It’s so exciting to welcome Terri DuLong to Women’s Fiction Writers! She is the first participating author who I met through this very site! Terri commented back in March and I looked at her website, checked out her books and wondered why I hadn’t been a fan all along. Just like the wise owl on the old Tootsie Pop commercial: the world will never know. In reality, through this site and my writer friends, I’m learning that there are always new and new-to-me women’s fiction (and other) authors on the reading horizon.
If you don’t know Terri, I hope that you’ll enjoy meeting her today (and reading her) as much as I have — and that you’ll chime in with comments!
Women’s Fiction Author Terri DuLong Talks About Her Long Road To Publication and Being a Late Bloomer
TD: I’m Terri DuLong and thank you for inviting me to your great blog. I’m originally from the Boston area, but have lived in Florida 24 years. Six years ago, when my husband retired, we relocated to Cedar Key, an island off the west coast of Florida. My first two women’s fiction novels, Lost Souls of the Witches’ Castle, and Daughters of the Mill, were published in 2002 and 2004 by a small press. They’re no longer in print version, but are now available in eBook on Kindle and Nook. I have been writing the Cedar Key Series for Kensington Publishing since 2008……Spinning Forward was released 2009, Casting About in 2010, along with my Christmas novella, A Cedar Key Christmas, in Holiday Magic, the anthology with Fern Michaels headlining and the one that put me on the NY Times & USA Today bestseller list. Book 3 in my series, Sunrise On Cedar Key, will be released October 25 and book 4 in 2012.
ASN: Your Cedar Key series takes place in a real town — the town you live in! How do you draw the line between fact and fiction? Has it gotten you into any trouble or awkward situations?
TD: First of all….No, I’ve had no trouble or awkward situations. Although the town where my stories take place is very real and I do live here, the fiction that I write about focuses on women’s issues, so although I do incorporate a lot of island “stuff” in my stories, the main plot has nothing to do with actual residents. Much of my writing for my characters is a composite of various women I’ve met in my nursing career and throughout life, in addition to my own creativity.
ASN: We often read and talk about how much is too much of yourself to put into a work of fiction. Can you speak to this when it comes to your books and women’s fiction in general?
TD: I don’t feel that I write about myself per se…..probably the closest character to me was Dana Etheridge, in my first novel, Lost Souls of the Witches’ Castle. However, the way that I feel about women’s issues does go into the creation of my characters. For instance with Sydney in Spinning Forward ……It’s amazing how many fans have emailed to tell me that they too are beginning an inner journey in their forties, fifties or later, much like Sydney did. I also have taken ideas from family members or other women on particular issues…..like with Sybile in Spinning Forward. She was very loosely based on my aunt, who also never had children and that seed began when I wondered, “Is every woman cut out to be a mother? And if not, did they regret it in old age?” Personally, I feel that every woman is not cut out for motherhood but more important, she shouldn’t feel any guilt because of her choice. So it’s these little tidbits that I gather from knowing other women that nudge my imagination and allow me to address particular women’s issues.
ASN: What are the key ingredients or elements in your books that make them publishable and relatable?
TD: I think I probably answered most of this in the question above, but from the feedback that I receive from both my editor and my fans I believe writing about ordinary issues, choices, problems, etc. involving very ordinary women has been a strong appealing factor for a lot of my readers.
ASN: What was your publishing journey like?
TD: To put it succinctly . . . very long! I’m smiling because I truly do think not only am I a late bloomer, but I strongly feel everything happens in life precisely when it’s supposed to. I’ve been writing all my life but didn’t get serious until around age fifty. By “serious” I mean attending writers conferences, learning the craft and industry of my career, winning awards for some of my short stories, submitting queries for my novels and never, ever giving up that someday I would be published by a traditional, New York publisher. So it was a long journey from the point where I wanted to get published, about ten years long, until the actual reality of getting that first contract from Kensington. But I believe in the process, I learned another life lesson….that it’s truly not the destination, but IS the journey! Because I truly appreciate all that’s been given to me since becoming a published author. It continues to be an amazing journey for me!
ASN: You write women’s fiction — what are some of your favorite or go-to books in women’s fiction and other genres?
TD: I pretty much only read women’s fiction and this dates back many years when Barbara Taylor Bradford, Rona Jaffe, Rosamonde Pilcher and many others were my favorites. But this changes as I discover new authors along the way. I still enjoy Elizabeth Berg, Eileen Goudge, Anita Shreve and some new ones are Elin Hilderbrand, Jane Green and Dorothea Benton Frank. Right now I’m reading, “Friendship Bread” by Darrien Gee and I love it! So she’s added to my newest list. “Provence Cure for the Brokenhearted” is next to read in my pile, so I think I’ll be adding Bridget Asher to my list of favorites as well.
ASN: And now, possibly the hardest question: How do you define women’s fiction?
TD: This genre can be so difficult to define, but my own personal definition is: A novel that focuses on relationships more than an actual love story. A love story is often woven into it, but the main story has to do with mothers/daughters, siblings, sisters, girlfriends, parents or children.
ASN: What is your best advice for aspiring authors of women’s fiction?
TD: First of all, read, read, read! By reading this genre, it will give an aspiring author an idea about plot, characters, etc. And then I suggest you think about a women’s issue that stirs you, makes you angry, makes you happy, makes you curious, makes you feel compelled to develop your own characters, setting and plot to tell your story to other women.
Terri DuLong is originally from Salem, Massachusetts. When her husband was transferred with the airlines, they moved to the Tampa Florida area in 1987, where Terri worked as a Registered Nurse. Upon his retirement six years ago, they relocated to a small island off the west coast of Florida, which was the inspiration for Terri’s Cedar Key novels.
She is the NY Times & USA Today bestselling author of the acclaimed Cedar Key Series and began her writing career as a contributing writer for Bonjour Paris, contributing over forty articles on her travel to France utilizing a fictional canine character.
Her first two novels, Lost Souls of the Witches’ Castle, and Daughters of the Mill were released in 2002 and 2004 with a small press that later went out of business. Although out of print, they are now available in eBooks.
Terri sold her women’s fiction novel, SPINNING FORWARD, to Kensington Publishing in 2008 and it was the first book in her Cedar Key series. Book 2, CASTING ABOUT, was released in 2010, along with her Christmas novella, A CEDAR KEY CHRISTMAS, in the anthology, HOLIDAY MAGIC, headlined by NY Times bestseller, Fern Michaels. Book 3 in her series, SUNRISE ON CEDAR KEY, will be released October 25.
Terri is busy working on book 4 in her series, which will hit book shelves November 2012. She is an avid knitter, which allows her quiet time to develop her characters and plots for future novels.