Interview with F. Elizabeth Hauser

What is the greatest joy of writing for you?
I love telling stories on paper. Sometimes elements of those stories come from experiences I've had in my own life, and certainly from feelings I have and do experience. I enjoy telling a story that makes my readers feel like they are right there with my characters, that makes them FEEL the way I want them to feel. I love to carry my readers away into another world and make them forget they're sitting in their living room, or the doctor's office, or even relaxing on the beach. I love to put them in the world of my story and in the shoes of my characters. Though I have a well-thought-out plan before I begin writing, once in a while as I'm writing I will take a turn that surprises even me, but seems to flow right out. It's like watching a good movie, and wondering what's going to happen next, when you thought you KNEW what was going to happen next. When it surprises and delights me as a writer, I hope that it will do the same for the reader. Above all, I write for myself, and hope that other readers who enjoy the kind of story I have inside me will enjoy reading it as much as I enjoy writing. Secondly, I write to entertain my readers.
What are you working on next?
I'd like to think we all have that "first novel" that we began years ago, and it's maybe still in the drawer, not ready to publish yet. I've e-published my first two novels, Fish in a Bird's Nest and The Homesteaders: Following a Dream (the first of a three part series). I am currently putting final edits on a larger novel that I got the inspiration for in April of 2014, I was sitting in church, where I should have had my mind on more appropriate things, but you can't decide when and where ideas will come to you. To be honest, I couldn't wait to get home and write out the story line so it wouldn't be "lost." That's what's on the burner now, but when that's done, I want to go back to that original, and largest, of all of my novels to date. I love the story and want to bring it to readers. I like to use the habit I picked up from participating in Nanowrimo, a world-wide writing challenge, in which I write a full first rough draft in 30 days. When those two largest stand-alone novels are published, I will write the remaining volumes of The Homesteaders Series and the sequel to Fish in a Bird's Nest.
What inspires you to get out of bed each day?
Of course, there are plenty of o reasons to get up and get going, but the two things I look forward most to doing each day is spending time with my husband, regardless of what we're doing, and writing. We currently live with our daughter and son-in-law and their two children while we sell our home and build nearby. It's been wonderful, though not always conducive to hearing my muse, being with all of them. Something else I hope to do is find the stories that I can among my family members, living and gone, that I can preserve through my writing fervor. In the past I have dedicated one day of the week to that singular pursuit , practical matters like meals, etc. aside.
When you're not writing, how do you spend your time?
I recently retired after a career of more than 25 years as a registered nurse. As most retirees can attest, I'm busier by far now than I was when I was working. My husband and I are active members of our Church (LDS or Mormon) and spend several hours each week participating in service or other pursuits related to that church membership.
I love to read. What writer doesn't? I listen to audio books as well as reading. Audible.com has been one of the most enriching things I've ever found. I've been listening since 2007 and can't describe how it has impacted my life.
I adore camping and hiking. I have to do most of that with just my little dog, because my husband spent enough years in the military that he has absolutely no interest in camping ever again...though he has gone a few times to humor me. I love fishing, but it's been awhile.
I have five children and my husband has three. We've been married 10 years. Combined, we have fourteen grandchildren, and he just became a great-grandfather, making US great-grandparents. Family is very important to us.
How do you discover the ebooks you read?
I discovered ebooks when I bought my first smart phone several years ago and found it had a free Kindle app. What a discovery! Now I find that ebooks are available in many places, including of course, Smashwords. I love the concept of ebooks, and I love that they are more affordable and hence, an author's stories and non-fiction books can reach so many more people than they might otherwise. Times are tough, and for a lot of people, they may not ever get a lot better. Being able to read great books for a lot less money, and often for free, is a wonderful blessing. To be more specific about where I find them, until I discovered Smashwords, I went primarily to Kindle to find my e-books. Another favorite is through Deseret Book. They carry a nice selection of e-books.
What is your writing process?
I think about a story line and main characters. I think about the major conflict of the story. I sit down and write out the story line, which usually takes less than 2 pages. Then I create an outline to work from. And the rest is all writing. I TRY to turn off the internal editor, but about the only way I can do it is to follow an important and valuable process learned from the folks at Nanowrimo. For those of you who don't know what that is, all I can say is "Google it." That process is this: to get that rough draft novel down on paper (screen) in 30 days. Period. End of story. Even a first time writer can get a rough draft of 50,000 words or more written in 30 days. I know, because I did it. It helps to have your story outlined as I described. Of course, it also helps to have someone else to cook, wash dishes, feed the pets, wash the laundry....you get my point. If you're married or have someone living with you, having their understanding support is crucial.
After the rough draft comes the real work of editing, putting it aside, looking at it later with fresh eyes, revising, and repeating that until you have the best work you can pull off on your own. I also believe in and practice keeping multiple novels in the works. I like to be working on something else while my editor has one.I can't emphasize how important it is to my own process to go back to something I haven't looked at or worked on for months. Fresh eyes are an important part of the process. It's amazing how that practice improves a story.Then find the right editor that you can work well with, who really wants to see you succeed as a writer, and get his or her help to make your book all that you want it to be for yourself and your readers. I've found him, and I consider that a great blessing.
One more little habit I do with my writing process...I write the last chapter first. Crazy? I like to know exactly how it's going to end and write the story of how I get to that ending.
Do you remember the first story you ever wrote?
The first one I remember, though my Dad told me I wrote some very imaginative ones when I was in grade school, was an assignment in my freshman year of college in a favorite class, Lit and Composition. But, I struggled...really struggled writing that story. It was terrible. Yes, I do remember the first story. I wish I didn't, except to say that I've gotten a LOT better.
Describe your desk
In a phrase...too crowded, but it works for me.In a single word...MESSY, I'm afraid. I'm going to fix that after our move, however. I have an antique secretary, about 26" wide and the desk top is about 22" deep. I really couldn't tell you why I keep a cup of writing instruments, because I don't like any of them except my fountain pen. On the upper right corner is a coaster to set my drink on, so the condensation won't damage the desk. I almost always have a diet Coke on the desk with me. And most importantly, right behind the open lid of my laptop is my well-worn Mirriam Webster Thesaurus. Above the work surface of secretary is a glass-doored library of favorite literature, a book of quotations, and many books about the craft of writing. My desk is my "comfort space," like it is for most writers. My husband is often watching TV, and I can write right through that. I would much prefer to be in a "noisy" room writing with him nearby than go to my quiet office at the end of the hall. Nope...gotta' have his company if he's around.
I love the antique oak secretary because I adore old things and history.
What are your five favorite books, and why?
The Little Engine that Could: It was among my first reads as a child and perfectly describes the faith and determination I try to emulate in my life.
The Book of Mormon: I cannot do justice to adequately describe the Spirit and testimony of the Savior, Jesus Christ, that pervades this book.
The Lincolns:Portrait of a Marriage: Daniel Epstein does an exceptional job of writing a fascinating account of Abraham Lincoln and Mary Todd, their family members, and political associates. It informs better than anything I've ever read about this man, and entertains just as well.
Riders of the Purple Sage, by Zane Gray: I could only hope to live long enough to learn to write with the skill he does in painting setting with words that involve a reader's senses so deeply that he feels like he is IN the place.
Washington, a Life (can't remember the author): This was the most fascinating and comprehensive biography of George Washington I have ever read. I was totally absorbed and spellbound, and thoroughly recommend it.
What have some of your readers said about your books?
These are comments made about my first book, Fish in a Bird's Nest:

I'm so mad at you for killing (sorry...can''t spoil the plot~the author) in your book... I finished it tonight.
Hurry with its sequel. ~ Christina Cobb

What a story! Sad, but very good with a wonderful ending. Breath-taking events that kept me from putting it down. I love Fish in a Bird's Nest and can't wait for the sequel. ~Ava Wilhelm
Where did you grow up, and how did this influence your writing?
I grew up in Lakewood, Washington and lived for a few years in Puyallup, Washington. Some of my novels, yet to be published, are set in these familiar areas. I think having lived in an area makes it very genuine when an author can use it for the setting for a story. As an author, I can feel and relive with all my senses what it is like to be in a certain place, and I think it's helpful in being able to use words that make the reader experience the setting with as much richness as I have. I think setting in a story is integral to the story, and I want to bring it alive for the reader. Knowing it on a very personal level makes that easier. I've lived in a number of places on the West Coast, so expect to see novels set in more than one area. As far as the actual influence growing up in Lakewood gave to my writing....I enjoyed a very "free" childhood, spending hours and hours in the forest behind our home, building forts (okay, I was a bit of a tom boy), playing in the trees, exploring/hiking all over the community by myself. It was a different time, and it seemed safe enough to do that. We learned later that it wasn't as safe as we had thought. Turns out, Ted Bundy's first victim, a little girl from the nearby town of Fircrest, disappeared about the time I was six or seven. We had no idea that someone like him lived so close and was already beginning his criminal career. Of course, we didn't learn until many years later that he was the one responsible for her disappearance. All in all, however, my childhood was full of imagination and creativity, and the environment and times of my growing years there was a perfect combination to allow for that. My parents, each in their own way, were extremely creative and talented, and they both encouraged that creativity and "free spirit" in me.
What motivated you to become an indie author?
I write to be read, not to make money necessarily. Electronic publishing, other than any expenditure for cover art, is free at Smashwords. I believe electronic books are the way of the future, despite the many readers who still cherish the feel of a physical book in their hands. Today the publishing business is so competitive that only books that are expected to make the publisher a lot of money will ever get the consideration. And I know, as most of you do, that there are some great writers and great reads out there that may never make a lot of money, but are very worthy of the effort to read them. As with films these days, much of what hits the box offices and makes a lot of money is...in my honest opinion...junk. To date I've never seen an independent or foreign film that I didn't think was outstanding. They tend to appeal to a more educated, discriminating if you will, audience, just as many good books do that wouldn't necessarily garner huge readership in today's society of dwindling readers.
What do you read for pleasure?
I love books on history and have listened to or read books that have broadened my world dramatically, just by giving them a chance when, in the past, I might have thought I wasn't interested. I've loved learning about the history of China, Ancient Egypt, multiple books about the history of our own country, biographies of several of our presidents, and biographies of many other famous Americans. Naturally, David McCullough is one of my favorite authors. Another is Cokie Roberts.
I also enjoy John Grisham's novels and a wide variety of literary fiction. I've noticed that my audio library contains a number of fictional works dealing with Black slavery in the history of our country.
Published 2015-11-28.
Smashwords Interviews are created by the profiled author, publisher or reader.

Books by This Author

The Homesteaders: Following a Dream
Price: $3.99 USD. Words: 41,820. Language: English. Published: April 25, 2014. Categories: Fiction » Romance » Historical
The first in a series of novels, The Homesteaders: Following a Dream, introduces the reader to a young girl being raised by her widowed father in late nineteenth century America. Her dream is to become a doctor, like her father. Clara finds she has only two who believe in her, and then her life is changed when she meets another in the form of a handsome self-educated farm boy.
Fish in a Bird's Nest
Price: $3.99 USD. Words: 72,310. Language: English. Published: April 18, 2014. Categories: Fiction » Cultural & ethnic themes » Cultural interest, general, Fiction » Romance » Historical
A gripping and authentic story of friendship that blossoms into love, amid cultural, religious, and racial diversity that were usually insurmountable barriers in the early part of the 20th century in America. Choices and their harsh consequences bring two families through pain, sorrow, and unification when children refuse to be captives of social bigotry and cultural misunderstanding.