Monika Schröder – INTERVIEW

Along with inviting me to read her middle grade book, Be Light Like a Bird, Monika Schröder graciously agreed to answer some questions as an interview for me! Thank you for being willing to do that!

Question #1: Do you set aside time to write every day or do you write more sporadically? When you write, do you aim to complete a certain number of words or pages? How does music/other noise affect your concentration?

Ms. Schröder’s Answer: I set aside about three to four hours a day to spend with my work in my studio. I am not always putting words on paper, but I stay “in the zone.” I need absolute silence.

 

Question #2: When you’re writing, do your characters seem to “hijack” the story or are you firmly in control of where the story is going? Similarly, do you outline your books or let the plot take you where it wants to go?

Ms. Schröder’s Answer: I usually have an idea of the broad plot line and the ending. But after I got stuck with this method, I am now becoming more of a planner.

 

Question #3: In general, how many revisions do you go through before a book is published? Do you have beta readers or is it just your editing team and their suggestions? Do you set your books aside for a period of time and then pick them up and edit them?

Ms. Schröder’s Answer: The number of revisions varies. I re-wrote my first novel, THE DOG IN THE WOOD, 37 times. Now I don’t need that many revisions any more. But my new book, BE LIGHT LIKE A BIRD, also went through several revisions.

Yes, time is the best revision helper. It is always good to set a manuscript aside and then go back to it with fresh eyes. My husband, a former English teacher, is always my first reader. I appreciate his comments and once all his suggestions are incorporated I send my manuscript to my agent, who then gives his input.

Question #4: Your latest book, Be Light Like a Bird, is set in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. Did you travel to the Upper Peninsula to do research for the book? If not, how did you make sure you got all the details of what life is like there correct?

Ms. Schröder’s Answer: My husband is from Michigan and we used to spend part of our summers at his family’s cabin near Sault Ste. Marie. In fact, my husband and I got married up there. We inherited the cabin and still own it. So I was familiar with the setting when I wrote the book.

 

Question #5: How did you break into the publishing world? How many rejections did you go through before finding a publisher? Did you ever think about quitting? If so, what did you do to keep yourself hopeful?

Ms. Schröder’s Answer: My first novel was rejected by the first editor I sent it to and I spent several years rewriting it. Yes, it takes tenacity to get published. My second and third book were published by the legendary Frances Foster, an editor with her own imprint at Farrar Straus Giroux. When she passed away it pulled the rug from under me. She was not only my editor but also my mentor and friend. After her death I had to find an agent and BE LIGHT LIKE A BIRD was rejected several times. So, even though I already had published three novels, I experiences set-backs. Sometimes it is hard to keep up the hope. Again, my husband is a great help. He coaches me through times of self-doubt and he is a great fan of my work.

(Blogger’s Note: I, for one, am super glad that you kept trying with Be Light Like a Bird because it really is phenomenal.)

 

Question #6: Do you read your reviews? Do you respond to them, good or bad? Have you ever learned anything from a bad review and incorporated it into your future work?

Ms. Schröder’s Answer: I do read my reviews. It is painful to read bad reviews but in most cases I can find a kernel of truth in them. I might not agree with the weight a reviewer gives a certain aspect of the book, but I try to look at the issues raised with a clear eye.

Question #7: What are some great books/authors you’ve read recently?

Ms. Schröder’s Answer: I am a big fan of Avi’s work and I also loved Louis Bayard’s first book for kids, LUCKY STRIKES.

 

Question #8: What hobbies do you have/enjoy?

Ms. Schröder’s Answer: I tend to a big flower garden and I look forward to gardening season starting again soon. I also love to bake and cook.

 

Question #9: Do you like to travel? If so, what was your favorite location to visit?

Ms. Schröder’s Answer: My husband and I worked and lived overseas for 16 years. We have travelled a lot during those years. Now that we live in the US we don’t travel as much any more. But we recently visited Jekyll Island in Georgia and found it very beautiful.

 

Question #10: What is your favorite part of the writing/editing/publishing process? What is your least favorite?

Ms. Schröder’s Answer: My least favorite part of the process is writing the first draft. It is agonizingly slow and I have to force myself to keep on writing without looking back too much before I have reached the end of one whole draft. And that draft is usually very bad and then I make it better. I love revising, but my favorite part is probably when someone offers me a contract to publish my book.

Once again, I’d like to say a huge “THANK YOU” to Monika Schröder for agreeing to answer my questions. Be sure to check out her newest book, Be Light Like A Bird!

Author Interview – Morgan Talbot

Welcome! Today I’m featuring an interview with Morgan Talbot, author of Smugglers and Scones. I’m very grateful that she was willing to answer my questions. I hope you enjoy her answers as much as I have!

Morgan Talbot, author - White woman in her 30s or 40s, dark brown hair, wearing sunglasses halfway down her nose, a grey overshirt and a purple blouse

1) Do you set aside time to write every day or do you write more sporadically? When you write, do you aim to complete a set # of pages or words? How does music/other noise affect your concentration when you’re writing?

I used to write every day like a mad thing, but I think I’m done with that phase of my writerly evolution. Nowadays, I still have a schedule, but it’s slower. Schedules are important for me, or I’ll just wander off and get interested in something else. I usually aim for a chapter per writing session, because that fits with my writing speed, chapter length, and pain tolerance—too long at any one manual task and I’m all achy for the rest of the day. Background noise is pretty useful for me—if I’m not in a coffee shop with the babble of voices, I’ll put on my headphones and listen to some Doctor Who soundtracks. Or whatever I’m into at the moment—right now, it’s the music from Doctor Who Series 6: Madman in a Box.

2) With this book, you not only create the storyline, but the whole backstory of the house and the author that lived there. How easy/difficult was that for you to do?

It took some time, but that kind of backstory/research is right up my alley, so I enjoyed every second of it. I also write epic fantasy under another pen name, so I’ve created entire worlds from scratch. Focusing more tightly on a single house and its famous occupant has been so much fun. I’ve spun all kinds of plots and events from Moorehaven’s past that’ll come out in future books. A building that old must have plenty of thrilling secrets, and I love discovering what they are just as much as everyone else.

3) How did you break into the publishing world?

About eight years ago, I first got published a startup small press I’d heard of through a friend on a writing site, but I soon found myself back out on the street due to creative differences. It felt more like I’d ricocheted off the wall of the publishing industry—confusing and disheartening. But I found a job reviewing indie books, and eventually the owner shifted to publishing instead. I had just written my first mystery novel, First to Find, and I submitted it with bated breath. To my delight, my book passed acquisitions and was accepted for publication. I’ve been very happy at Red Adept Publishing ever since.

Continue reading

Author Interview with Vicki Delany

Happy Monday to everyone! I hope you’re having wonderful weather like we are here in Southeastern Michigan! It’s unreal that

As I stated at the end of my review for We Wish You a Murderous Christmas, I’m back with an interview with Vicki Delany. Of course, life happens and it didn’t quite get up in the timely manner I meant for it, but here we go! 🙂

I was first introduced to Ms. Delany’s books through the Lighthouse Library series (written under the pen name Eva Gates). I am a librarian and I thoroughly enjoyed the books. I was rather disappointed when the publisher did not continue the series. On the positive side, that introduction has led me to Ms. Delany’s other cozy mystery series, including the Year Round Christmas series and her new series, The Sherlock Holmes Bookshop mysteries that will be coming in 2017. Many, many thanks to Ms. Delany for agreeing to do this for me. 🙂

Photo of Vicky Delany, a middle-aged caucasian woman with blond hair pulled back and bangs, wearing a black camisole & grey cardigan

Vicki Delany’s Bio:
Vicki Delany is one of Canada’s most prolific and varied crime writers. She is the author of twenty-three published crime novels, including standalone Gothic thrillers, the Constable Molly Smith series, and the Year Round Christmas Mysteries.  Under the pen name of Eva Gates she is the author of the Lighthouse Library cozy series.

The second in Vicki’s national bestselling Year Round Christmas series, We Wish You A Murderous Christmas, was released Nov. 1 by Berkley.  The first in the Sherlock Holmes bookshop series, Elementary She Read, will be released in March 2017 by Crooked Lane Books.

Vicki lives and writes in Prince Edward County, Ontario. She is the past president of the Crime Writers of Canada.

http://www.vickidelany.com. Facebook:  Vicki Delany & Eva Gates (evagatesauthor) and twitter: @vickidelany and @evagatesauthor

Line of books - some with spine out, others with page edges out, mostly green, blue, brown

Question #1: Do you set aside time to write every day or do you write more sporadically? When you write, do you aim to complete a set number of pages or words? How does music/other noise affect your concentration when you’re writing?

Ms. Delany: I am a total creature of routine. I write three to five hours a day, every day of the week, every day of the year when I am home, unless I have company. I have no set goals, but I put in a few hours and then quit when the time seems right. I always listen to Mozart; anything else in the way of music or the radio would destroy my concentration.

 

Question #2: Do you have a favorite conference to attend? What is it?

Ms. Delany: I love Malice Domestic and Left Coast Crime. I am really looking forward to Bouchercon in Toronto next year. And – something new – I am one of the organizers of Women Killing It – a new crime writing festival in Prince Edward County, Ontario. The first festival will be held September 1-2, 2017, and I am sure it will be my favourite from then on.

 

Question #3: In general, how many revisions do you go through before a book is published? Do you have beta readers or is it just your editing team and their suggestions?

Ms. Delany:  I do five or six drafts. I have one good friend who reads my cozy manuscripts and provides suggestions, and another for my Rapid Reads novellas, but that’s all in the way of beta readers.

Line of books - some with spine out, others with page edges out, mostly green, blue, brown

Question #4: Have you ever turned a dream or a nightmare into a written piece?

Ms. Delany: Nope.

 

Question #5: Have you ever learned anything from a negative review and incorporated it into your writing?

Ms. Delany: One reviewer of my first novel, Scare the Light Away, said the sub-characters were “cartoonish”. I never forget that, and I have always tried since not to ever be accused of that again.

 

Question #6: Have you ever left any of your books to stew for months on end or even a year? Do/did you go back and finish them?

Ms. Delany: Not that long, no. But when time permits, I like to put aside a book for six weeks or so and then read it with new eyes. I find it really does make a difference.

Line of books - some with spine out, others with page edges out, mostly green, blue, brown

Question #7: If you’re writing about a city/country/culture you haven’t physically visited, how much research do you conduct before you start writing?

Ms. Delany: I have never written about a place I have never been to, although I have set things in historical times (which I can’t visit). Setting is very important to me in my writing, so I don’t think I could do a good job about a place I’ve never been. My Rapid Reads novellas, featuring RCMP (Royal Canadian Mounted Police) officer Ray Robertson, are set in South Sudan, Haiti, and Turks & Caicos, and yes, I have been to all those places. I traveled to the Outer Banks specifically to visit before writing my Lighthouse Library series (under the pen name of Eva Gates). Sometimes, of course, I make it all up, as in Rudolph, New York, where the Year Round Christmas Books are set.

 

Question #8: If you could write about anyone from any time period, who would you write about?

Ms. Delany: Not a real person, but a fictional one, and that’s Sherlock Holmes. In fact, as it happens, I sort of am writing about Sherlock in my new Sherlock Holmes Bookshop series. The main character, Gemma Doyle, has a lot of similarities to the Great Detective. The first book in that series is Elementary, She Read, and it will be released in March 2017 by Crooked Lane Books.

Elementary, She Read by Vicki Delany Cover

Elementary, She Read by Vicki Delany

 

Question #9: If you could spend one day with a character from your book, who would it be? And what would you do during the day?

Ms. Delany: I have two picks. For serious research, I’d spend the day following Constable Molly Smith (of the series by the same name) on the beat in Trafalgar, British Columbia. For pure fun, I’d love to have a day in Mrs. Claus’s Treasures, the store owned by Merry Wilkinson in the Year Round Christmas series. Maybe we can go to lunch at Victoria’s Bake Shoppe.

 

Thank you once again to Vicki Delany for being willing to answer my questions and share a little bit of her writing process and a bit of herself with us! Don’t forget to check out her newest release, We Wish You a Murderous Christmas!

We Wish You a Murderous Christmas - Year Round Christmas Mystery - Room with Christmas tree in right corner, fireplace with stockings hanging, and dog lying on the floor.

Interview with Vina Arno

As I stated a few posts back, I want to try to do some interviews with authors that I review. I’m grateful, that Vina Arno, author of “In His Corner”, was more than willing to answer the 15 questions I sent to her!  I didn’t quite manage to stay away from all the cliché questions, but I did try to mix in a few less common questions. I sincerely appreciate Ms. Arno taking the time to answer them!

Question #1: Are your characters based off of real people or did they all come entirely from your imagination?

Ms. Arno’s Answer: The hero in my book, “In His corner,” is a boxer known as the Juggernaut. He is my homage to Tom Hardy’s cage-fighter character in the movie “Warrior.” I prefer boxing to mixed martial arts and I wanted the prestige of the Olympics, so I made my hero an Olympic gold-medalist boxer. My heroine is named Siena because she was inspired by the Italian city of the same name, which I visited in 2013.

 

Question #2: As a child, what do you want to do/be when you grew up?

Ms. Arno’s Answer: I thought I wanted to be a stage actress! But I realize now that what I always wanted was to create and be immersed in a creative environment.

 

Question #3: As a new author, what is your favorite part of the writing/publishing process? What is your least favorite? 

Ms. Arno’s Answer: My favorite part is the actual writing and building a story sentence by sentence. You start with a blank screen and end up with an entire manuscript. Even rewriting, which is difficult, gives me joy because it’s part of creating the story.
My least favorite is everything outside the writing process (querying, marketing, promotions, etc.)!

 

Question #4: Can you share some stories about people you met while researching this book?

Ms. Arno’s Answer: I didn’t go out to do research for this book. For my boxing hero, I watched documentaries and read books about the sport. For my ER-doctor heroine, my experience as a public relations specialist at a hospital came in handy. I drew inspiration from my interactions with doctors and hospital workers.

 

Question #5: Did you make any marketing mistakes or is there anything you would avoid in the future? Conversely, did you make any marketing decisions that had an immediate impact on your sales?

Ms. Arno’s Answer: Every little thing helps in marketing, so even the less successful attempts are still useful.

 

Question #6: Do you aim for a set amount of words/pages each day or do you just set aside writing time and whatever comes out, comes out.

Ms. Arno’s Answer: No, I don’t have a word-count quota. However, I do write every single day, year-round. For me, what’s useful is the actual habit of writing. It’s part of my routine and it’s something I look forward to every day.

 

Question #7: Do you have a day job in addition to being a writer? If so, what do you do during the day?

Ms. Arno’s Answer: I’m a copywriter and editor for a software company by day.

 

Question #8: Do you write on a typewriter, computer, dictate, or longhand? Why?

Ms. Arno’s Answer: I write my novels on a computer, but I write random thoughts and notes in a notebook or any piece of paper available.

 

Question #9: How did you break into the publishing world?

Ms. Arno’s Answer: It was a serendipitous process that began with a trip to Siena, Italy. I wrote about my publishing breakthrough for Forbes. If you’re interested, you can read it here: 3 Career Reinvention Tips from a Reporter Turned Romance Writer.

 

Question #10: If you could write about anyone fiction/nonfiction who would you write about?

Ms. Arno’s Answer: General Douglas MacArthur, the iconic World War II military leader. In fact, I recently completed a historical novel about him, which my literary agent in currently shopping to editors.

 

Question #11: If you could spend one day with a character from your book, whom would it be? What would you do during that day? (PG-13 please)

Ms. Arno’s Answer: I would love to spend time with both my hero and my heroine, but if I must choose just one, then I would shadow my heroine, Siena Carr, at the hospital. She’s an intelligent, big-hearted doctor, who’s beautiful inside and out. I was surprised that some readers misunderstood her, big time.

 

Question #12: Were your parents reading enthusiasts who gave you a push to be a reader as a kid?

Ms. Arno’s Answer: Unfortunately, no. And that’s why I’m a late bloomer. I didn’t discover the joys of reading until I was in high school. I didn’t start writing until I was in graduate school.

 

Question #13: What are some great books you’ve read recently?

Ms. Arno’s Answer: I’m not a science fiction fan, but I finally read Ray Bradbury’s classic novel, “Fahrenheit 451”, recently. I was blown away by his writing. I loved it so much that I wrote about it on my blog. You can check it out, if you’re interested: Ray Bradbury’s “Fahrenheit 451” Transcends Science Fiction Genre.

 

Question #14: What books have influenced your life the most?

Ms. Arno’s Answer: In high school, I discovered how powerful fiction can be after reading “The Catcher in the Rye” by J.D. Salinger. Many years later, reading Amy Tan’s “The Joy Luck Club” inspired me to start writing fiction. Nancy Horan’s “Loving Frank” gave me courage to write my historical novel about Douglas MacArthur.

 

Question #15: What did you find most useful in learning to write? What was the least useful or most destructive?

Ms. Arno’s Answer: Writing is a very humbling process. I learned that I can always improve my writing. “Don’t be precious” – this is what I tell myself when I’m writing. I can’t think of anything truly destructive. So far, even my negative experiences (such as rejections) have brought me positive lessons.

 

Again, many thanks to Ms. Arno for taking the time to answer these questions for me and for all of us! I hope the rest of you enjoyed the questions/answers as much as I did.

Being my first interview with an author, if anyone has feedback or has ideas for questions that you think would be good, please feel free to either comment here or message me. Thanks!