~When did you first realize you wanted to be a writer?
- 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. 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.
~How long does it take you to write a book?
- Since I’m still in the beginning stages of my writing career, I’m still getting the knack of it.
- 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.
- “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.
- 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. And six months later, it’s almost ready to be published.
- Note: The years it took to write these stories all over-lap.
~What is your work schedule like when you’re writing?
- 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…
~What would you say is your interesting writing quirk?
- I don’t know that this is particularly interesting–or unique–but when I write, I tend to do large chunks of dialogue. My writing is very much character-centered, so most of my books are a bunch of conversations between characters. I’m very bad about stopping to write in movement and/or scenery.
~How do your books get published?
- I self-publish through Amazon. Their Kindle Direct Publishing program makes things so easy. Once I’ve finished a manuscript (I’ll skip all the revision/editing rituals), I just upload it, fill in a bunch of information, decorate 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.
~Where do you get your information or ideas for your books?
- 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.
~When did you write your first book and how old were you?
- 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.)
~What do you like to do when you’re not writing?
- Oh so many things! I’ve got a day job teaching 7th grade English at a local junior high. I also have my own massage business and house-sitting business. Throw in church activities, family get-togethers, hanging with friends, a Netflix addiction, baking, working out, as well as reading and I’ve got a full, well-rounded life.
~What does your family think of your writing?
- 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.
~What was one of the most surprising things you learned in creating your books?
- 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!
~How many books have you written? Which is your favorite?
- I’m finishing my third. To date, I’ve written “Undoing Life” (technically a novella), “Iris,” and “Reps and Royals.” I’ve got beginning drafts of three other books and ideas for a dozen others.
- As to my favorite, that’s difficult to answer. I’d have to say “Iris” since I’ve spent the most time working on it.
~Do you have any suggestions to help someone become a better writer? If so, what are they?
- 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 my practicing. Yes, you will probably stink at first–I know I did! But you’ll soon learn how to improve.
~Do you hear from your readers much? What kinds of things do they say?
- I’ve heard from a few–mostly only people that I know personally. But I did have a few reviews written by strangers. You can find them on the “Reviews” tab on the menu.
~Who is the audience for your books? Do you have an age in mind for your readers?
- 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. However, someday I have to write some young adult books for 12 and up.
~What do you think makes a good story?
- 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.
~As a child, what did you want to do when you grew up?
- 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 also wanted to be a vet or work with animals–especially an animal trainer at the zoo.
- I thought teachers were the smartest people in the world, so I dreamed of someday being one. (I am one now!)
- There was also fire-woman–again it was a gender thing, rock star, actress, stay-at-home mother, business woman, and many others…