I come from a long line of storytellers. I remember sitting on the living room floor while the adults told stories, my imagination running gamut over all the possibilities.
But I didn’t have the same fascination with the written word; in fact, English was my worst subject in school. I wasn’t able to understand grammar with all the rules and exceptions, let alone understand all the spelling rules and exceptions.
However I loved reading, even tho my mind would add words to the pages or miss important words in paragraphs. As an adult working with my children’s homeschooling, I had to deal with their different learning styles. I accidentally discovered the main issue I have with the “English” language is dyslexia. This is self-diagnosed, but it answered many questions I had about learning and why I simply wasn’t able to wrap my mind around grammar and spelling. Coming to the understanding that I really was trying my hardest to do the simple things, the same things others like my mom excelled at, this knowledge opened my mind to the possibility I was not stupid or crazy.
That was how our team worked, Mom was the nuts and bolts and I did the research and out of the box thinking. I have a lot to be grateful for in my writing career. My mother was my rock, and was able to take what I wrote and make it into what I meant. During the last year of her illness she spoke with our friends and family urging them to support me when I was able to pick up the pieces and start writing again.
Apparently my children took her pleas to heart. They kept telling me to keep writing, they believe I still have stories to tell. Mom also contacted our mentor, JoEllen Conger, and asked her to be my editor and whip cracker if needed. She kept her promise to my mom and has helped me fulfill the dream mom and I had of getting our first manuscript usable.
I have faith that all that has happened was meant to be. I fully believe in a reason, a season or a lifetime. I am grateful for all the support I have from my family and friends and every word I write means success.
What inspires you to write?
I love my characters we’ve been around each other for a long time. They are old friends, and I enjoy spending time with them. From the feedback I’ve got from various readers, they also enjoy these characters.
When I am picking a book to read I look for authors I’ve read and characters I already love. It’s really like sitting down a catching up like we would do with the “real” people in our lives.
Writing lets me find out what my characters have been up to since we last sat and shared a screen and keyboard.
Tell us about your writing process.
My writing process is a mixture of seat of the pants and outline. For Legacy From Yesteryear, I had clues to work with and where the answers to the clues would be found, but the rest of the intrigue happend as I got to know the characters better.
In Ethan’s Flight, I knew Ethan was incapable of committing murder, and I knew his brother Edward couldn’t let him die for a crime he didn’t commit. The discovery that one of the characters they meet was a conductor on the Underground Railroad was quite the surprise.
When the basic idea of a story comes to me, I will have the big picture things outlined, but all the interesting character stuff develops along the way. This is especially true when dealing with a historical set story. I have to discover the day-to-day things that happen in their lives, which is so different from the way we live now. The why things work the way they do, or what is really possible, unfolds as we go along. Very little of that is planned.
For Fiction Writers: Do you listen (or talk to) to your characters?
For me when I’m writing it’s like a virtual room with characters interacting as if I am not there. It’s almost like watching a movie we live in. This seems confusing, but it’s the process I go through to find out more about my characters.
Altho I admit, I’ve had to have a talk to two with some of my more out of control characters. There are a couple characters mom wouldn’t let me fix when she was alive, and while I can feel mom’s disapproval, I’ve made changes that make the characters fit more with the time they live in, instead of the confident, secure women that live today.
In Legacy From Yesteryear Lady Tabitha Philips is a very forthright, opinionated, bossy woman. She would be a handful for any man to deal with, and the cousin that has inherited the “head of the family” position is an incompetent brute. They clash awfully, and she should be more concerned for her life, but she has the ear of the Queen, so she is able to have some freedom, but not anything like women have today. Yes, she and I have spoken more than once. But I love her dearly, as she is a defender of my little heroine, Margaret Wentworth.
What advice would you give other writers?
Learn your craft and hire those that can do what you cannot. I’m sure there are many grammatical errors in this interview, and I have an editor I rely on heavily to help me write in a way others can enjoy. For those that are natural grammatical geniuses, it can be very grating to read a story with constant, repeated errors.
To them I say, “I am sorry. I am truly doing the best I can. If I make errors and my editor doesn’t catch them, I seriously don’t know they are there. I don’t leave them in on purpose to upset you. I want to have the best story I can, so please tell me so I can fix them. Thank you.”
One other very important point, do your research. If you write historical, do your research. If something didn’t happen the way you would expect, there may be a good reason.
Figure out what you want as a published author and research the heck out of it. Do you want an agent? Make sure you are doing everything they require. Do you want a traditional publisher, follow their rules. Don’t set yourself up for failure, give yourself the best chance you can.
How did you decide how to publish your books?
For our first book we went with a small publisher. Mom was very opposed to the digital age and didn’t want to go with a publisher whose primary method of publishing was ebooks. I could see digital was going to blow the lid of publishing as we knew it. I will admit I didn’t see how much it would change everything, but I knew digital was coming to stay.
So we compromised and went with a small publisher that offered both. I wouldn’t say it a satisfying experience. It wasn’t a bad experience, but not what I was hoping for. Mom and I agreed to not use the same publisher for any more of our books. Then she got sick, and deciding what we were going to do was put on the back burner. Once my mom passed away, I was in no mental or emotional shape to make any writing decisions for a long time.
But my kids kept coming back to me with, “Grandma wanted you to write Mom. I believe you can do this writing thing.” (They would talk to me individually, but at one point or another, all 5 told me the same things.) So I started looking and reading about the different choices. I don’t want to give up the rights to my characters. I didn’t realize I was such a control freak until I had to deal with my characters. So for my second venture into publishing I’ve decided to go with Amazon’s KDP. I published in January 2014, and so far it’s been an interesting experience. I do plan to continue using them for my Legacy series. Then it will be time to re-evaluate and see where I want to go from there.
What do you think about the future of book publishing?
I think there is room in the world for both print and ebooks. I think if the publishers would get themselves together and list their books on a website for readers to get from them directly, it would be a whole different ballgame.
Bookstores are fun in the sense you can see browse and physically see the books before buying. But they have a high overhead, and they are cutting back in areas that they should be focusing on, like customer service.
If bookstores continue the way they are going, I can see them all closing in the next twenty years. But there are other ways for people to get print books, and those venues will continue to succeed without the brick and mortar stores.
I would love to see bookstores figure out what is more important, but with stores like Target and Walmart or BJ’s having books available for cheaper prices, well it’s not a bright future for bookstores. Target and Walmart are not expected to provide the same customer service a bookstore should, and as long as they have the newest releases, they will be a threat.
I think that authors have more options than ever before, and a bigger responsibility in providing the best product possible. Think about how many authors we would have missed if we relied on the traditional publishers to make the right guess. Authors still have the huge task of marketing, but you get better returns on your efforts.
What do you use?
Co-writer, Professional Editor, Professional Cover Designer
What genres do you write?
Historical set, sweet romance, adventures with mystery elements
What formats are your books in?
Victoria Trout Home Page Link
Link To Victoria Trout Page On Amazon