Violet Howe enjoys writing romance with humor. She lives in Florida with her husband, who is her knight in shining armor, and their two handsome sons. They share their home with three adorable but spoiled dogs. When she’s not writing, Violet is usually watching movies, reading, or planning her next travel adventure. You can follow Violet’s ramblings on her blog, The Goddess Howe.
I saw on your blog, that you’ve planned weddings but you also had many other jobs. So why did you choose wedding planning as the background for your series? And just how does one emcee a crab race?
Wedding event planning allows you a unique window into other people’s lives. You are privy to family secrets, family dynamics, relationship issues, budgetary issues, and you get a front row seat to the drama that plays out which can be good and/or bad. Truth is quite often stranger than fiction, and what I saw and heard doing weddings was sometimes inspiring, sometimes revolting, and sometimes downright unbelievable. But all good stories, nonetheless. Throughout the years and the many events I participated in, I always said that one day I was going to write a book about those experiences. When I decided it was to be a fiction novel instead of a memoir, I wove together bits and pieces of many different people and events along with imagined people and events to create the weddings in Tyler’s fictional diary.
I got roped into being a crab race emcee as favor for a friend with an entertainment company. He wanted someone who was comfortable speaking and performing in front a crowd (check), someone with a great imagination who could spin a story and engage an audience (check), and someone who wasn’t afraid to laugh at themselves and encourage the crowd to laugh with them (check). It didn’t hurt that I was also loud! The key to emceeing a crab race is to get the crowd pumped up and excited even though NOTHING is happening.
The crab races were usually a feature of a Key West-themed party for convention guests, and we had a special crab racing table (complete with checkered flags and a finish line) and a team of crabs adorned with racing numbers. Some crabs didn’t move at all, others moved in the complete opposite direction of the finish line, and some were more interested in the other crabs than in making progress. None of that mattered as long as the crowd was having fun. I encouraged them to choose their racer and cheer loudly, and I would talk in rapid-fire play-by-play reports on the megaphone. “He’s ahead by a claw.” “She’s pinching her way to the finish line.” “He loves the attention…it’s really bringing him out of his shell.” The cornier, the better.
On your blog, you mention you believe stories can “Transport us some place we’ve never been.” When you’re stressed and need a happy place to go in your mind, where do you go and why?
I love to get lost in a good movie or a good story when I’m stressed. I can fully immerse myself into what’s happening with the characters and allow my own life to become background noise as I live in the world on the screen or on the page. At night, when I’m trying to go to sleep and it’s hard to shut down my mind with the recap of the day and the worries of the day to come, I will close my eyes and picture a white sand beach (Pensacola Beach to be exact!). I try to hear the sound of the waves crashing and the distant murmur of people’s laughter and conversation with strains of music and the occasional call of one seagull to another. I try to imagine the feel of the ceiling fan’s air across my limbs is the gentle sea breeze and I imagine my worries and stresses being carried out in the gulf by the waves.
Tell us about the Goddess Howe blog?
The Goddess Howe Blog started in 2012, when i first left teaching ro pursue writing full-time. It began as a way to express myself with words and pictures and to reach out and find if anyone was listening. It is a basically a collection of personal essays–some funny, some self-deprecating, some inspiring, some thought-provoking. With an occasional movie review or checkout line frustration tale thrown in for trivial measure. Before I began writing novels in earnest, I tried to publish there weekly, and I also used the blog to share my love of photography with a somewhat regular feature called “Saturday Through My Lens.” I set the same goal with the blog that I have set with my novels….to make people think and to make people laugh. Unfortunately, as publishing and marketing have taken the bulk of my time, I have been delinquent in keeping the blog current. But I set a goal this summer to return to The Goddess Howe’s essays once a month moving forward. I did get one published for August already, so hopefully I can stay on track!
Where did you get the idea for The Wedding Planner series?
As I mentioned above, I had always thought I would like to write about the wedding experiences I had and share the unique view a planner gets into what is considered one of life’s most important events. I was working on an as-of-yet-unpublished novel in 2013, and I signed up to participate in Nanowrimo (National Novel Writing Month) on October 31st that year. Nanowrimo is a global challenge for writers to get 50,000 words on the page in a 30-day time period (November 1-30). I thought it would be a good shove for me to finish that novel that had been languishing on my laptop. However, after signing up the night of the 31st for the event starting the next day, I read the fine print. (Always a good idea to read it AFTER signing up, right?) The guidelines asked that it be an original work, not one that was already started. Since I was four chapters and most of an outline into the novel I’d planned to write, I went into panic mode wondering how I was going to come up with an idea for a completely different story in a matter of hours. They say “write what you know”, so I fell back on my wedding experiences and began to tell wedding stories in a diary format. As I wrote, I ended each diary entry with a bit of reflection on the wedding and its participants, and with those reflections, a character began to emerge who was telling the story. It became her diary, and the story became more about her coming into her own as an adult and coming to terms with the reality of love and romance vs. the fairy tale idea of it she had clung to her entire life.
You travel to a lot of cons and reader events. What is your favorite part of doing that and how important has that been for your success?
My favorite part of cons and reader events is definitely meeting people. Readers, organizers, and other authors. In my career as a wedding planner and in my time as a teacher, I was part of a team environment. Writing can be a very solitary existence, and I missed the camaraderie and support of having a network of people surrounding me. Meeting other authors at cons and events has built up my network in this industry, and the knowledge they have shared and the support they have given has been crucial to my success. Being able to meet readers and discuss our mutual love of books and characters has been incredible. I have found new books to read, new genres to love, and new ideas to challenge me through the readers I have met. I have also found the indescribable joy that comes from opening your heart and your mind to put your characters and their story out in the world and have readers embrace them and love them. Publishing can be a very vulnerable experience that leaves you feeling exposed, but when someone shares that they’ve found something of value in your words–that it made them laugh, made them think, or allowed them to escape–it is an amazing reminder of how we’re all connected and on similar journeys.
You mention your involvement in community theater. Tell us a little about some of the plays you did? What was your favorite? How has this helped your writing career?
I have been involved with the Moonlight Players Community Theater in Clermont, Florida since 1996. Unfortunately, I haven’t been on the stage in quite a while since my time and creativity has been devoted to writing, but it is still alive in my heart, and I would love to be back under the lights someday soon. My favorite roles are not only due to the character I played but also tied together with the cast I belonged to. Each cast is like a family with its own dynamics and personality and style. I’ve made lifelong friends through the theater, and you bond very quickly when you’re sharing emotions in such a public way. If I had to pick favorites, I would say my roles in Bram Stoker’s Dracula, The Best Christmas Pageant Ever, and Rumors would be near the top, but my all-time favorite role was Annelle in Steel Magnolias. (the Daryl Hannah character if you saw the movie!) Annelle went through a grand transformation in pretty much every scene of the play, and it was fun to play so many different aspects of one character. I think theater has helped my writing in that I see the entire scene as I am writing it. I think of the “props” and the “set” and try to describe them for the reader much like the stage directions describe them for the actor. I believe doing so helps immerse the reader in the story more fully, and allows them to hear what the character is hearing, see what the character is seeing, and feel what the character is doing. I also find that I write in scenes rather than by an outline or linear timeline.
Tell us about your writing process and what keeps you motivated.
I try to stick to a schedule of writing on Monday-Wednesday–Friday and doing marketing, social media planning, and business on Tuesday–Thursday. Doing so allows me to set aside the “boring” or “taxing” parts of the business on my creative days, and it allows me to not feel guilt for not writing on business days. However, as I get close to the climax and ending of a book, that plan goes out the window and I write every single day, every single night, until all hours of the night! (And fall behind on EVERYTHING else!) I stay motivated by the stories that are constantly going on in my head, the character dialogue that is non-stop chatter underscoring everything else I’m doing or thinking about, and by reading books and watching movies that inspire me to write!
What are your future plans in regards to writing?
I am working on the second book in the Cedar Creek series, and I have at least three planned for the main characters, Sloane and Tristan, as well as a spin-off for Tristan’s brother, Holden. I have two stories set on different horse ranches I’d like to get out next year, one of which I am planning to publish as part of a “Meet Cute” promotion with other authors. At some point, I want to get back to that unfinished novel that is still waiting since before my Nanowrimo project began, and I also have a couple of other ideas in the pipeline that I’d like to see developed into full novels.
I’ll buy dinner for you and any author or book character you would like. Who’ll join us and why?
Diana Gabaldon and Jamie Fraser! One of my dearest friends nagged me for over a year to read Diana’s Outlander, and when I finally got around to it, I flew through the entire series and became obsessed!! I am in awe of her writing style and the way she brings her characters to life for me and immerses me in their world and their lives to the point that I feel they are family members and I miss them when I’m not reading! I’m always impressed with her mind and her wit in interviews and on her Facebook page, and I would love to sit down and chat with her. And Jamie because, well, Jamie! He’s the King of Men. haha Her hero is tough, intelligent, powerful leader who is also tender, passionate, and so funny that I often laugh at loud at his dialogue. I have quite the book boyfriend crush on Jamie Fraser…me and several hundred thousand others!
You can only have five books on your bookshelf. What are they?
Oh wow. Very difficult to narrow that down.
Outlander by Diana Gabaldon
Twilight by Stephenie Meyer (my guilty pleasure and the book that got me back into reading after years spent distracted by other things)
Traveling Mercies by Anne Lamott
The Borrowers by Mary Norton
Eat, Pray, Love by Elizabeth Gilbert
Thank you, Violet!