Today we welcome Connie Spanhake, an elementary math teacher from upstate New York. As the daughter of a father serving in the United States Navy, her upbringing took her around the world and she’s written and published a new crime mystery novel called ‘Finding Me.’
Firstly Connie, thank you for joining me in this conversation. Much like myself, your father was in the armed forces, where as the most glamorous posting I had was in Germany where I was born, you cite your favourite place as being the three years you spent in Bermuda.
Tell me what could possibly have been your reason for that choice?
The island of Bermuda is majestic. Although it is only 24 miles long there was so much to do as a kid. My family and I would go to Sunday brunch where ice and butter sculptures would be on display. We would explore the Crystal Caves which had the most beautiful azure blue water or go to Botanical Gardens that had a vast array of colourful flowers and plants along with peacocks roaming about. Of course, I swam nearly every day and learned to water ski. What more could a child want?
How did you get into writing?
I started writing children’s books to address issues that I saw my students going through and I wanted to help other kids that also struggled with the same issues such as bullying or persevering through difficult times. Somehow, that transitioned to writing a children’s book series, and then into writing a novel for more mature readers. I have discovered that I enjoy writing fictional mystery books which is where my niche seems to be at the moment.
Tell me a bit about how you write and where you get your ideas from.
I write in my home office. It is peaceful and for the most part quiet. I also have all my resources readily available when I need them so it’s very convenient. When I am stuck on a scene I can put on my shoes and go for a walk. By the time I arrive home I usually have it worked out in my head and know what I want to write.
I know this sounds crazy but I get my best writing ideas on a lawnmower cutting the grass. I am a person who is constantly in motion and I’m always doing something. Sitting on a lawnmower forces me to sit still and just think. I keep a small notebook with me and jot down notes as they come to me.
I use Scrivener as my main writing program. This program allows me to insert and delete chapters while keeping everything organised. I have a place where I can keep a summary of each chapter. It also helps me to develop my characters as well as save websites when I need to do research. This is especially helpful when I have to revisit a chapter plus by the end of the book I already have a synopsis of what the book is about. There is also a feature that allows you to compile the whole book together once you are finished with it.
Do you have a first reader?
My first reader is Shaila Carr, my daughter. She is brutally honest and also has brilliant ideas when I need to rework a chapter, add to a particular section, or need to reword a sentence. She is also full of encouragement and is my biggest fan.
Can you tell me about your novel, ‘Finding Me.’
It’s a crime and mystery novel about four strangers who become friends. Jenna discovers she is bi-polar, Allie strives to break out of the life her parents have chosen for her, Kym comes into her own, and Cara discovers a secret that leaves her reeling. Their lives spiral out of control when an accident occurs and Jenna is found guilty of second degree manslaughter.
This thought provoking story is full of surprises and a tale of love, loss, friendship, and forgiveness. It is a story of strong female friendships, love and courage with a twist in the tale.
What sort of research did you need to do about the work?
I spent a lot time doing research for this book. I wanted it to be portrayed as accurately as possible. Since Jenna is bi-polar I had to research the symptoms of this disorder as well as what type of medication would be prescribed to a patient. I also researched the body’s reaction to mixing these medications with alcohol. Once Jenna was arrested I spent time researching the process of being arrested and booked in jail. I also wanted to realistically portray the courtroom and the trial.
When is the book out?
Finding Me just became available on August 30, 2018. It is published through Pegasus Elliot Mackenzie and is available through Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Books-A-Million, as well as local independent bookstores.
Tell me about your experience in getting accepted by a traditional publisher.
I actually found this publisher through social media. I follow many different book publishers through social media and I especially pay attention to see how they represent their authors and advertise books. I was impressed with how Pegasus Publishers showcased their author’s work. I felt like they were supportive of the work that they represented and helped to promote the author. I submitted my manuscript online. After about a month or two I received an email with a proposal. We communicated back and forth through email and when I was satisfied with their offer I signed a contract.
How involved were you in the publishing process?
I had quite a bit of input in the publishing process which I was thrilled about. I was able to describe how I’d like the cover to be designed and I had several options. I played a part in the wording of the press release as well as the book summary on the back cover. I also contributed to the publishing cost and I have no regrets because I have had guidance through the editing process, as well as guidance with the marketing of the book.
They have created a sneak peek book trailer which I would have never thought to do on my own. I have had the privilege of working with an excellent team that has been in constant communication with me.
Do you have a marketing plan?
I do have a marketing plan. I plan to advertise the book through social media, blogging, book signings, and through my website. I contact not only bookstores for signings but also libraries, coffee shops, and various town events where I can reserve a table as a vendor.
I have a facebook page (Connie Spanhake) that I use to communicate with my readers. I also communicate on Twitter. I am currently learning how to blog and would love any advice anyone could give me. I also have a website, conniespanhake.com, that I use to keep my readers up to date on what I’m writing, where I will be book signing, as well as an avenue to buy my books.
It only leaves me now to thank Connie for joining me for this interview and to wish her all the best with ‘Finding Me’ which is out now and available from Amazon.
If you enjoyed this interview then why not follow my blog where I’ll be posting more interviews and I regularly provide an insight into my own experiences as I work towards publishing my debut novel, In The End. If you’re an author, or you’ve just got an interesting story to tell and you’d like to be interviewed, just drop me a line to firstname.lastname@example.org