When I get together with other authors, horror stories abound. The word horror does not refer to their chosen genre but to their interaction with editors. That’s when I realize how incredibly fortunate I’ve been. The eagle-eyed, line-dancing Pat Van Wie edited my last three books written for Bell Bridge Books and . . . she’s made them shine! When I asked Pat to take part in a Q and A for Book Blather, she readily agreed. But first, here’s a bit about her background.
Pat Van Wie is a multi-published author, editor and creative writing teacher. With eleven published novels under her belt, she crossed to the other side of publishing and took a position as senior editor for Bell Bridge books to build their mystery and suspense list. Pat recently joined the indie author ranks by re-releasing her first hardcover suspense, Blind Run in e-book format and written under the pseudonym, Patricia Lewin She also teaches writing classes around the country and is currently teaching creative writing at Collin Community College in Frisco, Texas. Chat with Pat on her Facebook Page: https://www.facebook.com/patvanwie. Check out Blind Run here: http://amzn.com/B00LT8D60I
Welcome to Book Blather, Pat.
Tell us about your background. When did you first know you wanted to write?
I have an unusual background for a writer. My college degree is in Computer Science, and I worked for IBM as Computer Programmer for over twelve years. However, I’ve been writing since my freshman year in high school—I just didn’t have the courage early on to attempt to write for a living.
It was only after I’d been working for IBM for five years that the writing bug bit again. I went to a weekend writer’s conference, and that was it. I’ve been writing ever since.
You’ve been in the world of publishing for many years, first as an author, then as an editor. Which do you prefer?
I actually enjoy both roles. However, I’m first and foremost a writer. There is nothing quite as exciting as the creative process. That said, the reason editing works for me is that my favorite part of writing is story building. So, working as an editor allows me to do that, while another author gets to do all the nitty-gritty in-the-trenches work.
You’ve had books published with major companies. Tell us about your journey to publication and your first sale.
I started writing while still working at IBM—weekends, holidays, lunch hours. I also attended writer conferences, read every how to book I could put my hands on, and entered (lots and lots of) writing contests. About two years into this process, I started making the finals in the contests I entered, including the Golden Heart. The third time I finaled in the Golden Heart, Brenda Chin was one of the finalist judges. She ended up buying that book, Keeping Katie. It was, as you can imagine, a wonderful experience, and Brenda and I are still good friends.
The fun thing about my first sale was that I got the call from Harlequin while at a trade show for IBM. None of my techie colleagues really understood, and I couldn’t reach anyone at home to share the news. To say the least, I was in a really great (but frustrated) mood all weekend—probably sold a lot of the software product we were demoing. J
I speak from experience when I say you are an excellent editor. Where did you learn your editing skills?
I think the process of writing is a great foundation for editing. Plus, I was part of some terrific critique groups and have taught creative writing for years.
What is your favorite part of the editing process? Your least favorite part?
My favorite part of editing is working with authors to make their stories better. I love story building, so this is a natural fit for me.
My least favorite part is reading submissions. It just kills me to turn down books, especially when I see potential. I’m sure it’s because I understand how badly these writers want to become published. But the competition is tough and my time is limited, so I can only buy books that are ready for publication. It’s so hard, and it makes me slow on responses. I start reading something, see potential, think maybe I can help the author fix the problems, and then I file it to come back to it later. A bad habit, I know . . . but I really hate sending rejection letters.
You recently decided to re-issue one of your earlier books, Blind Run. What prompted that decision?
Well, like a lot of other long-time authors, I got back the rights to many of my books. It seems a waste to let them just sit on my computer, so why not re-issue them?
Do you have any upcoming projects?
Yes, I’m re-issuing Out of Reach, my second Ballantine book, soon. I’m just waiting for the cover.
Any advice for aspiring writers?
This is a hard one, mainly because there is no one answer that fits every author. All of us have different issues and challenges when it comes to writing and publishing.
So, I’m going to be very basic here. Learn the rules, grammar, punctuation, story structure—you can decide to ignore them later, but at least know them so when/if you break the rules, you’re doing it consciously. And the second very basic advice I’d give—which most writers already do—is to read, as much as you can, and in a variety of genres. It will make you a better writer.
What do you do for fun?
I line dance. I started about six of seven years ago, and have a whole group of friends who I dance with. We do events, both locally and traveling to other cities. We’ve even done a couple of line dance cruises. It’s great fun.