Trouble in Bloom
Publisher: Avon Books
Pub date: April 2007
Agent: Jacky Sach
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Agatha-nominated author Heather Webber writes humorous mysteries featuring landscape designer Nina Quinn, who has a penchant for digging up trouble . . . and bodies. Heather lives in southwest Ohio with her husband, three children, adorable hamsters, and assorted aquarium wildlife.
Author Web site: www.heatherwebber.com
BookEnds: Describe your book in 50 words or less.
Heather: When Ohio landscape designer Nina Quinn appears as an undercover contestant on a TV reality show to dig up dirt on the show’s producer, an uncomfortable situation grows far worse when there’s a death behind the scenes . . . and the only reality is murder. Trouble in Bloom is the fourth book in the Nina Quinn series.
BookEnds: What is your favorite thing about this book?
Heather: The setting. I’m an unabashed fan (okay, I’m a little abashed) of reality TV and game shows in general. In this book, I take Nina undercover onto the set of a reality TV show called Hitched or Ditched, where couples must decide by the end of the week, with the home audience’s help, whether to get hitched or ditch each other. That is, until murder ensues. It was lots of fun to write.
BookEnds: Who are your favorite characters and why?
Heather: Some of my favorite characters are my secondary characters, or the scene stealers, as I like to call them. Oftentimes they are the ones who provide the most comedy and can get away with crazy antics. Nina’s nemesis, Brickhouse Krauss, is one of my favorite characters, as is Nina’s sister, Maria, and cousin, Ana.
BookEnds: Many writers have stories of rejections. What are yours? What was your most memorable rejection?
Heather: Over the years, my rejection file has grown and grown. In my ten-year career I’ve amassed over one hundred rejections. My favorite is from an agent whose identity I’ll protect (though I don’t know why). It basically said thank you for submitting, we’ve reviewed your work and do not find it suitable for our needs, and please do not submit to us ever again. Thankfully, I’d been writing for two years or so by that point and wasn’t devastated. In fact, it made me laugh. It’s important to keep your sense of humor in this industry and not take rejections too personally.
BookEnds: Do you have a manuscript that you’ll never let anyone else read? Tell us a little about it.
Heather: Oh my gosh, do I! The very first book I wrote was a women’s fiction project set around two men, best friends. The book starts out with the boys when they are born and continues on until they’re adults. Both are baseball players, one in the major league, one in the minor league. The minor-leaguer finds true love, and the major-leaguer is a playboy secretly in love with his friend’s wife. When the minor-leaguer finds out he needs a kidney transplant and the major-leaguer is the only match, the major-leaguer must decide whether to sacrifice his career to save his friend, or let the friend die and maybe get the girl.
I had everything but the kitchen sink in this book: baseball, kidney donation, second-career priesthood, infertility, and even an angel! But you know what? I still love the story. Even though it now resides in my closet, under a shelf with numerous dust bunnies. (And no, this wasn’t the project that received the above rejection!)
BookEnds: What do you see as some of the biggest mistakes beginning writers make?
Heather: Giving up too soon. The keys to this business are being able to tell a good story and perseverance. Keep at it, even if your first project doesn’t sell. Or the second. Or the third. . . .
Feel free to ask Heather questions in the comments section. She'll pop in during the day to answer them.
To learn more about Heather Webber, see Our Books at www.BookEnds-Inc.com.
Heather!!! Good to see you, girl! I have two questions for you:
1. Did you choose to set your series in the gardening world becuae you're a gardener, or because you saw there was no series set there, or - why? I guess I'm asking what was the driving force behind the choice - interest, experience, or market considerations?
2. Will you be at National this year?
Kris (squeal)! Good to see you, too!
1) I kept getting rejections for lack of hook. Very discouraging. I was watching HGTV and saw a show called Surprise Gardener. I revised the book so Nina was a landscape designer (instead of a former cop) and the rest is history. I had a black thumb when I started the series, but I'm much better now. All that research!
2) Not this year! Boo! But I do think I'm going to San Francisco. You?
Heather, I'm curious about how you juggle your writing with other responsibilities. As a mom, you already have a full-time job. Do you also have a job outside the home, or are you able to focus on your writing career? What sort of writing schedule do you keep?
Also, was there ever a time you felt like giving up?
Juggling writing and family life is definitely hard. Thankfully, my kids are older now and are highly independent. Years ago, though, I made a commitment that family always came first. I worked my schedule around theirs. I still do.
I don't work outside the house. I write from the time my kids go to school until lunchtime. Afternoon is for promotion and errands and cleaning the house. That sort of thing. I rarely write on weekends. Summer is a free-for-all around here.
After my first ten rejections or so I felt like giving up, that I couldn't write, that I wasn't cut out for this business. Then stubbornness set in. I was *determined* to get a book published. It meant going back to the basics, though. Grammar, punctuation, formatting an ms, all that good stuff. And I started writing short stories, ones that sold or won awards. That was really motivating.
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