What inspires you to write?
I’ve been writing practically my whole life. My first book – a spectacle of crayon and construction paper – was “published” when I was just seven years old. It sold two copies. To my parents. Since then, I’ve written many short stories and novels that no one will ever read, but that’s okay. I write to write. I write because I have to.
I’m constantly inspired by the characters who live inside my head and the stories they weave day in and day out. I’ve never “created” a character. They’ve always just been there. Waiting for their stories to be heard. I have far more stories to write than I’ll ever have time to write, but I try not to think about that too much.
Tell us about your writing process.
I always begin with an outline. The outlines tend to be pretty sketchy and lays out basic plot themes only. For example, my outline for Rome Un-Holiday (the third in the Samantha Stone mission series) was just under 4,000 words. It’s sort of like a coloring book without any of the color. I fill in the color as I write. I find that this method gives me both the structure and the flexibility I need.
I’m also a big fan of marination – a concept I adopted from my good friend Stephen King. Once I finish a story, it goes into the vault for a least three months. While it’s marinating, I write another story. You know a story is done marinating when you’ve forgotten all about it. Then I pull it out, re-read it, make my first round of edits, and hand it over to my husband. My husband has always been my first – and best – beta reader. He makes suggestions, which I either incorporate or ignore. The second draft goes to a group of friends for beta reading round #2. Readers see the third, and final, draft.
For Fiction Writers: Do you listen (or talk to) to your characters?
Most of the time, I listen to my characters. Sometimes I talk to them, but I try not to do that out loud. 🙂 I find that, as long as I’m quiet enough, their stories come out. Whether I’m ready for them or not.
What advice would you give other writers?
Believe in yourself. Writing can be the easiest thing in the world and the most difficult thing in the world all wrapped up in the same moment. Cultivate confidence. Don’t write for the wrong reasons – because you want to make money, be the next Stephen King, or quit your day job. Writers write because they have to write. They would write even if no one ever read a word they put down on the page. Know your intentions before you jump in. Do what you love. Finally, try not to overwork a story. A story is like pie crust. Too much kneading and it gets all crumbly and sad. You have to know when to stop.
How did you decide how to publish your books?
I decided to self-publish my books mainly because I didn’t have the patience to put the time and effort into finding an agent. I wanted to spend my time writing. Every author’s path is different, so choose the path that feels right for you. I can tell you that self-publishing is a tough road. You’re in the same pool as a seemingly infinite number of other self-publishers. Go in with an idea of how you will make yourself, and your book, stand out. You will have to develop your own brand, and that level of promotion and marketing takes time, energy, and dedication.
What do you think about the future of book publishing?
It’s an exciting time for books. Readers have more options than ever before, and so do writers. Today, literally anyone can publish a book and anyone can read it. I think we’ll start to see more readers supporting indie writers – sort of like mainstream and indie films.
What genres do you write?: chick lit, mystery, women sleuths, romantic comedy, fiction
What formats are your books in?: Both eBook and Print