Writing has been Velda Brotherton’s passion for more than 25 years. She was born in Arkansas and has lived many places, including Kansas, Colorado, Missouri and New York. Velda and her husband now live in Arkansas in a home she designed and helped build. It sits on ten acres and to the north is the Ozark National Forest. They have two children, three grandchildren and a great-grandchild.
Velda has been published in historical romance, regional non-fiction, articles in newspapers and magazines, short stories in anthologies and non-fiction in anthologies. Her book, Fly With the Mourning Dove was a Willa Award Finalist, and she was recently honored as Distinguished Citizen of 2010 by the Washington County Historical Society. Her latest books are The Boston Mountains – Lost in the Ozarks and Arkansas Meals and Memories.
She is a member of several writers’ organizations, including Women Writing the West, Ozarks Writers League, Northwest Arkansas Writers and Oklahoma Writers Federation.
Velda has been a writing mentor to hundreds of writers, sharing her knowledge of writing, marketing, blogging, publishing, and anything “writerly.”
I hope you’ll learn something new about Velda from the following interview:
Q. You’ve written several fiction (Images in Scarlet,) and non-fiction books (Fly With the Mourning Dove, Arkansas Meals and Memories, The Boston Mountains: Lost in the Ozarks.) Do you prefer writing fiction or non-fiction?
A. I am totally into writing fiction. It carries me away into the world I’m creating and it’s fun. However, writing and recording our history in nonfiction form is so enjoyable I have to continue doing it. I’m fascinated by the lives that went before us and the paths that were taken to make us who we are. So I guess I have to say I prefer writing period. Rather than say mowing grass, cleaning house, knitting, or the like.
Q. Do you have a single favorite book that you’ve written, and if so, why?
A. I can’t say I do. In the fiction books, I think the best one was Images In Scarlet, but I enjoyed writing them all and still enjoy remembering the stories. I think the Boston Mountain book is my best achievement in nonfiction. It’s the culmination of 20 years work and I’m very proud of it.
Q. I still remember the thrill of being notified of my first publication. In your career, you’ve been a Willa Finalist for Fly With the Mourning Dove, and you were recently designated as a Washington County Historical Society Distinguished Citizen. What has been your biggest thrill as a writer?
A. You know what? I so appreciate and am honored by the awards I’ve won, but my biggest thrill still today is being with other writers and sharing their expertise. So many wonderful writers have passed through my life, many I may never see again. But I’ll never forget a single one of them.
Q. Can you describe your typical writer’s day?
A. It begins after our mid-day meal. I’m not a morning person and can only manage things like cleaning or staring out the window at the valley below before noon. My brain kicks in after we eat and I’m in my office from 1 til 3 when hubby insists I get up a while and take a break. We chat for 15 minutes or so, then I’m back to work till anywhere from 4:30 to 6, depending on what I need to work on. I have a weekly schedule that I try to stick to except during emergencies. On Mondays I’m on the Internet promoting: Facebook, Twitter, website and other sites that need work; Tuesdays I work on articles on deadline for newspapers; Wednesday through Saturday I work on my WIP, which is usually works in progress because I often have a short story, a novel, and a nonfiction book underway at the same time. On Sunday that’s my day and I play. I don’t even like to take phone calls to do with the business of writing.
Q. For the last few decades, you have mentored hundreds of writers. I know I have learned so much from your classes, as well as our weekly critique group. With the wealth of information you’ve shared with writers, this may be a tough question, but can you summarize what you believe to be the most important thing a writer should know?
A. The craft of writing is important, of course, and polishing your work until it shines. That done, I believe once a writer has created her best work, the most important thing is perseverance. So many get a few rejections (100 or more) and they give up. I’ve seen writers give up when their first book doesn’t sell, and what a shame. Because it could be the third or tenth book that will be the one that sells.
Q. You’ve become very skilled in how to market your books. What do you think has been your most successful marketing technique?
A. I’m still trying to keep up with marketing online and have a lot to learn, but I’m working on it. I think personal contact with groups and word of mouth will ultimately sell more books for writers, but this is a difficult thing to achieve. I like marketing in small towns through libraries and independent bookstores because in most cases these people don’t have large book stores and welcome getting together with writers. Networking online gets the word out to more people, but when I’m marketing regional books it’s more important to remain within the area of highest interest in my product, so I concentrate on those places included in the book. It’s all a crap shoot, though. We do all we can to promote and market, and some things that work for me probably won’t work for others. Everyone needs to find their best promotional tools and stick with them. I’m going to speak on promotion and marketing of regional books at OWFI in May of 2011 and will do a lot of research this winter to find all the best ways.
Q. Can you tell us about some of your upcoming projects?
A. Yes, I’m really excited about trying to break into Ebooks, but I’m still working on selling a women’s fiction to a New York House. I don’t think print books will be killed by Ebooks, but I think they will exist side by side, equally. I’m also working on a biography for Old American Publishing and I have a memoir that I write on when the mood strikes me, or I recall a vivid story I want to include. I also have a new women’s fiction underway about a woman whose past tragedy is recreated in the life of her granddaughter. She must choose between the ghost of her lost lover and this girl she raised.
Q. If you could “pick the brain” of any writer (or anyone) living or dead, who would it be and why?
A. Most writers would choose someone well known, someone who has created classics, but I’ve always been fascinated by Ayn Rand’s beliefs. They were so “out there” for the times and she was such a strong woman who had survived dreadful experiences. I think she’d be one of my top choices, though there might be others. I’ll stick to writers here, since there are many great people who have literally changed the world and who would be fascinating to spend time with. I’d like to know what makes writers like James Lee Burke tick. How he can see and present the world with such exquisite precision is entrancing. I’d like to ask him how he does it, but I’d bet he couldn’t tell me.
If you’d like to learn more about Velda, her at the following sites:
Leave a comment for a chance to win Velda’s book, Fly With the Mourning Dove. Drawing will be held on Monday, November 15. Watch for winner notification on Facebook and on this blog. Good luck!