Writer’s Online Network (WON) Interview
On June 25, 2014 I was lucky to feature my debut My Soul to Keep on WON Network Interview. Come listen and follow along with some of the questions below. I had a great time and it was fun to share my book with everyone.
Tell me a bit about yourself.
I am New Mexico girl born and raised. Currently, I live in Albuquerque with my Great Dane/Mastiff named Gracie, a cat named Mouse, and my wonderful husband. The Southwest, where I live, provides a fantastic world for all of my creative endeavors: both art and writing. The landscapes and scenery here are great backdrops for my novels and my artwork.
What is the title of your first release?
My Soul to Keep
How are you publishing it? House, small publisher, indie?
After a great deal of research, I decided that I wanted to self-publish. I had a vision of what I wanted to say and how I wanted to say it. I didn’t want to have to choose between writing it my way and having a company publish my book so I decided to create my own publishing company. Thanks to Tom Bird, I was able to purchase a package that included a story editor, copy editor, and a book cover artist. I received suggestions but, ultimately, the decision was mine. It was an educational experience setting up an LLC and venturing into the world of publishing but I am so glad I took this route.
What genre is your first release?
What is your first release about?
It is a psychological suspense/thriller about a woman running from her past. She is set up by the APD, unbeknownst to her, as bait for a serial killer. She is also caught between two romances, a bad boy and a reverend. I wanted to take an in depth look at how people survive traumas and the processes they go through, to become the people they are meant to be. I also wanted to find out, through writing, what drives a person to hurt another.
When did your first release come out/when is it coming out?
November of 2013.
Where is your book being sold?
Definitely at my website at www.vjppublishingllc.com, amazon, Itunes, Barnes and Noble, Goodreads, and Kindle.
How can our listeners find you? Are you on social media?
I can be found at my website: www.vjppublishingllc.com www.facebook.com/MySoultoKeepNovel, www.facebook.com/vjprucha, and Twitter @ValeriePrucha.
What message do you have for your fans? (or our listeners?)
How did you start writing? When did you want to start writing?
I think I have been writing all my life, answering questions creatively in various classes in high school and college. Around 2006 or so, a friend gave me Diana Gabaldon’s Outlander and I was in love with reading again and thought I might try a writing class in 2007. Then, my life took a dramatic change in 2008 and I didn’t pursue writing for quite a while. In 2010, I met this wonderful, elderly Jewish woman who taught a class where she came up with the topic and you wrote fast and furious in 5 minutes about the topic. The one topic that I loved was, “What would you do if you were the opposite sex”. For five minutes, I wrote about how, if I were a man, I would go into the forest, zip down my pants and pee on every tree I could find. The class laughed and I went home feeling high from the laughter. Then, I took a seminar with Tom Bird that taught a method of letting your creative right brain run free and keep the negative left brain quiet. It was revolutionary for me because I had spent my life writing and erasing everything I wrote until there was deadline.
What authors inspire your writing?
Diana Gabaldon, I had stopped reading completely for many years because I just couldn’t find any books I liked. Then a friend gave me her book, Outlander, and I was hooked. That led me to binge read her whole series. Then, I discovered paranormal romance and I haven’t stopped.
What kind of books do you like to read?
I love paranormal romance, mysteries, suspense, thrillers, and almost anything that has an interesting story.
Who are your favorite authors? Diana Gabaldon for sure, she made me fall in love again, and Kim Harrison, Lyndsay Sands, and Charlaine Harris.
Where do you find inspiration for your books?
I can find inspiration in almost everything. I would look at a window and see a weed and that would start a story, another person’s writing sparks the imagination, and “what if” questions. I was thinking about my family and, over the years, a couple of my relatives have died in April. I am thinking what a great story about family with the title the Sisters of April.
Tell me about your muse.
She comes and goes. She leaves me with some very creative writing and then disappears for a while. I haven’t figured out to make her stay for tea, as of yet.
Do you carefully plot out what you are about to write or do you just go for it?
The answer varies. My first book was in my head and imagination for about 5 years and it had a progression from start to finish; sometimes replaying a scene in my head over and over. The 2nd book has come in bits and pieces so now I am weaving all those pieces together. The third book I hand wrote in Tom Bird’s weekend seminar and that practically wrote itself from start to finish.
How do you get prepared to write? (Do you put on music? Make a pot of coffee?)
I begin by listening to a beatless music and just free write or rewrite a few lines from my last work which usually gets me started back in the story.
How have your real life experiences influenced your writing?
Lucky for me, I have not experienced the trauma my character has experienced and hope I never do. Feelings and experiences I have had in my life seem to have infiltrated into my book; such as, watching hot air balloons rise. In my second book, I plan to put in the experience of being in a car accident. Plus, everything I experienced as a child goes into the character and infuses within their personalities.
Tell me about your main characters.
Carolina Stronghill-the main character, is running away from her past and hiding from an ex. She finds her way in Albuquerque where she is set up by the police, to be bait for a serial killer. Someone told me she has a lot of anger issues, and I find her to be tough on the outside and melted chocolate on the inside.
Gabriel- He is a love interest of Carolina’s. He is the tall, dark, brooding and handsome one with a lot of pain from his past.
Seth-He is also another love interest of Carolina’s. He is a reverend that has fallen in love with poor, guilty, Carolina. He is quiet and elusive and my heroine just can’t quite figure him out.
Describe your favorite scene in your first release.
In Albuquerque, we host one of the largest Hot Air Balloon Festivals in the world. My first experience of seeing these giants released into the sky during a cold, crisp, morning is one of my favorite experiences and I wanted to capture that in the book.
Have you based a character on a real person? Who?
No, I thought she was completely made up but in hindsight, she has some my personality traits, some thoughts I have. She is certainly bolder than I and in more psychological pain. She is a survivor of many traumas and I really put her through the ringer.
Describe you favorite place to write.
I have a room in my house that is completely all my own and it is my favorite place to write and work on my art. There is too much distraction for me at coffee houses, or anywhere else. At coffee houses, I will hear the noise, and then start looking at people wondering what their lives are like and begin fantasizing about their lives and not concentrate on my work.
What do you like to do when you are not writing?
I am an artist as well. So, typically I love to take art classes, draw, and paint in acrylics, and pastels. In the summer, I am also an avid bicyclist. I ride to raise money for my friends who have MS.
Would you share an excerpt with us? (2-5 minutes)
Does your main hero/heroine have an interesting quirk?
Yes, actually, she does. She collects animal coffee cups and that trait has really endeared her to some of my readers. I figured I would be getting lots of messages about the darker scenes in the book but my heroine collecting animal cups, and what happens to those cups, have generated the most comments from my readers.
What was your road to publishing like? Tell us about it.
What led you to choose the path you took to publishing?
Self-publishing seemed like the ideal choice for me. I wanted to publish my book but I didn’t want someone else to decide if the story was good enough for their publishing house. I want the reader to decide.
What advice do you have for other writers starting on this path?
First of all, write; your voice deserves to be heard. Also, I would say build up your audience first using social media like Facebook, Twitter, and other Social Media and blog, blog, and blog. Get to know your readers and generate a following.
Do you have any interesting stories about your “first time”? (publishing, that is…)
I had a friend who was one of the first to buy my book. I would receive text messages from her every time something happened in the book, or something that struck her. It was such a blast, receiving those messages, and knowing that my writing had that kind of impact on her. It made me realize that, as writers, for a few moments in time we can take readers out of their lives and have an emotional connection. It was a most empowering experience.
Do you have others in your life who encourage and support you? Tell us about them.
My husband, Frank, he is the one that actually started it all. I went to a Tom Bird Seminar and I was enthralled by his method of stopping the left brain and letting the right brain soar. I came home really excited about it and it was all I could talk about. But, after a couple of days went by, I began to question myself and my abilities. I said financially it was too much and let it go. A couple of days later, I came home and on the kitchen counter was a card, from Frank, that said, “I love you; go for it” and it was an all-expense-paid trip to go to the retreat. Also, the writing group I am in is extremely supportive. I also have a good friend who, for three years, never stopped asking, “how’s the writing” and a life coach with both the patience of a Saint and the persistence of Hercules.
Tell us three things about yourself that our listeners would find interesting or don’t know before now.
What is your favorite time of the day to write?
Almost any time of the day is my favorite time to write; however, writing in the morning is still the best time. There is a stillness and peace, when my animals and husband are sleeping and the house is completely quiet.
How did you come up with the title of your book?
The killer has the victim recite the children’s prayer before he kills them.
Do you have an agent? A publicist?
Currently, not at this time.
How long did this road to publication take for you?
From the time of the first Tom Bird Retreat in September of 2010 to November 2013 was three years.
We’ve all gotten those nasty rejection letters. How did you handle them? Did you do anything special for yourself? (Stash them in a box? Get yourself a treat? Have a good cry?)
I sent out query letters to over a 100 people and got one reply while, a friend of mine, got several letters of interest. So, I went up to my hotel room and cried like a little girl. Then, after a few moments of sadness, I went back to writing and proceeded with my manuscript. That experienced influenced my decision to self-publish.
Do you have any new manuscripts you are working on? Tell us about them.
Yes, definitely, I am working on a manuscript for the next book in the series in which Carolina; my heroine, faces herself, her foe, and is wrapped up in a murder mystery. Also, a character from the first book will have his own voice because I wanted to explore his thoughts and feelings; for a third book, but the trick is…I have made it so that it will tie in with the other two.
Is your first book a stand alone or a series?
Will be a series.
Do you read the genre you write for or do you prefer other genres?
Oddly enough, I mostly read paranormal romance, but I will read whatever captures my attention. I like paranormal fiction, adventure, and fantasies.
What celebrity would you chose to play the main character(s) in the movie rendition of your book?
I didn’t write for any specific celebrities in mind but, in asking my writing group friends on Facebook; we came up with Toni Colette as the main character. Gabriel would be played by Joe Manganiello, Alicide from True Blood, and Alexander Skarsgard of True Blood would be a perfect Seth.
Have you joined any writer’s groups?
My writer’s group is extremely unique: a friend from high school, JK Lycke, is a romance writer, reviewer, and blogger. My friend from twitter, S.G. Lee, is a horror writer and a blogger as well. Linda Rosendale, a popular blogger, and writer, who is a friend of JK’s. We are completely crazy and very supportive of each other. Even though we write different genres; we are hoping to create a horror anthology and have it out by the end of the year. This will be my first time working with other writers and it has been a great experience.
Have you won any awards for your writing?
Not so far, I am looking forward to that though.
What is the hardest part of the writing process for you?
Questioning the thought process of, “is this good enough”, or “will this enthrall the readers” is the hardest part for me.
What is the easiest part of the writing process for you?
When it flows; the words and the ideas come and I just let them, without question.
How do you get past writer’s block?
So far I have been in luck; I have not had writer’s block. I have writer’s fear and that is an everyday struggle. I have push through it and use the method I was taught. When I get in the right brain creative center, ideas flow.
How do you do research for your books?
Through books, magazine, Google, and asking people who are experts in their fields.
Where do you see yourself five years from now?
I hope to be doing exactly what I am doing now; creating books and art but making a solid living at it.
What part of this book was the easiest to write?
The scenes that I was reliving from experience, such as the hot air balloon scene, I could express the excitement, the aromas, the smell of the air, and the descriptions of places I have been in New Mexico.
What part of this book was the most difficult?
The torture scene was the hardest. I was in a quandary over whether I made it too long or too short and I’m still not sure about it. Also, I was guessing what a person feels during torture: the pain, the feelings, they were purely conjecture.
***Please, Please consider reading an excerpt from your book. About 3-5 minutes should do. That way the listeners can get a feel for it. Thanks!!!***