Today we welcome Teresa Trent.
Book ‘Em: Tell us about you and your life outside of writing.
Teresa Trent: When I am not writing, I am a caregiver to a twenty-four-year-old with Down syndrome/autism. I also help with music for a local special needs preschool. I live in the Houston, Texas area with my family.
Book ‘Em: Which books have you written? What are they about and why did you choose to write them? Do your books have a message? Are they fiction or nonfiction?
Teresa Trent: Pecan Bayou Series#2 Overdue for Murder#4 Buzzkill#6 Murder for a Rainy DayPiney Woods Series: #1 Murder of a Good Man, #7 Till Dirt Do Us Part, #5 Burnout, #3 Doggone Dead, #1 A Dash of Murder
I write cozy mysteries. I have seven books in my Pecan Bayou Series and in January 2018 I will debut my first book in the Piney Woods Series with Camel Press. Cozies are “gentler” mysteries with most of the sex and violence offstage. Agatha Christie is probably the most famous cozy mystery author. Every mystery I write involves family, intrigue, a little romance and humor. In the Pecan Bayou Series my heroine is a helpful hints columnist, so each book contains hints, tips and recipes. In the Piney Woods Series my heroine works in a hotel in East Texas, so her days are filled with mysterious visitors.
Book ‘Em: Do you have a work in progress?
Teresa Trent: Always. I am in edits for the second book in the Piney Woods Series and am currently writing that book’s sequel.
Book ‘Em: What was the most difficult section/piece you ever wrote? What made it difficult?
Teresa Trent: A Dash of Murder was my first attempt at mystery writing. It took me two years to write the book. I didn’t understand plotting, outlining or establishing a writing regimen to keep me going. During this time, I started reading books about writing and tried different approaches until I found one that worked for me. With each book I find myself tweaking my process and now I write a first draft in about two months.
Book ‘Em: What sort of research do you do for your work?
Teresa Trent: My research mostly deals with the business of crime solving. I’ve looked up weapons, poisons, and investigative techniques many times. Every plot points me in a different direction. For one book I was checking out hurricanes and emailing the Hurricane Hunters, for another it was paranormal investigations, another I emailed a children’s illustrator. I’ve even called a funeral home to find out how long it takes for a body to decompose completely. Probably the funniest thing I researched was how to blow up a port-a-potty. Did you know You Tube is filled with videos of this? Amazing.
Book ‘Em: Which books and authors do you read for pleasure? Is there an author that inspires you?
Teresa Trent: No matter what the genre, I tend to gravitate toward small town settings. Fannie Flagg has greatly inspired me in my own work. She writes about small towns with colorful characters. She always includes a mixture of laughter and characters who touch your heart. I strive for that in my stories
Book ‘Em: Was there a person who encouraged you to write?
Teresa Trent: My biggest cheerleader has always been my husband. For years when I would get discouraged he would say, “What do writers do? Write!”
Book ‘Em: What would you say are your strengths as an author?
Teresa Trent: I try to write mysteries that I would enjoy reading.
Book ‘Em: How often do you write and do you write using a strict routine?
Teresa Trent: I write almost every day. If I don’t do this, I lose the flow of the story. Even if I don’t have time to write, I make notes to myself where I stopped in the manuscript and if I think of something, no matter how busy I am, I will record it on my phone. The older you get, the more you treasure note-taking!
Book ‘Em: Five years from now, where do you see yourself as a writer?
Teresa Trent: I self-published the Pecan Bayou Series but with Murder of a Good Man I am publishing with a traditional publisher. It is a wonderful opportunity for me and in five years I am hoping to continue creating traditionally published works. There are many cozy mystery writers out there and the best way I know to compete with them is to keep writing and refining my stories.
Book ‘Em: If you could offer one piece of advice to a novice writer, what would it be?
Teresa Trent: You are responsible for educating yourself. Read all you can in your genre and about the process of writing a novel. Associate with other writers. Go to conferences, join critique groups, write in NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month). Writing can be isolating, so along with all those little characters that are marching around in your brain, find someone else to talk to that you didn’t create! Learn from their mistakes and successes. Educate yourself.
Book ‘Em: What would you consider the best compliment a reader could give your book?
Teresa Trent: I couldn’t put it down.
Book ‘Em: Provide an excerpt of your writing that you would like to share with our members.
Teresa Trent: Excerpt-Chapter 1 of Till Dirt Do Us Part
“Betsy, darlin’, I don’t know how you get yourself into these messes.” Aunt Maggie stood in the bright sunshine as a parade of ants made their way up the sidewalk. My yard held the charms of glorious red oak trees and a nice patch of grass. My family’s addition to the outdoor area included a yellow-and-blue swing set and a little red wagon with our sons’ bikes precariously leaned against it. From today on, we would look at this green space differently. Now my yard held a brand-new garden. I pulled my chestnut-brown hair back into a ponytail. I was overdue for a cut, but there just never seemed to be time to get down to the Best Little Hairhouse in Texas.
“I think it can be surmised in one word and one word only. Rocky.” Rocky Whitson was my boss and a major pain in the asparagus at the Pecan Bayou Gazette. Our little paper covered all the news in our tiny Texas town, and when there wasn’t any news, Rocky made an effort to create some. His latest idea was to have the “Best Garden in Pecan Bayou” contest. Of course, he decided that in my position as the Happy Hinter, the writer of the local helpful hints column, I too should participate and give him reports “in the field.” I just wished I didn’t have to be in an actual field. My job would be to turn in weekly reports highlighting the ups and downs of being an amateur gardener. Amateur being the operative word. Was I a gardener? Did I anxiously await the fresh crinkle of seed catalogs every January? Did I love the sound of bees buzzing in the morning?
I was notorious for killing plants. It was so bad that my children gave me fake flowers on Mother’s Day. Still, here I was in the backyard of my home with a brand-new set of planter boxes and the entire shelf of gardening books from the Pecan Bayou library, including the official Texas gardening manual.
I clumsily tried to turn the pages of the manual with my new green plastic-coated gardening gloves. I picked them because they had vegetables printed in the soft cotton material of the gloves. Maybe I could cause the brightly colored carrots and broccoli to somehow encourage the real plants I would try to grow. “According to the manual, we should put the tomatoes over there in the bright sun.”
Aunt Maggie held her hand up to her eyes as she surveyed the patch of the yard we were now calling the garden. “Well, your boxes look good. Leo and Judd did a great job putting them together. All you need now is plenty of sunshine, water, and maybe a little fertilizer now and again. You can’t have the beauty without a little poo-ty. It should be lovely, dear.”
My new planter boxes gave off the scent of fresh wood from the lumber store and had only cost us a little too much money to build. Now I had another problem: I needed at least fifteen inches of dirt in each box. Luckily at the suggestion of Maggie, I called up our local garden store, Sprouts, and ordered dirt to be delivered to our home.
“How much garden dirt did you need there, Betsy?” Joe Phillips, the owner, asked as the ring of the cash register echoed in the background.
“I guess I’m going to need a lot. I have ten planter boxes that I need to fill. How much would that be?”
“Don’t rightly know. It depends on how big your planter boxes are. Did you want a bed full?”
That sounded simple. It had to be like a cord of wood—a pickup truck full. “Yes. That’s how much I want.” I was pleased it had been as simple as that. Need to add to your garden? Pick up the phone, and you can fill your garden with glorious, healthy dirt.
Book Links: My books are available in many places but am including just the Amazon links.