Fighting Prose Interview with Beverly Owens

Welcome to my in-depth writers series Fighting Prose. This week we’re talking to Beverly Owens who is a fun retiree that enjoys writing mysteries.


How long have you been writing?

I've been writing for a very long time but didn't get serious about it until two years ago. I threatened for years that I had a book or two in me and decided to tell one when one day a character entered my mind and wouldn't leave. I could see her she was determined that I write her story and introduced me to a couple of her friends and family. I sat down, not knowing what I was doing and began to type. I self-published that first book 6 weeks after I began writing it. Roni is the main character in my first four books in the Roni Rainer Mysteries series. Earlier this summer, I started my second series when Taylor came to me one day as I did this dishes. She said that Roni wouldn't mind if it allowed her a little vacation. Writers will understand this....

Of your books, which is your favorite?

They are all my babies. I love writing about Roni a whole lot but Taylor in the new series is fun to write, too. She is very different from Roni. I wouldn't be able to tell you that I have a favorite daughter and I can't say that I have a favorite character or book.

What's your favorite genre to read? Write?

I've been an avid reader ever since I learned that I could escape into a book. For years, I read Mysteries. Then I got into historical fiction, found that I love to read Fantasy and then I discovered Cozy Mysteries. I'll read any genre if the blurb captures my attention.

Tell me about your process: how do you get in the mood to write? How do your characters come together? How do you get your ideas?

I'm always in the mood to write. I treat it like a job. Every day I get up, drink some coffee while checking emails and social media. I get dressed like I'm leaving the house and then sit down to type. I won't stop until I've typed at least 2,000 words (sometimes when I'm in the zone I type more). My poor old brain is crowded with characters... they just kind of show up. My ideas come to me in a variety of ways. I might stand at the sink doing dishes or riding in the car to do an errand. Taylor came to me one morning as I stood at the sink brushing my teeth. Crocheting, believe it or not, opens my mind up to ideas, too. Once an idea takes form, I talk to my husband about it. He is supportive and often helps me work through parts that have me stumped.

Who do you admire the most in the writing world?

My goodness I have read so many really talented authors in my decades of reading. Two people stand out as ones that I admire. Jean Auel who wrote the Earth's Children books is one. She just blew me away with her extensive research and telling such a good story that she pulled me into a prehistoric world that was believable and fascinating. Steven King is also an author that I admire a great deal. The man is a true wordsmith! I don't and won't read any of his horror books because the man is so talented with showing you something with words that I would never sleep again. I love his other works, though. As you read his books, you SEE the story. That is a talent!

If you're not busy writing, what are you busy doing?

I read a lot! I love to crochet gifts for the family and for our home. Cooking brings me joy, especially when my husband enjoys what I've placed on a plate in front of him. My biggest joy is when my girls come home for a visit bringing my two granddaughters with them. They keep me busy on those visits. Other than that it is the basic keeping the house clean.

Have you ever had writers block? If so, how did you get out of it?

Yes, and it messed with my head. I was working on my third book and everything just stopped. I would sit down and nothing would come to me... nothing! I worried and fretted and thought I was through. I just put it away for a while. I would think about it every once in a while but nothing came to me. It was in November 2017 when I started that book and it wasn't until February 2019 when the block broke away. I sat down to crochet one day and as the yarn ran across my hook, my mind wandered and the solution came to me. I sat down that afternoon and finished the book in less than a month.

For a writer starting out what advice would you give them?

Believe in yourself would be the first piece of advice. If you are a writer, it will come out of you because it has to. Stick with it and remember the first draft is just that a draft. It will need to be polished and pretty later but the first thing is to write the basic story. After you have written it, read it and then read it again and then again. Each time you work on it, it gets better. Also, read a lot. Read what others are doing in your genre and in other genres. If you see that certain tropes are being overdone, don't fall into that trap. Find something original and different for your books. Write what you know! Research it if you don't have firsthand knowledge. And please, please for the love of Pete, do not put your setting in a real area that you have never been to or researched. Fantasy writers can create their own worlds but if you pick a real setting know the terrain, the weather and the flora and fauna. Your readers will pick up on your lack of knowledge.

Have you always been creative? Has it always been writing?

I've always been creative. Storytelling has always been a part of me whether verbal or the written word. Crafts have always been a huge part of my life. Crocheting, needlepoint, and cross-stitch have taken up more than a few hours of my time.

What is your dream writing location?

A cabin in the mountains somewhere surrounded by nature.

If you could bring one of your characters to life who would it be? Why?

You mean they aren't real? I would love to spend time with Kitchi from the Roni Rainer books. He is so spiritual! Aunt Flossie in the Cabin 9 books is just a hoot and I would like to spend some time with her as she explains numerology and the spirit world to me.


Links to Beverly:

Good Luck with Everything Beverly!


Thanks for reading!

XoXo-

Colleen

Fighting Prose Interview with Beth Vrabel

Welcome to my in-depth author series Fighting Prose. Where I talk to authors in the industry on what their process is like and what it takes for them to keep on creating, through all the odds. This week I’ve interviewed Beth Vrabel.

Since our last names start with V (hers) and Y (me), Beth and I ended up sitting next to each other at a book festival many years ago. Those of you that have been to book festivals know how small those tables are… Beth and I broke the ice within the first hour. It was an interesting festival (to say the least) with very little foot traffic. All we had for entertainment were people watching and seeing who could crack the most jokes. (However, I think Beth’s daughter might have won.)

For me, it was one of those moments - I knew that if Beth was my neighbor, we’d end up being best friends. She’s confident and has a great sense of humor and we’ve stayed in touch ever since.

Continue reading to find out just how hilarious she is!


How long have you been writing?

I wrote my first story when I was about 11 years old. My mom read this terrible little story and didn't focus on misspelled words, mucked-up plot points or missing grammar. She just said, "Someday, Beth, you're going to write a story, and it's going to be published." Sounded like a good enough life plan, one that would mesh well with my other goals at the time (becoming a professional roller skater and a Yellowstone Park ranger), so I went with it. Eventually, those other dreams died, but I stuck with the writing. My first career was in journalism. I transitioned into writing books when my kids were toddlers and I stayed home with them.

Of your many, many books, which is your favorite?

Right now, I'm most excited about THE HUMILIATIONS OF PIPI MCGEE (out Sept. 17). Every school year of Penelope's life has been marred with humiliation—everything from drawing herself as bacon in kindergarten to peeing her pants on the third grade field trip, to seventh grade, when the shame was so intense Penelope never, ever talks about it. She has one more year before high school, and she's determined to gain redemption for all of her humiliations. But she'll settle for revenge.

This was so much fun to write---and super cathartic, too. I not only delved into my own embarrassing moments (I'm looking at you, mullet of 1996), I also crowd sourced my friends and families for cringe-worthy memories they couldn't get over. Almost all made it into Pipi's story.

What's your favorite genre to read? Write?

I love reading middle grade, which is also what I write. But when I'm actively on deadline, I try to read outside that genre so I keep my own voice and storyline distinct in my mind. I've been on a big Stephen King kick lately, which is about as far from middle grade as you can get!

Tell me about your process: How do you get in the mood to write? How do your characters come together? How do you get your ideas?

I feel like my process is constantly evolving. It used to be sitting in the middle of a busy coffee shop, I think because the buzz of it was the closest thing to working in a newsroom. We recently moved back to New England, and I have a big office right next to the kitchen. So now my process kicks off with mellow music (I love me some Flora Cash), lighting a candle and sitting in a big cozy chair. My laptop is in front of me, my coffee beside me, and my pain-in-the-butt dog curled behind my head. My ideas come from everywhere—a song lyric, a conversation with my kids, a memory I keep reliving in the shower or as I fall asleep. Once I have a snippet of an idea, I use Scrivener, a writing platform, to create character profiles, including pictures, characteristics and backstory. I plot snapshots (3-5 sentences) of what I think should happen in each chapter, which Scrivener saves like index cards. When I'm actually writing, those index cards are a guide, but if I'm really cooking, the characters take over. When I'm close to deadline and in must-write-or-else mode, I'm most likely sitting at the kitchen counter with a bag of chips or a box of Cheez-its.

Who do you admire the most in the writing world?

Jason Reynolds is a definite favorite. His personal story—not reading a full novel until he was in high school—is inspiring. His work is astounding. I could barely breathe while reading LONG WAY DOWN, which entirely takes place during the span of one elevator ride. Every interview Reynolds gives or opportunity he seizes to speak focuses on children and how they can be empowered. If we're talking broadly, I think the group I admire most would be librarians. These dedicated, book-loving people are on the front lines of communities and schools, making sure that everyone who walks through the door has access to stories that honor, reflect or change them, and in doing so, can change the world.

If you're not busy writing, what are you busy doing?

I love going for runs.* *When I say run, I really mean a fast, stumbling walk.

Have you ever had writers block? If so, how did you get out of it?

Yes! I rearrange furniture. That doesn't really seem to help but at least I'm doing something. My daughter will come home from school, see everything swapped around and sparkling clean, and will give me a hug. "Poor Mom. Bad writing day?"

For a writer starting out what advice would you give them?

Get a dog, maybe even two. They make sure you take a walk once in a while, keep your lap warm while you write, force you to share your snacks, and are excellent fodder for Instagram posts.

Have you always been creative? Has it always been writing?

You know, I always thought writing was my only creative knack, but I've started taking on more and more home improvement things—such as refinishing and reupholstering furniture—and I guess that counts.

What is your dream writing location?

I always think a dock in the middle of a serene lake would be amazing, but I know I'd probably trip and dump my laptop into the water. Sometimes I also think about going on one of those writing retreats where I'd be in a little cottage in the woods with no wifi, just my laptop and unlimited snacks. But then I'd probably tear through my data plan and eat unlimited snacks. Maybe a castle in Scotland? I've never been there, but it seems pretty ideal.

In reference to your books, what question do you get asked the most?

People ask if I want them to be movies. Of course, I want them to be movies. *Shoots stink eye at Netflix.*

If you could bring one of your characters to life who would it be? Why?

Tooter, the fat, farting dog in A BLIND GUIDE TO STINKVILLE. Sure, I already have two fat, farting dogs, but with Tooter we could be a pack.

Beth Vrabel is author of the Cybils'-nominated Caleb and Kit, ILA award-winning A Blind Guide to Stinkville, JLG-selection A Blind Guide to NormalThe Reckless Club,and the Pack of Dorks series. She has received starred and positive trade reviews across the board for all of her novels and is active in school and library visits around the country. She and her family live in Connecticut.

Social Links to Follow


Thank you for reading!

XoXo,

Colleen

Fighting Prose Interview with Nannette Kreitzman

Welcome to Fighting Prose. An in-depth author interview series about writing.

I’m starting out this series with a bang! Nannette is a sweet woman that I’ve become acquainted with through social media. She’s interactive, supportive and sweet. Keep reading to find out all about her, her process and how she’s filled her empty nest with fun short stories.

How long have you been writing? 

I have written little snippets and scenes my whole life.  I started writing complete short stories last October and now have self-published seven of them. 

What's your favorite of your short stories? 

That’s a hard one.  Discovering Me is fun because it let me explore my dark side.  I have a sweet spot for Spitfire’s Gift because of my history with horses and, well, cowboys are a weakness.  But the two Willow stories tap something in me.

If you could bring one of your characters to life who would it be? Why?

Another hard one.  Willow is a vulnerable yet strong woman.  I think she’d make a great friend.  Joe, in Spitfire’s Gift, is a cowboy, and I think I mentioned how I felt about them. 

What's your favorite genre to read? Write? 

I love reading historical fiction.  As for writing, again, I don’t call the shots.  That’s why all my stories are so different.

Tell me about your process: How do you get your ideas?

My ideas, without fail, come to my while I’m walking my dog.  She’s my little furry collaborator!  My memory is horrific, so I dictate a lot of notes (that Siri loves to play pranks with) and then come home and write.  I’m one of the weird ones that edits as I write.  It helps me shape the story. 

Who do you admire the most in the writing world?

My favorite author is Diana Gabaldon.  Her writing is amazing, her dialogue full of playful banter, and the love story between Jamie and Clair is epic in her Outlander series.  Beyond that, I have recently met so many authors through Instagram that inspire me, are supportive, and have so much talent.  Meeting these people has been a life changer.

If you're not busy writing, what are you busy doing? 

I love to read and am currently trying to ever so slowly make my way through a growing list of indie writers.  Beyond that, taking care of my home and family, which has become much easier now that my kids are grown!

Have you ever had writers block? If so, how did you get out of it?

I haven’t had writer’s block since I started writing in earnest last October.  All those years before when I couldn’t come up with enough ideas for a full story, was that writer’s block or lack of imagination?  Most likely I was just too distracted with everyday life.  My hat’s off to those authors with young children!  Now that I have that proverbial empty nest, there is less interference.

For a writer starting out what advice would you give them?

 My best advice is not to get in your own way or get stubborn with an idea.  If your characters keep swaying away from the plot, maybe it’s for a good reason.  The first concept I had for Willow’s Tale was a little boy laying in the grass looking at ants.  It morphed into Willow trying to distract herself while be assaulted in a meadow.  Stay open minded.

Have you always been creative?

I’ve been creative in many ways over my lifetime.  I’ve sketched, crocheted, dabbled in poetry, worked with horses (believe me - that takes some creativity!), and even did a little acting in high school plays (but no need to go there!).  Writing has always meant the most to me and I feel it’s my best talent.

A big THANK YOU to Nanette for letting us poke her brain. I’ve read Discovering Me and thought Nanette did a fantastic job. I gave her 5 stars! You can follow Nanette on Instagram and all her short stories are on Amazon .

If you’re interested in being a part of our Fighting Prose series send us a message and remember to support an Indie!

XoXo-

Colleen