Janet's Jargon

Fun lifestyles, charitable acts, great fiction, author support, Patrick and Grace Mysteries, Keith clan trilogy,

Saturday, January 26, 2008

Meet Billie Williams

I am delighted to bring Billie Williams to you today. She has been on an awesome blog tour during the month of January. She started off with our mutual good friend Joyce Anthony, and she is ending up here. If I had known how tough it was to find questions that none of the other people who hosted her at their blogs, I would have fought Joyce for the first day spot!

Billie has an awesome new poster designed by her cover artist and I am delighted to bring it to you here.

So now, without further ado, I bring to you...drum roll please...my very dear friend, the one, the only Billie A. Williams: Jill-of-all-trades, Mistress of many. (Not THAT KIND of Mistress! LOL!)

Janet Elaine Smith
Interview Questions

I have read several of the blog postings where you have told how you come up with your characters, but I want to know how you find the names for them. You have some of the most unique names. I love people like "Dusty Rhodes."
I usually begin my stories by searching for appropriate characters and the last thing I do when I get them fleshed out is decide on what name would fit them. With Dusty Rhodes though it was an accident – I wanted him named Dusty and the last name came because he was on the road, on vacation. So he became Dusty Rhodes. There is a family named Rhodes (several lines of them) in our town so I supposed I may have inadvertently borrowed their spelling for him.

Most times I try to match the name to the nationality, personality and cultural mores of my character. Who s/he is really. The strengths and weaknesses, the vulnerability, the flaws will suggest to me that this person should have a name picked from perhaps a Greek or Italian lineage, or some other unique bit of their make up. I have a book that I absolutely love for this name picking it is titled The Character Naming Source Book – from Writer’s Digest Books. It takes you from the various ethnic meanings for names and even imparts some degree of origin, if you will, for the name itself.

You say you are shy and introverted and it is hard for you to "sell yourself." What is the one thing that you have found that has helped you overcome that?
It is a constant struggle for me. With book in hand and someone who is interested in it, I can not be me for a few minutes. I can be an author, who knows about her book and her characters and her story-worth-telling.

A friend gave me a hint to try that can even work. (thank you Janet Elaine Smith) Become your character and speak out as though you were him/her. I believe that would be a good way for a shy person to get through the fear that being themselves turns into a sort of writer’s block, but in presentation sort of way.

Do you pattern your characters after people you know at all? If so, do you think they will recognize themselves and do you think they would be flattered or embarrassed?
I believe the characters in all writers books have come from a composite of the people whose paths have crossed theirs. It may not be a conscious adaptation, but it can’t help but become part of the fabric of your life. Of course, that would translate to your writing when you need a character who will act a certain way under certain circumstances.

In Small Town Secrets my January 2008 release I patterned the twins Taaktu and Twice Tewsday after a set of real life twins that just happen to be my Sisters-in-law. These two delightful women are as different as they are alike. Where one has certain strength the other might be lacking. They compliment each other like crumpets and tea. They were perfect for the characters I needed in this novel. Other characters in this book are composites of people who helped shape my life, who I remember for their presence—the way they affected my growing years and longer. I have always lived in small towns and you get to know the people through their being as close as family, at least many of them are.

I love your book Knapsack Secrets. I know it is being re-released. Will that be a part of your Small Town Secrets series?
Absolutely, Janet. My cover artist has even created a banner that will appear on the covers of all the books that tie into Small Town Secrets, technically the series will be The Secrets series. Knapsack Secrets is scheduled for re-release in May of 2008. I have just finished and submitted the third book Ancient Secrets that I hope will be accepted as part of this series too. I have a tentative start on another in this series as well. Secrets are such fun things to mess with. Everyone has one, and they wonder what is yours. What skeleton lurks in your closet.

Speaking of Knapsack Secrets, how long do we have to wait to find out about Audrey's next escapades, and yes, even those of Valentine? I think she was the favorite character I've read in the books of yours that I have read so far.
I have been pre-writing Valentine Azusa’s return to help Audrey and Zip out of a sticky situation – she will, of course return in a different guise but I will try to keep her the same loveable character that she was in Knapsack Secrets. I expect I will have her book done by next February in time for Valentine’s Day. And thank you for being a fan of her story.

You seem to have a bit of Native American lore, etc. in some of your books. Do you have any Native American blood running through your veins? If so, what tribe? If not, what causes that influence on your writing?
I do have a lot of reference to Native American Legend and Lore in my books. Their heritage is so rich and amazing. I do not, unfortunately have any Native American blood in my veins that I know about, however I did work as Program Assistant of The Native American Program at a community college for nearly ten years. The things I learned are ingrained in me as deeply as if I had been born into the culture. I learned from the Chippewa (Ojibwa) Pottawatomi, Navaho, Menominee, Cherokee, Brotherton, Apache and more. It was a fabulous learning experience. As I said the paths that cross your life influence it in many ways. I believe this was bound to come out in my writing. I have a great deal of respect and admiration for their traditions and ways.

You write both fiction and non-fiction books. Which do you prefer writing and why? And is it easier to market fiction or non-fiction?
Sticky wicket that. I love both at certain times.

If I get an idea for a non-fiction book it seems I write like the wind until it’s finished. With a novel I have characters tugging me this way and that, I have twists and turns and red herrings to deal with. I love the challenge, I love the involvement in a novel – but when I get in the zone with a non-fiction book like Spice up Your Writing! Write to Entice, one of my books on some fun ways to learn how to write where I use every day cooking spices as metaphors for some phase of writing— that to me is so much fun. I love sharing what I’ve learned and if I can do it in an entertaining way—-I’m in heaven.

In answer to your question, I love them both equally. I do think that the type of non-fiction I write is easier to promote, perhaps because I am focused on a certain area of the market. Where with fiction it’s really hard to define an audience — I mean yes mystery readers for most of my books, though not all…but what else – you know income level, or ethnic background, anything and everything. So very many things can influence a fiction reader from cover art to back cover blurb and perhaps even the hook in the first paragraph.

You did a fantastic job of writing the script for my book A Christmas Dream. Was that your first attempt at playwriting? What made you brave enough to tackle it? And how long until you finish my next book you are scripting, My Dear Phebe? Hey, if I don't needle you, who will? LOL!
Thank you for your kind words. Writing the script for A Christmas Dream was a dream because the book was a delight by itself and it seemed to lend itself readily to script format. This was my first real attempt at writing a 3-act play. I had been toying with adapting one of my novels for a screen play – which is totally different then a Stage play in many respects, but the classes and books I accumulated while doing that gave me the idea that maybe I could – so when you mentioned you would love to see it as a play – I thought why not? I’ve done most everything in my life that way. If I want to bad enough, I usually can do something. I had a great book, a staunch supporter and some education in the field – so as they say “the rest is history”.

My Dear Phebe got interrupted by some of my own books hitting the publishing queue edits, cover art decisions, more edits etc. So I needed to divert some attention there. I expect I will get Phebe on the page before the summer Civil War reenactments begin to take place. (cross your fingers) – I have books coming out January, February, April and May and you know that means promotion, marketing, promotion and lots of time with edits and all the other “business side” of writing and publishing.

What is the hardest part of writing for you, and what is the easiest?
The hardest part of writing is ‘Ribe Tuchus’ planting my butt in the chair and writing and let house work, snow shoveling, gardening, grocery shopping and all that mundane day to day stuff just slide away so I can write. Then comes the submitting – if someone would do that part for me, I’d be happy. {grin}

The easiest part is the writing, the playing with the thoughts and seeing where they take me.

If you could give us all some advice that would make this path as a writer either easier or more fun, what would it be?
Do what you love, write what you dream of. If you don’t know something and you want to write about it – roll up your sleeves and find out. Take classes, read books, talk to experts, ask for help. You will find it if you reach out.

Write like the wind – warm and balmy on a summer day, blustery when it needs to be, chilly, icy cold like a ‘nor’ Westerner when the story calls for it. Let the words that want to be written flow from your pen while you spill them onto the page –worry about grammar, proper form and substance later when you get all those beautiful words on the page.

Have fun with it. If you write with a playful heart your reader will have a wonderful experience reading your work. It doesn’t need to be comedy to write this way – it can even be horror – but if you put your emotional self in your work, share your love for the genre you are writing it will come out in your work and it will be fun, it will be a joy to sit in the chair day after day and write. Even if the bills, the laundry, the grocery list and the lawn need attending – or should I say in spite of all the daily chores that niggle at your mind – push them and the editor on your shoulder away, tell them to wait outside for you until you get your writing done. Thank you so much for stopping by. You are welcome at "my house" any time. You have become one of my dearest friends, and I wish you the best with your books. I love your new signature line--that you are looking for the $100,000 income this year! Go get it, Tiger!
Thank you Janet it was a real pleasure to try to answer your thought provoking questions. I want to thank you for sharing your blog space you’re your readers with me. And thank you for your kind words and support.

Some one told me once if you can see it (conceive it), and believe it, you can achieve it. That is why my signature line says I will generate $100,000 in revenue in 2008. If one person has done it before – so can I! If no one has done it before, then I could be the first – what a great Star to shoot for. {smile}

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Me me'd? Or as Miss Piggy would say, "Moi Moi'd"

I've been MeMe'd. MeMe'd you ask? Well, so did I. Then I found out that I'd been tagged in this great little fun game that's going around. The guilty person who passed it on to me was Billie Williams. You can see her MeMe responses at http://printedwords.blogspot.com/. A person tags your blog and then you get to talk about yourself. How wonderful is that? If a person is taking the time to blog, they are not going to miss an opportunity to talk about themselves, are they? I've been tagged and I'm it! So here goes.
The MeMe Rules of the Game:
Link to the person who tagged you. Post the rules on your blog. Share six non-important things/habits/quirks about yourself. Tag six random people at the end of your post by linking to their blogs. Let each random person know they have been tagged by leaving a comment on their website.

Six totally useless facts about Janet Elaine Smith:

1. She was the youngest missionary candidate WEC International ever sent overseas. She was just 20 years old. No one has topped that position, and that was a loooong time ago. Her mother's biggest argument against her going to Venezuela, which she considered a heathenistic cannibal land, was "But you aren't even old enough to vote yet!"

2. She has three children. They were all born by C-section, and it is all her first one's fault. Willy came in weighing a full 11 pounds! Raquel followed, just 15 months later, at 9 lb. 15 oz. When poor little Kevin came along, he weighed a measly 4 lb. 11 oz. When Janet went to look for him in the crib his first night home from the hospital, she couldn't find him. She was looking for something the size of the other two! The dr. (in Pinellas Park, FL) wrapped him in a blanket so he would weigh 5 pounds, which was the limit for taking a baby out of the hospital. Kevin was born in an orthopedic hospital because the regular hospitals wouldn't let them in unless they made a deposit of $1000, which they didn't have as they had just returned from Venezuela. When they contacted the Red Cross to see if they could help them, they told them that if they had somebody who could send them the money, they could send it to the Red Cross and they would see that they got it! If they knew somebody who could send them the money, they sure didn't need the Red Cross to handle it!

3. Janet and Ivan were married just one week before Christmas, Dec. 18, 1965. Why? The church was already decorated, so it was cheap! No wonder Janet's marketing practices prove she is cheap! She learned it from Ivan, her Scottish husband! Her mother never remembered their anniversary, so every year that she was alive Janet would call her mother on their anniversary and ask her if she knew what day it was. The answer was always the same. "Of course I do. It's one week before Christmas and I still have a lot of things to do. What do you want?" Now their children have carried on the tradition; they never remember Mom and Dad's anniversary either.

4. Janet had a dual major in Bible college in music/social work. Her music was in piano and organ. So what did she most often play when she was in Venezuela? Her accordian--including for funerals and weddings!

5. Janet was invited to a presidential banquet when she was in Venezuela by (then) president Betancourt. She attended, and got to meet and spend time talking to him. She also met Ike and Mamie Eisenhower and spent several hours with them at their Gettysburg farm. She got to play their piano, and she accompanied Ike as he sang "Let Me Call You Sweetheart" to Mamie.

6. Janet has had over 3000 magazine articles published, as well as 18 books. She had a dream for many years. When Ivan or her kids would ask her what she wanted for birthdays, Mother's Day, Christmas, etc., she would reply, "One of my books published--and a sexy nightie." She is living her dreams--well, almost. She has all those books out, still writes for numerous magazines, has made a ton of friends thanks to the Internet, but she's still waiting for the sexy nightie. It's probably just as well, at 20 below zero! A granny gown of old-fashioned flannel works much better under the electric blanket and goosedown comforter!

Here are the people and blogs I am MeMe-ing. Please check them out too.
Carolyn Howard-Johnson at http://sharingwithwriters.blogspot.com/
Epstein LaRue at http://crazyonlineromance.blogspot.com/
Kathe Gogolewski at http://www.amazon.com/gp/blog/A21V32M89BJ4ZD/ref=cm_blog_blog
Deb Stover at http://debstover.wordpress.com/
Robin Bayne at http://wwwwritingbetweensundays.blogspot.com/
Martha Stewart at http://marthastewart.com/martha