Welcome to week sixteen of the #WritersQuick5 series - where we learn about writing from fellow writers.
This week brings us insights from Renee James, author of a three-book (so far) psychological thriller series, the Bobbi Logan Series. First in the series is the self-published (and then re-published) book Coming Out Can Be Murder, followed by A Kind of Justice. The third book in the series, Seven Suspects, will be released by Oceanview Publishing in October 2017.
I was privileged to meet Renee at the Chicago Writers Association event, Path to Published, where she was one of the featured speakers.
Let’s see what Renee has to say…
Question #1 - Where do you write and why do you write there?
I occupy a corner in an area at the top of stairs to our second floor. The builder of the house called it a "library", everyone who sees what I've done with it calls it a mess. I love everything about it except the morning sun in Spring and Fall--the glare forces me to pull the curtains for the most glorious part of the day. I love it because I have a nice view out a large window, and I have my favorite paintings on a wall in front of me, and it's quiet and peaceful.
Question #2 - What is unique about writing for your particular genre?
The mystery/thriller genre demands rising tension and sustained conflict from beginning to end. I try to add a dimension to that by getting deep into my heroine's character and how she is coping with the realities of her current life as well as the life-or-death conflict that propels the overarching plot. Each book takes up her story at a different point in her life, so she and her friends are constantly evolving.
Question #3 - What are some of your grammar or punctuation pet peeves?
I believe the use of the semi-colon is a sign of weak character, and the use of acronyms should be a capital offense. I don't get too snotty about other aspects of grammar, punctuation or spelling because I mostly don't know what I'm talking about.
Question #4 - At what point in your writing process do you start to bring other people in to review your work?
After I finish the first draft, then finish a hard edit, I try to decide if it's ready to be read. Sometimes, I have the decency to do a second draft or second hard edit before I hire an editor or heckle a trusted beta reader. The more experience I've acquired, the better my first drafts have gotten--though they aren't as much fun to write. The main thing is, at some point you have to have a professional editor--preferably someone you don't know or at least someone who's willing to tell you there's snot dripping from your nose--make a full assessment of the manuscript, after which it's easier to view my own work through someone else's eyes.
Question #5 - What advice would you give to a new writer about the writing process?
With regard to the writing, I think it's like sex--the first time, do what comes naturally, but after that, find out how to do it better. For writers, that's by reading, attending seminars, etc. The other thing is, start networking with other writers and writers groups immediately--it will make you a better writer, it can get you introduced to agents and editors, and you enter the best society of people you've ever hung out with.
Thank you Renee! I think your advice about writing, “I think it's like sex--the first time, do what comes naturally, but after that, find out how to do it better” is perfect. I’ll never forget it and it’s absolutely true!
Be sure to check out Renee’s website and find Coming Out Can Be Murder and A Kind of Justice on Amazon. You can also follow her on Twitter. Be on the lookout for the third book in her series, coming October 2017!
If you would like to be featured as a writer in the #WritersQuick5 series, please just reach out and let me know. I’d love to promote your work as well!
For updates on #WritersQuick5 and other info from me, please follow me on Twitter or check back with this blog for all the latest.