Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Three Authors, Three Questions: April 2012

Our guests for April are Alex Adams, author of a dystopian thriller, mystery writer Beth Groundwater, and children's author Natasha Wing. Welcome to Three Authors, Three Questions.


Alex Adams was born in New Zealand, raised in Greece and Australia, and currently lives in Oregon–which is a whole lot like New Zealand, she says, minus those freaky-looking wetas (large brown wingless insects related to the grasshoppers and found only in New Zealand).

Her debut novel, White Horse (Emily Bestler Books/Atria) is scheduled to release on April 17, 2012.

For more information about Alex and White Horse, visit her websites Alex Adams and White Horse and her blog. You can also find her on Facebook and Twitter.

1. Alex, where do you write and what is your writing schedule like? (Time of day, days per week, hours per session, etc.)

I have a home office that's mine, all mine, except when the cat and dog are engaged in mostly-friendly battle and they're using me as a safe base. You'll find me there Monday through Friday, between the hours of six-ish and five-ish. I break for a couple of hours in the middle. That gives me time to eat, respond to mail, and catch up on blog feeds. Any more time than that at my desk and I wind up too crispy around the edges to function as a real human being. I confess I'm also a lover of naps, so I shamelessly squeeze them into my work day when I can.

2. What are some of the unique and/or fun ways you promote and market your books?

I'm not sure I'm doing anything that hasn't been done before, but I do enjoy giving things away. So far that's been limited to ARCs, but I do have in my possession (courtesy of the amazing Carol Warwick at Simon & Schuster Australia) a number of White Horse cover posters that I'll be giving away very soon. They're double-sided for bookstore promo in Australia and they feature the UK/AU/NZ cover along with a link to the Aussie-designed site which will be live later in April.

3. What is the best writing advice you ever received? And the worst?

The best: Butt in Chair. Although I'd like to upgrade it to "butt in chair, turn off Internet." The Internet is the working writer's frenemy. Choosing the worst is tricky; there's so much bad advice out there. But I'm going to go with: Show, don't tell. It should be amended to: Learn when to show and when to tell.

Most advice, good and bad, needs to be personalized to fit the writer.


Beth Groundwater has had a “lifelong interest in developing solutions to convoluted puzzles, be they software algorithms, understanding what makes a person tick, or solving a mystery story's ‘what if?’” Until she retired in 1999, she worked as a software engineer and software project manager.

When she turned to writing after retirement, she naturally chose the mystery genre so she could work with plot puzzles. She currently has two active series, the Claire Hanover gift basket series and the Mandy Tanner Rocky Mountain Outdoor Adventure Series. Her upcoming release is Wicked Eddies, scheduled to release May 8th, 2012.

You can learn more about Beth and her two mystery series at her website and blog. She can also be found on Facebook.

1. Beth, where do you write and what is your writing schedule like? (Time of day, days per week, hours per session, etc.)

I have a writing office in my home, and I’ve trained my husband to avoid interrupting me there unless the house is on fire. He usually remembers to refrain from talking to me until I come out of the office on breaks. Writing is my full-time occupation, so I can set my own hours, but I try to schedule a total of 40 a week. If I go out skiing in the morning, that means I will be emailing, blogging, or editing in the evening. When I’m cranking out a rough draft, I try to schedule two 2-3 hour sessions per day of writing, 5 days a week.

2. What are some of the unique and/or fun ways you promote and market your books?

I’ve sold my Claire Hanover gift basket designer mysteries at craft fairs and my RM Outdoor Adventures mysteries starring whitewater river ranger Mandy Tanner at whitewater festivals. I was even the Parade VIP at the FIBArk festival in Salida, Colorado, 2011! When I do bookstore signings, I sometimes try to find a related nonprofit that the store would share the proceeds with in exchange for the nonprofit promoting the event to their members. For Deadly Currents, for example, I did one signing benefiting American Rivers and another benefiting Trout Unlimited.

3. What is the best writing advice you ever received? And the worst?

The best advice was to sit my butt in the chair and write, and keep on writing. There’s an old rule of thumb, often quoted, that you have to write one million words before the good ones start coming out. I also have a quote by Winston S. Churchill on my desk: “Never, never, never give in!” This came in handy when I was querying and receiving rejections. The worst advice, usually given to me by non-writers, was, “Why don’t you write a book about vampires? They’re so popular nowadays.” You can’t follow trends, because trends are fleeting. You have to write what you’re interested in, and frankly, I’m not interested in vampires.


Natasha Wing was already working at her own public relations firm when she decided she wanted to write children’s books. Since 1992, she has had more than twenty books published, including her popular Night Before series. The book page on her website shows off the books’ colorful cover art and delightful story ideas.

Natasha is available for school visits in the Northern Colorado area. Her blog contains helpful articles for teachers and writers. For even more information about Natasha and her books, visit her Facebook fan page. You can also find her on Twitter.

The Night Before Father’s Day is scheduled for release May 10th.

1. Natasha, where do you write and what is your writing schedule like? (Time of day, days per week, hours per session, etc.)

I typically write in the mornings at my desk on the second floor in a converted spare bedroom. Ever since I moved to Colorado, my writing schedule has changed. I used to be more disciplined - working Monday through Friday - but Colorado has too many outdoor temptations. So now I write some in the mornings and then sneak it in between activities, sometimes on weekends and at night if I'm working on something exciting or pressing.

2. What are some of the unique and/or fun ways you promote and market your books?

I have a marketing background, so I've tried lots of things in the name of creativity and selling. After 20 years, I haven't seemed to have found the magical marketing device that has worked profoundly. With An Eye for Color: The Story of Josef Albers I contacted museums that showed his art and got my books into their bookstores. With Jalapeño Bagels I paired up with the bakery that the story was based on and cross-promoted on their website. Teachers have the bakery send out shipments of jalapeño bagels for their students to taste. Back in California the hospital did a promotion where they gave away a bunny and a basket for kids in the hospital over Easter, so I had them add my The Night Before Easter book. I'm still hoping a celebrity will do an audio reading of my book, or endorse it!

3. What is the best writing advice you ever received? And the worst?

The best writing advice was from fellow writer and friend, Barbara Kerley. I was working on a non-fiction picture book for children about Jackie O's involvement in helping save Grand Central Terminal in New York City from destruction. She said I needed to think of the building as a character and then I'd know why Jackie fought for it, and the readers would empathize with her and also want it to be saved. The worst advice was from a writing teacher at a university in California. I took his class when I was first wanting to write for children. He said rhyming books don't sell so don't bother writing them. My first book published was a rhyming book and my most popular series based on The Night Before Christmas is my best seller. In fact, I have a new title coming out in May - The Night Before Father's Day.


Mini-interviews were conducted and compiled by Pat Stoltey. Chiseled in Rock thanks Alex Adams, Beth Groundwater, and Natasha Wing for graciously agreeing to participate in the Three Authors, Three Questions series.


Margot Kinberg said...

Pat - What a great mix of authors and you make a fine interviewer!

Margot Kinberg said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Janet Fogg said...

Excellent, Pat! Thank you! I especially enjoyed the advice given to Natasha regarding the Grand Central Terminal - to think of the building as a character in order to create empathy.

Julie Golden said...

Ditto with Janet, about the advice for writing about GST. (It's easy to see how a writer could run far with this method.) Good interviews, with little twists on the writing life from each author. Thanks everyone.

Julie Golden said...

OOPS! I meant GCT.

Gary Raham said...


Thanks for the insights into other writing lives! Keep up the good work.

Cynthia said...

Wonderful interviews! Thanks for sharing them.

Victoria said...

Thanks, Pat! Especially enjoyed the best/worst advice Qs. Fun!

Gloria Alden said...

I enjoyed reading about three different writers and how they write. Good blog.

Heidiwriter said...

Very interesting post. Congratulations and good luck to my fellow Women Writing the West friend, Beth Groundwater!

Teresa Funke said...

Great interview! It's always so interesting to see how various authors answer that important question about the best and worst advice they have ever received. Kind of gives you an insight into how their whole writing career has developed.