Do you lose your writing inspiration during the summer? It can be hard to focus when there are so many things going on and the beach is calling your name. You still need to write, though, and today Valerie Goree is going to talk about her publishing experience to help motivate all of us to keep writing!
What do you write? How did you pick your genre?
I write romantic suspense because that’s the genre I prefer to read. In writing romantic suspense, I create the level of suspense I’m comfortable with, and although I sometimes question law enforcement officers to make sure I get the details correct, I still control the action.
What’s the most difficult part of writing your genre? How do you work through those challenges?
The most difficult aspect of writing romantic suspense is to develop a balance between the two elements. The romance must blossom alongside the suspense thread. Neither should overshadow the other. I create situations where the characters have to rely on each other to solve the mystery and so build the bonds that will lead to romance. All my novels have a strong spiritual thread, too, that has to be woven throughout the story.
If you’ve written multiple books, which was harder: the first book or the following books? Why?
I think the following books were harder to write because by then I knew more about the craft of writing a good story. The first novel I wrote flowed freely, however, when I presented it for a critique at a conference, I was sadly disappointed that my book baby was no instantly snapped up by a publisher. So yes, it might have been easy to write but it was not a polished product. I have since revised it considerably, and now it is in print. Forever Under Blue Skies, available from Amazon.
What’s your favorite book on writing? What do you like about it?
My favorite book is The Emotions Thesaurus, by Angela Ackerman and Becca Puglisi, published in 2012. Authors are familiar with the “rule” Show Don’t Tell. This book lists a variety of emotions, then describes the physical actions or gestures that reflect that emotion.
For example, I can write: Rosa was anxious. (Telling.) Or, I could write: Rosa clutched her purse to her chest and blew out a serious of short breaths. Then she rubbed the back of her neck and glanced at the clock again. (Showing.) Naturally, I also rely on how I would act in a given situation, but the book delves deep into the emotion.
What’s your favorite writers conference?
My favorite conference is the Mount Hermon Writers Conference. They offered a plethora of workshops for fiction and non-fiction authors. The causal atmosphere in the lush forests near Santa Cruz, California, allowed want-to-be authors to visit with multi-published folks, agents, and editors. The website indicated the conference may be cancelled. Sad.
How do you prepare to write your books: pantser, plotter, both, something completely different?
I’m a pantser/plotter. I begin by completing background information for my major characters. What are their strengths and weaknesses? What happened in their pasts that makes them who they are today? What jobs do they have? What are their hopes and dreams for the future?
When I know who will star in my story, I outline the basic plot, especially the suspense element. I know how I want the story to end … and so the writing begins and the pantser takes over.
Quite often a character will “give” me details during a conversation with another member of the cast. My plan might be for the plot to veer left, but the character will say something that takes the story in a completely different direction. This may sound strange to some readers, but believe me, many authors will agree that if your characters aren’t “talking” to you, maybe it’s because you’re taking them in the wrong direction.
What advice do you have for new authors?
Read the genre you write, study craft books, attend conferences and workshops, but keep on writing. As with any other skill, you have to practice to improve. If possible, join a critique group. You’ll be surprised by how much you’ll learn.
How do you self-edit your manuscript?
I edit as I write. Sometimes this interferes with the creative process, but my OCD tendencies usually won’t allow me to continue if I’m aware of mistakes or plot holes. Before I begin a chapter, I generally know what I want to cover and sometimes I jot down notes to remind myself. Many times throughout the process, I stop and reread what I’ve written. This allows me to spot inconsistencies or problems.
When the novel is complete, I search for weasel words and either remove or replace them. I’m always surprised at how often I use the word “just.”
American Christian Fiction Writers Genesis Award winner Valerie Massey Goree resides on the beautiful Olympic Peninsula of Washington State.
After serving as missionaries in her home country of Zimbabwe and raising two children, Glenn and Valerie moved to Texas. She worked in the public school system for many years, focusing on students with special needs. Now retired in Washington, Valerie spends her time writing, and spoiling her grandchildren.
Novels include: Deceive Me Once; Colors of Deceit; The Stolen Lives Trilogy, Weep in the Night; Day of Reckoning; and Justice at Dawn, to be released July, 2021. Valerie’s latest novel Forever Under Blue Skies, is now available from Amazon.