Tell me about yourself. What got you started in writing?
My name is Willow Monroe. I was born and raised in a small town in West Virginia along with two brothers and two sisters. I currently live in Staunton, Virginia, a tiny little town in the beautiful Shenandoah Valley which is the inspiration for the settings for most of my stories. I got started writing, the way most people do, I think. During the summer between fourth and fifth grade, my mother took us to the library like she did every week. For some reason, though, during that visit, it actually dawned on me that someone somewhere had to write all of these books, all of these stories that I loved so much. I knew from that moment on what I wanted to do with my life. I have submitted to traditional publishers but never had any luck. With the advent of indie publishing, I was finally able to make my dreams come true and write full-time.
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How do you schedule your writing time? When do you write?
I have to write first thing in the morning before I do anything else. I crawl out of bed, make coffee and head straight for my little office (which is really just a spare bedroom). I try not to turn on too many lights or talk to anyone when I get up, almost like trying to stay in a dream state. Then, with a hot cup of coffee and my eyes half closed, I sit down, put my fingers on the keys and tell myself a story.
How and where do you write? Do you prefer a laptop or some other method of getting your words down?
Again, I have to have my private space which is my little office and I have to have quiet. I don’t listen to music or go to coffee shops or anything like that. It’s just me and the keyboard. Now, when I outline or scribble down notes, that HAS to be done by hand. There’s something about actually putting pen to paper that makes it happen. And, don’t laugh, I use a fountain pen, not a ballpoint or rollerball or felt tip, nothing like that. The little scratching sound of the tip on the paper is soothing to me, and I swear, I think the pen acts as an antenna to catch all the good ideas as they flow through the air past me.
What's your favorite part about writing? Your least favorite part about writing?
My favorite part is really the whole process. When I’m getting ready to write a scene, I sort of close my eyes, start the movie playing in my head and then write down what happens. I usually have to go back and rewrite but I don’t mind that part either. I’d say my least favorite part is worrying that I have the structure correct and trying to make a more detailed outline like Jade Wolfe and JD Salyers keep telling me to do. What can I say, they’re plotters and I’m, well, not.
How did you come up with your book idea? How long did it take you to write your book?
One of the books in this collection, Peppermint Breath and an Untimely Death, just popped into my head because of a chocolate peppermint cupcake recipe. I’d already written one book of the Dixie Cupp Diner Mysteries and just fell in love with Starla and her gang. And she evolved from an article I read about a cupcake festival somewhere in West Virginia. Anyway, I just had to have a winter festival for the fictional town of Sugar Hill with some stiff competition for Starla and the Dixie Cupp Diner. And, well, there had to be a murder. Who is least likely to get murdered than the mailman? I’d say it took me about six weeks to write mostly because I kept getting sidetracked with another story that wanted to be told at the same time. And that involved ghosts. My head is so full sometimes!
What types of marketing do you do to promote your writing?
We’ve been writing and self-publishing since 2014. Back in those days, all you had to do was write the best book and you could and get it up there. Now, the market is so crowded, we’re learning that marketing is critical. And that is where I am so lacking in knowledge. We have a website and I post regularly on Instagram. I’m just learning about AMS ads and Patreon and other platforms. Whew! That’s almost a full-time job in itself.
What are you currently working on? Do you have a new book out?
I am currently working on a new book, Savage Souls, and using NaNoWriMo to spur myself to get it completed this month—no excuses! We did gather up a couple of my winter time cozies from three different series called Fireside Homicide which is out now. The cover is so fun and gives readers a chance to sample the three different series.
Do you have a project on the back burner? Tell me about it.
I always have a project (or two) on the back burner. I want to write a series about a young woman who is half-werewolf (but she doesn’t know it). She just knows she has some odd health issues that no one seems to be able to pinpoint. She comes back to Wolf Hollow when her mother is killed in an auto accident and right away, uncovers some pretty dark secrets. Of course, she’ll solve some murder and meet a very handsome werewolf along the way.
What would you tell a beginning writer who wants to publish but doesn't believe he/she has enough talent?
Always, always, always believe in yourself. Sit down at that keyboard and tell yourself a story. No one is reading over your shoulder. No one can tell you what is right or wrong. Stay true to the story. Stay true to your dream and you’ll come out a winner every time. Oh, and never stop learning and studying the craft. There’s never been a better time to be a writer, to get your story out to the world. Don’t give up!
A Question for Kathryn:
I’d be very interested in your marketing techniques and strategies. I’m woefully ignorant in this area and I need to learn quickly.
I like to keep things as simple as possible. There's nothing worse than having so much to do that you do nothing because the task seems impossible! I guess that's why Marketing Your Book on a Budget was written. I had stacks of stuff everywhere, and couldn't make heads nor tails of it. I needed it to be all in one place and organized so I could find what I needed when I needed it. Writers quickly lose energy to market when they don't focus in on just a few ways to market, and instead, try to do everything at the same time. You don't need to do everything, just those things that work for you! So try a couple of things out. I would suggest getting reviews and then getting out there and meeting readers face to face as much as you can. Once this is going well for you, add something else.
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Snuggle up in front of the fire with these three cozy mysteries!
Grab your snuggly robe and your favorite cup of tea and get ready to curl up for a cozy snow-time adventure. These mysteries are all about the sleepy days of winter and the shenanigans that folks get up to when they think nobody is looking – murder, mayhem, sneaky people, and lots of snarky, small town monkey business.
This three-book bundle is a collection of our bestsellers and it's on sale for the price of one, so that's like getting two free cozy mysteries to enjoy on those chilly days ahead!
Egg Noggin from the Cooper Sisters Mysteries
Peppermint Breath and an Untimely Death from the Dixie Cupp Diner Mysteries
Mansions can be Murder from the Gemma Stone Mysteries