As part of a blog tour organized by Great Escapes Virtual Book Tours, I am pleased to have as my guest today the authors in To Fetch a Thief – an anthology of light dog-themed cozy mysteries. They’re a great bunch, and they are doing such a fine job of squishing together on my virtual sofa to share the spotlight.
Thoughts about Writing from the TO FETCH A THIEF Authors
Teresa Inge, Header Weidner, Jayne Ormerod and Rosemary Shomaker
What is the one thing about the writing life that you didn’t know until you were published?
Jayne: How difficult the marketing phase of things would be. I guess I thought these books would just sell themselves!
Heather: I didn’t realize how much marketing went into the book business. It takes a great deal of time to promote your work. You need to balance the writing/editing time with your promotions.
Rosemary: Until I was published, I didn’t understand the role of an editor and that the role may be different from story to story or book to book. Some editors require you accept their suggestions and changes unless you have some compelling reason to not accept them. Luckily, my first editor was a mentor and taught me what was expected and how much to discuss or argue or disagree with an editor. Other editors were unclear on the editing process logistics—the how to indicate changes or indicate non-acceptance of editing. I’ve had some snafus where edits, both mine and the editor’s, were not properly reflected in a story, and that’s frustrating.
Teresa: That I have to market, promote, and sell my books. I’ve learned a lot about promotion and scheduling book signings.
How long did it take you to get your first work published (from creation to actual book)? What was your first published work?
Jayne: I wear the “100-rejection” badge of honor. It took me almost six years to get The Blond Leading the Blond published by Avalon Books. I finally got noticed because my first chapter was a finalist in a mystery writing contest in which the final judge was the publisher.
Heather: My first mystery to be published was a short story, “Washed up” in Virginia is for Mysteries, a Sisters in Crime anthology. It took about six months to write and polish. Then the book editing/proofreading/formatting process took probably another eight months or so. My first mystery novel, Secret Lives and Private Eyes took me about five years to write and rewrite and rewrite. When it was finally accepted for publication, it took another seven months to become a book.
Rosemary: The first item I had published for pay was a short story I’d written during a long weekend. Once I submitted the story, the gentle editing needed from my end took only an afternoon. “A Fish By Any Other Name” was included in A Shaker of Margaritas: Hot Flash Mommas, the first of the Shaker of Margaritas series, in 2010.
Teresa: I was part of a creative writing group at a community college and my first story was published in a book with that group. It was around six months after my story was accepted.
Plotter (one who plans or plots out every detail of her writing) or Pantser (one who writes by the seat of her pants)?
Jayne: Plotter. You should see my story board!
Heather: I’m a hybrid. I start out as a detailed plotter, and then I write. The story and the characters always go where they want to go.
Rosemary: I’m a pantser—autocorrect keeps changing this to “panther,” and that’s funny to me because if I were an animal, I most certainly would not be a panther. I’d be a duck or some other bird, I think. But I digress. So, I am a seat-of-the-pants writer with plotter tendencies. Being a pantser is much more fun, if you ask me. Early on I thought I was a plotter because I’m very analytical. I was highly organized for the first part of my life. When I became a parent, all that flew out the window. The first story I consciously totally plotted revealed I was a pantser. By the time I finished plotting that story to the nth degree, I was so sick of the story that I didn’t want to write it. The beauty of a pantser is the creative flow. The raw material for the story emerges organically—“pantsing”—and the rewrite and editing phases allow me to be as analytical as I want to be on a project. That’s a good mix for me.
Teresa: Both. I like to plot and be creative, so I can follow where the character takes me.
What advice would you have for a new writer?
Jayne: Don’t ever, ever give up. It’s a long, long road to publication, but it’s worth it!
Heather: Be persistent. If you want to be published, keep at it. Keep writing. Keep learning, and don’t give up.
Rosemary: My advice to a new writer is two-fold. First, pick a genre. Second, join a writing group dedicated to that genre. Many new writers I meet dabble in several genres, and this wastes a lot of time, in my opinion. Much learning about professional fiction writing is transferable among genres, but one must commit to only one in order to show his or her serious intent and gain the trust of that selected genre’s writing community. For me, meeting mystery writers and hearing their explanations of “this is how mystery writers do it” was the beginning of fruitful learning.
This advice has been rejected by a few new writers who don’t see why they have to limit themselves. I’m not talking about limits. I’m suggesting concentration. I advise new writers to immerse themselves in maybe one or two genres at a time, if they really won’t choose one only. I also suggest that they not share about their dual commitments in either writing community and just focus on whatever genre project or group they attend or work with, independent of the other group. In my mind, a new writer (with a day job) could immerse himself or herself in one genre and one genre community for two years and learn enough to know if it’s his or her writing “home” for the foreseeable future.
Teresa: Go to conferences and workshops. And write. These will help develop your craft.
To Fetch a Thief is the first in the Mutt Mysteries collection. Tell us about your real dogs and what they do while you write.
Jayne: We have two rescues, Tiller and Scout. They are still puppies. I can only write while they are napping. The little one likes to curl up next to me on the sofa and rest his head on my keyboard. That is a challenge! And a distraction! But giving me lots of fodder for future cozies featuring dogs! Already working on my second Mutt Mystery.
Heather: My two Jack Russell Terriers (Disney and Riley) have beds in my office on either side of my desk. Sometimes, they help me plot or listen as I talk through dialogue. Most of the time, they snooze.
Rosemary: My dog is my comfort animal. As I raised my children, our first family dog, Mabel, and our second family dog, Current, were the loving beings in my home with the least needs. And bless their hearts, after home, house, and family needs were met, these dogs were there to provide me with easy, nonjudgmental companionship. I am not a nurturer, so family nurturing took a lot out of me. When I was exhausted and crabby, my dogs nurtured me. Now my kids are grown and my current pooch, our second family dog, “Current,” has a new role. He tears me away from my obsessing about writing and other projects and reminds me to go outside for a walk or to work in the yard with him for company. He seems to know when I really need a break. He reminds me to give him food and water, and thusly to meet my human needs to eat and drink and to step away from too much concentration and relax. He’s usually in the dog bed in my son’s old room while I write in another room nearby. He’ll walk in and interrupt me when it’s time he and I do something else.
Teresa: My dogs are Luke and Lena, both shepherd mixed. They are named after my husband’s grandparents and love to sit by me when I write.
About To Fetch a Thief
To Fetch a Thief, the first Mutt Mysteries collection, features four novellas that have gone to the dogs. In this howlingly good read, canine companions help their owners solve crimes and right wrongs. These sleuths may be furry and low to the ground, but their keen senses are on high alert when it comes to sniffing out clues and digging up the truth.
Make no bones about it, these pup heroes will steal your heart as they conquer ruff villains.
“Hounding the Pavement” by Teresa Inge
Catt Ramsey has three things on her mind: grow her dog walking service in Virginia Beach, solve the theft of a client’s vintage necklace, and hire her sister Emma as a dog walker. But when Catt finds her model client dead after walking her precious dogs Bella and Beau, she and her own dogs Cagney and Lacey are hot on the trail to clear her name after being accused of murder.
“Diggin’ up Dirt” by Heather Weidner
Amy Reynolds and her Jack Russell Terrier Darby find some strange things in her new house. Normally, she would have trashed the forgotten junk, but Amy’s imagination kicks into high gear when her nosy neighbors dish the dirt about the previous owners who disappeared, letting the house fall into foreclosure. Convinced that something nefarious happened, Amy and her canine sidekick uncover more abandoned clues in their search for the previous owners.
“Dog Gone it All” by Jayne Ormerod
Meg Gordon and her tawny terrier Cannoli are hot on the trail of a thief, a heartless one who steals rocks commemorating neighborhood dogs who have crossed the Rainbow Bridge. But sniffing out clues leads them to something even more merciless…a dead body! There’s danger afoot as the two become entangled in the criminality infesting their small bayside community. And, dog gone it all, Meg is determined to get to the bottom of things.
“This is Not a Dog Park” by Rosemary Shomaker
“Coyotes and burglaries? That’s an odd pairing of troubles.” Such are Adam Moreland’s reactions to a subdivision’s meeting announcement. He has no idea. Trouble comes his way in spades, featuring a coyote . . . burglaries . . . and a dead body! A dog, death investigation, and new female acquaintance kick start Adam’s listless life frozen by a failed relationship, an unfulfilling job, and a judgmental mother. Events shift Adam’s perspective and push him to act.
Links to the Book:
Amazon * Apple * Barnes and Noble * Books to Read * Kobo * Overdrive * 24 Symbols
About the Authors
Teresa Inge grew up reading Nancy Drew mysteries. Today, she doesn’t carry a rod like her idol, but she hotrods. She is president of Sister’s in Crime Mystery by the Sea Chapter and author of short mysteries in Virginia is for Mysteries and 50 Shades of Cabernet.
Heather Weidner, a member of SinC – Central Virginia and Guppies, is the author of the Delanie Fitzgerald Mysteries, Secret Lives and Private Eyes and The Tulip Shirt Murders. Her short stories appear in the Virginia is for Mysteries series and 50 Shades of Cabernet. Heather lives in Virginia with her husband and a pair of Jack Russell terriers, Disney and Riley. She’s been a mystery fan since Scooby-Doo and Nancy Drew. Some of her life experience comes from being a technical writer, editor, college professor, software tester, IT manager, and cop’s kid. She blogs at Pens, Paws, and Claws.
Jayne Ormerod grew up in a small Ohio town then went on to a small-town Ohio college. Upon earning her degree in accountancy, she became a CIA (that’s not a sexy spy thing, but a Certified Internal Auditor.) She married a naval officer and off they sailed to see the world. After nineteen moves, they, along with their two rescue dogs Tiller and Scout, have settled into a cozy cottage by the sea. Jayne is the author of the Blonds at the Beach Mysteries, The Blond Leading the Blond, and Blond Luck. She has contributed seven short mysteries to various anthologies to include joining with the other To Fetch a Thief authors in Virginia is for Mysteries, Volumes I and II, and 50 Shades of Cabernet.
Rosemary Shomaker writes about the unexpected in everyday life. She’s the woman you don’t notice in the grocery store or at church but whom you do notice at estate sales and wandering vacant lots. In all these places she’s collecting story ideas. Rosemary writes women’s fiction, paranormal, and mystery short stories, and she’s taking her first steps toward longer fiction, so stay tuned. She’s an urban planner by education, a government policy analyst by trade, and a fiction writer at heart. Rosemary credits Sisters in Crime with developing her craft and applauds the organization’s mission of promoting the ongoing advancement, recognition, and professional development of women crime writers.