I’m currently working on Spine Damage, book four in the Aimee Machado Mystery series. In it, the characters make a visit to the Azores, the Atlantic archipelago where my paternal grandparents were from.
My advice to writers is to understand what is involved in becoming a published writer. Take the courses, study the craft, attend the workshops, join critique groups, do the networking, learn all there is to know about the publishing industry, and then rewrite and rewrite and rewrite again. If you love everything about the process and have the desire and commitment to see it through, the drive to learn everything you need to know to perfect your craft, and the courage to send it out into the world, chances are you’ll succeed.
As a beginner, my writing process involved polishing one sentence, one paragraph, or one page until I felt it was the best it could be. I pondered sentence structure, then concrete detail, (not just a door, but a weather-beaten door with peeling red paint). Did I describe a smell? A sound? That method eventually produced a page to be proud of, but the word count moved at the speed of a glacier. My current process for writing mysteries begins with a crime and a victim. Then I need suspects, five or so, whose lives are intertwined and who all have means, motive, and opportunity. I form a rough outline and let it unfold as a first draft, knowing that once the story is there, I’ll go back to add those enriching details that make the revision process so rewarding.
The inspiration for my mysteries comes from living life, getting an education, and working in interesting jobs. I’ve ended up knowing a little bit about a lot of things, and wanting to know more about most of them—including medicine and hospitals, general aviation, martial arts, theatre and dance, and, of course, llamas.
As a former librarian, I love research of all kinds. I use librarians, and I find the Internet a great resource if used with discernment. Best is speaking directly to an expert. For Checked Out, a trick rider described the back drag for me as the most dangerous trick in the business. A professional pilot told me corporate jets can cost up to 80 million dollars, and a doctor told me that deer ticks can carry two diseases, Lyme and babesiosis, which in combination are almost always fatal in patients who’ve had their spleen removed.
When promoting my books, time management becomes crucial, particularly when writing a series. Writing is the fun part, but promoting is what puts books in the public eye. The key is to find what is most effective. I suspect social media captures the most attention, so I’m trying to fit as much online promotion time as possible into my schedule.
The most valuable lesson I’ve learned since I started publishing is to become an expert time manager, and at the same time, to enjoy the ride, stay positive, and have fun.