Blog Archive

Tuesday, October 8, 2019

Either Give Up or Go On: An Interview with author, Anna Lee Huber


Your bio shows that you had an interest in writing even back in elementary school. Then it goes on to show your successes. Was your road to publishing easy like the plot of a Hallmark movie? Or did you have some hits and misses along the way?
I definitely had some hits and misses along the way. I completed five manuscripts over about seven years before the fifth one—The Anatomist’s Wife—was ever published. And I went through the querying process with all five. So that means there was a lot of rejection. But also a lot of encouragement.

I entered several contests, particularly those run by local chapters of RWA, and finaled or won a few of those contests, in addition to receiving invaluable feedback. I learned that I just had to keep learning and persevering, and to grow a backbone if I truly wanted to be an author.

How long did it take you to write your first book that was published?
It took me about a year to write The Anatomist’s Wife. I can’t even recall how many rewrites I did. Probably something like six or seven. And my writing group was invaluable in helping me. They still are my go-to gals for feedback and help.

You are currently a member of 5 writing groups. How do you divide your time with them? Is one more helpful than another?
Yes, I’m a member of five writers’ organizations. Most require very little of my time, as they are advocating groups for specific genres with certain benefits to paying members. However, I have volunteered in different ways to pay forward the assistance they have given me. I judge contests with Romance Writers of America and provide critiques.

I served on the board for Mystery Writers of America’s Midwest Chapter for two years. And I served as co-leader to Historical Novel Society’s Great Lakes Chapter for four years. I write cross-genres novels, which is why I’m a member of so many. And they all offer various benefits.

For aspiring authors who write in the mystery genre, I highly recommend joining Sisters in Crime’s Guppies Chapter. And for aspiring romance authors, RWA’s resources are invaluable.

How did you go about finding an agent/publisher?
I sent out query letters/emails. And I just kept at it until I had the right book and found the right fit with an agent. She handled landing my contracts with publishers. 

How do you go about plotting your mystery?
I use a modified version of the Snowflake Method (which you can Google), as well as some Character Development sheets I’ve tweaked using multiple sources over the years, and then create a semi-detailed outline, hitting all the major plot points of all the story arcs, but also leaving me some room for play and inspiration.

Do you pick the victim or the murderer first?
My characters often take me in directions I wasn’t necessarily expecting. As far as inspiration, it varies. Sometimes it’s a particular moment in or aspect of history, sometimes it’s a setting, sometimes there’s a certain type of victim or crime I want to pursue.

What is the hardest part of writing for you? Starting? Creating a scene?
I often struggle with the beginning. It’s such a crucial part of the story, and there’s also the factor of inertia to deal with. Once you can get going, often you can keep your momentum. But starting cold and trying to strike exactly the right tone and balance can be tricky.

What does your editor remind you to do most often?
In every manuscript, no matter how many times I’ve gone over it, they will find some word or motion or mannerism that gets overused. And it’s different every time! I agonized over it at first, but now I merely find it amusing. This is why you need the sharp eye of an editor, because my mind glosses over it, but it will stick out like a glaring red thumb to them.

What’s the best encouragement you’ve had in your writing?
Readers who reach out to me to share some particular or special way one of my books has impacted them and made a difference in their lives. That means the world.

We have all experienced rejection. How have you learned to write past it?
I recognized that I can either give up or get on. And I don’t want to let something outside myself defeat me. I’m too stubborn for that, and I’ve worked too hard. So, I allow myself to grieve for a short while, eat a bit of chocolate, and then force myself to move on.

What has frustrated you the most in writing/publishing?
I'd say the timetable traditional publishers work on. I turn in a book to my editor almost a year before it’s scheduled for publication, and then the various rounds of edits take place over several months. And royalties are paid twice a year, sometimes ten months after they were collected. I would say the timetable aspect is also the most frustrating part. But you learn to adjust to it.

What do you know now about writing you wished you had known sooner?
Not to sweat every little thing so much. If you’re lucky, it will be a long career, and sweating every little thing is simply too stressful. Be kind, work hard, do your best, and then remember to enjoy the ride.

What is the best writing advice you’ve received or could give?
Not everyone will like your books, and that’s okay. No book has ever been written or will ever be written that everyone likes. We all have different tastes. And we should be grateful for that.

What is the next book coming out? Can you give me a short synopsis?
The next book is Penny for Your Secrets, Verity Kent Book 3, releases on Oct 29th. Here’s the synopsis:

England, 1919. Former British Intelligence agent Verity Kent is finding that life after wartime offers its own share of danger...

The Great War may be over, but for many, there are still obstacles on the home front. Reconciling with her estranged husband makes Verity sympathetic to her friend Ada's marital difficulties. Bourgeois-bred Ada recently married to the Marquess of Rockham, is overwhelmed trying to navigate the ways of the aristocracy. And when Lord Rockham is discovered shot through the heart with a bullet from Ada's revolver, Verity fears her friend has made a fatal blunder.

While striving to prove Ada's innocence, Verity is called upon for another favor. The sister of a former Secret Service colleague has been killed in what authorities believe was a home invasion gone wrong. The victim's war work—censoring letters sent by soldiers from the front—exposed her to sensitive, disturbing material.

Verity begins to suspect these two unlikely cases may be linked. But as the connections deepen, the consequences—not just for Verity, but for Britain—grow more menacing than she could have imagined.

Sounds like some good plot twists there! If you’d like to learn more about Anna’s books and how to buy them, here are some options:

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