Monday, September 12, 2011

Interview with Smoky Zeidel

Please welcome Smoky Zeidel to my blog today! A truly free-spirit, the likes of which I haven't had a chance to hang out with since I lived in Oregon. Makes sense since she too is from the Pacific side of US! I know I'm going to have fun getting to know this author, and I think you will too! So, Smoky, tell us a little more about you:

Thank you, Elaina, for having me here today. You are right: I am a truly free spirit. I live in a ramshackle cottage in the hills above the San Gabriel Valley just east of Los Angeles in a rare pocket of green, where some of our closest neighbors are mule deer, bobcats, and coyotes! Perfect for a nature girl like myself. I live with my husband Scott and my daughter Robin, three cats, a very large dog, and an assortment of critters that sometimes wander into the house by mistake! I also have a son, Steve, who is married and lives in the Chicago area, where I originally am from. When I’m not writing, Scott and I like to hike in the nearby San Gabriel Mountains, explore the tide pools at the beach, picnic in the desert, camp in the Sierras, and resist the urge to speak in haiku to one another!

I read you love your tattoo's, and I'm VERY curious to know two things. One, how old were you when you got your first one (and what was it) and, which one is your current favorite?

My first tattoo was my fiftieth birthday gift to myself, almost five years ago now. (I read somewhere the second largest demographic of people getting tattoos is middle-aged women!) It’s a picture of a bear with two lightning bolts above it. There’s a story behind it, but it’s too long to relate here. Suffice it to say, I was struck by lightning twenty-two years ago, and the tattoo stems from that close brush with death. Last year, my husband gifted me with my second tattoo—a colorful rattlesnake that wraps around my wrist below the bear. It’s very beautiful, and also holds a special meaning for me.

You've written several books on writing, what made you decide to help other authors out there in such a way?

While I lived in Illinois, I taught fiction writing workshops for many years at both the community college level and online. Students often would come up to me after class and say, “You should write this all down in a book.” My publisher agreed, and my first writing book, Front-Word, Back-Word, Insight Out: Lessons on Writing the Novel Lurking Inside You From Start to Finish was born. A few years later, she asked me to put together a book of writing prompts and exercises, and so I wrote Left Brained, Write Brained: 366 Writing Prompts and Exercises. It has a writing exercise for every day of the year!

Recently, my publisher decided the two books are better combined as one, and I agreed. Smoky’s Writers Workshop Combo Set is the compilation of both books into one. It is currently available only in eBook form, but the print edition will be available sometime in October, just in time for the holiday gift giving season, and for writers whose New Year’s resolution is to write every day.

Since you do have so much to offer the writing world (thank you!), I'm curious to know what the first piece of advice you received as a novice writer was that made you stand up and think, "Wow, why wasn't I doing that sooner?"

You know, Elaina, I don’t recall anyone giving me any advice before I started writing. After being nearly killed by that lightning bolt, I was unable to work full time. My body was broken—I had injuries to my heart, central nervous system, and joints, just as a few examples—but my mind was just fine. I saw an ad in my home town newspaper advertising for freelance feature writers. I applied, and was hired right away. It was a perfect job, because I could work when I felt healthy enough, but turn down assignments if I was having a rough time of it. But my dream had always been to write fiction. After a few years of writing for the newspaper and spreading out to write for magazines, I published my first short story. I’ve not written a newspaper article since that day.

You're entire family is artistic in some way or another. Is this just because you all are creative souls, or is it something that runs in your family?

I do have a creative family! I’m a writer, my husband, Scott, is a classical guitarist; his daughter, Janie, is a talented jazz vocalist, and my daughter, Robin, is an actress. But Scott isn’t a singer, and I’m not an actor, so I’m not exactly sure where our daughters got their talent! And although we both have sons, too, neither of them are in creative fields. My son is an insurance claims investigator, and Scott’s is working on an MFA in library science. So, to answer your question, I guess Scott, Janie, Robin, and I just have creative souls!

In all your nature escapes, where's your favorite place to go and relax and just enjoy the beautiful world around you?

It really depends on how much time we have. If we have three or more days, our favorite place is the Sierras. On the west side of the mountains, we love to camp in Kings Canyon National Park, which is a treasure of a park, deep in a valley in the mountains. It is very difficult to get there, because there is only one road leading in and out of the park, so it isn’t very crowded, like nearby Sequoia and Yosemite National Parks often are. If we go up the east side of the mountain, we like to camp in the Inyo National Forest right near Mammoth Lakes. Either side of the mountains, we feel we’re in paradise.

But if we have only a day to escape, we are blessed that we have our choice of exploring the mountains, desert, or sea, depending on our mood. We can go up into the San Gabriel or San Bernardino Mountains to hike, drive out to Palm Springs and explore the magical Indian Canyons, or go down to Laguna Beach. We live in a very special place, having such easy access to every imaginable kind of place to explore.

What do you have in store for your readers in the upcoming future?

I’m currently working on not one, but two novels, both historical romances. I don’t want to talk too much about them, though; I’m a bit superstitious, and I’m afraid if I talk about them too much, my muse will get angry and abandon me. I learned quite a while ago to never, ever, intentionally anger my muse! I’m also tinkering around with a new short story, just in time for Halloween!

Whatever I have upcoming, I know there are good things ahead for me. I have a wonderful, supportive publisher who is very enthusiastic about my writing, a loving family, and a beautiful place to live. Inspiration surrounds me, whether it be in the beauty of the grandmother oak tree that shades our deck, the view of the mountains across the valley, listening to my husband practice his guitar, or watching our girls perform. I am very blessed!

Thank you so much, Smoky, for visiting my blog today and sharing about you! Now, tell us where we can learn more and find you!

I’m all over the blogosphere these days! But here are the links to the places you’re always find me:

Website and Blog:

Facebook Fan Page:

Twitter: @SmokyZeidel

Hope you enjoyed this interview with Smoky as much as I did! Please be sure to stop back tomorrow for a peek at her romantic suspense, On the Choptank Shores!



  1. It's always nice to read about another Pacific coaster. Great interview and inspirational considering the injuries Ms. Zeidel sustained.

  2. I know, she's a really neat person and I'm so glad I was able to 'meet' her and have her on my blog today! :-) Thanks so much Lynn, for stopping by and meeting her too. :-))

  3. Thank you, Lynn, for stopping in to "meet" me. I hope you'll come by tomorrow to read my excerpt from On the Choptank Shores.

  4. One has to be a free spirit to work on two novels at the same time.


  5. Either that or crazy, Malcolm. I've been accused of being that, too.