Monday, October 3, 2011

On Writing Author Interview: Author Smoky Trudeau Zeidel

To avoid pre-conceived notions which can sometimes be connected with certain genres, the number of books published and/or an author's appearance, none of that information will be revealed until the bottom of the interview. So pour a cup of coffee, have a seat, and check out this interview - see how much, or how little, you have in common with this published author.

What is your favorite part of being a writer?   I love sharing knowledge I have with others, and writing books is a great way to do this.

What is your least favorite part?   Sometimes, those random characters wandering around inside my head refuse to behave. They won’t go quietly into the story I think they belong in, or they refuse to go into any story at all. I always have a few disgruntled characters in my noggin, complaining that I don’t understand them—or their story. 

Name one obstacle you’ve had to overcome.   Well, the big one was getting struck by lightning 22 years ago. I was severely injured and nearly died on more than one occasion because of this event. I’m constantly having to overcome health issues that arise from this trauma. 

Is there a specific part of your writing you’re working on to improve?  I wish I wrote a little faster. I’m very slow, as the amount of time between book releases will attest. But I’m working on it, and I think I’ve figured out how to manage my time a little better. 

What part of your writing makes you particularly proud?  I’m proud to be a storyteller. 

What does your favorite main character have in common with you?   We share a love of nature, a love for the land. We all believe in walking lightly and not leaving a heavy footprint behind. All are books lovers and avid readers, as am I. And all are independent, spirited women. As am I!
Do you do a lot of research for your projects or do you only write about what you already know?   A mixture of both.  I’m a stickler for detail. 

How do you use the internet for your writing?   The Internet is the number one way authors meet readers these days. Any author who doesn’t have a strong Web presence is missing out on meeting—and making—fans and readers. If you want your writing to reach readers, you have to use the Internet, especially now that so many brick-and-mortar bookstores have closed their doors.

If you’ve won any awards for your writing, what impact do you think that has had?  I was nominated for a Pushcart Prize a few years back, and while I didn’t win, it’s one of those things where being nominated is an honor in and of itself. It gave me confidence in my writing.

What one marketing tool have you had good success with?   Doing a blog tour is an excellent way to reach a lot of potential readers and fans. I’ve got two new releases right now, and I’ve been hitting the blog circuit fast and furious, meeting new people. It’s been a lot of fun.  But I also think my Website and four (yes, four!) blogs are a great way to reach fans. I get a lot of great feedback on my blogs.

What good writing habits have you developed that you think would be helpful to someone starting out?   I’m not sure that my good habits would necessarily be good habits for others. What works for one writer doesn’t for another. I’m an early riser; I do my best writing in the hours before the sun rises. But I certainly wouldn’t recommend that to a writer who is a night owl. I think each writer has to find what works for them, and stick with it. That’s how good habits are formed.

Do you have any bad writing habits that you’d advise writers to avoid? Hmmm … not that I can think of.

Do you have any strange writing habits?  Well, there are a lot of people who think getting up at 4:30 a.m. to write is strange! But then, I think being able to write after 10:00 p.m. is weird, and I know a lot of writers who do that!

When you’re not writing, do you read, and if so, what?  I am a voracious reader. Anyone who calls themself a writer who doesn’t read probably doesn’t have a lot of success publishing their work. How can you write a book if you don’t read books? That’s like trying to play a Mozart sonata if you’ve never listened to music!  I read a variety of things, but some of my favorite novelists are Jose Saramago, Margaret George, Malcolm Campbell, Elizabeth Cunningham, and Melinda Clayton. I like historical fiction best, but read many genres.

What are you trying to accomplish with/through your writing?   I aim to entertain. I want people to come to the end and feel like they’ve read one of the best reads of their lives; like they cannot wait to tell a friend to read my book. I also want to inspire people to pick up a pen and start writing, or, to get outside and take a hike, to appreciate the beauty of our world. I guess I try to accomplish a lot, don’t I?

What words of wisdom do you have for young writers?   First, study your craft. People tend to think they can just decide to write a book and sit down to write one. But writing a book is an art, just like playing the piano and painting a masterpiece are art forms. Yo-Yo Ma didn’t sit down at the cello one day and decide to play, and produce exquisite music. Picasso didn’t decide one day to paint and produce The Guitarist. They studied their craft. Writers need to do that, too.

Second, get your book professionally edited. I’ve seen so many books full of errors because writers had their Aunt Frieda or their next-door neighbor edit for them, even though neither had a bit of editing experience. Editors know things your aunt and your neighbor don’t know about what a good manuscript looks like. They can find mistakes you probably didn’t even know were mistakes. Don’t skimp on this step.

Third, don’t give up just because your book isn’t accepted at first. Publishing a book is like running into a wall at full speed. When you hit that wall, you knock yourself out and bloody your nose in the process. But if you pick yourself up, wipe the blood from your face, and say, “Gee, that felt good! I think I’ll do it again!” you’ll eventually knock that wall down. The same goes for getting your book published. If you’ve studied your craft and had your book professionally edited, and if, of course, your story is any good, you will find a publisher.

What advice do you have for someone looking to get published? My advice for them is the same advice as I offered young writers, above. Study your craft, get your book professionally edited, and don’t give up!

Any thoughts on what this author writes? How many books published? Here's a little more information about the author...

How many published books are to your credit? Six.

Do you have an agent?  Not anymore. Don’t need one anymore.

Are you self-published?  No, my books are published by a regular, royalty-paying publisher.

How many different companies have you published with? Two; my first publisher went under about six months after I signed with them. I’ve been with my current publisher ever since.

How long have you been writing?  (Laugh) How long have I been breathing? Seriously, though, I’ve kept diaries, since I was ten, and have written poems and short stories for almost that long.

Do you write full-time? If not, what is your other job? And how do you balance work/writing?   Words are my full time work. I am a freelance editor; I help other people turn their manuscripts into something that’s fit to print! Usually, if I have an editing job on the table, I work on my own writing until late morning, then switch over to editing.

So, any thoughts? Here's the full scoop:

Smoky Trudeau Zeidel is the author of two novels, short stories, the new combo-writing book containing her two books especially for writers, and a photo/essay collection reflecting on the natural world, She was lead editor for Vanilla Heart Publishing’s 2010 Nature’s Gifts anthology, and a 2003 Pushcart Prize nominee. An ardent outdoorswoman with a deep reverence for nature, when she isn’t writing, she spends her time hiking in the mountains, camping in the Sierras, splashing in tidepools, and fighting the urge to speak in haiku.

Smoky's titles include:  On the Choptank Shores—Historical romantic suspense; Short Story Collection, Vol. 1—short stories; The Writer’s Workshop Combo—two books specifically for writers; nonfiction; and Observations of an Earth Mage—photo/essay collection reflecting on nature, nonfiction; and they can be found at Amazon and Smashwords, for starters.

What are you working on now?  I’m actually working on two different projects right now. I don’t want to talk about them too much, though, because I’m superstitious about jinxing all my hard work!

Anything else about being a writer that you’d like to share?   Just that it’s a privilege to be a writer, to be doing exactly what I want to be doing. I love every minute of it, and am very grateful to my husband, my publisher, and my fans for believing in me. I won’t let any of you down!

Thank you, K. S., for a lovely interview!

For more information on Smoky, visit You can also check out her Facebook author page at, or follow her on Twitter @SmokyZeidel.

Is there anything else you'd like to know about this author, or any questions you'd like added to future interviews?  Let us know...drop us a comment below.


  1. Kind of fun hiding the genre, photo and books until the end of the intervew.


  2. Thanks Malcolm. I was hoping it would be. Thanks for stopping by!