Today, we're talking about another good summer read--a cozy mystery from this debut author.
It’s hard to say. I really try to give each of my characters their own flaws and strengths, personality and tone. LaTisha Barnhart, lead character for my cozy mystery series, is like me in many small ways. However, the main model for LaTisha is one of my really good AA friends.
The way people interact fascinates me, and the study of personalities has helped me to form the characters as unique individuals. Actually, It’s great fun to create characters. Like playing Sims on paper-er, screen.
What is the quirkiest thing you have ever done?
Write a book with a title like Murder on the Ol’ Bunions!
When did you first discover that you were a writer?
Definitely when I was in High School writing love poems to my current crush. I hope he’s forgotten them by now. I’ve avoided reunions for all these years because of those poems.
Seriously, I’ve written on and off most of my life, but my daughters premature birth, and the pain and grief of watching her struggle to do the things most parents of newborns take for granted, prompted me to pour my heart onto paper. I posted it on my Geocities Website and an editor putting together a book about premature babies read it, loved it, and asked to feature it in Living Miracles: Stories of Hope from Parents of Premature Babies, St. Martin’s Press.
How do you keep your sanity in our run, run, run world?
Who says I’m sane?
How do you choose your characters’ names?
Punny you should ask. Most of the names I use are puns. Bad puns, probably, but I love ‘em and it’s part of the fun for me. We writers must amuse ourselves somehow.
So, I take a character’s basic personality and try to match a name. In Polly Dent Loses Grip, book 2 of the LaTisha Barnhart Mystery series, Gertrude Herrman is a man chaser, so this last name is my attempt of showing that. Payton O’Mahney in book one is a less obvious pun. Pay-ton O-mahney. He’s a music store owner who sells high-end European pianos for which you will pay a ton of money. :-)
What is the accomplishment that you are most proud of?
Sorry to disappoint, but it’s not writing related. I’d have to say that teaching my daughter to walk on Lofstrand crutches is the moment that stands out in my mind. She was probably four years old and she kept falling. She was scared. I was too. Dying a little bit everytime she fell. But she got the hang of it and overcame her fear. We celebrated with a chocolate milkshake.
If you were an animal, which one would you be, and why?
A dinosaur. And Since I turn 40 this year, I’m halfway there!
Salad. Yogurt. Spinach. They do great things for my compost pile.
Tell us a little about your journey to publication.
After "The Preemie Experience" was published in Living Miracles, I joined ACRW (member #64!). I wanted to write something bigger and I loved historicals. I learned so much about writing through ACRW, becoming an active member in many aspects. I’ve been Webmaster, the Noble Theme contest coordinator, Zone Director for the MidAtlantic. I have attended every conference, except for the one in 2007.
Anyhow, when I retired from coordinating the Noble Theme contest, I entered it myself (though they changed the name to Genesis) in 2006, sending a proposal to Susan Downs and the required pages to the Genesis. I finaled in the first round! I e-mailed Susan the good news and she offered me a contract about two weeks later.
What is the problem with writing that was your greatest roadblock, and how did you overcome it?
I kept hearing people say write what you love to read. For some reason, for me, that equated to writing historicals. Then an agent pointed out that I wrote great spunky, mature female characters. It was a lightbulb moment when I realized I could use this character in a contemporary setting, surround it with mystery, sprinkle it with humor and write a different genre. I was just in time, too, since Barbour was acquiring for cozy mysteries.
What advice would you give to others who are trying to get their first book published?
Get tough or get out. It sounds overly harsh, but expecting a glowing review of your manuscript every time someone reads it is not going to gain you any ground in the writing world, and the reality will ultimately crush you.
I’m running a Most Beautiful Bunion contest! Seriously. Check it out at www.sdionnemoore.com. The winner receives and autographed copy of the book and some other goodies. I’ll also be doing a blog tour on Christian Fiction Blog Alliance (http://christianfictionblogalliance.com/) with Bonnie Calhoun October 22-24, 2008, and a chat and a workshop with Anne McDonald (www.dancingword.com) October 11, 2008 and October 16, 2008. There are a few other things running too, but the bottom line is you will be seeing and hearing lots from me. Grab some caffeine to stay awake!
Sandra, thanks for spending this time with us.
Readers, check out her websites, but before you go, leave a comment for a chance to win a free copy of the book.
And if you haven't heard about the Heartsong Mystery line, check out this web site: