Connie Crow has always been a writer. Her first essay was published when she was in grade school -- an essay protesting the demolition of a historic building, from the building’s point of view. She has been a pioneer in the e-book arena, signing her first e-contract in 1995. She has had four novels published in both e-book and print format with a fifth due out in October of 2008.
She continues to work to introduce authors as well as readers to the “Brave New World” of e-publishing. Connie was one of the charter members of EPIC (the Electronically Published Internet Connection), a group of e-published authors who have organized to promote and encourage the new publishing medium on the Internet.
Connie lives in Bellevue, NE, with a three-year old Brittany and an indulgent husband of 44 years. He brings her cocoa, gives her a kiss on the cheek and goes away quietly, to let her spin her stories.
Q: What made you start writing and when did you start?
A: I've always written. Seriously. My first published piece hit the newsstands when I was in grade school. Next, I sent a protest letter to the paper's editor when I was in junior high, decrying the destruction of a historical building in my hometown. The interesting thing was--the piece was written from the building's point of view. I've always loved multiple points of view, which sets me at odds with the current "thinking" that romances, at least, should be written from one point of view. Pooh! A book needs what it needs. Single point of view books can be very boring.
Q: What are your two favorite books of all time, and why?
A: Hmm. 1. An Old Fashioned Girl, by Louisa May Alcott. It was the first book I bought with my own money. I realized, many years later, that the hero in that story was the model for my husband. Hubby even looks like the book character, beard and all. It was spooky when I realized it. 2. The Old Man and the Sea by Hemmingway. I know, that's an odd choice, given my comment about single POV books, however, that book held my attention as a young person. The implications for life astounded me at the time. It's such a spare book compared to his others. There's not one extra word in it anywhere.
Q: What type of books do you write?
A: Historical Romance, Contemporary Romance, Children's Historical. Is there a reason you write (for instance) historical romance rather than science fiction? I write what interests me. I've always been attracted to and fascinated by history. But the stories come to me unbidden. The Contemporary was the first book I wrote.
Q: What type of writing schedule do you have? Is it flexible, or do you have a goal for each writing session?
A: Schedule? Schedule? One should have a schedule? I still have a full time day job as a marketing coordinator for a growing engineering firm, so my writing schedule takes second place to my work schedule. When I'm actually putting books words on the paper I try to average a chapter a week (25 pages to the chapter, 250 words to the page). Even with that schedule, a book usually takes at least a year from start to finish (including research) I hope to shorten that timeframe when I retire.
Q: Tell us about the first time you got the call or the email from a publisher wanting to publish one of your books.
A: I got one of the first e-book contracts from a publisher named Renlow. I didn't know much about e-publishing, but I had been trained as a contract negotiator and I didn't like what I saw. I marked up the contract, created 7 pages worth of changes and sent it back to him, apologizing for not being able to sign it, in its first form. My writer's group thought I'd lost my mind, turning down my first contract. I maintained that a bad contract was worse than no contract. To everyone's surprise, he made the changes and returned the contract for me to sign. That was in late 1995. My book, Little Secrets, (then Forbidden Weekend) went up for the first time in April of 1996.
Q: If you include love scenes in your books, are they difficult for you to write?
A: Yes, if the book needs them and no, if the scene is really needed it's not difficult to write. How do you decide whether to include a love scene at that point in the book, and if so, how explicit to make it? The worst thing in the world is to try to include a love scene just because it's page 151 and you haven't had them in bed for 50 pages. Yuck! I don't do that. Can't do that. Won't do that. I write to the explicit level I'm comfortable reading. That's different for every author.
Q: Have you made any big mistakes in your writing career? What were they, and do you think they did you lasting harm?
A: Some of my traditionally published friends think going into the e-book market was a mistake. I don't agree. I don't write traditional books, the New York houses have said so. I picked a non-traditional publishing system for those non-traditional books and I'm very happy. My publishers now are wonderful.
Q: Do you ever suffer from writer's block?
A: No. I was a photojournalist for a large corporate newspaper for several years. We put out a 16-page tabloid every two weeks, with only two writers and an editor. I learned then how to get stories out of my mind and onto the paper in a very short time. Have you found any effective ways for dealing with it? I hang onto a couple of tips I got from a Dean of the Colombia School of Journalism, from his Advanced Writing Class for professional writers. 1. Get something on the paper, no matter how awful. Blank pages or computer screens are the most intimidating things in the world. Editing is always easier that creating, so once the page has something on it, you can tear it up and start again. 2. Leave spaces and move on. Don't get stopped by not knowing something. Dr. Ranly suggested including a note like "good stuff goes here" in red in the middle of a sentence if you were stymied and go on. Then come back later. It works. I do it all the time.
Q: What's your current writing project? How did you come up with the idea?
A: I've started additional research for a children's historical novel. I've had requests from several children's librarians to turn the research I did for Moonlight Fire (historical romance set in Nebraska in 1819) into a children's historical chapter book set in that same era. I want to be absolutely thorough for that book, since it may be used as a supplemental book in the classrooms. There weren't many children on the frontier in 1819, west of the Missouri. The army children meeting the Native American children should be interesting.
Q: Tell us about one fan letter you received that really touched your heart.
A: It really wasn't a letter. I gave my hairdresser a copy of one of my books, after she expressed an interest in my writing. When I saw her again, she began to talk about my book, with tears in her eyes. She confessed she didn't like to read, and hadn't read a book for pleasure since she left high school (She's now in her 50's) I was just stunned. She thanked me for getting her to read again. She's since bought all of my books and got a library card for the first time in her life. It never occurred to me that I could give someone the gift of reading. She's one of my biggest fans. I'm very humbled by the idea that my simple stories could be so important to someone else.
Q: Any final thoughts?
A: I will always be a writer, no matter what else I do in my life. The stories and characters swirl in my brain. They bang on the inside of my head, waking me up, insisting I write their stories down, sometimes in the middle of the night. I can't NOT WRITE. It's as essential to me as breathing. And I love it. I wouldn't have it any other way.