Deanna Lynn Sletten has been a writer for two decades. She began her career as a freelance writer for parenting publications and as a blogger.
You can learn more about Deanna at her website: www.deannalynnsletten.com.
1. How would you describe Memories to someone who has not yet read it?
Memories is a romance novel with so much more. At its core, it is a love story between a man and a woman who were once in love, lost each other, then fell in love again. But Memories also delves deeper into the lives of these characters to show what made them behave and react the way they did and how they managed to overcome the past and put love first. If there were such a category, I would say that Memories is a Romance/Family Drama all wound up in one.
2. Which came first, the title or the novel?
The novel came first. I struggled for the longest time on the title but couldn’t come up with one that fit. It seemed as if every title I came up with, there were already ten other books on Amazon with those titles. I settled on Memories because the main characters are looking back at their lives throughout the novel. Once I settled on this title, I was happy with it.
3. What scene or bit of dialogue in the book are you most proud of and why?
There are three dream/nightmare sequences in the novel where Michael relives his memories of the Vietnam War that I am the most proud of. Prior to writing this book, I read several memoirs and autobiographies of soldiers who had fought in Vietnam. The stories they told were interesting and heart wrenching. By the time I wrote Michael’s nightmare scenes, I had done enough research to feel I could write them properly. To me, the nightmare scenes are emotional and give the reader a deeper background on his character. I also hope that these scenes relay to the reader the horror of war and give them a new respect for the bravery of our soldiers, past and present.
4. What inspired you to write your first book?
Actually, Memories is the very first novel I ever wrote. I wrote it many years ago and sent it around to agents and publishers but no one wanted it. After a few rewrites, I just gave up on it and placed it in a drawer (and on a disk) and went on to write my other novels. Earlier this year, I decided to look at it again and see if it had any potential. Personally, I still liked it, did some minor changes to it and decided to self-publish it and see if anyone else would like it. So far, I’ve had a positive response, so I’m happy Memories is no longer sitting in a drawer, collecting dust.
But I digress – you asked what inspired me to write my first novel. I had never seriously thought about writing a novel until I took a few college English courses and two different teachers told me that it would be a shame if I didn’t pursue writing. This surprised me since I had always hated English class. All my life, stories, characters, situations and dialogue had been rolling around in my head and I never really knew what to do with it. One day I just decided to write these stories down and that is how I began my long journey into novel writing.
5. Thinking back to the very beginning, what’s the most important thing you’ve learned as a writer from then to now?
Research, research, research. Readers will not let you get away with anything, even in a fiction novel, so if you write about a real place or event, then you’d better know what you’re writing about. Some writers hate this part, but I love to do research. Obviously, if I’ve chosen to write about a particular topic or set my characters in a certain setting, then it already interests me, so doing research on that topic or place is fun for me. Writers should never use the word “fiction” as an excuse for not doing their research because readers will be quick to call you on it.
6. Considering a book from the first word you write to the moment you see it on a bookstore shelf, what’s your favorite part of the process? What’s your least favorite?
I actually enjoy the writing part of the process – sitting down to a blank page and watching characters, settings and dialogue come alive. Sure, later I will edit and rewrite a big portion of the first draft, but I still enjoy writing the story and seeing where the characters will lead me – even if sometimes they lead me astray and I have to rein them in. My least favorite part is re-reading the manuscript over and over again to find typos, errors and inconsistencies. I love the first, second and third times going through because I am actually rewriting as I go, but after the story is exactly how I want it, it is tedious going through it so many times. And even after reading it several times, my proofreader still finds errors!
7. What genre have you not yet written but really want to try?
Paranormal/Ghost Stories. I love reading “real life” ghost stories and watching paranormal shows on television, but I will probably never write in that genre because those stories don’t rattle around in my head like women’s fiction stories do. You just can’t force writing a story that isn’t natural for you to write because the reader can tell right away if a story is forced. However, I never say never. Who knows? Maybe a ghost will pop up in one of my stories someday.
8. What book are you reading right now?
Right now I’m reading a fun romance novel by Jane Romes titled Stay Close, Novac! I like to read different genres. I read everything from Stephen King to Jodi Picoult to Janet Evanovich. Lately, I’ve been reading books by indie authors and have found a few new favorites to follow.
9. What’s up next for you?
I’m actually working on two novels at the same time. When I get stuck with one novel, I move over to the next one and work on it until I get stuck there. I know that this doesn’t sound like an effective way to finish a novel, but it works for me. Both are women’s fiction. One is a romance, while the other is a family drama. We will see which one finishes first.
10. Do you have any advice for other writers?
Don’t give up on yourself. If I had given up after I couldn’t find an agent years ago for Memories, then I never would have written my other two novels, and I wouldn’t be writing (and selling) any now. I also would never have experienced the joy of people reading my novels and telling me how much they enjoy them. To me, that is the best part of writing. Always continue working to improve your writing skills and read everything you can about publishing and promoting, whether you are going the traditional route or self-publishing. Any knowledge you can learn will help you throughout your writing career.
11. Is there anything specific that you want to say to your readers?
I want to thank everyone who has purchased my novels, read them, told friends about them, and/or written reviews. You just don’t know how rewarding it is to have someone actually read your novel and enjoy it, so I appreciate each and every one of you.