Everything! They are the reason I write. I try to entertain and engage them just like my favorite authors did for me! I love and encourage them to contact me directly if they like. I LOVE to answer their questions about writing and my books and stories. One thing about publishing today is the availability of access to authors; when I was a young and voracious reader there really wasn't any way to tell authors how I felt about their books other than sending in fan mail that was usually just put in the files or tossed out. These days you can contact an author all over social media: Facebook, Twitter, Email, Google, LinkedIn.com. You can get their blogs online or buy from their websites if they have them. You can be their Facebook friend--it's limitless the access readers have nowadays.
What are you working on next?
Book Two of The Brede Chronicles. I love the characters and am happy to be continuing the story. I also have several WIPs (works-in-progress) that I'm trying to fit in time to work on; one is an actual historical western/mystery! A trip to Tombstone, AZ, a few years ago triggered that entire story! I have a prequel to a new sci-fi novel and half the novel written and I'm trying to finish a vampire crime thriller that I hope people will like.
When you're not writing, how do you spend your time?
I travel as much as I can; it's good for the soul. Music is my life, I couldn't live without it for a second. I listen to music a lot when I have time. I like all types of music from classical to Myley Cyrus, lol. I dabble in art, painting when I get the urge; and gardening is a HUGE hobby of mine. I try to visit the beach a lot since I'm in California; and I love shopping as well. I've become a gourmet chef and I adore cooking. I do think about writing as a sort of undercurrent when I'm doing other things though. It's always there with me, that movie running through my head; that film and story.
How do you discover the ebooks you read?
I search topics. I'm a big text book and non-fiction reader of historical books as well as fiction historical. I'm always open to new writers and if the premise sounds good, I'll pick up a book and try it. I've found some great authors that way. Usually, it's the subject that sways me most. Oh, and the book cover--I've bought books solely on the cover art.
Do you remember the first story you ever wrote?
Oh God yes! In third grade there was a writing contest sponsored by the American Legion and my school district decided to take part. They made us write a story in First Person Point of View as if we were the American flag and how we came about and the care of us--the flag. I thought it was the silliest thing I had to do. I won. I still have the letter and medal they gave me. I should have known right then I had no choice but to write.
What is your writing process?
A book idea and characters come to me all at once, generally characters first. Many times I'll find a name and go from there but lots of times the characters themselves tell me their names. Alekzander Brede and Elektra Tate, especially Elektra told me their names. From that they usually tell me what they look like and their mannerisms as well. I'll find a setting for them though I usually pants the story (write by the seat of my pants) from there. I don't have any rituals or habits to kick off my writing. Many writers plot out everything in their books, but I can't do that. I find that I need to just sit down at my keyboard and write. I'm a firm firm believer in subconscious creativity.
Do you remember the first story you ever read, and the impact it had on you?
The earliest thing I can remember reading is MacBeth by Shakespeare as a little kid. (Yes I was a mini-Geekette) It sounds a bit pretentious but that story told me almost everything I needed to know about common human psychology and guilt. That's why I try to dump a lot of baggage on my characters. Guilt is such a universal human experience that I think it makes my characters relatable to readers. MacBeth has almost all of the human flaws: greed, lying, murder (well, okay not everyone experiences murder) and the resulting guilt of it. And the irony of the end of that story. (In fact I think Tolkien stole that ending for one of his subplots--Eowyn & the King of the Nazgul--but don't tell him that.) I also remember Julius Caesar, Black Beauty and Misty of Chincoteague and Stormy, Misty's Foal.
How do you approach cover design?
My publishers supply the cover artists and art. I have been beyond blessed with cover artists from my first novel (Crucifying Angel) to The Brede Chronicles' cover which I am in love with madly!
What are your five favorite books, and why?
I'm cheating a bit here counting series as one book, but: Lord of the Rings (counting 4 as 1), A God Against the Gods/Return To Thebes, any of Stephen King's books, Bored of the Rings, and Mad Magazine. I'm not kidding either. I used to read MAD before it was 98% advertisements. There are so many many books that have influenced me in one way or another, it's difficult to narrow the list down to five.
What do you read for pleasure?
I mentioned this before but I'm obsessed with ancient historical novels of the Middle East and Egypt and Rome. I also read any type of textbook or magazine (National Geographic) on ancient civilizations. I think it's a funny genre for a sci-fi/futuristic author.
What is your e-reading device of choice?
Don't have one yet. I use my mom's Kindle.
What book marketing techniques have been most effective for you?
In person panels or speaking engagements where people can buy your books right then and there without having to go home, remember the links and seek out your work. At least that works for print books. There's so much competition for book presence online, I think combining all social media whenever possible helps; I don't really have any statistics on marketing results. I'm planning to start an email list to keep my readers updated on book statuses.
Describe your desk
Cyclone disaster! I need an entire room to house all my creative messes, lol! My desk is covered with papers, my mementos from my travels & personal things from my family plus my endless notebooks of creative prompts...you name it, it's on my desk! At any given time one of the puppies sits under my chair.
Where did you grow up, and how did this influence your writing?
I grew up in Southern California around the entertainment industry and later of course worked in it. It was almost mandatory, lol! I always wanted to work in music rather than writing but always ended up in journalism or some type of writing job. I did work in the music industry for a long time. After that I decided to try writing seriously. I think the fact that I grew up around and aware and involved in entertainment has deeply affected my writing because I see a novel as an entire package, I'm writing that movie that's playing in my head and I have a cast of actors for each book. I think in terms of camera angles, reaction shots, emotional expression, things like that that I probably wouldn't be so aware of otherwise.
What's the story behind your latest book?
Despair. I'd spent a year thinking I'd never produce another novel and that if I managed to, no one would care. I kicked around between writing several WIPs (Works In Progress) with little interest until I had the idea for The Brede Chronicles as I was scanning my baby name books for characters in those half-finished manuscripts. I came across the name Brede and it just sounded right. That name kicked off the idea of a badass main character and a scampy kind of heroine who loved him. I searched the rest of the names trying to come up with a first name that had enough syllables to make the name work. When I saw Alexander I knew it fit. There was one problem however. The spelling didn't look right to me, it wasn't harsh enough either looking or sounding so I explored all the various spellings and found the one that used a hard k and z instead of an x. I wrote it out and voila! There he was, Alekzander Brede, half human mercenary. The scampy heroine? I didn't even have to search. She told me her name. "Elektra," she said. "Elektra what?" I asked. "Elektra Tate!" The second she said it I knew what she looked like, her history, and her personality. I even knew her unusual speech pattern! It was only later after I was ensconced in writing the book that I went back and looked at the names. Brede meant ice, literally, and that's him, that's Alekzander. Elektra? Well her name speaks for itself. This book was my salvation in a way. I loved the story, wrote it, re-wrote it (which never happens--I write it and it usually stays), and then ripped it apart and started again. I forgot all of those earlier manuscripts, I couldn't get away from this book. It absorbed all my attention and I knew I wouldn't be satisfied until it was finished and published!
What is the greatest joy of writing for you?
Two things, though I rarely talk about the second one. First it's that thrill when you put some tiny, seemingly insignificant detail at the beginning of a story and have no idea why you did it. Then later or even at the end, that detail goes from insignificant to critical to the plot and end of the story! It seems like a small thing, but it's a true joy for me that I was able to work it out perfectly. As I said I'm a firm believer in the subconscious creativity. The second joy for me is when I am writing and picturing my readers and their reactions to what and how I write. It's a small but constant awareness of them--those readers--and if and how I'm affecting them. I want to shock them or make them laugh or even cry at times and just kind of emotionally engage them in one way or another. I want the books to take them on a ride, a wild one usually, and make them know they've been someplace! Even if it is only between the pages of a book!
What inspires you to get out of bed each day?
Gratitude. I'm at a point in my life where I'm just so profoundly grateful to wake up; to have all the things that I have and that I've been given. I'm grateful that I've been able to return to writing after ignoring it for so long and at a time when publishing has opened up for pretty much everyone!
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