My family inspires me to drag myself from the comfort of my covers and go to work my day job. My husband works the night shift, so he is coming as I am going. He changed shifts so that he could help with the children while I'm at work and when I'm writing. We have six children together, and we work together to get everyone to their respective schools every morning and activities in the afternoons/weekends. My husband and children respect my dream of having a successful series of books, and they try very hard to be independent and "let Mom work". I love them for that and try not to let my muse interrupt family time. Their faith in me inspires me to be a better wife, mom, and writer.
Where did you grow up, and how did this influence your writing?
I grew up in Central Texas where there were plenty of pastures and cattle. It was a rugged life especially since we lived in the rural community away from town when I was young. Supplies had to be stretched, and chores had to be done. I loved it. We moved to the town as my brothers and sisters graduated and left home. My mother became handicapped when I was twelve, and I took care of her. We took care of each other really. The long talks that we had about her life and experiences and my own experiences helped to shape not only my writing but the woman that I became.
Do you remember the first story you ever wrote?
The first story that I ever wrote was about a little girl being tricked by an ice-tea drinking talking snake. My mother used to laugh about it because she said that she could picture the snake lounging under a tree sipping that tea.
When did you first start writing?
I started writing when I was in middle school. I was bullied by some of the older girls, so my mother suggested that I write about it to get it off my chest. Keeping that journal kept me sane and gave me the strength to ignore their taunts and insults.
What motivated you to become an indie author?
I became motivated to become an indie author when I kept submitting my work to agents and got turned down, sometimes in very nasty emails or ignored completely. A couple of publisher imprints offered to publish my book with low royalties and high cost to me which felt wrong. I became uninspired to work on the rest of my series if all I was getting was rejection. I felt bullied all over again. Then, one day, a friend of mine suggested self-publishing. I looked into it and found that I could get my book published without the heavy dose of rejection or nastiness. I used Createspace first with some success, then IngramSpark, and Kindle. I was even more excited when another friend suggested using Smashwords because it would work even better, so I signed up, published, now…here I am.
What is your writing process?
My usual writing process includes brainstorming, outline, querying my focus group, brainstorming again, and revised outline. I write from the revised outline until about Chapter 5, then I send the chapters to two of the focus group members. After their review, I hold the chapters and visit a writer's group for further input. Then, I start on my final project which by that point is the final five or six chapters.
How do you approach cover design?
In approaching cover design, I have a friend, Heather Fuller, who is a wonderful artist. I give her a general idea, and she makes it reality with her own flair added. She is currently working on the covers for the rest of my series plus the illustrations for the children's series to come later.
What is your e-reading device of choice?
I have to say that I'm in love with the Kindle Fire. My husband purchased the older Kindle tablet for me and I enjoyed reading the books on it. He bought me the Kindle Fire last year as an upgrade, and I must say, that I appreciate seeing the color covers especially my own.
What's the story behind your latest book?
Victoria's series is somewhat based on my mother, just with my spin on the tale. Victoria's Beginning, Book 1, Victoria's Choice, Book 2, and Joy, Book 3 are already out in print and online. Legacy, Book 4 is still in the writing stage, but it will be released in December. I am also writing a non-fiction book about bullying called The Faces of Bullying, Vol. 1. I founded a nonprofit anti-bullying foundation, stoppingthemadness.org and half the proceeds of the book will go to the foundation to help fund it. I'm excited because this book will go a long way into addressing the bullying epidemic.
What are you working on next?
I'm currently working on Book 4 of Victoria's Journey series, Legacy, and a non-fiction book, The Faces of Bullying, Vol. 1, for my nonprofit, Stopping the Madness Antibullying Foundation. Legacy details Victoria's life after finding her joy. It is the final book of the Victoria's Journey series, and it's very emotional for me because it brings back the memories of my life together with my mother before she died. The book also has some interesting and dramatic surprises in store for my fans. The Faces of Bullying, Vol. 1 are true stories from adults and children that I have interviewed who have been affected by bullying. It is an emotional and dynamic read which will include links to see the documentary of the interviews.
When you're not writing, how do you spend your time?
I like to watch movies with my family when I'm not writing. Since my husband is off on Friday and Saturday each week, we usually grab some take-out and something from Redbox and have family time. I play the clarinet in the church orchestra. I also like to cook, mostly Southern style. I am a country girl, so home cooking is one of my specialities which my family loves.
What do your fans mean to you?
My fans are like family to me. They hold me up when I'm down, and they give me that extra push to make the series successful not only for me but for them too. I hope to one day meet as many as possible to personally thank them for giving me the motivation to continue writing.
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