More Fun Than Ever
Denise M. Hartman
In grade school, I loved to read. In fifth grade, my teacher had a group of us write a play. We wrote a mystery and I realized that’s what I wanted to do when I grew up. I’ve been playing with words and phrases and story lines ever since. I was never good at math anyway, so it was a good fit.
As happens often for writers, everyone told me I needed a day job. So when I went to university, I went into communications/journalism so I could eat rather than pursuing my first love of fiction.
The great thing about doing a bout as a reporter is that it teaches you to write on deadline and without waiting for inspiration. It also helps you pound out the mythical million words it supposedly takes to become a good writer. As a reporter, I did my own photography and film development (I give some of my age away there), and we each had a section of the paper to layout on paper boards – not on computer monitors. Who knew these skills would continue to serve me well?
I started several books that got interrupted and not finished. One a friend still asks me about the ending she never got to read. Jobs came and went. I worked in television production, marketing, art direction, freelance writing and design.
I wrote everything I could get paid for and some that I didn’t, but finally buckled down to follow my heart, even if I had to squeeze it into life. I discovered I LOVE writing a first draft. It’s like watching a movie unfold in my mind’s eye. That’s my favorite part of the authorial process.
I gave up on finding an agent for my first completed book and started working on a second book. This one I knew was a good story and my writer’s group approved of it. I was more optimistic but again the agents’ responses were disappointing form letters.
During this same time period, I was working a day job for a tiny publishing house. Tiny as in me and one other guy (the one who picked or wrote books). I knew how to layout a book. I knew how to do graphic design projects required for a book. I knew how to get bids to take a book to press. It was oh so tempting to do it myself, but this was pre-ebook. We were talking about some serious cash outlay and this was not a time in my life I had that kind of cash. I knew in my heart I had the skill set, but I wanted the big publisher kind of book.
Life interrupted my writing life again, but I rewrote the second book, Killed in Kruger, until it was a finely tuned creation. During this time I watched in fascination as first the music industry and then the publishing industry disintegrated and something entirely new and different rose from the ashes. To a large extent it’s still happening in publishing. I knew I had the skills to do a book on my own. I’d been paid to do it for others. Why not indie publishing in a new publishing atmosphere?
I watched and researched the changing publishing world and taught myself the ebook process by releasing some of my previously published short stories last year. (Dying to Diet and Snow Slayer). I spent a small chunk of change on a professional editor and this year I released Killed in Kruger, a suspense novel set in South Africa’s Kruger National Park.
I recently told a writer friend from my group that I’ve had way more fun publishing and trying to get my head around marketing my ebooks than I did in all the years of getting rejections letters from New York City.
It seems all the jobs I’ve had through the years were preparing me for this time. So now I not only do I get to see the movie in my head as I write the books, I also get to make sure the marketing looks like I imagined. What fun.
Denise's background in journalism and television production has influenced her writing style and habits, while living overseas for several years, currently in Madrid, Spain, gives Denise's imagination new sites and sounds for her mysteries on a day in and out basis. She is a member of Sisters In Crime, including having been the president of her hometown Kansas City Partners in Crime chapter. Denise has a passion for reading, books, travel, dogs, tea, and teapots not necessarily in that order. Her short stories and novel, Killed in Kruger are available now in ebook and will be in print coming this fall.