On this blog, author Leanne (Willetts) Dyck reviews books, shares her short stories, offers online author readings, and comments on her author journey. Leanne writes for adults and children. Her long-term goal (five years) is to be published by a large, established publishing house. Her short goal (one year) is to earn one million page views for this blog. Please help nurture this blog by visiting and sharing.
I started writing fiction in 1998 at the encouragement of a friend. Prior to that I more or less despised it. I had written labor agreements and contracts but I felt I had a story to tell or, at lest, I felt like I wanted to tell a story. I was an avid reader of thrillers and decided that was what I wanted to write. And not just stand-alone thrillers but character-series where the protagonist moves from book to book. So I started writing what ultimately became The Savannah Project. From beginning to end, with many rewrites, revisions, and edits along the way, it took nearly 12 years. But in those 12 years I learned a lot about writing and realized just how much I enjoyed storytelling and knew I wanted to do more of it.
Tell me about your first published piece?
The Savannah Project was my first thriller, finished in 2009 and published in 2010 by Wyatt-McKenzie Publishing located in Oregon. WyMac has been great to work with for my two thrillers, The Savannah Project and The Toymaker.
Speaking of The Toymaker, that story was so much fun writing, mostly I believe, because the story is based around a real person. I met this man on vacation and as we got to know each other I realized that I had met a man who actually lived in the same espionage world that I read and write about. Using my main cast of characters, I built a story around this man, using his occupation, mannerism, etc. Just as the tagline read: "He's been in the business for 50 years…he makes 'toys' for spies." An interesting hook from the onset.
What did you do before embarking on your writing career? Was it an asset to your writing?
As my bio reads, prior to writing I have been a commercial pilot, flight instructor, and (for nearly 27 years) and air traffic controller. Those experiences have been invaluable in the creation of the first two thrillers. I called from my past to encapsulate some harrowing flying adventures, a little air traffic control, and a wide array of personality traits to choose from.
What inspires you?
Good question. I typically find story inspiration from the obscure news tidbit from the newspaper. Usually those little two-inch sidebar stories that, on the surface, seem almost like they aren't news at all and the media just needed to fill space—those are the little stories that set up the stage for my stories. For example, unexplained deaths in Ireland or a break-in in a laboratory in Belgium. The big stories aren't the ones that get my mind reeling, it's the little ones that still leave so many unanswered questions. I grab a few of those stories, find a way to link them together, and before you know it, I have a conspiracy to intrigue you with.
Please share one of your successful marketing techniques
Marketing is such hard work and time consuming. If you aren't careful, it can consume your day, ultimately keeping you from writing—which is bad. Personally I have found Twitter to be a big boost in exposure. Even as popular as facebook is, Twitter reaches more people, faster. And because of Twitter's nature, you have to get your point across (or your pitch) in 140 characters or less. Twitter is easier to build a solid following, but like anything else, it requires some routine maintenance or it can become ineffective. It also requires diligence. Those posts are important and you have to be willing to devote some time and attention to your followers. There are thousands among thousands of readers on Twitter who like to talk with authors. Treat each and every one of them with respect and dignity and you'll be surprised how many you win over. And winning readers is increasing sales!
Writing is hard work and your day is always full of potential distractions so it is important to stay focused. Allocate you time well and stick to your schedule. Anything that takes time—takes time away from writing. And that can become a bad thing if it gets out of control. Self-control and discipline are required or you'll never get that project written.
It is important to an author to have support from other authors whom they admire. I have been honored to have several authors that I admire endorse my books, including two New York Times bestselling authors…
"The Toymaker is a fun, fast moving thriller with plenty of gadgets and a lot of action." —Phillip Margolin New York Times bestselling author of Capitol Murder
“The Savannah Project signals the arrival of a new member to the thriller genre. Chuck Barrett. The tale contains all of the danger, treachery, and action a reader could wish for. The intrigue comes from all directions, slicing and stitching with precision. A worthy debut from an exciting talent.” —Steve Berry, New York Times bestselling author
“From the tree-lined streets of Savannah to the mossy stones of an ancient Irish castle, The Savannah Project weaves a fast moving tale of murder, mystery and suspense. Chuck Barrett has written a winner here. A must-read novel for thriller lovers.” —William Rawlings, bestselling author of The Mile High Club
These types of endorsements make it all worthwhile.
Thanks for taking the time to read this interview. I invite you to explore my website:
While you're there you can about The Savannah Project and The Toymaker. Go to my blog and learn about my main characters. If you're interested you'll find links to get the books…paperback and ebook. On the main page are button links to facebook, Twitter, and YouTube. Please check those out as well.
Lastly I'd like to say that I love hearing from you, the reader. Good, bad, or indifferent, unless it's spam, I'll respond personally. Just click the "Contact" tab on my website. I look forward to hearing from you.