Welcome to the thirty-fourth of my blog interviews with novelists, poets, directors, bloggers, autobiographers and more. Today’s is with historical novelist / poet Terry L White. If you like what you read, please do go and investigate the author further. A list of interviewees (blogged and scheduled) can be found here.
Morgen: Hi Terry. Please tell us something about yourself and how you came to be a writer.
Terry: I always loved reading, especially stories where women triumph in other times. Some of those early reads helped me to understand that I too had stories to tell and gave me the incentive to go ahead and try. Here I am 18 books later with three more in production. Who could ask for anything more?
Morgen: Absolutely. Most advice I’ve had within these blog interviews is to read (especially Stephen King’s ‘On Writing’). What genre do you generally write and have you considered other genres?
Terry: I have written mostly historical novels, with one how-to and a couple of volumes of poetry and short story collections. There was one suspense/mystery novel that I wrote on a dare. I hear it was pretty good, but I didn’t feel called to work in that direction. I love to read horror such as the books Robert McCammon and Stephen King write, and have written some short stories in that vein, but I am not sure I could sustain the genre for an entire book.
Morgen: What have you had published to-date? How much of the marketing do you do?
Terry: Wow. I have published a lot: A three-volume (The Last Priestess, Nazca Star, Bride of the Condor) story about a priestess who serves in the temple of the Moon Goddess in pre-Colombian Peru; two volumes of short stories (Crazy Quilt and Random Apples), a couple of books of poetry (Runaway Hearts, Myth to Me), a novel of reincarnation (Ancient Memories), a five-soon-to-be-six volume set of novels based on the history of the Eastern Shore of Maryland that follows the stories of a family of women who live on the same plantation at some point during their lives… a how-to for event planning. There is a contemporary novel called Drama Queen Rules that makes me feel very hopeful about the future. I could go on….
Morgen: Please do. 🙂 Have you won or been shortlisted in any competitions and do you think they help with a writer’s success?
Terry: The Bride of the Condor series was nominated for an Eppie under the name of The Last Priestess and a couple of my short stories received editor’s choice awards. Did they help? They helped keep me on task and taught me not to doubt my powers and call to be a writer.
Morgen: Absolutely. There’s nothing quite like an ‘expert’ confirming your ability to spur you on. Do you have an agent? Do you think they’re vital to an author’s success?
Terry: I have had agents without success. I think the right agent at the right time might be helpful, but publishing has changed so much and there are so many writers out there, a genie might be more useful!
Morgen: I’m hearing this a lot although no-one’s mentioned a genie before. 🙂 Are your books available as eBooks? If so what was your experience of that process? And do you read eBooks?
Terry: Yes, my books are also e-books. My publisher posts e-book files when she lists print copies on Amazon and other sites, so I don’t find it significantly alters the experience of being published. I spend so much time at the computer, I really prefer reading a real book. Don’t have a Kindle yet – still a starving artist!
Morgen: Starving after 18 books… oh dear. What was your first acceptance and is being accepted still a thrill?
Terry: Gosh. The first story? That was Harvest Dance published in American Squaredance, a publication that did not print fiction, but they must have felt the story was pretty authentic! (I had worked in a square dance band as a bass player for years.) They paid me $125 for that story back in early 80s! That was a fortune back then. Connie Foster was the first publisher to “buy” a book. She was a pioneer in the e-book field with http://www.ebooksonthe.net and she accepted several of my books right off the bat. I didn’t know what to think. No one had heard of e-books at that time. She published nine of my books that first year! Connie sold her company to Arline Chase of during her final illness. (Mrs. Chase publishes pretty much anything I send her way – which doesn’t say I don’t try to make each story better than the last!) I am most thrilled when I hold a new volume in my hands, sit down, turn the pages and read. Then I sometimes wonder where the story came from.
Morgen: That’s the mystical side of writing that thrills me. Have you had any rejections? If so, how do you deal with them?
Terry: Oh Boy! I received and burned a three-inch stack of rejection letters when a friend had a summer bonfire a few years back. I believe that NO does not mean that my work is bad – it just doesn’t fit someone’s list for one reason or another.
Morgen: Absolutely I’ve heard a top short story writer has destroyed hers but I prefer to see how far I’ve come. What are you working on at the moment / next?
Terry: Whew. I am working on the sixth in my Chesapeake Heritage Series. I pretty much followed a timeline with this series: Chesapeake Harvest is the story of Mary Charles, who comes to the colony as an indentured servant. Chesapeake Legacy is the story of Heron, a half-breed woman who is driven from the settlement when it became illegal for native persons to live in Eastern Shore towns. Chesapeake Destiny is Jane’s story. Set in the Revolutionary War period, it spotlights domestic abuse and the area’s history as the breadbasket of the war. Chesapeake Visions tells the story of Jewel, a blind woman who must learn to live without slaves after the Civil War. Vienna Pride tells the tale of Mary, a cannery girl who finds herself in a stalker’s scope during the troubling times of WW1. First Waltz is the story of Susie, who meets an Army private from upstate New York who is guarding German prisoners of war during WW2. I am also working on a pictorial history of the area with a well-known local historian and my third volume of poetry.
Morgen: I think I need a lie down. 🙂 Do you manage to write every day? What’s the most you’ve written in a day?
Terry: I try, however the best laid plans oft gang awry… But it doesn’t matter how much one writes in a day. It could be just one sentence, if it is the right sentence. (I think Hemmingway or maybe Faulkner said that…)
Morgen: I’m not sure. Probably Hemingway but I’ve had a quick look online and couldn’t find anything. What is your opinion of writer’s block? Do you ever suffer from it? If so, how do you ‘cure’ it?
Terry: A writer’s block means something else is going wrong in my life and when I figure that out, the block usually goes away. I spent several years as a newspaper reporter (and photographer!) at a small town daily and I figured out pretty quickly that if deadline is 9 a.m. you better be at your desk at 6 a.m. if you want to tell the stories that need to be told that day because if you don’t, the afternoon paper from the town down the road will scoop the news and your editor will have a fit. If you can write for a deadline, how can you give much credence to a writer’s block?
Morgen: There is that. Do you plot your stories or do you just get an idea and run with it?
Terry: For me, a story ready to be told takes on a life of its own. I just sit down and take dictation.
Morgen: Me too, although I can’t remember the last time I used my dictation machine. Do you have pieces of work that you think will never see light of day?
Terry: For sure. Some of them were lost on the journey. Others have been re-written. Some hit the circular file.
Morgen: We call it the ‘round file’ in the UK. What’s your favourite / least favourite aspect of your writing life?
Terry: Marketing is hard for me. I wish I were better at it. It doesn’t seem to be the task I was called to do.
Morgen: Me neither but I think writers these days need to be resigned to marketing being part of their life. What advice would you give aspiring writers?
Terry: First, there are no free rides. If you want to write, learn the rules and use them well – unless breaking them will make the story better. Buy a good grammar guide and commit it to memory. Write every day. Produce clean manuscripts. Your publisher is not going to fix anything, so your mistakes remain your mistakes. Don’t quit your day job.
Morgen: Does that mean that you haven’t? Wow. And what do you like to read?
Terry: I love Stephen King, John Saul, Robert McCammon, Ken Follett, Rutherford: people who write really quirky or deeply historical stuff. I try not to read the same sort of book I am writing so I don’t accidently pick up anything that doesn’t belong to me! I read Gone With The Wind over and over, and all the novels my folks brought into the house during the 50s and 60s.
Morgen: I’ve not even yet watched the film. It’s being shown at my local pub soon but it’s on a Monday when I have my writing group. Are there any writing-related websites and/or books that you find useful and would recommend?
Terry: I found the most encouragement at the International Women’s Writing Guild conferences. You can learn more about this fantastic organization and all it offers at: http://www.iwwg.org/get-involved.
Morgen: Ooh that’s new to me, thanks. Are you on any forums or networking sites? If so, how invaluable do you find them?
Terry: I am on Facebook and it picks up my blogs. Most comments come from people I already know, but my books are online via a number of vendors so I don’t always know if someone has purchased them.
Morgen: Where can we find out about you and your work?
Terry: There are many editions on my blog at: www.terrylwhitesblog.blogspot.com. I also have a presence at Amazon.com, etc. I try to post wherever there is an opportunity. Look for my work at www.ebooksonthe.net, Cambridge Books, Barnes and Noble, www.ereader.com, www.writewordsinc.com, Mobipocket, www.filedby.com, http://www.ask.com/web?q=Terry+L%2e+White&o=15116&l=dis&qsrc=2871, http://www.midshorelife.com/article/meet-local-author-terry-l-white , http://www.authorsden.com/visit/author.asp?id=119738
Morgen: My goodness, I feel tired just looking at all your achievements. This is probably a silly question on reflection but how do you feel about being a writer?
Terry: I always wanted to write and spent years learning the craft. When I started, a lot of people thought I was crazy, and perhaps I was, but I loved writing and deep in my heart I knew it was what I was supposed to do with my life – no matter who said I was going to starve to death. More than 40 years later, I am still at it, and can’t imagine life without my work. I would encourage others to find their calling, it will make the world a happier place.
Morgen: Absolutely. I used to temp and would work with staff who used to complain about their jobs but do nothing about it but I’ve been in that position since then it’s easier said than done. Thank you so much Terry.
Author Terry L. White, was raised in the Appalachian Mountains in Pennsylvania. The eldest of eight children, she dreamed of being a writer and made up stories to amuse herself and her siblings. Of European and Native American descent, she grew up with the family legends of being Abraham Lincoln’s relative; of ancestors arriving in the New World as indentured servants, and of abandoned coal mines that burned forever underground on the mountain overlooking her childhood home. Terry’s fascination with history, folk art and ways, and New Age philosophy provide her with much of the material she incorporates in her work. She has published hundreds of short stories, articles, poems and songs and more than a dozen novels.
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