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Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Writing in the Genre that Inspires You: Author Interview with Vanetta Chapman

I see you started your writing career with writing articles. How did you make the jump to writing a novel? 
I've always been an avid reader. After publishing 150 articles, I thought, "Hey. Maybe I could do an entire book." And then I just started writing. 

How did you meet your agent? Through a conference or sending out queries? 
I bought a Guide to Literary Agents at a Half Priced Bookstore. Starting with the A's, I marked any agent who represented what I had written to date. Then I started querying. This was in the old days (2000), so I sent everything in snail mail. I'd send 7 queries in each week. When I received a rejection, I'd send out 2 more. And yes, I had a chart to keep track of who all had rejected me, or said feel free to send something else, or whatever their response was. It took a couple of years, but finally I had several agents circling. At that point, I emailed some of their client list for references and made my choice.

How did you find your publisher?
My agent was submitting my work to all the major pubs. We had one (Harper Collins Christian Fiction) come back and say that they liked my writing but they didn't need another romance author. Would I consider writing a cozy mystery? My answer was ... OF COURSE.

Your first book was published in 2010. How long did it take to write that book? 
THAT book was a bit unique. I wrote it in 6 weeks because we had a publisher anxious for it, but they wouldn't make an offer until it was done. I don't recommend writing a book that quickly. When I was finished, I couldn't use my right arm - had a major case of frozen shoulder syndrome. 

Was that the first book you wrote?
The first book I sold was the 9th book I wrote. At that point it was taking me about 6 months per book. 

How long does take today?
Currently I have a full length novel (100,000 words) due every 3 to 4 months.

Was the next book easier to write?
I think each book has its own challenges--so they are both easier (because you have experience) and harder (because writing is always difficult).

What inspired you to write about the Amish? 
My agent asked me to try my hand at writing Amish. We'd been pitching romantic suspense and had good response but no congrats. 

Do you have an Amish family history? 
Possibly. My great grandparents lived in Albion, PA and all correspondence we have from them is in German - so it is possible that there are some Amish roots there.

Are you active in any writing critique groups?
Currently I am not involved in any critique groups. I have been in the past, but we moved to a small town and it's a bit of a drive to reach other authors.

What type of research do you do for your books? Tell me about the process.
If I'm writing a 3 book series, I always visit the location. I walk the streets, talk to the librarians and local museum folks, eat in the restaurants, and generally chat up anyone who will talk to me. I take lots and lots and LOTS of pictures. And I take home a few email addresses of folks who are willing to answer questions. I do a little internet research before I go and a lot after I get home.

Do you still go through the normal process of pitching your book to publishers?
Pretty much. I was recently thrilled to receive a 6 book contract from Harvest House publishers, and yes - I had to go through the pub committee like anyone else. My agent usually reads through my proposal before we send it. He may have minor suggestions, but he doesn't page edit or anything like that.

What does your publisher expect you to do to assist in promoting your books? 
I do a lot of promotion--basically I'm involved in all the usual places, plus I have a street team, and I've built a newsletter base. My publisher has told me several times that they're astounded at how much marketing I do and that it is one of the reasons they continue to re-sign me.

What do you know now about writing/publishing now that you wished you had known sooner?
I wish I'd spent less time worrying about "when" I'd be published and more time diligently learning the craft.

What surprised you the most in a good way in writing your novels? What’s been the most frustrating?
I guess what surprises me most is that the ideas don't dry up. I'm careful to take time off, not burn out, feed the artist well and all that. Still, I'm surprised that my brain knows where to go with a story even when I don't. And that would be the frustrating part. When I start, I have no idea what I'm doing. I usually have a character and where I want to start the story, and that's it. Even in the murder mysteries, I have no idea "who did it."

What is the best advice you've been given about writing or that you've learned that you would like to pass along?
Keep writing, keep writing, keep writing.

What other works do you have in the process? Are there any other points you’d like to cover?
I do have a whacky process that I'd love to share. I write the beginning of a novel until I'm bored with where we're going. Then I stop and write the ending. This could be an additional 3,000 work or (more often) 10-20,000 words. Once I have the ending finished, once I know where we're all going, I go back and fill in the middle. It's worked every time! And it keep the middle from sagging and slowing down.

That's all for today's interview. If you'd like to learn more about Vanetta's writing and her giveaways or special promotions here's how


  1. Thanks so much for having me on your blog. I'd be happy to answer any questions if your followers have any. :)

  2. I love Vannetta Chapman stories. :-)

  3. Wow! That's a huge amount of writing! Way to go!