Have you ever felt like you have a message to share? I have a story to tell and for me the most important thing was doing what was necessary to share that story.
There was a time when I dreamed of getting published by a big publishing company because I thought that was the way things were done. That's the only way I knew and I thought it was the right way. I wasn't very committed to that way though. I think I queried three agents before deciding to publish my novels myself. I actually hadn't looked into self-publishing at all until I started looking into traditional publishing. When I learned about self-publishing I felt like it was the answer I was looking for. It looked like the best way to share my stories with the world.
I don't really have any desire to "stick it to the man" or "buck the system" or anything like that. I just want to share my stories and I'll use whatever tools are available to me to do so.
When did you first start writing?
Ever since I could hold a pen I wrote stories. My earliest stories were in crayon and involved talking trees and animals. I would staple together sheets of paper to make books or write my stories in composition notebooks. Making up stories always brought me joy. There is something about creating a world of people and relationships that makes my heart sing. I can't imagine not being able to write.
Do you remember the first story you ever wrote?
Yes. I don't remember the plot exactly, but I used to write a series of stories about an enchanted forest where the trees talked when I was very young. All of the stories were illustrated, of course.
What do you read for pleasure?
I read literary fiction and magical realism. Those genres have always excited me most. I've tried reading other genres, but I end up feeling quite bored.
Who are your favorite authors?
I read a wide variety of authors. I love books and spend a ton of time at the library. It's hard to pick a favorite, but I love the work of Banana Yoshimoto. I've read Kitchen multiple times. I also enjoy Haruki Murakami. My favorite book of his is Dance, Dance, Dance.
I don't just read Japanese authors. I love the classic works of Zora Neale Hurston, Alice Walker, Sylvia Plath, and many more. I also enjoy poetry. Some of my favorites are Lucille Clifton, Maya Angelou, and Li-Young Lee.
What is your writing process?
Usually I see a first scene in my head and that's what gets me started. Often it will come to me in a dream. Sometimes I'll just day dream it. I take a little while to really work out that first scene in my head before I start writing. Once I get that written I start trying to figure out how I want the whole story to end. Sometimes I'll come up with the complete ending scene, but usually it's just an idea about the direction the story will head.
The writing of the story is the act of getting from that opening scene to the final idea. The story is a journey.
I don't outline. I've tried and I never end up following outlines anyway. I'd much rather see where the story and the characters take me. As a result my first drafts can be a bit of a mess. I revise the story usually about four times before passing it on to my husband who reads over it and gives me some feedback. Once that's done and I've made changes it's ready for beta readers and then finally for my editor.
What are you working on next?
I'm currently working on a novel called The Wave. It is my most ambitious project yet. While my other writings were novellas this is my first full length novel. It explores the ideas of relationships and how as human beings we are all connected. It also explores the idea of potential and knowing your purpose. These are themes that are close to my heart. Like my other works it has magical elements.
When you're not writing, how do you spend your time?
I'm quite a homebody so on a weekend night you're more likely to find me curled up with a book or watching a movie on TV than out on the town. I have a dog and like to take him for walks and to the dog park. There are a few coffee shops around town that my husband and I frequent. It's nice to go their and chat with the regulars. I need a distraction free environment in order to write. I've never been the type of writer who can go to a coffee shop with my laptop and work on my novel. That just wouldn't happen.
I enjoy art museums and find that checking out a good exhibition inspires me to write. Sometimes I even paint myself. I find that when I start feeling stuck about something I've been working on getting out my art supplies and working on some paintings helps me workout whatever I've been writing.
What is your e-reading device of choice?
I have a Kobo.
Describe your desk
I bought an old mission-style desk on Craig's List a while ago and I really love it. It's made of dark wood with shelves on either side. It really is a lovely desk. I wish I could say it's completely free of clutter, but I've never been good at keeping a tidy desk. I do have a house plant on it and sometimes a vase of fresh flowers.
What do your fans mean to you?
I write because I want people to read and enjoy the stories I tell. I don't think of my readers as fans, I think of them as friends. We share similar ideas and values. Readers who love my work are exactly the type of people I want to connect with. They mean everything to me. They are the reason I write.
How has Smashwords contributed to your success?
Smashwords is a great platform because it makes it easy for indie authors like myself to get their books on all of the sites that sell ebooks. Without Smashwords I'd have a hard time figuring out the requirements for every online bookstore out there.
Mark and the team at Smashwords also provides indie authors with resources to help us with marketing our books. I think Smashwords Book Marketing Guide was one of the first things I ever read about marketing books online. I also used to be a regular reader of the blog. I learned so much from the articles on the Smashwords blog and loved reading the author interviews featured there. Smashwords rocks:)
Smashwords Interviews are created by the profiled author, publisher or reader.