Bestselling author, Patricia Zick, is a true example that writers don’t have to limit themselves to one genre. Writing everything from romance to nonfiction, she has won several awards for her essays, articles, editorials, and of course, for her novels. However, there are a few elements that Zick is known for, apart from her versatility—stories that celebrate the natural beauty of Florida and her strong female characters.
Here’s what she had to say when we interviewed her:
I love the title of your blog, “Living Lightly”. Can you tell us more about what that means to you?
The original title was “Living Lightly Upon This Earth,” which I knew right away was far too long so I shortened it. It expresses my desire to move gracefully and lightly in all I do, whether it’s in my personal and professional relationships or through my life as a consumer. It started as an environmental blog, but I’ve since realized that living lightly means so much more.
You’ve written everything from a cookbook and a travel guide to a civil war journal and a series of romance novels, do you have a favorite genre? How do you decide what you want to write?
The topics of my books emerge in a rather organic manner. Both the gardening book and the Civil War Journal were written during a time when I was sick and receiving chemical treatments. I didn’t have much energy, but I could sit up in bed and pull the laptop to me. I took all of my Living Lightly blog posts about gardening and added some recipes and pulled together From Seed to Table. The Civil War Journal of a Union Soldier is actually the memoir of my great grandfather’s that I decided to put in electronic form. As I typed the journal, I realized I needed to publish it! The fiction has also evolved over the years. I started writing contemporary literary fiction, but now I’ve branched into romance. I’m enjoying that right now, but that could change. I let my muse direct me.
Do you find that the different types of writing that you do require a different approach, both in terms of preparation and style?
Sure, but all books—fiction and nonfiction—require research. I love to do research, so that’s no problem. And the Internet has made that job a breeze, as long as I’m discriminating on what I use. With contemporary literary fiction, there are more elements to plot, so I find myself making notecards, drawing character charts and subplot connections. Romance traditionally contains one main plot focusing on the two major characters, so it doesn’t require as much plotting. But it’s all writing, and I embrace it all.
When did you decide to become an author? Did you have a singular aha moment? Or have you always know that this was what you wanted to do?
It’s always been my secret desire as long as I can remember. But I didn’t dare tell anyone for fear of being laughed out of the room. I always received praise for my writing and completing assignments that required an essay never fazed me. I preferred it. As an English teacher, I taught others to write and became known as the “writing teacher.” One day, one of my students attempted suicide, and I thought, I need to stop teaching and start writing. Within six months, I’d left teaching and finally, and loudly, proclaimed, “I am a writer.”
Can you tell us a little about your writing process? Do plot thing out in advance, or fly by the seat of your pants?
If it’s nonfiction, I plot it out. Fiction I fly by the seat of my pants with just the seed of an idea and characters that I grow. I never know quite what I’m going to do until I’m sitting at the computer. Then once I get a draft of some sorts—I refer to this stage as the outline—I start doing more plotting.
What do you think is the most important part of a story? Or, I should say, what is your favorite part of the story?
I’m a sucker for descriptive settings and using the setting as a strong part of the plot. Sometimes, it could almost be another character. A hurricane, snowstorm, thunder and lightening all become forces to move plot. A lazy river on a summer afternoon can create contrast for a devastating turn in the plot.
What lessons have you learned the “hard” way?
I’ve learned that I can’t compare myself to others. It’s difficult in this business where we’re in constant contact via social media with other authors shouting out about their successes. Once I start comparing my journey with theirs, I’m discouraged. So I’ve learned to congratulate them and then get back to what I do. I write. Period.
How was the publishing experience for you? Did you go it alone or did you get help?
I’ve been published traditionally, and I’ve had an agent. Both were small and did nothing for my career except cause me to drop out for a few years. But I continued to write, so when I lifted my head and saw what was happening for Indies, I had a couple of manuscripts to put out there myself.
What have you found to be the best way to market your books?
It’s a constant learning experience, and I remain flexible and read what others have to say about it. One thing is certain, because of the glut on the market, if I don’t spend a portion of my day marketing, I don’t sell books. Kindle Select promotions help me sell the most books and garner reviews, but it’s a slow process. I don’t spend a lot of money on promotion, so I probably don’t do as well as others. Then again, I usually show a tiny profit at the end of each month, too.
How do you handle rejection or negative reviews?
In the beginning, I was dejected. I’d have ten great reviews, and then that one negative review took on gigantic proportions in my mind. With the first one, I started investigating and discovered that the person tended to write negative reviews for other books as well. So I forgot about it. I still get a twinge for the few I’ve received, but always, I read them and see if anything of the criticisms are valid. If so, I try to learn from them. Otherwise, I ignore them because usually they say more about the reviewer than about my books.
How do you find your courage? A lot of new writers are scared of putting themselves out there to be judged. So much so, that many of them never even take the first step. What advice would you give to them?
Every day life can be frightening. But if we live in fear, we go nowhere. I write. That means I want to be published. Yes, it’s downright scary to see one of my books, one of my babies, receive a new review. I almost hate to look, but the majority of the time, I’m pleased. We’re judged by everyone the minute we walk out our door (literally or figuratively, via social media), so this is just one more step in the process.
What’s next for you? What are you working on now?
Right now I’m busy editing Behind the Curtain, the third book in my Behind the Love trilogy. It’s in pre-order right now so I’m on serious deadline. It will be published November 10. I’m also involved in several box sets with other authors. I’m working on a romance set in the Smoky Mountains and need to start another romance for a special set very soon. Plus, I’m an editor and formatter for other Indies, and I have several projects going right now. I stay busy, that’s for sure!
Is there anything else that you’d like to share with our readers?
Writers write—that’s the best bit of advice I received back before I stuck my foot out to say I’m a writer. That’s my philosophy. So many have said to me, “I’ll write when this and that happens.” Well, if you’re a writer, you’ll forget about this and that and sit your rear end in the chair and just WRITE.
If you’d like to learn more about Patricia Zick, you’re in luck, because there are plenty of places to sift through! Check out her website, blog, Facebook or Twitter accounts. For information on her books and where to purchase them, please check out her Goodreads page or Amazon.
Don’t miss out on the new release of Behind the Curtain, available now on pre-order! Plus, get the first two books of the Behind the Love Trilogy for free, Nov 3-7!
Behind the Curtain
When Lisa Williams returns to her hometown of Victory, Florida, with a producer of reality TV shows, not everyone is happy to see her, particularly her sister, Susie. Lisa finds herself at odds with everyone in town, even her close friend Tommy who tries to understand and support her dreams of becoming a star. When Tommy is assigned to cover the show’s filming as a reporter for the Tampa Tribune, he finds himself at odds with Lisa who he’s beginning to think of as more than a friend. Sally Jean returns to the Behind the Love series as Lisa’s best friend. But the show threatens to tear them apart as well when the producer wants to make Sally Jean the star rather than Lisa. As Lisa finds herself losing everyone in her life, Tommy struggles to remain her friend, hoping she’ll realize that her actor boyfriend Jet isn’t any good for her. If he can convince her of that, perhaps he’ll stand a chance at winning her fragile heart.