What inspires you to write?
I've always loved telling stories, and I really love it when people see themselves or others they know in those stories.
My first series, The Sleuth Sisters, was inspired by my sisters, and the understanding that we love our sisters…except when we want to throttle them.
The second series, Trailer Park Tales, is inspired by the park in Florida where we winter. Strangers who live all over North America become temporary neighbors, sometimes making friends, sometimes irritating the heck out of each other. It's wild and often funny.
What authors do you read when you aren’t writing?
I like traditional mysteries, historical fiction, and women's fiction. I'll buy anything by Michael Connelly, Laura Lippman, Kate Quinn, and Kristin Hannah.
Tell us about your writing process.
I start with an idea for a mystery and figure out how the plot will go: What the crime is, who the suspects will be, and whodunit. Then I write, letting whatever happens unfold as it will. After that the real work begins, making the story make sense and filling in character, setting, and sensory details.
Since I'm a morning person, I do "composition" writing early in the day, when my mind is fresh. Later in the day I can edit, either re-reading the material or listening to my computer read it aloud so I hear what works and what doesn't.
While I'm a natural storyteller, I have to work on phrasing, so I do a lot of edits. I like to have different people read and react along the way, sometimes friends but also paid professionals. Each person's reaction sends me back through the text to fine-tune. I take out repetitious stuff and add details that pull the reader in.
It's a laborious process, and my husband tells people that all I do is write. He might be correct, but it's what I love doing!
For Fiction Writers: Do you listen (or talk to) to your characters?
I like to start a character with a person I know or have known in the back of my mind. It helps me "hear" their speech cadence and understand the details that make them who they are. Of course, a book character becomes part of the story, so he can't continue to be that person. He develops his own traits and ends up unique, a composite of people I've known formed into what the story requires.
Since we winter in a park similar to the one in my Trailer Park Tales, readers there have tried to guess who each character is "supposed" to be. While a character and a real person might share one thing, like the tendency to brag all the time, that's only to make my characters real.
What advice would you give other writers?
Persist. It isn't easy, and it isn't quick. It took me six years to get a publisher the first time (as Peg Herring). You must also persist in getting better. Writing is never done. I read once that Faulkner published 13 versions of a short story, because he kept thinking he could make it better. That's how I want to be…always looking to improve.
How did you decide how to publish your books?
I was traditionally published (as Peg Herring), but my publisher first went bankrupt and then decided to drop their mystery line. Out a year's pay and without a publisher, I decided to take what I'd learned and go on my own. For a while I was hybrid, doing some books myself and others through a small publisher, but I liked the freedom of self-pubbing. Since I never intended to get rich at this writing thing, I went solo and have had a ball with it.
I do think it's dangerous to go indie before you know the ropes. I just talked to an author yesterday who wishes he hadn't rushed to get his books out, because the editing at the small press he used was horrible.
I learned how carefully good publishers edit from going through my original publisher's process, which took two years. It was hard to wait that long, but the book got better every time we edited.
What do you think about the future of book publishing?
The traditional publishing field seems to be going with "safe" products: authors who write the same book over and over, authors who do a version of the current trend (like books with titles starting with "The Girl,") and non-fiction from whoever is the hot topic in the news this year.
Self-publishing gets easier and easier, but its failings tend to be with quality. Entities that help with that are forming, so writers have tools for all aspects as they move toward a published product.
What genres do you write?: Mystery
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.