10 questions with writer Tonya Rice

Tonya, thanks for being part of the book-less blog tour. So, first question: what genre do you typically write?

I’m currently writing a novel about a family dealing with betrayal and healing. I also write articles about Richmond (VA) Landmarks and Historic Districts for examiner.com. I’ve got a stack of poems and a few short stories I’ve drafted over the years.

Who are your literary influences?

My range varies across the board. I’ve long been partial to stories set in the south by authors such as Lee Smith (Oral History) and Kaye Gibbons (Ellen Foster). I’ve loved to read biographies for as long as I can recall. Over the past several years, I’ve also been reading a lot of modern classics; they help to show me how literature has evolved over the years in technique, voice, and culture.

I love going back to classics as well. Now, what does your writing space look like?

My desk is a tad cluttered, but I know where everything is. Stacks of papers – prioritized. Pictures of my family. An antique lamp. Dictionary/thesaurus, pens, pretty pencil cup. File cabinet next to it. I tend to use my laptop for my novel, more than my desktop computer, since I sometimes choose a different spot in the house to work on it. I can be at my dining room table or a corner on the floor of my office or bedroom. I’ll then have my headphones tuned to one of my Pandora stations or music on my hard drive. For some reason, I feel my story a bit more when I’m away from the desk, which is why I have paper and pen on hand everywhere I go.

Is making time to write difficult?

Even though, I’ve recently devised a schedule so I work on my novel on the weekends, tinkering it during the week, writing my blog at least twice a week, and my examiner articles bi-weekly, it is difficult. I’m also the marketing manager and part-time assistant for my husband’s real estate business, which we run from home. We also have two kids. So, in spite of the schedule, I’m still a basket case during the course of the day, until I get back to my writing. It’s all I think about until I get to it!

That’s a lot of stuff to juggle while trying to write. Can you describe your current project?

It’s a story about a family centered on the matriarch who begins to evaluate the painful secrets of her past, which helps her to guide her family through the pain her granddaughter discovers about her own young life that threatens to pull them apart. The novel spans from the 1940s to the present, which requires some research. I’m halfway in it now and in order to remind me about this writing experience and hopefully to help others, I’ve been blogging about it here and here.

What do you do for fun when you’re not writing, blogging taking care of your kids and running a business?

Curl up with a good book and take walks around my neighborhood. I can also be found glued to Turner Classic Movies at any given point! I also enjoy taking pictures around the city for my articles, so my family and I play tourist from time to time.

What’s your favorite kind of music? 

I listen to a lot of classic R&B, early 90s R&B (Guy, Keith Sweat, New Edition when Johnny Gill joined), and 80s alternative (such as The Police, Level 42, Depeche Mode). During this piece I’m writing now, I’ve been listening to a lot of big band, Holliday, and Sinatra, too. Funny, when I’m driving though, I listen to classic rock a lot. I’ve also thought of Johnny Gill singing over the ending credits of the movie version of my novel… some day…

What’s your favorite yummy treat?

Oreos! I have to keep them out of my house, otherwise I’ll eat the whole bag.

I have a weakness for Pringles It’s not cute. What’s your most hated household chore?

Laundry. Putting the clothes in the washer is not a big deal, it’s the folding and sorting after I’ve taken them out the dryer. Finding socks, separating items for each kid, my husband, myself, the linen closet… it drives me bananas. I get help from everyone now and then, but when it falls on me, I still just hate it!

I hear you on the folding and sorting and also ironing! Yuck. So who is your biggest fan?

My husband, Marcus. He knows how important my fiction writing is and I’m grateful for his encouragement.  He even made a sign for me to put up when I’m writing my book, so he and the kids know it’s best to leave me alone. He’s also been great with helping me to visualize my book tours and the marketing of my book. Makes it fun and keeps me going. 

Thanks for book-less touring, Tonya! And good luck with your writing.

Thursday Mashup

Yeah. I know. Let’s just get to it, shall we?

The biggest publishing shocker for me last week was the news that Umberto Eco isn’t well read, and says that you don’t need to be either. Who’s worried about book sales? Not him, apparently.

And I bet his writing space doesn’t look like this either. (That’s super cute, right? via @MisaBuckley.)

But if you do like reading, and you want to do it on an eReader, the big news was Kobo’s new eInk display with touch screen and not to be outdone, Barnes & Noble released yet another eReader called the Simple Touch Reader that has the same capabilities. While Kindle is still maintaining their lead in the eReader industry, I don’t think they’ll have that hold for long, and the news is that they’re now looking to make Android devices to keep up  with everyone else. Let me just say now that whoever makes a color eInk display is going to CLEAN UP.

In more Barnes & Noble news, they’ve now moved into craft sales, which is good news for this blog, as I can now get my knitting supplies and my books in one cart. Yay!

And in more eReader news, at least one university is opting for eReader texts instead of all those bulky textbooks, which is the best application for this technology.

If you want to know how much an eBook should cost, you gotta go to Mike, who breaks down the economics and the dilemma on both sides: “obviously many readers feel that the prices [of eBooks] are outrageous and unjustified. How do greedy authors sleep at night? To be honest, having unhappy readers causes us some sleepless nights. Worrying about paying the rent if ebooks were priced as low as readers want causes even more sleepless nights. So, the gentle reader may rest assured that authors are, indeed, losing sleep!”

If you’re wondering how to create a writing platform, YA Fantasy Guide has the answers because as they say, “You need to get yourself out there in your field before you submit your work. Great writing, original stories, and platforms are sure fire ways to create a successful writing career for yourself. ”

And speaking of careers, two full-time writers reveal how they do it. And yes, those fantasy advances are hysterical. Though if you can’t decide if you should jump in, you need to ask yourself if writing is a calling or a career. Your mindset may have more to do with your success or failure than you think. Author Edward Nawotka says that for writers, “The sense that writing as a calling can sustain them, but thinking of writing as a career can armor you against the vagaries of this unpredictable business.”

Finally in the writing as profession category is this Writer Unboxed post about what you can expect as a professional writer and how to separate the fantasy from the reality. “How does it look when you project the image of your professional writer self into the future five years, or ten?”

For those of us who are well on our way to super stardom, you need to beware of the contract. J.D. Sawyer ( who is not a lawyer) wants you to think about your rights over the long term on dodgy clauses. “It’s situations like this that underline the unequal bargaining muscle that publishers (of all media) bring to the table. But there is something you can do to equalize that balance: When faced with a clause like this, say “no.” Period.”

There’s a new “boyz” magazine in town. And that’s great. Unless mis-spellings bother you.

See if you live in one of the most well-read cities in the U.S. (I don’t.)

Books are still being banned. Seriously? Yes. Sadly.

What some of us think of self-published books, and how to overcome that prejudice.

Last week was also BEA, so there’s some news on that front. Like Google abandoning their ebook store. Why? Read here. And the American Booksellers Association on the fate of indie bookstores: “There is nothing like browsing in a physical bookstore. That is something you can’t replace.”

And finally, we lose the divine Ms O. and all her lovely influence on the world of books, and also, libraries. Bye Oprah!

The essential writer’s office pt. 2

I did it! I actually managed to finish cleaning that giant mess in one day, and put away all the little odds and ends that I usually can’t figure out where to put. Admittedly, there is one pile of papers that needs to be reviewed and filed, but I need to go over all of the files anyway.

Here’s what the office looks like now:

The bookshelf has far fewer things than it did yesterday, and all of them get used fairly regularly. Industry and genre-related books on the top 2 shelves, and home/family stuff, like the folder of Lego manuals, on the bottom. (We have a lot of Legos and those manuals see a lot of daylight.) Grace, a broken Woody doll which my husband has been trying to get rid of, and Mr. E. Robot also hang out on the top shelf along with the last pair of pointe shoes I bought and a box of larger stationery supplies. On top is Grover in his new hat, Chewy, and the tins where I keep all the sewing, knitting, and small stationery supplies.

I decided to stop using my bulletin board as a bulletin board, and more of a things-I-like board, so there are a few family pictures, birthday cards from friends, my I miss Bill bumper sticker that  a friend (who does not like Bill) got me from his library in Arkansas, two mocked up covers from books I’ve written, but haven’t gotten published yet, and palms from church last Sunday. Now that I’m using the bulletin board as display rather than work, the fabric background doesn’t work anymore. I’ll switch it out eventually.

And lastly, I couldn’t figure out where to put Rex now that I had usurped his usual spot on top of the bookshelf for more supplies, so I put him on my desk to be the “clutter monitor” which I thought he’d immediately fail at, since clutter monitor is more a figurehead title for a plastic dinosaur, but since he’s in exactly the position where I gather most of my clutter, I think he’ll actually do his job. And he was so nervous about it!

Of course this morning when I got up and came into my office, I saw that my husband left his dirty dishes from dinner (he ate in the bedroom) on my clean desk. So he will get a talking-to later. But other than that, I’m thrilled.

The essential writer’s office pt. 1

I have not been able to work out of my office for weeks because it looked like this.

That’s the thing about writing from home. Your office isn’t just the place you manage your career, it’s also the place you manage the house, and the kids, and your spouse’s stuff as well. And because it’s not as formal as an office in a building, family members think it’s ok to hang their favorite Minnie Mouse dress, or the jacket for their suit over your chair, and discard half-finished drawings, legos, Scholastic book orders, the guitar they’re not currently using, as well as piles and piles of random pieces of paper.

So over the last few weeks, my office has ended up looking more like a messy storage closet than a place where anyone can do any kind of work. So now it looks like this.

And I have to figure out what goes back in, what my lovely family members need to re-claim, what needs to be put away elsewhere, and what needs to be trashed.

What does a writer need in their office anyway? (besides a sign that says KEEP OUT!) I’m taking suggestions.