Inside Heather Weidner’s Writing Life

heather weidner author

VL: I’m delighted that Heather Weidner agreed to an interview. Her most recent publication, “Digging Up Dirt,” appears in To Fetch a ThiefIn addition, Heather has published two mystery novels and numerous short stories—and dogs show up frequently!

VL: Is the dog in your story in To Fetch a Thief based at all on your dog?

HW: It is. It’s based on my little female JRT Disney. She’s a bundle of energy, a great companion, and she always likes to explore outside. Thankfully, she’s not dug up anything strange.

heather weidner dog
Heather’s dog, Disney

VL: Disney is definitely cute! I can understand why you would want to put her in a story. But how did you come up with the actual plot for “Digging Up Dirt”?

HW: My husband is a realtor, and people are always leaving things in houses when they move out. That gave me the idea for the random things (that might not be so random) in the story.


VL: No need for a spoiler alert, but I will say I admired the variety of things left behind and how you tied them together. But back to your passion—I don’t think passion is too strong a word—for dogs. Do any of your other stories (or future stories) involve a canine companion?

HW: They do. In my Delanie Fitzgerald Mystery series, my sassy private investigator has a partner, Duncan Reynolds, and Duncan’s best pal is Margaret, the English bulldog. She’s a brown and white log with legs. She has two speeds, slow and napping. But she likes treats, and she’s a great companion.

I’m also working on another cozy mystery, and there is another Jack Russell Terrier in it. Her name is Bijou.

dogs murder perfect holiday season
Heather’s dog, Riley

VL: While you are producing stories involving dogs, what do you do with your actual dogs?

HW: There are two dog beds in my office on either side of my desk. If they aren’t roughhousing, then they’re napping.

heather weidner dogs

VL: Most writers are voracious readers. What types of books do you read?

HW: I love all kinds of mysteries, thrillers, history, and biography.


VL: What are you reading now?

HW: I just finished John Grisham’s The Reckoning, and now I’m reading Lee Child’s Past Tense.


VL: What’s your favorite book or movie that has an animal as a central character? Why?

HW: My early favorites were Charlotte’s Web and Where the Red Fern Grows. I have always loved animal stories, and even today, I tend to read mysteries that have pet sidekicks. My favorite mystery authors who include pets are Bethany Blake, Janet Evanovich, Krista Davis, and Libby Klein.


VL: What’s in your “To Be Read” (TBR) pile right now?

HW: I have three TBR piles right now. One’s on my night stand. I have one on a bookcase, and there’s another downstairs in the den. There are always more books than I have time to read. Most of the books in all three piles are mysteries and thrillers. There are a few biographies in the pile.


VL: Based on the locations of your TBR piles, I could probably guess at the answer to this next question, but I’ll ask anyway. Where is your favorite place to read (or write)? Why?

HW: I can read just about anywhere. At home, I like reading on my deck in the early mornings. At night, I like reading in bed with two snuggly Jack Russell Terriers.

As for the writing part of your question, I tend to be a binge writer. At home, I write in my office or on the deck. But I tend to write or proofread whenever I get a free moment, so it could be at lunch at work or in the dentist’s waiting room.


VL: What’s next for you?

HW: I am working on the third novel in the Delanie Fitzgerald series. It’s called Glitter, Glam, and Contraband. I am also working on a new cozy mystery set in Charlottesville, Virginia. I had a nonfiction piece accepted in the Sisters in Crime book marketing anthology, Promophobia, and that will be out next year, along with a short story, “Art Attack,” in the Deadly Southern Charm: A Lethal Ladies Mystery Anthology.

VL: You clearly have a lot going on! Thank you for taking time for this interview.


VL: Thank you, Heather! Congratulations on all you have done so far. No doubt we will see more of your writing in the future, especially Delaney Fitzgerald. Learn more about Heather Weidner below.

Heather Weidner’s short stories appear in the Virginia is for Mysteries series and 50 Shades of Cabernet. Secret Lives and Private Eyes and The Tulip Shirt Murders are her novels in the Delanie Fitzgerald series. Her novella “Diggin’ up Dirt” appears in To Fetch a Thief.

She is a member of Sisters in Crime – Central Virginia, Guppies, and James River Writers.

Originally from Virginia Beach, Heather has been a mystery fan since Scooby Doo and Nancy Drew. She lives in Central Virginia with her husband and a pair of Jack Russell terriers.

Heather earned her BA in English from Virginia Wesleyan University and her MA in American literature from the University of Richmond. Through the years, she has been a cop’s kid, technical writer, editor, college professor, software tester, and IT manager. She blogs regularly with the Pens, Paws, and Claws authors.

Connect with Heather online:

The Value of Writing Classes and Workshops

One of the best things you can do for yourself as a writer is to join a writing group or workshop. The people you meet can offer fresh perspectives on your writing and help you evolve in your genre and beyond. Not only is it great to have another set of eyes look over your work, but going to a workshop every week helps you stick to a regular writing schedule. That discipline, coupled with the skills you pick up, are a great way to bring your writing to the next level.


value writing classes workshops
I had no formal writing instruction from high school through retirement, but after I retired I began to take classes at the VMFA Studio School. In addition to all sorts of arts classes– drawing and painting, photography, pottery, printmaking– they offer creative writing courses. Coming up soon are two such courses: one in memoir writing, and another in blog writing.


Besides the classes at the VMFA, I’ve had classes and/or workshops at the University of Richmond and, of course, Nimrod Hall Summer arts programs. Registration for Nimrod is already open for week-long or weekend workshops, if you’re interested.


I’ve also had friends who’ve taken classes at VCU. They are difficult to get into for non-degree students, but it doesn’t hurt to try. While the types of courses vary from semester to semester, here is a list of upcoming courses they will be offering.


value writing classes workshops
A writing friend took a seminar with Agile Writers which she said was excellent. You can take their mini-tutorials online, or become a member for more benefits. Still others have taken classes at the Visual Arts Center. They currently have a couple of open classes: Writing from Your Senses and Writing the Memoir. Sometimes you can find classes or workshops at local libraries. I once taught a 6-week class at the Tuckahoe Branch of Henrico County Library. Such opportunities are catch-as-catch-can, but be aware!


There are also workshops set up for you to make contacts within the writing community and to help you get feedback on your writing. One such event is Writers Wednesdays through the James River Writers, where on the second Wednesday of every month writers in Richmond have a casual meet-and-greet at Ardent Craft Ales. Similarly, Writers Farmhouse invites authors to the Midlothian Urban Farmhouse Market & Cafe to write, read, and motivate.
james river writers annual conference
At the James River Writers Conference in 2012
These are all in the local Richmond area, but opportunities abound. Many schools with MFA programs offer non-degree classes in the summers. For example, I know that Hollins College has an annual offeringPoets & Writers magazine gives a national listing annually as well.


If you start taking writing instruction, you are likely to fall in love with your teacher. By all means, continue to take classes with her/him. But also branch out. I’ve taken classes with Douglas Jones, Susan Hankla, Sherri Reynolds, Cathy Hankla, Charlotte Morgan, and others. Valley Haggard is also a local writer who offers classes. James River Writers has a list of classes, workshops, and writing groups for you to get more info about these opportunities.
value writing classes workshops
Each teacher offers something; they all have their strengths. Some light a creative spark. Some provide structure to get started and/or finish a specific project. Some sharpen specific writing skills. Some offer assignments and deadlines that make you keep BIC (Butt in Chair) and actually put words on paper. All should offer encouragement and support!