Tell me a about yourself. What got you started in writing?
I remember sitting in my seventh grade English class a hundred years ago talking with a friend about being writers “someday”. In 2008 I decided someday was never coming unless I started writing. I jumped into NaNoWriMo that year with two months to prepare and started blogging. Last year I turned the hobby into a second job and started getting serious. I work full time and have two young kids, which means if I want to be a writer I don’t sleep much. The sleep deprivation is worth it to see my work in print.
How and where do you write? Do you prefer a lap top or do you prefer writing freehand?
Physically, I write at home in my office surrounded by my books. I use a laptop and Scrivener. Whoever created that program and made it so affordable should win a medal. The truth is, I’m constantly writing. I have an “ideas” file on my phone that I add to daily when things I see in the world spark something I could use in a story somewhere. I work out plot ideas in the shower. I talk to myself in the car about characters. The real challenge is finding the time to get all the stories floating around in my head down in black and white.
What's your favorite part about writing? Your least favorite part about writing?
I love the abandon of a first draft with a minimal outline and freedom to let the story rise from my subconscious. I used to think revising was my least favorite because it is harder work. All the plot holes to fill in, motivations to get right, characters to round out. Now I think marketing and promoting the finished product is less appealing than anything else. Having to put yourself out there, selling what to you is a piece of your soul, without being obnoxious is difficult. I’m guessing the answers to this question will continue to morph with new experiences. There’s always something I haven’t done that may be less appealing than my current least favorite thing. Creating will always be my favorite part.
How do you come up with your characters? Why would readers want to get to know them?
Most of my characters grow organically from the story seed I start with. I’m an idea-driven writer. Most of my worlds and my ideas come with a “what if” question sparked from things I observe in my world. ‘Reflection’ started with the question ‘What if you lived in a world without mirrors’. I imagined how strange it would be to never see what your face looked like and how that would feel at all stages of life. I decided it would be harder for an early adult or late teen just starting to figure out where they fit in society and what kind of an adult they will become. The main character, Jadayell, grew from there. The question of why reflections were banned created the rest of the world and gave her things to rebel against. By giving my characters reason for doing everything, I hope most readers find something they can identify with or empathize with.
What types of marketing do you do to promote your writing?
This is my first published work so I think this answer will change over time. Social media is easy to incorporate since I do a lot of that already including promoting the book on my website, blog touring like my stop here, Facebook, that sort of thing. The Secret Door Society will be at the Life, The Universe and Everything Science Fiction and Fantasy Symposium in February promoting the release. From there, I guess I’ll find out what works and what doesn't. Luckily this anthology has very established authors who I can learn from.
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How do you schedule your writing time? When do you write?
I am a tech-savvy, structured person. If it isn't in my calendar it doesn't happen. I joke that I’m OCD but it’s the only way I remember all the things I have going on in my life. I’d be lost without my calendar.
I write three nights a week between nine and midnight after the kids are asleep. On the weekends, I try for at least two blocks of three hours depending on what the family has going on. Sometimes it ends up as what I call “Marathon Sundays”. I found that until I scheduled it physically and thought about it as “going to work”, I would put it off and never be consistent. The mindset of having a second job as a writer is what works for me.
What are you currently working on?
I’m revising a paranormal novel about a woman whose family was cursed. When the curse threatens her own happiness, she vows to find a way to break it. I’m also working on plotting the full novel behind the world from “Reflection”. How did they get there, why and how do the portals work, who is behind it all. Things I hope readers will enjoy if they liked this story.
Do you have a project on the back burner? Tell me about it.
My first novel still has a secret place in my heart. It is an urban fantasy I wrote years ago when I was figuring out how to write a novel. It went through so many re-writes and I lived in that world for so many years that someday I hope I can dig it out and make it worthy of publication. Right now I fear it is a pile of first-novel crap. It’s about a girl who doesn't know she has paranormal bloodlines but her unique parentage could be the key to saving the planet.
What would you tell a beginning writer who wants to publish but doesn't believe he/she has enough talent?
Writing is hard and talent only takes you so far. If you’re willing to put in the work and learn the craft, it is possible to sell your work. Very first, learn the craft. I collaborate on a website (www.oneuponakeyboard.com) designed as a one-stop place to learn at all stages, from understanding how to brainstorm to finding a publisher. Some great advice I got was to write short stories. There are so many markets for them and it’s a great way to hone your craft. You’d be surprised how quickly you learn how to portray a setting or build a character effectively when you’re limited to a few thousand words. The best advice I never got from anyone is be realistic in your expectations. This story went through eleven drafts before my editor deemed it was worthy of publication. A novel is not much different, just ten times more words to revise. Writing ‘The End’ on your first draft is when the real work begins.
Thank you Terra!
The authors from the above anthology are donating 100% of the profits to the Juvenile Diabetes Research Fund. Terra lost her mom last August to diabetes so the cause is close to her heart.
Open the door and unlock the secrets in eleven short stories from The Secret Door Society, an organization of fantasy and science fiction authors dedicated to charitable work. All proceeds from this anthology benefit the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation in their quest to cure Type One Diabetes (T1D).
In these pages you’ll discover a modern woman trapped in an old fashioned dreamscape, a futuristic temp worker who fights against her programming, a beautiful vampire’s secret mission disrupted by betrayal, a sorcerer’s epic battle against a water dragon, the source of magical mirrors—and more. There are tales for every science fiction and fantasy taste, including new works from award-winning authors Johnny Worthen, Lehua Parker, Christine Haggerty, and Adrienne Monson.
Join us in the fight against T1D as you peek into a world of magical and mysterious doorways—if you dare.