A Romantic Journey: My interview with Laurel Heidtman
Allow me to introduce my next author, Laurel Heidtman.
Q: What genres do you write and why do you enjoy those genres? What are your book titles?
A: I write mysteries and thrillers as Laurel Heidtman. Those are probably my favorite genres to read, so naturally I gravitated to them when I started writing. I was a police officer for ten years, so I have a personal sense of what “sounds” authentic when writing scenes involving cops. I have two mysteries in my Eden series: Catch A Falling Star and Bad Girls. I’ll soon be starting a third. I also just published a thriller titled Whiteout. It also has law enforcement officers as some of the characters. It’s set in Daniel Boone National Forest in Kentucky during a freak March blizzard. My husband and I live on private land inside Daniel Boone National Forest and have been here during the March 1993 blizzard (22 inches of snow and drifts higher than that!). Fortunately, we didn’t have two escaped federal prisoners to deal with like the couples do in my book.
As Lolli Powell, I’ve written about a contemporary romantic journey titled The Boy Next Door and a romantic suspense titled The Wrong Kind of Man. I’m working on the first book in what I intend to be a series. The series will be called Top Shelf Mysteries and the first book is titled The Body on the Barstool. While romances are not my favorite genre, I do enjoy reading good ones from time to time, and I particularly enjoy ones that mix a bit of mystery or thriller with the romance. So…I decided to try my hand at writing in that genre. Same thing with cozies. While I usually prefer grittier mysteries, I do enjoy the occasional cozy, especially if it’s funny. I decided to publish my series under the Lolli Powell name so it will be obvious to readers that it’s tamer in terms of language and violence than my other mysteries.
As for writing different genres, I think it’s good practice. I wasn’t sure I could do a romance or a cozy when I first attempted one, but I think I’ve done a pretty good job.
Q: What got you into writing?
A: I’ve wanted to write fiction since I first learned to read and maybe before. Seriously, I can’t think of a time that writing wasn’t my dream. I grew up very poor in a rural area of Ohio, and until I was thirteen, my family didn’t have a television (this was the 1950’s, so not that unusual). I was an only child and we lived in the country, so I was often responsible for entertaining myself. We didn’t have running water, but we always had books in the house. I got books for Christmas and birthdays, and of course, there was the library. I did some writing when I was young and I got my BA in English with a Creative Writing Emphasis, but people in my world tended to get practical jobs guaranteed to bring in a paycheck and that’s what I did. However, when I retired from the 9 to 5 routine in 2008, I decided it was time to finally get down to the business of writing fiction. I can afford to do it now that I have two patrons of the arts in my corner—Uncle Sam with my social security check and my husband with his pension check! 🙂
Q: What have been your experiences (good and bad) with publishing and becoming an author?
A: I honestly can’t think of any bad experiences unless you want to count the disappointment of not hitting a bestseller list and getting a movie deal! Only kidding—mostly.
I chose self-publishing, because I’m old and don’t have the time to go through the years of rejections that most authors endure before an agent and a publisher finally accept them. Besides, I’m a control freak when it comes to my own life and I like being in control of what I write. I did it all myself through Amazon and Smashwords (stay away from those pay publishers everyone!). The only thing I paid for was my covers, and in most cases, I bartered editing services for them with a UK writer and graphic artist. I also enjoy experimenting with ways to market my books, which is something a lot of self-published writers seem to hate.
One of the best things about self-publishing is the camaraderie between authors. I didn’t know anyone else who had written or was writing a book until I started. Then, I learned of many others in my own country doing the same thing, as well as met countless others online. Every day I communicate with other writers from all age groups from all over the world who are on this same journey. It’s rare to find the bad apple who only wants to compete by trashing the work of others. More often than not, we help each other in any way we can with marketing tips, beta-reading, advice, encouragement, etc.
Q: Were there role models who made you want to write?
A: I suppose the authors of the many books I read when young. I didn’t know any writers personally. My English teachers were always encouraging, but I can’t honestly say I had a role model.
Q: Do you have any words of wisdom to up and coming writers?
A: The Nike slogan “Just Do It” is the best advice. Don’t sit around waiting for that elusive thing called inspiration. Writing is work. Sit your butt in a chair and put your fingers on the keyboard and just do it. And work in some time every week (every day, if you have it to spare) for study. Read books in the genre you write, read books and articles about the writing craft, take online courses, join writing groups in your area. If you’re still in college, take classes in creative writing. Go to conferences. But above all, WRITE!
Whether you’re young or old or anywhere in between, don’t let age stop you. Even young people have a story to tell, and old people have even more. Your “voice” will be different depending on your age and experience, but different voices are a good thing.
Oops, almost forgot one important word of wisdom—EDIT! I see so many self-published books full of grammar and punctuation errors. Even worse, I see ones full of inexcusable mistakes like missing words or words that should have been removed after the text was changed. Even people who don’t know the difference between a preposition and a pig should be able to spot those kinds of errors if they just took the time to read, reread, and read again. Writers who aren’t good at grammar, etc., should find some money for a good editor, or ask a friend or relative who aced English classes. Turning out unprofessional manuscripts hurts us all.
Q: Who are your favorite authors and why?
A: For mystery, I love Nevada Barr’s books. Each one is set in a different national park and I enjoy the background given on the location, plus Anna Pigeon is a tough female character. I like tough female characters. I also enjoy John Sandford’s books. I especially enjoy his Virgil Flowers series, but then, I lust for Virgil Flowers. I also enjoy J.A. Konrath’s Jack Daniels series for the humor in the interactions between Jack and her partner, plus she’s another tough female character. But, boy, some of the descriptions of violence in those books is tough to take and I like violence in books! For romance, I enjoy books by Nora Roberts and her alter ego, J.D. Robb. The Eve Dallas books are such a fun mix of romance and crime set in a futuristic setting.
When it comes to the classics, I like Dickens and H. Rider Haggard, who was without a doubt one of the best adventure writers of all time.
Thanks Laurel, for taking the time to interview with me, and share your knowledge of what it means to be a writer.
Stay tuned for more!
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