Name: Valerie Burns
What you Write: Mysteries
Agent: Jessica Faust
Why BookEnds? When I was looking for an agent/agency, I wanted someone who didn’t just know mysteries, but knew and understood cozy mysteries. Jessica Faust is very familiar with the genre and represents a lot of great award-winning, bestselling mystery authors. BookEnds has an excellent reputation and is well respected. BookEnds also does a lot to help support and promote their clients, as well as other aspiring authors through their blogs and social media presence. I’m so happy to be represented by this great team.
What genres do you write? Read?
I love to read. I enjoy mystery, science fiction, fantasy, biographies, pretty much everything except horror (I’m a bit of a coward). My TBR pile (to be read) is mountainous and time is limited, so I primarily stick to mysteries—cozy mysteries are my favorite and that’s what I write.
Plotter or pantster?
I aspire to be a plotter. However, I am a pantser. I love to get a seed of an idea and just start writing and see where the story and the characters take me.
Synopses, love them or hate ‘em?
I have a love hate relationship with synopses—mostly hate. Since I’m a pantser, I find it hard to write a synopsis because I have no idea where the story will lead me until I’m done. However, when I get stuck, it can sometimes be helpful to read the synopsis to see if it can trigger a way for me to get out of the hole my characters have dug for me (I’m not owning that hole).
Do you have a writing playlist or a vision board? If so, what’s on them?
I don’t have a playlist, but I like to listen to music while I write. If I’m on schedule with plenty of time, then I listen to smooth jazz—mostly instrumental. If I listen to music with words, then I’ll start singing, which might lead to chair dancing and before you know it, I’m prancing around my desk with one or more of my poodles in my arms (it’s fun, but not very productive). If I’m under a deadline, then I switch to classical (Baroque) music. I used to be a corporate trainer for many years and Baroque music is the most conducive for learning and creativity. It’s been a few years since I’ve taught, but Baroque music stimulates alpha waves that puts you in a relaxed state which helps maintain focus and concentration. Honestly, I’m not sure how it works, but my productivity increases when I switch to Baroque.
Vision boards are great. When I first started writing, I used to have a physical corkboard that hung on my wall. Now, I use Pinterest. Whenever I start a new book, I create a private Pinterest board. I post pictures that inspired me or represent people, places or things that were running through my mind as I was writing. It’s great for a series. When I’m working on later books in the series and can’t remember the color of a character’s car, I can just refer to the Pinterest Board for that book. When I finish writing each book, I make the board public. So, anyone who is curious about what was going through my mind can simply pull it up.
Drink of choice when writing? When not writing?
Whether I’m writing or not, in the morning, I need coffee. I limit myself to one per day. If I’m writing at night, I drink tea, Diet Coke or water.
Day or Night writer?
Both. I have a day job, so during the week, I can only write at night. On the weekends, I write during the day. If I had my choice, I’d always write during the day. Maybe one day….
Twitter or Instagram? Or Facebook? Where can we find you?
I can be reached on all of the above. However, I’m most active on Facebook. I am working on getting better at social media, so reach out to me.
If you could meet any author, living or dead, who would you want to meet and why?
I am a HUGE fan of Agatha Christie. She is my favorite mystery author and is the writer I credit with getting me hooked on cozy mysteries. I still remember my first Agatha Christie book, The Murder of Roger Akroyd. It blew my mind. Then, I read And, Then There Were None, and that sealed the deal. From that point forward, I was hooked. I’d love to sit at her feet and learn how she crafted so many amazing books, short stories, and musicals. She left an amazing legacy and I would love to have had the opportunity to meet her.