This is another post in my monthly author interview series. If you’re an author and are interested in being featured in this series, please email me: amanda (at) amandabretz (dot) com.
1. Can you give me a synopsis of your newest release?
Peaks and Valleys is a memoir that begins in the Fifties, when life was simple and yet sometimes challenging. The honest and heartfelt stories invite a chuckle one moment and a tear the next. Readers will find themselves reflecting on their own childhood as they travel the introspective journey with me.
2. What’s your creative process: Do you use an outline, write to certain type of music, use document maps, etc?
My memoir began as a collection of short stories written over many years. As I watched my mother slip into a dark abyss during her late stages of Alzheimer’s disease, I turned to my journal as a form of relief and tried to capture the most significant memories of my childhood. It became therapeutic and insightful. After my mother’s death, I decided to combine the vignettes into a book. I developed an outline to ensure a cohesive element to my efforts. A timeline also helped me chronologically identify significant milestones along the way.
3. If you weren’t a writer what do you think you would be doing instead?
If I wasn’t a writer, I would be unfulfilled and wasting a talent that I have come to recognize as a gift from God. I did some technical writing while employed, but writing poetry and vignettes were my passion. Creative writing classes afforded me the opportunity to express the romantic side of my personality. The power and beauty in words inspires me to touch people through the things I script. I retired after a thirty-three year, supervisory career with the Department of the Army. My role was challenging and fulfilling in many aspects, but I always felt there was something more that I needed to achieve. Writing a book has been in the back of my mind for a long time, a yearning that I never expected to fulfill. Having free time afforded me the opportunity to accomplish that. Now that I have been successful in publishing one book, I know I cannot stop there. My second book is a suspense/romance novel. I am currently working on the rewrites and editing.
4. Personally, I hate formatting, just the term ‘header/footer’ makes me want to run and hide! What’s your least favorite part of the writing process?
The computer, especially the internet, with all its unbelievable resources, makes me feel subordinate. It has brought me to my knees more often than I want to admit. Give me a good pen and pad of yellow paper and I am in heaven. Make me learn about websites, blogs and domains and I melt into a pool of tears. As for trying to understand headers and footers, I could have written three books in the time I have spent formatting my book for publication, yet, I recognize the computer as a remarkable tool necessary to survive in today’s world.
5. Do you have a mentor or another writer you look up to?
About ten years ago, I attended a course given by a local author, Joyce Adams. Her genre is historical romance, and she offered a class at the local community college on writing. At the time, I had no interest in writing romance, but it was a unique experience that instilled in me many valuable lessons that I incorporate in my writings today. Ms. Adams offered invaluable critique and encouragement that gave me the support I needed to keep writing. Her material on plot and character development is always on hand when I write.
I also have to give credit to an amazing author, you, Amanda Bretz. Not only have I had the enjoyable experience of reading your books, you have offered sincere and honest critiques and editing advice. You helped me to overcome the many computer hurdles that discouraged me from publishing my book initially and you patiently shared a wealth of knowledge with me regarding websites and blogs. Thank you.
6. What advice do you have for someone who wants a career in writing?
There are three things that I would recommend to new writers.
- Write from your heart. If you are passionate about something, that’s the best place to start. Take your time and don’t rush through the details. A reader wants to use all their senses while reading. Close your eyes and hear, feel, smell and touch your scenes.
- Ask for and then listen to critiques. Join a writing club or find another writer in your area or on line. Be prepared to hear the constructive criticism provided. Don’t take it personal. Weigh it with what you know and then decide if it is right for you.
- Be realistic. Know why you are writing and what you hope to accomplish. Who is your audience? What you are willing to do to get your book in their hands?
7. It’s been said that to be a good writer, one needs to be a voracious reader. What are your favorite types of books to read and what are you currently reading?
I enjoy reading everything from romance to suspense. I’m partial to those novels that warm my heart, make me laugh, and enlighten me along the way. I’m a sucker for stories that reflect personal journeys like Saving Sammy by Beth Allison Maloney and House Rules by Jodi Picoult. Nicholas Sparks, John Grisham, Mary Higgins Clark and Dan Brown fill my book shelves as well.
8. What other interests or hobbies do you have outside of writing?
I volunteer with the Girl Scout Council of Eastern Missouri as a facilitator for the adult learning courses offered within the council. I also am trainer-of-trainers. I enjoy reading, music, basket weaving, and visiting with friends. When the weather cooperates, I can be found with a fishing pole in hand alongside my husband at a nearby Dam. Sightings of me at a local casino are known to occur on occasion, too.
9. What’s your next writing project?
My next book is called Burning Embers. It is a suspense/romance novel that will keep the reader guessing with many twists and turns. Brittany Harbor hopes to put her painful life on the east coast behind her and start fresh by escaping to a remote location outside of Carson City, Nevada. Strange and frightening events cause her to doubt that she will ever find peace and love again, yet she is determined to make the best of it despite the chance of another broken heart.
10. How can people reach you online?
Readers will find my book available on Amazon.com and Kindle. I have recently started a blog at http://www.authordianemhow.com I hope to provide a short diversion for my readers, allowing them to smile, laugh, or just take a break from the stresses of their daily grind. My email is firstname.lastname@example.org