Crystal Coombes interview with David Alan Binder
Post date: Nov 10, 2016 1:09:36 PM
Crystal Coombes interview with David Alan Binder
Crystal Coombes will also be at a book signing this weekend, Barnes & Noble, Town Center, Virginia Beach. Drop by and say hello.
Bio from her website: Crystal C. Coombes is the author of All Things Equal, the first novel in the Lucille Garcia mystery-fiction series.
As a licensed mental health therapist, legal consultant, private investigator and university administrator, Ms. Coombes has often ventured into worlds that have limited access. Her vita reflects more than 30 years as a professional “voyeur.”
Ms. Coombes has been an invited speaker at conventions and professional conferences throughout the United States. She enjoys teaching college Composition and Literature, in addition to her full-time position as a university administrator. She is a recognized expert in her field. She is currently writing the next installment of the Lucille Garcia series.
1. How do you pronounce your name?
Coombes-- oo is u sound and the b is silent
2. Where are you currently living?
I travel between Virginia and Florida
3. What is the most important thing that you have learned in your writing
experience, so far?
Be mindful of the details and take every opportunity to polish each phrase. Revise,
Revise, Revise is key.
4. What would you say is your most interesting writing, publishing, editing or
I like to color code my dialogue. This allows me to visualize the page better.
5. Tell us your insights on self-publish or use a publisher?
a. Who is the name of your publisher and in what city are they?
Fantastic publisher. Cherokee McGhee in Williamsburg, VA. Their focus
classic/traditional mysteries. Great editorial support!!
7. Do you have any secret tips for writers on getting a book published?
Make sure you follow accepted genre formats and only turn in a manuscript that is completed. Be mindful of your pitch and query letter.
8. How did you or would you suggest acquire an agent? Any tips for new
writers on getting one? Target agents who are interested in the things you
are interested in...especially their reading list. I once had a great opportunity
(having been stuck in an airport for 5 unexpected hours) to have lunch with
an agent. This gave me great insight into what the agent wanted and made
my pitch to the agent much better.
9. Do you have any suggestions or helps for new writers (please be specific and
informational as possible)?
a. Find at least one person you trust to read your work
b. Trust your gut on the details
c. Write---set the work down--and come back a few weeks later (this helps you
to polish and see the work fresh)
d. Stick to the seat---if you don’t write every day, you won’t write a book that
e. Work on being able to create anywhere--a “writing room” is great, but let
yourself explore how ideas come when you least expect them
f. Get a system for editing that works for you (I create in the morning and edit
at night--keeping my brain focused on one thing at a time)
g. Revise often--you’ll find your best work happens when you accept that less
h. Enjoy the process
10.What was one of the most surprising things you learned your creative
process with your books, editing, publishing or illustrating?
I love to delve into a subject, but also anchor it to reality. I often use one key item
of news or a story about something as a component around my characters. For
example, a tugboat sank almost instantly on the Chesapeake Bay several years
ago-- this became a part of my current novel “All Things Equal” and a component of the story that set the tone for the mystery.
11.How many books have you written?
I wrote my first book at age 13 (and got my first rejection letter by age 15). Today,
have begun a series of novels- The Lu Garcia Mysteries. The first book is out and
available as an eBook and in print via Amazon, Barnes and Noble, etc.
12.Do you have any tricks or tips to help others become a better writer (please
be as specific and information as you possibly can)?
My first rejection letter gave me one of the best tips ever...learn the craft of
writing. As with many things...when you are good at the basics and then learn
some of the advanced...bending a grammatical rule or two works. When you are
missing the craft of writing--all else fails.
Next--- keep at it. Writing is not for the faint of heart. You have to develop a
drive, a thirst for it. And...you have to trust your gut as you write. I write from
what I know, but I challenge myself to learn more.
Imagination counts! Be creative (but not absurd, so to speak). Find others that you
trust who are further along the path. Approach other authors. And then...sit down
and listen. I learned more from others speaking about their errors and tribulations
than I could have in isolation. And… finally, learn the rules of your chosen genre
and stick to them. Very few new authors succeed outside the lines.
13.Do you have any suggestions for providing twists in a good story? A great
editor once told me that every ending sentence in each chapter should have a
good hook. Each hook should create suspense. Every twist should be
well-placed and create the best tight rope ever. A twist is a strategic move
(like a chess move), better to have the plot plotted well from the start.
14.What makes your or any book stand out from the crowd?
I like to tell the stories of people we can all know. Each of my novels focuses on a
people and places unique and yet familiar. The characters in mysteries are
sometimes lost to the puzzle. I feel my characters are what create it.
15.What are some ways in which you promote your work?
I love to speak to groups about the bits of true history or information from each of
my books. The backstory that is often volumes for a writer, but shows up as one or
two lines in a chapter. The backstory reveals the reason for the mystery to begin
with...like that tugboat I mentioned before. It sank on the Bay in an instant. Pulled
straight into the muddy bottom by a towline that got tangled on a bridge piling.
What is more important...the loss of 3 generations of men from one family---gone in an instant. Imagine what they must have felt like...imagine those lives old and young. Imagine the life of a working waterman or tugger. Now...imagine that few know how to swim---because “They work the water, they don’t recreate on it.” A life on the water ending in the water. Those are the topics that many like to know and those topics aren’t in the book---but they made the book what it is.
16. What is the one thing you would do differently now (concerning writing or
editing or publishing or illustrating) and why?
Though it may sound simple--- not a thing. Every day, week, month, and year of
my life was spent learning something...and everything I learned now contributes to my work as an author. However, if I could have one “re-do,” it would be to have met the editor that sent my first rejection letter. She inspired me and I waited far too long (and unfortunately, now too late) to personally thank her. So the moral of this story is: Be gracious, be kind, and thank all those who help you each day.
17.What saying or mantra do you live by?