Q: When did you decide that you wanted to write (that "aha" moment)?
A: I can’t recall any moment of epiphany. Since about age eleven, I simply wrote. I was lucky to grow up in an artsy town with wonderfully creative friends, and we all wrote poetry and drew and sang together. Writing was just a part of my life. In my thirties, I did grow more serious about writing and began taking courses, going to workshops and conferences. And I began submitting, and had some short stories published with web zines and literary zines. Then I moved onto longer stories and novels. The more I write, the more ideas my muse throws at me, so I have to scramble to keep up with her!
Q: Are you a plotter or a pantser? And have you ever had a story take on a life of its own?
A: At first I was a pantser, but I’m trying to be more structured about planning ahead, and now at least do a rough outline.
I’ve been lucky to have had many stories gain their own momentum, and I find myself writing as fast as I can just to get it all down. Afterward, of course, comes many rounds of revisions.
Q: What genre do you write? Any genres you’d like to try?
A: I don’t limit myself to any one genre. My writing tastes are as eclectic as my reading tastes, from mainstream/literary to paranormal/fantasy, historical, contemporary, speculative…the genre doesn’t matter as much as the story itself. The story must be compelling to me as a writer, so it will be compelling to the reader.
I’d love to try steampunk someday, but first I need to read a few in the genre.
Q: What’s your favorite quote?
A: My office walls are plastered with quotes from writers, but one of my favorites is from Barbara Kingsolver: “Chain that muse to your desk and get the job done!” It’s a good kick-starter sometimes!
Q: What advice do you think aspiring authors should heed today?
A: To me, the standard advice applies—learn your craft, take it seriously enough to do your best, and write the story you’d want to read.
Q: While creating your books, what was one of the most surprising things you learned?
A: How much I loved history, and to research. Historicals are one of the more difficult genres to write because I’m a stickler for authentic details, but I love making history come alive.
Q: Did you take any writing courses or did you just sit and write a book?
A: More courses than I can recall. Over the years, I’ve taken local classes, seminars and workshops, taken online courses, gone to conferences, and bought tons of how-to books. It’s something I’ll always continue, and a few remain on my bucket list such as Robert McKee’s Story seminar.
Q: Did/do you have a crit group or mentor to guide you?
A: Absolutely. My crit partners are a critical part of the writing process. Each has a different take on the story so each adds a valuable perspective. I’d never put any work out there without them vetting it first.
Q: How much research do you do? Do you research first and then write, or do you write first, then research as needed?
A: No matter the genre, I always research. For contemporaries, it could be setting, and I’ve sent for tourist guides and took virtual tours of cities. Historicals require more thorough research into customs, dress and speech. My family and I visited Key West years ago, and I spent a few days in the library because the history of the wreckers completely fascinated me. Because I knew I wouldn’t be getting back to Key West anytime soon, I researched first, then wrote it during NaNoWriMo one year.
Q: Laptop or pen and ink? What are your ‘must-haves’ when writing?
A: I prefer my laptop, but take a notepad with me and use it sometimes too. There’s a different feel to writing longhand that I love.
My desk usually holds a hot cup of black tea, and I’m good to go.
Q: Is there any message you want readers to take from reading your work?
A: Always! I love to boost the notion of female empowerment, believing in yourself, and following your bliss.
Q: What are you working on now?
A: So many WIPs are calling my name…Some short fantasies and paranormals, a few contemporaries and a few holiday-themed stories queued up in the WIP line, too.
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