Violet Howe talks to us about her writing career and how feeling strongly about her story and characters led her to indie publishing. Violet discusses how writing two different series in the same town allows her to explore two genres. Violet also talks to us about how her past work experiences have influenced her writing but also how they have helped with other aspects of her writing business.
Journey to Self-Publishing
Violet Howe writes romantic suspense, romantic comedies, and mystery. She was previously a middle school teacher and a wedding planner, making writing her third career. With wedding planning and teaching, both careers required learning as you go and managing many tasks at once, which mirrors indie publishing. Violet witnessed deeply personal experiences in her previous positions, which later inspired her creative writing.
In 2015, she had intended to go through traditional publishing with her first novel, but the publishers wanted to make significant changes to her story. Violet had gone to RWA, which focuses on indie publishing, and the experience made her understand that “it wasn’t an outlier path, that it was actually a valid path to publishing and it was something that was doable.” She liked the idea of having control over her books and the increase in royalties associated with publishing her own content.
An Ongoing Education
Early on in her writing career, Violet connected with as many indie author networks as she could. She followed self-publishing newsletters, and she learned about the self-publishing industry through her connections. Violet considers indie publishing as “an ongoing education”. Violet has a team of beta readers, and if she gets similar feedback from them, she seriously examines whether this element should be changed. With indie publishing, you need a solid team in order to produce a book of the same quality compared to if it was traditionally published.
The weddings featured in Violet’s Tales Behind the Veils Series have elements taken from real weddings she has planned, and some characters are influenced by people she knows and has worked with. There are so many interesting points of view and personalities at a wedding; from the bride, to the groom, their parents, the wedding party, and guests. Prior to one wedding Violet planned, the bride’s parents separated, and the father brought his new girlfriend to the wedding. Violet had to organize separate buffets and seating, and the intoxicated mother ended up confronting the girlfriend. Evidently, the personal and dramatic elements of wedding planning have given Violet a lot to write about!
The Writing Process
Violet writes 2-3 chapters each day, and the following day she goes back to revise what she wrote, and the process repeats. She is a panster rather than a plotter, although sometimes she writes important future scenes and works back from them. Violet tried writing an entire novel before switching to the revision stage, but this didn’t suit her process. She writes long novels and is a slow writer, but she is comfortable with her write-revise-repeat process.
Violet’s experience teaching English contributes to her desire to revise as she writes. Violet comes from generations of English teachers, so paying attention to language was programmed in her mind. It takes her longer to write mysteries, as she places her mind in the reader in terms of leaving breadcrumbs and making sure they can follow the subtle elements leading to the conclusion. From the beginning, Violet knows who committed the crime and how the heroine will solve it, but what takes time is writing the other paths that the reader must go down to distract them from the culprit.
Cedar Creek Crossover
Violet’s romance series, Cedar Creek Families, takes place in the same universe as her mystery novels, Cedar Creek Series. Cedar Creek is a fictional small town in Florida in which the two series take place. Cedar Creek is based on a real town, but Violet wanted her own freedom to create the setting. By writing within the same town, there are character crossovers between the two series and everyone knows each other.
“The readers and I are existing in this world together with the characters.”
Violet has a timeline of events that occurs in her separate series and completes interview worksheets on her characters to get to know them. The questions may have nothing to do with the plot of a story, but it helps her flesh out the figures that appear in multiple books. She has a core readership that reads between both the romance and mystery series, who enjoy having the choice between two genres featuring the same town. There are also readers who stick to one genre over another. She is currently focusing on splitting up her newsletter to cater to these different groups of readers, based on feedback she has received from them.
On Reading as an Author
Violet reads a bit of everything, as long as the characters and story are engaging. She is a huge fan of Colleen Hoover and met her at a signing. Violet likes anything that is quirky and goes against the grain, such as The Perks of Being a Wallflower being in letter form. The historical fantasy romance series, Outlander, is one of Violet’s favorites. She is not a fan of typical and predictable contemporary romance. She also likes some romantic comedy and chick lit as an escape, as well as dark mysteries like Sharp Objects and Gone Girl.
The Business Side
We asked Violet if she would have done anything differently in her indie publishing career. Violet likes the idea of rapid release series, and wishes she had known about it while writing the Tales Behind the Veils books. Attending events has helped Violet establish a huge network of industry connections, author friends, and resources to draw on. These engagements have also increased her readership. On the other hand, attending so many events was expensive and it presented difficulties in terms of scheduling writing time. Reflecting on these experiences, if she could go back, Violet thinks she would take some of this budget and put it toward marketing and promotion. On the whole, she has no regrets, since she was able to develop her industry connections so effectively.
Violet’s advice to other authors: get a solid indie publishing team around you, especially a great editor!
Up Next for Violet Howe
Violet is currently working on the next Cedar Creek mystery novel, featuring the crime-solving duo Sloan and Tristan. To keep up with Violet, visit her website violethowe.com and check out her An Open Dialogue podcast with author Tawdra Kandle!
Before dedicating myself to writing full-time, I spent fifteen years immersed in wedding planning and five years teaching in a middle-school classroom–both of which gave me countless stories and experiences to draw from for writing inspiration! I am happily married to a man I consider My Knight in Shining Armor, and I am a mother to a teenage son whose intelligence, wit, and finesse with sarcasm amazes me daily. We share our home (and live in servitude for) our three insanely spoiled dogs. I absolutely love to travel, and planning a trip is almost as much fun for me as actually going. I am a fanatic about all things movies–quotes, trailers, awards shows, midnight premieres, marathons, trivia, the smell of popcorn. If it’s movie-related, I’m in. I’m a drama queen. A hopeless romantic. Chronically late despite my best intentions. Moderately disorganized. I’m passionate and loyal. I love to laugh and I cry at pretty much anything remotely sappy. I love stories with happy endings, and I believe we can change the world if we try.
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