What book or project is coming out or has come out that you’d like to tell us about?
I have two books I am just finishing up that I am so excited about. The first, is the long awaited sequel to Out of the Shadows . . . Into the Light. Dreams Die Hard is the story of Judith and Sam, who were secondary characters in Shadows. The Anqiri continue their wicked, evil ways and the gang from Shadows return to fight them. Sam has a bullseye on his forehead and Judith is his greatest weakness. I'm having a lot of fun intertwining their romance in out of the life-threatening scenes. This book has a greater level of tension and suspense as well humor.
The second book is Standing on the Fifth: The Long Road. I've been so excited to work in collaboration with Merrill Osmond on this book. It is my first written for the national market and I believe to be the best writing I have ever done."Standing on the Fifth: The Long Road" is the first in a two-book series that will take the reader on a journey through one man's life. Hopi and Welsh in heritage, the main character copes with the onset of gifts handed down through generations of his family, his military career and ultimately, his role as the most powerful man in the free world as the President of the United States. Through all this, a catastrophic natural disaster builds until its ultimate explosion, decimating the entire half of the western United States and the true measure of the man he has become is found in his actions in dealing with a nation in chaos.
Tell us about your journey to publication. How long had you been writing before you got the call you had a contract, how you heard and what went through your head.
I am a screenwriter first, and a writer of books second. At least, that's how it used to be. As I worked with Hollywood over the years I made the determination I'd have to start my own production company if I wanted to avoid the dark side of Hollywood in my films. I developed a business plan, contracted with some of the best in the business and met with potential investor after another. After a great deal of money and wasted time, I finally found an investor I liked, who liked me and what I stood for . . . sadly, getting his money into the country was going to take some time, especially since 9/11.
So, I sat down and said to myself, what shall I do while I wait? Write a book! Why not? And so, Out of the Shadows . . . Into the Light came into fruition. I sent the first three chapters to an LDS publisher to see if there would be any interest. There was, so I finished the book and submitted it. They proceeded to attempt to edit me into banality. Some of the suggestions were excellent, most destroyed the power and integrity of the story structure. For those who have read it, they wanted me to take out the reception scene. As if!
I attended a LDS Storymakers conference where I met Chad Daybell of Spring Creek Book Co. We had a good conversation and he asked me to submit my manuscript and he would see if it was worth publishing. That was in the late spring of 2004. By December it was on the shelves of the bookstores and I was off.
Do you still experience self-doubt regarding your work?
Certainly, especially right now while I'm struggling so much to get the writing done and the books in progress finished. But, I have proof I have done it before and I feel like I'm finally starting to produce again. So, I'm not sure that is something that ever goes away.
What mistakes have you made while seeking publication?
I'm not sure I made a mistake, other expecting a little more of my publisher than I received.
What’s the best advice you’ve heard on writing/publication?
You must market your work. If you don't, no one will and your books will not sell. Chip MacGregor, a literary agent, posted about book proposals and the power they hold. In addition, an LDS Publisher has a blog which I check frequently, blogged about a great topic, Why Should I Care? Both sites gave me new insight that truly redirected me.
MacGregor said, "On page 71 of Strunk & White's Elements of Style (3rd Edition), they give this advice: "Write with nouns and verbs, not adjectives and adverbs." In the words of E.B. White, nouns and verbs "give to good writing its toughness and color." Similarly, in his insightful work, On Writing, novelist Stephen King goes into great detail on this advice, pointing out that any reader can understand the combination of a noun and a verb: "Mary sighs." "Computers crash." "Book illuminate." In my experience, authors (particularly novelists, but ALL authors) tend to use adjectives and adverbs to dress things up when they can't find the right word. But that's nothing more than lipstick on a pig. The right word is what good writing is all about. If you want punch and strength in your writing, write with nouns and verbs."
That's some good advice! Although the rabid trend to avoid all adjectives and adverbs leads to very dull reading. A little of what I like to call one-dimensional writing. However, do not get carried away with adjectives and adverbs, it identifies you as an amateur.
What’s the worst piece of writing advice you’ve ever heard?
"It's a nice little hobby but does anybody really care?" "It hasn't paid well, why do you bother?" And my personal favorite slam? "How's your little book coming along?" Makes me want to write and have published a 1,500 page book so I can use it to tap them on the head with!
What’s something you wish you’d know earlier that might have saved you some time/frustration in the publishing business?
I should have hired a publicist right off the bat. It would have made a huge difference. Second, I would have tried to find a kind patron who was willing to pay for marketing out of the goodness of their heart. Ha! There's a fantasy if I ever heard one.
Is there a particularly difficult set back that you’ve gone through in your writing career you are willing to share?
Without question it would be the last year-and-a-half. When personal tragedy comes to visit and then stay, the creative process takes a HUGE hit. I've struggled to keep writing and have not been successful. I have deleted far more than I have written. There are days when I've stared at the white screen of the computer and wondered would the words ever come again.
The first eighteen months of publication I released three books. The last eighteen months - nothing. So it's taken some real soul searching, establishing balance in my life and the surcease of illness and death in my family to begin producing again.
What are a few of your favorite books?
Wow. That's difficult. I have favorite authors more than I have favorite books. Shakespeare, Nora Roberts, James Rollins, Jayne Ann Kretz, Chris Stewart, Willard Boyd Gardner, Tristi Pinkston, Kay Hooper, Jane Austen . . . the list truly could go on an don.
What piece of writing have you done that you’re particularly proud of and why?
While Out of the Shadows . . . Into the Light was my first published, it is still my favorite. I loved the development of the characters and the dangerous situations I put them through. Of course, once Standing is published, I will undoubtedly be the proudest of that. I have grown tremendously as a writer.
Do you have a pet peeve having to do with the business?
Oh yeah! Marketing dollars! There aren't enough to go around.
Take us through your process of writing a novel briefly—from conception to revision.
Answer: An idea pops into my head triggered by a song, a statement, a news story, an investigative story, a movie, a smile, a laugh, a dream . . . anything can trigger the entire story in my head. Then I jot down a brief outline and make note of points of research. I then do the research, which drives the story further and then do an indepth outline or treatment. Then I write the story, sometimes doing more research -- thank goodness for the internet. When the first draft is completed I step away from it for a month or so. Then I go back, read it and do a massive rewrite. When the second draft is complete I then send to a group of 20 readers of all ages, sex and faiths for feedback. The manuscript is accompanied by a questionnaire to be returned to me with the manuscript, which they've marked up. I write the third and final draft and that is submitted to the publisher. They then return it to me for further edit. Then the book is printed and hits the shelves.
I'm offering an online class to teach people the basics of writing a novel, taking them through the process. You can take the class by clicking here.
Do you have a dream for the future of your writing, something you would love to accomplish?
Without question. I would like to write at least one book a year and one screenplay a year. I'd like to see both published and produced without trouble . . . is there ever such a thing?
I'd like to grow with each project, becoming more proficient in my writing skills as well as developing as a human being and child of God.
Was there ever a time in your writing career you thought of quitting?
Sure, when the muse isn't inspiring and the books aren't selling enough to replace a real job.
What is your favorite and least favorite part of being a writer?
Having to figure out how to pay the bills so that I can write.
How much marketing/publicity do you do? Any advice in this area?
Answer: I do a tremendous amount of marketing from worldwide press releases, t.v. interviews, print interviews, email campaigns, book signings, speaking engagements at churches, schools and organizations, book parties, book groups, advertising . . . you name it. If it will make my name recognizable, in a good way, then I am willing to do it. Besides, I actually enjoy the marketing process. It's much less painful than the writing process. And yes, I'm teaching an online class about this too, which you may sign up for by clicking here.
Have you received a particularly memorable reader response?
I have and it was concerning my latest book, Forged in the Refiner's Fire. I've included it below.
I needed to write you and let you know just how very grateful and blessed my life has been since reading Forged in the Refiner's Fire. Yes, there are many books written on this subject, but unique to this book, is the very personal experiences so bravely shared by these very courageous Latter-Day-Saints. In reflecting upon their experiences, not only do I understand that others do undergo similar trials, and experiences, but how they lived through them, and the personal growth that they have shared with us. I too can do it! I to can live through my own trials and experiences that are truly refining me! I am so grateful for this publication of how our Heavenly Father works to aid in refining us. My heart filled thanks to those who complied these tender stories/experiences and those who so bravely shared them with us, as this is helping me further along my journey here in life!
Sister Rebecca Lynn Walter
It really makes it all worth it. Whether the book gives the reader a sense of adventure, tension and romance, or helps them to overcome the trials they are facing . . . it's worth it when it makes such a difference.
I am a staunch believer in pursuing your dreams. I believe that each of us are graced with the gifts, talents and necessary opportunities to fulfill our missions here on earth. I've found that our hopes, dreams and fears tend to revolve around the very things that will make our missions successful. If it is your dream to write, then do so. Do not let anything stop you.
Just as I was finishing up this interview, I stopped to visit a few blogs. Over at Musings from an LDS Writing Mom and in one of her previous post, I found this little test. Isn't that just ironic!
|You Should Be a Film Writer|
You don't just create compelling stories, you see them as clearly as a movie in your mind.
You have a knack for details and dialogue. You can really make a character come to life.
Chances are, you enjoy creating all types of stories. The joy is in the storytelling.
And nothing would please you more than millions of people seeing your story on the big screen!