"The notion that such persons are gay of heart and carefree is curiously untrue. They lead, as a matter of fact, an existence of jumpiness and apprehension. They sit on the edge of the chair of Literature. In the house of Life they have the feeling that they have never taken off their overcoats."
- James Thurber, My Life and Hard Times

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Meet Teresa Trent

One of the fun things about being an author and being on the World-Wide-Web is that I meet people. Fun, interesting, intelligent, engaging people. (Okay, I'm not counting the trolls.) People who I may never meet in person but feel like I know.

I met Teresa Trent through Goodreads. She sent me a note, asking if I'd like to trade reviews with her, so we could both have a few more on the shelf.

I'm always a little wary of authors wanting to exchange reviews if I don't know them. Some authors simply assume that you'll each do a little back-slapping boffo review of each other's work,  sometimes without even reading it, and I'm not comfortable doing that. Like anyone curious about an author, I looked Teresa up on Amazon. Her first book, A Dash of Murder, had some good reviews, so I read the comments. One reviewer said it was a good story if you could look past all the typos and grammatical errors. Teresa commented back:

I took your advice and sent the book to an proofreader for revisions. A new and corrected version has been uploaded to Amazon.

That sealed the deal for me. Here was an author who was willing to take criticism, measure it, and change when she agreed with it.

I read both A Dash of Murder and her second book, Overdue for Murder. They are both sweet, gentle cozies set in Texas, featuring a single mom, Betsy Livingston, who is working hard to keep her life together. Teresa's work is only getting better.

She agreed to a little Q&A session with me, so let me introduce you.

1. How long have you been writing?
I have been writing since my twenties. I wrote about frugal living for many years until I decided I liked shopping way too much. I started writing mysteries in just the last few years. I also write curricula for preschoolers and have tried writing young adult fiction.

2. Was A Dash of Murder your first book, or do you have others hanging around on your computer and waiting for their chance at fame?
A Dash of Murder was my first book. I would like to write six books about my little town in Texas. I have published book one and two (Overdue For Murder) and I am now working on editing book three. Book four is in the first draft stage.
3.Your main character is a single mom who writes for the local newspaper. Was she always a character you wanted to write, or did you create her when you decided to write a mystery?
To be an amateur sleuth Betsy needed to have an eye for detail, so why not be the lady who tells you about the six million ways to use baking soda in a helpful hints column? Also, having many friends who became single moms over the years, I always admired their tenacity. These are some strong women who wouldn't let a little bit of gunfire scare them if their kid had a book report due the next day.

4.One of your recurring characters is Danny, who has Down Syndrome. Tell us a little bit about why you included him in Betsy's family. I have an adult son with Down Syndrome and autism and couldn't imagine any of my worlds, real or fictional without someone like him in it. Betsy's family consists of five people who pull together through all kinds of ups and downs. Danny's character is just a part of that, with strengths and weaknesses that help me tell the story. Danny is a composite of the many young people with Down Syndrome I've had the pleasure to get to know.
5.As a self-published author, what kind of tools and services do you use to ensure a high quality book? My favorite writing software is Scrivener. I tried demos of almost all of the novel writing software programs out there, but Scrivener helped to facilitate my visual style of writing. I'm a child of television, so I need to storyboard everything. I also run my chapters through two online services, Autocrit and Spellcheck Plus. Once the manuscript is complete, the best thing a writer can do is to send it a professional editor. They will fix all that grammar you've forgotten or didn't catch with the online services. Next get some beta readers. I have a friend who will honestly look at my books and tell me where she lost her way in the plot or if a scene seems flat. She is not a writer, but an avid reader and that's the perspective I need. There are so many books on the craft of writing out there and my advice is read, read, read. Writers need to think of themselves as perpetual students and read both novels (in and out of their genre) and also read nonfiction about how to write, plot, pace, and dialogue on a daily basis.
6. What's the best thing that's happened to you since you released your books? Reviews and getting to know all the other people who write and self-publish. We are no longer all alone in our houses watching our mailboxes.
7. What's the worst thing?
8. If you could have any super power, what would it be?
It would be stretching time. More time for family, writing and even laundry.
9. If you could host a dinner party for ANY six people, living or dead, who would you invite? What a great question. Let's see, Agatha Christie the subplot queen, Ben Franklin just for the jokes, James Patterson so I can see if he even writes through dinner, Erma Bombeck because she was the first woman writer who inspired me as a teenager, Temple Grandin who helped me understand more about my son than twelve years of public schoolteachers and therapists, and my mother.
10. Flip-flops or cowboy boots?
Flip flops for sure.
So, Teresa had me at Erma Bombeck, although we'll have to agree to disagree about the flip flops. In the meantime, do check out her books if you're in the mood for a fun little romp. Here's the link to her Amazon page: http://www.amazon.com/Teresa-Trent/e/B005O7FIE2/ref=ntt_athr_dp_pel_pop_1 or visit her blog: http://teresatrent.wordpress.com.

1 comment:

Tameri Etherton said...

What a fun interview, Gayle! Teresa sounds like a great gal, I'm glad you were able to make a connection online. Some of my best friends I've met online and then had the pleasure of meeting in person, perhaps that will happen one day with the two of you.

I absolutely love the fact that she put a character in her books representative of her son. Makes me love her before I've read her books.

Best of luck with the series, Teresa!

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