Any new story I create usually starts with the thread of an idea, often just a hero or heroine in a particular situation. Then I start adding details by asking questions, like "Why is he/she there?". Following the 'why' trail leads me to search deeper into the character(s), which usually leads to a gradually widening fictional world. Once I have a pretty solid storyline, I start doing research on the subject, which I use to flesh out the story. Often, I think of the process like a human body. I start with the 'bones', which is the basic storyline. Then I put on 'muscle', adding characters who usually bring their own story threads. Next comes the 'skin' that locks it all together in a recognizable entity. Lastly, I add the details that make a person truly unique.
How do you approach cover design?
A cover needs to not only be eye-catching in some way, whether in the use of color or stark contrasts, it also has to offer some hint to what the book is about. When planning out a cover, I try to envision a scene that captures something meaningful from the story.
What are your five favorite books, and why?
My tastes are pretty eclectic. I like a wide range of books, from nonfiction to romance to fantasy. Some of my favorites include: Ann McCaffery's Dragonflight because of the depth and believability of the fantasy world she created. James Clavell's Shogun because of his ability to reconstruct days of old and I walked away from the book having learned something about that medieval Japan. Michael Crichton's Timeline because it is an action-packed clash of time periods brought on by quantum physics. Tom Clancy's Red Storm Rising because I'm from a military family, even served in the Army myself, and appreciate the very well constructed scenario of how the cold war could have turned into something much different. I like The Elephant Man because I'm able to see the world from inside the misunderstood 'monster'. Makes me ball like a baby!
What do you read for pleasure?
I generally read novels whose subject matter parallels the topic I'm researching for my next book. Since I'm currently doing research for a Roman Britain series, I'm reading books a by James Mace, Simon Scarrow and Colleen McCullough. I also belong to several author groups and enjoy reading their novels as well.
What is your e-reading device of choice?
I prefer the IPad.
What book marketing techniques have been most effective for you?
I've enjoyed success through giveaways on Goodreads, blurbs on review sights and pop-up advertising on Amazon, Facebook and other media outlets. For my latest release, The Dragon of Hidden Treasures, Book 1, I'm adding BookBub to my list. Word-of-mouth is also good. My motto is an oldie but a goodie: "If you don't like my book, tell me. If you do, tell your friends!"
Describe your desk
My desk is usually my lap and the armrest of my favorite chair. I'm something of a clutter bug, so less is more for me. If I give myself too much room to work, the clutter will swallow me.
Where did you grow up, and how did this influence your writing?
I grew up in a small town in southeastern Oklahoma where everybody knew everybody and a traffic jam was four cars at the same 4-way stop. There, I learned many valuable lessons about how to work and play well with others, things like "If it's not yours, don't touch it", "Leave a place better than you found it", and "Treat others the way you want to be treated". I learned that people are just people, that life is hard but God is good, and that I should always do the best I can with what I have where I'm at. In truth, I'm a simple soul who still believes in happy endings and I try to craft feel-good stories that reflect the same kinds of simple pleasures I grew up with.
What's the story behind your latest book?
The Dragon of Hidden Treasures started in 1996 as a great dream I had one night. It was such a vivid story I couldn't forget it, and over the next several weeks, continued to think about it, expanding on the storyline. It literally consumed my every waking thought. I had recently given birth to my second child and was pretty sure I was going crazy. I finally told a friend about what was happening, and she suggested that maybe if I wrote it down it would go away. So, I started writing and the series is now up to at least 10 books, not counting potential offshoots and supplements. I'm really looking forward to sharing the whole of the saga that one amazing dream has birthed.
What motivated you to become an indie author?
I started my author adventure in 2009 with a vanity press and moved on to what I thought was a traditional publisher, who turned out to be a fraud and is now under federal indictment. I was so disgusted and discouraged, I seriously considered giving up the whole business. But I LOVE writing and believed I still had something to offer the reading community, so I declared my 'indiependence' and have started exploring the world of indie publishing with my own imprint, Indiependence Press.
How has Smashwords contributed to your success?
Smashwords has given me the freedom to color outside the old-school literary lines. I believe quality is vitally important but you shouldn't have to pay a ton for a good book. When my first two publishers priced my print books in the $25 range and e-versions around $15, I was appalled. I won't pay that much for a book, especially an e-book, and I don't expect anyone else to either. Thanks to Smashwords, I can produce a quality product and keep it reasonably priced, so that everyone can enjoy my books.
Smashwords Interviews are created by the profiled author, publisher or reader.