Today I am delighted to welcome Janet Lane Walters to my blog. I've known Janet for many many years, and she is a special mentor to me. In fact, when I hit some dire straits writing-wise a few years back, she was one of the ones who talked me down from the ledge.
Janet's taught me a lot – I appreciate her honesty and her willingness to help (not just me, but everyone she sees that spark in), and the time she has devoted to supporting so many of my fellow authors. I can honestly say I would not be where I am if it weren't for Janet's support, encouragement and guidance. If you've never read one of her books, you are seriously missing out. Janet writes in just about every genre – I think science fiction and horror are the main genres she doesn't write in. But you can find Janet's name on anything from YA fantasy, to erotic romance, to romantic suspense (Code Blue has one of the creepiest villains EVER!), to cozy mysteries, historical romance, well, you get the picture.
I've got Janet in the hot seat today – and don't forget to check out her latest releases, a fantasy romance trilogy set in an alternate Ancient Egypt. Books 1 and 2 are out now I believe, with Book 3 soon to follow. Here's the cover of Toth's Priest:
When did the writing bug first hit?
Hard question to answer but I'm sure the bug was always there. From the age of six or so, my friends and I spent hours on the porch making up ghost stories. In high school I learned to write by reading and often tried my hand at stories. The real surge to write didn't come until after marriage and was living in a small town in Oklahoma where the library was scant. I read every Zane Gray in their library and began searching out books on writing. I took some courses and finally had a short story published several years later. I've been published for 46 years and still cranking out the stories.
Are you a plotter or a pantser?
I am a plotter but I also do a bit on free writing. I start with an outline that is rather scant more topics with information on what should go into the scene. Then I do the rough draft and if surprising things happen, I look at my outline again and make the changes. My rough drafts are usually about a third of what the book ends up becoming wordwise.
Do your characters come first, or the story?
This is a hard question to answer. Often the idea for a plot comes first but sometimes there are characters who leap into view and I know they need a story. My process is sort of an amalgam of the story and they come together in a kind of rush. I really don't think the two can be separated. And though the characters and plot come together until I finish the rough draft I really don't know what the final parts will end up being.
What was the most valuable piece of advice you received when you first started your pursuit of publication?
When I began writing centuries ago, I went to an all day conference with a writer who said. "First you must finish the book. Then you must rewrite and revise as many times as it takes." I wish I could remember the name of the writer but I can't. That's the advice I give to others. Until you finish the book you can't know what to keep and what to delete.
What's the same mistake you still find yourself aggravatingly making from your early days?
There are a lot but the main one is forgetting to put in all the details of setting. The first editor comment I ever received was "Your characters are living in a vacuum. I always have to do a draft that makes me look at setting, setting setting.
When you hit that brick wall (as all writers eventually do at some point or another), how do you get through it?
I'm not sure I ever hit this wall. That may be because I work like a painter and keep layering the story with four or five re-writes and make changes as I go along There are times when I start a story that is going nowhere. I just put it aside and may come back to it again or not, depending on what I want to do at the time. I will worry a story until it's finished unless I decide I don't like it.
What was the first book you loved so much that to this day, you can still pick it up and read it and savor every word again?
Actually there are a lot. I'm a re-reader and have read many books again and again. Have read Pride and Prejudice many times. Every time a new book in a series comes out, I start from book 1 and read up to the new one.
A giant asteroid is about to hit the planet. What do you want to be doing at the moment of impact?
Writing, what else?
What was your favorite childhood game/toy? What happened to it?
There were a number but one of them was playing football with the boys. Growing up where there were 2 girls and fifteen boys on the street meant one had to play boy games. The boys didn't want me to play after I began to develop. Snowball fights were another fun game with building forts and planning war strategy. Grew up during WWII so life was much different then. Unfortunately one has to grow up and the body ages.
Do you believe in ghosts and other supernatural creatures (vampires, witches, werewolves)? Have you ever encountered any?
Perhaps I believe in witches. Perhaps I am one. I'll never tell. Once heard a ghost running down the street in front of our house. She stopped running when the man she was running after died.
Coffee or tea?
Love coffee if it has lots of cream and chocolate. Rum is my choice of alcoholic beverages but I've been known to drink many things. Do not like Scotch one bit but that's another story. I can do both chocolate and vanilla, depends on where it's to be found.
What was the craziest out-of-character thing you've ever done?
A very hard question and I'm not sure I should answer this since my character changes from day to day. I've lived a long life and have done many things that might seem out of character but since my character changes who knows if they were crazy or just reacting to the moment.
What's the one thing you had the chance to do but didn't, and wish you could go back and do it this time?
I have always wanted to visit Egypt but have never had the time or the money.
What was the worst vacation you've ever had and what caused it to be the worst?
My honeymoon. We were strapped for cash so we went camping. Unfortunately my husband had no idea about camping. The first night we ate our meal cold since the fire never got started. The second night he pitched the tent in an area were there were springs. I ended with pneumonia and the rest of the trip was miserable.
Here's where you can find Janet and her books online:
Amazon Author Page: http://www.amazon.com/Janet-Lane-Walters/e/B0034P79H0