I definitely remember the first story I ever wrote. I was in the 5th grade, and I was stuck in the house one night because of a really nasty thunderstorm. I had a couple of friends over, and we were bored (as most kids get when stuck inside the house for a long time). Somehow I got the idea to write a scary story, so the three of us put our heads together and starting creating this story about a haunted house, and I wrote it all down. We were all spitting out ideas, and I remember trying to write fast enough to get them all down! It was probably a pitiful story if I were to ever see a copy of it now, but we had the best time letting our imaginations carry us away. That memory has stuck with me all these years and always makes me smile.
What's the story behind your latest book?
My first release, Seeking Solace, started out as a question. I was trying to think of a story project for that year's NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month, November each year. Google it; it's awesome!), and I asked myself, "What would you do if you got jilted at the altar?" I'm really not sure where that question came from, but for reason it grabbed me. From that question, I could immediately picture my heroine standing in front of a church packed with people and having to tell them she wasn't getting married. I love to travel, so my immediate thought was "Dang it, I'm taking that honeymoon trip!" So, I had my heroine do that, rather spontaneously and completely against her typical personality. Oh the places she goes!
A lot of the motivation for most of my stories stems from my interest in what holds people back from connecting, truly connecting, with others. Why do we hold ourselves back? What is it that will force us to break away from our own protective shells and reach out to another person? Most of my stories also center around the characters finding a deeper sense of themselves and understanding what is they want most in life--their journey to their best self.
What motivated you to become an indie author?
I have always wanted to write but didn't have the confidence that a Big 5 agent would be interested in my work. For years, I just tucked it away as a daydream. For a long time, indie publishing wasn't lucrative or respected, so it was hardly worth the expense and effort for a lot of writers. With the digital age, and a growing interest in readers for indie authors, unknowns like myself actually now have a fighting chance at making a go of a literary career--and to whatever level we want to commit too. The opportunities for indie authors have simply exploded in the past five years, and when I finished Seeking Solace, I just felt the time and the project was right to finally go after it. I just hope some of the readers out there enjoy it.
What are you working on next?
At the moment, I have 3 novels in progress at various stages: One is a paranormal/historical romance, one is a romantic suspense, and the third is a romance featuring a hockey player hero. I'm also in the early planning stages of a mystery series, which I am also eager about.
When you're not writing, how do you spend your time?
I have a lot of interests. I do, I must admit, spend a great deal of my time (away from the day job) working on my novels and handling the business/marketing end of being an indie author. However, when I am taking a break from the writing, I read voraciously (all types of books), golf (not good at it, but I LOVE it), and watch movies. I have two friends that I get together with each week to watch a couple movies. I have blog dedicated to our movie nights where we review what we watch. It's pretty funny, and you can find it at www.tuesdaynightmovienuts.wordpress.com. I also love to cook.
Do you remember the first story you ever read, and the impact it had on you?
I have to say that the first novel that had the biggest impact on me was Anne of Green Gables by Lucy Maud Montgomery. I bought it at the school book fair when I was in the fourth grade, and absolutely fell in love with it. I wanted to BE Anne Shirley. I loved her fire, her imagination, her clumsiness, her dramatics. The novel is so beautifully written, and that was the first book that I recall actually falling in love with just the WORDS. The way Montgomery phrased things and the descriptions she used... the entire novel was luscious and engaging. I remember thinking that I wanted to imagine something that good and be able to put it on paper like she did. I went on to read the entire Anne series, plus Montgomery's other works. I also got an Anne of Green Gables doll, which is still at my parents house. :-)
What do you read for pleasure?
Gosh, that's a really open-ended question. I read everything. Literally. I love mysteries. I love romances, of all kinds. I love period historicals. I adore the classics and do read those just because they're wonderful (I heart Charles Dickens!). I enjoy stories...relationships between people and the things that motivate us to think and feel and act the way we do. If it's a good story, I'm reading it!
Where did you grow up, and how did this influence your writing?
I grew up, and still live, in a rural area of Eastern North Carolina. Most kids have tons of stuffed animals--I had books. Tons of books, and they went to bed with me. I'd sit up half the night under the covers with a flashlight trying to finish chapters because I just HAD to know what happened next! When you're surrounded by cotton and tobacco fields and the nearest "anything" was at least 12 miles away, you need something to fill your time. Books allowed me to go anywhere, be anyone. My family didn't have the money to take big trips to far-off places, but I still got to experience them through my books. Reading is an escape, a way to step out of your ordinary life and see something extraordinary. That's carried over into adulthood for me because now I can create those adventures for myself and share them with the world.
Describe your desk
Honestly--my "desk" is covered with old mail, junk, stuff I haven't gotten to putting away yet, ticket stubs, craft supplies, and I don't know what all. **hides face in embarrassment**
I tend to work on a portable table in the living room. I have to have music or the tv on in the background. (I HATE silence. It freaks me out.) On that table, on a typical workday, is my laptop, little basket with pens/highlighters/etc, planning notebooks for the project I'm working on, if I'm in editing phase there'll be multiple printed drafts of the book, my phone, and a cold drink.
I also tend to go write a lot at local coffee shops, restaurants, etc.
What is your writing process?
I think I'm pretty simple when it comes to "process". It usually starts with an idea for a story or a character. I always do the planning and outlining of story/character ideas on paper. I have notebooks dedicated to the planning of each novel. I also find my story ideas fueled by music, so I keep a running playlist of songs that strike me as I'm writing that story that I feel either reflect some emotion or plot point in the story. I go back and play those songs a lot when I'm actually writing the draft and when editing so that months later I can remember how my characters were feeling when I was originally writing their stories. I do all writing on my laptop on a Word doc. I've been trying to get into using Scrivener, but Scrivener and I are having issues. I edit by printing a draft and making changes in colored ink, then returning to the Word doc and revising. I also have beta readers and critique partners for feedback during the editing process. And, at some point, I call it quits and leave the book in as good a shape as I feel I could've gotten it.
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