Friday, January 23, 2009
Louisiana Saturday Night with Florence Case
It's such a pleasure for me to introduce Louisiana author Florence Case. Flo has been a wonderful encourager to me. We're both members of RWA's Faith, Hope and Love chapter, and when I share my frustrations and hurts with my online writing family, Flo has wonderful words of wisdom and encouragement. In my mind, Flo is proof that God uses the Internet too. He sent Flo to be my friend.
Flo has great answers to my interview questions. I hope you'll read to the end and leave a message because I'll be giving away two copies of her book, DEADLY REUNION as soon as it hits the stands.
1.First, pitch your book to us the way you would to an editor at a conference. We need to learn how to do it.
The thing is, I don't really do pitches well, so please don't think of this as an example, but rather a description DEADLY REUNION.
Police Officer Angie Delitano finds out her estranged sister is engaged to be married to a man Angie believes, with all her heart, is guilty of murdering his former wife, but was declared innocent, thanks to his expert lawyer—Angie's ex-fiance, Boone Walker. She gets a lead on some buried evidence which could overturn the "not guilty" verdict, but halfway to the place she plans to try digging it up, her life is threatened. So she goes for help to the only person she really trusts--Boone.
Even if the two get past whoever is threatening her life, Angie still has a huge dilemma. She walked away from Boone when he chose helping his client instead of her, giving up the chance at family she desperately wants. Reconciling with her sister and mother would give her that family again. But if she succeeds in stopping her sister's wedding, they'll never speak to her again because, hey, she's done the same exact thing before to her sister. And if she doesn't succeed, her sister could be marrying a time bomb.
2) Tell us about your path to publication and how long you’ve been writing.
I began wanting to write fiction in third grade as soon as I got my first library
card and started devouring the Dana Girls mysteries, Nancy Drew and basically any other book they would let me take home. At around ten, I wrote my first suspense short short. As I got a little bit older, I started watching the handsome heroes on westerns in the mid to late 60's. Wanting to give them all someone to fall in love with, I began writing romances with lots of suspense, giving all those handsome cowboys lovely ladies to save for their happily ever afters. From there, I graduated to making up my own heroes and heroines, and finally sold in my early thirties.
Since then, I've had three historical romances published as Florence Moyer, and five category romances for Silhouette lines published as Hayley Gardner.
DEADLY REUNION is my ninth book, but my first for Steeple Hill Love Inspired Suspense, and I'm contracted for MISTLETOE AND MURDER, which will be out in November, 2009. Although I am now writing Christian romances, I thank the Lord for every sale He allowed, for I was able to work at home and be available for the many times my son, who was born with severe mental delays and autism, needed me.
3) How much do you know about how your books are going to be structured, who the characters are, and what the plot is going to be, before you start writing, and how much comes to you during the writing process?
Here is how I wrote my last book, and it worked well: I like to plan a book around some part of life I find fascinating. For instance, the initial seed that started DEADLY REUNION was the question—what would happen if a murderer was declared not guilty, but only on a technicality, and then he showed up wanting to join your church and sit among you because he had repented of the very murder he'd been found not guilty of? The very idea even now causes emotional reactions in me. From it, I got the idea of a heroine who might be confronted with a man she was certain was guilty of murder trying to worm his way into her family. Or was he? Then I thought of the best kind of hero for her, who would be "against" her, too, for very good reasons of his own. I made their conflict as emotional as I could. I kept working with those elements until everything was as unique as I can make it. Once I had the heroine's goal, I created the synopsis. It wasn't as detailed as I normally wrote though. So as I wrote the book, I had to start explaining certain factors, and it all fell into place through imagination. One character took flight and became an important part of the book. So I like things planned, but I also like to allow space for creativity, too.
4) Who are some of the writers who influenced you?I'm not sure I was influenced by writers. My own inquisitive character means that I love asking questions about puzzling situations and trying to figure out answers or solutions to them.. I love suspense and trying to figure out "who done it," while being scared somewhat. Okay, I like being scared in fiction a lot. If someone disappears or something bad happens, I come up with a hundred scenarios around it. I really like romance. And I LOVE funny, witty people who are not afraid of being unique. But that's all ME, and not an influence of writers. I write what I love and what is almost instinctive, which is all of the above.
But I admit to being drawn to the writers who have elements of the above in their stories. For instance, Lisa Scottoline, who writes really neat characters and situations that keep me guessing and lots of danger—and all so well. Janet Evanovich's Plum series because she does the NJ wit and it's fun to read about places where I was born and raised. Misty Simon's Ivy series because her characterization and series set up is so memorable.
Wait, I just thought of one exception. Nora Roberts influences me in that she works so hard. I strive to do that.
5) What has been your biggest frustration within the publishing industry and how have you dealt with it?
Honest, my biggest frustration is and was with myself, not the industry. I always wished I could write more proposals during those years when I was caretaking my special needs son while my dear husband worked long hours, including two and three weeks straight sometimes while on military duty. The only other frustration is that the historical romance market with books centered in the US—especially the old West—died down in the last ten or so years. I LOVED writing and reading those both. If the publishers stopped buying them because of lack of sales, it wasn't lack of sales to me.
6) How has your writing grown since the early days of your career?
I think I'm funnier. Hopefully. Maybe. Otherwise, I'm not sure. My readers could probably tell me better. Unfortunately, I'm not at all funny this evening for some reason.
7) What do you dread the most when you sit down to write?
Nothing. I LOVE what I do. Okay, maybe my hands getting sore. But beyond that, I'm very happy.
8) If you could go back and talk to yourself when you were a beginning writer, what advice would you offer?
I probably would have just offered to babysit for her, because she was doing the best she could, and was doing everything right, but it all just had to come together for her. Babysitting would have been the best help.
9) Do you have a critique group? How would you advise beginning writers about critiquing each other? If you don't have one, who were your early readers and how did they help you? My best advice to beginning writers is to first READ. When I was trying to break into category romance after publishing in historical, I read over fifty category romances in a row. Took three months. I logged what worked in them for me, and what didn't. I learned a lot. It had to have helped me most, because I sold the very first category romance I submitted--HOLIDAY HUSBAND.
10) Many writers describe themselves as "character" or "plot" driven writers. Which are you? What do you find to be the hardest part of writing? I used to be plot driven, now I try to be both. The character determining the plot, in other words—with lots of fun twists and turns in both the plotting and the characterization. (I hope.) Hardest part of writing—making sure I stay off the internet.
11) What would you like to say to writers who are reading this interview and wondering if they can keep creating, if they are good enough, if their voices and visions matter enough to share?
Ask yourself if you're meant to be a writer. Signs? You try to quit, but you keep going back to writing. You keep envisioning scenarios about people and stories. Anything else you do for pleasure or work makes you feel incomplete. And/or you have a background involving any or all of the following: You always had a book in your hands; you'll stay up really late to read a good story; English was one of your easiest subjects; you like to spin unique tall tales or embellish on things when you tell what you've been up to. You have opinions on lots of stuff and find people fascinating. If you see yourself anywhere in the above, and you have strong skills, you'll need perseverance. Don't worry about if the market is out there. Just keep writing.
12) What is the best writing advice you've been given, and what is the worst?
If a book doesn't sell, write another one is the best. I don't worry so much about this "book of your heart" thing, because if that doesn't sell, you have too much emotionally invested in it, or maybe you'll think you do. Instead, make a subject you're passionate about the heart of your novel. (Um, that's not advice I read, that's from experience.)
13) What is your work schedule like when you’re writing?
I like to write in the evenings and at night best.
14) What do you like to do when you’re not writing?
Knitting and crocheting items to give away to others. Reading, reading and more reading. And once a week, taking my son bowling. He doesn't use gutter bumpers and has gone from a 40 average a few years back to getting a lot of scores in the 130's, and even a 174 and a 186. He also sings with a group called Attitude of Gratitude for people in nursing and assisted living homes, keeping up with them because he listens to the songs and memorizes the words. My son is a young man now, and he's very, very cool.
15) What kind of research, if any, went into the writing of your book?
Actually, a lot. I researched handling of evidence, double jeopardy as it pertains to both civil and federal law, the area the book is set in, police uniforms, the color of the lights on patrol vehicles in the applicable state, etc. I am meticulous about research, as I don't want a reader falling out of the story if they know something is wrong.
16) Where and when can we buy it, and tell us what's next for Florence Case? (and anything else you want us to know)
DEADLY REUNION is available now online at www.eharlequin.com. (Click on Steeple Hill in the menu, and then click on the second Love Inspired in that list, and then find the February release link on the page that comes up.) In February, it will be available at any WalMart, Books a Million, etc--any store that sells Harlequin series books.
My next release, God willing, will be MISTLETOE AND MURDER, a November 2009 release, also from Steeple Hill Love Inspired Suspense. (Also w/a Florence Case.)
The only other things I wanted to say is that I hope everyone enjoys this book. And thank you, Jess, for inviting me to be interviewed.
My pleasure, Flo, and I have no doubt readers will devour DEADLY REUNION and grumble because they can't get their hands on MISTLETOE AND MURDER. :)
Please visit Florence at http://www.shoutlife.com/FlorenceCase but for right now, leave us a message for a chance to win a copy of DEADLY REUNION.