I browse through categories I love like women's fiction, thrillers, biographies, literary fiction, and commercial fiction. Instead of walking through a bookstore, I scroll up and down and click. So easy and convenient. And I can see the covers better than in a bookstore where only the spine shows on the shelf.
What is your writing process?
In writing a novel, I have a period where I'm searching for a new idea. I let myself go and come up with many different plots. Most of them don't stick, but when I get one I love, I keep developing it in my mind over a period of months. Then I come up with the lead characters and I'm ready to start writing. It's important to have most of it mapped out in my mind before I start writing. All of this is just the beginning. There's a lot of adding, revising, and editing as everything evolves.
How do you approach cover design?
I want something eye-catching. Something that will make people stop and look. Something different in the coloration, design, and print style. The cover is so important! On Twitter and many websites it gets blown up to a large image, so it's in peoples' faces every day. It has to be something appealing and striking.
What are your five favorite books, and why?
I love classic literature written by Henry James and Edith Wharton. They didn't have televisions or computers, so they had to rely on their imaginations to create everything in their novels. As a result, when you read them, it's a treat and a challenge for your mind. And their use of language was superb. They had enormous vocabularies and knew how to use words in unique and original ways.
What do you read for pleasure?
Biographies and autobiographies. Right now I'm reading Slipstream, an autobiography by British writer Elizabeth Jane Howard. It's wonderful. I also love the essays of Nora Ephron and other women writers like Maya Angelou.
What book marketing techniques have been most effective for you?
Twitter is very good. I give my followers links to excerpts, interviews, and reviews. They can read them if and when they have time. Many of my followers are writers--we all re-tweet each others' tweets.
Describe your desk
Oh dear, I write in bed because of a back problem. I can't really sit at a desk. I'm sort of reclining on a bunch of pillows with my computer propped on a pillow also. It's sort of comfortable and it works.
Where did you grow up, and how did this influence your writing?
I grew up in Pittsburgh. It was wonderful because I lived on a beautiful street with all these wonderful families. I loved looking out at everyone from my perch in the attic and seeing what they were doing. As a writer, it fed my imagination and creativity. It made me an observer, and that's so helpful to a writer.
When did you first start writing?
I wrote poetry at age nine or ten. As a teenager, I kept a journal. It was on 8" by 11" paper--and swelled to 750 pages! That was some journal. There must have been a lot going on--and there was. I think the journal really made me a writer. I learned to turn to the written page as a sanctuary. It was a fun, but stimulating and comforting, escape. What could be better than that?
What's the story behind your latest book?
I was on a work-trip to Las Vegas writing my second novel, A Dead End in Vegas, and one night, while I was standing on a corner waiting for the light to change, I got the idea for Pop-Out Girl. Over dinner, I discussed the idea with my husband. I get a lot of ideas, so we didn't take it too seriously. But the idea stuck. I kept thinking about it and developing it in my mind. A year or so later, I was ready to start writing.
How has Smashwords contributed to your success?
I think it's wonderful that customers are able to read several chapters as an excerpt before they decide to buy. That's very helpful. And the lists of books in my genre (women's fiction) are easy to browse. Seeing so many great-looking books gets readers excited and interested. It's a beautiful electronic bookstore.
What is the greatest joy of writing for you?
Being able to come up with ideas and create characters who can act out the concepts and plots I'm conjuring up. The whole creative process is stimulating. There's also an element of escape to it. During the hours you're working, you really are in your own little world and that's pretty seductive.
What do your fans mean to you?
My fans are so important. Without them, I wouldn't be able to continue publishing my books. It's a two way street--we're in a literary relationship. We try to understand and appreciate each other.
What are you working on next?
Maybe a humor novel. Maybe a sequel to Pop-Out Girl. We'll see...
Who are your favorite authors?
Henry James, Edith Wharton, Gustave Flaubert, Jane Austen, Charlotte Bronte, Virginia Woolf.
What inspires you to get out of bed each day?
The excitement and stimulation of creating and writing. The prospect of being with my fictional friends--and my real ones.
When you're not writing, how do you spend your time?
I love reading, gardening, watching baseball and movies, hiking, riding my bike, and traveling. I love spending time with friends. Writing is a solitary occupation--and you're in one position for long periods of time. Anything that gets me out and about with friends, I love.
Smashwords Interviews are created by the profiled author, publisher or reader.