Second Saturday Author Interview with Julie Seedorf

As you can see from the photo, we are in for a real treat today as we visit with the fun and unexpected Julie Seedorf, author of cozy-comic mysteries set in Minnesota.

weird pic of me

Thank you so much for joining us today, Julie, and for answering a few questions for me and your many curious fans… I mean the fans are curious to learn about you, not that they are necessarily odd, you understand…(ahem) Maybe we’d better get right to the questions:

  • You obviously wear many hats: mother, grandmother, computer technician, author – can you give us a snapshot of your career path? I began writing in high school for fun, fell in love with speech and enrolled in college for a short time wanting to become a speech teacher. It didn’t feel right so I left college and worked as a secretary, which is what it was called in those days. Got married, had three kids and became a full time mom for a time. Part time jobs always seemed to be offered to me. I don’t think I have ever applied for a job. I worked in activities in a nursing home, as a soda jerk, waitress, bartender, advertising rep, and volunteered as SADD advisor, Sunday School Superintendent, and more. I wrote programs for church Christmas and Lenten services. Someone offered me a job as office manager of a small computer firm after my kids were gone (another fell into). They trained me as a computer technician and then when they closed their business they helped me set up my own computer business. I closed that in 2012 to become a full time columnist and author.
  • You live in Minnesota. How similar is your home town to Fuchsia and Brilliant, the towns in your books? If they are alike, at all, I definitely want to move to Minnesota, snow and all. My community is very different from Fuchsia and Brilliant as it has the rules most people have in their communities. One thing it does have in common is that it is a small community, probably a little smaller than Fuchsia, but it has many caring people.
  • How did you connect with Cozy Cat Publishers? It was a fluke. I had never intended to get published. I was too chicken to send my book into anyone. One day I was reading a book by a Cozy Cat Author and thought it sounded a lot like the book I wrote. On a quick whim I immediately queried the company. They told me to send my manuscript. I wasn’t nervous about it because I thought I would get rejected. I got an answer and they told me they might consider it if I made changes. I took two months to do it and resent it and they accepted me. I call it a God thing.
  • The pets in your stories seem to have amazing abilities. Can you share any stories about your own, real life, pets? I have two shysters of my own. I would own more but I have someone in my household that keeps a reign on my animal love. Boris and Natasha were both rescues. Boris is laid back and huge, 17 pounds. He is the lover. We also have Natasha, in fact I have a couple of video’s out with her. She can get into anything. We have hooks on our bi-fold doors, Velcro on our cupboard doors and the backs of our recliners taped shut. The best story is one night when I was sleeping and I heard my closet door opening waking me up. Then I heard the bottom drawer in my closet chest  opening and then I heard a few noises that I wasn’t sure what they were. I opened my eyes and the empty coffee maker box was sitting in the middle of my bedroom. It had been tucked away tightly underneath a shelf in the closet. I heard noises coming from the box. Natasha had opened the closet, opened the bottom drawer and then moved on and maneuvered the box out of the closet and unhooked the tab holding the cover shut and then opened the top and got in. I couldn’t figure out how she did it so the next time I heard her in the middle of the night I got my camera on my cell phone out and videotaped it. You can see it on my youtube channel.  (Click here...I watched it and it is amazing!)
  • The question every author is asked: are you like Granny? How much of these stories are autobiographical? I think there is always a part of all of us in our books. I would like to be like Granny and I am in the fact that I don’t like conformity. But Granny is actually somewhat like my mother. She was stubborn, believed she could do anything and that she wasn’t old. She kept on going and could do anything including being on top of her roof fixing it, running a chainsaw etc. until she was around 92.

Well, this is surprising, Julie, look who just came in! Bunny Elder, what are you doing here? and who is that with you? 

grannyHi, J.B. This is my pal, Hermiony Vidalia Criony. When we heard that you and Julie were getting together, we decided to add our two cents. Move over, ladies, and let us take your seats, so I can interview Hermiony. Put down the pitchfork, Granny, before you poke someone’s eye out.

 

  • As a woman of a certain age, I know numbers don’t matter, but just how old are you, Granny? I am 25 but I am an undercover sleuth, you know, so I have to hide under this wrinkly body costume. Your  kids seem to think you are on the edge of decrepitude, but you look pretty spry to me.  – Do you remember Spry cooking oil? If you greased something up with that it would slip through your fingers. So as long as they think I’m, ah, that big word you used,  then I’m just like the cooking oil, slippery, and I can slip things right past their noses. Just like they did when they were teenagers. You know what they say, payback is  a *****.

  • Do you mind that Julie shares your secret passions – “naughty” books and lingerie – with the readers? I just hate it when J.B. tells everyone when I slip up or give in to temptations. A girl should have some secrets; don’t you agree? – I don’t mind, as long as my readers don’t tell my kids or Franklin or Silas. Oh wait, you probably haven’t met Silas. Anyway, if my readers tell my kids then I will put the kibosh on Julie telling tales.

  • Don’t your fancy purple leather pajamas sweat? Of course, the Oregon Coast where I live is warmer than Fuchsia, Minnesota.- Honey, I can’t answer that question for the readers because this is a G rated interview.

  • I envy your ability to eat what you want (all those chocolate truffles and doughnuts!) and not worry about cholesterol or extra pounds. Do you have an exercise regimen you can recommend? – Yup, you should try it sometime. You take your right hand, if you’re right-handed, and pick up a truffle or a donut and then you raise your right hand to your mouth, give it a twist and toss the truffle or the donut into your mouth. Then you lower your arm and hand, pick up another truffle and donut, give it a twist and toss. Great arm exercises. You forgot to add wine. I bend over my footstool, whip my arm in a big circle and open the footstool. Lift out the heavy bottle of wine, twist my wrist to pour it all while bent over, and then I lift the bottle back into the footstool, tap twice on the top of the footstool to make it secure and then I slowly unbend at the waist and lift the top of my body back up straight. Then I lift my right arm, grab my wrist with my left arm, open my mouth and gently move my wrists to tip up the glass and pour the wine into my mouth. I can give you a diagram sometime if you want to follow those exercises.

  • Julie provides you with some wonderful mysteries to solve, but your bad guys seem pretty tame compared to the nasty brutes J.B. gives me to deal with. Would you like a roommate? Ya know, I know it seems that way in the books, she tends to whitewash it, but if you knew what I really go through, but she insists this needs to be a cozy mystery so she refuses to tell the entire gruesome tale. Did you say broommate? You know a witch?

Well, thanks so much for dropping by, girls, so sorry you have to leave, right now. Bye, Bunny, bye, Granny! So long, see ya!  –  Whew! Please excuse that interruption, Julie. I know you understand how it is. We create these characters and before you know it, they have a mind of their own. Now, where were we? Oh yes:

  • Please tell us about your current work in progress – I’m working on Granny Pins A Pilferer, another Fuchsia Minnesota Mystery and The Joy Killer, which is a serious book about a woman examining her life and choices when she turns 65. Sounds interesting. I’ll have to read that before I hit the big six-five (again).
  • Any other plans for the future? I guess God has led me this far, so I don’t plan too much in the future. There will be another book in the Brilliant Minnesota Series after my new book The Penderghast Puzzle Protectors. It’s a hoot and has ties to Fuchsia but with an entire new cast of characters. puzzle bookJust released in February. And I am also a columnist for area newspapers. My column is called Something About Nothing on the premise we talk about nothings every day when we meet but underneath those nothings there is something wanting to be said if we take the time to listen.

Thanks so much for sharing with us today, Julie. It’s been great fun.

To learn more about Julie and her writing follow any of the links below:

http://julieseedorf.com
http://sprinklednotes.com
http://www.facebook.com/julie.seedorf.author
http://www.amazon.com/Julie-Seedorf/e/B009WAAANQ
http://www.twitter.com/julieseedorf
http://www.instagram.com/julie_seedorf

 

 

Chasing the Muse

Every writer is inspired by different things. The ancient Greeks ascribed various muses to the arts;  Thalia was for comedy and pastoral poetry, Terpsichore was dance, and Erato was for love poetry. Lately, my personal muse seems to be Melpomene, the muse of tragedy, because, tragically, I can’t seem to write, at all.

I am in the midst of unpacking after a household move and, although things are beginning to take shape, I’m one of those unfortunate souls who requires balance and order in my work space before the ideas begin to flow. I’m getting closer to having my writing nook set up to my liking, but as I work, I feel the urgent nudging of the characters in my work-in-progress telling me to stop neglecting them and get the show on the road. Judy Falls is eager to know all about the body she discovered in the ruined chapel in the woods and the rest of the Bannoch First Ladies are anxious to know more about the wife of the new pastor at First Baptist. It’s a lot of pressure added to the stress of a move, believe me, but enough whining.

Next week is the second Saturday of the month and we are in for a treat as we visit with that brilliant and clever writer, Julie Seedorf. It should be a fun time as her irrepressible character from Fuchsia, Granny, has promised to join us.  I’m not sure who the Greek muse of hilarious cozy mysteries is, but Julie must be very familiar with her.

I’m hoping some of her inspiration rubs off on me! See you next week.

 

Fiction Authors are Different

After publishng my first novel, Hollow, in 2012 in the early days of  print-on-demand and digital publishing, I began reading every bit of advice I could get my hands on about promoting independently published books.

I tried to faithfully follow all the advice about establishing an author blog, newsletter, email lists, giveaways, tweaking keywords and meta-data, setting up pre-orders, using book promotion sites on social media and planning booklaunches, etc., all with mixed success.

It is only in the past year that I’ve seen articles confirming my earlier suspicions that much of the advice I’d been getting up to then actually was meant for non-fiction authors. Webinars, for instance, don’t really suit most fiction authors.

While it was much easier to break into the market when relatively few indie authors were producing quality work, it has become almost impossible with the millions of new books hitting the virtual shelves every day. Indie authors can become frantic and grasp at each new technique. Thankfully, and perhaps surprisingly, the increased competition has not kept indie authors from supporting each other. In fact, many of us sell more books to fellow authors than to the general reading public and we constantly share helpful advice.

To that end, I want to say to new independent authors of fiction, “When you read advice for independent authors, be sure the wisdom being offered is targeted for fiction writers.”

While some successful indie fiction authors have gone on to make careers out of non-fiction books of guidance for other indie authors, most fiction writers are less comfortable with self-promotion and need to use our limited promotion budgets in ways that work for us.

 

 

Character Sketch: Naidenne Grinager Davidson

Naidenne was most requested to be featured as this month’s Character Sketch.

If you want to know more about the background of a character in any of my books, be sure to leave your request in a comment. I will be featuring one character sketch on this blog each month, as long as there is interest.

Character Name:  Born Naidenne Grinager. (Introduced in Seadrift) Married Rev. Scott Davidson (…and Something Blue)

Role in Story: Naidenne is Bunny Elder’s first friend when she moves to Bannoch, OR (Seadrift, Something Blue). She is the main character in The First Ladies Club, the first book of that series.

Occupation: Real estate agent/owner of property management company. Also runs a local crafts boutique in a corner of her real estate office.

dream-of-curlsPhysical Description: Naidenne, in her early forties, is almost six feet tall, slim and attractive, with riotous curly red-gold hair she struggles to tame.  Until meeting Bunny and getting a little help with her style, Naidenne dressed as inconspicuously as possible in a uniform of straight dark skirts and business-like shirts and jackets. She tried to control her frustratingly independent hair by skewering it into a knot on the top of her head. Once Bunny convinced Naidenne of her model-like beauty, she discovered her own sense of style, shook out her glorious hair and left the dowdy wardrobe behind. These changes soon caught the attention of Scott and resulted in their marriage.

Personality: Modest and unassuming. Although capable and assertive in her business life, Naidenne’s childhood left her scarred and emotionally insecure. Meeting and marrying Scott has changed that. She has blossomed into a confident and kind wife and mother.

Habits/Mannerisms: Unusually for such a tall woman, Naidenne has excellent posture. She is invariably kind and compassionate.

Background: Naidenne, an only child, was raised in various small towns in Oklahoma by parents who were both Pentecostal preachers. She enjoyed a life centered on the rousing church services until she was thirteen, when a painful experience with the visiting evangelist during a revival meeting turned her away from the church and made her distrust all clergy. Because of their lack of support at this time, she is now estranged from her parents. Meeting Bunny, and falling in love with Scott, allowed her to get over her earlier trauma and begin to find her way back to God.

Internal Conflicts: She has residual issues of confidence and trust from that early episode. Being the tallest girl in school made her want to disappear in social settings, but she has overcome those feelings, for the most part. It is important to Naidenne to raise her small daughter, Talitha Joy, with a healthy self-image, so she strives to model that.

External Conflicts: Naidenne is kidnapped and assaulted in The First Ladies Club. She must escape from her attacker, an escaped convict. In the other books where she appears she has only normal relationship issues with her sister-in-law, Rosamund, church members, and the other wives in the First Ladies Club, but thanks to her generous nature, these never grow to the level of conflicts.

Second Saturday Author Interview with Angela Carling

Today we are visiting with delightful author, Angela Carling.

Angela Carling was raised in Palm Springs California, but lives in Arizona with her husband, three kids and five felines.  After years of denial she finally admitted that she is a hopeless romantic which led her to write her first Young Adult book, Unbreakable Love. Since then she’s published three more books, Shackled, Becoming Bryn and The Secret Keeper. Shackled won the silver IPGA award in 2012 and has been optioned as a screenplay. Angela always eats the frosting off her cake and leaves the rest, and can be caught singing in public bathrooms for the acoustics.  When she’s not writing YA novels, she’s mentoring teen writers, making pizza with her family or dreaming of taking a nap, not necessarily in that order.

1109_Carling_Headshots_091

Thanks so much for dropping by, Angela.

Although, like me, you are a California girl, you now live in Arizona.  Would you like to tell us a bit about your life in the desert and how you came to live there?

I’ve actually lived in a desert most of my life in Palm Springs, California, except for college, some church service work in North Carolina and a five year stint in Washington State. After 9/11 all my husband’s colleagues were losing their jobs at Boeing. He was offered to transfer to Arizona and even got a raise. We were so grateful; we bought some flip-flops and packed out suitcases. It’s true the desert is warm, but we love it because you can be outside year round and the people are very kind. Plus, we get to have a pool!

That is a plus! When you get stumped on a storyline, a quick dip in the cool blue must recharge your batteries. You are a Young Adult author. What made you decide to focus on the YA audience?

 I haven’t decided if I never grew up or I just enjoy the stories about teens and young college students. I also mentor a group of ten teen writers and think they are a blast….so likely…I never grew up 🙂

Your book Shackled won the silver IPGA award in 2012, and has been optioned as a screenplay. Congratulations!  Has there been any progress towards a movie production?

 The writers of the screenplay are twin brothers and work together on all their projects plus hold day jobs so I know they face heavy challenges timewise and financially!  Last I heard they were still working on funding, but as I’ve learned from my fellow authors, Hollywood moves at a snail’s pace and is finicky. For now, I’m keeping with my fingers crossed!

We will all keep our fingers crossed for you, too. You published your first book yourself and the next ones show Acacia, and Az Publishing, LLC.  Are the Acacia and Az Publishing your own imprints or small publishing houses? If they are your imprints, what are the issues (legal and otherwise) other authors should know about establishing their own imprint when self-publishing? This is a subject of interest and controversy among indie authors, so I’d love your input. If traditional small publishers, do they do much promotion for you?

Actually Acacia published my first three books but the owner passed away quite suddenly. Her husband shut down the business and released all the authors from their contracts. I then had to republish them on my own and learn overnight how to be a self-published author.  I didn’t start an imprint. I published them under my own name. AZ Publishing was also a small publishing house. I did that by choice, so I’ve never established my own imprint (yet 🙂) What I have learned is that there are benefits to a small publisher just like there are to a large publisher. In fact, many bloggers won’t even look at your work without a publisher behind it. However I’ve almost gotten to a point where I’ve learned enough about the industry that a small publisher doesn’t make as much sense for me. No matter how great they are, they do not have the resources to get the kind of visibility that you need and they take a large portion of the profits. So I was doing all my own marketing and making a fraction of the money. As far as legality goes, I haven’t hit that problem yet. If I did start my own publishing company it would likely be to help other authors, not just myself.

I am excited though, the second book in the Secret Keeper series comes out in March. It is called In the Dying Light and I am going completely Indie. I’ll let you know how it goes.SecretKeeperFrontCover

Please do, we are all interested.  You have a degree in Psychology. Do you feel that it helps you with your writing?

I do! People who love psychology enjoy observing and understanding what makes people tick. Characters are simply made up people and if we write them correctly, they’re layered and broken and fascinating. The Secret Keeper is really a study of human behavior and how we handle our mistakes. That’s what makes it so easy to relate to Winter and Liam. We all wish we could take back some mistake that we’ve made 🙂

Do you have a current project you would like to share about?

I do! As I mentioned earlier the second book in the Secret Keeper series comes out mid-March. The second installment of Winter and Liamin-the-dying-light-Amazon’s story is called In The Dying Light and we get to see what happens after Winter’s bargain with the Secret Keeper. Just like the first book you can plan on some heart pounding and heart wrenching moments! Just for you guys I’m going to share the cover, even though the official cover reveal  isn’t quite yet.

Thanks for sharing, Angela. It was super having you here.

Thanks for stopping to read my interview. Come and find me. I love to connect with my readers.

You can connect with Angela:

Website http://www.angelacarling.com/

Blog http://www.angelacarling.blogspot.com/

Twitter https://twitter.com/angelacarling

Facebook https://twitter.com/angelacarling

Goodreads https://www.goodreads.com/author/list/5331346.Angela_Carling

Youtube https://www.youtube.com/user/ThePajamWriter/videos?view=0

Instagram   https://www.instagram.com/angelacarling/

To purchase The Secret Keeper

Amazon http://www.amazon.com/Angela-Carling/e/B006P15NOG/ref=ntt_athr_dp_pel_1

Barnes and Noble http://www.barnesandnoble.com/c/angela-carling

Smashwords  https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/541474

bookstore http://www.ibookstore.com/products.php?i=1936037920

As a thank you for stopping by, Angela left you this sneak peek excerpt from The Secret Keeper:

Over and over in my head I repeated, “She can make my secret go

away.” I’m not sure if I was trying to convince myself, or trying to keep myself from going nuts, but the phrase calmed me as I drove.

I found Lejo Street and began the steep climb to the top. The houses in this neighborhood were small. Most were weathered if not completely forgotten. Pines grew too close together. Piles of rusted tools and long-forgotten bathroom fixtures littered the landscape, hidden only by overgrown grasses and neglected Quakies. No wonder everyone thought it was creepy.

My heart rate quickened with the ascent, and my palms left sticky sweat on my steering wheel. I wiped them on my jeans only to have the moisture build up again immediately. Soon there was nothing but dense forest; a blur of green, broken only by the ashen skies above. The rain came down in unyielding sheets and I turned up the windshield wipers.

Back and forth they went like a giant metronome, keeping in step with my nervous heartbeat.

I strained to see out the windows until all at once there was nothing in front me but a large rusted metal gate and a cracked wood sign, painted long ago, that declared, “No trespassing.” Beyond the gate, through the trees and the rain, I saw the pale blue house that the girl in the park had described.

One more time I said out loud, “She can make my secret disappear.”

I’d almost convinced myself now. I had to be convinced, what with the dilapidated house in the middle of nowhere and the stormy weather.

Everything screamed “Don’t go in!” but I was driven to try something, anything, not to lose my best friend and boyfriend.

I climbed from the car and ran until I reached the porch, slipping and having to catch myself as I tried to take the stairs too fast. Light spilled out through a crack in the curtains, letting me know someone was there.

I lifted my hand to knock on the old splintered door and froze. I didn’t know the secret keeper’s name. How would I address her? Before I could decide what to do, the heavily scratched door handle turned and the door opened a crack. My mouth fell open. The eyes that peered through the opening were surprisingly young.

My throat felt tight as I swallowed and it sounded loud to me. I could turn and run. Everything in my gut told me to go, but I stood like a marble statue frozen by my anguish.

“Who are you looking for?” she asked.

Her melodic voice made me think of dozens of wind chimes all tinkling at once. Still, I felt uneasy. I made myself spit out the words. “The Secret Keeper.”

An excruciatingly long minute passed and I thought she might tell me that I had the wrong house or that I should get off her property.

Finally, in a voice no louder than a whisper she said, “Come in. I’m The Secret Keeper.”

Distractions

images writerBefore I retired from my day job a few months ago, my weekday hours between eight and five belonged to my employer. I was forced to be organized and focused in order to write in the small amount time belonging to me. I longed for the day when I could retire and devote myself full time to my writing.

When that glorious day came and I cleared out my desk and said good-bye to my coworkers, I gave myself a couple of weeks to relish my newfound freedom, then, when I was through decompressing, I tried to approach my writing desk like I had my old office; sitting down around 8 a.m. with plans to work until noon, break for lunch, then get back to it. I repeat: that was the plan.

I soon succumbed to the seductive idea of unlimited time. I didn’t need that strict organization or laser-like focus, anymore, so I cut myself some slack. While I simply couldn’t afford to be distracted in my former schedule, now I found myself available to socialize, to start household projects, to stand and chat with the plumber while he fixed a faucet, to linger over my lunch, or take an extra walk when the day was fine. My manuscript grew at a snail’s pace, but my burden of guilt doubled by the day.

Most beginning authors, especially indies, struggle to balance time spent networking on social media and doing promotions with producing more and better content. Surprisingly, that balance is even harder to find for the newly retired. At least, it has been for me.

I’ve discovered two things: one, I don’t need to feel guilty when I don’t write. I write for the joy of it. No one but me is making any demands upon me. (Well, blessedly, some of my precious fans occasionally urge me to hurry up and produce the next book. Thank you!)  My second discovery is that there is no such thing as limitless time. I must set priorities and goals and work on them on a regular schedule, blocking out segments of time off along with the daily word counts.

Of course, these rules don’t just apply to writers.

 

 

 

Publisher’s Imprint: does it matter?

Independent authors have an uphill battle to overcome the perception that we are less legitimate than authors affiliated with traditional publishing houses.

Many indies, recognizing that some readers shy away from self-published books, create their own publishing imprint in the hope that a name other than their own, CreateSpace or Smashwords, etc. will get their book into the hands of more readers.

I have been tempted to create my own publishing imprint for this very reason, but have resisted, feeling a twinge of dishonesty in the practice.

I believe it is perfectly legitimate to give yourself a creative logo and publishing name, especially as indie authors do all the publishing work themselves, but how does the reader feel?

JaBerHawky logoIf I designed a logo, like this one (well, not exactly like this, you understand!), and listed JaBerHawky Press (for JBHawker, get it?) as the publisher, would you, as the reader, feel somehow tricked if you found out later the publisher was the author?

I suppose until I can feel comfortable under my own imprint, the best thing I, and other indies who feel as I do, can do to overcome the stigma of self-publishing currently hanging over independent authors is hone my craft, write the best story I can and be sure my editing and production standards are as high as I can make them.