Friday, July 6, 2012

Guest Post EC Sheedy

EC Sheedy's most recent books...

A Man Called Blue a contemporary romance set in London, England.

Staying Cool a romantic suspense novelette

How/why did you start to write?

I don't believe I was a born writer, but I was a born reader who early on developed a love for stories. As a young reader, I fell in love Anne (with-the-e) Shirley and what I thought was the most idyllic place on earth, PEI. I was given Anne of Green Gables for my ninth birthday. Best present ever!

After the Anne books, I read a million dusty old books that centred around girls in  English boarding schools. I discovered these books, a lot of them anthologies, while ferreting around the used bookshops in downtown Vancouver with my mother—also an avid reader. Funny, though, I don't remember the names of any of those books, just the pranks and "shenanigans" of the boarding school girls and the glowering stewardship of the headmistresses.

How did you become an author?

I'm not sure. (see furrowed brow) I don't remember a burning desire to write the Great Canadian Novel—which may, or may not, account for why I haven't written it. :-) My sense was more, I love words, love stories, and I want to give writing a try. Not the most powerful motivation in the world and totally sans any nod to high art, because on the heels of that give-writing-a-try thought came the I-want-to-be-published thought. I am, I think, mercenary at heart. And one thing I did know; I did not want to be a trunk writer.

What was your first published piece?

My first published work was a non-fiction business book for Self-Counsel Press. Fresh off of selling my own computer service business, it seemed a natural project to take on. And it was fulfilling to share what I'd learned as an entrepreneur with people keen to start their own businesses. Self-Counsel is a super publisher, and I enjoyed working with them. I ended up writing two business books for them, before discovering my real passion was fiction.

With the often typical arrogance of a new writer, I decided I'd dash off one of those short Harlequin romances, this having never read one. (What was I thinking?) But, really, how hard could it be? Answer: Very hard. Turned out I didn't have a clue how to stitch and glue a story together, let alone imbue my pages with the emotion and passion necessary to show two people falling in love. So I started to read, and read, and read...  After digesting countless romance books—seriously, I think I read over 400 of them—I started writing again. This time, I pulled it off and sold the book, and then a few more to Kensington Publishing in New York. Along the way I discovered how much I enjoyed writing nasty villains, so I started writing suspense—still with a central romance—but with a lot more mystery and mayhem.

What did you do before embarking on your writing career? Was it an asset to your writing? How?

Most of my working life was spent as an entrepreneur in the computer and personnel service business. And at one time I even owned a bookstore.  Those were great years, full of hard work, long hours, and constant challenge. And yes that experience was an asset when it came to my late-start writing career. Owning a business taught me that to be successful, you need both daring and perseverance—lots of perseverance. These were good lessons to carry forward into the writing world, because publishing is also a business. The concept of profit and loss applies as much to publishing a book as it does to manufacturing widgets. (Which I'll admit I found a terrible disappointment and not the least, uh, romantic.) But knowing that both daring and perseverance still applied eliminated a lot of worry and angst along the learning curve.

But as a grand sweeping statement (I don't get a chance to make those very often.) Living life is the finest and most valuable asset there is for a writer—any writer. It's life's adventures, either career or personal, that brings voice and uniqueness to our  word work. We all have a book in us—getting it out is the tricky part. (On second thought, maybe making the story entertaining and readable is the tricky part.)

What inspires you?

Oddly enough, it's often a setting that provides the spark for my stories. I went to Spain, loved it, and wrote a romance set there called ONE TOUGH COOKIE. I'm fascinated with big houses and old hotels; I've set suspense books in both: A PERFECT EVIL is set in an imagined English style estate near La Conner in Washington, and IN ROOM 33 some malicious and dangerous people stalk the halls of an aging, derelict hotel in Seattle.

Please share one of your successful marketing techniques

Being on your blog. :-)

Parting words

I really don't have any scintillating parting words. Other than to say, to all those who want to write, plan to write, or even dream of writing, get going and keep going. Stories are gifts to us all—and they're important. If you doubt that for a second listen to Ann Patchett:

"Reading fiction is important. It is a vital means of imagining a life other than our own, which in turn makes us more empathetic beings. Following complex story lines stretches our brains beyond the 140 characters of sound-bite thinking, and staying within the world of a novel gives us the ability to be quiet and alone, two skills that are disappearing faster than the polar icecaps."

Thanks so very much for having me on your blog, Leanne. 

(It's my pleasure, EC. Thank you so much for visiting.)

California Man is set on Salt Spring Island and is traditional romance--a little bit sweet, a little bit sexy.

In Room 33 is a romantic suspense and the book's story centres around the creepy and mysterious goings on in an old hotel (set in Seattle).