Donis Casey interview with David Alan Binder
Post date: Jun 16, 2016 1:05:24 PM
Donis Casey interview with David Alan Binder
Shortened bio from her website: DONIS CASEY graduated from the University of Tulsa with a degree in English, and earned a Master’s degree in Library Science from Oklahoma University. After teaching school for a short time, she enjoyed a career as an academic librarian, working for many years at the University of Oklahoma and at Arizona State University in Tempe, Arizona.
Donis left academia in 1988 to start a Scottish import gift shop in downtown Tempe. After more than a decade as an entrepreneur, she decided to devote herself full-time to writing. The Old Buzzard Had It Coming is her first book. For the past twenty years, Donis has lived in Tempe, AZ, with her husband.
Website and blog: www.doniscasey.com
She also contributes to:
Multi-author blog twice monthly: www.typem4murder.blogspot.com
Publishers blog once a month: www.poisonedpenpress.com,
Where her books can also be purchased in all formats
How do you pronounce your name (only answer if appropriate)?
DON-is Casey. Not Doris. Not Donna.
Where are you currently living?
What is the most important thing that you have learned in your writing experience, so far?
It takes perseverance. You have to produce whether you are inspired or in the mood or not.
What would you say is your most interesting writing, publishing, editing or illustrating quirk?
I write the most unlikely mystery series, featuring a character who is not young or hip and who does not live in a very hip place, but I love her. And I found the perfect home for the series with a publisher who is more interested in quality stories than in blockbuster thrillers.
Tell us your insights on self-publish or use a publisher?
Eleven years ago I was lucky to find a publisher right off the bat for my first book and they have published all my subsequent titles. When I was starting out, traditional publishing was practically the only option other than vanity presses.
I do believe that if you have a good product and you persevere, there is probably a traditional publisher out there for you; but the truth is that there are more opportunities now to be published than ever. Be flexible and imaginative and you can get your work out there. Small presses abound. They have taken up the slack that the big conglomerates have created by doing away with much of their mid-list.
What is the name of your publisher and in what city are they?
Poisoned Pen Press, Scottsdale, AZ. They are the second-largest publishers of mystery novels in the United States.
Any insights eBooks vs. print books and alternative vs. conventional publishing?
If you can, try to get published in both formats. If you’re going to self-publish, know that you are going to be responsible for everything: formatting, editing, cover art, getting reviewed, all promotion. If you have the time and energy, you certainly can be successful, but it does take a tremendous amount of time that could be spent writing.
Do you have any secret tips for writers on getting a book published?
I think for beginning writers, or for a yet-as-unpublished writer, writer organizations are extremely helpful. Conferences, festivals, fairs, and meetings are how a writer builds his network and learns the business as well as his craft. After one’s career is more established, conferences are where you keep up with the trends, meet the movers and shakers, and share what you’ve learned. Writing is a solitary art. It’s most helpful to commiserate with other writers. It’s easy to fall into the illusion that you’re the only one suffering. I guarantee you’re not. Even the Very Big Names eat their hearts out on a regular basis.
How did you or would you suggest acquire an agent? Any tips for new writers on getting one?
The best way to get an agent is to write a good book. After that, it is very useful to attend writers’ conferences, which often have agents attending with whom you can make an appointment to pitch your book. It’s also useful to look at the dedications of books that are similar to your own. Sometimes the author will thank her agent, which will give you the name of someone who handles your kind of book.
There are a lot of online resources: Editors and Predators and Writer's Digest are two good ones
One helpful secret is that an author should get her ducks in a row before her book comes out or maybe even before she gets an agent or publisher. Set up your website. Network. Start collecting a contact list. Make connections with on line groups, local groups, and bookstores. Go to conferences. Other writers are a great resource.
p.s. there are many smaller presses that don’t require an agent.
Do you have any suggestions or helps for new writers (please be specific and informational as possible)?
Writers’ groups can be very helpful in honing your craft. Be sure and choose a relatively small group with members who want to be helpful rather than overly critical. If one person tells you something is off with your story that may be something to consider. But it two or three people tell you the same thing, listen, no matter how much you love what you wrote.
And if you are lucky enough to get picked up by an agent and/or a publisher, listen to what your agent or editor says about your work. A good content editor will tell you what is wrong with your story and may suggest a fix, but won’t write it for you. You are the author.
There is no writer who does not benefit from judicious editing. Not Steven King, not Gillian Flynn, not Earnest Hemingway, not William Shakespeare. Once upon a time I saw a television interview with a Very Famous Author, several of whose books have been made into movies. This woman is so big that at this point in her career; she has complete editorial control over her books. I know this because she told the interviewer, “I never let anybody edit my books.”
At the time I had just read her most recent book; a thousand-page tome that rambled around like the Mississippi River and was just as muddy. “Madam,” I said to the television, “you may wish to rethink that position.”
What was one of the most surprising things you learned your creative process with your books, editing, publishing or illustrating?
How much time, money and effort you’re expected to put into promotion and marketing of your work, even if you are with a traditional publishing house.
How many books have you written?
Eight have been published.
The Old Buzzard Had It Coming
The Drop Edge of Yonder
The Sky Took Him
The Wrong Hill to Die On
Hell With the Lid Blown Off
All Men Fear Me
The ninth (The Return of the Raven Mocker) will be published early in 2017
Do you have any tricks or tips to help others become a better writer (please be as specific and information as you possibly can)?
You have to love what you’re doing, and you have to know your craft. You have to figure out how to make your reader care about the people in your book. Making her reader care about your characters can even cover a multitude of sins in your plotting, so you must try to make them as real as possible. Character is more important than plot. The most important thing you can do as a writer, even more important that having a brilliant idea or great skill or technique, is to park yourself in a chair and write, write, write. Just get it down on the page, then go back and fix it. Someone asked Michelangelo how he got the beautiful statue of David out of a block of marble and he replied, “Easy, I just chipped away everything that didn’t look like David.” It’s the same with writing. You rewrite and rewrite, but first you have to have that block of marble, so in your first draft, just get it down on the page.
Do you have any suggestions for providing twists in a good story?
I love twists. I’m always looking for a twist, and I find that twists present themselves. All you have to do is pay attention while you’re writing. Put your character into a situation, stand back, and see what he does. Often he won’t take the obvious action. I’m surprised myself at the twists a story can take while I’m writing it.
What makes your or any book stand out from the crowd?
An interesting setting draws me to a story. But the thing that makes any book special is the characters. If the writer can make the reader care about the characters, that is more important that just about any other aspect of the novel. And you can do that by loving your characters and making them as human as you can.
What are some ways in which you promote your work?
I contribute to blogs and do blog tours when a new book is out. I also do a lot of personal appearances, teach classes, post on Facebook, tour as much as I can afford to, attend conferences, and belong to several writers’ associations.
What is the one thing you would do differently now (concerning writing or editing or publishing or illustrating) and why?
I wish I had started on my quest to get published earlier than I did.
What saying or mantra do you live by?
I have spent my whole life trying to be brave.
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