What inspires you to write?
Everything inspires me to write; songs on the radio, newspaper articles, overheard conversations. I keep an accordian file folder stuffed with articles I tear out of magazines and print off the Internet. I don’t always know what I will do with an article, but if it intrigues me enough, I know the idea will come when it’s ready.
Tell us about your writing process.
My writing process is to write every day. I have a goal of at least 2,000 words. Sometimes I get on a tear and write 4,000 and sometimes I cheat and only make it to 1,500.
I was never really an outliner; I would either just start writing because a first line would pop into my head and I would need to see where it went or I would just jot down plot points. I was always resistant to outlines, because it gave me flashbacks to school and the endless outlining teachers/professors would make you do for a five page paper.
Then in summer 2012, I had the opportunity to travel to Toronto to take a week-long writing class with my author crush, Joy Fielding (because we all have one, right?). The class was fantastic and the highlight of my summer. One of the (many) things I took away was that she always does outlines for her books. She shared the outline she did for “See Jane Run,” (one of my favorite books of hers) along with a few others. Rather than being these rigid line-by-line things with Roman numerals and letters, she does them as narratives. This was a revelation. I came home and did a similar outline for a book idea that I’d been kicking around in my head for a couple of years and it was a huge help. Of course, some things changed along the way, but it was a great roadmap.
For Fiction Writers: Do you listen (or talk to) to your characters?
All the time! Usually when I hear the characters talking is when a story idea starts to form. Although I don’t always know what they’re talking about, I have to write it down to see where it goes. I think when you think of your characters as real people, it helps you to make them more rounded and three-dimensional, and ultimately, more believable.
What advice would you give other writers?
1. Read; read books in the genre you write in, read books outside the genre you write in.
2. Write every day.
3. Take at least one writing class and really take the advice to heart.
4. Make Stephen King’s “On Writing” your Bible.
5. Hire a professional proofreader.
6. Read some more!
How did you decide how to publish your books?
Like so many, I first spent the time trying to get an agent. I researched how to write a query letter, bought a big directory that listed agents who took suspense novels – I even looked in the acknowledgement pages of books from some of my favorite authors to see who their agents were. I sent out query after query after query, which meant rejection after rejection after rejection, though there were quite a few times when agents requested copies of my work (before ultimately rejecting me, LOL).
Life got in the way as I got a new job, moved across the country and rekindled a romance; writing and looking for an agent fell by the wayside for seven long years.
Then, in spring of 2012, I read an article Roger Ebert had retweeted about Amanda Hocking’s self-publishing journey. It was a wake-up call and it reignited my purpose and my passion. I read her blog where she outlined what she did and began to immerse myself in learning everything I could about the industry; I read J.A. Konrath’s book, “Newbies Guide to Publishing” (all of it) and trolled the Internet for articles on self-publishing, ebooks, marketing — everything I could get my hands on, resulting in a big notebook of information that I refer to constantly.
While it’s so great to have so many platforms available to bring your book to the public, it’s still important (read: critical) to learn the craft of writing – take at least one writing class, find a critique partner and one or two Beta readers to give you an honest, no-bull assesment of your work. And read, read, read.
If you do decide to go the self-published route, if you do nothing else, hire a professional proofreader – not your best friend or your husband, but an acutal professional with credentials who doesn’t know you from Adam. From what I’ve been able to gather, a lot of indie authors skip that step because they feel as though they can’t afford it and instead do it themselves. You can’t afford NOT to put out your best work and after looking at your manscript for so long, you become immune to typos, etc. My advice is to find the money and hire a professional. Readers WILL nail you for grammatical errors and typos.
For any aspiring writers considering self-publishing, my advice is to learn the craft, do your homework on the industry and understand that it’s HARD work. You do everything, from the writing, to the marketing, to deciding on cover design and fine-tuning your book blurbs. It’s a marathon, not a sprint.
What do you think about the future of book publishing?
I think the future of book publishing is exciting!
I think the indie author movement is the last creative frontier to be conquered. Independent films and music are praised for their ingenuity and creativity, while self-published books were seen as the redheaded stepchild of publishing. With all these new platforms, we can now let the people decide, rather than relying solely on a few gatekeepers.
What do you use?
Professional Editor, Professional Cover Designer, Beta Readers
What genres do you write?
Suspense, psychological suspense, mystery, thriller
What formats are your books in?