Award Winning Author Winnie Griggs





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Keri Ford


APRIL 2011


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

KF:      I was raised in South Arkansas on a farm surrounded by family, horses, cows, donkeys, ostriches, emus, chickens, ducks, Canadian Geese, and enough dogs one would think we were a pound... and then I bought a Cosmopolitan when I was twenty-two. I don't recall the fantastic sex tip that drew me to the magazine, but I vividly remember reading an excerpt of Christina's Skye's Code Name: Princess. One elevator scene and quick thought of, I didn't know people wrote stuff like this... and my life would never be the same.

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.

KF:      I can't think of any ONE thing. Most of my journey included stepping stones. I picked up bits from my first critique partner, first group I joined, second, ect ect ect. Definitely took a village to get me published!

WG:      Tell us about your journey.

KF:      My husband suggested I started writing books when one of the Harry Potter books had just released because she was selling around 13 copies a second. The first story I plotted was with an eye of selling and becoming super rich and famous J Five years later I finally made that first sale! I had attended the 2010 Lori Foster Reader Author GetTogether where I met Author Renee Vincent. That's where I found my small press, Turquoise Morning Press and the rest is history.

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

KF:      uhhh...hard question because I typically work on several at once. Maybe 6 ranging in different genres from suspense, mystery, and historical. I wasn't afraid to dabble! None of those previous works have sold and currently they are all hiding under my bed or pushed to the far back of the line for a few years.

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

KF:      It came so fast! I submitted my novella Through The Wall, around 2pm on Thursday. I had notice the next morning when I woke at 6am that she wanted it. Whirlwind was definitely my call story.

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

KF:      It hit me very hard inside. After so many years of trying and failing at so many different careers, it's been a fulfilling sense of accomplishment. A nod to myself that I'm in the right place and I finally found my lot in life.

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

KF:      Everyone outside the romance community has been so supportive. I know that sounds strange to say, but after everything I heard of other authors being looked down on, I was prepared to defend my writing honor! Thankfully every person I've talked with or who has discovered I write romance fiction has been so pleased and surprised and just thrilled by it.

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

KF:      Goodness no. I grab the keyboard when I can! I don't like structure and same thing day-in-day-out routines. So this works.

WG:      Do you set writing goals for yourself?

KF:      I try. I really do. My critique partner KJ Reed and I started monthly writing goals at the first of the year. We plotted out to the middle of the year in January. She's doing much better than I am on maintaining. I'm still on the overall track of things I need finished, but not down the day like I'd plotted.

WG:      Do you have a 'mood setter', something (music, ritual, environment, etc) you use to get you going when you sit down to write?

KF:      Other than wanting to get paid? *g* not really. It can depend on MY mood mostly. Sometimes I want music, sometimes I need pure silence. Sometimes I want something hot, other times I want just a cold drink. I know, I'm high maintenance and particular.

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

KF:      Dive in. Sometimes I know more than others. Sometimes I'm blind. Luckily on the Apple Trail series I told my publisher I could do six and she said okay without needing to know much more. On the next series that comes out in 2012, I emailed and said I wanted to do a series revolving around some brothers and she practically said okay, go for it and she scheduled me in. I doubt I always stay that lucky, so I'm working on figuring our more before beginning.

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

KF:      Are you going to scream if I say depends? It really does. Sometimes a set up comes to me and I run with it. Sometimes it's a character. I don't limit myself to needing my writing process one way or another. I just go with the flow and see what comes out. There is no right or wrong way, there is just telling a story your way.

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

KF:      Friends-to-Lovers. I had no idea I was such a fan of this troupe! I'm really trying to watch that now and bring in some variety. Also the six Apple Trail books are centered around losing inhibitions and the characters testing limits. I'm seeing that theme trying to bleed into my non-Apple Trail books, so I'm having to keep an eye on that.

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

KF:      Characters. They come very natural and easy to me. I don't get them perfect every time (thank goodness for critique partners!), but I find they're a definite strength. The more feedback I'm hearing from readers, the more confident I'm becoming in that area and starting to have more fun with them.

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?

KF:      Mainly one. He's 4. He's all boy. And he's full of energy. That would be my son. I've always kept him at home and this fall he started half days at preschool. I didn't realize how nice it was having him at school until spring break hit and he was back home with me. I have no idea what I'm going to do over summer.

WG:      Is there anything else you'd like to tell us about your process?

KF:      I like to do what's called fast drafting. I write a fast, sloppy messy first draft. The point is getting the bare bones of the story from beginning, middle, and end down on the page.

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

KF:      I love reading historical. I could read nothing but historical and be happy, I think. I love the Romanticized glamour of the whole sword fighting and riding horses. It's like Disney Princess movies...with a little hot spice for grown ups!

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

KF:      I love writing Regency era historicals. I haven't quite got the voice for it, but maybe one day in a few years I'll try it again and see what happens.

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

KF:      Whatever you do, don't give. *Listen* to what people are telling you about your writing and take it in. It doesn't mean you have to agree, but listen and be aware. See if the same comments are continually made about your writing.

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

KF:      Don't over think the mechanics of writing or telling a story when you're writing. This was a hard one for me and I think can trip up many authors. There may be "rules" out there, but that doesn't mean you have to follow them. The story you're writing is in your style and your style only. Let it flow and come out from you.

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?

KF:      It's all part of the business, no point muttering over them. I take it and move on.

WG:      Is there some piece of advice you received or bit of 'conventional wisdom' that you wish you had ignored?

KF:      Not blindly ignored, but I wish I hadn't taken "Follow the rules" so literally and strict.

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

KF:      It's very freeing and relaxed. I am basically my own boss. I can be inside or out. I can plot on paper or on the computer. Mornings or nights. There are no rules or guidelines I have to adhere to when I write. I can do my own thing.

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

KF:      Being outside. Going to the movies. Spending time with family.

WG:      When you were a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?

KF:      A flying unicorn. I figured if I could fly, I could see and do whatever I wanted and .... I don't really know why a unicorn. I guess if I was going to go all out with my dream, I was going to make it a good one. Needless to say, I never lacked for imagination.

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

KF:      I have a HUGE sweet tooth. I mean huge. I could live off candy from holiday to holiday through the year. This is part of what led to me needing to lose weight and why I started the #RomanceFitness hashtag on twitter that's so far helped me drop 2 dress sizes in 8weeks!

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

KF:      Movies: Ever After and The American President. Both have such great sweet chemistry and I love the story line behind them. For TV shows, we're big fans of Castle, Burn Notice, Royal Pains, Grey's Anatomy, NCIS, Pawn Stars.

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.

KF:      "Reach for the stars and you might land on the moon". This is my motto. I think big and broad all the time. I think if you think small and dream small....that's what you're going to get: small.

WG:      Please tell us about your current project.

KF:      I'm working on my Apple Trail books right now, finishing up edits for In The Hay (April 18, 2011). The heroine, Nicolette got a little away from me in this one. She was so ready to be set loose and enjoy life for the first time and she went WAY OUT there. I've had to turn her character down a bit and am still tweaking her out.

WG:      What inspired you to write this particular story?

KF:      Nicolette has a lot of me in her. I was her. I was the girl who couldn't find what she wanted when I grew up. I was 22, married, looking at getting pregnant and I still couldn't answer the elementary old questions, What do you want to be when you grow up? Lette is a good bit more on the extreme than I was, but she is one of my favorite heroines of the Apple Trail stories because she shares my history in this.

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

KF:      Not too much. Since these are novellas, I focus hard on the characters and their changes rather than external things. I don't want the reader to feel cheated on emotions and story in reading short just so they know the whippoorwills are out and singing in harmony with the toads and grasshoppers and why. =) For In The Hay I did asked a few questions about running a barbwire fence and actually knew that more than my husband did!

WG:      Tell us about your upcoming plans.

KF:      After the Apple Trail books (six in all), I do have something in the works. It's a spin off from Apple Trail 5 and features three brothers. I've passed the idea by my publisher and she's told me to go for and has me scheduled in for back-to-back releases in 2012. I don't really have enough info on the stories to share more.

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

KF:      My website is the quickest way! all my links to twitter, facebook, email and anything else I get involved in will be there and updated!

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

KF:      Thanks so much for having me, Winnie!!!