Monday, May 23, 2011

Meet Jean Henry Mead: Writing and Publishing a Novel

Jean Henry Mead’s latest novel is Murder on the Interstate, third in the Logan & Cafferty mystery/suspense series. Her two protagonists, Dana Logan and Sarah Cafferty, are amateur sleuths traveling the country in a motorhome. Along a mountainous highway in northern Arizona they discover the body of a young woman in her Mercedes convertible and take off after the killer. Along the way they discover that he’s pursuing them and is a member of a homegrown terrorist group that later kidnaps them while plotting the downfall of the nation.

Click here for my review of Murder on the Interstate.

Jean is the author of 14 books, both fiction and nonfiction as well as children’s mysteries. She’s also an award-winning photojournalist and former news reporter/editor. And I'm delighted to welcome her today to my blog where she's answering the question, How difficult is it to write and publish a novel.


Over to you Jean, and thank you so much for sharing this post.

Writing and Publishing a Novel

by Jean Henry Mead

How difficult is it to write and publish a novel?

Now that there so many small presses and online writing courses, a fledgling writer has a smoother path to publication than those of us who began writing in the dark ages (before computers). I wrote my first novel in fourth grade—a chapter a day to entertain classmates—but it was many years before I actually published one, and not before five of my nonfiction books were in print.

No novel writing courses were available when I served as editor of my college newspaper, so my logical career choice was journalism. I then wrote for three dailies, two in California before marrying a Wyomingite and moving to Casper, where I served as staff writer for the statewide newspaper. I was later editor of In Wyoming Magazine and freelanced for other publications, but what I really wanted to write were novels.

My forte has been interviews, which I still conduct to this day on my blog sites Mysterious Writers and Writers of the West. While I enjoyed interviewing interesting people, the yearning to write fiction was always there, like an itch I couldn’t quite scratch. I studied the work of Dean Koontz, whose stories horrified me (which they’re meant to do) until I read The Watchers, one of my favorite novels. I still like the poetic way Koontz strings his words together.

I spent two and a half years behind a microfilm machine during the mid-1980s to research my centennial history book, and had so many notes left over that I decided to incorporate them into an historical novel. The book, Escape on the Wind, took several years to write and rewrite, and has been published by three publishers since 1999. It remains my bestselling book and was retitled: Escape, A Wyoming Historical Novel. But writing the book was akin to climbing Mt. Everest.

A member of Mystery Writers of America as well as Western Writers of America, I was fortunate to have two award-winning novelists take me under their wings during the writing process. The late Fred Grove and Richard S. Wheeler read my manuscript and offered advice. Fred allowed me to send him my chapters via snail mail, and made suggestions although he didn’t edit my work. Both writers were continuing the work of their own mentors by giving me advice and I promised to pass along the favor by mentoring on my own. Now that I'm blogging and writing for more than one publisher, I regret I no longer have the time. But now there are many blogs offering writing advice that we didn't have years ago, as well as online courses. There are also numerous small publishers receptive to new writers.

Writing and publishing novels has never been easy but it's now a far cry from the days of typewriters, carbon copies and white-out. I can imagine what writing a book was like with quills, inkwells and foolscap. We novelists have come a long way . . .

You can visit Jean at her website: www.jeanhenrymead.com/ as well as her blog sites:
Mysterious Writers: http://mysteriouspeople.blogspot.com/
Writers of the West: http://writersofthewest.blogspot.com/
Murderous Musings: http://murderousmusings.blogspot.com/
Make Mine Mystery: http://makeminemystery.blogspot.com/

She also has four Facebook pages and is listed on Twitter.

11 comments:

Cheryl said...

Thanks for hosting Jean during her VBT. I would like to let your readers know that a trailer for this book is now available at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3V92sNBH-TE

In addition, jean is running a contest during her tour. Here are the details:

The author's virtual book tour takes place from May 2-May 27. Three copies of Murder on the Interstate will be given away and one of the winners (from a drawing of blog visitors leaving comments) will be a character in her next book. The tour schedule is posted at: http://www.pumpupyourbook.com/2011/03/25/murder-on-the-interstate-virtual-book-tour-may-2011/


Thanks again.

Jean Henry Mead said...

Thanks, Sheila, for hosting my virtual blog tour. You have a lovely site!

Marja said...

The more I read about you, the more interested I am in your books. Wow! Things sure have changed. Good blog!

Sheila Deeth said...

Thanks for joining me here Jean. I really enjoyed reading about your writing journey.

Sheila Deeth said...

Just went to see that trailer. Wow!

Carol Kilgore said...

Nice to know more about you. I love the poetic way Koontz strings his words together, too.

Jean Henry Mead said...

Thanks, Marja. And thanks for hosting me on the first day of the We Write Mystery blog as well.

Jean Henry Mead said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Jean Henry Mead said...

Thanks, Carol. I think we can learn so much from well published authors by studying their styles, no matter the genre.

Helen Ginger said...

I can't remember which Koontz book it was that I highlighted and studied his writing and his way of putting words together. Thanks for your letting us see into your writing.

maryrussel said...

I tried to comment on this before but it wouldn't take my comment. I really enjoyed reading this informative interview.