A common misconception is that authors are socially inept how true is that?
Well I don’t know about other authors, but I enjoy being around people. Of course I’m not afraid to be by myself, I enjoy my own company too. But let’s be honest, other people are where you can get some of the best stories. A casual conversation, a dropped line and your mind is going off on tangents. My parents raised me to have good social graces and through my business contacts I’ve learned how to be a good business person too, so I perfectly acceptable to be around in most situations.
What makes this particular genre you’re involved in so special?
It’s special to me because I love to write what I read and I really like Cozy Mysteries. I grew up on watching them on TV; from Murder She Wrote right on through to the more modern series of Castle. I like the path of a cozy mystery and the lightheartedness that often comes along with them. It’s fun to figure out the whodunit part, but still laugh along with the characters and watch them developed.
What works best for you: Typewriters, fountain pen, dictate, computer or longhand?
To give you a clue, I’m dictating this entire questionnaire on my phone. When I get home I’ll get it ready for you on my laptop. Writing longhand is crazy for me because I can barely read my own writing and typewriters, well I love the sound of one, but my fingers won’t take that kind of abuse. Plus, there’s the added fact that computer has spell check and I’m a notoriously bad speller.
What inspires you to write?
I just look around and watch what’s going on in my everyday life. It could be a sentence that somebody says, a picture, a story on the news or a conversation I’ll eavesdrop on. That’s all it takes to start the imagination working.
How often do you write? Do you have a set schedule for writing, or are you one of those who write only when they feel inspired?
Because I have a full-time job in a business that keeps me hopping, I don’t get to write nearly as often as I would like. I do try to get at least 500 words in a day they may not be the best words or in my current WIP, but at least if I’m sitting in front of my computer I’m continuing to build a habit. Maybe someday, when I retire, I’ll be able to fall back on that habit.
Do you set a plot or prefer going wherever an idea takes you?
I’m definitely a plotter, but I’m a loose plotter. Meaning I have a basic outline, but I’m not afraid to let my characters take over the story and run with it. More than one of my books have come to a different conclusion than what I originally intended, and that’s okay.
What, according to you, is the hardest thing about writing?
Well that’s easy, the editing. When you’re a poor speller, it’s like pulling teeth to get your editing done. I don’t want to send something so horrendous to my editor that she throws it back at me and says start over! Another minor hindrance for me when I write is the distractions of the internet. I think that’s more of a discipline problem than a writing problem- something I need to work on a little bit.
Do you read much and if so who are your favorite authors?
I love to read, there’s never been a time in my life that I haven’t been reading. Currently some of my favorite authors are Nora Roberts, James Patterson, Stuart Woods, Debbie Macomber, and Carl Hiaasen. The interesting part about all of those writers (except Nora Grant) is that they have homes in my area down here in South Florida.
Do you proofread and edit your work on your own or pay someone to do it for you?
All of the above. I read the book at least twice, listen to it once through a narrator app on my computer. Then read it one more time. And that’s all before I send it to my editor, who always seems to find numerous things that I still missed. I envy those that edit their own books and have them turn out well.
What is your take on the importance of a good cover and title?
Absolutely! you have little time to grab the reader’s attention and if your cover is boring or your title is confusing, I truly think you’re going to lose that reader. They’re not going to click on that book, or read the inside flap to find out what the story is like; because there’s always another book right next to it that will catch their attention faster.
Have you ever incorporated something that happened to you in real life into your novels?
Sure I do. Sometimes it’s something as subtle as a conversation between two children playing, or something as major as a hurricane hitting the area. Life gives you many opportunities to incorporate into your story and it’s up to the writer or to pick what things to use.
Is there anything you are currently working on that may intrigue the interest of your readers?
I hope so. I have 2 books ready for editing; Citrus Beach Mystery #5 and the other is in my Sister Station series. Plus, I’m working on a whole new series called Storm Voices. That’s not even counting the outlines I have for the next three books in the Citrus Beach mystery series.
Do you have a day job other than being a writer? And do you like it? Does your day job ever get in the way of your writing?
Oddly enough, I love my job. I own a gardening Service Company and I meet the needs of people helping them with their gardening needs, doing both design, installation and then maintenance. Sometimes, yes, I can be resentful of the job, because it takes away from my writing time. But I live in South Florida and I’m able to be outside and enjoying nature’s beauty – getting paid for it. It’s truly a blessing
Do you reply back to your fans and admirers personally?
Positively. If a reader is taking the time to email me about one of my books, they deserve the courtesy of a prompt response. Sometimes their insights are invaluable and it’s always nice to hear that somebody likes your books.
Have you ever marketed your own books yourself?
As an indie author I have no choice but to market my own books. Otherwise nobody is going to know they’re out there. It’s probably one of the most frustrating part of being an indie writer, because it takes up so much time and it’s sometimes hard to track your results.
Have you ever taken any help from other writers?
Yes, I’m very lucky to have a few writers who are what we call “Writing Buddies”. Their insight and experience has helped me immensely. I hope that I’ve helped them in return. Besides, sometimes it’s nice just to have somebody to talk to who understands what you might be working on.
Is writing a book series more challenging?
You know for me, it’s not. I’m so involved in my characters and the town so I’ve made up in my mind, it just seems right to continue their story. I find that it’s very hard to stop developing my characters. Each book gives me the opportunity to develop them more as they go through unexpected twists and turns and meet new characters that I bring into each book. And isn’t that what happens in real life? We meet new people every day and they bring new adventures.
Do you pen down revelations and ideas as you get them, right then and there?
Yes, I always have a pad of paper near me. I’ve also been known to pick up my phone and walk away from others so that I can send myself a hurried memo about an idea.
Ever learned anything thing from a negative review and incorporated it in your writing?
Yes, my first book wasn’t professionally edited and it showed. (I’ve since had it edited) The readers were quick to show me my spelling and grammar mistakes. The lesson I learned from that is it pays to have a professional editor take care of you. Another few things that I’ve learned is to tie up Loose Ends. Readers are extremely picky, and they like to have everything answered. When writing a series, being consistent from book to book is essential. As I write my series (like many other authors) I have a Series Bible that I follow. This helps me keep track of descriptions and characters as well as settings. This way I don’t call my main character by one name and give her a different hair color in book 3 than I did in book 1.
Are you friends with any of your contemporaries? If yes, do you discuss your current projects with each other?
Yes, I have a couple of other authors that I know right here in town and we get together periodically. I also have a great group of Facebook friends, who are authors. We discuss each other’s work, critique covers and just help each other out with questions on research or just random thoughts.
How big of a part does music play in creating your “zone”?
It’s funny, but I find I can’t write unless I have background music. I’m too easily distracted, (you’d think it would be the music that would distract me) but as long as the music has lyrics and a gentle beat it’s perfect for background music for me.
Do you need to be in a specific place or room to write, or you can just sit in the middle of a café full of people and write?
I can pretty much write anywhere, as long as I have a laptop or my phone I can stop in the middle of anything I start writing. The only time I have a hard time writing is when I’m around friends or family and I know they can hear me dictating. Of course when I’m in a Café or somewhere like that, I’m not dictating so it doesn’t bother me. To me writing is very private and I don’t want people to hear it or see it until it’s completed.
Were your parents reading enthusiasts who gave you a push to be a reader as a kid?
Most definitely! When I was growing up there was a general rule of thumb- we weren’t allowed to watch TV unless we had read a book for an hour. It didn’t matter what kind of book it was. For my brother was often comic books, for me it was usually Nancy Drew Mysteries, but we weren’t allowed to have TV on until we had done some reading. As a matter of fact, my punishment when I was a child was to have my books taken away from me
How do you think concepts such as Kindle, and e-books have changed the present or future of reading?
Very positively. I know my own son loves to read, but he hates carrying a book around with him. Living down here in Florida, each one of us has a Kindle in our backpack for when we go to the beach. It’s so much easier than dragging a heavy book. And as an indie writer, the e-books has made so many great writers have the opportunity that we never would have.
Who’s your childhood literary superhero?
Well I don’t know if you would call her a Superhero, but she was top notch in my book. That was Nancy Drew. To me she could do no wrong, she was the smartest girl, loyal to her friends, had a cool dad and a cute boyfriend. She was a great role model for a young girl, and I wanted to grow up to be just like her.
Is there a particular kind of attire you like to write in?
Comfortable. That’s all that counts, is that I’m comfortable. During the summer it’s usually a long sundresses and in the winter I’m snuggled up in sweatpants and a sweatshirt. If it gets below 70 I’m ready to bundle up.
Have you ever turned a dream or a nightmare into a written piece?
Yes, I think every book I’ve written has been based on something I dreamt about. Even if it was just one little thing that I can build around and create the whole story. Something set it off in my mind and I was quick to write it down before I forgot it; from that point I can plot and twist that dream into the story.
Do you often project your own habits onto your characters?
Had to think about that one. When I look back on my books (or at my desk) I realize my characters love to eat. It seems like they’re always stopping for a cup of coffee or grabbing a candy bar or visiting the local Diner. That says a lot about me too, I’m a chocoholic and I always got M&M’s and an iced tea or a hot coffee by my side.
Do you blog?
Yes, I have two blocks one is a gardening blog that ties in with my business. It’s called Gossip from the Southern Garden ( www.botanicalconceptsvlw.wordpress.com )and the second one is my writing blog; Pen in Hand… my adventures into the world of writing ( https://vlkw2pen.wordpress.com ). I’m not super consistent with my blogging, when I get an idea that’s when I do it. The idea of sitting down every day to bore people with my thoughts, well to be frankly it bores me too.
How active are you on social media? And how do you think it affects the way you write?
Probably too much, because it’s a distraction from the writing process. Yet, that’s how I’ve met many of the writers that I correspond with and shoot ideas off of. Sites like Pinterest have really helped too. Like anything, social media can be abused and take over your life. The trick is to have control and use it in moderation. Now I just need to learn to use that trick!