Tuesday, February 18, 2020

Heather Chavez--No Bad Deed

DEBORAH CROMBIE: There is nothing that gives us more pleasure here at JRW than introducing debut authors and we have a treat in store today! Just the premise of Heather Chavez's first novel, NO BAD DEED, gives me goosebumps, and I dare anyone to put it down after the first page.  And isn't the cover fabulous? Here's Heather to tell you how publication has changed her writing life, and that gave me goosebumps, too!



HEATHER CHAVEZ: I was so honored and excited to be invited to be here by the Jungle Red Writers. I love being able to “meet” new people, especially since I wrote my first book in such a bubble.
 

They say that writing is a solitary pursuit, but when I was drafting NO BAD DEED, I took that to the extreme. It was just me and my computer. I had a single friend who read the first draft (a thankless job since my first drafts are pretty rough) and an editor who looked at the first fifty or so pages.
 

But then I threw out most of that first draft and started again. Truly, it wasn’t a revision but a total rewrite. Two of the three POVs were ditched. I switched from third-person to first-person. The plot was overhauled. The first line remained but other than that, it was a whole new book—a book no one saw until I started querying several months later. After writing three and a half practice books, I wasn’t even sure this one was any good. When agents started responding, I was actually surprised. 

Imposter syndrome is real, right?
 

That was my experience writing the first book that sold. Book two, in contrast, has been a completely different experience. Since I have a two-book deal with William Morrow, I know people are going to read this one. No more writing alone in my office, indulging my “hobby.” With this one, there are expectations attached.
 

Fortunately, in addition to a very collaborative relationship with my agent and editor, there’s something else I have now that I didn’t have then: I’ve found my writing people. I’m part of an online Facebook group of other authors debuting this year. How cool (and unusual) is it to be able to connect with writers going through the exact same thing as I am?
 

While I’ve shared the occasional snippet of writing, it’s more about sharing the journey. In December, about fifteen of us met in real life in New York. Another group will be gathering soon in Los Angeles. Members also have attended each others’ author events, or introduced themselves at conferences.
 

But I’ve never personally met most of the members I now consider friends. These friends live in other parts of the United States, and all over the world. I regularly communicate with members in places as far from my California hometown as Chicago and New York, and even Canada and Germany. I’m actually as excited for their releases as I am for my own. Maybe even more so, because I don’t have to deal with the nerves part of it, too.
 

I’ve also become part of readers’ groups online and have grown more active on social media. As someone who has never attended a writers’ conference and who wrote my first book in such a bubble, it’s such an incredible feeling to know support (and celebration) is now only a click away. It’s made this process so much more enjoyable, and the challenges easier to overcome.
 

So what do you all think? Do you have good friends you’ve never met? In creative pursuits, do you go it alone, or do you rely on the feedback and support of others?

Driving home one night, veterinarian Cassie Larkin sees a man and woman fighting on the side of the road. When she steps in, the attacker warns her: “Let her die, and I’ll let you live.” Trained to heal, Cassie isn’t about to let the woman die. But while she’s helping the unconscious victim, the attacker steals her car. Now he has her name. Her address. And he knows about her children. The next night, Cassie’s husband disappears. Are these events connected? As she searches for answers, Cassie discovers that nothing is as random as it seems, and that she is willing to go to the most terrifying extremes to save her family. 




A graduate of UC Berkeley’s English literature program, Heather Chavez has worked as a newspaper reporter and editor. She lives in Santa Rosa, California, with her husband and children. No Bad Deed is her first book. 


DEBS: Heather's story has reminded me what a great community we have, writers AND readers. Stop by and welcome Heather, and wish her happy pub day!!


66 comments:

  1. Happy Book Birthday, Heather! Congratulations on your book . . . it sounds fascinating and I’m looking forward to meeting Cassie and reading her story.

    As far as social media is concerned, it’s really quite incredible to be able to make and connect with far away friends we might otherwise never have met . . . surely this is one of the greatest things about Facebook . . . .

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    1. Thank you for the book birthday wishes! I'm in California so only about 90 minutes to go. And yes, I can't imagine taking this journey without my Facebook group.

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  2. The premise is intriguing. Congrats on your debut.

    And, in the small world department, I grew up in Santa Rosa! My family still lives up there, although I'm in So Cal now.

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  3. Woohoo, another Santa Rosan! I did the reverse trajectory... I grew up in SoCal (born in Glendale, lived in Long Beach, Burbank, etc..) and then moved north in middle school.

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  4. Congratulations on your debut book, Heather! What an exciting time for you. Reading about your interaction with other writers, those you've met and those you haven't, takes me back to my conversation with my adult son last night. He's writing more seriously now, and I told him how important it is for him to find a community of other writers and workshops and support. I think he might be ready to do that now, but I think each writer has to decide when to step out of their bubble and join the human race or the writing community. One of the best parts about mystery/crime writers is their generous attitude toward helping and supporting one another. The Jungle Red authors are prime examples of that, both individually and through the blog here. And, for reviewers such as myself and readers, the mystery/crime community couldn't be a more welcoming group, appreciative of their readers and supportive of the reviewers. And, I have wonderful reviewer friends, those whom I've met and those I haven't, and we talk on social media and in person at conferences and share much. There are also authors and readers I've met and haven't who make up a wonderful world in which to enjoy a great reading life.

    I hope you're planning on attending a conference or more now that you're published, Heather. I'll be at Bouchercon in Sacramento this year and would love to meet you. I can't wait to hear how much you love the feeling of community at conferences. I think the conferences are important for authors for all sorts of reasons, a couple of which are to promote your book and to make life-long friends and support people.

    I wish you a great success with your career, Heather, and I am definitely intrigued by No Bad Deed. It's going on my TBR list now.

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    1. I just registered for Bouchercon so maybe I'll see you there. :)

      Yes, the mystery/crime community is so generous. The writing community as a whole too. It continues to amaze me the level of support offered, from the authors to the podcasters to the reviewers. It genuinely feels like everyone wants you to succeed.

      I hope your son finds his own writing people. That was difficult for me, primarily because I didn't know where to start looking. I have been on Facebook for years, but Instagram and Twitter were both new to me. Not so long ago, I had 10 followers on Twitter and didn't even have an Instagram. This, despite having a teenage daughter. :) I'm not sure why it took me so long to reach out this way, but I'm so glad I did!

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    2. I'm so glad you're going to Bouchercon, Heather. I will definitely look for you there. I love that you are sharing your experience from which others can benefit and it's wonderful that you found your own writing people.

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    3. Definitely look for me there!

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  5. Happy book birthday! What a chilling premise.

    Some of my best writing friends are people I wouldn't recognize if we passed in the street. Seems odd, but there it is. Definitely important to find your tribe, and it sounds like you did. Congratulations!

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    1. Thank you!

      Yes, it's definitely important to find your tribe. I used to say "Facebook friends," but now I just say friends. Some of these people have been my rocks through this process. I actually woke up to a wonderful email from one of them this morning!

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  6. Congratulations on your book. Sounds great. Facebook and blogs like Jungle Red allow me to communicate with people I've never met. The anonymity of Facebook or writing in the blog allows me to feel safe when I provide comments. You can't see me and I can't see you so if I say something completely idiotic, I can't see if you're rolling your eyes or not.

    And in the very small world department, it just got a little more crowded - Heather, Mark, now me - not only did I grow up in Santa Rosa, I'm still here. My first credit card was from Rosenberg's. Dad's family had been here since the early 30's.

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    1. I would never roll my eyes. Except maybe at something I said myself. :)

      I remember Rosenberg's! Who knew there would be such a strong Santa Rosa presence here. That's the amazing thing about online communities... you can find people in your hometown, or half a world away.

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    2. I can't say that I'm from Santa Rosa, but I've signed at the Copperfield's there! And I've been to Healdsburg for a lovely day out with our Rhys Bowen and writer friends Terry Shames and Susan Shea.

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    3. If you've been to Copperfield's, you're an honorary Santa Rosan.

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  7. Happy Book Pub Day, Heather! The story sounds totally intriguing and your book is going on my TBR pile.

    I'm a fan of social media for the capacity it gives us to find communities that are meaningful to us -- waving at all the Reds -- and making online friends -- waving at all the Reds and Ann Mason in particular -- and the same goes for conferences. I've attended only one Bouchercon (Toronto), as a reader and fan, and I loved it. I met some of my favourite authors, shook their hands and got signed books: such a high!

    Enjoy today...and every day hereafter as a PUBLISHED author!

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    1. Waving back on a snowy morning.

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    2. Thanks for the well wishes, and I'm glad you find the premise intriguing.

      I'm so excited about Bouchercon. (I'm also going to Thrillerfest in NY.) I'm not sure if I'll be on a panel, but honestly, I'm most excited to be going as a reader. It's pretty darn early here in California, but just talking about books and those upcoming conferences has woken me right up!

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  8. Congratulations, Heather, and thank you for sharing your journey! I found my writing peeps a little earlier than you did on the journey (looking at you, Hallie and Hank, and New England Sisters in Crime), and I couldn't have continued on the path without them. I love meeting online friends in person at conferences or book events, whether fans or fellow authors.

    I'm not exactly in the Santa Rosa club, but I am a fourth generation Californian, and while I grew up in the Pasadena vicinity, all my roots are in the greater Bay area.

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    1. That's going to be one of the exciting things about going to conferences for sure... meeting people I've only met online. When I went to NY in December, meeting some of the members of my Facebook group was the highlight.

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  9. Oh, congratulations in every way! I love this story, and applaud you madly. And what an absolute treat to have this sisterhood of the traveling debut authors, and wow, the story sounds terrific. What a great high concept idea. And I love when fellow reporters start to write fiction. I always think that was wonderful training for me… Did your lifetime of storytelling – nonfiction— help you in this? Absolutely cannot wait to read this!
    And yes, the second-novel experience. It’s quite the revelation. But a good one, right?

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    1. Awww... thank you so much! Yes, I think my career in journalism helped me in so many ways. Working around people passionate about their calling inspired me in all things, and of course there were the crazy stories. But I think one of the biggest takeaways from those days was learning how to edit. Prior to moving to the editing side of things, I had been more hesitant to revise as thoroughly as I needed too. (Which is why those practice novels weren't any good.) Now, I actually prefer the editing process. That's when my stories come alive.

      And the second-novel experience IS quite a revelation. Mostly exciting, but there are nerves, too, of course. But definitely less so because of my group. Before I got published, I googled obsessively about all the stages of the writing experience, but there's not a lot out there about writing that second novel. That's one of the reasons my online community is so important to me. There are literally dozens in the group going through the exact same thing.

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    2. So lovely that you found your group---love to talk to you in person! Hope our paths cross someday soon--they will,, I am sure! xoxoo

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    3. And yes, editing. SO agree. It's magic.

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    4. I hope our paths cross too. Now that I will actually be attending conferences, maybe they will.

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  10. Congratulations Heather--the premise sounds terrifying and irresistible. We adore all the readers and writers who visit Jungle Red--the writing life is hard, and having friends to share the bad times and the good makes all the difference!

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    1. Thank you! So honored to be here.

      Yes, the writing life has its challenges. So much easier with a community in place. And it also makes the celebrations so much sweeter.

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  11. Congratulation on your first published book! There is no experience like it. And yes, finding your tribe is one of the unexpected joys of writing mysteries. Writing is you in an empty room,so it is pretty wonderful to come out and find people who really "get you", whether in person or online.When my first book was published ( a long time ago - I have had two separate writing careers) it was DorothyL and Sisters inCrime and MWA.Now, of course, communities form digitally in so many ways. changes over the years but all have been a plus in different ways. And it is so much fun to go to a convention and both put a face to names and meet fellow organization members from all over.

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    1. One of the things I haven't done yet is join Sisters in Crime. (*Hangs head in embarrassment*) I need to do that.

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    2. Yes, and you have a great chapter in your area!!!

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    3. Officially moved up the to-do list.

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  12. Happy book birthday Heather! As I look out on heavy snow coming down, I remember those days when I drove the coast from Santa Rosa to Monterey, visiting one hospice office after another, and then home to Pacifica. You live in Paradise.

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  13. Didn't Sue Grafton use Santa Rosa as her setting for the Kinsey Milhone books? But called it Santa Teresa?

    Happy pub day, Heather! How exciting, to finally step out into the light.

    The crime fiction writing community is incredibly welcoming and inclusive, more than almost any other online community I've been part of since my first foray into the ethernet in 1988. Over those decades I've been lucky enough to meet online friends in real life, including in England and France, and all across the US and Canada. I once worked with eight other women in a virtual company, and did not meet seven of them until we'd worked together for several months. The Internet has definitely broadened our horizons!

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    1. I hadn't heard that about Sue Grafton. Totally off topic, but I took a "Women Mystery Writers" class when I went to UC Berkeley, and that's where I first read Sue Grafton. Of course, that was my favorite class ever.

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    2. Santa Teresa in Sue Grafton’s books is modeled on Santa Barbara. Her second home was in an exclusive area near Santa Barbara called Montecitto.

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    3. Thanks, Susan! I have always wondered exactly which town she was using.

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  14. Holy crap, what a premise, Heather! I'm looking forward to reading your book. Happy Publication Day!

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    1. Thanks. I hope you enjoy it! It's still amazing to me that people I don't know are actually reading the book that once existed only on my computer.

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  15. Congratulations, Heather, on your book birthday and finding your tribe! The premise of your book is scary--I used to be on the road quite a bit with a 5-hour commute. I could easily imagine coming across such a scenario!

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    1. I got the idea after witnessing a brief fight between teen boys one day when I was picking my daughter up from school. Since writing this book, I've met several people who've encountered similar things... incidents where they witness violence and have that moment of "What should I do?"

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    2. It is shocking to see violence in real life, as used to it on TV and in movies as we are. The first time I saw boys fighting outside my daughter's middle school, I had the same reaction as you, Heather.

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    3. It was crazy. One moment, we saw this boy around 14 years old walking alone on the grass. The next, two other boys about his age descended on him and began punching him. Then it stopped as quickly as it had started, before I could even decide what to do, let alone actually do that. When I was probably about 20, a similar thing happened in that my husband (boyfriend at the time) witnessed a young man being really rough with a girl. I think there were about four or five guys and that one woman, but my husband didn't hesitate to call them on it. Truthfully, it was a little terrifying.

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  17. Congratulations, Heather. I think finding a supportive group of fellow writers is really important when you're starting on your fiction career. I was in a group that supported me through a lot of rough seas, and still have a valued critique partner from that group. Beware of the trolls, but if you have found a great group online, yes, they are just like friends in real life. I've made a number of internet friends, and have always enjoyed it when we finally meet face to face. (Waving at you, Ann!)

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    1. That's the one thing that I'm still developing... a critique partnership and beta readers. I imagine a valued critique partnership would help the writing process immensely. But at least I have people to bounce ideas off of now, as well as support for the journey.

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    2. Heather, I agree with Gigi on this! We were both lucky to learn the how-tos of critiquing from her late husband who was a terrific writing teacher. I'll bet, with all the friends you've made, that you will find someone--or someones--who are on your wavelength and who you trust to give you helpful feedback.

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    3. That's great that you found each other. Yes, I'm hoping to find the same.

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  18. Happy pub day, Heather!! If you're wondering if the feeling that you should pinch yourself ever goes away, the answer is probably not! It's still incredibly exciting to know that other people have your book in their hands. Are you doing any events that we should know about?

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    1. For the local folks, I'm doing an event at Copperfield's in Santa Rosa on Friday. I'll also be at the Tucson Festival of Books March 14-15. Really excited about that one! I've never been to Tucson. I'm also attending the Literary Guild of Orange County spring salon on Feb. 29.

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    2. Heather, you'll love the Tucson Festival of Books. It's all outdoors, and huge, with so many tents and authors. I'd love to go back someday, too.

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    3. That's terrific, Heather. Tucson is really fun. Take your sunscreen--you'll spend a lot of time walking around the campus!

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    4. I'm hoping to get to meet Peter Swanson, who's going to be there too, and so many others. Funny... I'm still thinking like a fan and not a writer. But there are going to be so many great authors there! So sunscreen and comfortable shoes? Got it!

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  19. Congratulations on the book, Heather! It sounds like a winner to me and I cannot wait to read it!

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    1. Thank you! I hope you lose sleep over it. ;)

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  20. Heather, happy pub day and welcome to Jungle Red Writers.

    Isn't online community wonderful? I am a bookstagrammer, which means that I talk about books with book friends online over at Instagram.

    Diana

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    1. My daughter helped me create my Instagram account eleven months ago. Now, I get to see all these photos and reviews of books I might not have otherwise noticed. That's the best part!

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  21. This morning has been amazing so far. Being here, of course, and all the emails and social media love. Everyone has just been incredibly supportive. I think I picked the absolute right topic for my intro post.

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  22. Congratulations, Heather! I have a lot of online friends I've never met - and online friends who when I finally met them, it felt like I'd known them forever.

    Welcome to the community!

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    1. I know exactly what you mean. When I went to NY, it felt like I was seeing many of them again instead of meeting them for the first time. There's a good friend who lives in Germany, and if I ever get over there, I'm totally going to crash on her couch at least one night. Don't worry... this isn't a surprise to her. She knows. ;)

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  23. Oh, this book sounds thrilling!!! I love the title and the cover - I am in!!! 100%! I also love your post! When I joined the Jungle Reds, I had only met two of them but they were all so welcoming and now it's a sorority of sorts that I cherish. And I know what you mean, I get as excited for their releases and awards and best seller hits as I do my own. There is always room at the table and it is lovely when you find a table to sit with your people and are invited to sit.

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    1. That's such a great way of putting it. I know that this day would've been a lot more stressful if I didn't have the support of my online community. I hope that one day I'll be able to meet more of them in person.

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  24. I've got to say that I am halfway through NO BAD DEED and "Can't put it down" if NOT an exaggeration! I have literally been carrying the book around the house all day!

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    1. That's so kind of you to say! I'm glad you're enjoying it.

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  25. Thank you again for welcoming me today. It was a lot of fun talking with you all.

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