All the nonfiction we have to read each day is our broccoli. An Iris Chacon novel is pure dessert.
I write novels designed to divert our busy minds from our grimy streets, dusty houses, dirty laundry, unwashed kids and unbathed dishes — or maybe the other way around — and Internal Revenue forms. Grab an Iris Chacon novel! Experience a Sunshine State of Mind!
I'm a Florida native, wife and mom, former teacher, screenwriter, Christian radio writer-producer, librarian, and more. I graduated magna cum laude from Trinity International University with a B.A. in Mass Communications Studies. I won my first writing competition at age 13 and, whatever else I may be doing at any given time, I'm always writing somehow.
What inspires you to write?
I'm inspired, even compelled, to write because of the euphoria one experiences when transported to other environments, other stations in life, other companions, heroes, lovers, and adventures. The expense and danger of having those experiences for real would just be prohibitive. And probably scary.
Tell us about your writing process.
Characters appear in my imagination long before their story unfolds. Once I find some core characters that I (and my readers) can fall in love with, laugh with, and root for, then I'm ready to discover their story. I start with basic, pencil-and-paper outlining and move on to the computer. I have a limited character sketch when I begin, and I add to it as I learn more during the story. I have to know the end before I can write a beginning. I usually go back and rewrite the first chapter once the ending has been written.
For Fiction Writers: Do you listen (or talk to) to your characters?
I hear my characters' voices — in a good, non-psychotic way. I've known writers who stride about the house experimenting aloud with dialogue, and I might try that if I were home alone, but it's not usual for me.
I have actually made cutouts of my characters, drawn a stage set on paper, and acted out the whole play or story, moving the characters about as needed. I find it's a good way to discover if I've placed someone in two places at once, or if I've left them someplace with no way to the next scene.
Of course, I must be passionate about my characters and feel that being with them is delightful and exciting. If I don't feel that way, I can't expect anyone else to be passionate about the story.
What advice would you give other writers?
There are a few tips I learned from excellent writers and writing teachers.
First, don't get it right, get it written. Fire the editor in your head and let the creative artist toss off that complete first draft. Only then do you begin evaluating and making a good story great.
Another thing, accept that you've probably buried the lead. The second chapter may be the actual start of the book; you may have to throw out that first-draft first chapter(s).
Every time you edit, your word count should get smaller. You should be removing lots of unnecessary words and even pages. If you find you're having to add more and more words to explain what you've already written, stop. Go back and choose better, stronger words that explain themselves.
Kill the adverbs. I go through documents looking for -ly words (quietly, firmly, happily, etc.). If I find a verb with an -ly adverb explaining the verb, I throw out both of them and choose a verb that can do both jobs at once ("crept" instead of "walked quietly," for example).
Read Strunk & White, The Elements of Style, until you have it memorized. If you can't memorize it, at least re-read it once a year.
Read, read, read.
Play with words every day.
How did you decide how to publish your books?
When I was young, I took the time to write queries, send sample chapters, meet with prospective agents, and so on, and I found it to be a slow, cumbersome, inefficient, costly, and frustrating exercise. I finally decided to spend my time writing instead. Then I began to notice some of the ebooks I was reading were self-published — and the quality wasn't always very good. I researched the self-publishing process and found it quick, efficient, thrifty, and autonomous. I felt that after editing other people's work for years, I should be able to produce a well-edited, quality product, so I began self-publishing. I confess, the speed of the process attracted me first, but the autonomy sealed the deal. How wonderful not to have someone second guessing your work and corrupting your vision. I'm sorry, "corrupting your vision" sounds too artsy-fancy, and I'm not pretentious. I just don't like to change my story for someone who doesn't truly understand my intent in writing it.
The secret: don't be afraid to become educated enough to try new methods. I've found many writers and publishers who provide free or nearly-free instruction in how to accomplish what you want to accomplish. Don't let fear of the unknown stop you.
What do you think about the future of book publishing?
High technology will proliferate worldwide (at least until the great EMP wipes it all out during the zombie apocalypse), but paper and ink will not disappear entirely. I expect paper-and-ink books to become fewer in number and higher in cost. Books will be produced and purchased as collectors' items, valued for the artistry of the physical object as much as for the beauty of the words inside. I don't think online book sellers will completely wipe out brick-and-mortar book sellers or libraries, because people who read need places to gather and share ideas (or coffee), and a place to read and write quietly among kindred souls.
What do you use?: Professional Cover Designer
What genres do you write?: I write clean, funny, romantic mysteries; sometimes historical fiction.
What formats are your books in?: Both eBook and Print, Audiobook
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.