Where did you grow up, and how did this influence your writing?
I grew up in Mississippi. We had a few acres of land and lots of neighboring wooded area. I love adventure and exploration. I would stay in the woods from sun up til sundown. I built forts, clubhouses, had bike trails, secret booby traps, and more! We may have struggled financially, but I was the richest child my age in terms of imagination. I was always encouraged to be creative. I was always taught that being different was something to be proud of! It seems like in our society today, being different is shunned upon. I really do think that type of thinking can severely limit a person.
We always watched wrestling growing up. It was a family event. When my brother and I were were about 13 and 10 (I'm older), we decided to host a "wrestling" party and invite all of our friends over. We built a legit life sized wrestling ring out of old washing machines, plywood, wooden posts, and used garden hoses for the ropes. I am still so proud of that to this day.
What's the story behind your latest book?
The Terribly Terrific Tales of Terry Rogers
I love this series so much. I really do. The stories are easy to create, because I just use events that happened in school and add some more fun things to it. It seems like all my fans really love Terry. He's such a like-able character and most people can relate to what he's going through.
One of the best parts of the series are the illustrations. My illustrator, Danko, is a creative genius! He really makes the characters come to life. He takes my words and brings them to life. It's so cool to see your thoughts turn into illustrations. It still blows my mind.
Do you remember the first story you ever read, and the impact it had on you?
I can vividly remember one of the first times I was impacted by a story. Actually it's one of my inspirations for writing. From the moment I put my hands on a Dr. Seuss book at the age of five, I knew I wanted to publish a children’s book. The book was Dr. Seuss’s ABC. It was the first time I heard the word “goggles” and the picture was so funny. I laughed hysterically for about 30 minutes straight. My whole body hurt from giggling so much. I wasn’t even able to finish the book that night from laughing so uncontrollably. It was only an odd looking creature wearing goggles. I don't know why the word goggles was so funny then.
The power of words and the ability to entertain people with my imagination consumed me. I loved this! My mind would wander in school. I would make up wacky characters, and create worlds in my mind that had endless possibilities. I would doodle pictures in my notebooks and draw the craziest looking creatures. I always knew what I really wanted to be, but it took a long time to muster up the courage to do it.
When you're not writing, how do you spend your time?
I'm a very active person. I enjoy running, playing video games, hanging out with friends and family, and traveling.
Do you remember the first story you ever wrote?
Absolutely! I was in first or second grade. It was a class project. We had to create a story and draw a picture. I wrote a story about Chico the Cheetah. I was obsessed with cheetahs then because they are so fast! I was always fascinated with story telling every since I can remember.
What is your writing process?
I'm probably very unorthodox. I just go with it. I don't worry about spelling, grammatical errors or anything. When an idea comes, you have to act fast or it will fade away! It is so difficult for me to write about things I have no interest in. I have to find something that sparks my imagination and really attracts me to it. I often times use scenarios or situations from my own life to create stories.
What do you read for pleasure?
My reading list is all over the place. I'm an avid learner so I have a slight obsession with new information and knowledge. I particularly like to learn about the mind and human potential. I've recently started reading more fiction for entertainment.
What is your e-reading device of choice?
Kindle app on iPad
What book marketing techniques have been most effective for you?
FREE! There's so much competition, so many new books, and so many things fighting for the attention of book readers. It seems fair to me that an author should give more value to the reader than the reader pays for. By doing this, you can prove to your fans that your books are worth the future investments and create a lasting relationship with them. If you take a bite of a very good pie, you'll want a whole slice!
Describe your desk
I'm a neat freak and productivity junkie! A cluttered desk is a cluttered mind. I even arrange my markers and highlighters in color spectrum order (ROY G BIV). It just gives me a sense of certainty and I like to know exactly where things are.
What do your fans mean to you?
It is my mission to create a positive and lasting change in the world through children’s book. It is through my fans that this dream comes true. Without them, what would I even write for? It's astonishing to think I can have a global voice. Just little ole me, I can reach people all over the world with the internet. I decided to use this platform to inspire imagination and hope. I really do believe anything is possible. I want children to believe in themselves. I want them to go after their dreams. That is such a fulfilling reward to me. It's quite humbling.
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