I was honoured to be part of this virtual writing conference this past weekend. It was certainly jammed packed with panelists from all avenues of the writing community, and I made some great connections and learned a lot. I was also a panelist, which was such a fun thing to do. My first panel was on Friday with Mandy Michelle, Sarah Graham, and Melinda Curtis. We were discussing the romance genre and how it has transformed in line with societal changes since it’s conception, but also the expectation of the genre readers for the story format. Then on Saturday, I partnered with my publisher, Dream Write Publishing’s owner, Linda Pedley to discuss the business of getting a novel published and the extra writing required. This includes an author bio and professional photo, a blurb, a summary, a synopsis etc. etc. These ‘extra’s’ are not always considered by authors and the information proved to be useful.
When I write it is effortless and energizes me so much, I can write for hours at a time. I have always thought out my plot for months before I write, so when I do, it just rushes to my fingers and onto the paper. I do not edit when I write, I get the story written as fast as I can, and then I go back once it is complete.
What is your writing Kryptonite?
I am not sure what you mean, but Kryptonite-weakened Superman. The only thing that could slow me down was trying to write something without hours of thought. I would have to think about something for hours, days, weeks or a month or so before I begin writing. Then once I get going, I am a force to be reckoned with, and little will stop me.
Did you ever consider writing under a pseudonym?
I am writing all of my novels under my maiden name. VJ Gage for the Chicago Heat series and Vaunda Lynn Gage for the kid’s books. The adult books are explicit, and I did not want to confuse the reader by using the same name.
What other authors are you friends with, and how do they help you become a better writer?
I have not stepped out into the world to know many other authors, but this year will be different. I need the support of others and to find out what has or has not worked for them. I am just starting on marketing etc. and now is a great time to meet other authors.
Do you want each book to stand alone, or are you trying to build a body of work with connections between each book?
Yes, I have a seven book series called Chicago Heat. I have published two with a third out this March. The children’s book is seven novella’s about seven cousins who have adventures with mythical creatures in the Okanagan Valley. I am working on a second series.
What was the best money you ever spent as a writer?
Linda at Dream Write Publishing, she has been great, and she has helped to make my children’s book educational as well as a fun read. Her art for the book has been exactly as I imagined and she was priced right, and we met our deadline.
What was an early experience where you learned that language had power?
As a child, I never slept much, so I began to read early. By the time I was ten or twelve, I could write a book report “likity split,” and, I could write several in a very short time. So I began to sell extra book reports for those who did not read.
What’s your favorite under-appreciated novel?
Anything that was written by Janet Coldwell.
As a writer, what would you choose as your mascot/avatar/spirit animal?
My first thought is an Eagle, it sores high and has a great view of its landscape. But in thinking further, I am more like a busy beaver. When I get an Idea, I will go to work on it until I have completed my task, or I have figured out it is not worth my time. I can be deadly when I get an idea into my head.
How many unpublished and half-finished books do you have?
I have four in my “Chicago Heat” series. One romance, and two for my children’s series.
What does literary success look like to you?
It would be that many thousands of people have read and enjoyed my books. I would want them to say they could not put my books down and that my plots are unique and clever, and that I have a great imagination. Then I would like to make lots of money.
What kind of research do you do, and how long do you spend researching before beginning a book?
What would we do without the internet? When I am writing, I have my tablet close by, and I can look up any information I may need. When I need some information, it is close at hand.
How many hours a day/week do you write?
I may not be able to write for days or weeks at a time. I still have a full-time job, and I took care of my mother and dad full time for the past ten years. Both have passed and now my time is open to many more hours to write.
How do you select the names of your characters?
My main characters in my “Chicago Heat” series are based on the personalities of my own family. Dennis Kortovich is a profile of my husband. Veronica, his wacky wife, is a profile of me. Many other characters are based on the personalities of my family or friends. The children’s novels are based on real children and adults.
What was your hardest scene to write?
Why did you choose to write in your particular field or genre? If you write more than one, how do you balance them?
I found out I am great at killing and that I have a unique ability to be in the mind of the killer. I like exploring both sides of the crime. I don’t like a soft “Who Done It” I think fast and hit hard.
17. How long have you been writing?
I started in earnest when I was fifty.
18. What inspires you?
Writers, like Dan Brown.
19. How do you find or make time to write?
I may not write every day or sometimes not for weeks. When I do sit down to write, I can go at it for several hours, and I have done up to twelve thousand words in one season.
20. What projects are you working on at present?
I just finished the final edit of The Bible Killings, and this novel should be out by March. I am trying to figure out how to market my books at this point, and I am putting most of my time and effort into this for the next while.
21. What do your plans for future projects include?
To edit and publish at least one more book next year. They are all written, but I need to edit the other four. I will also putter away at the children’s novel. I am writing a second on for Mysteries at the Lake.
Visiting family at the lake during the summer is a wonderful tradition for Canadian cousins: Wyatt, Kadence, Nyomi, Jack, Sophie, Cash, and Cruz. Join them as they share their vacation with you. Discover the secret of Lake Okanagan. Hike the trails and spend time in the amazing forests and cliffs as the seven cousins make friends and solve mysteries with mythical and magical neighbors.
Ride the waters and take in the sun—whatever story they share around the evening’s campfire with hot chocolate and roasted marshmallows, it’s sure to be a memorable one!
V.J. Gage has been writing for over three decades. “Celebrity Lunch,” her weekly column in the Sherwood Park News, featured mini biographies about members of her community. Her column “As I See It” commented on contemporary social issues. A successful businesswoman, with many diverse interests, Vaun is also a recording artist, an emcee, and a stand-up comic, all of which serves to fuel the fast-paced, action-packed, serpentine plots of the “Chicago Heat” series. Vaun has lived in Sherwood Park since 1956. My father was the first fire chief for the county and my mother was one of the first women real estate agents. I have owned a business in Sherwood Park for over forty years. I now have a home based salon and I work there with my daughter. At one point I owned five salons, a clothing store, restaurant, I recorded with R. Harlen Smith and did Stand-up-Comedy and was an emcee for hundreds of events. I was also the first in Alberta to have my own Karaoke show. I went home-based almost twenty years ago.
Vaun is currently working on a series of seven novellas, featuring seven cousins, who have adventures with some of the most fantastic, creatures to ever catch the imaginations of children and adults alike.
Thank you Vaun for an enlightening glimpse of your writing life and it’s inspiration.