Friday, July 15, 2011

What is your next big project?

HH-A I am currently in the final revisions of a darker mystery that takes place during WW II. Then I have a 3-act play to revise, plus several short stories calling to me. I tend to have 4 or 5 things going at one time. This way I never have writer’s block. I just move on to something else that seems to be more compelling. But I always finish what I start. It’s a blessing, it’s a curse. I can’t think of one writing project I haven’t followed through.

PB-A Currently, I'm working toward finishing the first book in a series that features immortal characters with a spin. Instead of working with the traditional characters, we selected afew that were different, trolls, centaurs, merpeople, demons, angels, elves, and more and gave them life. The series is planned for 10 books but we're marketing the first four to a prospective publisher at the moment.
If you could be any character, who would you be and why?

HH-A A: Well, for the sake of argument, we’re going to make it a character from the Alvarez Family Murder Mystery Series. In that case, I would say Lee Alvarez. I knew I wanted to write a mystery series with a human and likable protagonist, who had a few things going for her. Not perfect, but striving. I didn't want yet another protagonist who learned nothing, who was ostracized from those she loved, who owned one crummy black skirt and life was one, long penance. Lee Alvarez loves life. She’s funny and though she makes mistakes, she learns from them. Like most of us, she grows as she goes along. After all, life is what happens while you’re making other plans. Lee’s lucky to have strong familial support to see her through it all, even though they are often a pain in her jazzercised derriere.
If you mean any character from any book, that’s a lot tougher. Maybe Mame in Auntie Mame, by Patrick Dennis. She was a lady even the crash of ’29 couldn’t keep down. And she was always dying her hair a different color. I like that.

PB-A Hmm, I'd have to say Marie Logan from Bordering on Love. She's tough, self-reliant, with more than her share of flaws but she works hard to overcome obsticles and isn't afraid to be true to who she is. She's the kind of protaganist that makes you laugh, cry, get angry, feel sad  - because she's so willing to stay true to herself even if it means walking away from what she really wants.

Coffee and Biscuits Chat

Grab a cup of Jo, some of these wonderful chocolate chip cookies, and join us as we grill our guests Heather and Patricia...who gets the nice big comfy hot seat err chairs lol.

Welcome Heather, I hope you're doing well.

Thank you for having me.

So our readers have posed some questions for you.

  1. Why this genre? What was it about mystery writing that drew your attention?

HH-A: I love mysteries, always have. The first book I can remember reading as a kid, aside from Uncle Remus, was Nancy Drew’s The Secret of the Old Clock. I was nine at the time and it changed my life. I absolutely loved it! So when I decided to write a novel, I knew that would be the type. You know, a writer lives in her or his head 24/7 on a project. You’d better like what’s going on in there.

PB-A What could be better than romance. I write what strikes my fancy, be they historicals or even some paranormals. As a reader I'm well rounded, I think writing what I read makes sense. And what could be more romantic then writing about the time of knights and vikings, of cowboys and Cortesans.

Heather Haven visits

Not That I Write Literature

“Not that I write literature” was a phrase uttered by a well-known author at the book signing I attended for his recently released book, Perfect Alibi. Sheldon Siegel is an established, New York Times best selling author. More importantly, he writes books that are beautifully crafted, with flawed, well-rounded characters, intricate plots, easy, clear dialogue and superb pacing. In short, Mr. Siegel is a writer of such that he gives credit to the writing profession. His sincere, self-deprecating comment surprised me.

Webster Dictionary describes the word literature as “creative writing of recognized artistic value.” Hello there, Mr. Siegel.

Possibly all fine writers have the element of self-doubt as this author, the need to perfect their craft in each succeeding book, the looking back on preceding books as slightly lacking.

It made me wonder. Did Fitzgerald ever say at any of his book signings, it’s just a love story about a girl named Daisy? Could Hemmingway have said, what’s the fuss? I only wrote about an old guy and a fish? Did James Joyce ever comment that he was merely writing about Dublin society? It’s very possible.

Mr. Siegel’s proclamation could have been made because he writes genre, i.e. mystery. There is often a stigma attached to the writing of genre, something that often tells the author, if only in self-inflicted whispers, that his or her work is slightly less.

I sincerely hope this is not the case. For if the job of a book is to entertain, enlighten, or expand the experience of the reader -- and that’s what writers are taught to aim for in every writing workshop I’ve attended -- Mr. Siegel’s books deliver all three.

His latest novel, Perfect Alibi, is a compelling read. It deals with the human condition, imperfect relationships and the desire to make the world a better place. And, oh yes, it is a mystery. In my humble opinion, it is also literature.

The lesson I took away from this experience was to continue to strive for the quality of writing and depth of humility given to Sheldon Siegel. And, Mr. Siegel, thank you for a great read.

to be continued....
If you were faced with a new author, what is one thing you would tell them is a must to do and what would you tell them to avoid?

HH -A: First of all, avoid nothing. It’s all grist for the mill. Read authors whose work you like. Don’t be afraid to take the best of what they have to offer, whether it be plot, characterization, location, phraseology, or descriptions, whatever. I don’t mean plagiarism but try to emulate what makes the story sing for you. Everyone “borrows” and there’s no sin in it. We all learn from one another. Then, write, write, write. You can’t be a writer unless you write. Join a writing group. Take classes. Learn, grow, experiment, and discover yourself and what you excel in, your strengths and weaknesses. Lastly, never let anyone tell you, you can’t write. Scoff them, sneer them, expunge them. They don’t know what they’re talking about. They are projecting their own feelings of inadequacy upon you. Got it? Now, get out there and write. And revel in it. You belong to a wonderful club, the Writers of the World.
PB-A What Heather said. The only thing I'd add, would be to familiarize yourself with every aspect of the industry. Things like copyright, publishers and editors 'button's to avoid making any errors, and listen to them. If you get a rejection that explains why - read it, absorb it, learn from it and rewrite and submit elsewhere. Your job is to write and you'll not find success without getting out there and trying.