My greatest joy in writing is the ability to bring strangers, readers, into my world. When someone is able to be a thousand or more miles away, and turning page after page of your work, they're not just getting inside the minds of the characters, they're getting inside the author's head too. I love that!
What do your fans mean to you?
I'm a very new author, so I can only attest to those that left Amazon reviews, or private messaged me through other sites. Opening my email, or hopping on to Facebook, and seeing this: "I'm done! I'm done already! Is the next book finished? If it isn't, can I have some sample pages?"That was the most amazing feeling in the world. I was so proud to have accomplished this huge goal, but I'd also reached someone, on a personal level. Or, at the very least, I helped them to procrastinate on more pressing activities in their lives. They were very gracious, helpful, and encouraging. I think of them whenever I'm working on an intense chapter of the fourth book. I know I have to deliver, even if those hundred or so readers are the only ones. I am grateful to have those relationships be genuine. It's so special to me. I welcome more! I love connecting with people. Their desires, along with the characters, sets the tone for my entire work schedule, and I love it, I love them, and they mean everything to me. They're a tough group, and they're smart. I don't dare disappoint them.
Who are your favorite authors?
I love to read, and I read many different things, whatever strikes. I would say, off the top of my head, a few of my favorites are: John Howard Griffin, Poppi Z. Brite (who you may or may not find, due to a name change), Alice Hoffman, Sark, Lord Byron, John Donne, and Maya Angelou. I also love Anne Rice.
What inspires you to get out of bed each day?
My family, and my work. In addition to writing, I'm also a mother of two rambunctious boys. They home-school, so our mornings start very early: breakfast, yoga (if they are digging it that day), recess, classes etc. During their quiet study I try to grab tea, and my laptop in order to bang out a few chapters. In a perfect world this would all run smoothly, but, life isn't perfect, and that is beautiful.
How do you discover the ebooks you read?
I love reading e-books, although I do still cherish the scent of old bindings and dust! I'm making it a point to head out to some bookstores here in Texas. I discover e-books by doing a simple search on my kindle or pc, if that's what's handy. I put in a keyword or two. From there I check out the cover, and most likely view the sample. Is that what other people do?
What is your writing process?
My writing process is insane. In 2008, when this whole roller-coaster started, I was writing while nursing my sons. Yes, both of them. I had a notepad, pen, and a flashlight (not joking), and I wrote my thoughts. Those thoughts later turned into the first three chapters of my book. They were awful. I'm a perfectionist, so for me, working all different hours, and pushing myself is my process. When my body starts giving up on me, and when my family says, "How many more chapters tonight?" I know it's time to push away from the desk.
Do you remember the first story you ever read, and the impact it had on you?
The earliest story I remember was, When the Sky is Like Lace, by Elinor Lander Horwitz. My mom read it to me, and one of the themes I remember was, "a bimulous night." She read it to me on one such night, when the sky was a deep blue, and the clouds were thickly lined in silver. We ate saltines, got crumbs in bed, and I made her read it several times.
How do you approach cover design?
As an artist, I felt very strongly about doing my own cover. I'd never done this before, but was confident I could get the job done. At first I tried to please everyone, by casting myself and my partner as cover models, which was a fun experience. In the end, I opted for a photograph I'd taken of my orchid. It fit the theme of House of New Gods perfectly, so it felt very organic, going that route.
What do you read for pleasure?
Anything that hooks me, like crack (minus the actual crack), and keeps me turning for days. If I would rather run the dishwasher, or fold laundry, it didn't capture me. But, if I'm barely feeding myself, and only moving to tend to others' needs, or let the dog out, albeit begrudgingly, then that's where it's at!
Describe your desk
I don't currently have a desk. My work area is any number of places. Again, artist, so I am very affected by my environment. Frequent change suits me: the couch, the ottoman, the closet (in case the rugrats won't leave me be for two seconds). Kidding. Actually, I'm not. We make deals, the three of us. If they promise to be mice while mommy works, they can have their legos spread over the floor at my feet. This usually is the best working situation, for all parties.
Where did you grow up, and how did this influence your writing?
My neighborhood and town was not a racially diverse place. I probably had an early chip on my shoulder because of that, because I resented being the token black friend. Don't get me wrong, none of my dearest friends ever made me feel that way, but there were those who did, and that didn't feel nice. I wrote very early. At first it was to get out my feelings over that, and over the abandonment I felt from my parents, but later, it became my voice, my real one. I liked that girl, the writer. She was strong, gritty, and didn't take anyone's flack. She made me stronger, and more confidant. If not for that, I might not be where I am today.
What is your e-reading device of choice?
I currently have a Kindle. I like it.
In House of New Gods, your characters are from many different ethnic backgrounds. What is your heritage, and what impact did that have on your creating a multi-cultural story?
My father's ancestors originated from Côte d’Ivoire. They came to the states, later settling in the south. We're French Creole, and according to my grandma, possibly Italian. My mother's ancestors are all from Ireland. My great-aunt says she's, "100% Irish, and proud of it!" I guess the impact this had, or has, on my writing is that I want to capture what's tangible about those rich cultures, not just what someone reads on a news flyer when there's a tragedy, or when it's St. Patrick's day. I wanted to write about different cultures of people coming together in harmony, embracing each other's differences, and unique gifts. Of course this is under the veil of fun immortality! There weren't a lot, if any strong lead female protagonists of other ethnicity in the YA demographic of books, not when I was growing up. I aim to deliver that now. Lina, (the lead in HONG) is of mixed race, and she has a white ex-boyfriend, a new interest who's Macedonian, friends who are Jewish, Irish, and Scottish, and a step-dad from Turkey. It's one huge melting pot that I believe the new age of young adults from 16-25, and even beyond, will identify with.
Do you plan to only write in the YA, New Adult demographic? If not, what else do you plan to write later?
I have such a special spot in my heart for those in my sister's age group. She's currently eighteen and on her way to college. I find her generation to be my equals, my soul sisters and brothers. Much of my childhood was erased by situations beyond my control. It's funny how spending time with the wrong person, or persons, can strip away so much of what was gorgeous and youthful about someone. When I look at young people today, and when I hear them chatting, laughing, or plotting. They do that. I am forever reminded of a different time, and place, one that I will always hold dear. I wouldn't say I won't ever write anything different. Maybe one day I'll pen a children's, or a parenting book. Maybe I'll hitch a ride on the erotica bandwagon. For now, I have a home. I'm happy here.
What are you working on next?
Currently I am working on a story, not set in the fantastic realm of Urban Fantasy, but in the waking world. Set in Colorado, but dually in the sweet water swamps of Louisiana, readers will discover Sam and Silvie, two unlikely souls with troubled pasts, who are unprepared for love.
What book marketing techniques have been most effective for you?
I am absolutely hopeless in this department. I market when and where I can, when I can, mostly through social media and word of mouth.
How has Smashwords contributed to your success?
Smashwords has been pivotal in helping to launch my books, reach multiple e-markets, garner me new readers and fans, and also has kept me sane in this most precarious publishing world.
When you're not writing, how do you spend your time?
I'd like to answer that I sleep, but that would be, a lie.
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