Janet Irvin interview with David Alan Binder

posted Mar 23, 2017, 5:01 PM by David Alan Binder

Janet Irvin interview with David Alan Binder

 Bio from her website:  Janet E. Irvin retired from full-time teaching in 2008 to concentrate on her writing. She served as chair of the International Language Department at Springboro High School, where she taught Spanish and English. Her fiction has received a number of awards, including a Midwest Writers Conference Fellowship and the Leo Love Fiction Award at the Taos Writers’ Conference. Her works have appeared in Alfred Hitchcock Mystery Magazine and in literary magazines such as Flights, the Oyez Review, Oasis Journal and The Broken Plate as well as online in Void, Gather and 42opus. In addition to her fiction, Irvin authored a regular column for the Ohio Foreign Language Association Quarterly for ten years, wrote scripts for a cable television show on mental health issues and edited the Ohio Writing Project newsletter Projections and an online weekly newsletter called Warren County Streetmail. Irvin recently retired as an Adjunct Professor of Spanish at Wright State University.

 Website       https://janetirvin.wordpress.com/

 Amazon      https://www.amazon.com/J.E.-Irvin/e/B018FG7CL0

 Facebook    http://facebook.com/darkendoftherainbow




1.     How do you pronounce your name? 

IRVIN, not Irving, Irwin or Irvine…J


2.     Where are you currently living?

I live in Springboro, Ohio, on the edge of an 85-acre nature park…the setting is so beautiful, I use it for meditation and inspiration every day.


3.     What is the most important thing that you have learned in your writing experience, so far?

The lessons one learns are many and varied, but the most important two are patience and perseverance. I have come late to what I thought would be my career early on, so staying with your passion, even in the dark times, is so important.


4.     What would you say is your most interesting writing, publishing, editing or illustrating quirk?

I play spider solitaire to help me with tricky plot points. Something about arranging the cards helps clear head and advance the plotting process!


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 located? My publisher is AAeBooks, located in Key West, Florida. This is a very small press. Advantages: they take care of cover and ISBN and some marketing and are accessible. Disadvantages: there is no advance, royalties are small and there is no editorial support. You must be very pro-active in that regard.


6.     Any insights eBooks vs. print books and alternative vs. conventional publishing?

I like print books the best, because for me there is a tactile quality to a book, even a smell (think new books when you crack them open) that speaks to the reader. However, eBooks are affordable, so I support them wholeheartedly. After all, writers want readers. The more people who have access to your work, the better. As for conventional or (new word) ‘legacy’ publishing: it has always been my dream to be represented by one of the major publishers, but realistically, the indie or small presses are there for those of us working hard to see our books in print. While self-publishing doesn’t appeal to me, I know many self-published authors who are doing well and enjoying the total control they have over their work.


7.     Do you have any secret tips for writers on getting a book published?

Submit your poems, stories, essays any way you can. Start local. There are journals, newsletters, magazines, newspapers that will publish work and they’re usually eager to find good writers. Depending on your budget, enter contests. (That’s how I got my contract!) Polish your queries and meet agents and editors at conferences and workshops. The wider your net, the higher your chances of landing a publication.     


8.     How did you or would you suggest acquire an agent?  Any tips for new writers on getting one?

Since I don’t have an agent, I’m still looking! But I have made contacts over the years, so I have a base of agents I admire and would love to have represent me. My hope is that those contacts will lead to agenting one day.


9.     Do you have any suggestions or helps for new writers (please be specific and informational as possible)?

See the answer to number 7, because all of those suggestions work here as well. But let me add a few things. 1. Nothing beats putting your butt in the chair and writing. Work at your own speed, but make it a priority. 2. Find a group to help you. Fellow writers who will offer sensitive, authentic critiques are worth their weight in gold. You don’t have to pay them, but a gift card to Starbucks lets them know you appreciate their time! 3. Make sure your work is the best it can be and then SUBMIT, SUBMIT, SUBMIT! There will be rejections. Toughen up and send the pieces out again. 4. Set a time and a monetary budget for the year, then do your research for contests and conferences and go!. 5. Stay in touch with the reason you write. Be true to your own muse. If you’re not happy writing for you, you won’t be happy writing for an audience.

10.                        What was one of the most surprising things you learned with your creative process with your books, editing, publishing or illustrating?

I was surprised at how much I enjoy the revision process. In the beginning, that was my least favorite art of the process.

11.                        How many books have you written?

I have five that are not yet published and perhaps will never be. I have two published mystery/thrillers and a new Work-In-Progress.


 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)?

Identify a good writing conference, one that actually allows you to workshop your writing. I love the Antioch Writers Workshop and the Santa Fe Writers Conference (used to be Taos WW) for in-depth work on process, craft and the art of writing. There are many others where you can learn the mechanics of the publishing world and meet your ‘tribe’ of writers. Read widely and often. Stephen King said it best: you can’t be a good writer if you don’t read.


13.                        Do you have any suggestions for providing twists in a good story? Hmmm, this begins with a devious mind. You must have one.  Do a lot of writing in my head first, planning an incident or a scene and then wondering what would happen IF…

14.                        What makes your or any book stand out from the crowd?


There are four elements I look for in books I read and that I strive to put in my writing: mystery, suspense, surprise and romance. These four elements can be found in everything from literary classics to genre work. Master them and you have a good story. But without good writing, the story never soars, so it is essential to write well. Avoid clichés. Understand grammar rules. Read your work aloud to see how it sounds. You can catch many errors that way.


15.                        What are some ways in which you promote your work?

This is the most difficult job of a writer. I try many things: book signings, book fairs, web site, Facebook book page, presentations at libraries, and recommendations by friends.


16.                         What is the one thing you would do differently now (concerning writing or editing or publishing or illustrating) and why?

I would start earlier, learn the ins and outs of the business and submit more work to more venues. I have personal reasons for why this didn’t happen, legitimate ones, but I am sorry that those reasons interfered with my writing. However, better late than never!


17.                        What saying or mantra do you live by?

We live to discover beauty; all else is a form of waiting. – Kahlil Gibran


18.                        Anything else you would like to say?

When the rejections come, and they will, find your comfort zone (mine includes family, wine, chocolate and a good book), take time to process, pay attention to any good feedback you receive, then get back in the game.