I enjoyed writing in grade school and in sixth grade there was a countywide contest to write a radio stage play for the local Public Broadcasting System, “PBS.” My teacher, Mr. Baursfield, encouraged the entire class to enter but as was typical with extra-credit writing assignments, only a few students entered. To make a long story short, my stage play was chosen as the winner by the PBS station and our class produced it. The play was broadcast from my school and I was thrilled because, as the writer, I was brought in on script consultation and got to see behind the scenes of a radio play broadcast. I was twelve years old and that was the seed from which my writing grew.
I continued to write for other reasons, mostly self-expression of growing up in harrowing times. The Viet Nam War was in full swing and my brother and friends were in it. Political turmoil was everywhere and at every level of society. The daily news was depressing, what with the constant reports of deaths in the war. During this time, I lost my father and my grandparents…death seemed to be closing in on me from all angles, it was a daily shroud of sadness and despair that could’t be shaken off. Writing saved me.
How long have you been writing? In what genres do you write?
I guess the above answer pretty much indicates I have been writing constantly and with passion since age twelve. Professionally, I began late in life…after raising a family and having a career. Though I worked in a field that was a kindred spirit to writing: I was a public school librarian. Fifteen years ago, I sold my first story and then began writing in earnest for publication on a professional level. I took additional college courses in business writing--the softer side if publicity--and slowly built a client list. As a book author, I was first published for non-fiction. Those books are now on backlist title pages, I do not actively promote them. I decided to turn to fiction as a way to continue to research and write about lesser-known aspects of California and American history--especially social history in topic areas I love: Victorian era magic and architecture. Oh, and food. At heart I am a foodie and I owe that to my father, who was a world-class chef.
The only genre of true interest to me was the classic cozy mystery. Who doesn’t love a mystery? Choosing a cozy mystery genre was part of my commitment to write at a G-Rated level. By the definition of a mystery being a cozy, it is family friendly. I am proud of the fact that I can share what I write with members of my church and the community in general. I can honestly say, you can put any one of my books down and not fear who may pick it up. Adding the paranormal element of having a helpful ghost in my series was also a given, but for reasons less easy to describe…other than to say it harkens back to my deeply rooted Celtic beliefs. I offer an explanation via an answer to that question. One of my siblings once asked me why I am so driven to write. My answer was to say that I write to quiet the whispers of my ancestors. In Celtic beliefs, this kind of passion and drive is often called blood memory.
Who is your favorite author and why do you like his/her work?
William Shakespeare is a favorite author who has influenced me the most because so much of his writing is iconic to North American and British culture. I can’t even begin to recount his various truths and wit that have become ingrained in society. Certainly, “to be or not to be” is just the tip of the iceberg. Another author, and quintessentially American novelist, is John Steinbeck. I love Steinbeck for his gritty portrayal of American society. My favorite book of all time: Travels with Charley: in Search of America is Steinbeck at his best in observing the diversity of people from a non-judgmental point of view.
What is the biggest challenge you’ve faced as a writer?
Finding time to write and taking the proverbial leap of faith. I loved being a librarian. It was difficult to give up that job, but I was quite literally burning the wick and both ends and had to make a decision. Looking back, I didn’t know the time was right; it was a challenge of faith.
What is the title of your most recently published book? Briefly tell us what it’s about and let us know where we can buy it.
My publisher: Write Words, Inc publishes my novels in e-book format and in paperback.
Book 1 in the series: A Ghost of a Chance just came out in paperback earlier this year. It is available wherever books are sold, including online sources such as retail giants Amazon.com and Target department stores. A Ghost of a Chance is also in all e-book formats, sold around the globe at dozens of retailers.
On my web site I have a limited number of signed copies of A Ghost of a Chance in paperback for sale. Readers interested in buying a signed copy from me can access the information on my web site.
Summary: Shannon Delaney thought her dream assignment in San Diego would open doors for her writing career. She could not have guessed that her new home, the very-Victorian Blackthorne House mansion, would be a portal to a century-old mystery. Shannon settles into her assignment to chronicle the mansion’s fascinating history for a publicity brochure advertising it as an authentic Victorian B&B. But before Shannon can put pen to paper, a ghostly encounter leaves her wondering if her dream assignment isn’t a nightmare. Caught up in the spectral mission of the mansion’s original owner—Eric Blackthorne, master magician—Shannon endures ghastly discoveries to solve a long-ago crime.
Book 2 in the series: A Ghost From the Shadows was recently released in e-book format and is also sold wherever e-books are retailed.
Summary: Talented publicity writer Shannon Delaney rebounds from a failed romance and takes refuge in an assignment at 1920's-era Magic Manor Dinner Theater on California's Catalina Island, Avalon resort. Assured of quiet surroundings as the only lodger at the renovation-in-process Magic Manor, Shannon soon discovers she is not alone! Portentous events, haunting clues, and spectral visitations draw Shannon into separate, yet interwoven, mysteries: the hunt for nineteenth-century pirate treasure, and a decade-old tragic death that reeks of dark intentions. Avalon, fabled as Hollywood's getaway, is ideal as A Ghost From the Shadows location and for Shannon's continuing adventures as she builds her career and strengthens her intuitive powers to speak to the past. Returning characters include: Alex Blackthorne, Aunt Dora, Francisco Zavala, Zach Zavala and Shannon's personal spirit guide Eric Blackthorne, master magician from the 1800's.
What are you working on now and when/where do you expect it to be available?
Book three in my Shannon Delaney cozy paranormal mystery series is what I am writing now. It could be available in early 2010. As the writer, I do not set the publication schedule. I have
promised to have the finished manuscript to my editor by November of this year. I have never
missed a deadline.
Writers, especially new writers, are always looking for tips and helpful information. What is the single most important “tip” you can give to a new writer?
Most often, new writers do not have a market-smart way of shopping for an agent or publisher. I advise that they study the market in person and on the Web. Honestly, I do not use the so-called writers’ marketing books that have dozens of listings of publishers/agents. The reason being is that by the time a book is published, the listing may have changed and in today’s’ recession and ping-pong economy, in all likelihood the publisher/agent has changed requirements from the time the guidebook went to press. Instead, I suggest that a writer looking for a publisher/agent go window-shopping, so to speak. Go into one or two of the largest bookstores in your region and study what is on the shelf for your category or genre. Open those books and look to the masthead page and take note of the publisher/agent and contact information. Once you have a list of publishers who are publishing the type of writing you do, go home and get on the computer and find the publisher’s web site, look for their submission guidelines. And, don’t wait until your manuscript is finished to do this. Start immediately, because you’ll be able to track changes in the publishing market as you progress with your manuscript. This industry can change on a dime; the savvy author must be prepared for it.
And if you are looking for an agent: while perusing books, pay attention to whom the author mentions in the front matter. Almost always the name of an agent is in that list of expressed gratitude!
What writers organizations claim you as a member?
Sisters in Crime
Do you have any upcoming book signings or appearances? If so, give us all the details.
I have numerous appearances coming up for my summer session of promoting. Most are in the
easily-accessed cyber-world of Internet radio. Because the list is extensive and is a work in progress as I continue to book dates, it is best to refer to my web site under Author’s Appearances for full details. Briefly here’s the June timeline:
June 3rd, Wednesday evening from 9:30 to 10:30 pm (Eastern time), NKYPS Paranormal Outreach Radio
June 18th, Thursday evening @ 7:50 pm (Eastern time), Para Women League Radio show.
June 24th, 8:00 pm (Eastern time) join Elizabeth as she chats with host Jimmy Morris on his Ghost Chatter radio show
June 25th, 10:00 pm (Eastern time), Gregg Cable, host of MidWest ParaTalk Radio will chat with Elizabeth on her topic of Blood Memory: Are your ancestors your ghosts?
June 26th, Friday evening, 8:00 - 9:30 pm (Eastern time), Paranormal Encounters on Real Paranormal Radio
June 28th, 6:00 – 7:30 pm (Pacific time), join Elizabeth for a chat with NorCal Ghost Talk radio program on Blog Talk Radio network… topic TBA.
June 30th,Tuesday evening, 7:00 pm (Central Standard Time), Para Challenged Radio... topic TBA.
Here’s your opportunity to tell us anything else you care to share.
Oh boy, here goes with a quote right out of Shakespeare: “… this above all, to thine own self be true…” I embrace this credo more than any other advice because all writers/authors absolutely must work every bit as earnestly promoting their work as they do writing it. So, in a world of marketing and promoting, a writer should always remain ethical in what they write, say and do. Remain ethical in balance to yourself. Never sell yourself short, and most importantly: never sell out.
What are the addresses of your website(s) and blog(s):
I am also on Twitter.