A part of the process in keeping current, and neighborly, with what’s trending in the book writing and publishing world, is by interviewing prolific bloggers such as Beverly Diehl. Now, I can’t recall exactly when and where we initially met, but do know the connection was as interesting as the eye-candy I frequently catch on her blog. Bloggers and writers who write from their souls up unanimously get my attention, which at least twice—Fire Sale Blogfest! and MLK Blogfest —lured me into participating in one of the many writing contests promoted on Beverly's Writing in Flow Blog.
Without doubt this is a blog solid with content, exploring a range of topics; from the numinous and hilarious blogs Beverly follows, to helpful tidbits for writers, writing contests, and blog posts covering a breadth of social subjects she passionately advocates; Domestic Violence among the premier.
Writing (and rewriting) since a teenager Beverly is a native of Wisconsin, later splitting her teenage years between Pennsylvania, and Southern California where she currently resides with her fat cat Metaphor. She’s written Flash Fiction, won writing contests, contributed to columns and newsletters, and currently has an agent shopping her debut novel, Close Knit. I am most pleased to share this Q&A of such a dynamic reader, determined writer, and popular blogger, none too surprisingly recently tagged "The Next Big Thing."
Interviewed by RYCJ/OEBooks August 2012
As a Reader and Blogger:
How do you support other writers?
In person, I moderate a local crit group and try to encourage my writer friends, as well as my RWA (Romance Writers of America) sisters/brothers.
As a blogger, I like to invite guest bloggers or interviewees who are new or unique in some way, not just the superstars (though I'm thrilled to score them, too). The glory of reading, to me, is in getting to explore new worlds, to go somewhere you weren't likely to visit in person.
To that end, I've lately interviewed Jamaican writer J.L. Campbell, writing team Joan Rylen, erotica author Roni Loren, thriller writer Jeremy Robinson, best-selling romance author Lauren Dane... I've had non-fiction writers, comic writers, YA authors, self-pubbed authors, and in the works is an interview with songwriter-musician Peter Matuchniak. (Finally, an actual Rock Star.)
I've also done writing tip posts, general musings about writing, short romantic stories, and book reviews. Plus I run a wealth of great links in my sidebar, from The Funnily Enough newsletter, to Agent and Publisher links, to Grammar Girl, and helpful organization links. I dare anybody to visit my blog and not find something useful to her writing or blogging journey!
How do you divide the amount of time, or type support you give to other writers?
I think it is important to make sure our own work comes first. I made the decision to cut back on blogging, and visiting other blogs, much as I love the blogosphere, because I needed to focus on my novels, and there IS only so much time in any one day.
I had a debut author Friend me on GoodReads and ask me to review his (self-pubbed) novel. I did - and I was fairly gentle with him, though I did point out a few places where the hamster fell off the wheel. He was very appreciative - and then he asked me to review and edit his newest book. My gut reaction, because I'm a people pleaser, was to say, "oh, sure, send it over," but then I had to back up and think about it. Can I really afford, timewise, to invest 20+ hours working on somebody else's novel, for free, when I am fighting to carve out time for my own work? So I pointed him in a couple other directions, like AsboluteWrite where you can join their "water cooler" section and get critique after you've taken your turn with others, and sites like WriterUnboxed.
Name one blog/blogger that you consistently read… and why?
Do you read reviews? And if so, why, or why not?
I read reviews about books I'm interested in reading; I do find them helpful, if they are not the ones where the reviewer gushes over EVERYONE.
Slutty? Have you ever read a book that you believe went overboard? How was that?
One of the first erotic romances I ever read was Skye O'Malley by Bertrice Small. I still love it, but it was published a LONG time ago. Problem is it's a bit repetitive, more than a little unrealistic re: frequency and number of partners, and, as someone else said, Bertrice never met a manroot she didn't love.
I recently read a BDSM novel by an author I know personally who's a lovely lady, but English is not her native tongue, and the book was just... awkward, rather than erotic, to me. There were some odd turns of phrases and the characters did not behave believably, IMO.
Well-written sex is fabulous, IMO. The key to sex scenes is do they BELONG in the story. If the characters learn, grow, and change because of, or during what happens in the bedroom (or on the floor, or in the elevator), then we (the readers) need to BE there at the moment of change, and the author needs to take us there. If, on the other hand, sex scenes are added because "sex sells" and they aren't integral to the story, then the staples show, and it's more off-putting than enchanting, especially if the author isn't comfortable writing sex scenes. I've read novels with little to no explicit sex that I loved, and others with it that made me squirm, and not in a good way.
As a Writer and Author:
Have you written a book? Has it been published?
I've written four, one being absolutely AWFUL and which will never see the light of day, though someday I may do a Frankenstein on it and harvest the usable bits. I have three others started. My last completed novel, CLOSE KNIT, is entered in a few contests and being considered for publication in a few houses right now.
How many books do you envision writing?
Anywhere from another 20 to another 40. I will not rival Nora Roberts, who is having her 200th book published next year!
Do you believe you should write what you know?
I believe we should write what we are passionate about. If writers only wrote what we know, Rebekah Weatherspoon would never have written her awesome novel about vampire lesbian sorority sisters, and Lisa Hendrix wouldn't have written about hot Viking historical werebeasts, and the world would be a much poorer place. One of my favorite authors, Ursula LeGuin, (The Lathe of Heaven) writes marvelous stories about imaginary planets and I wouldn't want to give them up, nor Anne McCaffrey's world of Pern. (What’s Pern?) a world settled by human beings… full dragons, nothing we’ve witnessed.
Do you keep a word count on how many words you write for a given novel, by day?
I write something every day, but I don't keep a word count (maybe I should). I find it really hard to work on my novel and then pack it up and go to my day job, and some nights I am too mentally flogged, so some days I only blog or comment. Then the weekend comes and I may spend HOURS doing nothing but writing new pages.
Are there any subjects that you will not touch, either in your work or blogging… or that you approach carefully?
The advice that's "out there" is never to touch anything controversial, never to talk about politics or religion on your blog or website, to always be neutral. And I considered it... but that's not ME. I am passionate about women's rights and domestic violence and mental health issues and a lot of things that yes, might make some people feel uneasy. I decided that, even if it costs me readers or a book contract, that my brand is not the dollar bill - that if I became this genteel little lady who never said anything that made people uncomfortable, I was in fact betraying my own brand. When I blog about these issues, I try to do with respect and leave room for discussion, but when the spirit moves me, I cannot be silent. YMMV (Your Mileage May Vary.)
How would you describe your skin? Thick or thin skin? How would you respond to a negative review?
I'm not there yet, but I hope I can be professional. I have heard various advice on things like NEVER reading reviews about your own work, but I think I will be able to stay away from reading reviews like I'm able to stay away from chocolate. That is, not at all. I DO plan to be classier than Emily Giffin, when the time comes. I hope that I can simply appreciate that someone took the time to read my book - and if they hated it, try to do better next time.
Are there any other interests, (outside of blogging and social networking) you’re involved with?
I am interested in mental health issues, and serve as Treasurer for Words on Wheels, a non-profit organization that provides literacy experiences to infants and toddlers. I craft, read ALL THE TIME, go to local clubs to listen to music by independent artists, and someday, I hope to get back into playing volleyball. One of my friends is trying to convert me to bike-riding, but the last time I tried, that Did Not End Well.
Great Interview! I really appreciate your taking time to chat with me.
Spots to visit Beverly, who writes on the wild side, for more fun and juicy conversation.
Writing in Flow Blog: http://writinginflow.blogspot.com/
Facebook: http://facebook.com/WriterBeverlyTwitter: http://twitter.com/writerbeverly