Monday, November 28, 2011

On Writing Author Interview: Yvonne Hertzberger

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?
When I started I thought it was the process of writing, the flow of ideas that became images on my computer, the meeting of characters as they introduced themselves to me, watching their stories unfold. And I love all of that, but the real thrill is when a fan tells me they couldn’t put my book down. That means that I touched someone with my story. It is what keeps me believing. And believing keeps me writing.

What is your least favorite part?
Now that’s easy. Marketing and promotion. I am, first impressions notwithstanding, an introvert. Putting myself out there for all to see makes me feel naked. But without it no one will beat a path to my door.

Name one obstacle you’ve had to overcome.
I am a computer nincompoop. Nor am I friends with electronics or technology. Nothing stresses me more than learning to use my computer for keeping my website up to date, blogging, and social networking. It is not connecting with people that is hard, but rather figuring out which buttons to click to achieve what I need. That goes for the actual writing, too. Somehow hidden formatting keeps popping up. I swear, my computer seems haunted sometimes. Those binary codes are out to get me!

Is there a specific part of your writing you’re working on to improve?
I keep trying to improve the balance between character development, plot and description. Much of my editing deals with this; changing placement of events, adding dialogue where I had narration, keeping the pace flowing.

What part of your writing makes you particularly proud?
The feedback I have received from my fans and from my editor is that my characters are so real and believable. Several have told me they cried for a character as they encountered a traumatic or difficult situation, and were angry and actually mourned when I killed off one they had come to love. They tell me they see events as though they experience them personally instead of from the outside as a reader.

What does your favorite main character have in common with you?
That he (in the first book) and she (in the second) act with integrity and dignity in spite of self-doubt, emotional traumas and huge difficulties. They both overcome obstacles with strength and determination and let nothing undermine their values. And they keep learning and growing (only they do it better than I do).

Do you do a lot of research for your projects or do you only write about what you already know?
...The short answer is, I do both.

How do you use the internet for your writing?
I will occasionally search out a particular fact or item but I do not use the internet a great deal. I still get frustrated with finding the depth of detail I look for on a particular topic, eg use of a particular herb along with its side effects on the internet.  (Did I mention I have trouble learning which button to click? lol) Lately I have come to appreciate the vast amounts of knowledge other writers are generous enough to share with a newbie like me. I have learned so much from social networking sites and discussion groups.

If you’ve won any awards for your writing, what impact do you think that has had? 
iUniverse gave me their Editors Choice award, the result of three editorial reviews with consequent edits, copy edit and proof-read. That process made me a much better writer.

What one marketing tool have you had good success with?
Most of my books were sold through the personal contact. That is by doing readings, book signings, and word of mouth. It didn’t get me royalties but I did sell close to 350 books. It is only now that my second book is almost ready that I am branching out into social media so I have no idea where that will lead. But I will still follow up with all the folks who supported me the first time around.

What good writing habits have you developed that you think would be helpful to someone starting out?
Oh man! I am one of the most disorganized people I know. That makes me a very poor candidate for giving suggestions. But I do need a quiet place and a fairly clear desk. The more cluttered my desk the less I accomplish. And I get the most accomplished when I make sure to sit in front of the computer at roughly the same time every day.

Do you have any bad writing habits that you’d advise writers to avoid?
Procrastination. It’s great for saving money but lousy for writing productivity. If I don’t get my ideas down while they are fresh in my mind I cannot retrieve them at their best later on.

Do you have any strange writing habits?
Of course not! I’m perfectly normal. What are you suggesting? One thing I do when I feel unsure of where I am going is to stop and do gardening, housework or cooking. It seems to quiet my mind so that the ideas can percolate up through the barriers in my brain, sort of like a semi-hypnotic state.

When you’re not writing, do you read, and if so, what?
I still love to read Fantasy ...But I will read some non-fiction, articles on science, archeology, religions, early humans and the occasional work of new fiction that has been recommended. Health and socio/psychology too. Anything that increases my understanding of human behaviour.

What are you trying to accomplish with/through your writing?
I have no ambition to write ‘great literature’. My aim is to tell stories that will resonate with readers on an emotional level. It thrills me when a reader tells me they couldn’t put my book down or that I wrote so vividly that they were ‘right there’ with the characters, that it all felt real to them. But I also want to write competently, with skill. I suppose if readers are giving me those messages it must mean that I am.

What words of wisdom do you have for young writers?
For new writers I would say listen to the feedback you get from all sides - be that writers groups, editors, teachers - it doesn’t matter who. Learn the current fashions and trends in writing. Understand the ‘rules’. Only after you have gone through this can you decide which rules to break, what your own voice is and when to buck the system. I don’t care what art form you create in. If you don’t learn to use the skills taught by those before you, you will not be able to articulate your own creation in a competent way. You can’t go to grad school without first passing through grade school. Be patient and ‘learn it’. I had to, and I was 55 before I even got started. It is worth the effort. But after all is said and done, be true to your own voice. What you write will not resonate with readers if it is not written from who you are.

What advice do you have for someone looking to get published?
I felt rebellious when I was told that every writer who wants to get published needs to get a professional edit done first. Now I agree. Since it has become increasingly difficult to get picked up by a publisher it is imperative that your work be as perfect as possible. It will never pass muster if it is riddled with errors. Your manuscript must be clean. This is true even if you plan to self-publish. After all you will build your reputation on the results.

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?  2.

Do you have an agent? No, nor do I plan to look for one.

Are you self-published? Yes.

How many different companies have you published with? Two

How long have you been writing? Five years.

Do you write full-time? If not, what is your other job? And how do you balance work/writing?
I am retired from paid employment but I do have a number of other activities that require my time. So I would say I write semi-full-time. Finding balance is a constant struggle. I admit I go through stages where it works or doesn’t. When I had to stop writing for several months recently because we were moving to a new city and renovating it was very hard to get back into the saddle. But I am back now, and with all the support I am getting from other writers it is getting easier.

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

In Epic Fantasy Author Yvonne Hertzberger’s words:  I live with my spouse, Mark, in Ontario, Canada. My two children are grown and flown, one married. I stopped half a thesis short of completing my M.A. in Sociology (due to a political difference with my committee). My favourite job was as a hairdresser, where I got to combine creativity with socializing. Other creative interests are gardening, decorating, singing and a bit of acting. I love to spend time with family and friends, but in small numbers. When our kids were growing up our house held a menagerie of fauna but due to allergies we are now pet-less. We recently moved into a tiny, cute, 130 year old brick cottage where we hope to spend the rest of our days. If the fates allow I would love to travel more. And I want to keep learning and writing for the rest of my life.

Yvonne’s titles include: Back From Chaos: Book One of Earth’s Pendulum  and Through Kestrel’s Eyes, Book Two of the Earth’s Pendulum series. (Epic Fantasy)

Both books are available through and

What are you working on now?
The final volume of my Earth’s Pendulum trilogy. 

Anything else about being a writer that you’d like to share?
I have never taken a creative writing class. Most of what I learned about writing came from high school, when they still taught the old fashioned way. I learned essay writing by writing them in university. Anything else has been from reading voraciously and through trial and error. I learned the rules and break them in an informed and careful way. And I have learned to take feedback as a gift, to accept or not, as it suits my style and my work. My readers have taught me to believe in what I write. In the final analysis they are the critics I want to please. They are the ones paying for my work.

You can learn more about Epic Fantasy Author Yvonne Hertzberger on her website and blog:

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. Enjoyed this. Most impressed that you hand-sold 350 copies of your first book. Also feel good you admit to being as disorganized as the rest of us. And your covers are great!

  2. Good job on the blog. I can identify with you in a number of places. I'm also computer challenged and sold most of my books person to person. I also was impressed that you sold 350 books. Nice going. Good luck on the new one coming out soon. Love the covers.

  3. Very nice! Thanks for sharing your experiences!

  4. Thanks Rosanne, Sheron, Dan. Nice to know you are all out there with me.

  5. Great interview, Yvonne. Besides having some of my questions answered about the writing process, I even learned a new thing or two about you! Well done.
    Love. Nahed

  6. Just a small FYI. I sent the early version of this to Kat some time ago. The cover for "Back From Chaos" has been changed with the revised edition of the book. If wishing to see the book on-line please look for the new one as the price is lower and my agreement with iUniverse is terminated but they have not removed the listing yet.