Augie’s Quick Post
Welcome to Augie’s Corner, today we will be talking with Bonnie Hearn Hill, author of the YA Star Crossed series. Let me see Bonnie is a teacher, a public speaker, a mentor, a blogger and a friend. Her newest smash hit, GHOST ISLAND, was released this month through Black Opal Books and is available in trade paper as well as an e-book.
Welcome to Augie’s Corner. Before we get started let’s sit here and take a breather. The last time we met you invited me in for drinks. Now the treat is on me. What’s your pleasure?
Bonnie: Hi, Augie. The last time we met, you were so kind as to give me a ride to Amtrak, so the treat should still be on me. Right now, I’m enjoying a cup of lemon-ginger tea. How does that sound?
Augie: um, sounds yummy
Augie: I know we want to talk about your latest novel, Ghost Island, but before we do can you tell me about your teaching and mentoring. When we met, you told me that you never had a mentor.
Bonnie: That’s correct. Until I met my current agent about ten years ago, I had never received helpful feedback or encouragement. That may be part of the reason I have such a passion for working with other writers. I do that through my teaching, through editing, and as you know, I speak, when my schedule permits, at various writing conferences.
Augie: Can you tell me, maybe not the names, but in what genre have you mentored in.
Bonnie: I’m proud of the writers I have helped, and since they number in the hundreds, I will mention only a few. Hazel Dixon-Cooper, humorous astrology writer, received a six-figure contract for her as-yet-unwritten first two books. Christopher Allan Poe, on of the most talented thriller writers I’ve ever worked with, began as my student. His novel, THE PORTAL, will publish in October. Robert O’Hanneson, who wrote POSSUM BELLY QUEEN, the winner of the 2010 Black Oak Mystery Award, also began as my
student. Canadian author Diane Roberts, who wrote the hysterically funny BE CAREFUL WHAT YOU CLICK FOR: A GIRLFRIEND’S GUIDE TO ONLINE MATING, was my client. I was working with her on another project, and she kept telling me her online dating stories. We’d sit on the phone late at night while she e-mailed me profile photos. Finally, I said, “Diane, you have to write about this.” And she did. I have also worked with Sheree Petree, another Black Oak Mystery winner, award-winning literary fiction writer/poet Gary Hill (no relation), cowboy poet Bob Brown, oncologist/patient advocate Dr. Mark Fesen, and the extremely talented literary writer Larry Hill, who was once my student and is now my husband.
Augie: And were those individuals agreeable to your scrutinizing (lovingly) their work?
Bonnie: Ones I work with are. I am not going to get in a shouting match with someone I’m trying to help. I have learned that some write for therapy, and they are married to every word. They fall into what I call. But Danielle Steel Does It Syndrome. That means they find a published author, good or bad, living or dead, who does whatever it is I told them they shouldn’t do. Then they will come back to me and say something like, “You say I shouldn’t change point-of-view in a scene, but (Insert Authors Name) does it all the time.” I say, “Whatever.” Time has taught me that they want to be right more than they want to be published. On the other hand, if a writer really does want to get better, I can help. You’ve seen me teach, so you know I’m passionate about that.
Augie: Yes I have, and this passion of yours comes through, and I want to think you, I know when you give a suggestion it is for the best of the piece, as well as it teaches us for the next work of what not to do.
How long does it take to publish once you begin submitting?
Bonnie: There’s no answer for that one, Augie. My first novel won a national writing contest and was never published. Twenty-two years later, I got two back-to-back three-book deals for my thrillers. In today’s market, with the success of e-books and the many independent publishers springing up, I think a debut author with a tightly focused story has a better chance than ever in my history of writing for publication. The key is does the story work? Is there a strong hook? Is your protagonist both sympathetic and proactive? Are you showing through goal-driven scenes and not slogging through a lot of exposition and back story?
Augie: I’m not new to rejections. Yes I do have them from some of the big houses dating back to 1992 or thereabouts. Can you tell me how does it feel when you are first, I do mean actually published? Is it so surreal that you want to tell everybody you know that you have made it (for a moment)?
Bonnie: My most hilarious rejection was for the book that became INTERN, the first of my six thrillers for MIRA Books. I had been in touch with an agent I had met at a conference where we were both presenting. I didn’t hear back, didn’t hear back. In the meantime, through a mutual friend, I met the agent of my dreams. She not only sold the book but got me the six-book deal. After I had already deposited my advance check in the bank, I received a spacey rejection from the first agent. Augie, I’ve got to tell you, that’s the only time a rejection made me howl with laughter.
I cannot describe how it feels to first see your name on the cover of the book. It is the highest of highs. Perhaps because I began selling fiction later in life, I have never felt I had it made. There’s always a new challenge, always a new goal. And for me, there’s always the delicious question, “What do I want to write next?”
Augie: I appreciate this answer, especially that its not over yet, “What do I want to write next,” this one will go into my little book.
Bonnie tell me about Ghost Island. Okay when I hear the title, I think of Johnny Depp’s Jack Sparrow, and the other Pirates. Is this like a buccaneer thriller, with ghost ships, a Black Pearl and Davey Jones Locker or what?
Augie: You know I can get out there sometimes.
Bonnie: Yeah, I do. The book is a paranormal love story set just off the California coast on Catalina Island. A group of students are trapped there in a storm, and weird things start happening. Livia, my protagonist, meets Aaron, the perfect guy. But the only way they can be together is in her dreams. The question is, of course, is Aaron flesh and blood, or is he something much more deadly? Can he come to Livia’s world, or will her pull here into his? Here’s the link for the video trailer.
Augie: Will be seeing more of Livia in other stories?
Bonnie: I hope so. She’s in a terrible place in her life. Her father is in prison for murdering her mother, but Livia, who has been able to see spirits from a young age, is convinced her mother is not dead. So much of story still needs to be told. Also, there are questions in the first book that have yet to be answered.
Augie: That’s exciting, I love your trilogies. We see many authors that are followed consistently, we wait desperately for their next issue, but with your continuances of someone we like is almost like the next chapter in their life, it reminds me of my best friend’s next phone call. I know this for a fact because the last time I saw you, you generously gave me A Story Line Press Writer’s Guide, that you had written , called the (Expanded) Freelancer’s Rulebook (you know I am not so good with rules, but I tried and will try again) and a YA read called GEMINI NIGHT. Let me tell ya, I loved that book.
Folks you do not have to be YA to read this book. It’s for the young at heart. No I take that back. It is for those who like a good read, and your age does not matter.
Bonnie: Thanks, Augie. That is the third of the Star Crossed series, which I targeted to a younger audience than GHOST ISLAND. I’m glad to hear that an adult can enjoy it too.
Augie: Bonnie never underestimate your audience (did that sound familiar <laughing>)?
You do not know this, but a couple of friends and I are trying to make reservations to attend the Yosemite 2012 Central California Writers Conference. So far I have not received any conformation, but I am excited about attending. Can you tell us more?
Bonnie: I’m thrilled, Augie. I would love it if you could come. This is not the Yosemite Writers Conference, which I co-founded and which was held through 2006. This one is held at Sierra Sky Ranch, about 20 minutes from Yosemite, and this will be my first time presenting there. I’m also excited to announce that I’ve been invited back to the Mt. San Antonio College in your territory for next year. Here’s a link to the Central California Writers Conference.
Augie: Bonnie, thank you for being here this morning. I know that you are very busy. But you seem to spare time for the Mt. San Antonio Group, and we thank you. Ghost Island is one I would l love to pick up. Are you on eBook now?
Bonnie: Oh, yes.
Just quickly I would like to get your first reaction on the following words.
a. Favorite color: Purple, but you probably already guessed that.
b. Favorite food: Healthy stuff. I love to cook.
c. Lover of dog or cat? I love all animals, especially my wonderful cats.
d. Favorite cologne/perfume? Grace by Philosophy.
e. Drink of choice? Lemonade from the tree in my backyard.
f. If you and a companion can travel anywhere in the world, all expense paid for two weeks, where would you go? I would not want to be gone from home that long. What about a weekend on Catalina Island?
g. If I had The greatest gift is time I would : Every day is a blessing
Bonnie Hearn Hill, it has been a pleasure as well as fun to have you with us today. I will invite my audience to go out and purchase Bonnie’s GHOST ISLAND.
Bonne Hearn Hill can be reached at www.bonniehhill.com
Thank you again Bonnie for stopping in, I wish you great fortunes and good stars.
See you all real soon. Augie