I’m pleased to introduce my guest today, author Densie Webb. We share a love of coffee and of taking walks, but let’s let her tell us about her writing process and her latest release. First, a glance at her official bio and then we’ll dive in.
Densie Webb has spent a long career as a freelance nonfiction writer and editor, specializing in health and nutrition, and has published several books on the topic. She grew up in Louisiana, spent 13 years in New York City, and settled in Austin, TX, where it’s summer nine months out of the year. She is an avid walker (not of the dead variety, though she adores zombies, vampires and apocalyptic stories), drinks too much coffee, and has a small “devil dog” that keeps her on her toes. In addition to her novels, her essay: “Boob Job Regrets: In Appreciation of Your Previously Small Chest,” was included in an anthology compiled by Randy Susan Meyers, titled Women Under Scrutiny: An Anthology of Truths, Essays, Poems, Stories & Art. All proceeds from the anthology go to Rosie’s Place in Boston, a sanctuary for poor and homeless women. And her flash fiction piece, The Prank, was in the top ten finalists for Women on Writing’s Summer 2019 Flash Fiction contest.
You can find out more about Densie at www.densiewebb.com or by following her on Facebook (Densie L. Webb), Twitter (@dlwebb), or Instagram (densiewebbbooks).
Betty: How many books have you written and published?
Densie: 2—You’ll Be Thinking of Me, which is romantic suspense and Le Remede” a paranormal romance. I’m under contract for a third, tentatively titled The Opposite of Amnesia, which is women’s fiction.
Betty: What genre(s) do you write in and why?
Densie: My first novel was romantic suspense. My second was paranormal romance, and my third is women’s fiction. I guess I haven’t quite settled on a single genre. I gravitate toward stories that deal with relationships, not just romantic. It can be with parents, friends, or even your relationship with yourself.
Betty: What themes or motifs did you use in your recent release and why were they important to your story?
Densie: So far, all of my stories deal with serendipity, random encounters that change the course of the characters’ lives, as well as everyone in their orbit. And secrets. My characters always have secrets.
Andie Rogé craves control like some people crave chocolate. But she can’t control her feelings when she encounters Vincent Dubois at Lizzie Borden’s Bar.
Tortured by blood lust that has ruled him for almost two hundred years, Vincent is unprepared for the pull he feels toward Andie. He can only surrender to what he knows is fate.
Offered a cure from a rare black orchid, he faces an agonizing choice—take the only dose and join Andie in the human life he so deeply desires or give the cure to his Kindred brother to stop his bloody rampage. Fate brought them together but will it destroy their chance at a future?
Betty: Do you have a specific place that you write? Revise?
Densie: I do most of writing/revising at coffee shops. I have a favorite that is decidedly uncool, but it offers wide booths with tabletops that allow me to spread out and nobody gives the stink eye when I’ve been there for hours. I occasionally write/edit at home, but I do my day job at home and I find getting out helps to spur my fictional thought processes.
Betty: Do you have any writing rituals while you write? Did you have a special drink, or music, or time of day that you gravitated toward?
Densie: I always listen to music while I write. Spotify is my go-to music source. I often get ideas for scenes from song lyrics or I can simply set the mood with music. And coffee. Always coffee.
Betty: What helped you move from unpublished to published? A mentor or organization or something else?
Densie: I spent a few years going to Writers Meetup groups in Austin and getting feedback from a wide variety of writers before taking it to the next step, which for me was hiring a professional editor and then submitting to agents and publishers. I also belong to Women’s Fiction Writers Association, which is full of very supportive and helpful writers and authors. Also, Writer Unboxed has a website with daily posts from writers and authors, which are incredibly motivational and informative. They also hold a Writers Unboxed Unconference that happens every two years. I’ve been to all three and hoping to go for a fourth.
Betty: What do you think is your greatest strength in your writing?
Densie: I’ve been told that I have a knack for dialogue, which is ironic since I clearly remember voicing my doubts when I first started about being able to write realistic dialogue. Also, I’m a huge fan of similes, metaphors and analogies that can really bring home a thought or an emotion without stating it outright. I really work at trying to come up with the perfect ones.
Betty: What comes first when you’re brainstorming a new story: setting, situation, characters?
Densie: I always like to know how it’s going to start and how it’s going to end. Those two things will get me from point A to point B. They often change during the writing and editing, but it’s enough to get me going.
Betty: Do you have a structured time to write or is it more fluid/flexible? Do you have to write between family obligations or do you set aside a block of time?
Densie: I definitely do not have a writing schedule. I know all the writing tips says you should write every day and have a dedicated time for writing, but so far that hasn’t worked for me. But that’s probably why I’m such a slow writer—3 books in 6 years.
Betty: What is one recent struggle you’ve experienced in your writing?
Densie: Right now, I’m trying to come up with a new story idea that I think will work. So far, I’ve come up with a couple of intriguing beginnings, but no endings. I like twists at the end of a story, which for me anyway, takes a lot of thought. I want it to be surprising, yet in retrospect seem inevitable.
Betty: Do you participate in NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month)? Why or why not?
Densie: I definitely do not. As I mentioned, I’m a slow writer. I edit and edit and edit as I go and it’s unfathomable to me to write 50,000 words in a month, especially a month with a holiday. Nope. I have absolutely no desire to torture myself like that.
Betty: What are you reading right now?
Densie: Just finished Regretting You by Colleen Hoover. Lots of relationships, both romantic and familial. Just finished Fleishman Is in Trouble by Taffy Brodessor-Akner. Also about relationships, dysfunctional as they were. And I just started Things You Save in a Fire by Katherine Center.
Betty: What is your favorite genre to read?
Densie: Ooooh. That’s a hard one. I love thrillers, women’s fiction, some literary and occasionally historical. It’s easier to say what I don’t read and that includes science fiction, cozy mystery, experimental, faith-based, or traditional romance with Hallmark-like happily ever after endings (unless there’s a lot of gut-wrenching emotional turmoil to get there.)
Betty: What are your keeper books? How often might you reread them?
Densie: I’m not a big re-reader. A novel that I have read more than once is Dry by Augusten Burroughs. Another book that I loved and intend to re-read is Post Birthday World by Lionel Shriver.
Betty: When you’re writing, do you read in the same genre as your work in progress or something else?
Densie: I do like to read while I’m writing, but I don’t stick to the genre that I’m writing. In fact, I rarely read paranormal romance, but I just wanted to write the story.
Betty: Do you have a “day job” or do you write full time?
Densie: I’m a freelance nonfiction writer/editor by day. My degrees are in nutrition, so I write about health and nutrition for magazines, newsletters, websites, and industry. I would love to be able to write fiction full time.
Betty: What do you wish readers knew about the publishing industry?
Densie: How slow the wheels turn, how difficult it is to get published and how little money the vast majority of authors make. It burns me up when, in movies or shows, a writer has an easy meeting with an agent, throws out an idea, and the book is on the shelves in a couple of months with a book tour and tons of publicity and they’re suddenly rolling in dough. It’s more like a couple of years, if you have an agent and are published by one of the “big 5” publishers. I have gone with smaller publishers that don’t require manuscripts to be submitted by agents, so my timeline has been more like one year. And only a lucky few get book tours and publicity from the publisher. These days most of that stuff is generated and paid for by the author.
Betty: What advice do you have for new writers?
Densie: Try, try, try not to get discouraged and be open to any and all feedback. Much of it can be dismissed because it doesn’t help, it’s hypercritical, or the person providing the feedback is trying to turn your story into theirs. But, I also find that in almost all feedback, there is a least one little nugget of insight that can help make you a better writer and improve your story.
Betty: Any hints of what you’re next writing project might be?
Densie: As I mentioned, I’m still trying to come up with a solid story idea, but it will most likely involve heartbreak and a (hopefully) satisfying resolution. My first novel involved a celebrity. I’m thinking about dragging a (fictitious) celebrity into this one as well. I’m always intrigued by celebrities lives—not the glamour and the fandom, but the lack of control and the sometimes messy stuff that inevitably happens when you’re in the bright spotlight.
Betty: What kind of writing would you like to experiment with? Or what’s a different genre you’ve considered writing but haven’t yet?
Densie: I’ve always wanted to write a thriller. I love to read them, but I’m not sure I could pull it off. The closest I’ve come was with my debut novel, You’ll Be Thinking of Me, which dealt with a celebrity stalker and the havoc it wreaked on several lives.
Thanks, Densie, for stopping by and sharing about your stories and writing process. Your advice for new writers is also spot on! Thanks for that.
Happy reading, folks!
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