Is your Place Creepy or Cozy?

In an editor’s panel at Sleuthfest 2017, the editors agreed that next to voice, they found setting most important. It’s often said, when choosing a setting for a novel, to make your setting a character. Stephen King certainly did that with the Overlook Hotel in The Shining. Being the master of horror, he continued the creepy sensation in Doctor Sleep. King had a bevy of evil characters buy the land where the Overlook Hotel stood before it burned and made the new Bluebell Campground their home turf. That got me thinking. Can a place hold the vitality of the previous residents be they good or bad? I decided to do some research.

During the Second World War, the Nazis invaded a town north of Kiev. They assembled all the Jews from the area into the town’s synagogue and ignited the building, burning to death hundreds of innocent men, women and children. The ground was barren, infertile, and with the chaos of the war the land’s story was forgotten. Years later in 1970, a nuclear power plant with four reactors was built in this town.  On April 26, 1986 one of the nuclear reactors had an explosive meltdown. That reactor had been built on top of the long forgotten synagogue, in a town we know as Chernobyl.

Have you ever noticed how some places are joyous and welcoming while others are uncomfortable or downright creepy? Dr. Alberto Villodo, a psychologist and medical anthropologist says there are ‘imprints’ left in a building or on the land by those who have been there before and those imprints affect the occupants. Those occupants are your characters. How do you want them to feel in their setting? House Beautiful, in an August 2016 article, offers ways to cleanse a house of negative energy. Each of those fifteen ideas could be used to affect the mood of your characters upward or down.

What other types of problems can be caused by one’s surroundings? The Chinese for thousands of years have believed that certain places where superior or luckier, and that features in the environment could affect a person’s health and well-being. The belief is that you should buy a house from someone who is moving up to a better house, not a house in foreclosure or sold because of divorce, and that antiques can bring the problems of a previous owner with them. The Chinese developed the practice of Feng Shui to cure some those problems. Getting hold of a book of Feng Shui cures might offer insight into the types of problems you could create for your characters.

What is the imprint you want to leave with your setting? A town filled with sorrow over the deaths that occurred there, a campground that’s as terrifying as the Overlook Hotel or a warm, cozy Victorian with a cat? Interview your settings when you interview your characters and find out what their backstory is. The psychological effect a place has on your characters can create a very memorable setting indeed.

What’s Your Guilty Pleasure?

…TV show, that is. The Tuesdays share their favorite guilty pleasure TV shows. We’d love to hear yours.

Faran Fagen

Faran: Helloooo, Thursday fans. A TV show that will always be my guilty pleasure is the prolific marble-rye loving, yadda-yadda saying Seinfeld. Twenty years ago, my fraternity brothers and I would gather around the big TV in the lounge to catch every episode. Now, it’s on every night in syndication, and no matter what I’m doing, I stop to watch and laugh at the same old jokes. After a few seconds, I usually know which episode is on. But it’s not just the laughs. The writing, dialogue, and characters are full of depth and color, something we all strive for as writers. In addition to belly laughs, I like to think that each episode is a lesson in plotting and character development.

Stacie Ramey

Stacie: I’m not huge into reality television. Except for cooking shows. But Naked and Afraid is def my guilty pleasure.  No. Not because you see some skin. Mind out of the gutter, people. It’s one of those deals where I cannot believe people actually agree to live with a stranger of the opposite sex in a brutal climate. Without food. Without water. Without clothes. It’s unreal. It’s always funny to see who ends up being the most adaptable. The guy who was the big hunter with boots and gear is reduced to trying to catch fish by leaping after them. The girl who makes a fishing net out of her hair. Wow. People amaze me all the time. This show strips them down to nothing (pun intended) and they have to figure out how it takes to live Naked and Afraid. I’m happy to watch from my couch and cheer them on.

Cathy Castelli

Cathy: Say Yes to the Dress! I could watch episode after episode of people trying on white dresses. I’ve finally found a way to turn it into a YA novel…not yet completed.

Melody Maysonet

Melody: My guilty pleasure TV show is Big Brother. My husband used to watch it without me, and I’d turn my nose up at it, because, really, who wants to watch a bunch of self-involved people backstab each other? But one day I started watching it…and I couldn’t stop. Somehow these real people take on roles of characters, which makes it much easier to poke at them.

Joanne Butcher

Joanne: Although my favorite guilty pleasure is to curl up with a book for a whole day, in our fast-paced world, that’s only an annual event. My TV guilty pleasure is not watching a television show, but to cook up a bowl of popcorn and a watch a pay-per-view movie.

Jonathan: Though it’s not on anymore, Phineas and Ferb was my guilty pleasure TV show. I would laugh throughout each episode. At first, I would watch it with my kids, but then quickly realized that I didn’t need them home to enjoy. To this day, if I happen to come across an episode, I’ll watch it. Long live Doofenshmirtz!

Woeful Wednesday Wrap Up

If you read Jonathan’s live Tweet from group yesterday, you know I wasn’t there. But before you Tuesday readers ask me to supply a note explaining my absence, let me tell you, I have a really good excuse. An excuse NO ONE(even Jonathan) could argue with:

Everything changes. Yup. That’s my excuse.

Everything changes. I know this, and yet it’s a big issue for me. 

Like Sheldon on Big Bang Theory I like things to stay the same, but, darling Tuesday readers,  that’s not the nature of things. I know. I know.


When I first started writing, I also started attending a weekly critique group. You guessed it, The Tuesdays. And I almost never missed class (because it was a class back then). I would attend if I was sick. If I was tired. I would attend in all kind of weather. If I had to miss for a holiday or family event, I pitched a huge fit. Lovely, I know, but being honest here. I kept my practically perfect attendance going well past when I was agented, past when I sold my first book, and my second one.


But something happened the past few months that have led to an absolutely abysmal attendance record for me at The Tuesdays.


But what was it? A meteorite? A string of really bad hair days (well, yeah, it IS Florida…), my dog needed a bath? What could keep me from The Tuesdays?


Get ready for this. Things changed. Gasp. I know. ERMEGAD. I hate that shit.

And some of the changes made It harder to make the trek every week or every other week or even once a month, sometimes.

Here is the list of my most recent reasons/excuses


  • For those of you who follow me on social media, you may have seen that my minivan caught fire on Jan 1, 2015, just after I turned to JKR and said, “Babe, this is going to be such a good year.” Kaboom!!!! Good times. Well, we did buy a new car, but gave our surviving minivan to our son and JKR and I have shared one car for two years now. At first it was fairly easy working around all of our stuff in order to make way for Tuesday group but now….even that has changed. JKR has appointments more often than he used to. The car is needed elsewhere. We decide who gets it by Rock-Paper-Scissors and JKR is way better than I am at that. No fair!
  • I’ve been doing book promo. Some of that has landed on actual Tuesdays,(curses!) but even when the events are not on a Tuesday proper, sometimes that means JKR has put off doing stuff he needs to do with the car on other days and has to take it on a Tues. (Please see bullet point,above)Sigh.

    me at book promo events

  • Pennsylvania germs are heartier and generally more thuggish than Florida germs. Hate to profile, but it’s true. I went to Pennsylvania to do some book promo in March (see bullet point above) and got the flu + bronchitis= a very, very, very sick girl.
  • Babygirl is graduating this year. That means she’s got all of this extra stuff she’s doing or needs to do and that has led to my needing to be around (with the car …see first bullet point please) more often. Many times on Tuesdays. Le sigh.


Change is not always a bad thing (I guess) but it is a different thing. Because change. It’s like the butterfly effect or something. You know, one thing affects another affects another. All that sciency stuff.


But have no fear, Tuesday readers, summer is coming and that’s a good thing because Tuesdays should be relatively clear and easy and conflict free for me. And my attendance card should be punched weekly (or someone should be).


Unless…. something changes. Gulp.


See you next week, when I give you my writing tips and hopefully live Tweet from class (fingers crossed).



Keeping it Together – Or Not

Jonathan recently posted about the concept of saying yes. I, too have heard other writers speak about this concept, but I have said no once or twice.

I feel guilty about it. A little.

I can’t speak for how this works for men, but I think women are culturally raised to think we can’t say no.

More than twenty years ago, I learned how to say phrases like, “I’m going to have to check my calendar.”

And now, like some karmic slap in the face, I really do have to check my calendar.

My Google calendar.

I have learned that it’s the best way to make sure it all gets done. Since my husband uses Google calendar, too, we have linked our calendars. I put in the SCBWI conferences at least six months in advance. I put in the deadline for the early registration because I like to save money any way I can, but I like it when the money stays in my account for as long as possible, too. I know when my son has early release at school and the weeks when my husband will be gone for a cruise gig.

Google even sends me a notification in my email or one pops up on the computer screen.

Perfect, right?

But I didn’t put on the calendar that I was supposed to post today.

Oh well. I like to tell my students that the best way to learn is to make a mistake. Hopefully I’ll do better next time.

Interview with Erin Beaty, Debut Author of The Traitor’s Kiss

Hello Tuesdays!

Today, I’m pleased to be joined by a fellow 2017 Debut member, Erin Beaty, whose debut young-adult novel, The Traitor’s Kiss, is scheduled to come out May 9 of 2017 from Imprint at MacMillan

 JR: Hi, Erin and thanks for joining us today.

EB: Hi! I’m all aflutter! And my imprint at Macmillan is called “Imprint.” It’s new, and the name confuses everyone, but they have been awesome to work with.


JR: Before we begin, can you tell us a little bit about The Traitor’s Kiss and the impetus behind writing it?

EB: The Traitor’s Kiss is about a girl who lives in a country where the vast majority of marriages are made through a third party. Sage Fowler is unsuited for marriage by her society’s standards, but she finds herself desperate enough to take a job apprenticing with the local matchmaker, who is also head of the regional guild. When they set out for the Concordium, a national marriage conference in the capital city, rich brides in tow, their military escort stumbles across some suspicious activity. What they don’t realize is this plot is way bigger than anyone could have imagined. Sage becomes the key to figuring it all out, but in the meantime she’s gotten romantically entangled with one of the soldiers, and he’s got some big secrets. My publisher says it’s “Jane Austen with an espionage twist,” which thrills the hell out of me.

Honestly, I just wrote the book the 17-year-old girl inside of me wanted to read. She’s fiercely romantic, but she likes to hit things, too.


JR: I saw on your website,, that you have a Naval background. That’s close to my heart, since my dad was in the Navy. Has that aspect of your life, moving around a lot, seeped into your writing and if so, how?

EB: I’m glad to know you survived being a Navy brat, because I’m carting around five of my own every few years. I worry I’m permanently damaging them, but the symbol of the military child is the dandelion for good reason.

So being a natural introvert, I live in my head, but even more so since we move around so much. It takes time for me to make friends and join the community… and then it’s time to move again. Since my husband is still in the navy, the majority of feeding, clothing, and getting our kids to school and appointments and activities falls on me. I don’t get out much, and blogging became somewhat of release valve, though for years I never realized how much I was growing as a writer.

As for influence on my writing, from my own naval service and education, I have solid knowledge of personality types and military leadership and structure, plus some actual fighting experience, and I think it shows. Many lessons my military characters learn, I learned the hard way. Also a lot of my early readers commented that I needed to describe the dresses more and the stabbing maybe a little less.


JR: Can you tell us a little bit about your writing journey getting to this point? 

EB: So I mentioned a blog, but it was only for grandparents and friends so they could keep track of us and so I could remember the goofy things the kids did. I never considered it writing, but looking back I can see an evolution. Science and math were my strengths growing up, so I resisted the siren pull of writing until one day a fresh storyline popped in my head. All the kids were in school and pretty self-sufficient by then, and I had no excuse not to try putting it down. I went a little crazy and had a first draft in 6 weeks. It would be 46 more weeks before it was truly fit for human consumption, but at the time I didn’t know any better. Neither did most of the friends I shared it with, but their enthusiasm convinced me I had written something that could be published. Weirdly, almost no one was surprised that I started writing-it was like coming out of the closet. Everyone was like, “Duh.”

Research told me I needed an agent (and lots of editing- I wasn’t THAT crazy), so I revised and started querying, and the responses weren’t entirely awful (though my first queries were). After a few months of dipping my toes into the writing community, I realized I needed to do some major work on my manuscript, so I hammered at it and went back out with queries in the first week of May 2015, almost a year to the day that I had started writing the first draft. Three weeks later, I had my first offer of rep. The funny thing is that this agent, Valerie Noble, whom I ended up signing with, had requested the full six months earlier, back when I first started querying. If I hadn’t gone out way before I was should have, she never would have gotten to my manuscript (I sent her an updated version) right when it was ready. It felt like fate.

From there it was a couple rounds of revision (done in the middle of moving, because Navy) and right around Halloween, Valerie said she felt the book was ready to go out, and she listed all the big publishers she was sending it to. All I could think was, “WHUT?” I expected rejection, but hoped for advice or commentary that would help. I’d read about the submission process, and I knew it could take years and we might not even sell this book. In early January 2016, Valerie called to say I was going to acquisitions at Macmillan, and given it was the head editor pushing the book, she felt it was pretty much a shoe-in. Sure enough, they offered, and another offer came in shortly after. Again, all I could think was, “WHUT?” and that’s pretty much been my first thought every morning since.

 JR: That was some new year’s gift! 🙂 

JR: What’s your writing process like?

EB: I’m still figuring that out, but so far it involves Post Its on an easel page. I outline scenes and orders of events, then promptly turn my back and write the hell out of whatever story. Then I go back and futz with the Post Its-adding, subtracting, rearranging-then return to writing. So I outline, then pants it, then go back to the outline, then pants it again in a continuous cycle until it’s over. I kind of do grocery shopping the same way, so I think it just my method. In the editing process, I’ll write out a timeline of events, but when it comes to scene maps, character pages, and subplot charts, I have a very good memory, so I get lazy unless I start having problems-which I haven’t, yet. That is going to bite me in the butt someday. I don’t think I’m an example to emulate right now, especially since the actual writing part takes hold of me like pit bull and won’t let go for material/corporal needs. Remember all those kids I mentioned? Yeah, they like to eat dinner every day. What’s up with that?


JR: What’s your favorite book and who’s your favorite author?

EB: Probably Jane Austen’s Persuasion. I’m a sucker for a navy man and a love you just can’t forget. Oh, and Michael Crichton’s Timeline. How’s that for variety? I’d be hard pressed to pick a favorite author, though, because there’s always that one book (or two) they wrote that I hated-Robert Heinlein being probably the best example of that.


JR: What’s your favorite movie?

EB: That’s a toss-up between The Lion in Winter and A Man for All Seasons. The latter feeds my soul while the former feeds the cold-hearted bastard within. And every line in both is classic.


JR: Something people would be surprised to learn about you?

EB: I was a flag twirler in high school, and I still have my flags and rifle. Woo Color Guard!


JR: Do you do a lot of research when you write?

EB: My non-fiction writing long ago (a few academic articles and curriculum) always required research. Fortunately, I’ve got a really good memory, so most of my searches for The Traitor’s Kiss and its hopeful sequel were checks to make sure I was accurate on things like, um, stabbing. I don’t know I learned anything really new, though. My current WIP is a fairy-tale retelling, so mostly the “research” leans toward inspirational, get-me-in-the-mood stuff. I have one project percolating in my brain that I am dying to write, but it will be historical and not fantasy, so it will require loads of research. I’ve already bought about eight books on relevant topics, so I’m committed.


JR: Here at the Tuesdays, a big part of our success and the purpose of this site, has been being involved in a critique group. Are you involved in one and if so, how has it helped you?

EB: I found some partners online who were a tremendous help, but my publishing journey has been so fast I quickly outgrew the groups I joined. That sounds horribly stuck-up, but it’s the truth. I still try to help those writers out, but my spare time is at a premium with family and writing and edits and trying to figure out how to promote myself. The Swanky 17s, the group of fellow YA/MG debut writers, will probably become my new critique group. I’ve already done some critiquing of a Swanky’s WIP, and that relationship seems to be headed in the right direction for future CPing. I also have been teaching classes at the local writing center, and I’m finally making connections that could become writers’ groups, but it’s tough because it’s mostly poets and military fiction around here. YA is almost unheard of. It’s also almost time to move again.



JR: What’s the best piece of writing advice you’ve received and is there any advice you can give to writers looking to break in?

EB: I would say “Write what you know” with one caveat: Go out and learn! Don’t write about something until you understand it, or at least don’t share it until you do. You’d be amazed what you do know, however, and how many human experiences are universal. Use your passion as a springboard for exploration. As for trying to break in, again, everything for me was so fast I hate to say things like “Never give up!” and “Don’t be afraid to trunk a novel and move on!” because it sounds fake coming from me. So I’ll say surround yourself with people who believe in you, BUT learn to take criticism. Just because you don’t like what someone says doesn’t mean it’s not valid, no matter what your friends are telling you, especially if your friends aren’t writers. I lost a few test CPs because they didn’t like what I had to say about their writing. My delivery was lacking, no doubt, but I stand by my advice.


JR: What are you working on next?

EB: Fingers crossed that the sequel to The Traitor’s Kiss gets bought. Imprint is super enthused about the first book, so I’m optimistic, but it’s terrifying nonetheless. My side WIP is a Cinderella retelling from the prince’s perspective. The market may not support it by the time I’m done, but it brings me joy to write. The percolating one is a nerdy Pride and Prejudice. And I’ve got dozens of other ideas. Once I let the writing monster out of the cage, there was no going back, apparently.


JR: Is there anything that else you want to share with our readers or perhaps tell them how they can follow you on social media? 

EB: Ugh, I need to work on a newsletter, but I’m still in that mindset of being bewildered that anyone would want to read what I wrote, plus I have very little news I can share at the moment. I’ve got that website, but not much on it yet, and a Facebook page On twitter I’m @ErinBeatyWrites and I’m technically on Instagram as ErinBeatyWrites (am I original or what?), but I’m still figuring that one out.



JR: Before we go, I always like to ask, who’s your favorite member of The Tuesdays?

EB: Of course it you, Jonathan! We 2017 Debut Authors have to stick together. But Cathy, Jo, Melody, Faran, and Stacie are all delightful, and I admire the work you do for others, like this interview. I’m honored to be a part of your site. Writers really are the best community out there!

JR: Awww, thank you, Erin, but it really wasn’t necessary . . . to mention the others also, but very nice of you to do.

Anyway, thank you again and the best of luck with The Traitor’s Kiss!

Free Write Friday: How to get ‘lucky’ with your writing career

Your debut year as an author is a stunningly awesome year. You get your cover. You get your edits. You get your back jacket copy. You get huge props from everyone you know in the biz. All of the friends you made on the way. Your mentors and the professionals who have contributed in some way or another to this incredible goal. You get to launch your book in any way you see fit. It is one of the most fun and exciting years in your life as an author.


When book two comes out, you get to repeat all of the above steps, of course, but each high is a little less fresh (even if it is still awesome). But the thing is you, by book two, you are no longer a newbie. You are building a list. It’s a great problem to have, but how does it affect your process? As you add books to other books, what can you ask of yourself? Here are some of the goals I set:

  • Better writing. With each of my books, I hope that my writing becomes more polished, grounded, and commercial. My editor recently told me it’s a pleasure to see how my books have evolved, each one building on the previous one in terms of stakes and challenges while still giving a satisfying read. That’s a pretty awesome thing to be told by someone in the biz that I respect and trust. So. New. High. Huzzah.
  • Refine my direction as an author. What do I want to say with each book? Who do I want to represent? Whose stories hold my interest?
  • Find more ways to reach readers. Find more ways to reach readers. Find more ways to reach readers. You get it. Book festivals. Author visits. Workshops. Webinars. Videos. All of these things are on my list.

It’s cool to be at a point where I can see a career forming. This has been the result of a ton of work, an equal amount of great people working on my behalf, and luck. I never forget how lucky I am.

It starts with a team, though. Writing is not an individual sport. You need a good critique group or two. You need great beta readers. You need a fabulous agent that you feel comfortable calling when you need career advice/direction. You need an editor that gets your work and loves it and wants to see it shine. You need a publishing house that provides everything you need to produce and promote your book. Like I said. I got really lucky with The Tuesdays and the PGA’s and Palm Springers and Wellington Critique Group. I got win-the-lottery lucky with my agent, Nicole Resciniti of The Seymour Agency and with my editor, Annette Pollert-Morgan and my publishing house, Sourcebooks. I will forever be grateful for   all of the wonderful people who worked their behinds off to make my dreams come true.








Something You’ll Never Do Again…

What’s something you’ve done that you’ll never do again?

Cathy Castelli

Cathy: Roller coasters are off my list. I used to be able to ride them but not anymore. I remember the first time I rode Space Mountain. Probably 1987. I screamed my guts out. In the early 90s I rode some upside down monstrosity at Busch Gardens Tampa. Fun! Not now. I once rode Goofy’s Barnstormer with Trevor when he was little so he wouldn’t feel like his mom wouldn’t go on rides. The Barnstormer is so very mild, and still it was a challenge for me. Now he’s happy to use my Fast Pass so he gets extra rides, and I’m happy to never have to do that again.

Melody Maysonet

Melody: I’ll never again edit someone’s book for a lobster dinner. Oh, and I’ll never, ever tell the car salesman that I don’t have a ride home so I can’t leave the dealership without buying a car.

Faran Fagen

Faran: Just after graduating from University of Missouri in December of 1997, I got my first job at the Palm Beach Post. I had to start right away, which meant I had to drive through the worst ice storm in a decade across I-70. I barely made it out, and after skidding through three states, the sun poked through the clouds somewhere in the Carolinas. I vowed never again to drive through snow and ice, and am happy to have kept that promise.

Joanne Butcher

Joanne: I have a novel shelved in which I allowed myself to be influenced by too many outside voices. I changed it in so many ways that I lost the essence of what I wanted to say. Although I loved the characters, I felt lost because it was no longer mine, and I put it away out of frustration. I have another book I’m working on. I’ve learned a lot along the way and am more confident in my writing.  I look forward to starting over with those characters in the future.

Wrap-It-Up Wednesday

It’s my turn for Wrap-It-Up Wednesday, and I have to say, today was a good group—not just for me, but for all of us. 

Let’s start with me and what I learned. The cool thing about knowing your entire plot is, you get to plant information. The bad thing is, sometimes you give too much away, but that’s easily fixed on my next revision. Also, it was heartening to learn from my fellow Tuesdays that the first conversation between my main character and her love interest felt natural instead of stilted. My earlier drafts of that conversation pretty much sucked. (The Tuesdays didn’t say they sucked, but I knew in my gut…)

Now let’s move on to Faran. He read a completely new scene that was damn near perfect in terms of what it set out to do—that is, bind the main character to the special world of the story. (And if you don’t know what I mean by that, maybe it’s time to join a critique group.) It was also a really powerful scene.

Joanne was next. She’s been working hard on creating a more ominous mood for her book, and her sprinkling in of subtle, yet ominous tidbits (a fillet knife; a Psycho reference, mention of a suicide) really helped darken the tone. 

Finally, finding something wrong with Jonathan’s action-packed, comedic horror tale for middle schoolers was, as usual, hard to do. But I did find a few nitpicks. Jonathan wrote them down—he writes everything down, as do I) and then goes back to see if he wants to make the change. He listens to his gut, which is something we’re all getting better at, because we’re all becoming more skilled writers.

When we get critiqued, we don’t have a knee-jerk reaction of “I’m not changing that!” Or “Oh no! I have to change that!”) We listen, we assess, and then we do what has to be done.

Say Yes!

Hello Tuesdays!

Back to back of me this week! You lucky readers. Anyway, I’m going to get straight to it this week, and you want to know why? Well, I’m glad you asked and I’m going to tell you. You see, I’ve been working on many things at one time.

Besides working on edits for my own, Night of the Living Cuddle Bunnies, (Yes, I’m so disgusting. I got it done in the very first paragraph!) I have also been doing work for an educational company as well as some work for hire for individuals.

Needless to say, it has kept me quite busy. It seems like I’m always in front of the computer lately, working at all hours. And you know what? It’s better than not working.

And that’s where this week’s tip comes in! Say, yes!

That’s not my tip, but one I’ve heard many times, given by people in the writing field. If you want to get paid to write and want to make a go of it, as long as it’s a reasonable request with fair compensation, say, yes.

In the past year, I’ve been offered a variety of writing jobs and some of them, for sure, I was nowhere near an expert on. And truth be told, that’s what’s made it fun. I do a ton of research and learn about new things as I write them. Each time something comes my way, my answer is, “Sure, I can do that!”

That’s my advice and tip this week. Open yourself up to new experiences writing. Don’t automatically think you can’t do something. In the past year, I’ve learned a lot more about animals, the 1920’s, cars, theories of time travel and something I can’t even discuss, but it’s been a lot of fun, getting a huge variety of things to research.

So, it’s short and sweet this week, since I’m on way too many deadlines to count, but I want you to leave here thinking . . . say, yes!

Interview With Patricia Bailey, Debut Author of, The Tragically True Adventures of Kit Donovan

Hello Tuesdays!

Today, I’m pleased to be joined by my fellow 2017 Debut Author, Patricia Bailey, whose book, The Tragically True Adventures Of Kit Donovan, is scheduled to come out April 25 from Albert Whitman & Company

Hi, Patricia and thanks for joining us today!

JR: Before we begin, can you tell us a little bit about The Tragically True Adventures Of Kit Donovan and the impetus behind writing it?

PB: A road trip and a conversation with a old dude at a road-side rock/junk/antique shop on the side of the highway pretty much set the whole thing in motion. My husband and I stopped to stretch our legs at the edge of a small town called Goldfield, Nevada, and I struck up a conversation with the guy who owned the shop. He tried to convince me A) that the old wheel chair I was looking at belonged to famed old west lawman Virgil Earp, and B) that the practically deserted run-down town I was in was once a full-on boom town and the happenist spot east of San Francisco. Once we hit Las Vegas and had internet access again I discovered he was telling the truth on both counts. And, of course, my imagination just took off from there.

(Love the cover!)


JR: I saw on your website,, that you like exploring forgotten places. That sounds really cool. Can you give us some examples?

PB: I’m a sucker for those little markers  you see next to ditches when you’re driving down the road. The ones that say “The Battle of Pistol River” or “Oldest tree is Grant County” and give you a little blurb. I stop, get out, walk around – then try to find someone or somewhere that can tell me more. I’ve been known to drive forty minutes down rutted forest service roads because something over there looks old and kind of cool or because there used to a logging site around here somewhere. I once found and filed an opal claim because someone said they heard a story that there was some fire opal up on one of these hills. Give me the slightest hint that something historical happened somewhere, and I’ll go looking. And if I can’t find any hard proof, that’s okay, I’ll just make it up in my head – as any good writer would.

(I do the same. Will stop abruptly for history!)


JR: Can you tell us a little bit about your writing journey getting to this point? 

PB: I worked on this book for a good five years – and once I finally came to the conclusion that I didn’t know enough to do anything more with it, I signed up for an agent critique at the Oregon SCBWI conference. There I met the awesome Kerry Sparks, who loved the story, requested a full, and called me like a week later. And because I’m a go-with-my-gut kind of gal, I signed with her, and totally skipped the query, rejection cycle. I did get a taste of that when we submitted to publishers, though. But then Kerry met an editor from Albert Whitman & Company at a conference and sent her the manuscript. She loved it and made an offer and a deal was made.


JR: What’s your writing process like?

PB: Man, I wish I knew. I bounce back and forth between plotter and panster, and between writing everyday like clockwork and procrastinating like it’s my job. Mostly, I take a lot of walks, make a lot of notes on index cards and sticky notes, write a solid beginning, flounder, rewrite the beginning, flounder some more, and finally push through to the end. Then I revise. And revise again. And again. Until I don’t know anything anymore. Then I start something new.


JR: What’s your favorite book and who’s your favorite author?

PB: Only one? I’ll go historical and say True Grit. It’s got a great voice and Mattie Ross is kind of a fun mix of awesome and annoying. My favorite author is tougher. Currently, I’ll have to say Kate DiCamillo for middle grade. If I ever manage to write anything with half of that much heart, I’ll feel complete as a human.

(Love the movie)

JR: What’s your favorite movie?

PB: The Big Lebowski.

(One of my favorite movies of all time also!)


JR: Something people would be surprised to learn about you?

PB: Aside from the fact that The Big Lebowski is my favorite movie? I have a black belt in aikido.


JR: Do you do a lot of research when you write? 

PB: I did a ton of research for The Tragically True Adventures of Kit Donovan. I hung out in Goldfield a few times wandering around, taking pictures, and getting a feel for the place. I visited the Central Nevada Museum and spent time in their library. And I picked up a ton of books about Goldfield online and from the museum bookstore. I’m kind of a museum junkie – and I love a museum book store. But I even do research for contemporary stories. It’s important to me to get the setting right – both the feel of the actual place and a real sense of the people who live there. So much of who we are is formed by where we are living. I like to delve into that. Plus, I like to get the little details right. What kinds of trees grow here? What’s the light like at 5:00 pm in October? Do people say Coke or pop or soda? These things matter.


JR: Here at the Tuesdays, a big part of our success and the purpose of this site, has been being involved in a critique group. Are you involved in one and if so, how has it helped you?

PB: Oh, I love my critique group and it’s only because of them that this book is being published at all. My group is online, and I haven’t met any of them in person, which is a little strange when I think of it because I feel so close to them. They provide great insight on every piece I write. They catch mistakes and offer suggestions when I’m feeling stuck. And they provide support – which is invaluable in this whole writing for publication business.

when an editor becomes an author


JR: What’s the best piece of writing advice you’ve received and is there any advice you can give to writers looking to break in?

PB: Write the story you want to write – and worry about publication later. I think that advice is good at every stage of the game. My advice would be just keep stepping out there. Do the scary things – write, go to conferences, send your work out, send your work out again, start something new, repeat. And find someone you trust to remind you how great you are when your confidence falters.



JR: What are you working on next?

PB: A middle grade contemporary novel set in the Pacific Northwest and a historical middle grade set near the town where I grew up.


JR: Is there anything that else you want to share with our readers or perhaps tell them how they can follow you on social media?

PB: Keep at it. And remember that the story really is the most important thing.

If you want to connect, I’d love to hear from you. You can find me at:


Or on social media at:



JR: Before we go, I always like to ask, who’s your favorite member of The Tuesdays? It could be anybody, let’s say me, for example . . . or it could be someone like Faran, who, as everyone knows, spent this weekend setting up  bear traps for the Easter Bunny in his yard. 

PB: I’m going to have to say Faran Fagen – because I have a secret love of sports novels and in middle school I had to write an explanation for every event mentioned in “We Didn’t Start the Fire.” A side effect of that assignment is that the song plays in my head more often than I’d care to admit. I think Faran will be able to relate to this.


JR: Sigh . . . fine. I guess maiming holiday icons is now considered an acceptable form of entertainment. Anyway, thanks again for joining us, and best of luck with The Tragically True Adventures of Kit Donovan!