My Writing Life – J.E. Taylor
I started writing stories when I was in middle school (7th and 8th) grade. My first short story was entitled Good-bye Doesn’t Mean Forever and I received an A+ on it in my writing class. That story has morphed over the years from a pre-teen story to an adult romance titled Miami Heat.
I wrote poetry and short stories through my college years and started my first novel back in college under the title Mirror Lake. When I got married, my husband balked at the time I was putting into writing – well new marriage and all, I decided to put my writing away for a bit. Then I had a family and a full time career in corporate America and we all know how that goes.
It wasn’t until I was whining about work that my daughter asked if I could do anything, what would it be? The answer was easy. Finish writing the book I put on ice for twenty years and publish it.
Mirror Lake became Dark Reckoning and it was originally published in 2010 by Fido Publishers.
Since then, I haven’t looked back.
What’s your favourite book? What was your favourite book as a child? The Stand by Steven King is my all-time favorite. As a kid, I read the entire Edgar Rice Burrough’s Tarzan Series and loved it.
It’s a walk into the darkest corners of my imagination where my nightmares fester until something living and breathing escapes onto the screen of my laptop.
What is the best piece of advice you’ve ever received as a writer?
A good editor is priceless.
And if you decide the traditional publishing route is your thing, know what a query letter should contain. It’s not a dissertation on your life or your assertion that the story is the best thing since sliced bread, it’s a teaser of the book. Think movie trailer or book descriptions on the back or inside sleeve of a hard cover. Just enough so that agent or publisher HAS to know more.
Where do you usually write?
In a comfy oversized chair in my family room. There’s a picture of it on my website.
Do you believe in Writer’s Block?
No. I believe in taking the time to work out plot snares when you’ve backed yourself into a corner – but writer’s block – no. You can always write a short ditty while you’re turning over what needs to be done to get unstuck. Or you can step away and read something to clear the mind.
Give us an example of some of the research you’ve done for your books:
The main character in Dark Reckoning is an FBI agent and yet when I started writing the book, I had never handled, never mind shot, a fire arm. I happened to mention this to a few co-workers and lo and behold, one of them owned several different types of guns and offered to take me shooting. You bet I jumped on that and we went out to a range and I got to shoot a .22 caliber – which I hit the target consistently – not always in the center – but I did get one or two there, a .40 caliber – disaster – I’m not sure I hit the hay bale the target hung on with this one and a 9mm – not great but not a total miss like the .40 caliber.
It gave me a clear picture of how much talent is involved in being an expert marksman and a clue of how difficult it would be to hit a moving target.
Other interesting research items revolve around forensics, arterial spurts, bleed out timing, explosives, drugs…
All things a suspense/thriller and horror writer should know. I’m sure my Google searches have me on some kind of watch list.
If there was one writer (alive or deceased) that you would love to meet, who would it be?
The author of my favorite book – Stephen King. I’d be willing to buy him dinner in any Maine shoreline restaurant just for the chance to pick his brain while enjoying the rugged scenery and of course, a Maine Lobster.
What’s your favourite literary genre? Any guilty pleasures?
Horror, thriller, suspense, even good erotica – yes, there’s a theme. Anything that gets the blood pumping. 🙂
Are there any self-publishing tricks of the trade you’d like to share? What rules of craft or promotion do you live by?
In order to understand how to create powerful prose, I chose to invest in a series of Margie Lawson classes: Deep Editing, Empowering Characters Emotions and Writing Physical Cues like a Psychologist. These helped me understand my weaknesses as well as what the early rejections I got meant by “Getting into a character’s head”.
Writing should be three dimensional – and use all the senses. My early drafts were visual – like watching a movie with no sound or depth. So the investment in my craft took it to the next level and after revising the hell out of the manuscripts and short stories I had, I started getting bites and eventually that first publishing contract.
And I can’t say this enough – GET A COPY EDITOR to run through the manuscript before you hit publish. Not your best friend who has a minor in English or someone who likes to read a lot – get someone who understands the rules of grammar and the nuances of when it’s okay to break the rules and when its not.
No matter how good your story is, if the grammar or punctuation make it impossible to read, you won’t get far.
You can also find Taylor:
On facebook: https://www.facebook.com/JETaylor
On Twitter: https://twitter.com/JETaylor75
On her website: http://www.jetaylor75.com/