Amy Metz is the author of the Goose Pimple Junction mystery series. She is a former first grade teacher and the mother of two sons. When not actively engaged in writing, enjoying her family, or surfing Facebook or Pinterest, Amy can usually be found with a mixing spoon, camera, or book in one hand and a glass of sweet tea in the other. Amy lives in Louisville, Kentucky.
1.What got you into writing / what made you sit down and actually start something? I decided I either needed to start writing or go crazy. I began writing in 2009 when my mother had just been diagnosed with dementia, and our already contentious-relationship became even more so. Writing about my experiences with her — some dramatic and some funny — was therapeutic, but then to escape real life, I started writing a humorous murder mystery, and Goose Pimple Junction was born. So I guess you could say stress was the impetus.
2.What is a usual writing day like for you, how is it structured? It isn’t! I usually begin the day with marketing i.e. Facebook and Twitter. After that, it’s an ADD’s playground. I bounce back and forth from one thing to another. Occasionally I get on a roll writing and I keep going. Other times, it’s start and stop. However, there is almost always one constant: sweet tea.
3.Do you get writers block? If so, how do you overcome it? Yes. I have it right now as a matter of fact. In the past, taking a long drive helped. A few years ago, I was really stuck on GPJ2, and I was driving my son and two of his school friends to a field trip about two hours away. I was able to tune them out, and I worked out the entire book by the time we got to our destination. Then I had to find a quiet place to scribble down all my ideas. I think it’s time for another road trip . . .
4.Are you a plotter or panster when it comes to writing a story? Both. For the first book, I was a pantser. In the second book, I started out as a pantser, but as referenced above, I ended up plotting it. Same thing for the book I’m currently working on. I have about 16 chapters that I pantsed it on. Now I’m going to have to plot.
5.Are you traditionally or self-published, and what was the publishing process like for you? Any advice to aspiring authors? I am self-published. I was originally published by a new small press publisher, and that experience taught me valuable lessons in what not to do when signing a contract. I’m much happier now self-publishing. I was reluctant at first to try self-publishing, but I would tell anyone on the fence to jump off and go for it. But you have to hire people to help you. You have to have help with the cover design, you have to have an editor (or two) and a proofreader. If you don’t know how to format a book for print or ebook, get it done professionally. And before you do all that, beta readers are a huge help. Publishing a book is not headache-free. Depending on other people, working in their time frames, ironing out small problems, paying for all of those services before you’ve made a dime . . . writing the book is the fun part. Publishing it is work!
6.What has been your highlight since becoming a published author? I was thrilled when my books were in the #1 or top 5 spots for Amazon best selling cozy mysteries and I was on the best selling authors in mysteries list. But when I logged on one day and found I was one spot above Robert B. Parker in most popular authors in mysteries . . . well, that was a really sweet day. (Robert B. Parker is my favorite author.)
7.Can you share a little of your most recent book with us? And any other books of yours, if you wish. This is part of the chapter in Short & Tall Tales where Johnny Butterfield has an “on the job interview” for chief of police:
Johnny, Skeeter, and Buck snuck through a cornfield and came upon the back of the Shaw house. The trooper eased past an old tractor, peeked around the corner of the house, and saw four GPJ police cruisers, all with their lights blaring. All the officers were behind their cruisers, their guns aimed at the house. Then a nasally voice boomed out, “Y’all just go on about your business, and I’ll let this officer go. I don’t want to cause nobody any harm, but I’ll do it if it means protecting what’s mine. Now y’all get.”
“That’s old man Shaw,” Skeeter whispered, and Buck nodded in agreement.
Johnny hitched his head toward the back of the house, turned, and headed back the way they’d come. When they reached the back porch, he turned to Skeeter. “I need
you to create a diversion. Anything within reason and that won’t get anyone killed. Do it in – ” he looked at his watch “ – two minutes and thirty-five seconds, starting . . .” Both men looked at their watches. “ . . . now.”
Skeeter hightailed it around to the other side of the house.
Johnny turned to Buck. “You, stay right here.”
“Hold it! Where are you going?”
“Inside to stop all this foolishness.” Johnny quietly turned the knob on the door and gently eased it open. A kitchen floorboard squeaked, and a cat darted out of the room as Johnny stepped inside. He made his way through the house to the front room where he parted lace curtains – once white, but now a grimy gray – with his hand in order to peek out the window at the scene.
The scraggly yard was littered with a few squirrel carcasses, and Allen Ray Shaw stood on his front porch behind Officer Beanblossom. He had the officer’s arm jerked behind him and was holding it with one hand and a pistol to Hank’s head with his other hand. A revolver – Johnny guessed it belonged to Hank – lay a few feet from the men. Johnny checked his watch and removed his revolver, taking it off safety.
“You got a license for that thing?” A voice boomed out from behind one of the cruisers.
“Sure I do. And don’t be thinking you’re gonna take my gun away from me. I got rights. It’s in the fifth amendment.”
“I think that’s the second amendment, sir. And you’re in a residential development. It is illegal to discharge a firearm in a residential area. Not to mention the illegality of holding a man at gunpoint.”
“Ain’t you a dandy, with your highfalutin words.”
“Sir, we need you to surrender your weapon and let Officer Beanblossom go.”
“I’m on my property. I got a right to bear arms. And I got a license. I ain’t surrendering nothing. And I’m gonna kill me an officer in about thirty seconds if y’all don’t leave me the hell alone.”
Johnny glanced at his watch again. He stood to the side of the open front door with just a screen door between him and the subject. Then he heard the roar of a tractor and saw Shaw’s head whip around toward the sound. The trooper slipped outside and in two quick steps came up behind Allen Ray Shaw. He put his gun to Shaw’s temple and said, “If you don’t, I won’t.”
The old man handed over his weapon. Hank muttered, “Praise be to God” as he rubbed his arm.
Buck came on the front porch as Johnny handcuffed the old man. He looked the trooper straight in the eye and said, “You’re hired.”
8.What audience is your book targeted for, and what genre does it come under? My books are cozy mysteries, so they’re targeted for adults or young adults. I’d say high school and up.
9.Apart from writing, what do you do in your spare time? Three words: Facebook, Pinterest, and Twitter. And those activities are mostly geared toward marketing. I bake a lot. I also love to eat out, love to go to the movies or watch a movie on Netflix, and the Late Show with Jimmy Fallon is must-see TV every day. Driving to Indiana University to hear my son play in concerts is one of my favourite things to do.
10.What tip would you give to new authors when trying to build a fan-base / get followers and market their books? (What to do and what not to do.) I have a page on my blog devoted to marketing for Indies. It lists websites and gives ideas for marketing your book. You can find it here: http://abluemillionbooks.blogspot.com/p/marketing.html I think the most important thing on that list is to contact as many bloggers as you can and request an interview and/or review. Aside from that, I would advise new authors to run promo days on Amazon – either free or 99 cents, and use this list to get the word out about your promotion: http://www.andrew-butcher.com/100-websites-for-kdp-select-free-days—submit-your-ebook.html. Giveaways on Goodreads is also a good idea. Tweet, tweet, and tweet some more about your book.
11.How would you describe your writing style? I like to use “goosepimpleisms” in my books. Some readers say I use too many, but I say they’re crazier than a sprayed roach. Goosepimpleisms are funny Southern sayings that get to the point brilliantly, in my opinion. I mean, if someone asks “how are you,” you could answer with “fine” or you could say “If I were doing any better, I’d have to be twins.” It paints a much richer picture, in my opinion.
12.How much of your books are realistic / based on true experiences/ people? My first book was based on real life events from the 1930s. The characters weren’t based on anyone real, but the plot was. I use things I see or hear about in real life in my books, and I use bits and pieces of real life, but none of the characters are based on real people. Although I will say that Ezzie is a Basset hound version of my granddog, Gage, who is a brown Lab. He actually did everything (and more) that she does in the books. He’s a genius!
13.How much research do you do when starting a story? For my first book, since it was based on true events, I did a lot of research. I was amazed at how much I could find online, and I searched and read everything I could find. I also research police procedure or laws, and I ask my daughter-in-law all of my medical questions.
14.What is the hardest thing about writing? For me, it’s coming up with the complete story line. I usually start out well, and I have a general idea of what I want the story to be about, but then I hit a wall, and it takes me a while to work it out.
15.How long on average does it take you to write a book? I have no idea. Currently, it’s taking way too long! But I do think it varies from book to book, depending on what’s going on in real life to keep me from writing.
16.Tell us about the book cover/s, how the designing came about. I search online for images I like and then I contact the artists. For the first one, I commissioned the cover art from Karen Matheson Schmidt, who came up with the front and back cover images, and I think she did a great job of capturing my Goose Pimple Junction. For the second book, I found the “Southern Home” image by John Gibbs, and it matched the picture in my head of what Martha Maye’s house looks like. We added a few things to it, and boom, I had a cover. I had a lot of trouble with the third book cover and worked with three different artists before the third time proved to be a charm. Anne Rackley’s painting of a Basset hound on etsy.com perfectly captured the mischievousness of my Ezzie in the GPJ series, and I fell in love with the image. I use E.M. Tippets Book Designs to add the title, author name, and format it correctly for print and ebook.