Friday, September 9, 2016

INTERVIEW WITH JANET BLY



Janet Chester Bly is the widow of Christy Award winning western
author Stephen Bly. Together they published 120 fiction and nonfiction books for adults and kids. Janet and their three sons finished Stephen’s last novel, Stuart Brannon’s Final Shot, a Selah Award Finalist. Down Squash Blossom Road is Book 2 in the Reba Cahill contemporary western mystery series. Book 1 is Wind in the Wires. Find out more at www.BlyBooks.com



INTERVIEW

If you had to describe yourself in one sentence, what would you say?

I’m a city girl with a country heart who doesn’t corral horses or mow my own lawn, but I enjoy my Idaho mountain top small town where I rake lots of pine needles and cones and survive the long winter, one snowstorm at a time.
 
What do you do when you’re not writing? Any interesting hobbies?

Besides reading? Lots of books on my TBR pile. Years ago I used to make pine bough holiday wreaths. Any extra time these days is given to library board (as president) and church board (as clerk) and ministering with the church worship team and choir (as director).  

What was your favorite book as a teen or child? 

I don’t remember the title or author, but I found the novel on my grandmother’s bookshelf when I was staying with her as a teen and will always remember this scene … the female protagonist cutting up the baby clothes she just knitted and flushing them down the toilet. The poignant sadness remained with me all these many decades later. When I finally grow up, I’d like to write memorable scenes like that.

Tell us three things about yourself that might surprise your readers.

I love Matt Damon and the Jason Bourne movies … and anything starring Tom Selleck.

I don’t like coffee at all … except if it’s a latte or frappuccino or as an ice cream flavor.

I rode horses only because of my late hubby, Stephen, to be with him. However, I never feel real comfortable around them, even though I do love to watch them run.

What genre did you start out writing? Have you changed course? Why or why not?

Even the early children’s stories we did years ago centered around a mystery of some sort. Adult novels co-authored with Stephen were cozy mysteries, such as The Hidden West Series and The Carson City Chronicles. Now that I’m writing solo, my new series, The Trails of Reba Cahill, is contemporary western mystery with a touch of romance. Stephen had the resource of the history detail expertise, 1880-1910 in the Old West. I’ve always loved mysteries and in order to try to cross-over with appeal to Stephen’s historical western fans, I’ve kept with the western theme, but with a contemporary setting. That worked better for me. Some have called my stories CowgirlLit, especially with the road adventure slant, much like Stephen’s CowboyLit One Step Over the Border and his Horse Dreams Series. Find out more here: http://www.blybooks.com/cowboy-lit/  

What has been the toughest criticism given to you as an author? What has been the best compliment?

Toughest criticism … too many people and names in my stories and
some readers get lost. Have tried to correct that with fewer characters, but also added a Character Names List to the newest novel just released, Down Squash Blossom Road. Hope that will help!

The best compliments … when readers couldn’t tell where my late husband’s contribution ended on his last novel, Stuart Brannon’s Final Shot, and my three sons and I began as we finished the project for him after his passing. Also, when reviewers mention they wondered if they’d enjoy my stories as well as Stephen’s and were pleasantly surprised to discover they did. High praise, indeed!

Any other genres you’d like to try? If yes, what and why?

Not really. I like what I’m writing … western flavor, mystery to solve, and a touch of romance. However, I certainly enjoy reading all types of different genres.

If you could go back in time and do something differently at the start of your career, what would it be?

As I think back to 1975 and later, I’m so thankful I attended writers conferences, learned the basics of submitting manuscripts, and was encouraged to do a lot of writing for my ‘slush piles,’ right from the beginning. I also got to know a lot of writers before I was one myself. Also, the best thing that happened was to get my hubby involved in writing too. Together we accomplished way more in being prolific than either of us ever would have done alone. To God be the glory!

Do something different? Can’t think of a thing. Except … perhaps read a lot more.

What is the most important piece of advice you’d like to give to unpublished authors?

Today is so different. Anyone can publish a book about anything, anytime. That’s the benefit and also the bane. If you want to become a good writer and find a reader base, get a critique team that fits for you, that will provide excellent feedback and edit suggestions you respect and make you better with each project.

My hubby and I had a rule that either of us could edit the other with any amount of red marks we wanted, but the creator of the project had the last say on what stayed and what got deleted. We learned from each other that way over the years. We each had a different approach that complemented the team effort. Everyone needs dependable critique partners. That might take some time to find. I recommend you hire at least one pro, if you’re not under contract with a mainline publisher. And perhaps trade editing favors with other writers too.
   
Janet is giving away a copy of her book, Down Squash Blossom Road. Either paperback (U.S. only, please), or a .pdf version for digital readers. Leave a comment, along with your contact information, and we'll pick a winner next week!

32 comments:

  1. Janet, thank you for sharing more about you and your late husband. You were definitely a great team together. I enjoy learning more about authors. I look forward to reading your books--my TBR list just keeps growing. LOL marilynridgway78[at]mail[dot]com

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    1. Marilyn: I know about that rising TBR pile! As the saying goes, so many books, so little time.

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  2. Loved the interview, I like the fact that you don't like coffee at all! My aunt always told me that I don't even make a good Norwegian because I don't drink/like coffee, lol. Thank you for the chance to win a copy of your newest book.

    wfnren at aol dot com

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    1. Wendy: The biggest shock to my coffee drinking friends was when I learned to enjoy lattes. My late hubby was a boiled campfire style black as aces coffee drinker. Another way that opposites attract! :-)

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  3. Enjoyed the interview. cheetahthecat1986(at)gmail(dot)com

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  4. It is wonderful that you and your sons were able to complete Stephen's last book and that you did it so well! Stephen Bly books were always requested in the library where I worked.
    Connie
    cps1950(at)gmail (dot)com

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    1. Connie: Thanks for your note. Feel so privileged and grateful that I and my sons were able to finish that novel and so soon after losing him!

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  5. Great interview! The comment about toughest criticism was interesting. Since I have read the book and posted reviews in various places, I noticed the list of characters and places in the back of the book. I thought the myriad of characters simply added to the quirkiness of the book and made it more entertaining. This is not an entry to win the giveaway. I want to recommend the book to other readers. It was quite enjoyable.

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    1. Edward: Thanks so much for checking in and adding your perspective!

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  6. Thanks for the great interview. I love getting to know authors better. I love the genre you write in and I also have a TBR pile. I would be sad if I didn't have a few books waiting for me. Thank you for sharing about your husband. You were blessed to have a supportive spouse who also loved writing as much as you do. I'm embarressed to say I have not read one of your book, but I hope I get the chance to.
    Blessings
    Deana
    Jhdwayne(at)peoplepc(dot)com

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  7. Deana: Always a great privilege to connect with a potential new reader! Thanks for commenting here!

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  8. Interesting interview and thank you for the giveaway redeemed1ru(at)comcast(dot)net

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  9. A western mystery with a touch of romance!! It doesn't get any better than that! Thanks for sharing the review, interview & giveaway! rw620 AT aol DOT com

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  10. Great interview. :)

    fallingfan at gmail.com

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  11. Beverly Duell-MooreSeptember 9, 2016 at 1:15 PM

    Great interview! A new author for me! Would love to start reading your books. I loved the Stuart Brannon Series!

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    1. Beverly: Delighted to hear you read and enjoyed the Stuart Brannon Series! Stephen and now I make sure there is a Stuart Brannon reference in every story written by us. Can be challenging at times, especially in a contemporary novel, but also fun. Always have a private chuckle every time I find the place that works!

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  12. Interesting interview. You are a new author to me. Would love to read "Down Squash Blossom Road". Really like the cover also.
    diannekc8(at)gmail(dot)com

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    1. Dianne: Love discovering new potential readers. Thanks for compliment on cover. Ken Raney designed it. He's the husband of writer Deborah Raney.

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  13. Interesting interview. You are a new author to me. Would love to read "Down Squash Blossom Road". Really like the cover also.
    diannekc8(at)gmail(dot)com

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  14. Thank you for the great interview and giveaway. Wish you could remember that book you read as a teen....sounds intriguing.
    tumcsec(at)gmail(dot)com

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    1. Gail: Thanks for note. It was so long ago and the book I read long gone. Sad! Maybe will discover it again sometime.

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  15. A great interview! Thank you! mauback55 at gmail dot com

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    1. Melanie: Thanks for your note! Appreciated!

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  16. A great interview! Thank you! mauback55 at gmail dot com

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  17. Very nice interview Janet. I will always remember when my daughter interviewed you and Steve for her senior project. You both were so helpful and gracious. Maybe one day she will write her own book. I too was a neighbor for many years. Will always remember the picnic get togethers at The Crossing. Much love

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    1. Debbie: What a delight for you to stop by and leave your note. Blessings to you and your family!

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  18. Thank you for the giveaway! It is a great interview. I have one of your husband's last books. It was hard hiding it from my husband, he read it first! Look forward to reading your books.

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    1. Jennifer: Thanks for the kind words. Appreciated!

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  19. Greetings, everyone! So appreciated all those who commented. Just made the random draw of names and the one to receive the giveaway is Dianne Casey! Congrats, Dianne! Will send you the info by email.

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