Welcome, Denise. Tell us when you decided to become a writer? In other words, what made you actually sit down and write something?
Around age eleven, I began to scribble stories about the historical sites my parents took me to visit. My active imagination compelled me to take pen in hand!
Every writer is eventually asked this question, but where do your ideas come from?
I love to spin stories from the little-known lore and legend of my home state of Georgia, but I believe the drive and skill to write is a calling from God—along with the themes I prayerfully work into my stories.
Why do you write what you do?
I started with historical romance and branched out into contemporary at the urging of my agent. Writing stories set in the past is refreshing due to the manners and morals that were present in most periods of American history. Many of my contemporary stories have some history woven in because I love to have characters learn lessons from the past. I tend to spurn main characters who are warm and fuzzy and perfect the whole way through the book for those who start with some rough edges (usually covering insecurity or past hurt) and experience transformation or healing through God’s power throughout the story.
What is the hardest thing about the creative process of writing?
The creative process is the easy part for me—though I will admit, I get nervous about whether a story idea will be gripping or appealing enough for readers. Once I’ve settled on the topic and plot, though, things begin to flow.
For me, the hard part is marketing. I love creating memes on Canva and participating in Facebook parties. But marketing is a hard taskmaster. Once a book releases, it eats up all your time and a lot of money—paying for ads and blog tours and booth fees, giving away lots of free books, and traveling to signings. There’s also a lot of vulnerability in putting yourself out there, both on the page and socially. It can be rewarding to form relationships with readers, but you have to expect crushing moments as well. That’s why it’s good to know you are called to write, that you do it for the Lord and not just for yourself—and that your self-worth is not dependent on followers or reviews.
If you would, please tell us what was the hardest thing about writing your last book?
For Spring Splash, the thing that scared me the most was writing secondary characters with special needs. I don’t have relatives with special needs, and I wanted my depiction to be accurate and respectful. But I wanted this athletic romance to incorporate more than what I’d gleaned in fifteen years as a swim mom. The special needs team I’d seen compete during my daughter’s high school meets inspired me several years ago, and I haven’t been able to forget them. So I visited that local special needs organization and their swim team and asked the directors to serve as beta readers.
I believe the fear of getting something wrong keeps many authors from including special needs characters in their stories, which in the long run is a disservice. If writers wrote strictly on what they had experienced and places where they lived, we’d lose so many impactful stories. And there would be no historicals—my original genre and the one for which I serve as a managing editor at Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas!
Name your three biggest frustrations about the writing business.
Great question! First, it’s disappointing how self-publishing and e-books have flooded the market so thoroughly that it’s almost impossible to get a new release noticed. Authors rely on sales and reviews for a publisher to pick them up again, yet they have only several months after a book releases to generate buzz in this crowded market.
Second, readers usually have no idea how little an author makes on each book sold—often under a dollar per book. Even when selling their own copies in person, they have invested 40 to 50 percent of retail, more if they paid shipping. Then, we have to add in travel, booth fees, and the percentages charged by retail shops. I dearly wish things were different so that authors who work almost full-time at their craft could make a living at it. Instead, most make under $5,000 annually.
Finally, I wish it was easier for new authors to break into traditional publishing. Twitter’s online pitch days help out, but attending conferences where one can meet editors and agents is cost-prohibitive for many.
On the flip side, what excites you the most about the creative process?
The moment when the research is done, the plot is outlined, and the story begins to flow. And you look back at the chapter and feel in your heart that it’s good.
What are you reading now, and who are a few of your favorite authors and why?
As I’m doing this interview, I’ve just finished reading two novels, Sand Creek Serenade by Jennifer Hough Uhlarik and Mist O’er the Voyageur by Naomi Musch. Jennifer and Naomi are Smitten Historical Romance authors like myself, and I thoroughly enjoyed both of their novels. They’re right up there with my traditional favorite historical romance authors Shannon McNear, Laura Frantz, Francine Rivers, and Michelle Griep.
Can you give the readers the buy links for your books?
Denise Weimer writes historical and contemporary romance and romantic suspense set in her home state of Georgia. She’s authored eleven novels and a number of novellas. As a managing editor at Smitten Historical Romance and Heritage Beacon Fiction, Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas, she also helps others reach their publishing dreams. A wife and mother of two daughters, Denise always pauses for coffee, chocolate, and old houses.