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Jul 10

Florence Witkop Shares the Wealth of Her Experience

A warm hello today to Florence Witkop. Tell us about yourself, Florence.

Wife, mother, grandmother, writer, slow workaholic (can’t sit still but I’m never in a hurry), reader, political junkie.

I’ll have to remember that one-slow workaholic. Have you had other careers before becoming a writer? I’ve been a teacher, census taker, fishing resort owner, information technology person.

How did you get started writing? I live in the north woods and had to drive many miles over roads that weren’t the best to a teaching job. One day I decided I’d rather work right in my own home as a writer. And I’ve been doing it ever since.

Sounds good! What genre do you write in?
Romance because I want there to be a romance in everything I read and I write what I like to read. I live in the wilderness and that seems to creep into my works until my stories have been described as eco-fiction, a genre I didn’t even know existed until it was used in conjunction with my books. And I love supernatural elements so, even though I write small town, rural and/or wilderness romances, they often have a supernatural theme or element. I don’t do erotic romance because I can’t write and laugh at the same time and that’s what happens every time I try to write one of those really steamy scenes. I do have sex in my books if it’s appropriate, just not the steamy kind.

I can empathize! How many books have you written? Do you have a favorite? I’ve written short fiction for over thirty years. I just started writing novels and now have three done and am working on a fourth. I’ve discovered that writing novels isn’t just writing longer short stories. Instead, it’s a whole different way of telling a story.

Tell us about your current series.

The ‘Legend’ series is about legends that turn out to be true. The first, Spirit Legend, is about a legend of a spirit living in a remote, wilderness lake that will die if the lake it lives in is allowed to drain dry. The second, Wolf Legend, that I’m almost done with, is about a legend of huge, dire wolves that people insist have been sighted on a remote island, one of which shares thoughts with the heroine. The third book of the Legend series, which isn’t on paper yet but is pretty well worked out in my mind, will be about the legend of Ceres, the goddess of the harvest, and one of her descendants who stows away on a space ship carrying people planning to colonize a far distant planet. She knows their crops will fail if she isn’t there to oversee things. I can’t promise that there will be more Legend books but there will be if my subconscious is working normally.

What inspired your latest book? I live in an area where wolves are found so there’s a lot of talk in my neighborhood about wolves, both favorable and unfavorable. My characters know both sides. I personally love some things about wolves (their family life is admirable and they are beautiful animals) but I do not romanticize them and I do respect the fact that God or nature has decreed that they be intelligent predators.

Where do you get the ideas for your stories? Everywhere.

Do you have a blog? I have a blog. http://FlorenceWitkop.com I try to post at least one a week and most of my posts are tips for writers in which I pass on things I’ve learned over the years, mostly from other writers, about the craft of writing fiction.

What is your favorite part of writing? Rewriting. Definitely. Because I can take something and make it better, smoother, easier to read and understand.

What is your least favorite part of writing? The first draft. Hate it.

What is your typical day like? All over the place. I try to find enough time to actually write but sometimes that’s hard.

How does your family feel about your writing career? They are okay with it. Great conversational gambit.

How has your experience with self-publishing been? It’s a whole new world, one that’s both fascinating and daunting.

What was the deciding factor in self-publishing? Did you decide on ebook or print only or both? I’d been writing short fiction for magazines (confession) for years. The publishers worried about marketing, not me. But print publications are going out of business daily so I decided to become my own publisher. What a shock! It’s a whole different thing!

What did you do to promote your work? At first, nothing because I didn’t know what to do. I’m learning and I think Goodreads is the most wonderful online site there is because it caters to both readers and writers and brings them together.

How long have your books been out? I dipped my toe in the waters of self-publishing less than a year ago with one short story. I then went on to novellas and then to novels. Each publication has been an interesting journey and I look forward to more such journeys as I continue to write and to learn the process of self-publishing.

What advice can you offer readers of self-pubbed books in making a decision on what to read? Go with your gut. You can’t judge how good a book is by price, cover, or blurb. Just by gut.

How likely are people you meet to end up in your next book? It happens occasionally. My family likes the fact that I’m a writer but they don’t like appearing in my stories, which they sometimes do.

What is most difficult for you to write? Characters, conflict or emotions? Why? I’m the peacemaker of the family so intentionally creating conflict is almost impossible. I can only do conflict well if it’s in the situation, not between the characters because I think any characters who can’t settle their own conflicts aren’t worth writing about.

Was your road to publication difficult or a walk in the park? Easy. I set a goal and met it originally, writing for magazines, and set another goal of self-publishing last year and met that too. Getting rich from my writing? That’s another story!
Give us an elevator pitch for your book. Two people save the life of an immortal spirit.
Do you have a view in your writing space? I look out the window into the north woods, which can make writing difficult and daydreaming easy.
Are you a plotter or a pantser? Parts of both. I need a general guide, a chapter-by-chapter synopsis, but after that I need to give my characters the freedom to get where they are going in whatever way works best for them.
Tell us about your hero. Give us one of his strengths and one of his weaknesses. My heroes are all kind of alike in that they are normal, decent human beings. Because my stories are about normal, decent human beings who somehow got caught up in abnormal, scary situations. It’s like a famous writer once said: ‘Jack has his fanny in a bear trap and the story is getting out.’ I like to see nice, normal people fall into extreme situations in which they must overcome overwhelming odds and not only survive, but thrive and fall in love in the process.
Tell us about your heroine. Give us one of her strengths and one of her weaknesses. Same thing. I like normal people in abnormal situations. Okay, I do prefer a bit of difference between the heroine and hero, usually their backgrounds, but that’s so they’ll have something to talk about more than to cause conflict or raise the tension. I figure the situation itself should be tense enough that they don’t need any artificial conflicts to add to the problem. 

What genres are you drawn to as a reader? I love hard science-fiction, the kind that relies on proven laws of physics and then adds the human element and a romance. And I love thrillers if they depend on known technology used in innovative ways instead of just being an endless series of chase scenes.
Do you prefer to read in the same genres you write in or do you avoid reading that genre? I can’t do thrillers because I find building tension to be difficult. I can do psychological fear but not the physical kind. So I stick to what I can do, not what I like to read.
How far do you plan ahead? I have a computer file that I fill with ideas. When I have time, I expand on those ideas until I have a chapter-by-chapter synopsis. Then I know I’m ready to begin writing.
Do you have any words of inspiration for aspiring authors? Becoming a successful writer has as much to do with how you work at your craft as how much ability you were born with. I’ve met dozens and dozens of gifted writers whose careers went nowhere because they wanted to do their own thing in their own way instead of approaching writing as a profession and a business that provides readers with stories they want to read so much that they are willing to give some of their time and money to do so. 
Did you always know you wanted to be a writer? I always knew that eventually I’d be a writer. I wasn’t in any hurry, I figured it would happen when I got around to it. Like I said, I’m a slow workaholic, never in any hurry but eventually I get there. Usually.
Do you or have you belonged to a writing organization? I was one of the founding members of a local writers’ organization, the Jackpine Writers Bloc. We publish a literary book every year that’s now quite well known. In fact, one of our members who joined in high school and was published in our literary journal, came back during a college break to say that one of her English teachers was envious because she’d been published in the Talking Stick, something he’d been trying for years to do.
Why have you become a published author? Because everyone has to do something with their life that’s just for them and no one else and that’s what I chose to do with mine.

Do you have any rejection stories to share? Not exactly a rejection but a story: When I first started out, my daughters were my most honest and most brutal critics. Later someone asked me to read a story she’d written and tell her what I thought. It was pretty bad, a fact that I mentioned to one of my daughters. Her response was, “So what? You’ve written a lot of really bad stuff and it got published.” That popped any ego I might have had and I’ll never forget her words.

Where can readers find you? My blog is http://FlorenceWitkop.com
Where can readers find your books? Amazon and Smashwords and my blog has links to buy my books. But if you don’t want to go there, links are:

The Eye of the Universe:
http://www.amazon.com/dp/B007N6K964
http://www.smashwords.com/books/view/142206
When Dreams Come True:
http://Amazon.com/dp/B008GTI2JS
http://Smashwords.com/books/view/178408
Wanted Sharpshooter:
http://www.Amazon.com/dp/B009R6WMT0
http://www.Smashwords.com/books/view/287109
Spirit Legend:
http://www.Amazon.com/dp/B00BH607S6
http://www.Smashwords.com/books/view/287198

It’s been great getting to know you, Florence. thanks for being my guest today.

2 comments

  1. Edie Hart

    Your books look great and your writing advice is fantastic!

  2. Melissa Keir

    What pretty covers. I love that you are always busy but slow and steady. That would be a great way to describe me! I wish you all the best!

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