Tuesday, July 5, 2016

Heather Weidner - Guest Author

Heather Weidner’s debut novel, Secret Lives and Private Eyes launches in June. Her short stories appear in the Virginia is for Mysteries series. She is a fellow member of the Guppy Chapter of Sisters in Crime, Lethal Ladies Write, and is President of SinC – Central Virginia.

What is the background noise when you write and why is it there?

I work full-time as an IT Quality Assurance Manager, so that means I write whenever I get free time. I usually write at lunch, so there’s a lot of chatter and hubbub in our cafeteria. If I’m writing at home, I always have tunes playing. I have lots of playlists with different kinds of music. “Play it Loud” is great for writing, and “Smooth Jazz” is my favorite for editing.

Are you a plotter, pantser or something in between and why?

I usually define my writing style as a hybrid. I start out as a plotter. I have a fairly detailed outline and a description of all my characters. But when I start writing, sometimes, I go where the characters take me. But I do keep a file on all my characters and locations, so that details match from book to book.

When you compare your first draft to your final draft, do you net add words or subtract words? In general, what is it that you add or subtract between first and final draft?

I gained words after my first round of line editing. Then I ended up losing words at the end when I had two rounds with my publisher’s editor and proofreader. I added more description of my character’s feelings, and a lot of excess or overused words were cut.

How did you develop the idea for your most recent work?

We had a private investigator speak to our Sisters in Crime chapter, and she sparked an idea for a character. I wanted my sleuth to have job with the freedom to move around and solve crimes. So Delanie Fitzgerald became a private investigator.

What language error, when you hear or see it, grates on you like the screech of fingernails on a chalkboard?

Using the wrong word or too many buzz words that don’t have real meaning are two examples that drive me nuts.

What do you do that you suspect causes your copyeditor to pull her/his hair out?

Before my copy editor sees a draft, I have reviewed it countless times, and it has been through my critique group. But I have a tendency to overuse certain words, and I don’t notice them when I’m writing. Now, I have a list of the culprits, and I search for overuse and repetition in my manuscripts.

What is your most recent excellent read (book, short story or essay) and why?

I read a lot of mysteries, biographies, and histories. The last mystery I read was Lisa Scottoline’s Killer Smile. I love her legal thrillers. Currently, I’m reading Dean King’s The Feud about the Hatfields and the McCoys. King does a great job of bringing new information to a story that everyone knows something about and tracing the roots of the real cause of all the violence.

When you start reading a book do you always finish it? If not, what causes you to permanently put a book down?

I used to feel obligated to finish every book I started. I always had hope that it was going to get better. But over the years, I’ve learned that my time is valuable, and if I start a book and it doesn’t grab me, I usually don’t finish it. A slow plot, lots of typographical or grammar errors, or a mystery with no action are usually why I put down a book.

Many of the Virginia is for Mysteries Vol 2 Authors
What is a piece of writing advice you think is worth sharing?

Don’t give up if you want to be a published writer. Writing is hard work. It is very rare that someone has a polished draft on the first (or fifth) try. You are going to get rejections and negative comments. Deal with them in your own way and then move on. Don't get obsessed about your number of followers, your sales numbers, or the reviews. Check on them occasionally, but don't let them take over.

Your job is to write your next book. Don't be paralyzed by the worries and doubts. There are always going to be challenges. If writing is worth it to you, you've got to commit to it and learn how to control that little doubting voice in your head. Work to improve your craft and write your next piece.

To find more information about Heather Weidner and her writing visit her on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Goodreads, and www.heatherweidner.com.

Here’s a quick blurb for Heather’s debut novel, Secret Lives and Private Eyes, June 20, 2016

Business has been slow for Private Investigator, Delanie Fitzgerald, but her luck seems to change when a tell-all author hires her to find rock star, Johnny Velvet. Could the singer whose career purportedly ended in a fiery crash almost thirty years ago, still be alive?

And as though sifting through dead ends in a cold case isn’t bad enough, Chaz Wellington Smith, III, a loud-mouthed, strip club owner, also hires Delanie to uncover information about the mayor’s secret life. When the mayor is murdered, Chaz, is the key suspect, and Delanie must clear his name. Can the private investigator find the connection between the two cases before another murder – possibly her own – takes place?

Secret Lives and Private Eyes is a fast-paced mystery that will appeal to readers who like a strong, female sleuth with a knack for getting herself in and out of humorous situations.


  1. Great interview, Heather. Every once in a while I think I'm too uptight about grammar and punctuation, and then I read your remark about putting down a book if there are too many errors and realize it's okay to be fussy and demanding when it comes to grammar and punctuation. I'm putting Secret Eyes & Private Lies on my TBR list.

  2. Lots of good advice, Heather. Especially "don't give up!"