Deborah J. Ledford is someone I’ve just met recently and wow! I’ve loved getting to know her, and to see glimpses of her voice showing up in her books. She has a unique writing style and a wonderfully developed protagonist. If you haven’t already discovered her work, I hope you’ll take the time now…
PJ: How long have you been writing?
DJL: I started professionally as a screenwriter back in the ’90s. Then moved to writing novels and short stories in 1999.
PJ: At what point did you reach a place where you felt successful as a writer?
When my first short story won First Place in the 2005 Arizona Authors Association contest and published in the Arizona Literary Magazine.
PJ: Is the writing life what you expected when you started out? If not, how is it different?
DJL: The writing has never really changed creatively. Thankfully I’ve yet to run out of novel and story ideas.
PJ: The general public seems to think authors are relatively wealthy. Without prying too much, has your writing income lived up to expectations?
DJL: Excuse me while I recover from my amusement. Fortunately I didn’t have too many expectations about earning much of a living going in. I continue to have my sights set on Bestseller status, so stay tuned.
PJ: Early on, so much focus is given to getting published. Now that you’re published, how has your focus changed?
DJL: I’m still a traditionalist. For me being picked up by an actual publisher has provided more prestige—even though I’m with an Independent Publisher—and far more exposure than if I were to have self published. I realize the DIY method is preferable to some newbie writers, and perhaps if I were just starting out I would agree…still I believe beginning writers should do all they can to get published the traditional route.
PJ: How long did it take you to get published the first time?
DJL: So Long! Essentially a decade before book one of my series, STACCATO, was picked up by Second Wind Publishing.
PJ: Would you do anything differently if you had it to do over again?
DJL: Probably started earlier. Although I don’t regret all of the life experience now under my belt. I’ve had the opportunity to travel to a lot of different countries, be creative in several different occupations, studied a slew of fascinating people. I believe my writing is much richer due to all of these opportunities.
PJ: Writing new material, rewriting, submitting new work, waiting, promoting published work…the list is large. How do you manage to divvy up your time to give adequate attention to all needed areas?
DJL: Well, I don’t spend near enough time creatively writing. I’m at the keyboard a minimum of eight hours every day, but promoting takes up a lot of time. I’m thrilled to have PJ Nunn at BreakThrough Promotions as my publicist for the CRESCENDO project—that takes a bit of a load off my shoulders.
PJ: What is the single most exciting thing that’s happened to you as a writer?
DJL: Receiving the Nomination for The Hillerman Sky Award at Left Coast Crime 2011 for SNARE. The announcement was a thrill and I’m pretty sure my neighbors thought I’d won the lottery from all the yelling and shouts of joy…after I pulled myself up off the floor from shock. Being a Finalist for an Award named after the finest mystery author featuring Native Americans continues to be an honor.
PJ: What is the single most disappointing thing that happened to you as a writer?
DJL: Not being picked up by my number one choice agent. It’s so difficult to receive representation these days.
PJ: What’s the most memorable thing (good or bad) that’s happened to you while promoting your work?
DJL: I suppose seeing loads of friends and people who have gone on to be fans who showed up for my first appearance at The Poisoned Pen Bookstore in Scottsdale, Arizona. This fantastic independent bookstore is where all the big time authors appear.
PJ: With more books being released each month now than ever before, what do you believe sets your work apart from the others?
DJL: Having three books in the series is a good thing for me. And along with my SNARE novel awards nominations I’ve also received a slew of awards for my short stories. Quite a lot of my work appears in print and e-book versions so when readers visit my Amazon Author’s Page there are quite a lot of options by me to choose from.
PJ: What would you like to share with writers who haven’t reached the point of publication yet?
DJL: Don’t give up. I see people rolling their eyes out there, but it’s true—this is the best advice I can offer. If I’d have given up after my first bout of rejections I’d never have a single novel or even story in print.
PJ: What do you feel is your most effective tool for promoting your published work?
DJL: I’m not afraid to put myself out there. Whether it be personal appearances, spreading the news about my work as well as those I admire, it’s necessary to be fearless as possible…this doesn’t come naturally for me as I prefer to stay at the corner of the room and watch. You do what you must to make a connection with readers and often this means connecting one person at a time.
PJ: What area of book promotion is the most challenging to you?
DJL: Primarily the time it takes away from my writing. But realistically it’s not knowing how to find actual readers in order to let them know about my books. I’m always on the lookout for people who would be interested in my words.
PJ: Do you have a local independent bookseller you’d like to mention?
DJL: I’ll plug The Poisoned Pen Bookstore again. Also, the Well Red Coyote in Sedona, AZ.
PJ: I love that your protagonist is Native American. What brought you to that choice?
DJL: I’ve never featured characters based on anyone I know, and certainly not about myself, but because I’m part Eastern Band Cherokee I’ve always been interested in featuring a character with that lineage.
PJ: What has your research revealed to you that influenced your creation of Inola?
DJL: The formulation of Inola was based on what attributes I felt Steven Hawk would be attracted to in a woman. Certainly competent, intelligent and savvy. I didn’t know she would be a cop until I started constructing her biography. She pretty much came out fully formed—a Native American because I knew this element would come into play for the previous novel SNARE. For CRESCENDO I needed Inola to have major flaws to show her vulnerable side so that her journey would be rife with conflict given the path she chooses.
Give us a list of your published titles in chronological or series order:
STACCATO (Book #1, 2009)
SNARE (Book #2, 2010)
CRESCENDO (Book 3, 2013)
The Steven Hawk/Inola Walela mystery series is presented by Second Wind Publishing
Share with us an elevator pitch (no more than 30 seconds) of your latest title:
DJL: As the only female Native American officer on the Bryson City, North Carolina police force, Inola Walela, must always play her A game. All bets are off when during a routine traffic stop the passenger insists her son has been kidnapped but is struck by a car before Inola can glean any hard facts. An altercation ensues and Inola’s partner is felled by a bullet—possibly from her gun. On administrative leave, fraught with guilt for allegedly killing her partner, and obsessed with the possibility of a missing child out there somewhere, she defies the force and her fiancé, Sheriff Steven Hawk. Inola sets off on her own journey to find the missing boy.
Where can we buy it?
DJL: Always from Second Wind Publishing, on Amazon, for the Kindle and Nook, and various electronic versions on Smashwords.
What last thing would you like to share with us that nobody knows about you and your work?
DJL: As I mentioned, I started out as a screenwriter and each of my scripts are original standalone stories. I didn’t intend to write a mystery series, but readers do like to follow the same characters book after book. Also, my first love is reading and writing literary stories and many of my published stories are more literary in tone.
Thanks for sharing with us, Deborah! Have a wonderful release day. Now let’s all go out and get a copy of CRESCENDO…