What is your current project? Tell us about it. I’m taking a vacation from time-travel and visiting the land of cozy mysteries…and this time I’m taking along someone to help carry the luggage. A writer buddy of mine—you may have heard of her, Kelly Klepfer—and I are co-conspirators of Out of the Frying Pan. Shameless but brief blurb: Murder in Paradise whips life into a froth. Zula and Fern Hopkins, sisters-in-law, grudging roommates, and sometimes friends reside in Sunset Paradise retirement community. Their escapades land them in hot water when they attempt to sniff out a murderer. The added ingredient of a handsome, young detective who’d make a fine main-dish for their niece spices up the action even more.
Tell us about your journey to publication. How long had you been writing before you got the call you had a contract, how you heard and what went through your head? I didn’t actually get a call. It was an e-mail. I’d been a closet-writer since 2000. The first manuscript I wrote is so incredibly horrible, I use it as an example of what-not-to-do in a Creative Writing class I teach. I finished my second manuscript, Gallimore, in 2005. I shopped it around a bit, then edited and re-edited until there was no more red ink in my pen. I sold it to Black Lyon, Spring ’08. I’m pretty sure the stunned disbelief that charged through me fried a few thousand brain cells, but with a little counseling, I’ll be fine.
What mistakes have you made while seeking publication? Or to narrow it down further what’s something you wish you’d known earlier that might have saved you some time/frustration in the publishing business? I’ve recently had an incredible epiphany—agents and editors are…drum roll please… human. All the palpitations, sweaty palms, and acid reflux I endured when even thinking of talking to an agent or editor was a complete waste of time and Pepto Bismol. Do yourself a favor and take them off the pedestal. They don’t belong there.
What’s the best or worst advice (or both) you’ve heard on writing/publication? BEST: Get yourself a copy of “Self-Editing for Fiction Writers” by Browne & King WORST: When you get a rejection, slap on some red lipstick and kiss it good-bye, which is a bad idea unless you use lipliner first…makes the edges much more defined.
Do you have a dream for the future of your writing, something you would love to accomplish? One day I’d love to be able to have the time to write more than one night a week. Currently, that’s my allotment. I’m happy to have it, but I wouldn’t mind more.
What is your favorite and least favorite part of being a writer? FAVORITE: Working out my own theological questions and dilemmas in the lives of my characters. LEAST FAVORITE: Writing a synopsis—I’d rather cough up a hairball.
Parting words? Anything you wish we would’ve asked because you’ve got the perfect answer? Write for the enjoyment of playing with one of God’s great blessings to us—words. If you’re writing from your heart, and it’s a heart centered on God (not publication), you will glorify your creator. That’s what writing is all about.
"Literature adds to reality, it does not simply describe it. It enriches the necessary competencies that daily life requires and provides; and in this respect, it irrigates the deserts that our lives have already become." -C.S. Lewis