Thank you for joining me for this exciting Author Spotlight!
First, a bit about Charlotte (aka Naomi King):
Many moons ago—like, in 1983 while I was still a school librarian—I sold my first story to True Story. This launched me into writing about seventy of those “true confessions” stories over the years, and I’ve been a slave to my overactive imagination ever since.
The next big step was selling my first historical romance in 1990, a Zebra Heartfire called COLORADO CAPTIVE. I quickly sold five more in that genre—and if you prefer my Christian romances, these historical Westerns won’t be your cup of tea! They’re all out of print now, but available from used book stores or on Amazon.com. I’m bringing them back in digital format with beautiful new covers, which you can see on my Books page.
After a long dry spell that entailed major changes in the publishing industry and an agent who fritzed out on cocaine, I resurfaced in a new genre, with a new publisher, editor, and agent who were so excited about my Angels of Mercy series! These four faith-and-family stories are also out of print now, but available online as e-books. With THE LOVE SECRET, I moved into new territory once again—and once again the setting is a place I love to spend time: the Oregon Coast. Unfortunately, this series was doomed before it even got off the ground, so only this one book got written. That happens in the publishing business.
Being an author is great fun when you’re selling, but it’s best to have a hide like a rhinoceros and a spouse who gets a regular paycheck! Patience, persistence and just flat-out luck have given me this opportunity to reinvent myself yet again. Those angels I write about keep pulling me through, and are often my friends and family—but I owe a lot to the heavenly beings who bear me up on their wings, as well!
My stories invariably take on a life of their own, different from the way I’ve proposed them: I love it when unforeseen characters and plot twists come along, because they keep me guessing right along with my readers!
I have often presented workshops at my RWA chapter in St. Louis, and at conferences. I also belong to Novelists, Inc..
I love touring historic homes, trying new recipes, crocheting, and playing with Ramona—although it’s humbling, having a dog smarter than I am! I’m an ordained Presbyterian deacon, and I devote a lot of time to singing in my church choir and to practicing/performing with our percussion ensemble. I’m celebrating more than thirty-five years with my husband, who—bless him — has never once suggested I get a real job!
Don’t miss DJ Mynatt’s author spotlight/interview with the amazing CHARLOTTE HUBBARD! – Tweet this!
Here is my interview with Charlotte:
1) Do you find that writing under a deadline takes the fun out of writing? If so, how do you deal with that? Are there any special snacks you like to have handy?
Oh, deadlines are the ultimate reality check! They don’t so much take the fun out of it as they keep me focused…for weeks at time. My writing method has changed, out of necessity, so I don’t have the leisure of spending days staring out into space or running around with friends (although I take time to do that occasionally).
At least 5 days a week I’ve got my butt in this chair with my playlist of instrumental hymn tunes/classical music playing, because that music signals to me that I’m supposed to be working instead of diddling on Facebook, etc. I do, however, make time in my year for trips and a writers conference.
Sometimes those are “working” vacations but when we went on our Viking River Cruise in May I actually spent 2 weeks doing NO writing-related stuff. Didn’t have time, what with all the walking tours and activities. It was good therapy!
We’ve got another Viking cruise set for next summer, nearly 3 weeks long. I’ll have to scramble a bit: I turn in a book right before we go, and then when we get back I’ll have to hit the keyboard running.
Snacks? You mean, like the 76% cacao chocolate bars stashed in my desk? I can only sit for so long before I have to wander around, and I usually end up in front of the fridge. Not a good habit, but it’s mine.
2) Do you use an outline for your stories? Do you have a folder or a file where you keep future ideas for stories or do you just come up with ideas after a suggestion from your editor, agent or friends?
I have to have pretty thorough synopses of the stories I’m going to write every time I propose books for a new contract. Those synopses get updated and changed by the time I sit down to write each book, but my editor and I at least have a feel for who the main characters are and what the drama will be—because the art dept. and whoever writes the back cover copy does that long before the book is turned in.
Now that I’m writing these Amish books in series, it’s a bit easier to concoct ongoing story arcs and to bring in characters who’ll star in upcoming stories—although a lot of that is just sheer seat-of-the-pants luck for me. Once I know we’re coming to the end of a series, then I know it’s time to tie up the loose ends—as you’ll see in THE CHRISTMAS CRADLE, out at the end of September. I had a lot of balls to juggle in that one—a lot of reader expectations to fulfill.
And of course, we all had to know WHAT HAPPENS TO HIRAM KNEPP.
3) We read about writer retreats, conferences and the like. Is this the norm for most authors? Are they necessary for your writing?
I’ve dropped my membership in RWA and I rarely attend the Romantic Times conference anymore, but I insist on going to the Novelists, Inc conference each year. No fans there, no book signings, no promotion—just attending sessions with other novelists (you have to have published 2 books to belong) and industry people…but it just happens to be at the TradeWinds in St. Pete’s beach, FL, so it’s a little slice of paradise for a few days.
Lots of writers belong to critique groups or attend a lot of retreats and conferences—and I used to do more of that. Now I find it best to spend my time writing.
4) How often do you travel? Where do you go? Who do you travel with? What is your favorite vacation spot?
My husband and I love to travel! We especially love the coast of Oregon—but we also love to go wherever a cruise ship will take us. We’ve always cruised for the 5 and 0-year birthdays and anniversaries (that Viking cruise was for anniversary #40, which we actually celebrate in August).
Neal’s about to retire, so I suspect we’ll travel more then—and on ocean cruises, my iPad goes along so I can work a bit each day, especially on days at sea. We’ve done Alaska, Hawaii, the Panama Canal, the Mexican Riviera, and the Caribbean a couple times—and we did the Danube River with Viking in May, Budapest to Prague. Fascinating trip! Mind you, we can travel this way now because Neal’s had a really productive career—NOT because I make a lot of money at writing. Because he has a steady job with health insurance, I can afford to be a writer.
5) Your readers are loving the Seasons of the Heart series… how did you come up with such interesting, realistic characters? I’m especially fond of Miriam and Ben – their love story is a dream-come-true. But I’ve been amazed when reading about the shenanigans of Hiram Knepp! How did you come up with his character? Does he remind you of someone?
It’s totally a gift from God—a streak of really fine luck—whatever you care to call it, that the characters in this series are such wonderful people. Really. From the moment Miriam’s long-lost daughter returned to her wearing black fingernail polish and spiky hair, and Miriam welcomed her home, that woman has been the mainstay of those stories. I wish I could be as loving and patient and wise as she is! Ben, too. And those Hooley aunts, Jerusalem and Nazareth, weren’t even a twinkle on my radar screen when I began AUTUMN WINDS—I just knew I needed a distraction to keep Hiram off Miriam’s back, and along came GOATS and the old maid schoolteachers who raised them!
Hiram…is my dad in a broad-brimmed hat with a beard. Sorry to say Dad wasn’t the most honorable or trustworthy man I ever met and he was a control freak who had to always have his way. Nuff said.
I’ve gotten a lot of writers mileage out of the conflict/confrontation I went through while I was growing up and even well into middle-age, and until he died a few years ago. Arrogance. Hiram is all about arrogance gone over the line. I had to devise a special…send-off for him. I think a lot of readers will be drop-jawed at what happens.
6) I’m sure this is different for every author but are you allowed to give your readers a look at the general timeline for one of your books? From the time you finish writing to the time we have the book in hand?
I turned in PROMISE LODGE, the first book in a new series by that name, in May. My editor has now sent me her edits (in a Word file with Track Changes, working with the Word file I submitted to her) and now it’ll go to a copy editor for the nit-pickier stuff.
I’ll see those edits, answer questions, do some rewrites maybe, and then turn it in again…it goes into production (from my same original computer doc) and then I will see a paper version to do final corrections on.
Once it goes into print, I’m done with it—and this particular book will be out in March 2016. So, 9-10ish months it takes from me hitting the Send button on the finished manuscript until it hits the shelves.
Meanwhile, of course, I’m well into writing the next book and meeting the next deadline and doing promo for the one coming out in a couple of months.
7) Tell us a little about Naomi King… why do you write under a pen name, as well as your own?
I was already writing an Amish series as Charlotte Hubbard (my real name) for Kensington when I got the chance to write another one for NAL—and they asked me to take a pen name. This is very common! That way, if one series or the other doesn’t get very good sales figures, my other books under the different name aren’t affected, as far as how many of the next book places like Walmart, Zondervan, etc. will order. My agent suggested I choose something that could be Amish, so I went with Naomi King. Emma Miller, for example, is a pen name as well—for 2 gals who write together as a team.
Note from Donna: I have all of Emma Miller’s Amish paperbacks (and digital copies, too)… I had no idea the name “Emma Miller” was a pen name.
8) Do you have any special tips or hints you would like to share with struggling or novice authors out there?
Did you catch that part earlier, about having a spouse with a steady paycheck and insurance? I highly recommend it. Writing income is so unpredictable and irregular, no matter how many books you’ve published.
The industry has changed a lot since I sold my first book in 1990. I suggest to every aspiring writer that they have a day job, a working partner—some source of income—before they devote their time to writing as a career.
It’s not for everyone. There’s more to it than wandering around the house in your jammies with a glass of wine, thinking about writing! (the jammies and the wine have never worked for me!) And there are no guarantees that your books will sell—and if you DO hit the big-time, you’d better be ready with the next even better book!
9) Can you share with us what you’re working on now – and future books to watch for?
I just turned in the first book in a new series, PROMISE LODGE, due out in March 2016 (about 3 middle-aged sisters who sell their farms to start a new Amish colony in an abandoned church camp!)
I’m now writing the first book of another new series which is a spin-off set in Willow Ridge, with Nora and her Simple Gifts store as the hub of the story—the series is called Simple Gifts. This book is called A SIMPLE VOW, and it introduces the new Riehl family and their lives and loves—and of course an immediate crisis situation with abandoned twin babies whom Edith Riehl vows to raise. That one will be out next June, and I’ve got a total of 6 books in those 2 series contracted so far.
I’ve got books to write through January of 2017—it’s a place I’ve not been before, knowing this far out where my next check is coming from. Once the Amish wave washes out…we’ll have to see what rolls in next, or whether I decide to do something totally different. After all, I was a school librarian for 10 years before I ever wrote/published a book.
You next life is always waiting around the corner for you!
Thank You Charlotte… and God bless you!
Today’s the last day to enter Charlotte’s GIVEAWAY contest!
If you haven’t entered, click the link below!
God bless you!
Interview © 2015 DJ Mynatt