An interview with Donna Fletcher Crow

sharing JaneDonna Fletcher Crow is an author of historical novels including the epic Glastonbury, A Novel of Christian England, which was awarded First Place in Historical Fiction by the National Federation of Press Women. Donna lives and writes in Boise, Idaho.

 

PJ: How long have you been writing?

Ah, P J, how do you count?  I wrote my first short story in the third grade and designed my first series of novels in the sixth grade. I’ve considered myself a professional writer for more than thirty years— and have written more than forty novels in that time.

PJ: At what point did you reach a place where you felt successful as a writer?

Donna: There have been many steps along the way. Earning enough to cover the cost of typewriter ribbons, paper and postage was the first one. (I wonder how many of your readers even remember those days?) Being asked to speak at writers’ conferences was another major benchmark. And just the other day my publisher said he wasn’t too worried about the title of my next novel because it would have my name on the cover. Wow! That was really cool.

PJ: Early on, so much focus is given to getting published. Now that you’re published, how has your focus changed?

Donna: The focus to me has always been telling the story I want to share. The thing is, one can’t share an unpublished story, so publication is a means to an end.

PJ: How long did it take you to get published the first time?

Donna: It must have taken a couple of years after I started marketing my first novel seriously. The thing is, it wasn’t really publishable when I started out, but I kept getting rewrite suggestions from editors along with the rejections. So every time I would rewrite and send it out again. That was a very important part of the process of becoming professional.

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?

Donna: Time is always the greatest challenge. But I think that’s part of the human condition. I write three different series: The Monastery Murders, The Lord Danvers Victorian True-Crime series and The Elizabeth & Richard Literary Suspense series. That way I always have one book I’m promoting, one in production with a publisher and one I’m writing. And, yes, it drives me crazy, but that’s the job.

PJ: What is the single most exciting thing that’s happened to you as a writer?

Donna: I’m always looking to the future, so the most exciting thing hasn’t happened yet. But I’m thinking this summer will come close: I’ve been invited to speak at the Queens of Crime conference at London University in June and then two weeks later at the Felixstowe Book Festival. In between I’ll research my next two books— one set in London and one in Yorkshire. And best of all, my husband is planning to go with me.

PJ: With more books being released each month now than ever before, what do you believe sets your work apart from the others?

Donna: I always try to give my readers a “you are there” experience by letting them see, hear, taste, feel whatever my viewpoint character is doing. Because almost all of my books are set in England my readers get a bit of a travelogue along with, hopefully, an exciting story.

PJ: What would you like to share with writers who haven’t reached the point of publication yet?

Donna: Read voraciously. Write what you love to read. Hold to the dream.

PJ: What is the most fun you’ve had promoting a book?

Donna: Perhaps the most fun I’ve had in my life was at the Jane Austen Society of North America AGM in Minneapolis last fall where I launched A JANE AUSTEN ENCOUNTER. Myhusband and I took an English Country Dancing class and the last night went to the Regency Ball. It was all my JA ball 2fantasies of stepping into a Jane Austen novel come true— and with my own Mr. Darcy.

PJ: What do you feel is your most effective tool for promoting your published work?

Donna: Although I do all the electronic media things: Facebook, Twitter, GoodReads, blog tours. . . My favorite is still meeting readers face to face. I love speaking at writers’ conferences, book festival and book stores.

PJ: Do you have a local independent bookseller you’d like to mention?

Donna: We are so fortunate to have Rediscovered Books in downtown Boise.  On May 17 I’ll be sharing a Mystery Writers’ Panel there with Jenny Milchman

PJ: Give us a list of your published titles in chronological or series order:

Donna: I won’t bog you down with all 43 titles, but here are my most current:

GLASTONBURY: A Novel of the Holy Grail

The Monastery Murders: A VERY PRIVATE GRAVE, A DARKLY HIDDEN TRUTH, AN UNHOLY COMMUNION

The Lord Danvers Series: A MOST INCONVENIENT DEATH, GRAVE MATTERS, TO DUST YOU SHALL RETURN, A TINCTURE OF MURDER

The Elizabeth & Richard Mysteries:   THE SHADOW OF REALITY, A MIDSUMMER EVE’S NIGHTMARE, A JANE AUSTEN ENCOUNTER

PJ: Share with us an elevator pitch (no more than 30 seconds) of your latest title: JaneAus

Donna: Join Elizabeth and Richard on their idyllic second honeymoon visiting the homes of their favorite author. But be warned—evil lurks even in the genteel world of Jane Austen.

PJ: Where can we buy it?

Donna: Thank you for asking! Http://j.mp/1kjOGID

An interview with Sue Owens Wright

Sue Owens Wright Photo by Aniko Kiezel

Sue Owens Wright
Photo by Aniko Kiezel

Sue Owens Wright was one of my first clients ever and I’m honored to still be working with her today. I hope you all enjoy what she has to say and know that if you haven’t yet met Beanie and Cruiser, you’ll really be glad you did!

PJ: How long have you been writing?

Sue: I started writing poetry when I was in my teens and was first published then. I didn’t start writing fiction until the 1990s.

PJ: At what point did you reach a place where you felt successful as a writer? 

Sue: There have been several points. When I received my first book advance, earned some decent royalty checks, won two Maxwell Awards, and when I began being interviewed and written about.

PJ: Is the writing life what you expected when you started out? If not, how is it different?

Sue: I could never have predicted the many surprises and blessings that have come my way from following my heart and writing what I’m passionate about… dogs and basset hounds, in particular.

 

PJ: The general public seems to think authors are relatively wealthy. Without prying too much, has your writing income lived up to expectations? 

Sue: Not yet, but I’m closer than when I first started out. I think most beginning writers have unrealistic expectations about income, thinking they’ll be instantly rich. Some fortunate writers do hit pay dirt right off, but it finally boils down to whether you love writing or not, and I do.

PJ: Early on, so much focus is given to getting published. Now that you’re published, how has your focus changed? 

Sue: I focus on writing the next book.

PJ: How long did it take you to get published the first time?

Sue: A couple of years and 18 rejections, which isn’t so bad when you consider all the famous authors who received many more rejections before their first publication.

PJ: Would you do anything differently if you had it to do over again?

Sue: I’d have held out longer for a series contract from one of the big dogs of publishing when I was searching for someone to publish my first mystery. I got too antsy to sign a contract, but hey, at least I got published.

 

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?

Sue: I need a few more heads for the hats I wear, and balancing it all can be challenging. It’s easy to get caught up in the promotion part and not spend enough time writing, but I balance my time pretty well. I do a little promotion each day and then get down to the writing and polishing what I’ve already written, though on some days promotion takes up more time than I intend. I probably don’t submit as much new work as I should. When I do, I don’t waste time fretting about what I’ve sent out. It’s done and gone. I let it go and move on to the next writing project. Of course, I’d rather be devoting all my time to writing books, but if no one knows about them they won’t get read, and writers want to be read.

PJ: What is the single most exciting thing that’s happened to you as a writer? 

Sue: Winning two Maxwell Awards and being nominated a total of 10 times for this prestigious award by the Dog Writers Association of America for the best writing on the subject of dogs.

 

PJ: What is the single most disappointing thing that happened to you as a writer? 

Sue: Missing a chance at landing a contract with a big NY publisher.

PJ: What’s the most memorable thing (good or bad) that’s happened to you while promoting your work? 

Sue and Bubba Gummp

Sue and Bubba Gummp

Sue: When I was invited to be a guest speaker at the Illinois Basset Waddle, where I witnessed the spectacle of 1,000 hounds waddling through the small town of Dwight. I later wrote about the event, which garnered me my first Maxwell Award.

PJ: With more books being released each month now than ever before, what do you believe sets your work apart from the others? 

Sue: I think it’s my passion for basset hounds and my knowledge and understanding of these endearing drool-slingers I’ve lived with for almost 40 years. I never knew there were so many devoted basset lovers worldwide until I wrote these books. People are just crazy about those dogs. My Lake Tahoe setting is also intriguing to readers.   

PJ: What would you like to share with writers who haven’t reached the point of publication yet? 

Sue: Never give up!  Learn your craft and constantly improve your skills. Keep writing and then submit only your best work. It’s persistence that eventually separates the published from the unpublished. Be like a basset hound. It requires the dogged determination of a scent hound to keep following that trail to publication, but you’ll be rewarded in the end.

PJ: What do you feel is your most effective tool for promoting your published work? 

Sue: I’ve found the Internet and Facebook very effective. Whenever I write an article or a pet column or do an interview, it reaches a worldwide audience instantly. I have readers from just about everywhere you can name. I’m so thankful to be a writer living in the Internet Age.

PJ: What area of book promotion is the most challenging to you?

Sue: TV interviews. I sometimes tend to freeze when in front of the camera. I think I must look like a deer in the headlights, but it always seems worse at the time than when you look back at the footage. It’s hardly a blip on the screen. Now if they could only find a way to make you look younger and skinnier on camera.

PJ: Do you have a local independent bookseller you’d like to mention?

Sue: Face in a Book, which is located in El Dorado Hills, CA.

 

PJ: Give us a list of your published titles in chronological or series order:

BracedForMurderFrontHowling Bloody Murder

Sirius About Murder

Embarking on Murder

Braced for Murder

 

Share with us an elevator pitch (no more than 30 seconds) of your latest title:

Beanie encounters calamity in one way or another when she volunteers to foster a homeless basset hound from Lakeside Animal Shelter. After she discovers a reviled shelter manager was euthanized, Cruiser, and his naughty new sidekick, Calamity, pair up to track the killer and save Beanie from a cruel death at the dog pound. 

Where can we buy it?

Five Star/Cengage Publishers, bookstores, and online booksellers. Braced for Murder will also be available on Kindle.

What last thing would you like to share with us that nobody knows about you and your work? 

The first book I ever wrote was a paranormal romance set in England. I was inspired to write it after touring southern England and Cornwall in the early 90s and stayed at a fantastic Tudor estate that was supposedly haunted. I recently revised it and am seeking a publisher for the book.

It always helps to have a good publicist to get the word out and to book events for authors. PJ Nunn and her team at BreakThrough Promotions have been there for me from the beginning, opening doors that I probably could never have opened for myself.