About Traci L. Bonney:
A former newspaper reporter and nomad, Traci L. Bonney is a Mississippi girl who has survived hurricanes, cancer, and ongoing singlehood. Always looking for ways to be creative, she lets her imagination loose on her laptop keyboard, jewelry supplies and homemade hula hoops as often as possible, when she isn’t taking pictures or helping friends with website updates and editing projects.
Her novels Chantal’s Call and Brigitte’s Battle, Books 1 and 2 of the Women of Atherton series, are available for purchase as Kindle and Nook e-books and paperbacks. Helene’s Hope, Book 3 in the series, is being written and will be released soon.
What inspires you to write?
My inspirations come from many sources – my own life and the lives of friends and family, overheard conversations in stores and restaurants, the works of others (books, movies and TV shows), art, nature, the Bible. Anything that catches my attention (any “shiny object”) is a potential source of inspiration. And sometimes, the inspirations are literally shiny objects, as one of my main hobbies is making beaded, embroidered and wire wrapped jewelry.
Tell us about your writing process.
I call myself a plantser, a hybrid between plotter and pantser. I’ll get an idea for a story, usually by way of a “what if” question, and then start thinking about where the “what if” would logically take place. For instance, my first book opens with a fiber artist finding a corpse in a kudzu patch. I knew I had to place the story in an area where kudzu grows, and since I’m a Mississippian, it made sense to base the story in a small town in my home state, where “the vine that ate the South” thrives.
Once I have the basic idea and location, I let the premise simmer in my imagination until characters begin to emerge. From there, it’s a matter of spying on them and seeing what’s going on in their world, then writing it down.
If I run out of steam, I’ll take a break from writing and do other things. I’ve found that chatting with other writer friends on Facebook is often useful; we catch each other up on what we’re writing, and many times those chats turn into brainstorming sessions that generate new ideas.
For Fiction Writers: Do you listen (or talk to) to your characters?
I listen and talk to my characters. I’ve been talking to imaginary people my entire life, which means I’m either crazy or a writer. Since I didn’t want to end up at Whitfield, I decided I better start writing about the people in my head.
I also find that my characters like to carry on conversations with each other when I’m doing other things, like washing the dishes, making my bed or playing Solitaire on the computer. So, any time I hit a roadblock in the story I’m writing, I go do something that doesn’t require too much thought, and then eavesdrop on the dialogues that start up.
Sometimes my people are silent, so I start asking myself questions about what would happen if a certain thing occurred, or what possible outcomes could result from the situation the characters are currently in. For such brainstorming sessions, I find it handy to have a journal on hand and to be in a restaurant or coffee shop. Something about being in public while still alone with my thoughts stimulates my imagination to explore ideas I might not otherwise have considered.
What advice would you give other writers?
Find the process and routines that work best for you, and keep at it. If you have a story to tell, something to teach, a poem to share, then get it out of your head and into print.
If you’re not naturally inclined to do well with grammar, spelling, punctuation, etc. – the technical side of writing – make friends with and/or hire someone who is and let that person help you with the editing. Nothing distracts a reader from the material as much as those types of errors.
How did you decide how to publish your books?
I attempted to find an agent for my first book, but after being turned down, I decided I didn’t want to go the traditional route. So, I dove into the exciting and challenging world of self publishing, getting advice and encouragement from others who have been on the journey and know where to go and what to do.
With the rise of viable and reputable self-publishing companies like Createspace and Smashwords, authors don’t have to be subject the decisions of the gatekeepers at the large publishing houses any more. You can share your stories and thoughts with the world online and via print-on-demand companies that offer both free and paid editing, cover design and publicity services. If you’re not comfortable doing your own editing and cover design, you can either pay the publishing company for those services or find freelancers who can help you, often at a lower cost.
What do you think about the future of book publishing?
While I don’t expect the traditional houses to be driven into bankruptcy by the rise of self publishing, I do believe that they will have to find ways to be competitive with print-on-demand and ebook services. Some of the companies have their own self-publishing divisions now, but authors need to check into them carefully before committing to using them. From what I’ve read recently, some of those imprints are run by vanity press companies, and an unwary author could end up spending thousands of dollars unnecessarily.
What do you use?: Beta Readers
What genres do you write?: Contemporary Christian fiction, comedic fantasy
What formats are your books in?: Both eBook and Print