Today I have a chance to chat with author Smoky Trudeau Zeidel. We have already "met" via emails which began when I realized we had a common interest in the Chesapeake Bay. Smoky is a new-to-me author, but I like what I read. See what you think!
Where are you from? Tell us a little about yourself.
I was born and raised on the flat plains of Illinois, and lived there the first fifty-two years of my life. But I always longed to live near the mountains and ocean, so three years ago, I sold my house and most of my belongings, packed up my daughter, my dog, two cats, and a guinea pig, and headed to Southern California. I didn’t even have a place to live!
It turned out to be a good move. Three months later I met Scott, and we married the next year. I found my husband and soul mate because I took a big risk.
What inspired you to write?
I’ve been writing since I was a little girl. I loved the book Harriet the Spy, and that inspired me to start writing things down. I’ve kept journals, written poetry, and just noodled around ever since.
I began my writing career shortly after I was struck by lightning and nearly killed. My body was severely injured (I’m still feeling the after effects 22 years later), but my mind worked just fine. I answered an ad in my local newspaper for freelance feature writers. Freelancing was a perfect job for me, because I could work when I felt well, and decline assignments when I was not well. But I always wanted to write books; after my first one was published, I never wrote another feature article.
Do you find that your muse takes over when you write?
Absolutely. I think it is very important for a writer to let their characters lead them in telling their story, and that can’t happen if you write by a strict outline. If you let your muse take over, your story will ring much truer.
Do you have any works in progress that you want to share?
I’m working on two novels right now, The Storyteller’s Bracelet and The Madam of Bodie. I don’t really like to talks about my WIPs until after they are complete. I guess I’m superstitious; I feel like if I talk about them, I’ll tick off my muse!
What would be your advice to aspiring writers out there?
First, study your craft. People tend to think they can just decide to write a book and sit down to write one. But writing a book is an art, just like playing the piano and painting a masterpiece are art forms. Yo-Yo Ma didn’t sit down at the cello one day and decide to play, and produce exquisite music. Picasso didn’t decide one day to paint and produce The Guitarist. They studied their craft. Writers need to do that, too.
Second, get your book professionally edited. I’ve seen so many books full of errors because writers had their Aunt Frieda or their next-door neighbor edit for them, even though neither had a bit of editing experience. Editors know things your aunt and your neighbor don’t know about what a good manuscript looks like. They can find mistakes you probably didn’t even know were mistakes. Don’t skimp on this step.
Third, don’t give up just because your book isn’t accepted at first. I used to tell my students, publishing a book is like running into a wall at full speed. When you hit that wall, you knock yourself out and bloody your nose in the process. But if you pick yourself up, wipe the blood from your face, and say, “Gee, that felt good! I think I’ll do it again!” you’ll eventually knock that wall down. The same goes for getting your book published. If you’ve studied your craft and had your book professionally edited, and if, of course, your story is any good, you will find a publisher.
What are your favorite books at the moment?
Well, I’m partial to my own books, of course. But from other writers? Death With Interruptions by Jose Saramago is my favorite book of all time. It’s a tough read, but very worthwhile. Snakes, by Patricia Damery, was a wonderful read. I just finished Malcolm R. Campbell’s fantasy adventure, Sarabande, and loved it. Also Appalachian Justice, by Melinda Clayton, was a fabulous read. In the interest of full disclosure, those last two titles are from my own publisher, Vanilla Heart, but I would have wanted to read them no matter who published them.
What is your favorite word? Least favorite?
Quirky! I love quirky, because that’s what I am. Least favorite word? Hmmm, don’t think I have one. Words are my life. There are no bad words; there are only bad ways of using words.
About My Book:
My latest novel release is On the Choptank Shores, a love story. The love between a young wife (Grace) and her decidedly middle-aged husband (Otto), and the love of a big sister for her abused baby sister (Miriam). It is the story of the love for an aging, grief-stricken father (Luther) who is spiraling into a dark world of insanity, and the love of a kind and benevolent God whom Grace knows must exist, despite the crazed ravings of her father, who paints a picture of a vengeful, angry God as he spouts biblical verse to defend his abuse of both Grace and little Miriam. It is a story of the land on which they live, and the power of Mother Nature. Most of all, it is a story of love conquering all.
The tragic deaths of her mother and two younger siblings have left Grace Harmon responsible for raising her sister Miriam and protecting them from their abusive father, Luther, a zealot preacher with a penchant for speaking in Biblical verse who is on a downward spiral toward insanity.
Otto Singer charms Grace with his gentle courtship and devotion to his brother, Henry, but is unable to share with Grace the terrible secret he has kept more than twenty years.
Luther’s insane ravings and increasingly violent behavior force Grace to question everything she every knew or believed in. Then, tragedy strikes just when Otto’s secret is uncovered, unleashing demons that threaten to destroy the entire family. Can Grace find the strength to save her sister … her husband … them all?
My main Website and blog. “Smoky Talks…” is at www.SmokyZeidel.Wordpress.com. Here you’ll find more information about all of my books, my editing services, and links to my other blogs, “Smoky Talks Books” (book reviews), “Smoky Talks Authors” (author interview), and “Observations of an Earth Mage (reflections on nature).
My Facebook author page can be found at www.Facebook.com/Smoky.Zeidel.Writes. Please, stop by and “like” my page!
I’m on Twitter, @SmokyZeidel. If you friend me, I’ll friend you back. I also retweet frequently.
My Goodreads Author Page can be found here: http://bit.ly/pGXAXq
My Amazon Author Page can be found here:
My Smashwords Author Page can be found here: http://bit.ly/qan6Nx
Or, you can Google me. I’m very scattered on the Internet! But what would you expect from a person who describes herself as quirky?
Thank you for this fabulous interview! If you post a comment here, then like my Facebook Author Page (link above), I’ll enter you in a drawing to win a free pdf copy of one of my short stories!
Thanks, Smoky, for this interview today. I'd like to end with the book cover. I love its portrayal of land along the shores of the Choptank River where my parents spent so much time when they were first married. Best of luck with your books!