Have you written a book? What is it about?
I have written four novels, but Going Home (Sunbury Press, 2014) was the first one to be published. It is a murder mystery about a baby boomer who comes home to check on her elderly mother and finds her hovered over the dead body of her caregiver. The mother has Alzheimer’s disease and is unable to provide a straight answer about what happened. Because she was the only one present at the crime scene, she becomes a suspect. The heroine is stuck in her hometown longer than expected, caring for her mother and trying to prove her innocence. The mother character in Going Home was based on my own mother, who also suffered from Alzheimer’s.
What gave you the courage/motivation to start?
I have always wanted to write. Even before I knew my alphabet, I enjoyed telling stories. Like anything else you really want to do, you just have to sit down and start doing it. It doesn’t have to be perfect.
Did you encounter any problems such as writer’s block? If so, how did you overcome them?
I don’t really get writer’s block. If I can’t get started right away, I’ll go back and reread what I’ve written so far. If I’m stuck and don’t know what is going to happen next, I’ll take a break and go for a walk or read someone else’s book. I do know how to waste time, however, when I should be writing. Email and social media are the biggest culprits.
How did you go about finding a publisher/getting the book self-published?
I sent query letters to literary agents, as well as to smaller publishing houses willing to look at manuscripts without an agent. I mostly found them online, or at writers conferences. Most agents and publishers accept, and even prefer, submissions online these days, so that saves time, postage, and paper. I always research the agent or publisher prior to submitting, to see if there have been any complaints about them. I found Sunbury Press online. It is a traditional royalty publisher located in Mechanicsburg, PA, that puts out about 70 titles per year in a variety of genres.
Did anything surprise you about the whole process?
I spent so long trying to get published, I don’t think I realized how much work is involved afterward, trying to get people to buy the book, read the book, write reviews. And you really need to keep writing, begin working on the next book as soon as you’ve started sending out the first. People who love my book want to know when I’m coming out with the next and I’m still writing it.
What advice would you give to someone wanting to write a book, or starting to write one?
Probably 90% of writing is rewriting, so don’t expect your prose to be perfect–especially not after the first, or second, or even third draft. Don’t be afraid to toss out your favorite lines if they don’t fit the story. Get feedback from a critique group, a writing partner, and/or beta readers. Even if you don’t agree with what they say, listen to everything. Sometimes what they’re telling you to change doesn’t really need to be changed, but something else in the story or the character needs to be fixed so that passage will work. Get an editor, or at least a friend with a critical eagle eye. And don’t quit your day job unless you have another source of income. Writing may not support you.
Photo Credit: Gene Wilburn