Janet Hubbard interview with David Alan Binder

posted Feb 16, 2017, 4:06 PM by David Alan Binder   [ updated Feb 16, 2017, 4:11 PM ]

Janet Hubbard interview with David Alan Binder

Website:      www.janethubbard.com

Twitter hashtag is #winemystery

She is also on LinkedIn.

My bio, briefly, is:

Janet Hubbard is the author of the "Vengeance in the Vineyard" series, published by Poisoned Pen Press, with all the novels set in the wine districts of France. The first, CHAMPAGNE: The Farewell," was published in 2012, BORDEAUX: The Bitter Finish, was published in 2014, and. BURGUNDY: Twisted Roots will be published this fall.

Hubbard's mainstream fiction novel, A WOMAN TO WHOM SOMETHING HAPPENED, goes to her agent in a month. She wrote twenty-four non-fiction books for teens, Janet Hubbard-Brown) published by Chelsea House Publishers in New York.

She has taught writing, and worked as a freelance editor for twenty years.

Hubbard divides her time between Vermont, Virginia, and France.

Janet is also teaching a writer’s workshop in Wyoming this summer and will be meeting Craig Johnson the writer of Longmire books featured on Netflix.


1.     Janet Hubbard is my maiden name, and the name I use for fiction, and Janet Hubbard-Brown.

 

2.     I am currently living in central Vermont in a small town with a voting population of under 1,000. I spent last winter in France (Paris and Vire, Burgundy), and will probably return next winter.

 

3.     Patience. Coming up with the right words, requires patience. They are not always on the tip of your tongue. An abundance of patience is needed for revising and editing. The key to getting published is to make sure that what you’re sending in is ready. More patience required!

 

4.     I say my Hindu mantra each time I sit down to work.

 

5.     So much has been written on self-publishing. I went to Book Expo in NYC two years ago, and was really impressed by authors who had sold a phenomenal number of books with their self-published books. I think the author has to realize that it’s a lot of work to bring out a self-published book; you become writer, producer, and later publicist. Some self-published works make it onto bookstore shelves, but it’s rare, I think. (I am well-published and it’s still a challenge to get my books onto shelves, or to keep them there.)  For people whose goal is to have their work in book form, and they have some extra cash (a few thousand minimum), and they have lost patience with agents, then I think self-publishing makes sense.

 

6.     My publisher is Poisoned Pen Press in Phoenix, Arizona. It has a solid reputation as the largest independent publisher of mysteries, and owners Barbara Peters and Rob Rosenwald are well-known in the mystery world, having hosted every big-name mystery writer you can think of in their store. An anthology of short stories written by thirty-four of their authors titled Bound by Mystery will be released in April.  This is the first anthology they have published, and I’m happy to say they included my story, “The Loon.”

 

7.     Secret tips?  I’m afraid not. Well, maybe one. There are books out on how to write a query letter, but many still don’t understand that you are connecting one on one to another person when you write a query letter. Know something about that person (the agent). Agentquery.com provides information about agents, or you can simply Google them. As an aside, I once wrote to an agent whose wedding write-up I had read in The New York Times, and had a positive response, though she didn’t take the manuscript.

 

8.     I went through a friend, and almost landed Jodi Reamer at Writers House. At least she called and said I had had a great read by her “reader.” This was Draft One. But when that didn’t work out (I didn’t make the final cut), I at least I knew I had something worth selling. I did what I suggest doing above. I went to agentquery.com. When I clicked on Kimberly Cameron Associates in San Francisco, and saw the icons—the Golden Gate Bridge and the Eiffel Tower—I felt a rush. I compare finding an agent to finding the homeopathic cure that will help to heal you. You treat “like with like,” meaning that you match the symptoms to the remedy. It turned out that Kimberly had a home in Paris, and like me, was enamored of all things French. She is a brilliant agent.

 

9.     Because I have taught writing for over twenty years, I would say sign up for a writing class, or attend a week-long writing workshop. I created a writing course years ago called “Closet Writers Ink,” the goal of which was to have new writers bring out those first-draft manuscripts now resting on a shelf in the closet. I believe in the teacher being a mentor. I am stunned by the talent of some of my new writers; for them it is like being discovered. I continue to teach, both in my home in Vermont, and on a magnificent ranch in Wyoming. (Information is on my website.) I find that once the writing battery has been jumped, and they have experienced encouragement, most of my students continue writing.  Several have enrolled in MFA programs.

 

10.                        I had no idea when I started writing that I had such a persevering nature. I write and rewrite, and rewrite again. I am surprised sometimes by how much the writing process feeds my growth, and how bereft I am when I’m not writing for a long spell. And I have found that I can write anywhere, and have done so.

 

11.                        I have written twenty-four non-fiction books for teens (how I started writing), published by Chelsea House Publishers in New York. I started writing fiction late. I have two mystery novels published, and the third in the series will be published in September. The novel I am revising now for the last time before it goes to the agent—A WOMAN TO WHOM SOMETHING HAPPENED-- is a mainstream fiction novel, the first draft completed twenty years ago. Fingers crossed!

 

12.                         I do believe that the more you write, the better writer you become. And, oh yes, a piece of advice: don’t share with anyone what you are writing until you have a full first draft and even then, be careful. Each time you talk about it, tell the story orally, you are weakening the writing. Breast your cards!

 

13.                        I don’t. I write straight through (no outlining at first), and those twists seem to happen on their own.

 

14.                        My bi-cultural (American and French) protagonists set the story apart from many other mysteries. A French woman asked me how I was able to enter into the mind of a Frenchman, as I did with my character, Olivier Chaumont. The writing about fine wines is unique. It’s a rarefied world, and one that I don’t inhabit, except in my imagination, but one that I am fascinated by.

 

15.                        I attend one or two “conferences” or “conventions” a year, and try to get on panels, usually successfully. I did a big book tour with BORDEAUX: The Bitter Finish, in California and sold a few books that way. I use Facebook and Twitter, but I am finally beginning to accept that a writer needs to hire a good publicist, which is a big expense. I have been reviewed in a couple of city newspapers, but not the “biggies.” Maybe I will get lucky with BURGUNDY: Twisted Roots. I do as much as I possibly can the first four months, when the book is “news.”

 

16.                        My agent sold “Bordeaux” as the first book, and mentioned that Champagne was in first draft. The publisher asked if I could reverse the two, and in my enthusiasm, I said yes. But it was a gigantic double rewrite, and if I had known what it entailed, I would have said no. I would have had my first book edited professionally before sending it to the editors at Poisoned Pen. I did this with the third one. I wish I had had a tutorial in marketing books when I started out. It’s all a learning curve.

 

17.                        I feel that we all arrive on this planet with a “purpose;” this is not a religious conviction, but a personal one. I find that people who discover their purpose are generally happier (they are often the ‘free spirits’ that many envy and at the same time denigrate), even though it often requires an inner personal strength to do it, as it often means living with uncertainty. Few writers, painters, musicians, as everyone knows, really ‘make it’ to the top of the financial ladder, which is how success is measured in our country. This is an important topic for me because many writers come to me after their children are gone, feeling that something in their life is left “undone.” It is pure joy to watch them discover their hidden gifts.

 

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