never tried a hybrid publisher, but might look into it for my next project.


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