Wendy Sand Eckel interview with David Alan Binder
Post date: Feb 18, 2017 4:44:39 PM
Wendy Sand Eckel interview with David Alan Binder
Bio from her website: Wendy Sand Eckel has degrees in criminology and social work, followed by years of clinical practice, helped her explore her fascination with how relationships impact motivation, desire, and inhibition. Combined with her passion for words and meaning, writing mystery is a dream realized. She lives in Maryland where she enjoys family and friends, two cats, and living near the Chesapeake Bay.
Goodreads: Wendy Sand Eckel
Amazon: Wendy Sand Eckel
1. Where are you living currently?
I recently moved to the Eastern Shore of Maryland. I’ve returned after twenty years away and am loving it. It’s a unique part of Maryland veined with rivers and hosting farms and small historic towns, all inhabited by quirky interesting people. My mystery series is set in a fictional town on the Eastern Shore and I am already getting loads of good material for book 3.
2. What is the most important thing that you have learned in your writing experience, so far?
To trust the process. If I am feeling stuck or the writing isn’t going well, I know to keep at it. Get the words on the page even if the writing isn’t your best and move the story forward. The first draft is by far the hardest part. But once it’s down I love going back and editing like crazy.
Oh, and one more thing: don’t kill the dog.
3. What would you say is your most interesting writing, publishing, editing or illustrating quirk?
I write a mystery series, and although I have a rough outline while writing, I don’t decide who ‘did it’ until the last fifty pages. That way all the suspects are plausible and it keeps the mystery tight. I am often surprised at who it must be.
4. Tell us your insights on self-publish or use a publisher?
I published my first book, Educating Tigers, in 2001 with a print-on-demand publisher. Although I didn’t pay a fee, I was very disappointed with the outcome. I received no editing or promotion and was over charged for my books. I knew I would never self-publish again when a woman who had just purchased my book returned to my booth very distraught. The binding glue hadn’t held and the book had literally fallen apart in her hands. I was mortified.
Who is the name of your publisher and in what city are they?
My publisher is Minotaur Books, an imprint of Macmillan Books. They are housed in the Flatiron Building, one of my all-time favorite sites in NYC.
5. Any insights eBooks vs. print books and alternative vs. conventional publishing?
I am really enjoying the benefits of a traditional publisher. My editor and publicist are fantastic. Everyone is extremely supportive and the covers are beautiful. The eBook was released the same day as the hardback and yes, it is on my Kindle.
I think the biggest benefit to traditional publishing is the editing/vetting that is required. There are many hoops to jump through to get published but each step —attending workshops and conferences, finding an agent, and then an editor — require massive amounts of editing. Everyone I have worked with has been professional and has helped me to write a much better book. That’s the difference between thinking you are done and hearing otherwise from the pros.
6. Do you have any secret tips for writers on getting a book published?
The most important thing is to write a good book. How do you do that? a. Know that when you finish your book — congrats by the way — it is just the beginning.
b. Accept that the first draft of your first book will border on being autobiographical. Once you get it down, go back and make it fiction. Take ‘you’ out of it and make stuff up.
c. If your first round of queries fall flat, go back and edit your book…again. Fine tune your dialog and bring in the senses. Set each scene in a rich atmosphere. Check for repeated words or phrases. Be willing to murder a few darlings.
d. And don’t give up. It’s going to be a really good book.
7. How did you or would you suggest acquire an agent? Any tips for new writers on getting one?
I found my agent after attending a week long writers’ retreat. The person conducting the workshop helped me find a hook for my mystery and once I did another rewrite, he pitched it to an agent. I think the best way to meet agents is at conferences. Buy a fifteen-minute pitch session and listen to the feedback. Most agents get their clients through referrals and conferences. Conferences are also a great way to connect with other writers. We are a fun group.
8. Do you have any suggestions or helps for new writers (please be specific and informational as possible)?
I have learned two very basic things that I believe are key to getting published and selling books.
The first is, write a good enough book. It’s a lot harder to sell a mediocre product than a really good one. If you put the time into editing your book and getting it right, you have a much better chance of finding an agent and getting published. I say a little more about this in #6.
The second is, once you are published, be a nice person. Always.
9. What was one of the most surprising things you learned with your creative process with your books, editing, publishing or illustrating?
That it will be brutal at times and exhilarating at times. It’s important to remember the exhilaration when you are slogging through the first draft.
10. How many books have you written?
Educating Tigers, 2001, America House (print on demand)
Murder at Barclay Meadow, Minotaur Books, 2015
Death at the Day Lily Café, Minotaur Books, 2016
Suspense Magazine’s pick for best cozy 2016
Three Skips of a Stone, Unpublished, Awarded Best Novel in the Maryland Writers’ Association Writing Contest, 2016
Eventide, sequel to Educating Tigers, unpublished and under the bed
Looks like five. And am making headway on number six.
11. Do you have any tricks or tips to help others become a better writer (please be as specific and information as you possibly can)?
In addition to all of the above, I would say join a critique group. I’ve been with the same writers for sixteen years. We read aloud and drink wine and offer support and feedback and whatever else is required. It’s good to get away from your desk and out of your head once in a while.
12. Do you have any suggestions for providing twists in a good story?
Every word and every chapter should serve to move the story forward. Keep it tight and consistent. Evoke tension and emotion from your reader. End each chapter in a way that keeps your reader up a little later than he/she planned. Think Dan Brown. Who hasn’t stayed up until 3:00 AM reading his books?
13. What makes your or any book stand out from the crowd?
I have three requirements for a book to become a favorite:
a. The writing is compelling enough that I dog ear a page or two.
b. It has a satisfying ending.
c. It lingers with me for days.
Example: All the Light We Cannot See
14. What are some ways in which you promote your work?
Website, newsletter, Facebook fan page, guest blogs, conferences, book signings, Goodreads, Twitter, book trailers, radio interviews, attending book clubs, and just about anything else I’m invited to do. My books have a cooking theme so I center a lot of the promoting around that. I have book marks with recipes and samples of seasoned salt. I’ve done three cooking gigs on a local morning TV show. I post recipes and hold contests with giveaways. I am a member of Sisters in Crime, the Maryland Writers’ Association, Mystery Writers of America, and the International Crime Writers Association. Remember when you tweet and use FB to post a lot but be sure your posts aren’t only about you. Give your fans something in return. I offer recipes, promote other authors and events, giveaways, you name it. And always answer your emails/messages from fans. How cool is it that someone likes your book enough to contact you? Honor that and never take it for granted.
15. What is the one thing you would do differently now (concerning writing or editing or publishing or illustrating) and why?
Network. Writing is a solitary profession. Until I got published, I kept to myself. Now that I am promoting I connect with as many other writers as possible. We cross promote and cheer each other on. Through networking I’ve been invited to contribute to a mystery anthology and have participated on numerous panels. I always thought writers were competitive but I’ve found the opposite to be the case. Writers are welcoming and interesting and funny. When I went to my first writers’conference as a published author I was terrified. I would walk into a room buzzing with activity and not know a soul. So I followed the advice of a sage, seasoned writer: sit at the bar.
16. What saying or mantra do you live by?
Before my first book was published I wrote three sentences on a piece of paper and tacked it above my desk. I read it every day, sometimes aloud.
I will get an agent
I will be traditionally published
My book will be well-received
I have a new list now that I have two published books but it is similar. Three sentences and I read them every day. You have to stay positive in this business because there are many disappointments along the way. Putting some positive energy out into the universe is always a good thing and it helps to shift your perspective. When you assume you are working toward eventual success, the writing will transform.
17. Anything else you would like to say?
We writers are sensitive souls. That’s why we write. No one would choose this profession if they didn’t have to. It’s too painful! I like to compare writing to golf: once you hit that first good drive, one that soars like a bird in flight and lands with a satisfying thud in the center of the fairway. That’s what keeps you going back. And that’s what happens when you write that first sentence or paragraph or chapter, one where you weave all the threads of your story together. One where you show the light in the room and paint a setting that your reader can visualize with ease. One where the words connect in a magical way and you sit back and exhale a satisfying breath when you’ve finished. That’s what keeps us coming back. That’s why we have to write. Because we all have the potential to be really good writers.