Today, I'm highlighting a local writer and friend, Lonnie Whitaker, who I met through Saturday Writers. Lonnie recently published his first book, a novel titled: Geese to a Poor Market. His publisher, High Hill Press, is the same one that will (eventually) publish my book, when I finally get it completed! The book title comes from an old Ozarks expression, which means people believe "you could do better" with your life.
Here's one of the book's back cover blurbs, by Jim Bohannon: What happens when your cross Norma Rae with Thelma & Louise? You get a Waltons-on-steroids slice of rural Americana called "Geese to a Poor Market." Lonnie Whitaker has cooked up a batch of literary White Lightnin' that you shouldn't miss! (He also interviewed Lonnie on his radio talk show. I missed hearing it, but heard it was good!)
Hello & Welcome Lonnie!
1) What steps take place between your first full draft, your rewrite and the published book?
I lost track of the full rewrites--it was somewhere in the umpteens, I think. But when the manuscript was in pretty good shape and had been reviewed by a few good writers, I engaged the services of a copy editor, which helped get it market-ready. Even after it had been accepted for publication, I still continued to revise, including one "hold the presses" e-mail for a last-minute correction.
2) Are you superstitious when writing a book? Do you keep the story close to your heart while you’re working on it, or do you feel free to talk about it?
I am mildly superstitious, but not particularly when it comes to writing. For me, it's not so much a matter of keeping the story close to my heart, but more that I have transitioned from showing my wife every page. Perhaps I grew a bit more seasoned and began to just quietly go about the business of writing. I also learned that once you've announced that you are writing a book, everyone you know will continue to ask, "Is it done yet?"
3) How has publishing your first book changed your life?
It has gotten a lot busier. I'm like the dog chasing a car and the driver stops and opens the door, and the dog is confused. "Hey, I'm into chasing." I am changing mental gears from chasing to marketing. Teaming with a small press like High Hill Press, the author is responsible for most of the marketing. You have to be your own publicist, advance person, accountant, and salesman. It's exciting and fun, but with a day-job that can take 12 hours of the day, it's hard to find time to get everything done as quickly as I would like.
4) Do you plan to write another book? If so, when?
I would hate to think that it's "one-and-done," so I expect I will start writing another book as soon as I get Geese to a Poor Market down the market road a bit further. The most likely scenario would be a sequel. I am flattered that several readers want to know what happens to some of the characters. Heck, I want to know what's going to happen to them. Since I don't write from an extensive outline, I often find out what a character is going to say or do as I'm writing.
5) What do you like and dislike the most about writing?
I like the focus I get when the writing is flowing smoothly. I dislike that my writing area gets unorganized and I waste time looking for stuff.
6) What has being part of a writers group meant to you?
The fellowship is great--it's fun to hang out with other writers--but the real benefit is the learning opportunity. Saturday Writers, for example, sponsors workshops, guest speakers, and provides writing opportunities with contests and the publication of an anthology.
7) How long did it take from your first thought about writing this book, until its completion?
After I sold a magazine article and attended my first writers workshop (Midwest Writers Workshop-Muncie, Indiana) in 2001, I began thinking about writing a book of connected stories. The thought of a novel may have been too daunting. But by 2003, I changed directions and commited to writing the novel. So, really, about seven (7) years.
You can contact Lonne at his e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. Since Lonnie also works full-time, he hasn't entirely set up a blog or website yet. He hopes to get more caught up on the marketing side soon. Until then, if you'd like to purchase an autographed copy, just send him an e-mail and let him know you'd like to purchase a book...or two...directly from him. They will also be available from Amazon, but you won't get a signed copy from there!
"Easy reading is damn hard writing." ~ Nathaniel Hawthorne