Writer Wednesday: Gail Baugniet

BLOOD RED HOMICIDE COVER 3.24.16 2337 front cover swans

Welcome to Writer Wednesday! Today’s post features mystery author Gail Baugniet. The fifth book in her Pepper Bibeau series, Blood Red Homicide, comes out on 6/24. She was gracious enough to answer questions about her writing processes and her books. Don’t forget to find her on social media. All the links you need are below.

Hi Gail! Let’s start with a little bit about you. Where are you from? When and how did you first get into writing?

Thank you for inviting me here today, Cassidy. Over the years, I have lived in several different states. But Wisconsin will always be my home state, where “PCB” doesn’t stand for industrial chemicals but Packers-Cheese-Bratwurst. I still cheer for the home team, and cheese is a major food-group for me. Two of the novels in my Pepper Bibeau series are set in Wisconsin, including Neshoto Junction Homicide.

From a very young age, I enjoyed reading mystery stories by the usual suspect authors: Erle Stanley Gardner, Agatha Christie, Rex Stout, and of course Edgar Allan Poe. At age nine, I wrote a 10-chapter mystery set mostly in the family basement. The story is long forgotten but my interest in writing lived on and mystery remains my favorite genre.

Tell me about your writing and editing processes. Are you a pantser or plotter?

The plotter-pantser question has always intrigued me. What does it say about the writer, if anything? Can one change from plotter to pantser, and back again?

My first novel took about ten years to write, edit, and publish. In 1998, I decided to write a mystery series. The first thing I tackled was my protagonist’s name (but that’s a whole ’nother interview – as is the correct use of the apostrophe). Before I started the first draft of my first novel, I outlined the general locale and timeline for the individual stories. I’ve found that setting a goal is a positive way to accomplish a project, even if you go off-task. Having an end in sight gives you incentive to keep moving, whether forward, backward, or sideways. Staying in motion, writing every day (even if it is only a grocery list) keeps the juices flowing.

“Pantser” is written across my forehead, but “plotter” flows in my blood. Contradictory? Not really. I’ve been participating in National Novel Writers Month for several years now. NaNoWriMo encourages you to write 50,000 words in 30 days during the month of November. I write the first draft of a new novel in 30 days. But before November, I develop an idea for the story, work up some of the main characters, pick a main setting, and have a general idea of how the story will begin. When I sit down on the first day of November, I don’t have the entire story plotted out, but I also don’t sit and stare at my computer screen wondering what I got myself into by signing up to write 50,000 words over the next 30 days.

As for a schedule, I don’t sit down at XX-thirty every morning and write for XX amount of hours. If that works for you, terrific. But it works better for me to decide on a goal with a deadline (which I probably won’t meet exactly on time, anyway, so I don’t agonize over it). Aiming toward your goal will get you there faster than trying to follow someone else’s schedule. 50,000 words in 30 days is 1612.90 words per day. Rather than force out that amount each day, you might set a goal to write 11,290 words per week. The most I’ve written in one day is 6500 words. But then I dropped to 250 words the next day, still on track to reach my goal but allowing myself to write when the words gushed out like a runaway fire hydrant.

What inspired your decision to self-publish your Pepper Bibeau series? What has your experience been like as an indie author?

After writing my first novel, having it professionally edited, and revising it to within an inch of its life, I wrote and mailed (mumble, mumble) amount of query letters to agents around the country. I included a SASE with each and received a 90% response with varying degrees of interest but no ultimate publishing offer. By this time, and following a couple more rewrites, the publishing world as we knew it had shifted. CreateSpace beckoned me in, and the self-publishing company became my second home.

I would never discourage a writer from searching for an agent or traditional publishing company. So much changes at a rapid rate in the publishing industry these days. Decide how you see your work being published and aim for that result.

You have a new novel coming out on 6/24/16. What can you tell me about it?

Blood Red Homicide, Book 5 (each is a stand-alone novel but has the same protagonist, Pepper Bibeau), supports the theory that goals are meant to be sidestepped. The story is set in New England, totally off the grid of my original outline. Until 2014, I had never traveled that far east (unless you count Florida).

A cousin had moved to Boston decades earlier, and in September, 2014, invited everyone out for a family reunion. He enjoyed reading my Pepper Bibeau mysteries and wanted to participate by giving me a premise for a novel. Naturally, there would be a suspicious death, and it would involve the local baseball players in Boston and Pawtucket.

Along came November. With those basic ideas to work with, I wrote a 50,000-word story for NaNoWriMo. Then I set the manuscript aside to finish Book 4, Neshoto Junction Homicide, which I published on January 18, 2016, the date that marked my father’s 100th birthday.

One of my favorite parts of writing is the research. While visiting Boston in 2014, I gathered much of the material needed to flesh out scenes for the story. Google searches provided some of the finer details for Blood Red Homicide which ultimately led Pepper Bibeau to a revelation in her personal life (no spoilers).

How does living in beautiful Hawaii influence your writing?

After Wisconsin (and Minnesota, where I lived for 18 years), waking to comfortable temperatures each morning and knowing the weather will remain warm throughout the day, week, and month, makes it easier to sit in the chair and write my stories.

My first years in Hawaii were spent exploring (in between working full time/overtime for twelve years.) I visited most of the islands (all but the private island of Niihau), searched out heiau sites and restaurants, and enjoyed snorkeling, hiking, and whale watching. Everything is material for a novel.

Long ago, I decided to have fun with my writing. I am a member of several writers’ groups, a critique group, a reader’s book club, and two speakers groups. Writing is an isolating business. Socializing on a regular basis, face-to-face, is exhilarating and educational. I met four exceptional poets through one writer’s group. That contact sparked in me a desire to write a new form of poetry. I had written rhyming poetry and haiku over the years. Now it was time to grow in different direction.

As a writer, you always stay on the look-out for fresh experiences that can blossom into stories your readers will love.

Where can we find you online or on social media?

TWITTER          FACEBOOK          BLOGSITE          AMAZON

Pepper Bibeau For Every ActionFor Every Action (Pepper Bibeau, Book 1)

During the civil unrest of 1968, 26-year old Insurance Investigator Pepper Bibeau’s arrival in Chicago sets her on a collision course with death. A questionable medical claim, or a background check on a man who admits to stabbing his wife, leads to the murder of her friend. Pepper connects an apparent suicide to a child’s drug overdose and suspects that people who should be helping her are indirectly involved.

Pepper’s 12-month deployment in Vietnam with the Army Nurse Corps didn’t prepare her for the streets of Chicago. Someone slams her head against a brick wall, sending her to the hospital with a possible concussion. A CPD homicide detective tells her to drop the insurance investigation and leave town. But her friend is dead, and a child is still in a coma. Until Pepper exposes those responsible, she’s staying.

FOR EVERY ACTION is the first Mystery/Suspense novel in a planned Pepper Bibeau Mystery series. The second novel, DEADLY AS NATURE Envy Spawns Grief was published on August 28, 2012.

Author Gail Baugniet

Author Gail Baugniet

Gail M Baugniet is the author of the Pepper Bibeau Mystery series. After college, she worked for insurance companies, in law enforcement as a police officer, and finally as a security dispatcher for twelve years. After living through many snowy winters in northern states, she now calls Honolulu her home.

Gail is a member of Sisters in Crime, Inc. and current president of the Sisters in Crime/Hawaii chapter in Honolulu. Her novels are available in trade book and eBook format at Amazon.com. She also published a short book of poems, and two of her short stories are included in Hawaii-based anthologies.

A huge thanks to Gail for stopping by. Be sure to follow her on Amazon for more updates about her upcoming release. Do you have any questions for Gail? Leave a note below.

Five Wednesdays this month means five awesome writers, and we’re only on number 2. Be sure to stop by every Wednesday. For a reminder, follow me on Twitter or Facebook. If you’re interested in being featured, send me an email at cassidytaylorauthor@gmail.com.

Until Friday! <3 Cassidy

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