The Writing Life with Victoria Landis, Author of 'Jordan'

Victoria Landis is a professional writer, editor, and artist. A 16-year member, and former board member, of Mystery Writers of America, she Co-Chaired the SleuthFest Writers Conference from 2015-2018.

She's taught at SleuthFest, the Authors Academy at Murder on the Beach, and the Alvin Sherman Library at Nova Southeastern University.

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What got you into writing?

I was a book lover from the time I learned to read. In grade school, I began writing stories. I even hand-printed copies (this was before copy machines & the school used the purple ditto machines?) of a ‘gazette’ for my classmates. But life interfered after high school, and I didn’t get serious about it until I was in my mid-forties.

What do you like best about being an author?

The freedom. I write whatever I want, whenever I want.

When do you hate it?

Almost never. I suppose if there’s a time deadline for some reason, and I’m behind.

What is a regular writing day like for you?

I work at home, so I do the social media thing—still learning the ins & outs of that—from 6-9ish in the morning, then take a break to eat & shower. At ten-ish, I’ll sit down to write, edit, etc. I can pretty much write any time.

Do you think authors have big egos?

Sure. Of course. Some bigger than others. All people do. When you work so hard to produce an entire novel, it’s like having a baby. And you’re dang proud of it. Over the years, probably because of my amazing critique group, I’ve learned to jettison the ego. It’s hard to do, but worth it. I’ve found you miss a lot of good, valuable feedback if the ego gets in the way.

How do you handle negative reviews?

If I say anything at all, I say thank you for reading my book.

How do you handle positive reviews?

Jump up & down in the privacy of my office. Call my mom. Tell my best friends. Then try to play it cool when I thank them.

What is the usual response when you tell a new acquaintance that you’re an author?

Hah! That’s a good question. Because I’m a blonde, blue-eyed woman, all my life people have assumed I’m dimwitted. Although times aren’t as bad that way as they used to be, I still get the disbelieving looks when I tell people I write books. An acquaintance called me after my first book, Blinke It Away, came out and couldn’t stop telling me how amazed she was that the book was really good. She only read it because another friend insisted. But I’ve noticed that disbelief doesn’t happen as much anymore.

What do you do on those days you don’t feel like writing? Do you force it or take a break?

There are so many other things to do, so I go attend to them, rather than sit there and stare. Usually, as I’m doing the other things, ideas come to me, and I’m ready to hit the keyboard again.

Any writing quirks?

I need quiet. Music will only distract me.

What would you do if people around you didn’t take your writing seriously or see it as a hobby?

Since I experienced exactly that, I can tell you I tried not to be hurt by it and soldiered on. My own mother told me when I started that maybe I should write children’s books. She didn’t mean YA or middle grade, either. She meant picture books for three-year-olds. My ex rolled his eyes at my efforts. My sister confessed to me that no one in the family wanted to read what I’d sent them (I was wondering why they didn’t) because they were so afraid the writing wouldn’t be any good, and then what would they say? No one thought I could—except me. Now, many years later, all of them read my books and recommend them to their friends. Once they saw that well-respected fiction authors were reading and reviewing my books, they got on board.

Some authors seem to have a love-hate relationship to writing. Can you relate?

Not really. I’d love to be able to write full-time. There are so many stories/ideas I want to write about.

What’s on the horizon for you?

I’m working on a historical novel set in 1400s France. I’m a history nut. Love it. But JORDAN is getting some serious buzz, so I may do book two (there will be three in that series) concurrently with the historical.

Leave us with some words of wisdom about the writing process or about being a writer.

  1. Get your ego out of the way.
  2. No matter how much you think you know, there’s so much more to know.
  3. Buy good how-to writing books. Some I’ve loved are from Stephen King, Margaret Atwood, Hallie Ephron, David Morrell, Carolyn Wheat, & Donald Maass
  4. Assume your first manuscript will suck. Most do. Get over it.
  5. Learn to self-edit.
  6. Don’t submit to or query anyone until it’s as polished as polished can be.
  7. If you ask for an honest assessment, be prepared to receive one.

Thank you so much for having me here!

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