Well, I’m back from Book Expo America, and, boy, are my dogs barking! Lots and lots of walking and excitement as always, and I’ll be posting all about it in the days to come, but today we have our featured debut author. A big welcome to Tamara Ward!
Name of book: Jade O’Reilly and the Ice Queen (A Sweetwater Short)
Book genre: short story, mystery
Date published: March 2012
What is your day job? Stay-at-home mom with two young boys, freelance journalist
What is your book about? When a priceless vase disappears during the fanciest party of the year in the fictional town of Sweetwater, NC, it’s up to private investigator Jade O’Reilly to recover the family heirloom. As Jade tracks down the vase, she juggles pressures from her ex-fiancé, Dale Pickles, and hard-core co-worker Mack Blackmon. This Sweetwater Short story is about 40 pages in length and originally was published in the WG2E All-For-Indies Winter Wonderland Anthology.
Why did you want to write this book? Fortune and glory. Just kidding; I’m not Indiana Jones or his sidekick, though I wouldn’t mind wearing the hat.
Seriously, though, I enjoy writing fun, fast-paced mysteries, so when an opportunity to write a short story for an indie writers’ anthology arose, I jumped at the occasion. I was in the process of writing a novel with the same characters who appear in the short story. I’m surprised at how much I learned about those characters in the process of writing the short story.
So the story was published in the anthology. A few months later, my publisher, Peak City Publishing, ran a promotion for Storm Surge, my first novel. When it hit the Amazon bestsellers lists, I wanted to offer something more for readers. Since the Ice Queen had been professionally edited, and since it was ready to go, I decided to self-publish the short story. In the meantime, I’m finishing writing the novel with the same characters.
What would you say is the most challenging part of writing a book? Forcing out that horrible first draft! It’s difficult to find time to write during a day filled with chasing around two young boys, promoting my first novel, and working a writing job to pay a few bills… oh yeah, and spending a few minutes with my husband! I’ve found that once I get a draft written, shaping, editing, and polishing that already written draft is much easier and more appealing to me than hacking out the first draft.
Did you conduct any kind of research in order to write this book (visit certain locales, etc.)? I attended the Writers Police Academy last fall, not specifically for the short story or for any book in particular but to increase my general knowledge about professional crime solvers. The weekend was amazing! The pros buried a latex cadaver in the woods and set out buckets of meat nearby in an attempt to draw insects and create a smell. The staff also conducted a bunch of demonstrations and workshops, including an unforgettable hostage negotiation with a sniper. I even got handcuffed!
Wow, that’s cool. What would you say motivates you to write, generally? Although it’s difficult to write with handcuffs… I’m not sure I can pinpoint my exact motivation. I love to write. I’ve always loved to write. It’s who I am!
Did you experience writer’s block? Sometimes I’ll come to a scene that’s hard to write, and I don’t know where to begin. Sometimes I’ll skip the scene and come back to it later; other times I just have to force myself to sit down and pound out that first draft. There will be holes in the draft, notes where I’ll write “insert description here,” and the draft will be littered with clichés. Characters will be acting out of character. Oh, it’s hideous. But if I can get that first draft out, then I can come back to it and edit it, which is easier and more rewarding.
Tell me about your experiences in publishing. I’ve been published by a small new publisher and I’ve self-published that short story. Both processes were easier than I expected. But I wasn’t expecting how time consuming the continuous need to promote the books after they were published would be. Still, when I connect with readers, it’s the best part of my day.
What would you say is the biggest misconception about writing a book? Many people assume that working with an editor on “your baby” is difficult. Maybe I just found the right editor who clicked with me. I truly enjoy working with my editor. She has some great suggestions that only make my writing better, and we’ve developed a professional friendship.
What was your favorite aspect of the writing process for this book? I always enjoy when the characters become alive and begin telling me what’s going to happen next.
What tools/methods have you employed to promote your book? What advice would you give to writers regarding promotion? My best tool is my mother. (I’m only half joking.) She tries to sell my book to everyone she meets and is my most vocal supporter. I’ll be visiting her at her house near the beach, and we’ll be walking along the shore in our swimming suits, and she’ll see someone reading and give them one of my cards! I’m nowhere near that extroverted. She even encouraged a couple of book stores to stock my novel and hold book signings. Go, mom!
Aside from your own mother, social media provides ample opportunities for promotion. You know the assortment: Facebook, Twitter, blogging, Pinterest, Goodreads, Google plus. The list goes on and on, doesn’t it?
Just remember that you’re a writer first and a promoter second. You must write to be a writer! So, every day, find time to write as well as promote! Also, don’t always promote. Use the sites to connect and only occasionally to promote.
So you’re writing another book? I’ve got my next novel written and am in the process of negotiating a contract with my publisher. I’m rounding second (I hope) on the first novel of a new series and in the beginning stages of writing another Jade O’Reilly short story.
My favorite last question: Oprah once famously said that there is no such thing as luck, without preparation and a moment of opportunity. Would you agree or disagree with regard to your own success as a writer? I do believe in luck. I also believe in preparation and putting yourself in places where opportunities can find you or where you can find an opportunity. Sometimes you get lucky. Sometimes your hard work and perseverance pay off.