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Friday, July 5, 2024

Getting Serious about Writing Mysteries: Author Interview with Sylvia (S.F) Baumgartner

You’ve now published several books, but what inspired you to write that first one? How long did it take you to write your first book that was published? How many rewrites did you do on it?
The story simmered in my head for a while. So, I wrote the first edition, The Secrets, published in 2019. It was almost like an experiment for me. So, I unpublished it and expanded the story, had it re-edited, re-titled, had a new cover done and republished it in 2023. It didn’t take me that long to write the novella. Probably a few months. And when I expanded it, it took a couple of weeks. The good thing is I didn’t have to do a lot of rewrites. The various editors who worked on the story thought the storyline didn’t make me change a lot of things.

How do you go about plotting your murder/suspense novels? Do you pick the victim or the perpetrator first? What do you think makes for a perfect suspense story?
I’m a flexible planner. I know the beginning and the end. The middle is where I “muddle” through. Well, I get a lot of inspiration from watching crime TV shows. So far, I’ve picked the victims first. I’d say lots of twists and turns make for a perfect suspense story. A lot of reviews agree that my stories have lots of surprises.

I love that you have a relationship chart on your website for your series. I see you have a mix of ethnic names for characters. How do you choose names for your characters? (For me I look up my favorite movies and mix up the first and last names of the cast and crew)

Thank you! They are totally random, except for a few. A friend was telling me a former employee of his moved to Orlando about a year ago. He was telling me about this family. It so happens that I already have Phil and Olivia in my books. So, I told him I’d name two other characters after the family’s daughter and mom. As for ethnic names, I’m familiar with Chinese family names. And like you, I pick out the Middle Eastern family name from a TV series and “borrow” a name from a former coworker.

What’s the best encouragement you’ve had in your writing?
Every time I read a glowing review from a reader, I get encouraged. My biggest fear before I published was that no one liked my stories. Best of all when my family and friends believe they’re good.

Marketing is the biggest key to getting sales. What is the best marketing source you've used that has produces more sales rather than just clicks?
For free book offers, I’ve found paid promotions work well. For paid books, I think advertising is the best. I’m still new at this and I haven’t started advertising seriously.

What do you know now about writing you wished you had known sooner?

I wish I had known how time-consuming it can be. When you take writing seriously, you can’t just write a draft and call it a day. There’s the self-edits, then a bit of edits after it’s gone through beta-read, then a couple more rounds of edits from professional editors.

What is the best writing advice you’ve received or could give?
If anyone is serious about writing, I’d say, don’t give up. Find an editor who clicks with you. I had the misfortune of having an editor who didn’t see eye-to-eye with me on important matters. I’m glad I found my current editor. I’ve learned a lot from her.

What is the next book coming out? Can you give me a short synopsis?
The plan is to release the next installment in late August or early September. We know who Grace’s biological mother is. The next installment will reveal her biological father. Her abduction and other storylines (a murder, the past coming to haunt someone) are all connected.

That's all for today's interview.
Hope you check out her current and upcoming books with the links below.

And here's a bonus for my readers, leave a comment on this post and we'll pick one reader who'll receive a copy of one of  Sylvia's eBooks. So do that now. It can be as simple as I want to be in the giveaway. We'll chose a winner next Saturday!

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