Author Spotlight: Vivi Holt and Rita Stradling

Vivi Holt

Of Peaks and Prairies by Vivi Holt

 

1. What inspired you to write “Of Peaks and Prairies”?
This book was inspired by the life of Nelson Story. An epic cattle drive is central to the book, and some of the things that happen along the way, are based on Nelson Story’s experience. He’s famous for driving about 1000 longhorns from Texas to Montana — the first major cattle drive of its kind. He hit it big in the Montana gold fields, then used the gold to buy cattle. So, my book is inspired by real life events — I find that real life stories of people from the past are often even more exciting and interesting than anything our imaginations can come up with. Of course, Nelson’s experience is only the inspiration behind the book, the rest of the story is fictional.

2. How many hours a day do you write?
I try to write every day, but mostly after the kids are in bed. I have three small children, so my days are pretty busy. I usually grab a few minutes here and there to do admin, marketing and so on. Then, after the kids go to bed at night, and I’ve cleaned up and the house is quiet and still, that’s when I write. I’m usually exhausted by then, but I make myself sit for a couple of hours and write. Thankfully, my husband is studying at the moment, so he does that at night too. We’re such an exciting couple, sitting side by side, studying and writing! And then on Fridays, it’s my husband’s day off work, so he takes care of the kids, and I write all day long. I get really excited about Fridays – I just love it.

3. What do you do when you have writer’s block?
To me, writer’s block usually manifests as boredom with my story. If I feel bored, and like I don’t want to write the next section, I’ve learned to trust that instinct — it usually means I have to make a change to the story. If I’m bored writing it, no doubt readers will be bored reading it! Also, I find that I’m very motivated by pressure — so if I have a looming deadline, then I’ll get the book written whether I’m feeling inspired or not. One of the best antidotes to writer’s block is having a deadline to stick to, and just writing even if you don’t feel like it.

4. What is your writing process?
I love history, so in between books I tend to read primary accounts of people’s lives during the time period I write in. I really enjoy learning about how they lived, what they thought about, the clothing they wore, the food they ate, those kinds of things. I also find that reading good books by other authors helps to fill up my creativity tank. So, that’s how the process starts. Then, I outline a story and percolate on it for a few days. Finally, I write the first draft — I try to do about 3,000 words per day when I’m writing, but that doesn’t always happen. I usually only read back through the story once before I send it to the editor unless I’m not entirely comfortable with it — then I’ll get some beta readers to give me feedback on it. Once I’m happy with it, I send it to my editor. He returns it to me after about two weeks, I read it again once or twice, and make any necessary changes. And then I publish. It’s a pretty fast process most of the time. Though I had to rewrite half of one of my books this year, because I got a bit carried away with the excitement of an adventure in the book, and didn’t include enough romance and my editor, quite rightly, pointed out that it was supposed to be a romance, which means the central theme should be a love story. So, I had to change that. But that was unusual for me — I generally don’t change the first draft very much.

5. Why should I read “Book”?
Of Peaks and Prairies is my favorite of all my books so far. It’s a sweeping adventure and heartwarming romance that takes the characters on a cattle drive from Texas to Montana Territory. Since a lot of the action in the book was inspired by actual events at the time, I really love reading back over it. The audio book for it was finished just recently, and I got to listen to it (in Cody Roberts’ sexy voice – I could listen to him all day long), and that was so much fun. The story really came to life in audio. Another reason I love the book is that of the two main characters. They’re both adventurous, feisty and kind. My readers often tell me they fell in love with the hero of the book, Thomas — he’s very masculine and yet caring at the same time.

 

Rita Stradling

Henchgirl by Rita Stradling

1. How many hours a day do you write?

I try to write for about eight hours a day. Unfortunately, as the old meme goes, “ninety-seven percent of being a good writer is not being distracted by the internet,” and I find that good old meme entirely accurate.

2. How long does it take you to write a book from start to finish?

For the first draft of a book, it usually takes anywhere between three weeks and a month and a half, depending on the book’s length. The first draft is the fun part, though, and when it’s over, that’s when the real work begins. For a manuscript’s initial revisions, beta testing, and several rounds with an editor or editors, it usually can take anywhere between two and six months. On the longer end of that spectrum, for Ensnared, a soon-to-be-released work of mine, it took almost a year, thirty beta readers, three editors and a sizable chunk of my brain (that I’ll never see again).

3. What motivated you to become an Indie author?

What motivated me to become an author is that I started writing one day and found I couldn’t stop. What motivates me to stay indie is that I love the power to control the covers, content, and distribution of my books (and even give my books out for free occasionally). One of my books was recently selected through Kindle Scout, and I found that though there are definite advantages to having someone else publish your book (the advance being one of them, as well as that THEY pay for editing and promotion), I miss having the ultimate say-so.

4. Why should I read “Henchgirl”?

The Dakota Kekoa series has a sassy, badass heroine, a family of lovable misfits, court intrigue, dragons, vampires, mystery and romance.

Henchgirl is a young adult urban fantasy about Dakota Kekoa, a sixteen-year-old, who’s stuck living two completely different lives simultaneously. During the day she impersonates a human at an all-human high school, but at night she uses her unique draconic powers to carry out jobs for her half-dragon, mob-boss grandfather.

When Wyvern Manderson, the nineteen-year-old half-dragon King of New Anglo, vacations on Mabi, Dakota’s island home, her two separate lives come crashing together. The king’s human sister has been kidnapped, and he’ll tear through anyone and everyone to find her.

To protect her secrets, Dakota takes on the mission to find the missing girl, but the price of finding that girl might very well be Dakota’s life.