Margaret Standafer was born, raised, and still resides in the suburbs of Minneapolis, Minnesota. Being surrounded by ten thousand some lakes means a love of all things water-related…and a deep hatred of mosquitos. After years spent in perpetual motion juggling a family and a career and loving every minute of it, some pesky health issues led to mandated down time and eventually resulted in her finally grabbing the laptop and putting some of the stories that had been alive and well—but relegated to a small spot in the recesses of her mind—down on paper. The outcome of that endeavor was her first published novel, Misty Lake.
Having completed one novel, the writing bug has taken a firm hold. With the support of her amazing and understanding husband as well as her amazing and somewhat understanding kids, and in spite of the lack of support from her ever-demanding Golden Retriever, Margaret has completed four more books to complete the Misty Lake series: The Inn at Misty Lake, Misty Lake in Focus, Anchored in Misty Lake, and Sunset Over Misty Lake. Watch for her newest book, I Know an Old Lady, a coming-of-age story set in 1970s Kansas, available summer, 2020.
It is Margaret’s sincere hope that you enjoy her writing.
Here is an interview with author Margaret Standafer
Can you tell us a little bit about yourself?
I am a writer who came to writing somewhat reluctantly. It wasn’t always my dream, as is the case with so many writers. For me, it was only after my youngest child left for college and I suddenly found myself with too much time on my hands that I heeded the words I’d been hearing for years from my husband: ‘You should write a book.’ I did, and I’ve never looked back. I have now written a five-book series, The Misty Lake series, which are clean, romantic suspense books, as well as my coming of age book, I Know an Old Lady, for which I recently won the Minnesota Best Indie Author award for adult fiction.
How many hours a day do you write?
It varies. I don’t have a rigid schedule I follow, so some days it’s only a few minutes, some days it’s several hours.
How many unpublished and half-finished books do you have?
I have a trilogy that is written and in the editing process. I also have a few that are more just ideas and some notes. When ideas come to me, I write them down and let them percolate until they become a story. The idea grabs hold and doesn’t let go is the next project I tackle.
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How long on average does it take you to write a book?
My first book took me three months. Others have taken a year. It depends on how much time I’m able to spend writing and what else is going on that demands my time. Since I am independently published, there is also marketing, working with cover designers, editing, tracking sales, and on and on…so many other things that take time away from the actual writing.
Where did you get the idea for your recent book?
My current trilogy is about three middle school teachers, all in their first year of teaching. I worked for a number of years as a substitute teacher, primarily at the middle school level, so these stories come from personal experience.
How did you develop your plots?
I will start with a general idea, an event, or in the case of my novel, I Know an Old Lady, a single line from a nursery rhyme. I don’t outline. I can’t outline. For me, I start writing and the story unfolds. It is not unusual for the story to go in a different direction than I expected, or for characters to suddenly appear and end up playing an important role in the story. I’ve tried outlining, because I know with a detailed outline my writing would go much faster, but it just doesn’t work for me, so I wait for my characters to tell me their stories.
How do you select the names of your characters?
Sometimes it’s easy; a name fits with a character and I never doubt it’s the correct name. Other times, I research and study and analyze far too long. I scour baby name lists, I look at popular names (or unusual names) for a particular ethnicity, and I keep a list so I don’t repeat too many names from one book to the next!
What is your favorite childhood book?
I love reading, and read all the time as a child. I was hooked on Nancy Drew mysteries for a while, and A Wrinkle in Time holds a special spot in my heart because I remember my mom reading it to us, a chapter at a time, and thinking it was the coolest story I’d ever heard.
Do you read your book reviews? How do you deal with bad or good ones?
When I first started writing, I sometimes checked several times a day to see if a new review was posted. I sort of lived and died by what others said about my work. Now, I read them, but have learned that I will never please everyone, and that’s okay. The vast majority of my reviews have been positive, and that does wonders to boost my confidence, especially if I’m feeling stuck or frustrated. I’m very grateful to people who take the time to write a review, or to email me and tell me they’ve enjoyed my stories. If a negative review appears, I try to take away something useful from it, and then move on.
What other authors are you friends with, and how do they help you become a better writer?
I’ve joined some online author groups that have been helpful in answering questions, especially early on when I had a lot of questions. At first, I was hesitant to ask, but I’ve learned that most authors are more than happy to share their knowledge and I have learned a great deal from them. In turn, I am always happy to help out those just getting started.
What’s your advice for aspiring writers?
There’s the usual…keep writing, keep reading. If writing is something you want to do, stick with it, because it doesn’t happen overnight. Reading is just as important. I find that when I read, I’m more inspired to get back to my own writing. The other piece of advice I offer to someone just starting out is don’t tell anyone what you’re doing. It sounds strange, maybe, but when I wrote my first book, no one knew I was doing it. If I had told people, and if I’d had to answer all the questions about when it would be done, and what it was about, I honestly don’t know if I would have finished it. Take that pressure off yourself, write your book, and then surprise everyone!
What was the best money you ever spent as a writer?
Finding my cover designer. She’s amazing, and she does what I would never be able to do on my own. I’m not creative in that way, and don’t know anything about graphic design. Paying her to work her magic is money I happily spend.
What’s the best thing about being a writer?
My favorite thing about writing is how, when I’m done with a book, I feel as if the characters are real people that I know and that I care about. When someone else tells me they feel the same way…well, it’s amazing to me every single time.
Will you have a new book coming out soon?
My teacher trilogy will be released later this year.
What is your preferred method to have readers get in touch with or follow you
My website: www.margaretstandafer.com
What you want to say about our website?
It is truly a lifestyle website with several topics that I find interesting. I enjoyed the yoga articles as well as reading the interviews with other authors. Thank you for the opportunity to be a part of it.