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.
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.
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
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.