Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Author E.A. West

Please join me in welcoming, author E.A. West. I met E.A. through The Sweetest Romance Author’s Group. Please feel free to leave a comment or ask a question. Instead of brownies, today I have tasty chocolate cake. So pull up a chair, relax, and grab a piece. As always, my sweets are calorie free :-)

Okay, E.A., let’s begin with when you first realize you wanted to be a writer?

I’ve loved making up stories for as long as I can remember, but I hated writing and did everything I could to avoid it. Then I took a creative writing class my freshman year of high school. One of our assignments was to make up a character and write a profile for him or her. I wrote about a hippie named Moonbeam and his cat, Sunshine. As I wrote that profile, I kept thinking, “What if...?” and my love of fiction writing was born.

Were books a big part of your life growing up? If so, what books would you say influenced you most as a child?

Yes! Reading has always been one of my favorite activities. I started reading at age three, and I’ve been a voracious reader ever since. A lot of the books I read as a child were series: the Hardy Boys, Nancy Drew, Babysitters Club, Saddle Club, etc. I’m not sure which books influenced me the most, but one of my favorite authors when I was a teen was Will Hobbs. His books took me on amazing adventures and gave me a look at how teens from all kinds of backgrounds dealt with trials in the wilderness.

I was a big Nancy Drew fan too. She got me into a lot of trouble when I was a kid :-). So what was your publication journey like?

I wrote my first novel in high school, a young adult adventure. After a disastrous attempt at self-publishing, I focused on learning everything I could about writing and the publishing industry. It took nearly ten years of rejections on various manuscripts before I finally received my first acceptance on a short story. It was a college literary journal that paid me with a contributor copy, but it was my first published piece of fiction. A couple of months after that was published, I received another acceptance from a non-paying online magazine. Then I submitted my inspirational romance Dreams Do Come True to White Rose Publishing (which was a part of The Wild Rose Press at the time). It was sent back with a note asking me to make it longer. I did, with the help of my critique buddies, and resubmitted the manuscript. After some nail-biting, I received my first contract from a royalty-paying publisher. A month or so after the ebook was published, I learned about a new e-publisher looking for short stories. I submitted Light in the Darkness to Sea Crest eBooks and received a contract. Around six weeks later, I had my second ebook published.

Tell us more about Light in the Darkness. It sounds like a great read.

Light in the Darkness, is a mystery with romantic elements. Here’s the official blurb:

Kennedy Drake loves exploring dark places, which makes his job as a graveyard shift security guard ideal. While checking out strange noises in his elderly neighbor’s basement, he discovers a hidden room with a woman trapped inside. Chastity Mooreland has more to fear than her time trapped in darkness. Will Kennedy believe her bizarre tale of a stalker no one thinks is guilty—and will he help free her from a life of despair? Can Chastity look past her suspicion of mankind to accept his offer of friendship?

I love the cover! Where did you get the idea for it?

Believe it or not, a contest. The only requirements for this contest were the word length and that the story had to involve a basement. Light in the Darkness didn’t win, but after a couple of rejections and some revision, Sea Crest eBooks published it.

What most inspires your imagination?

Life. Seriously, I’ve found inspiration in all kinds of places, from documentaries and movies to conversations and nature. In fact, the manuscript I’m currently working on was inspired by a state park I visited a lot as a child and the history behind it.

Do you do a lot of research for your books? If so, how do you go about doing it (internet, books, one on one)?

It depends on the story. For Dreams Do Come True, I based Cassie’s thoughts and feelings on my own experience as an aspiring author. Light in the Darkness called on information I’d learned in school for one scene. The manuscript I’m currently working on involves much more research. I’ve used websites, archaeological papers (also found online), and an academic tome that is packed with useful information written for graduate students and professional archaeologists. I have to admit it can be a little dry at times, and it has taught me that one sentence can make a rather long paragraph, but it’s been an invaluable resource. Another resource I can never overlook is people. Whenever I’m working on a story, I always ask questions. Everyone I know has gotten used to my sometimes bizarre questions about everything from military procedures to how a man would react to a woman in a given situation.

What do you know now that you wish you’d known when you first started writing?

Critique groups are essential for a beginning writer. I thought that novel I wrote in high school was great writing, and my family was extremely encouraging as well. Then I joined a critique group and found out how little I knew about writing. I can never thank the members of Christian Corner of Writers enough for all of the critiques, encouragement, and gentle guidance they gave me. Without them, I doubt I would have ever gotten anything published.

Do you have any advice for aspiring writers out there?

Be patient and flexible, and learn from each and every rejection. Even form rejections can be useful. If you receive several of them on the same manuscript, you might want to take another look at the manuscript and the query. Is there something you can improve? Anything that could benefit from a little tweaking? Don’t be afraid to rewrite. It can be difficult to completely change what you think is a great scene, but sometimes that rewritten scene is better than the original. Also, have someone you trust read your manuscript and give you honest feedback. Getting told your story is great and perfect may be good for the ego, but it seldom helps get the story published. Critique partners are great for pointing out all the things that will cause an editor to reject a story while offering suggestions on how to fix and improve the story so an editor will fall in love with the manuscript.

Great advice E.A.! Do you have a favorite place to write?

Anywhere comfortable and quiet. When I had a laptop, I loved to curl up on the couch or my bed and type away. When it’s warm and sunny, I like to take a notebook and pen outside to write.

Do you listen to music when you write? If so, what are some of your favorite bands/artists?

Whether I listen to music while writing depends on my mood. Sometimes I can’t concentrate with any background noise, but most of the time I like to have music playing as a form of white noise. The type of music also varies, but usually I listen to Christian rock/alternative and some mainstream rock/alternative, although I’m a lot pickier about that. Some of my favorites are FM Static, Decyfer Down, Flyleaf, The Benjamin Gate, and Flogging Molly.

When you’re not writing, what do you enjoy doing?

Reading, crocheting and knitting, gardening, playing with my niece and nephew, spending time with my pets (I have a small zoo), watching movies, hanging out...the list goes on.

What are two things people might be surprised to know about you?

I’m autistic, and I’ve worked as a freelance editor despite having learning disabilities in languages.

Okay, say you’re at the checkout counter in your favorite department store and you’re purchasing something from the book, music & movie sections. What are you buying?

Oh, that’s a tough one! For books, it would probably be a non-fiction book on whatever my current interest is. Music would likely be Celtic folk music, maybe The Corries or Adam McNaughton. And movies...that’s the hardest of all. I love a variety of movies, everything from animated kids’ movies to romantic comedies to action/adventure. If I had to choose just one, I’d probably go with Ocean’s 11 with Frank Sinatra and Sammy Davis, Jr.

Are you an animal lover, if so, do you have any pets?

I’m a huge animal lover. I have two cats, two dogs, two African water frogs, and a ribbon snake.

Wow, you do like animals! The frogs I could handle, I’m not too sure about the snake though :-). Do you have a favorite TV show? What’s your favorite movie?

I don’t usually watch a lot of TV, but I love cooking shows and PBS documentaries. I also enjoy watching reruns of Green Acres and Hogan’s Heroes every once in a while. My favorite movie is a difficult choice. I love The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe and Prince Caspian, and I’m always up for watching Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves and The Adventures of Milo and Otis.

Where can we purchase your books, and do you have a website?

Dreams Do Come True can be purchased from White Rose Publishing.

Light in the Darkness can be purchased from Sea Crest eBooks.

You're welcome to visit my website or my blog. and my blog.

Is there anything else you’d like to add?

I can also be found on MySpace, Shoutlife, Facebook, and Twitter. Search for E.A. West, and you should find me. If not, there are links on my website to my profiles.

Thank you, Anne, for having me here today. I’ve had a great time!

Thank you for joining me. It was fun, and your books sound great! All right mystery lovers; Light in the Darkness is only $1.50. You can’t beat that, so click on the link above and pick up your copy.


Ashley Ludwig said...

Great interview, and commentary! E.A. - you know I love you. I have NOT however read your new story. Congratulations. Look forward to it, very much. Well done, and many congratulations!


Cassie Simmons said...

Light in the Darkness sounds like a grat mystery. I'll have to check it out. It was a pleasure to learn more about you, EA.

Thanks for another great interview, Anne!

Alicia Jennings said...

Nice interview ladies! What facinating pets you have EA. Your books sound great too!

marcusdweston said...

Thanks for saving me a piece of chocolate cake! You know I love my sweets *grin*.

Great interview! I'll be sure to check out your book E.A.

hmmmm, now where did I set that glass of milk?

Crystal Ennis said...

Green Acres and Hogan’s Heroes...
They just don't make sitcoms like they used to:) My all time favorite was Laverne and Shirley.

I too was a Nancy Drew fan. So what kind of trouble did you get into, Anne?

Your books sound interesting, E.A. As soon as I finish Anne's I'll have to give yours a try.

Thanks for a great interview ladies!

Laurean Brooks said...

Insightful interview, Anne.

E.A., I had no idea you were autistic. You, girlfriend are an overcomer. I'm so glad the publishers recognized a "gifted writer" when they saw one.

Pass me another piece of chocolate cake, please. I only had a smsll piece. Harumph! (fingers crossed behind my back.)

Miss Mae said...

I've read both of E.A.'s works, and loved them both. "Dreams" was more romantic while "Light" was definitely the mystery/thriller.

Let me tell you, this gal can write! :)

E.A., I think we all love Nancy Drew! LOL

Anne Patrick said...

Hi everyone! Thank you for all the wonderful comments. I’m afraid EA is down with the flu. She’ll check in later.

Oh my, I see the cake is almost gone. Hmmmm now what could have happened to it. Laurie…Marcus! Hee…hee. Alright I confess I had a couple of itsy bitsy pieces before I had to run off to work this morning. Ah, there is nothing like a good dose of chocolate first thing in the morning.

Crystal, I love the old re-runs too. Now about your question *bows head in shame* I loved playing the neighborhood detective. My friends and I were always sticking our noses where they didn’t belong. I’ll let your imagination fill in the rest.

Thank you all for dropping by and supporting EA. She is a very talented author and I do hope you’ll get her books. I’m sure you won’t be disappointed.

Joyce DiPastena said...

Loved the interview with E.A., Anne! I hope E.A. is feeling better by now.

By the way, I've awarded your blog a "lovely award". Check it out at

Anne Patrick said...

Thanks for the beautiful award, Joyce! And for dropping by!

E.A. West said...

Thanks for all the wonderful comments and well wishes, everyone!

Anne, thanks again for doing this interview. I had a wonderful time.