By Jodie L. Ball
Describe a typical writing day.
Pauline: Let's see, when I first wake up, I lay there for a while, wishing I were dead, then finally stumble downstairs for a health drink of soy, cranberry juice and yogurt, which I then follow_up with a Diet Dr. Pepper. Once I've downed about half the can, my brain sluggishly agrees to start functioning above a primitive level. I do a quick browse through the newspaper, hit the shower, then start on email. Then, if I haven't procrastinated long enough, I play a few hands of computer Solitaire. When I've exhausted all possibilities for delay, I pull up my book and re_read what I wrote the day before. Once I've reached the place where I have to produce new material___I check my email again.Then I face the beast again and try to hit it hard__until lunch. After lunch, armed with my second Diet Dr. Pepper, I face the blank screen once more and work flat out until three when my biorhythms tank or something. Sometimes I'll work in the evening (I used to always write in the evening while my kids were little), but usually I just think about what I need to do next in the story so that I can procrastinate writing it tomorrow....
Jodie: Why Estes Park?
My story came to be set in Colorado, and in the Estes Park area, through
an odd series of events. When I first started the first book in the
series in the early 90's, I was going to set it in New Orleans, to
make the research easier. My heroine in The Last Enemy was afraid
of heights, so I knew that my finale would be really high up, but
the book also required my heroine to have access to the internet.
When I started the book, well before wireless access, that meant a
free_net. I did a search and found that Denver had a free net and
I at least knew the area reasonably well. Further search turned up
Long's Peak__the only "teener" that can be hiked up. I'd found my
up and my free net. Of course, by the time I finished The Last Enemy,
technology has passed by the need for a free net and I ended up not
using that at all in the story. And since the first book was set in
Denver, the other books naturally followed... (And I learned to push
the technology of my stories beyond the present.)
Well, I didn't start out planning it that way, but when I gave Matt
Kirby (The Last Enemy) two brothers, I realized I was going to write
their stories, too. Not only did I like them, but I had already done
all the research for the area. It was a lot easier to write Byte Me
and Missing You because I knew so many of the players already, particularly
Luke who was in all three books.
Not as much as the first two books, since I'd already done a lot of
it. We did stay in Estes Park a couple of days while taking our daughter
to college and I was able to see the town and hike in the mountains
a bit. And I am from the West myself.
Way prior to.
I didn't because I knew them all so well. For some reason I seem to
be driven to write complex stories. I don't know why. I'll be writing
along and I'll think of a twist, then I'll twist the twist. I don't
know if it is a curse or a blessing__probably a little of both.
Pauline: Well, the actual physical writing of it took two months. I was under my first deadline and had no choice. It wasn't the best time I've ever had, but I was thrilled that I just did it. I'd never done that before. And I had some help from good friends and my daughter, who read it for me and pointed out where I went wrong.
Jodie: Did you find it difficult to write about snow or the cold during hot or warm months? Any special tricks you used to make you think of cold weather?
Oddly, no. I think that's because they set the thermostat so low here
in the south, when its hot, that its colder than it is in the winter.
Pauline: I started writing around age 12__to keep a book going that I didn't want to end. I didn't start seriously pursuing it until after I married. My husband encouraged me to take a correspondence playwriting course after I co_wrote a stage play with a friend. When my kids were small, I tried writing short fiction and non_fiction for them and made my first sale. Then I decided to try adult short fiction. I'd started a few full length novels, but they didn't click, until I started Pig in a Park. With that book, it was as if it all came together and I knew what I wanted to do and did it. It was great.
Jodie: Why mysteries and not, say, horror?
I'm too easily frightened!
Jodie: When you're not writing, what do you enjoy doing?.
Pauline: I love to read and I'll confess I like television and movies. I'm also active in my church, which keeps me very busy, and I belong to several online chapters and organizations. And I'm in the final year of homeschooling my son, so I'm also prepping myself for an empty nest. As if I weren't already busy, I signed up to be a writing instructor at www.wordmuseum.com. I'll be teaching two classes a month, including some screenwriting courses. I've always enjoyed teaching and teaching online has the added benefit that you can do it in your pajamas.
Jodie: We've all heard how authors, especially midlist authors, have to promote their own books. Has this been true for you? What have you done to promote your book?
Oh yes! I devote at least one day a week to promotion. Because I have
a very small promotion budget, I'm always looking for cheap or free
opportunities to promote. I do interviews (
Jodie: What are you working on now?
Pauline: I'm working on two proposals for my agent, one is a romantic suspense series, sort of like Lonesome Lawmen, only featuring a family here in New Orleans and a mystery series, also set here in New Orleans. The mystery series will have an ongoing protagonist, while the other will have stand alone books, connected by blood and their interest in law enforcement.
Jodie: Do you have any tips for our writers about breaking into print?
Pauline: This is a tough business to break into and it seems to get harder each year. You start by writing the best book you can__and then learning everything you can to make it better. You need to be open to critique and change. If you are resistant to changing even a word of your prose, you won't get far. That doesn't mean you can't be true to yourself. When I first started trying to sell my first book, Pig in a Park, I was told the book was great fun, but it wasn't marketable. I was also told that no one sells their first book and that I should just move on, but I really believed in the book and felt readers would enjoy it. Eventually it was published in ebook, hard cover, audio and it released last year in trade paperback. So far I've sold every book I've finished (five) and signed with a top notch agent. During the years I tried to market PIG I kept working and reworking it, even as I was writing other books. I've learned it's a process and I hope I never, ever think I have nothing to learn.