27 December 2010
Please give a warm welcome to Pepper O'Neal
I’d like to give a warm welcome to my friend, crit group member and fellow Black Opal Books author Pepper O’Neal today. Thank you for visiting The Heart of Romance this week. I hope you’ve had a great Christmas and that Santa filled your stocking with everything you asked for.
Please will you tell us a little bit about yourself?
You know, I’ve always hated that question because I never know what to say. Like most people I could probably talk about my life experiences for hours, but when someone asks me that particular question, my mind just goes blank. Okay, so a little about me? Well, I’m a full-time researcher, writer, and adrenalin junkie. I like my life and my fiction fast-paced and exciting. Having a doctorate in education has given me the opportunity to work in many interesting places, like Mexico and the Caribbean, where I’ve had some thrilling experiences, as well as made some wonderful friends, all of which have played a big part in my writing.
Why writing? What compelled you to write, and what is your favorite genre?
From the moment I began to recognize words on paper, I’ve been a voracious reader. Books have always been friends, especially during those awkward years we all go through. So it was a natural progression to writing. Also, with my Irish/Cherokee heritage, storytelling is in my blood. As to my favorite genre, I’m not sure I have one. I like novels that are fast-paced, exciting, and have strong romantic elements. At the present time, I have three books that will be coming out in 2011: Love Potion Two-fourteen, a romantic comedy; Blood Fest: Chasing Destiny, a paranormal romantic suspense; and Black Ops Chronicles: Dead Run, a thriller with strong romantic elements. So as you can see, I write across several genres.
I know you have been placed in several competitions you’ve entered, so please will you share your take on the value of competitions with us? I know you have won at least one of those competitions. Has winning had a major impact on your publishing prospects?
Contests can definitely help with both your writing skills and your chances of getting published. BUT you have to be careful. Contests can be expensive. Even though each contest only costs $15 or $20, those fees can add up. So if you’re going to enter a contest, read the criteria and make sure it fits your book. This gives you a much better chance of placing in the contest. Most contests give you feedback from the judges, so you get an unbiased critique of your writing. And if you’re lucky enough to be a finalist, putting that in your query letter can definitely get you more requests for your manuscript. Winning a contest isn’t a guarantee you’ll get published, but it does tell editors and agents that you’re doing something right.
If you could live anywhere in the world, where would it be?
That’s a tough one. There are so many beautiful places in the world, it’s hard to choose. But wherever it is, it would have to have forests. I need the trees around me. I must have been a Druid in a previous life. I don’t do well in flat open spaces.
What is your favorite color, and why?
Rust. Because it’s earthy and peaceful, and it’s one of the few colors that looks really good on me. Of course, I was born in Oregon, and sooner or later just about everything rusts there anyway.
I know you’ve had a busy writing year this year. Do you have a particular character who has influenced you more than any other?
In my novel Black Ops Chronicles: Dead Run, which is about a woman from a Mormon crime family, my four main characters are based on friends I made while working in Mexico and the Caribbean. Of those four, I’d have to say that Levi, a former CIA agent, probably influenced me more than any of the others. And he was a major factor in my writing the book, even though he’s not the hero of the story, and he doesn’t get the girl. He’s still bitching about that, too.
Are you a ‘pantser’ or a plotter?
Oh, I’m definitely a pantser. In fact, once I get the characters and the story idea in my head, I sit down at the keyboard and just let it come as it will. My characters pretty much dictate the first draft, while I just type. Unfortunately, since none of my characters has ever taken a writing class or read a craft book, none of them know how to write. Which means once the first draft is done, I have to go back and fill plot holes big enough to drive a semi-truck through.
How much research do you have to do for your stories?
As much as it takes. Nothing makes me more frustrated than reading a novel and seeing information that I know is wrong. So I try not to do that to my readers.
Do you have any advice for aspiring authors?
Yes. Never give up. You have to keep trying, no matter how long it takes. If you don't have faith in yourself, your story will never be told.
You have a novella coming out in a Valentine Anthology with eTreasures in 2011, can you tell us where we can buy it and when it will be available?
Love Potion Two-Fourteen is a romantic comedy I did for eTreasures’s Cupid Gone Wild Valentine Anthology which will include five or six novellas. These novellas will be released the first two weeks in February, but I don’t have an exact release date for mine yet. Later in the week, I’ll be doing a character interview with the heroine of the story Kole, who’s a white witch in love with the cop who suspects her of fraud. I’ll try to include the cover art as well as a link to the publisher, but I’m told it will be available at all the usual outlets as well.
You also have a full length novel coming out with Black Opal Books in March 2011, please will you tell us a little bit about it? And please will you tell us where we can go to buy it?
The book for BOB is Blood Fest: Chasing Destiny. It’s a paranormal(shifters) romantic suspense and has a release date of March 17, 2011. This book is a finalist in the Stiletto Contest. I’m doing a character interview with Roman, the hero, who’s half Lycan shifter and half Vampire. I’ll be posting the links with that one as well.
Do you have any more books in the publishing pipeline? And if so what, and when may we expect them/it?
Yes, one of the books I mentioned before, Black Ops Chronicles: Dead Run. I’ve been negotiating a contract with a publisher on it, but we haven’t come to an agreement yet, so I don’t have a release date. The publisher who’s interested wants some revisions first. But I’m hoping it will come out sometime in 2011.
Thank you Pepper, for telling about yourself, your books and your writing.
You can visit me at my website: http://www.pepperoneal.com
Don't miss the opportunity to meet some of Pepper O'Neal's heros and heroines when she interviews them later in the week.