Today’s guest is Loretta Wheeler. Loretta and I met online when we both took a course on editing. After the class was over, all the participants formed a Yahoo group called the Writing Divas, and we’ve kept in touch ever since!
Loretta lives in the South along with her Australian husband, their cat Lil’ Dickens, and their dog, Jack. Both pets are rescued fur-persons who are very much loved.
Most of Loretta’s writing is set in southern locales, whether in the thriller or romance genre. She says she writes of southern things because most of her stories speak to her in a southern accent. Something she recognizes easily since her own is so strong.
If you’d like to hear Loretta’s accent, you can find examples of her voice over work here: Voiceovers
Now for the fun part!
What does your writing area look like?
What does my writing area look like right now? Chaotic. It’s a madness that I readily understand, but to others, it probably looks like a maze of papers. That’s because I’m in the middle of a manuscript, so notes are everywhere.
But, the underlying bones of the area are good. Enough to keep me from pulling my hair out. I have a classic-style lamp to the left, with a large mauve, purple and pale green flower arrangement in front of it. A picture of my grandchildren to the left and to the right, my printer with an ornate gold frame which includes pictures of my husband and myself. I have a toddler picture of me on the left in my push-pedal car, a picture of my husband when he was toddler age on the right, pushing his favorite lawnmower, and in the center, both of us standing together, arms around each other on the beach at Galveston. This represents, for me, the way life can draw two people together across any distance. He’s an Aussie, and I’m American. I find it a bit of whimsy. Fate is a unique thing.
So true! How do you come up with titles and character names?
You know, sometimes the work names itself. I may have the story in mind, begin writing, and then the title eases its way through the door, or maybe I should say page. Page is probably a better word. I may have a few ideas around that pique my interest, but the tale usually selects its title.
As for characters, it depends often on the setting. “Mischief and Mayhem,” which I just released, had its title first before I began writing. I’ve been planning on writing about the two cats for a couple of years. Their owner named them, and wanting to stay true to who they were, that was the title I chose.
The pieces I’m currently working on will all take place in Galveston. And, because we’re in the South, I have chosen mostly southern names. Shelby and Savanna give you an idea. The “Southern Breeze” stories are cozy’s with a touch of mystery. For those who back away from Mystery or Thrillers, hopefully there’s just enough intrigue to keep the reader turning the pages ever faster. The title for this series is “Southern Breeze,” with the first in the series due to release in Spring. I’m currently completing a prequel for “Southern Breeze” titled “Christmas on the Strand,” due to release in late November of this year. “Christmas on the Strand” is set in Galveston as well. It leads you down Galveston way for Christmas, introducing you to the characters in Southern Breeze.
I had the opportunity to visit Galveston a few years back and loved it. What advice do you have for aspiring writers?
Oh Lord, I’m going to be a little tongue-in-cheek here. I have one word. Run! It’s a difficult job. Aside from that caustic bit of humor, how about, study the craft. Write what you love, or something you’ve always wanted to write. Hold true to it, even when doubt sets in. Even when your writing voice doesn’t totally fit the “norm”. You never know what the next new voice will be.
After that, pick up some good critique partners, and for goodness sakes, don’t select ones who don’t “get” what you write. Find your niche’ of writers. You do need a tribe, so find that also. They may not even be in your genre’, but if they’ve read your genre’, and understand it, they’ll make you good partners.
What author (dead or alive) would you most like to meet?
I can only pick ONE? I don’t think I can do that. So, let’s see, we’ll start with Anne Rice, whom I have met, but way too briefly, and Stephen King. Then we’ll add Dean Koontz and James Patterson, Mark Twain and F. Scott Fitzgerald. That’s not nearly the whole list, but this could go on forever if I tried to name them all.
What is something unique about you that others don’t know?
Well, let’s see. Usually, if I don’t tell something, I don’t want it known. Let’s go with the most current thing most people won’t know about me. I’ve recently taken voice over lessons and will eventually be reading some of my works. I currently have some Voice Over work on my website. These Voice Overs are short bursts, nothing lengthy, but they’re up if anyone wants to drift by and have a listen. They are included with some of my husband’s QuadOptic Drone scenes, along with other demos.
What do you love that most people don’t like and wouldn’t understand why you do?
I’m laughing. Only two things popped in my head, and I’m not sure if they really apply. The first is something I used to eat, but don’t anymore. Peanut Butter and Jelly sandwiches with a little bit of mayo on them. Don’t grab your heads until you try it, y’all. And the next, I don’t know that people hate it, but I do love it, even when it isn’t fashionable. Pink lipstick. I’ve decided I definitely have a juvenile pallet in many areas.
P,J & M? Oh, my!
What is your favorite:
Animal: Dogs and Cats
Season: Spring and Fall
Food: Anything chocolate
Movie: Lord help me, probably “Jaws,” followed closely by “Jurassic Park,” then “Something’s Gotta Give” and “It’s Complicated” (This is another list that could fill its own page)
Music: Jazz…always Jazz
Place you’ve visited: Sanctuary Cove, Queensland, Australia
Place you’d like to visit: Paris (In the Spring time…how cliché)
I sense you are a person of opposites. Tell us a little about your story, “Mischief and Mayhem.”
There are all types of love ~ some dark…some sweet…some short-lived…and others that take you to the very edge of your seat. Those that perch you on the edge and let you dangle there awhile are the most memorable, capable of haunting you forever… or at least through nine lives or so…
MISCHIEF AND MAYHEM
The people milled around the bookstore, some browsing, some still waiting in line for Whitney’s autograph. She looked up as she finished writing her name across the last person’s book and smiled as the next woman in line stepped up to the table. The woman carried her book hugged tight to her chest, as though someone would snatch it away if she didn’t guard it closely. The picture on the cover faced outward and for a moment Whitney felt the same sense of deja’vu she’d suffered ever since the cover design was sent to her from the publisher.
The cover depicted a woman running down a dimly lit sidewalk, her shadow spread out behind her like spilled ink. Whitney’s smile felt stiff as she forced her attention away from the book jacket and spoke in a cheerful voice to the woman. “Hi, how would you like me to sign your book?”
The woman stretched out her hand, extending her copy of Whitney’s latest release hesitantly, as though she was now even afraid Whitney might decide not to return it, leaving her empty-handed. The woman’s sweaty fingerprints left a smeared imprint on the cover. “The book’s for me, I have all your work, but this is the first time I’ve been able to come to one of your book signings.” She fidgeted and licked her lips. “You can make it out to Carol,” she paused and Whitney noticed beads of sweat on her upper lip. “And, would you mind writing something like, to my biggest fan? I know that’s a little much to ask, but it would really make the book special.”
The woman paused again, appeared to gather strength and hurried on, the words tumbling in a rush out of her mouth. “I really, really am your biggest fan. I’ve got every article ever written about you and I’m the president of the Whitney Chase Fan Club here in Houston—and well, actually—I’m the president of the whole she-bang in Texas, so I think I really deserve being called your biggest fan.” The woman’s expression changed from nervous to intense as she peered at Whitney eye to eye, sweat beads on her forehead now, as well as her top lip.
Still smiling, Whitney kept her voice soothing. “Of course, Carol, I’d be happy to do that, anyone who does as much for me as you should have a signature reflecting your amount of dedication.” Making sure her eyes showed the bright warmth of pleasure before she lowered them, Whitney scrawled out her signature on the first page with the most valued fan notated, paused and then added a smiley face beneath it. Closing the cover, she returned the signed copy to Carol. “Thank you so much for waiting in line, Carol, and please help yourself to the refreshments before you leave.”
Whitney beamed at Carol once again and then with calculated slowness redirected her gaze to the man standing in line behind her, hoping she’d given Carol just enough personal attention to make her feel a little more special than those who’d gone before her.
Thank you for joining us, Loretta! Before you go, where can we buy the book and where can we find out more about you?