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Tuesday, March 22, 2016

From Newspapers to Novels: Author Interview with Michele Huey

Your background includes writing for newspapers and doing a radio program. What made you decide to take the big step and write a novel?
After over a decade writing nonfiction (devotionals, articles), I felt I wasn’t developing the talent God gave me. I love to read fiction—why not try to write it?

Who helped you with the editing? 
I belonged to an online critique group when I wrote my first two novels and when I began the third one, Getaway Mountain, my critique group partners helped with the initial drafts. Marsha Hubler edited The Heart Remembers and Before I Die when they were published by Helping Hands Press.

I published Getaway Mountain as an independent author/publisher, and I hired Barbara J. Scott, a freelance editor who edited for a major Christian publishing house for decades before going freelance, to do a developmental/substantive edit.

Your books fit a very specific niche - with your protagonists in the retirement age. Since that is out of the normal 30 and under character leads, what was the feedback you received from agents and editors?
I really didn’t pursue traditional publishing after I dropped my agent, and even then I got few comments about the older protagonist. I’ve never been a jump-on-the-bandwagon person, and I’m not a “formula” writer (I do follow structure). I’ve read and immensely enjoyed fiction with older women protagonists, so I followed my own advice to write what’s in my heart.

Are you currently active with any writing groups? 
Yes. I looked for an online critique group after the one I mentioned above became inactive, and finally (just last month) became part of a new online critique group.

Who encouraged you along the way?
My husband, my brother, my best friend, friends, my critique group partners, writing colleagues/friends I met at writing conferences, my CWG mentor (I took the Craftsman fiction course) and my fellow Craftsman classmates. I’m sure there are more, but too many to mention.

How do you get past writer's block?
Write. Write. Write. Just get words onto the page (screen) and don’t try to edit.

What are some of the more difficult aspects of writing a romantic mysteries?
This is my first romantic suspense book in the series. I’ll let you know when I write the second book in the series.

Have other novels been started and stopped along the way?
One—Whiskey Run —which I plan to return to and finish as a novella (have 18k words now). It’s a historical novel based on a real coal boom town in western Pennsylvania by that name. I plan for two more novellas in that series. I also started a novel based on WWII and the Battle of Attu. But the characters weren’t coming into focus, so I moved on. I plan to return to that, if the characters cooperate.

You also write daily devotional books. It looks like the first one was only 25 pages and the next one 112 pages. Was the first book testing the waters to see what feedback you would get?
No. I published Minute Meditations: Meeting God in Everyday Experiences and I Lift Up My Eyes: Minute Meditations Vol. 2 with Ampleos Press in 2000 and 2002, respectively. They are compilations of my weekly newspaper column, which was “Minute Meditations,” which later became “God, Me & a Cup of Tea” when I went to another newspaper. The column won second place in the Pennsylvania Newspaper Association’s Keystone Press Awards in 2009.

I published the books because my readers were telling me they cut out my column and sent them to people they knew. One lady (who lived in a skilled living facility) cut them out and out them in a scrapbook. I decided to compile 50 of my favorite columns and publish them as a devotional book. They still sell well at my book table when I speak at Christian conferences. I continue to get comments on them. Even after 16 years, God is still using these books to touch people.

God, Me & a Cup of Tea was published by Helping Hands Press at their request. The publisher wanted to do ten devotionals in one eBook to start. When he’d published five eBooks (total 50 devotionals), he published a print book with all 50.

I’m currently in the process of typing the Minute Meditation books to publish as eBooks (Kindle edition).

How do you promote these books?
Through social media, direct mail, e-mail, newsletter, press releases . . . Whatever way I can. I’m still on the learning curve.

What do you know now about writing/publishing now that you wished you had known sooner? I wish I’d have believed in myself when I was younger (right out of college). I didn’t get serious about writing until I was in my forties. But then, I believe in God’s timing. I had more fodder and life experiences when I did start writing in earnest. I’ve enjoyed the process—both writing and publishing—each step of the way.

What other books do you have in the works?
Book 1 of the “Almost” Angel series and Book 2 of the PennWoods Mystery series. And the eBooks of my meditations.

What is the best advice you’ve been given about writing or that you’ve learned that you would like to pass along? 
Write what’s in your heart. Anything else will sound fake. Write the first draft from the heart. Lock up the editor and let the muse dance. You can let the editor out when you’re ready to revise.

Are there any other notes you’d like to add? 
Buy my books. Please.

That's all for today's interview. If you would like to know more about Michele's current and upcoming books, use this link:

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