About Zina Abbott:
Zina Abbott is the pen name I use for my historical novels. I currently live with my husband in California near the “Gateway to Yosemite.” I am a member of Women Writing the West, American Night Writers Association, and Modesto Writers Meet Up. I enjoy any kind of history including family history. When I am not piecing together novel plots, I piece together quilt blocks.
What inspires you to write?
I have always enjoyed reading and writing. In junior high I preferred to stay down in my “dungeon,” as my mother called my downstairs bedroom, and write short stories and read rather than watch most television shows. Except for a few articles published in a local newspaper and for a genealogy magazine, my writing went on the back burner during the years of work and raising a family. I once again threw myself into writing every chance I got when I retired from the U.S. Postal Service, and haven’t stopped since. What has inspired me to write historical fiction was the love of learning the details of everyday life in the past I gained by working on my family history and helping others with theirs.
Tell us about your writing process.
I like to outline my stories, use timelines to organize my research, and write up character sketches for at least my main characters before I start writing. I have been known to use the low tech scratch pad notes tacked to a bulletin board method, but mostly I organize my work on my computer. Once I start writing the story, though, all bets are off. I often find myself doing additional or different research, or letting the storyline guide me instead of the other way around.
For Fiction Writers: Do you listen (or talk to) to your characters?
I don’t talk to my characters. As for listening to them, they downright take over at times. They take the story places I did not originally intend for it to go. They quite often improve on my original plot or planned dialogue, so I can’t complain.
What advice would you give other writers?
I don’t care how good of a story you write, if you plan to ask people to pay money to read it, you must also know the craft of writing. Your work needs to show evidence that you understand correct grammar, spelling, punctuation, sentence structure, word usage, etc.
That said, I don’t care how good you are at all of the above, it is extremely difficult to self-edit your own work. Your brain wrote the story and your brain knows what is supposed to be there. Your brain will jump right over dropped words, wrong word usage, dropped or incorrect punctuation, poor sentence structure, misspelled words, etc. It is wonderful if you can afford to pay for someone to professionally copy-edit your work. Your best bet if you can’t afford a professional copy editor is to line up at least two friends who are good at grammar and ask them to read your manuscript with a colored pen/pencil in hand to correct errors or at least circle anything that doesn’t look right to them. If you must rely solely on self-editing, research the most effective ways to go about it and take the time to be thorough.
How did you decide how to publish your books?
I have both self-published books and had my books published. My experience with my publisher has been positive, not only because of my relationship with my editor, cover artist and publicist, but because of the camaraderie with the other authors associated with the publisher. That support group has been invaluable to me.
What do you think about the future of book publishing?
Self-publishing is here to stay, but there is still a place for traditional as well as specialty publishers. I think more people are going to switch from reading bound paper books to reading ebooks. I say that knowing that for research books, I will pay more in order to get hard copies of books so I can underline, make notes in the margins, attach Post-it note markers to important pages, etc. However, with the increased of electronic devices, reader apps on cell phones and tablets, Kindle readers, Nook readers and the like are going to become more popular, especially for recreational reading.
What genres do you write?: Historical Americana fiction, historical western fiction, historical romance and family sagas.
What formats are your books in?: 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.