Amey Zeigler is a fellow romantic suspense writer who is also published by Wild Rose Press. In my interview with her, she talks about the struggles she faced becoming a published author and the most important thing she’s learned about writing. But let’s hear her tell it in her own words.
Is there an event in your life that affected you as a writer?
When I had been seriously writing for about two years, my husband asked me what kind of writer I wanted to be. I didn’t know if I wanted to be a literary writer posing deep thoughts in obscure prose or weave tales of adventure and escapism in popular fiction, but I needed to find my raison d’être.
One dark January day, while I was in the throes of post-partem depression after the birth of my middle child, I picked up a book at the library. It was the third book in a YA series. Though I had read the first book and not the second in the series, I started reading it. It had action. It had adventure. A dash of comedy, and most importantly, romance.
Somehow, that combination burst through the fog of depression and hit that sweet spot in my brain that made me happy. It healed me. Or at least part of me. And I knew then and there that I wanted to write books that surprised, delighted and entertained readers. My books must have a combination of action, adventure, and romance. And I want to make people laugh.
What do I do when I’m not writing?
I have a 14-year-old daughter and two sons ages 11 and 7. So there is that. I won’t be quitting my day job of being a mom anytime soon and hopefully I’ll graduate to being a grandma someday—that sounds like way more fun! But my family is where I draw my strength and humor. Kids keep you humble, you know. They point out your faults and pick their noses in public just to embarrass you. It’s great that they keep me grounded in real life because most of the time, like when I’m folding laundry or mopping the floor, my head is in the clouds.
What has been the toughest criticism given to you as an author? What has been the best compliment?
In my case, the two go hand in hand. I studied theatre since I was ten years old, and I thought that my dialogue was pretty sweet. My husband asked me once what one of my talents was, and I was like, uh, flirting. But that was not very helpful once we married. However, I discovered that I could allow my characters to flirt so I wouldn’t have to waste such a great talent. I wrote Baker’s Dozen with all sorts of flirting and fun back and forth banter, and chemistry. And that’s what most people comment on, is that they like my protags’ chemistry.
But… I sent my manuscript to an agent who requested a full, and I was so excited because it was someone I really admired. When she wrote back, she said my dialogue was flat. OUCH! That hurt. And it was a wakeup call. My best skill was flat! I was depressed for two weeks. I couldn’t even look at my work, didn’t even open my computer.
After those two weeks, I found a book on dialogue, learned from it and refocused my scenes. I still have lots of fun chemistry, but now the flirting drops clues and actually drives the relationship and the story forward, which is what was missing before.
Have you written a book you love that you have not been able to get published?
My second completed novel is so close to my heart, I want it to have the perfect home and in the right hands before I publish it. It was inspired by the year and a half I lived in Europe, focusing on the three months I lived in Vevey, Switzerland in my twenties.
Living in a foreign country was difficult and strange for me, even one as beautiful and modern as Switzerland. Some of the cultural misunderstandings and odd situations I encountered made it into my book. Like, I may or may not have hauled a recliner up four flights of stairs and scrounged junk from piles on the side of the road. Some of the funnier true stories I cut, like the time I was down in the basement looking for the light switch, and I accidentally hit the fire alarm instead.
What am I currently working on? Any new projects?
I am always working on projects! I’m currently sending out the Swiss story I mentioned above for publication. I’m also finishing the first draft to the second Baker’s Dozen book as well as a sweet romance about a casserole dish that helps heal a neighborhood. I am also researching a series set in Monte Carlo and finishing a few other projects I’m excited about: a YA paranormal romance and two other sweet romances set at the University of Arizona.
Is there a writing tip that helped me get published?
I knew I was close to publication when I was getting full manuscript requests. I think one of the things that really helped push me over the edge to achieving publication was joining a professional writing association like RWA and going to a conference. I didn’t need to meet an editor or agent face to face in a pitch session to get published. What I learned in the conference was little things I picked up as I talked to other published authors. Networking, making friends, learning the ropes of a path they had already trod really helped me take it to the next level.
Advice to aspiring writers:
The most important thing I read when I first started writing seriously gave me encouragement in the long, tedious years leading up to publication. I wish I could remember which book it was so I could properly credit the writer, but since I can’t, I’m going to share the little secret with you distilled into one line: persistence is the key to publication.
To get published, all you have to do is write every day and not quit. She gave some ballpark figures like your one millionth word will get published, or if you write for ten years you’ll get published. And here is why. You can learn skill that will match talent. A million words or ten years may sound like a lot, but to me, it gave me incredible hope. I always wanted to be a writer and had some talent.
But novelists make writing look easy, like the words just flowed from the proverbial pen. The revelation that it takes skill and hard work and patience and practice not just talent, seemed achievable to me rather than just hoping that I had enough talent. To the novices: keep writing. Learn the craft and practice skill. Write some more. Write what you love. Write what makes you race to your keyboard every day. And someday someone will read your words and think they just flowed like magic from your fingertips.
Twenty-three-year-old investigative journalist, Andy Miller is armed with her many disguises and creativity to take down the riffraff of Saint Louis. When her stepbrother is murdered by the mob, Andy soon discovers she’s out of her depth.
Enter Hugh Donaldson who has reasons of his own for discovering the murderer. He’ll use everything in his power to achieve that, including lying to Andy about his past. Dangerous as he is attractive, his martial arts skills and his quirky ways raise Andy’s suspicions.
Although Andy balks at his lies, Hugh’s charms, twenty-inch biceps, and electrifying blue eyes are difficult to resist. Striking out on their own, Hugh and Andy try to outwit each other as they traverse North America tracking down people connected to the case.
As clues disappear and the body count climbs, Andy and Hugh must trust each other and use their combined skills to bring the murderer to justice.