Award Winning Author Winnie Griggs





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Linda Broday


JULY 2010



WG:      Welcome and thanks for stepping into my spotlight this month. To start off, please tell us about yourself.

LB:      I was born and raised in a small town in New Mexico that's right on the Texas state line. My parents were so poor we lived in a tent. I loved school. English and history were my favorite subjects. My formal education ended when I graduated from high school, but my life education still continues and I'm constantly learning and growing. Keeps things from getting boring I guess. I buried two husbands along the way and had three children. Now I'm the proud grandma to four granddaughters and one grandson. Life is good! When I'm not writing I'm collecting old coins and scouring the countryside for unusual rocks that I also collect. Oh and spoiling my grandchildren!

WG:      Let's talk about your own personal road to publication:
Is there some individual, group or event that you can point to as the catalyst/impetus that set you on the road to becoming a writer? Explain.

LB:      I joined Romance Writers of America in 1993 and a local chapter called Red River Romance Writers. I don't think I'd be published today had I not joined these. I learned so much about how to write a good story and about the publishing world. If you're a serious writer and don't belong to a writing group, you definitely need to think about joining one. They're a tremendous help.

WG:      Tell us about your journey.

LB:      I think I was born with the writing bug. I was making up stories in my head before I even learned how to hold a pencil. I didn't attempt to write a full length novel though until 1983. It took me six years to write that first one. I submitted it to some publishing houses but only got rejections. Undaunted, I laid that one aside and wrote another. That one placed third in a writing contest. But it didn't catch an editor's eye either. My third book gained me an agent. Still, it failed to be published. I entered my fourth book in Dorchester Publishing's New Historical Voice Contest. I didn't win but they loved the story and offered me a contract. That put me on the road to my dreams. I've won the Texas Gold Award for each of my single titles and my second published book won the prestigious National Readers' Choice Award. I was thrilled beyond words.

WG:      How many books did you complete before you sold your first? Have all/any of them sold since?

LB:      I completed three before I sold and none of them have yet to be published. They were my practice books. Each one helped me learn more about the craft.

WG:      Can you tell us something about your experience in getting 'the call'?

LB:      I wasn't home when the editor at Dorchester called in March 2001 so she had to leave a message on the answering machine. Her voice was so soft I couldn't understand her last name. All I knew was Kate. But I wasted no time in calling her back. We talked and ironed out all the details. She asked me to send her my photo and a few other things. It was then I knew I had to bite the bullet and find out her name. So I asked. Again I couldn't understand her so I had to ask again. That time it sounded like Fever. When I asked if that was correct, she very patiently spelled it and it wasn't Fever. I was so embarrassed. I'm sure she thought I was a complete dork, a deaf dork to boot. LOL

WG:      How has being a published author impacted your life?

LB:      I've been astounded at the doors that opened up. I've always been very shy and had a difficult time in school when I had to get up in front of the class. I learned to give talks to groups and my self-confidence grew. Which is a good thing. Writing books isn't all there is to the job. An author has to know how to promote what she writes.

Another major impact is the friendships I've made with other writers. I'm thrilled beyond words to have someone like Jodi Thomas whom I've idolized from the first time I met her to ask me to write these anthologies with her and Phyliss and DeWanna. I still keep pinching myself.

WG:      What aspect of life as a published author surprised you the most - either in a good or bad way?

LB:      I think what surprised me the most was finding out how small the publishing world really is. There are only a handful of major houses.

WG:      What about your writing process:
Do you maintain a set schedule? Is there such a thing as a typical day for you?

LB:      I normally don't get settled down to writing until after lunch. Then I write until I drop or the words dry up. My mornings are spent having coffee and breakfast and taking care of email. And getting awake. I'm such a slug.

WG:      Do you set writing goals for yourself?

LB:      I try to write something every day, but I don't give myself any certain number of pages until I get close to my deadline.

WG:      Do you do a lot of up front plotting before you start or do you just dive in?

LB:      I have to know where my story's going before I begin writing. I'm not one to fly by the seat of my pants. I write a synopsis or do an outline then flesh out my characters. I usually don't know all I need to know about my H/H until I write some chapters, but at least I have enough to start.

WG:      Do you normally start with storyline or with character or with some combination of the two?

LB:      Usually a character grabs me first. Then the story fits around him/her.

WG:      Do you find certain themes or character archetypes making recurring appearances in your stories?

LB:      Oh gosh yes! The theme of the struggle to find a place to belong keeps popping up in every story, even when I'm not aware I'm doing it.

WG:      What do you see as your own personal strengths as a writer?

LB:      That I can become so emotionally invested in my characters. They become so real I feel I can reach out and touch them. I live and breathe my characters.

WG:      Are there any obstacles/conflicts, specific to your particular lifestyle, that get in the way of your writing? If so, how do you try and overcome them?

LB:      The main obstacle I face is having multiple sclerosis and trying to find the level of energy I need for writing. I've had to learn to adjust my routine to how I feel on any particular day. If my body refuses to cooperate, I take a breather and try not to get upset. Usually frequent breaks helps me get the pages written that I need. But if not, then I don't push it. I do what I can and leave the rest for another day.

WG:      Do you have a favorite sub-genre as a writer? as a reader?

LB:      Although western romance is my favorite, I love to read all kinds of genres from mysteries and thrillers to mainstream, paranormal and time travel.

WG:      Is there a genre you haven't been published in yet that you'd like to try your hand at someday?

LB:      I can't imagine writing anything but western romance. I'm enthralled with the old west, the cowboy who fights overwhelming odds and falls in love along the way.

WG:      Do you have any advice to offer writers still striving toward publication?

LB:      Never, ever give up. To succeed in this business you have to persevere. If you fall, you have to pick yourself up and try again.

WG:      Is there a specific 'ah-ha' moment you've had as a writer that you would like to share with us?

LB:      Passive voice. I had the hardest time learning what it is and ways to make passive into active. I was sitting in a writing workshop one day and the speaker explained it in a way that made total sense.

WG:      Rejections, notes from unhappy readers and less than stellar reviews are all part of this business. What is your own method for dealing with these and moving on?

LB:      I close them out of my mind and focus on the positives. To help me do that I write the name of the person on a piece of toilet paper and flush it down the toilet. Then I can forget and move on.

WG:      What do you find to be the most rewarding thing about being a writer? What aspect do you struggle with the most?

LB:      Hearing from readers who tell me how much they like my stories really makes all the lonely hours in front of the computer worth it. It's very rewarding and keeps me keeping on.

I struggle most with the business side of writing - getting my book in reviewers' hands, setting up booksignings, advertising, etc. It just doesn't come naturally to me.

WG:      When you're not writing, what do you do for fun or what is your favorite self-indulgence?

LB:      I love watching my four and six year old grandchildren playing t-ball. They're so funny. No matter how tired or down I am they always pick me up.

WG:      What would your readers be most surprised to learn about you?

LB:      That I'm a bootlegger's daughter. My father used to hide his brew in bottles in the coolness under the house. I remember playing with the bottles and lids.

WG:      What are your favorite movies and/or TV shows? Why?

LB:      I love good westerns, all of John Wayne's, Clint Eastwood's and Tom Selleck's. But other favorites are Blindside, Nights in Rodanthe, The Proposal, Music and Lyrics, Marley and Me, and Avatar.

I'm a Dancing With the Stars junkie! Other favorites are Criminal Minds, NCIS, Bones, Medium, and Castle.

WG:      I love to collect quotes, all kinds of quotes - inspirational, quirky, motivational, profound, etc. Do you have a personal favorite you'd like to share.

LB:      "Catch on fire and people will come from miles around to watch you burn." By John Wesley. People love anything that's perverse or sensational. And they'll go to any lengths to see it. I guess this explains why hangings were such popular occasions in the old west.

WG:      Please tell us about your current project.

LB:      The GIVE ME A TEXAS RANGER anthology released on July 1st and I'm really excited. It's about Texas Ranger Stoney Burke and his rocky path to love. When he has to rescue old flame Texanna Wilder, he struggles to remember all the reasons why he needs to keep her at arm's length. But forbidden memories at coming face to face with her again make it extremely difficult and he finds himself caught between his hardened heart and a duty to protect his best friend's lovely headstrong widow. Marriage would solve her problem, but is Stoney willing to go that far? After all, Texanna has stubborn ideas about what her husband could and couldn't do. Stoney would rather die than quit being a Texas Ranger. It's in his blood. Locked in a fight to keep her safe, Stoney comes to see that old grudges have no place in the future and that love can survive past secrets if only he gives it a chance.

WG:      What inspired you to write this particular story?

LB:      The Texas Rangers have such a long and storied place in Texas history. They played a crucial role in the settlement of the state and I wanted to write a story about a man who personifies the deep loyalty and honor those men have about their job.

WG:      What sort of research, if any, did you have to do? Did you stumble across any unexpected interesting/fun tidbits along the way?

LB:      The game of mumblety-peg that children played in the 1800's was a fun thing I ran across in my research. And even when I wrote it into the story I had no idea how crucial a part it would play in the ending.

WG:      Tell us about your upcoming plans.

LB:      Give Me an Outlaw releases July 2011 and we've recently been contracted for two more anthologies - a Christmas (releases Dec. 2011) and Valentine one (releases March 2012.)

WG:      And before we close, tell us how your readers can get in touch with you.

LB:      The best way is through my website

WG:      Thanks so much for spending time with me and my readers this month. It was fun 'chatting' with you, as always!

LB:      My pleasure, Winnie!