I have loved writing since birth, practically. But I’ve only been writing to share with my first published short story—a horror story called ‘Wobegone’ published in Crimson magazine in 2000. I’ve only been able to write full time since October of 2013.
What is your favorite genre to write?
I like writing in all different genres for all different reasons, if that’s not TOO annoying of an answer. For this cozy mystery series I like trying to lay out the jigsaw of the murder and I like figuring out which Shakespeare references go with the storyline and the clues. With nonfiction I like writing in that genre because it’s me…writing me. J For YA I write paranormal; I LOVE being able to make anything I want happen in a paranormal world, plus I like trying to sound like a high schooler.
Which genre have you never tried before, but would you like to try out?
Well I said my first published short story was horror, but I’ve never written a horror novel. Some days I’d like to try that; other days I feel way too wedded to the happy ending to EVER try it. Stephen King is one of my all-time favorite writers, though, and I think it is because with most of his novels, there is a sense of hope by the end. Same goes for Dean Koontz—those two writers are tops in their craft! I really should try it, it would be a great challenge.
Please tell us about your book.
Emma Lovett leaves her philandering husband and crosses the country to begin her teaching career at a high school in Pinewood, Colorado. There, she meets Leslie Parker, a fellow teacher given to quoting Shakespeare to fit all situations, and the two become fast friends. Arriving at work early one morning, Emma discovers the body of the school custodian, a man who reminds her of her late father. When the police struggle to find the killer, the ladies decide to help solve the murder. Their efforts lead them to a myriad of suspects: the schizophrenic librarian, the crude football coach, the mysterious social studies teacher, and even Emma’s new love interest. As Emma Lovett discovers the perils of teaching high school, she and Leslie learn more than they ever wanted to know about the reasons people kill.
Which character was your favorite, and why? Which character was your least favorite, and why?
I love Emma and Leslie the most, because they are a combination of me and all my English teacher friends. Right now my least favorite character is Charlie Foreman, he is a misogynistic douchebag with no redeeming qualities he has ever shown me. The police detective Carl Niome is also not the best guy ever. He has hinted at some redemption to me, though, so we’ll see what he does in future books…
What was the hardest part about writing your book?
To be honest—this part. J The whole marketing/social media aspect is not something I’m used to or very good at, yet. I’m working on it…
What is your writing routine? Are there things you absolutely need to start writing?
I have a small ‘office’ AKA a chair in the corner of my bedroom, complete with laptop and picture of my late father—bookseller extraordinaire. There is a schedule taped to the side of my dresser, laying out chunks of time for each writing project and each social media outlet. 7 days a week!
How long did it take you to write your book from start to finish?
The first draft took about a year. Different draft processes were done intermittently with other projects, so other drafts took another couple of years, in sections here and there. Once I got a contract with RedAdept Publishing, the total time between signing and release (three more drafts, content editor, line editor, proofreader, cover art, formatting, WOW, took thirteen months
Can you tell us about your editing process?
I don’t edit anything until the entire first draft is finished. Then I give the manuscript to several Beta readers, compile all their comments and ideas, and then dive in to the editing.
Is this book part of a series? If so, how many installments do you have planned?
It is a series! The Chalkboard Outlines® cozy mystery series will be all stories starring Emma Lovett and Leslie Parker, in the surroundings of Pinewood High School in the mountain town of Pinewood, Colorado. Each book will be about solving a different murder.
Do you have any advice for aspiring authors?
Read, read read! The best writers are also the best readers, and you can learn a lot through experiencing other writers of every genre. If writing is something you love, my advice is to find a way to do it. Find support from other writers and get involved in the writing community
Why should everyone read your book?
I don’t think my book is for everyone, really. It is light-hearted and irreverent, and no one in it (except maybe the killer) takes themselves too seriously. It’s not very bloody and nothing explodes, and there are no zombies in it, so it wouldn’t appeal to readers of those genres. I think it is a fun, goofy story that concentrates on the friendships and relationships within it, so I hope everyone who wants to read THAT kind of book will want to board the Chalkboard Outlines® train. It’s a happy ride! J
If you could meet three authors, dead or alive, which authors would you choose?
Of course William Shakespeare! Also John Steinbeck. Maybe Edgar Allen Poe—how interesting would it be to jump into THAT guy’s brain?!? C.S. Lewis too, or A.A. Milne, for the same reason. But three isn’t enough, there are so many living writers I’d like to meet: Harlan Coben, Dean Koontz, Stephen King, Lee Child, Madeline L’Engle, Nancy Pickard, Patricia Cornwell, Lois Duncan…oh oh oh I just can’t stop!
What inspired you to write your book?
My father was a voracious reader and a lifetime learner, who by the age of 32 hadn’t figured out what to do with his hundreds of college credits that had never turned into any kind of degree. He asked my mother, who was his girlfriend at the time, what he oughta do with his life. She said, ‘Well, how many books do you have?’ He said, ‘I dunno…five thousand?’ ‘Why don’t you open a store?’ was her response. So he did—in 1966 he opened the first used bookstore (I call him the ‘inventor’ of the used bookstore.) He ran the bookstore for 40 years and always forwent some of his sales to bring his favorite books home to my mother, my sister and me. No question about it, the mysteries, thrillers and spy games were his favorites, and consequently became mine. One time he brought me a book from his new favorite series—Harlan Coben’s Myron Bolitar books. I think it was Drop Shot.
I resisted this series for a while because Myron is a failed professional basketball player and sports agent, and I don’t like sports. Anyway, I finally read the book, and I was hooked. I couldn’t figure out the ending right away, I loved Myron and Win, it was suspenseful and fun and I laughed all the way through it. I loved it! And I wanted to do it! I immediately wanted to tell a story that did all those things. So I emailed Harlan. I emailed Harlan, told him how much I loved his book and how much I wanted to write one. Believe it or not, he wrote me right back! His advice was to “just do it” and he gave me the title of Anne Lamott’s fantastic book on writing Bird by Bird. So I did. I mean, it’s not like I sat down the next day and then three months later I had a book, but I didn’t have an outline or a story board, or anything like that. I had the main characters vis-à-vis my life and the failed screenplay, and I knew who got killed and basically why he was killed and who killed him, but the rest happened in the story as it appeared.
Are you working on something at the moment? If so, can you tell us more about it?
I have many projects in the works right now—a non-fiction, self-help memoir called The A or B Principle, book #2 in the Chalkboard Outlines Series, A YA Paranormal series I need to edit profusely, a YA Paranormal standalone I have to revamp the POV completely called Belly of the Whale.
About the Book
Emma Lovett leaves her philandering husband and crosses the country to begin her teaching career at a high school in Pinewood, Colorado.There, she meets Leslie Parker, a fellow teacher given to quoting Shakespeare to fit all situations, and the two become fast friends.
Arriving at work early one morning, Emma discovers the body of the school custodian, a man who reminds her of her late father. When the police struggle to find the killer, the ladies decide to help solve the murder. Their efforts lead them to a myriad of suspects: the schizophrenic librarian, the crude football coach, the mysterious social studies teacher, and even Emma’s new love interest.
As Emma Lovett discovers the perils of teaching high school, she and Leslie learn more than they ever wanted to know about the reasons people kill.