~Q:When did you first realize you wanted to be a writer?
- A: When I was in eighth grade, I sat at a lunch table with a bunch of girls I didn’t know. (They were friends of a friend, I guess). I vividly remembering them passing around spiral notebooks of stories they were writing. They seemed so excited about their projects and they enjoyed reading each others stories. I couldn’t believe how passionate and creative they were! After watching them for a few weeks, I decided that one day I would try my hand at writing a book.
~Q: How long does it take you to write a book?
- A.1: Since I’m still in the beginning stages of my writing career, I’m still getting the knack of it. So it has varied, depending on the story.
- A.2: I spent about three years outlining “Iris” before I actually started writing. In the course of almost two years, I completed the first drafts of “Iris” and “Alteration;” they had been one book until I realized that they were way too long. It was then another three and a half years before I actually finished it.
- A.3: “Undoing Life” didn’t take nearly as long. I came up with the first draft of a short story about four years before I made it into a novella. In total, it took about five years from start to publish (for the first edition).
- A.4: I wrote the first draft of “Reps and Royals” for National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) in November of 2014–50,000 word draft in 30 days. I tried going back and revising it a couple times, but I didn’t feel skilled enough to finish the project. Once I published “Iris” in December of 2015, I decided it was time to try my hand at fixing it up. It took another 6-7 months before I finished the first edition.
- A.5: “Mended by Ashes” only took me about a year and a half. I wrote the first draft for NaNoWriMo 2016 and finished the final draft the summer of 2017. It was published for the first time April 2018.
- A.6: My current project, a sci-fi western called “The People’s Order,” will hopefully be done this upcoming fall. I wrote half of a first draft two years ago, intending it to be a short story. I tried to go back and work on it several times, but could never quite figure out the ending. I finished a full draft the summer of 2017 before pushing it to the back of my mind. But now it’s my main focus. Cumulatively, I think I’ve spent about six months on it–not including the many months it spent stewing in my brain. If I can finish it in August, that’ll come to eight months total, which would be the fastest I’ve ever written a book.
- Note: The years it took to write these stories all over-lap since I’m incapable of sitting down to write a story from start to finish without getting distracted by other stories in my head.
~Q: What is your work schedule like when you’re writing?
- A: I would love to be the kind of author that can sit and write for eight hours straight. That’s the dream. However, I have a limited attention span that gets me unfocused, as well as a medical condition where my joints get sore ad I can’t sit still for prolonged periods of time. So I have to break up my writing time. every 30-45 minutes, I get up from my computer and do something else. I’ll do some cleaning, work for one of my other careers, check social media, work out, get a snack, etc… And then I get back to work–unless I get sucked into a show on Netflix…
~Q: What would you say is your interesting writing quirk?
- A: I’ve recently noticed that I love writing twist endings. People are always telling me that they enjoyed the surprises at the end and were not expecting that to happen at all. So I’ve been experimenting with foreshadowing and dramatic irony to further enhance those twists.
~Q: How do your books get published?
- A.1: I use to self-publish sorely through Amazon. Their Kindle Direct Publishing program made everything so easy. Once I finished a manuscript, I just uploaded it, filled in a bunch of information, decorated a cover, choose some royalty options–then bibbity-bobbity-boo! It’s ready in a few hours once it’s been approved by the Amazon people.
- A.2: However, I am no longer associate with Kindle. I felt a little limited only having e-books. I tried using their CreateSpace to make print books, but I found that process very convoluted. So now I’m through Ingram Spark. It’s a similar process to Kindle, but a bit different. I don’t understand why, but I have to wait a year before having my books back on Kindle. I can do it through Ingram Spark since they are well-connected everywhere. So if you only read Kindle books, you’ll have to wait until 2019 for mine. Sorry!
~Q: Where do you get your information or ideas for your books?
- A: That’s the age-old question. I don’t know where most of my ideas come from. However, a lot of it comes from asking, “What if?” This question is usually asked when there is a thing about society that I don’t particularly like. I continue asking myself that question, trying to piece together what a culture would look like with a couple things switched or changed. Then I try to come up with characters whose lives or journeys might fit well in the story or who will create a lot of conflict and challenge the status quo.
~Q: When did you write your first book and how old were you?
- A: I came up for the idea for my first book, “Iris,” when I was eighteen–almost nineteen. I had just finished high school and was about to start massage school. The job I had was very slow, so I always brought a notebook with me in case I had any ideas. However, it was about three years before I actually started a decent draft of “Iris” and several more years before I finished it. (And it wasn’t the first story I finished, either; that would be “Undoing Life.”)
~Q: What do you like to do when you’re not writing?
- A: Oh so many things! I’ve got a day job teaching 7th grade English at a local junior high. Plus, I direct Drama Club. I also have my own massage business, but as I mentioned in my Bio, I’m letting my license expire. Throw in church activities, family get-togethers, hanging with friends, sewing projects, a Netflix addiction, baking, learning Korean, working out, as well as reading, and I’ve got a full, well-rounded life.
~Q: What does your family think of your writing?
- A.1: My parents have been very supportive of my writing career. Of course, they’ve urged me to have a full-time job to pay the bills. But I’m pretty sure that they’re proud of all I’ve accomplished.
- A.2: My father is slowly but surely making his way through my books. I’m proud of how he’s stuck with reading “Iris;” it’s very long and there are a lot of characters. My mother isn’t much of a reader, but she says that she’ll watch the movies if/when they are made.
~Q: What was one of the most surprising things you learned in creating your books?
- A: The most shocking reality check I got was just how much time and effort goes into writing. I remember being in massage school and thinking that I’ll just write and have my book published in the next couple of years and the royalties would pay for college. Boy, I was so naive! I’ve since met other starry-eyed, aspiring authors with the same goals. It’s so hard to impart how difficult it is to write a book without crushing their ambition and creative spirit. So to all those who wanna finish a book someday, don’t be discouraged! It’ll probably take awhile, but it’s completely worth it!
~Q: How many books have you written? What kinds of stories are you working on publishing in the future.
- A.1: To date, I’ve written “Undoing Life” (technically a novella), “Iris,” “Reps and Royals,” and “Mended by Ashes.”
- A.2: I have several WIPs (Works in Progress). My sci-fi western, “The People’s Order,” is set to be released sometime 2018. After that, I’ll be working on the “Iris” sequel, “Alteration,” which will hopefully be done February 2019. And then there will be seven more books in the series for a total of nine. I’d like to work on my multicultural Mars murder mystery after that, but I have no idea when that’ll be done–it needs a lot of work still. I’ve got ideas for a couple novellas, too, but they aren’t a high priority for me; I’m still stuck on the plot for those (one is a social commentary on addiction and the other is about friend-making). I wrote a YA story for my first NaNoWriMo in 2013; I’ll eventually go back and fix that up and make it more “adult.” I’ve got several other stories floating around in my head, but nothing solid quite yet. So needless to say, I will have enough to write until the day I die…
~Q: Do you have any suggestions to help someone become a better writer? If so, what are they?
- A: I’ve heard the same advice over and over again for years. In my experience, there isn’t anything else nearly as constructive as this: Just Write! You can do research into the writing process and follow podcasts and read blogs. But the only way you’re going to get better is through experience. If you want to learn to swim, you don’t read about it and then think you can do it. Your muscles need practice and you need to get use to the sensation of the water. It’s the same thing about writing. The only way you’ll eventually get good at it is by practicing. Yes, you will probably stink at first–I know I did! But you’ll soon learn how to improve. Good luck!
~Q: Do you hear from your readers much? What kinds of things do they say?
- A: I’ve heard from a few–mostly only people that I know personally. But I did have a few reviews written by strangers. I’m also fairly active on Twitter and I love connecting with readers and fellow writers when they’ve read my stories.
~Q: Who is the audience for your books? Do you have an age in mind for your readers?
- A: I generally say that my books are for 16 year olds and up. That doesn’t mean that younger teens might not enjoy my stories as well. I try to keep my writing pretty clean, but there are definitely some more adult themes that a younger audience might not understand.
~Q: What do you think makes a good story?
- A: I like stories where I can relate to the characters. I’m not talking about being able to relate to a young boy who found out that he was a wizard or an elderly man who is mourning the loss of his wife so he fills his house with helium balloons to go on an adventure. No, I mean that I like stories where I can sympathize with the characters’ conflict and have an emotional investment in the outcome of their ending.
~Q: As a child, what did you want to do when you grew up?
- A.1: I remember being in Kindergarten and wanting to be the first female president of the United States. I don’t know what brought that on, but I’ve always hated that there are certain careers that are mainly male-centered. I was raised under the mantra that women are just as capable as men and that we should all be given equal opportunities.
- A.2: I also wanted to be a vet or work with animals–especially an animal trainer at the zoo.
- A.3: I thought teachers were the smartest people in the world, so I dreamed of someday being one. (I am one now!)
- A.4: There was also fire-woman–again it was a gender-equality thing–rock star, actress, stay-at-home mother, business woman, and many others…