Hello and welcome to We Do Write's very first interview. For our debut we will be chatting with aspiring writer Todd R. Vick!
Welcome, Todd! Let's talk about what you're writing. What is the name and genre of your manuscript?
It is a work of fiction and the title is Purple Lilacs.
Here’s the part where you pitch it. What’s your story about?
The story is about a minister from the Bible Belt who experiences great loss and betrayal. He then questions his faith and loses his way. The story follows him through his grief process and the ending will be a huge shocker.
Sounds dramatic! How did the idea of the story come to you?
The inspiration for the novel is loosely based on some things that I went through years ago when I left the ministry. I was determined that this would be a novel and NOT an autobiography, hence the word, “loosely.” At first I had no idea where to begin, so I just started writing. After about 700 words, I hit a major writer’s block. So, I let the story sit for a couple of weeks.
At the time, I was having some major financial issues due to being laid off. My mother’s birthday arrived and I was invited to have dinner with her and my two sisters. I had to decline. My younger sister offered to buy me dinner, but there was still the matter of having no gift. I couldn’t even afford a card for her at the time. My older sister suggested I just write her a poem.
That day, on my lunch hour (believe it or not), I composed a poem to my mother and the title was, “Purple Lilacs.” When I was a small child, we lived in Monona, WI, and our backyard was full of purple lilacs. My best childhood memories come from that particular time in our lives. In my psyche, that backyard has served as my “happy place.” So the poem just sort of wrote itself.
The poem then became the inspiration I needed for the novel; title and all.
What a touching story! I'm sure your mother appreciated such a personal gift. Moms love home-made presents. So, is your manuscript complete or still a work in progress?
It is a furious work in progress right now. Since my Mom’s birthday, it has practically written itself! I can hardly keep up!
Do you have a word count goal, or estimation of how long it will be, and how far along are you at this point?
My total word count goal is in the 62,000 range, more or less. My current goal is to have the manuscript completed and ready for edit by June 2010. I am currently close to 17,000 words as of today.
Once the manuscript is near completion, my plan is to start a massive query campaign. I have talked with a couple of publishers already, and there is some interest out there. Twitter has been a great tool for meeting other writers, agents, and publishers. That is how I met you!
Yes, it is! Twitter is a great way for writers to network. Speaking of networking, do you have a critique group or beta readers, or do you self-edit?
I have a group of four people whose opinions I completely trust that I send my manuscript to at different times. My best friend James is an insightful writer/editor who is very well read and was trained by the late James Dickey. I also use his wife, Caryn, who is also an author and seasoned English teacher. Then I have a fellow writing colleague, Heather Sedlock, who writes with me at Examiner.com, read and edit my manuscript. Heather is a very seasoned and published writer with 25 years experience. Last but not least, my wife, Tracy, has been invaluable throughout this entire process.
Sounds like you have the right connections! Tell us, what’s the hardest part of writing for you?
I currently write for 2 online publications, and a local magazine. The hardest part of writing for me has been with budgeting my time each day for each publication, and then making time to work on the novel. Mrs. Sedlock has been a huge help in that regard.
What do you always have to have nearby when you are writing?
As weird as this is going to sound, it is the truth. When I write, I like to have coffee in my Daffy Duck mug (seriously). When I work on the novel specifically, I like to have the movie 1408 playing in the background. For some reason, it pumps my creative juices. My children now hate that movie with extreme prejudice! HAHA!
Hehehe. Well, I'm sure they'll forgive you for your movie-watching injustices once your book is published. Any tips you’ve learned about writing you’d like to share?
I have received a great deal of advice from various writers. Some of it has been wonderful. In my personal writer’s journey, three things have helped me a lot, and I will happily share them. 1) Just write. Sit down, focus, and start writing. Start a blog. I posted on my blog for 5 years before I ever started REALLY writing, but the blog is a great outlet for me. 2) Join local and/or online writer groups. I am a member of several, and some of them are incredible and full of very useful information. 3) Get a copy of The Writer’s Digest. That book has changed my life as a writer. There are many other great books, but that one gave me the confidence to write professionally.
Do you have an idea for your book’s cover art?
Nothing concrete yet. I have found great pictures of lilacs on the web, but I have yet to design a cover, and I know very little about how to do it! My good photographer friend, Jeff Hammond (www.jghphoto.com), has agreed to do the dust cover when the time comes.
Who are your inspirations?
My biggest inspiration to write came from my 8th grade English teacher, Mrs. Lola Richbourg. Mrs. R. saw something in me that I didn’t see, and encouraged me to keep at it. Whatever I may achieve as a writer, I owe it all to her. She is a gem! She retired recently, and the world got a whole lot dumber! HAHA!
Another source of inspiration is my two best friends, James Kirk and Rick Stilwell. They are both prolific writers, and make me push myself harder as a writer. I’m not even sure I have ever told them this. Perhaps I will!
I also owe a nod to my good friend Caryn Crabb Kirk. She gave me the best practical writing advice of all. She told me to base each character in my novel on a particular actor or actress as I develop them. That has helped me tremendously. Should the novel ever become a movie, I want Judd Apatow to direct it. Most of my characters are based on characters from his movies.
Let’s get to know you on a deeper level. Can you name three things about yourself people may not know (or maybe they do know but they are special traits/hobbies/quirks)?
- I am a semi-retired pro wrestler. Strictly small time and barely that.
- I am a Sci-Fi enthusiast (geek, nerd, dork – take your pick). I absolutely love Star Trek and The X-Files, and I greatly respect the works of Irwin Allen and Rod Serling. These men were “light years” ahead of their time. My lifelong best friend’s name is James Kirk…Sci-Fi was my destiny.
- In 2002, I recorded a Gospel CD. I hope no one ever finds it.
Here’s the part where you thank the people who are supporting you. Who would you like to give a shout out to?
In addition to the ones I have already mentioned, I want to thank my Mom for inspiring the poem and the novel, as well as all the good memories. I would also like to thank my children, Cody, Jenna, Katie, Steven, Christi, Matthew and Nicholas. They get so excited to see my stuff published online, and it keeps me going. They also give me my space when I am in “writing mode.”
And finally, where can people find you online?
My website is http://www.ToddRVick.com. There is a link to my blog on the website, which, like the novel, is a work in progress. You can also find me on Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter.
Readers can also see some of my work on RUSE the.magazine http://www.rusemag.com and on my
Examiner.com page http://www.examiner.com/x-38090-Columbia-Blended-Families-Examiner
Todd, thank you so much for letting us get to know you. I wish you lots of success on your writing journey, and please let us know once you've reached your next phase of publication!