I’d like to introduce you to the thirteenth interviewee in my ‘Meet the Author’ series. She is the well-known author, Veda Boyd Jones.
QUESTION: Hi, Veda! Welcome to Susan Finlay Writes blog site. Can you tell us a bit about your impressive background as a writer? You’ve written forty-seven books (including books in almost every genre), five romance novellas, and over five hundred articles and stories. How did you begin your writing career?
ANSWER: My husband and sons moved to Tulsa, OK, back in the 80s. The first day we unpacked, the second day, I took the boys to the library to enroll them in storyhour. I didn’t have proof yet that we were residents (a requirement at most city libraries for a library card), so I was told I could check out only paperbacks on the honor system. My choices were romances and westerns. I chose romances. I read a few and said, “I can do better than this.”
Easy to say, hard to do. I wrote four romances on the typewriter, revised once, retyped them, and collected rejections. But I didn’t give up. Instead I got a computer. I revised, printed, revised, printed, etc. because revising is critical to selling your work. Also, I had learned a lot about plotting and character development by the time I had written four complete romances. The fifth one, the one written on the computer and revised many times, sold. Later, I typed those first four on the compter, revised extensively, and sold them.
I’ll admit I was on the high school newspaper staff and was co-editor of the newspaper my first year in college. So, it wasn’t as if writing was a whole new area to me. I also had earned an MA in history, and I wrote a 150-page thesis, so again, I’d learned research and nonfiction writing during college.
QUESTION: Your books are available at Amazon and Barnes and Noble. Your newest ebooks are ‘Joe’s Ghost’ and ‘Callie’s Mountain’. Can you tell us about them?
ANSWER: Joe’s Ghost is an original e-book, meaning it was never in paper form. I set it where I live in Joplin, MO, and I wrote about people having to live with choices they didn’t make. All of our choices have consequenses, but we have to live with the consequences of the choices of others around us, too. Our attitudes make all the difference, of course.
Joe is an actor who suffered a stroke, so he can no longer memorize lines. He has to search for words at times, but otherwise, he’s back to his old self. Still, he can no longer act, so he retreats to an old house he inherited from his aunt with the thought of turning it into a B&B. The ghost story is merely the vehicle, the plot-driven part, that allows the exploration of the characters.
Callie’s Mountain is a romance I wrote a long time ago. It went out of print, so the rights reverted from the publisher to me. It won a reader’s choice award when it came out, and I’ve always loved that book, so I couldn’t let it just set on the shelf.
I revised it by bringing it up to date with cell phones and laptops and other technology and put it out there as an e-book.
Singing superstar Trey puts Callie, a country girl who’s working at a restaurant in the town where he buys a mountain home, through college on a scholarship. He wants to help people who will help themselves. Once Callie is out of college, Trey, now nearing 30, goes back to the mountain home and begins courting her, but finds it an uphill struggle.
QUESTION: You are working on revisions of a new adult mainstream novel, ‘The Corner of Pearl and Moffet,’ set in a small town in Arkansas, 1954. Can you tell us about the book? When do you expect it to be published?
ANSWER: Before thirty-three-year-old Josie Jameson takes the seat reserved for the widow, she glances around the old graveyard. Close to four hundred people have gathered to pay their respects to her husband. That is nearly the population of Ducane, Arkansas.
Orville had been the richest man in town and owned lots of these people. His ledger book provides a list of private loans with repayment schedules, and his little books of secrets note who did what to whom and why.
Josie had married Orville after her true love was killed eight years earlier in World War II. That Orville was forty-one years her senior hadn’t really bothered her, but she knew there had been talk. She was a farm girl when she married and moved to the big white house on the corner of Pearl and Moffett. She didn’t fit the mold of housewife to the richest man in town. Now that he’s dead, she owns the Ducane Savings and Loan, the filling station that makes its money from liquor sales, all those outstanding private loans, and the little books that hold the town’s secrets.
Sound intriguing? I hope an editor will agree. It passed the first editor’s desk at a couple publishing houses and then was rejected, but I’m still marketing it. So there’s no publishing date now, but there’s always hope.
QUESTION: Now that you’ve written so many books in many genres, what are your favorite and least favorite genres? Are there some that you tried once and said never again?
ANSWER: It’s much easier for me to write for adults than to write for kids, yet I’ve sold a lot more children’s books (mostly nonficiton). I can’t think of a genre I wouldn’t try again, but there is a nonfiction publisher I’ll never work for again unless the editor changes. Our personalities didn’t mesh, and life’s too short to struggle to work with certain people. Does it sound like I hold a grudge? The book came out, and I’m proud of it, but the process was too hard to repeat.
QUESTION: You’ve spoken at writers’ conferences and taught writing seminars in New York, Kansas, Missouri, Oklahoma, Arkansas, Texas, and Kentucky. You also make school visits and speak at young authors’ programs and literature festivals. What do you enjoy the most from these events? Do you have any interesting stories to share with us?
ANSWER: Speaking at the Highlights for Children week-long conference in Chatauqua, New York, was a thrill. That place is amazing. Cars aren’t allowed on the streets there, so I walked among the old Victorian homes and to the huge amphitheater and the lecture rooms. Each evening there was a concert, and I sat on the front porch of a big house and listened to the symphany playing a block away. Nowadays, Highlights holds three- or four-day seminars at their new facility in PA. I’d love to go there.
Another thrill was speaking at a Young Authors conference, and seeing a sign with balloons on a parking spot that said, Reserved Parking: Veda Boyd Jones. What an ego-boost!
Kids always have great questions at lit fests. I have pat answers to some. How much do you make gets the same, “Not enough.”
Being asked to speak at the now 45-year-old lit fest in Warrensburg, MO, was a career goal for me. Thousands of school kids are bussed in and can listen to several of the 40some authors who come from across the nation. Now I’ve been there many times, and smoozing with the authors is amazing. At the motel, some of us play rummy, and we all discuss this crazy business.
QUESTION: Where can readers find out more about your future speaking events? Do you have events scheduled for later this year?
ANSWER: The school year is winding down, so I have one event left, the 6th grade lit fest in Branson the first Friday in May. It’s always fun, and the organizers treat the seven or eight writers like royalty. What’s not to like about that? They also buy a book for each sixth graders, so there’s always a long line of kids waiting for their books to be signed.
QUESTION: What is your favorite or least favorite part of writing?
ANSWER: Plotting is hard. Revision is hard. Coming up with apporpriate figurative language is hard. The easiest is character development. I love that part.
QUESTION: If you could meet any book character, who would it be, and what would you do with them?
ANSWER: I would meet Claire from Joe’s Ghost. I think we’d be great friends. She’s adventuresome and smart and courageous. I could learn a lot from her.
QUESTION: Please list any websites or social media links for yourself or your book.