About Judy Fitzwater:
Growing up an Air Force brat taught Judy Fitzwater many things, including always to be on time, to be adaptable, and to believe that all things are possible. She’s lived in nine states, from Maine to Hawaii. Her first published mystery, DYING TO GET PUBLISHED, was plucked from a stack of unsolicited manuscripts at Ballantine Books. It was nominated for an Agatha Award for Best First Mystery. The subsequent eight-book series, The Jennifer Marsh Mysteries, continues to be a delight for her to write, especially the scenes with Jennifer’s quirky writers’ group. All eight are now available in e-book editions. She’s especially excited to have just released the 8th in the series, DYING AT HONEYMOON INN. She’s also written two suspense thrillers, DROWNING IN AIR (now in paperback, as well as e-book) and NO SAFE PLACE. And don’t miss her very funny romantic comedy, VACATIONING WITH THE DEAD, also in paperback and e-book formats. It’s filled with ghosts and mayhem and just plain fun. Her own adventures in the publishing business can be found in THE ROCKY ROAD TO PUBLISHING. She has plans for more mystery, suspense, humor, and paranormal adventures.
What inspires you to write?
I love stories. I love mystery and adventure–but the safe kind that lies between the covers of books. When I write, I go on all sorts of adventures with my characters. I don’t outline, so I’m right there with them as the plots unfold. I’m most interested in people–how they think, why they do what they do, and how they relate to one another, so that’s at the heart of everything I write. As much as I adore mysteries and suspense, I also like to laugh with my characters. When I’m not writing, I miss it. I think it’s that look into other people’s minds that intrigues me the most. I also want my heroines to be smart, funny, and savvy. I hope they inspire readers, in some small way, to value loyalty, honesty, and friendship, and to embrace that life is an exciting, ever changing experience.
Tell us about your writing process.
I start every book with a “hook,” some idea or concept that intrigues me, and that, I hope, will also intrigue my readers. Sometimes it’s only a first line. Sometimes it’s a bizarre idea that’s come to me when I’m sorting clothes or making dinner or watching the news. I never outline, so I sometimes don’t know who the murderer is in a cozy mystery until I’m well into writing it. At times I wish I could outline, but my brain just doesn’t work that way. And it wouldn’t be half as much fun. There is no right or wrong way to do this thing we call writing. If there was, there’d be no creativity in the process.
For Fiction Writers: Do you listen (or talk to) to your characters?
Sometimes I yell at them. Mostly they just ignore me and talk among themselves. All I have to do is write it down. But there’s little or no dialogue in action scenes. Those are interesting to write because I see my characters (or feel them) move in my head. If bullets are flying, I’m dodging them right along with my heroes and heroines, rolling out of the way to seek shelter behind a car or a tree. Those are fun to write because I could never do that sort of thing in real life.
What advice would you give other writers?
Never give up. Don’t believe you can’t do it because you can if you want to bad enough. Writing is work. Treat it that way. Yes, it’s your passion. That’s why you get lost in it and look up at the clock thinking minutes have passed when it’s actually been hours. I’ve put my advice into a book, THE ROCKY ROAD TO PUBLISHING. It has a lot of suggestions in it, but it’s also a pep talk. It says you can do it. You just have to want to. Oh, and learn your craft. They don’t teach how to write popular fiction in school.
How did you decide how to publish your books?
My first book, DYING TO GET PUBLISHED, was published in 1998 by Ballantine Books, a division of Random House. Back then, traditional publishing was the only route available, so I worked very hard both learning my craft and researching the business before landing my first contract. I published 6 books with them. And then a suspense novel with another New York publisher. I’ve since gotten my rights back to the first 6 of The Jennifer Marsh Mysteries and have published them independently. Books 7 and 8 in the series have been independent releases. I’ve added 3 more books to my list of publications, all independently. I’m an “indie” author now because I can set my own deadlines and have more control over my career. I would advise new authors to do both–look for publishers for some of their books and do independent publishing for others that might not fit traditional publishing models.
What do you think about the future of book publishing?
Book publishing is the great unknown. We are in the middle of the new information age, and modes of getting our stories in readers’ hands are evolving rapidly. I think e-books will continue to grow, but so will audio books, streaming, etc. It’s both exciting and daunting. I’m sure the industry will look very different in 20 years.
What do you use?: Beta Readers
What genres do you write?: Mystery, Suspense, Romance, Paranormal Romance, Non-fiction
What formats are your books in?: eBook, Print, 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.