About Gwen Mayo:
Gwen Mayo grew up in the hills of Eastern Kentucky. Her home state’s colorful past forms the backdrop for her Nessa Donnelly historical mysteries, Circle of Dishonor and Concealed in Ash. She is a graduate of the University of Kentucky Department of Political Science, and is an active member of Sisters in Crime, including the Florida Gulf Coast, Derby Rotten Scoundrels, and GUPPY Chapters. She currently lives and writes in Safety Harbor, Florida. Since relocating, she has teamed up with humorist Sarah E. Glenn to write the Three Snowbirds Mysteries: Murder on the Mullet Express and the forthcoming Murder at the Million Dollar Pier. Her numerous short stories have appeared in anthologies, webzines, and micro-fiction collections. One story was even published on the back of a coffee can. If you would like to know more about Gwen you can find her at
What inspires you to write?
Inspiration is everywhere, an overheard conversation, a place that sparks my imagination, learning something new. I think my inspiration comes from getting away from the blank computer screen. I have to furnish my mind with things I've read and places I've gone.
The human condition, relationships of all sorts – happy, funny, complicated, and heart breaking, inspire me. I am always looking at our emotions, our interaction with each other, and the reasons behind what we do and say. Inspiration pops up every time I contemplate why. There is always a reason for our actions, not always a good reason, but one that motivates us to act. Behind every "why" is a story.
Tell us about your writing process.
I am an outliner. Before I sit down to write the first scene I have a chapter by chapter outline. Usually it is just a few words about each scene.
This proved to be a problem when I sat down to work on a book with humorist, Sarah E. Glenn. She not only writes by the seat of her pants, she uses the snowflake method (a scene here, a scene there, then ties it all together).
Our first attempt to write together was a short story, so it wasn't a big problem. Doing the novel got complicated. We had to work out a system. With the second novel in the Three Snowbirds Series, I did the outline, she can go down the list and write any scene she wants, but if she adds a new scene it must be added to my outline. My job is to read her changes before I start working on the next scene. We've also gone to a cloud server so we can work in the same document and be notified of any changes.
I use Ywriter to outline. When I write alone, I write the whole story there. Sarah is more comfortable writing in word so we use that on Snowbird stories. For characters, I have a character sheet similar to what gamers use. It is pretty detailed. In my Nessa Donnelly mysteries Nessa's physical appearance, includes the way she walks and gestures she makes with her hands. I have a section on character traits, good and bad. The history section goes back to birth and includes details of leaving Ireland at five-years-old, and how she lost each parent. There is also a case file where each new story with her is added to her backstory.
For Fiction Writers: Do you listen (or talk to) to your characters?
All the characters I've created are part of me. I live with them in my head. I've been known to fight with them when they wanted to take the story in a different direction. I don't always win those fights. When that inner voice of the character is stronger than my devotion to plot, I go back and rethink the outline to make the story stronger.
What advice would you give other writers?
Listen to your own creative voice instead of trying to write what the market wants. The market doesn't always know what readers want until someone writes it.
Just remember, there is a big difference in listening to your voice and being unteachable. Writing is a learned craft. Editors, agents, other writers, beta readers, fans are a huge part of the writing process. Listen to what they have to say and make the changes that will improve your work.
How did you decide how to publish your books?
My first book was published because the editor of an anthology liked my protagonist. She wanted to know if I had any other stories with Nessa. I told her about my manuscript and a week later I signed a contract.
That was both a good and bad experience. She and her husband ran a small press. When my second book was under consideration she had twins and got out of the publishing business. I was left with a finished manuscript and no publisher. There were a few other writers in the same position. When word got out that I had requested the rights to my earlier book back and was considering self-publishing, some of them wanted to know if I would consider publishing their books too.
Mystery and Horror, LLC came out of those conversations. I ended up publishing their books before taking on the task of republishing my own. I have learned a lot about writing from publishing. I also have a lot more respect for those who work in the book industry. It is hard to juggle running the press with writing and a full time job. I don’t think it is for everyone. Writers have to look at their situation and choose the best option for their work.
What do you think about the future of book publishing?
That's a tough question. Amazon is dipping their fingers into publishing. I’m sure they will try to do to publishing houses what they did to the chains of bookstores. I have watched the established publishing industry shrink for years. There aren’t a lot of openings for new voices with the big four. Kindle is snapping up some of the most promising new writers.
Small presses are a grab bag. Some of them are putting out great work. Most of them are struggling. Before signing a contract with one of them the writer needs to do some research.
In the meantime self-published books are exploding onto the scene. The established publishers and the authors they represent would like to say all independent books are bad, but they are not. Good editors, who pay attention to detail, cover artists, and independent publishing organizations are out there helping people who want to learn to publish their own books.
I think a lot depends on what Amazon is allowed to do. Once Prime was established the “per page read” model cut the amount of money going to authors per page while reducing the sales of ebooks. We are looking at more competition and fewer returns on our work. I don’t see any way around that without breaking up Amazon’s hold on the industry.
What do you use?: Co-writer, Professional Editor, Professional Cover Designer, Beta Readers
What genres do you write?: historical mystery
What formats are your books in?: Both eBook and Print
All information in this post is presented “as is” supplied by the author. We don’t edit to allow you the reader to hear the author in their own voice.