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Apr 12 2015

Writing Superheroes: Zoe Burton

What do purple pajamas and NASCAR have to do with our superhero? Read on and find out more…

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If you were to write the ‘origin’s episode’ of your writing what would be the most important scenes? What did your early efforts look like? Are they still around to be used as bribes and blackmail material?

 

My “original episode” was written when I was in my early to mid-teens. My sister apparently loved it, but I thought it was stupid and eventually threw it away. It was a romance, and I’d imagine it was the dialogue I was struggling with, as it still gives me fits.  “I Promise To…” was my first effort at writing a story in over 30 years. I was and still am shocked and surprised at the compliments I get about it.

 

All super heroes have their mild-mannered secret identity, what is yours? I promise we won’t tell.ZoeBurton-AuthorImage-1

I’m not sure how secret it is really, but I have a bit of a wild side. I love fast, loud cars, and NASCAR racing, and sometimes find raunchy stuff funny.

 

Who are your partners in crime? What are their superpowers?

My partners in crime are my main group of writer friends, Sarah Johnson, Rose Fairbanks, and Eileen Brown. They are an excellent support system, both for my writing and in my personal life. We are there for each other all day every day.  One is my beta, and she is fabulous! Another is a wonderful and thorough proofreader, though she is a teacher like me and doesn’t have a lot of time for proofing. The third is an awesome cover designer and book formatter. We put out our own JAFF newsletter, as well, called Peculiar Ramblings.

 

Where do you get your superpowers from?

I read a lot of Jane Austen Fan Fiction. I have read everything I could find and then re-read and re-read my favorites.  I still read about as much as I write, and that is where I find inspiration. I almost always seem something that wither makes me say “I could do that better” or “I want to write like that!”

 

Where is your secret lair and what does it look like?

LOL My secret lair is my kitchen table. It’s actually part of a dining room set, but since I don’t have a dining room, it is in the kitchen. One end (it’s a big table) is dedicated to writing…computer, printer, and agenda/notebook are located there. At any given time it could be a mess or it could hold nicely straightened piles. Usually, it’s a mess.

 

  What kind of training do you do to keep your superpowers in world saving form? How do you insure they are used only for good?

I keep reading. Reading is my escape, and when teaching (and the testing that has become half our school year) get too much, I bury myself in a good book.  I do occasionally read non-JAFF books, but usually I reread an old favorite. I also spend time in Bible study and prayer every day, which keeps me in top form and able to write.

 

Granted, you probably don’t’ get to wear your superhero costume a lot, but if you did, what would it look like?

Well, I teach from home at an online school, so I generally get to wear my superhero costume every day, though I don’t write every day.  Generally, I wear sweatpants, a t-shirt, and a flannel shirt. Certain days, which vary, I wear pajamas. Most of my pajamas are purple (my favorite color) and about half have NASCAR stuff on them. 😉 

 

What is your kryptonite? What are the biggest challenges faced with in your writing?

 My biggest writing challenge is having time and energy to write. I am generally limited to Saturdays, because I am mentally exhausted after work. I do spend a large portion of my holidays and summer break writing.  As for the writing itself, the dialogue I mentioned earlier was, I swear, invented to kill me.  I also struggle with transitions. I have promised to never put transitions on another student’s IEP. If I can’t do it, I won’t make them. 😉

 

  What was the supervillian that threatened to stop your latest project and how did you vanquish it?

The supervillain that threatened to stop my latest project was state testing.  Ohio has adopted Common Core standards and the PARCC test to replace Ohio standards and the OAA test. The requirements are very different and a lot of information was given to us in a short amount of time. I had one chapter to go on my newest story and was afraid I’d have to stop writing so I could focus on testing.  I truly had a meltdown…a crying, sobbing fit…over it. The friends I mentioned above talked me off the ledge and helped me work out a plan that would help me finish and still give me time to focus on testing.

 

 What important lessons have you learned along the way?

Not everyone is going to like my stories. There will always be someone with a complaint, and I cannot let them get to me. I write for the people who do like them, and there are plenty of those. I also write for myself. I write what I like, since there is not much new out there.

I also learned that I’m a pretty darned good writer, dialogue and transitions notwithstanding. As bad as it sounds, I Promise To… brings a smile to my face very time I read it. I always think, “Dang, I wrote a good Darcy!!” 🙂

 

What have been the best/most memorable experiences along the way?

 I think my most memorable experiences have been hearing from fans. I have been in chat at a forum and someone popped in to tell me how much they loved my story, and after it was published, people emailed me the same, and found me on Facebook to tell me. I do not write for recognition, but it sure is nice to get it!

 

If you did this again what would you do differently and what would you not change?

If I were to change anything, and I don’t know for sure that I would, I’d listen to my sister and finish that first story when I was a teen. Maybe instead of teaching, I’d have been writing all this time.

 

What is the best (writing or otherwise) advice you have ever gotten and why.

The best writing advice I ever got was to finish I Promise To…. When my friend Rose saw it she was excited…all I wanted to know was if it was ridiculous. I am glad I finished it because I discovered that I love writing. Love it!! I hope to one day be able to stop teaching and write full-time.

 

Tell us about you new book and why we need to drop everything and get it now.

 My new book is called Lilacs & Lavender. It is a JAFF story that begins after the Netherfield Ball. Elizabeth’s eyes are opened to Wickham’s true nature and realizes her feelings for Darcy but is sure she’ll never see him again. When she stops in London on her way to visit Charlotte in Hunsford, she meets him again at the theater. They court at Rosings and the story ends with a happily ever after for the two.

 

You need to drop everything and go get it because it is a very sweet story and great therapy if you’re having a bad day.

What’s in store for you in the future? Do you have any other big projects on the horizon?

In the future, I plan to finish a sequel to I Promise To…. I also plan to write a novel-length story set in the NASCAR world. However, I have a lot of little plot bunnies hopping around in my brain and who knows what will actually come out first! 🙂

 

 

 You can find Zoe at:

Website~Facebook~Twitter @zoeburtonauthor 

6 comments

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  1. jennifer redlarczyk

    Oh Zoe, that was such a fun interview! I always love hearing from you since you are very upbeat and enjoy what you do. Thanks for sharing with us and best wishes for publications and new stories. ~Jen Red~

    1. Zoe Burton

      Thanks, Jen! I enjoy letting out these little bits and pieces of me! 🙂

  2. Joy Dawn King

    How did I miss this interview? Well done, Zoe. I wish you had kept up your writing when you were a teenager as well. While I really liked “I Promise To”, I loved “Lilacs and Lavender”. Your writing style is so fresh and your growth as an author is phenomenal.

    In your first story, you completely pegged young Darcy and Elizabeth. They had the enthusiasm of youth and I assumed you were close to Darcy’s age in the story to have gotten it so correct. When I found out you were a teacher, it didn’t surprise me at all.

    Your second story was sweet and completely sigh-worthy. Even though you admit to liking some of the raunchy stuff (my Mom would be thrilled to whip your buns for that one), I never feel my conscience endangered by your stories so I know I can read it with 100% enjoyment.

    Needless to say, I love your idea of a NASCAR Darcy and Lizzy. Yep! I’m buying and reading as soon as you write it. Thanks for sharing your follies and foibles with your fans, Zoe Burton.

    1. Zoe Burton

      LOL Joy…I’m sure my own mom would be eager to whip my buns too if she were still with me…but I had a period in my life where I was truly a wild child, and finding raunchy stuff funny is a holdover from that. I am quite happy to be beyond that part of my life…and a much better person now. 🙂 I can promise you never to write something that you should not read. 🙂

      Thank you so much for the lovely compliments! I can only wish I were still Darcy’s age! LOL 😉

      Thank you also for your enthusiasm and encouragement! 🙂 I work on the NASCAR story off and on….I will have to change the name before I publish, though, as I’m reasonably certain they won’t let me use it. They are mighty particular about that stuff. I do love it though, and if I am to write what I know, well…..I *know* NASCAR! LOL

      I have learned and continue to learn a lot about the writing process and about writing great stories. I hope to show improvement with every new book. I never want to feel again like a story was terrible or ridiculous.

      I appreciate your support, Joy! You are a bright light in my life, and I’m glad to have chances to interact with you! 🙂

    2. Maria Grace

      Thanks for coming by, Joy!

  3. Sheila L. M.

    I have spent all day today trying to catch up on e-mails and blogs. And I see this was quite a while ago. I have your second book on my kindle but have not “cracked the cover”. Will have to do so soon. I was a teacher – long ago. Those days were so consumed in the planning, executing and then grading papers, etc. Even into the summer with workshops, etc. I loved it but read very little for my own pleasure then. I tried to keep up with Newbery awards, Caldecott awards, Harry Potter books, etc. But good for you, fitting it all in. I know Joy’s tastes so if she can read your books they must not be too raunchy. I can take a little of MA books but not too much detail and, please, not one night stands all over the place. I like one man-one woman and LOVE as the motivation…not sex drive. Thanks for sharing of yourself here.

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