STL Writer's Guild Spotlight

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Spotlight: We’re pleased to present…

SLWG: Where are you from originally?

B.S.: Old North St. Louis by the white water tower.

SLWG: How has your environment/upbringing colored your writing?

B.S.: I grew up watching westerns! John Wayne and Bonanza, Gunsmoke, Have Gun Will Travel, Lancer, Cheyenne, Rawhide, Bronco Lane, etc.! And I love St. Louis, the Mississippi and steamboats.

SLWG: When and why did you begin writing?

B.S.: I began making up stories when I was about 10.

SLWG: When did you first consider yourself a writer?

B.S.: When I was 10. I even stapled them together and put covers on them.

SLWG: Who or what inspired you to pen your first book or major work?

B.S.: I read Flame and The Flower by Woodiwiss and thought - I can do this.

SLWG: How long did it take you to complete this work—from idea to acceptance by a publisher?

B.S.: It took 2 ½ years to write it - long-hand and then typed on a manual typewriter. It took about another 6 months to sell it back in 81/82. It was 590 pages long.

SLWG: How long did it take for you to actually hold the published work in your hands—from acceptance by the publisher to release of the final product? Was it worth it?

B.S.: Less than a year as I remember. Was it worth it??? OH, YEAH!

SLWG: Please describe the research process that goes into the writing of your work.

B.S.: I'm a history nut, so the research is the most fun - and I get to write off trips because they're 'research trips'. When I wrote about St. Louis I spent a lot of time at the Downtown Library and at the Mo. Historical Society.

SLWG: What advice can you offer authors who have finished a first book-length manuscript and now seek to market it to a publisher?

B.S.: Go to writers' conferences and network with agents and editors.

SLWG: What advice can you offer an author who has sold a first book—with respect to working with an editor or negotiating the terms of the contract?

B.S.: Re the editor : The proper response to any request is "yes, ma'am" - if your editor is a lady and "yes, sir" if he's a guy! Re the terms: that's why you need an agent. The contracts are tricky and complicated.

SLWG: Who or what has most influenced your writing style, and in what way?

B.S.: I don't think anyone else has - except Miss Enright, my 7th and 8th grade English teacher. All that diagramming up at the board was humiliating! I just want to write a good story. I want my readers to pick it up and not be able to put it down.

SLWG: Which genre are you most comfortable writing?

B.S.: I am an historical romance writer, but I've also written faith-based contemporaries. I enjoyed them both.

SLWG: Have you written, or do you ever plan to write in other genres? Which ones?

B.S.: The faith-based contemporaries were interesting, because I did them with a mainstream flavor. They'd make great movies! And so would the westerns!

SLWG: What are your current writing projects?

B.S.: I'm under contract. I just finished my June book - Wanted: The HalfBreed, and I'm starting another, shortly - Wanted: The Texan.

SLWG: What books or authors have most influenced your life? Did they also influence your writing style or goals?

B.S.: Gone With The Wind, Forever Amber and The Flame and The Flower were the three that showed me there was market for wonderful historicals. I don't think any particular author has influenced my style. Each writer has his/her own 'voice' as they call it in the industry.

SLWG: What are you reading now?

B.S.: I just finished Vince Flynn's latest. If you like political thrillers he's the man!

SLWG: What new author has captured your interest?

B.S.: As above, Vince Flynn. I started reading out of genre, because I was afraid of plagiarizing someone.

SLWG: Name one person that you feel supported your writing goals outside of your family members. Explain.

B.S.: I've been with my current agent, Evan Marshall, for 20 years. He's been my guardian angel.

SLWG: How do your family and/or friends feel about your writing pursuits in general?

B.S.: It was great to work at home when the kids were little. My friends and family are supportive.

SLWG: Do you regard your writing as a lifelong career?

B.S.: It has been! This is the beginning of my 26th year of being published.

SLWG: What is the one piece of advice you would give to someone who seeks to be a successful writer?

B.S. Don't have an ego! Remember Snoopy's writing career as your inspiration.

SLWG: If you had to do it all over again, would you change anything?

B.S.: No, I've been very blessed in my career.

SLWG: Tell us your latest news!

B.S.: My old publisher Kensington has started re-releasing my old titles, so in 08 I'm going to have 4 books out! Texas Splendor and Capture My Heart oldies from Kensington in March and October and my two new titles in my new "Wanted" series - "Wanted: The HalfBreed" in June and "Wanted: The Texan" in December from Dorchester. Too Cool!

SLWG: Is there anything we didn't ask that you would like to share?

B.S.: Just remember that publishing is a business. My business degree has helped me immensely in my writing career. You've got to understand what's going on in the retail market, if you're going to be successful.

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