Many people enter into retirement with the dream of writing a novel. Theresa Jenner Garrido made that a reality. Whether you love romance novels or light mysteries, Theresa is your gal! With more than a dozen published books, she knows how to tell a good story. Theresa and I were both published by Martin Sister’s Publishing in 2013, so we share that sisterhood as well. I read Who Done It? and enjoyed the story line, but I fell in love with the characters; especially Ducky, a plucky 80-year-old. Allow me to introduce you to:
Author: Who Done It?, The Chinese Chest, By Any Other Name, and more
According to your website, you lived on an island in your youth. That’s an incredibly unique experience. Can you share a specific memory or two? In what way, if any, did that environment contribute to your story telling?
I spent the first nine years of my life on Bainbridge Island, off the coast of Washington State, which, at that time, was very rural and only saw a surge of people during summer months. I grew up, surrounded by tall cedars and Doug firs and a gray sand beach, cluttered with barnacle-covered rocks. With no neighborhood children to play with, I had to rely on a host of imaginary characters to share my adventures.
After years as a teacher, did that career lead you to writing? Speaking personally, I taught junior high for a few years and felt compelled to write. I’m wondering if your experience was similar.
I started writing with a passion in fourth grade. Nothing delighted me more than to have an assignment that required writing. When I became a middle school language arts teacher, this writing passion fit in nicely. Teaching drama was a favorite addition to my job and whenever we needed a play, I’d write it. I couldn’t stop writing, but due to time and energy issues, never considered publication. Only after I convinced myself to retire early and really concentrate on my passion did I become an author.
Who has played an important role in your writing career?
No single person played a significant role, but I do believe authors like Lucy M. Montgomery and Gene Stratton-Porter helped. The rainy day in fourth grade when I discovered Nancy Drew was a day that will never be forgotten. The world of reading opened its magical gate and I entered. I never looked back.
What is the best review you’ve had about your writing? Where did it come from?
Any positive review will send me into ecstasy but one I remember fondly. An eighth grader read one of my mysteries and told me she loved it so much she promptly reread it. Her father told me he’d never seen her that excited over a book. Wow! That was high praise.
Are there places beyond Amazon and Goodreads that you either request or received a review?
I confess to being a complete duffer, where promotion, marketing and reviews come in. Writing is my “magnificent obsession” and I can’t stop. No matter what, I have to write. I can’t turn around without seeing something that sparks my imagination. I confess, however, to being a little lax in soliciting reviews.
You self-published several of your books, and your latest was published by Martin Sisters Publishing. How did the two publishing venues differ for you? Which would you recommend to upcoming authors?
I self-published my first book back in 2004 with a “vanity press”. I knew nothing about the business and, even though an English major, knew very little about editing, etc. That first experience was tepid at best, but I kept sending in queries to “real” publishers. After enough rejections to paper an entire room, I was accepted by a small press, based in TX. They published thirteen of my novels but had difficulties and closed over a year ago. Since retaining all rights, I decided to re-publish a few of those books and chose Amazon, which was an excellent choice. Amazon is amazing. I’d recommend it to anyone. The big houses are having major issues and digital books are the future so authors have to rethink what it means to be published. A few of my new works, however, are still going the query route. Who Done It? was accepted by Martin Sisters Publishing in 2013. Hoping for a series featuring the protagonist, I am working on book two now. So far I have been very happy with MSP and hope we can work together for a long time.
What writing resources have you used to improve your craft? Magazines, books, webinars, conferences, classes? Which would you recommend?
All of the above. I belong to two critique groups, a larger writers group, and attend as many workshops and conferences as I can. A few minor health issues prevent me from doing a whole lot, plus my extended family, rescue dog and cat, and retired husband who can’t quite grasp the urgency that is a writer’s constant companion, but I seek out advice wherever I can. Another recommendation: READ! Read the kinds of books you like to write. Read about places you’d like to visit. Just read.
Because so much of self-publishing and publishing with a smaller publisher depend on doing all the marketing on your own, what have you learned?
I have learned that I have a lot to learn. This is a very touchy subject for me. I cringed just reading your question. That’s where the workshops, etc. come in. I literally devour all-and-everything about “social media” etc. etc.
I read Who Done It? It was a wonderful cozy mystery. What were some obstacles you faced in writing a mystery?
Not many because I love mysteries, but my lack of knowledge about such things as police procedure certainly got in the way at times. Luckily I was able to talk to “real” policemen and get the scoop. My protagonist is basically your everyday gal so my books aren’t hard-core crime dramas. The most interesting research I’ve had to do was speaking with a mortician about dead bodies, etc.
What’s the story behind your book? In other words, how did the storyline come to you?
Every one of my books is based on an actual event that I personally was involved in. When I say based, I mean maybe just a spark to kindle the imagination fire. I write about places I’ve been to so can “see” the setting as I write.
What do you hope readers will gain from your writing? Do you have a specific message that you wish to impart?
To me, reading is the best medicine for what ails you. People today suffer a lot from stress. A good book can take you away from your present situation and allow you to forget for a while; unwind; rejuvenate; rest. A lot cheaper than seeing a psychiatrist. I hope my books do just that. I want the reader to be entertained and enjoy a few laughs or a few tears. When the reader closes the book, I want him/her to be satisfied.
They certainly do that! As I read Who Done It? the coziness of the bed and breakfast inspired me to bake…and that’s not normal for me
Thank you, Theresa, for your time and willingness to share some backstory.