Friday, January 30, 2015

A Whole New Level of Crazy

HANK PHILLIPPI RYAN: What’s new? Ask most people, and they’ll say, “Not much, what’s new with you?” Sometimes of course, we’ll be able to say—new job, new baby, new love, new book, new recipe, new weather, new—whatever. But um, do you know Elizabeth Heiter? I can’t remember where I met her—do you Elizabeth? Oh, right, I devoured her thriller called HUNTED and it was so great! And then she--and her darling mom—came to my book signing in Ann Arbor. (How lovely is that?)

And when you meet Elizabeth, she looks very, well, like a reasonable, intelligent, charming, attractive woman. When you read her books--like her brand new VANISHED (from MIRA), you realized she’s talented.  But in truth? As she admits, she’s:

A Whole New Level of Crazy
                          By Elizabeth Heiter

1 year.  2 genres.  5 books.  And a whole lot of crazy.

Writers already have a reputation as being a little … shall we say, eccentric.  As adults, we spend our time playing make believe, creating characters, dreaming up ways to get them in and out of trouble, and then sometimes talking about the whole thing as if these are real people, and these dramatic events are actually happening.  

But if you want to make people really think writers are crazy, tell them you’re going to have five books on the shelf in one year, in two separate genres.  And, oh yeah, that you’re also going to be writing the next one while you’re at it.

In the past three weeks, my second suspense novel and my first romantic suspense book hit the shelves.  In between, I turned in the third book in my suspense series. 

While marketing those second and third books just released, I’m beginning the proposal for the seventh book (yes, that’s right, seventh…because there will be a second and third romantic suspense coming out in the next couple of months, too).  Oh, and did I mention I have a day job?  And some semblance of a personal life?
When someone new asks me about my writing, and they hear about the schedule, they look at me like I’m crazy.  Completely, utterly, lost-my-mind, fell-off-my-rocker-and-can’t-get-back-on, nuts.
They’re probably right.

This year alone, I’ll have five books in two separate genres hitting the shelves.  I’ve been dreaming of this – and working toward it – most of my life.  I wouldn’t trade it, no matter how crazy it gets.

Still, there have been (many) nights where I got by on three hours of sleep, and a whole lot of mocha lattes.  There have been (many) days where I finished my day job, ate my dinner in front of my computer doing promo for the books, immediately turned to writing the next book, went to bed for a few hours, then did it all again.

In those three hours of sleep, I still wake up, wondering if I remembered to put a book event on my calendar.  And then I wake up again, with a better idea about how to get my FBI profiler in my suspense series out of the latest mess I’ve tossed her into – quite often with a lot of glee, I might add.

And yet, what happens when I have a tiny little break?  Well, first I flop dramatically on the couch and binge watch some TV.  But after that?  When I get my energy back, instead of trying to figure out a way to calm things down just a tad, I start thinking of all the plots bouncing around in my mind.  I start thinking about the next book, and the one after that…
And then I’m off writing again.  In fact, I’m going to have to go
now, because there’s this story brewing in the back of my mind…

How about you?  Do you have a “crazy” passion?  (If it’s reading, I have some book recommendations for you! )

HANK: Ah, uh huh. Kind of feeling like a slacker....But Elizabeth, how do you organize your brain? How do you keep the stories separate? Slacker minds want to know...   What would you like to ask Elizabeth, Reds?

ELIZABETH HEITER likes her suspense to feature strong heroines, chilling villains, psychological twists, and a little bit (or a lot!) of romance. Her research has taken her into the minds of serial killers, through murder investigations, and onto the FBI Academy’s shooting range.

Elizabeth graduated from the University of Michigan with a degree in English Literature. Her manuscripts have been finalists in the Golden Heart®, Marlene, Daphne Du Maurier, and Golden Gateway contests and she won Suzanne Brockmann’s 2010 Haiku Contest. She’s a member of International Thriller Writers and Romance Writers of America and has volunteered for several chapters, including serving as the Greater Detroit area president.

In 2012, Elizabeth fulfilled a lifelong goal when she sold her first five novels.

 VANISHED (Book 2 in The Profiler series from MIRA Books):

Sometimes, the past can haunt you...

Eighteen years ago, FBI profiler Evelyn Baine's best friend, Cassie Byers, disappeared, the third in a series of unsolved abductions. Only a macabre nursery rhyme was left at the scene, a nursery rhyme that claimed Evelyn was also an intended victim. Now, after all these years of silence, another girl has gone missing in South Carolina, and the Nursery Rhyme Killer is taking credit. But is Cassie's abductor really back, or is there a copycat at work?

Sometimes, the past is best forgotten...

Evelyn has waited eighteen years for a chance to investigate, but when she returns to Rose Bay, she finds a dark side to the seemingly idyllic town. As the place erupts in violence and the kidnapper strikes again, Evelyn knows this is her last chance. If she doesn't figure out what happened to Cassie eighteen years ago, it may be Evelyn's turn to vanish without a trace.

 DISARMING DETECTIVE (Book 1 in The Lawmen series from Harlequin Intrigue):

The case that's haunted one FBI profiler for years may have finally met its match in a sexy—and dedicated—detective… 

When FBI profiler Isabella Cortez finds a stranger outside her office, she's in trouble. Because even though Detective Logan Greer is one of the good guys, their instant attraction is a serious distraction. Ella's got one mission: to find the criminal who hurt her friend and drove her to become a profiler. But Logan's appeal isn't just chemistry. He has a case that bears an eerie resemblance to the crime Ella's been trying to solve for years. Together, they're racing to stop a killer, but the closer they get, the more dangerous the search becomes. Falling in love could be deadly…or it could be the only way to survive.


  1. I'm worn out just reading about all that effort . . . but I'm looking forward to reading all those books.
    Congratulations to you!

  2. Elizabeth!!!! You go, girl, and keep 'em coming!!!! What a thrill to read about your success--and I'll be looking for some of those books.

    And, uh, now I'm going to crawl into bed and pull the covers over my head--your schedule is making me feel really tired! ;-)

  3. I can relate on the "balance the day job-personal life-writing" thing. Not so much on the five books in two genres thing, but if I'm lucky, maybe some day.

    But crazy? Yep. Went to an informational meeting for the upcoming Model UN conference in NYC for my girl. "Students must obey the laws of the city and state of New York." I looked at her and said, "So no phone calls - unless you want to do some field research for me." I got some funny looks for that one.

  4. SO truly, there must be a method to the madness, right. Elizabeth--you must be awake, of course, since you must NEVER sleep. How do you do it? Seriously?

  5. Wow, when you make Hank feel like a slacker ... I think I must be going through life comatose!

    Seriously, congratulations, Elizabeth. Your books sound great--and it's hard to turn down so much wonderful success, right?! Best of luck!

  6. Thanks, Joan! I'm kind of tired reading it, too! ;) I hope you enjoy the books!

    Thanks, FChurch! The first five sales came within a week and a half, but it took me nine years to get there! A long road, but definitely worth it!

    Hi Mary - yes, it's definitely a challenge a lot of writers face. And it can be really tough, I think, but we love the books so much we stick with it! Great story - I'd be the one asking that kind of question, too!! I love my research!!

  7. Hi Hank!! Thanks so much for having me back here at Jungle Red!!!

    How do I do it? I do try to keep everything really organized, so that I don't lose track of anything. I have really specific folders for everything to do with the books (contracts, deadline information, books, marketing, interviews, etc.). I use the program WriteWay (which allows me to have character sketches, research, and the book itself all in one massive program file). I keep two calendars - one in my office with every writing date (deadlines, blog posts due and blog posts going live, events, conferences, etc.) and another in my kitchen with the rest of my life (plus any live events I'm doing). I also keep a notepad next to my writing computer that always has a running list of things To Do, which I cross off as I complete. It gets a little crazy, but mostly it's keeping up with my schedule, not remembering it, thank goodness!! ;)

  8. Oh, yeah, and how do I keep the stories separate?

    Well, the method to THAT madness involves my writing program (WriteWay, which I understand is very similar to Scrivner, which a lot of writers use). It lets me keep everything in one place. But switching back and forth between books definitely means I need to get back in the "head" and "voice" of whichever character I'm writing. So I always re-read what I've got when I switch between books!

  9. Thank you very much, Tammy! And Hank's just a way is she a slacker with everything she balances!! I think all writers end up balancing a lot, especially at first. My balance just happens to be a lot of different books!! :)

    Side note: Hank, we first met a few years ago at Love Is Murder. You were the volunteer in a mystery play there, and you were fantastic! :)

  10. Oh, my gosh, the mystery play. That was hilarious.. It was sort of improv? Or did we have lines? I remember being terrified.

    And I'm with you on the running list of to-dos. Cannot live without it! And I have three calendars--one in a book, one on paper and one on my phone. I'm still terrified--haunted!--that I'll miss something.

  11. Hi Hank - you were fed lines over an earpiece for the play, I believe! Both you and David Morrell were sooo good!

    Good idea on the phone! I need to add a calendar there... ;)

  12. I think I need more coffee to just keep up with reading about your schedule, Elizabeth. You may be crazy, but crazy seems to work well for you, and if it's not broken, don't fix it. Congratulations on your amazing productivity and success. Your series sound fascinating with the profilers as the main characters. I love Criminal Minds on TV, so your books are calling to me loud and clear.

  13. Thanks so much, Kathy! I like your theory & I'm going to go with it (and a little more coffee!)

    I hope you enjoy the books! I adore writing about profiling - the process is so interesting. (And the FBI research is a lot of fun, too!)

  14. I'm so slow as a writer so I am in awe. Honestly, it paralyzes me just thinking about it.

    If you answered this 'never mind' but wondering how many projects you have underway at once? (I can write fiction and nonfiction at the same time; or edit a first draft while starting to sketch out ideas for the next one; but I absolutely could not be starting 2 books at the same time.)

  15. Elizabeth, a writer like you is someone I can really appreciate as a reader who reads numerous books at a time. I've never understood why some people will read ONE book, finish it, and then start reading another. I read different genres at different times of the day. Between books I own and books I've borrowed from the library, plus books I've already read but am re-reading because I like them so much, I can be reading anywhere from 3 to 6 or 8 books (if on vacation) at a time.

    Your books are DEFINITELY going on my TBR list!

  16. Hi, Hallie! I love hearing how different writers work. Sometimes, I wonder what I was thinking, agreeing to so many so quickly!

    Right now, I'm actually only working on one book (that won't last! ), but I try not to do too much writing of different books at once. It does happen, but generally I try to be writing one, plotting another, and editing another. Actually writing two books at once takes longer, because I have to get back into the "voice" and the tone every time I switch.

  17. Hi Deb,

    Wow, reading 8 books at once; very nice! I love that you pick different genres for different times of the day - I can see why that would be appealing!

    Thanks for adding mine to your TBR pile! (Since you read so many at once, and in multiple genres, your TBR pile must be fascinating!)

  18. Hi Elizabeth! My brain is scrambled just reading about your output... I usually have multiple storylines going in one book, though, so maybe it's not THAT different--but the sheer amount of work you're doing is mind-boggling. No way I could go without sleep!

    Huge congratulations on your very well-earned success!

    P.S. I use Scrivener, so was very interested to learn how you manage all your projects.

  19. Hi Deborah! I think it is similar to having several storylines a book. Mine tend to have one main storyline (although the one I'm starting now is a little different!).

    From what I've heard, WriteWay and Scrivener are very similar. I'd be lost without WriteWay - I love that program (plus, it's great for editing, because you can pick out sections by scene)!!

  20. Hi Elizabeth,

    Who was it who said, "Do what you love and you'll never work a day in your life..."?

    So glad you're doing what you love because I love Evelyn Baine! And I'm certain I'm not the only one! I can't wait to see what you come up with next.

  21. Yes, Nichole--who DID say that? It's perfect.

    ANd Debs, that's interesting about different stprylines and points of view..I have five per book-and it is a juggle! I have to put myself in the voice and mind of each character--but I love that! But still, it's the same book--so I think Elizabeth is shockingly adept and talented!

  22. Thanks so much, Nichole! And speaking of great know I just read your debut & adored it! So excited for the second release.

    I totally agree with you on that saying. Very true. As long as I'm writing, I'm happy! :)

  23. Aw, thank you, Hank! :)

    The upside of it being different books, though, is that you don't have to worry about whether the different storylines merge or reflect each other or connect in some other way!