About Sandra Boutwell-Falcone:
Sandra Boutwell-Falcone grew up in rural Louisiana. She attended University of Central Arkansas earning a BA in English. A voracious reader and lover of all things fantasy, Sandra draws inspiration from nature, gaming, and people watching. She currently resides in Arkansas with her husband Michael, dog Bess, and cats Chaucer and Miss Kitty.
What inspires you to write?
I can be inspired by a landscape, a sunset, or the sound of the wind in the trees. If I see an interesting person walking across a parking lot, they may spark a character. Sometimes fantasy video games or movies will give me ideas. The stories are already in my head like someone’s vague memories, just not mine. Sparks of inspiration give them form and flesh them out.
Tell us about your writing process.
My process, if you can call it that, is to make a very basic outline and work in pieces or scenes. I tried writing chronologically but it just didn’t work for me. As the chapters progress, I join them together. I also draw maps so I’ll know where my characters are as they travel my fantasy landscape. Sometimes I’ll get an idea about a character or direction I want something to go or a cool name I want to use and I’ll write it down on a post it. I have a collection of notes posted on the wall next to my desk. If I get stuck or a little lost jumping back and forth from chapter to chapter I refer to the wall. I also have inspirational quotes up there.
For Fiction Writers: Do you listen (or talk to) to your characters?
When I’m writing, especially when I’m really in the zone, it’s as if I’m telling the story and living the story all at the same time. I talk with Marabella, my lead character, a lot. She even posts comments on our blog from time to time. She refers to me as The Author.
What advice would you give other writers?
I would advise other writers to write. It is much too easy to get distracted by life, work, laundry, cats,…insert your distraction here. Block out some time to write. If you have a story in you, get it down. Also, when you have completed your story, put it down for a time. Weeks or even longer away from your manuscript can help you look at it with fresh eyes. Taking another look can really help polish it. And hire a professional editor. You may think you are qualified to edit. You may be perfectly qualified to edit someone else, but not yourself. I know this from my own experience. I went through my manuscript countless times and had beta readers fill out surveys. Ultimately my novel would have been much tighter if I’d had a professional edit. Also I have reviewed some wonderful books, with intriguing stories and great characters that would have benefited greatly from a professional edit.
How did you decide how to publish your books?
When my story turned into a manuscript and friends and family started to read it, they encouraged me to publish. I made submissions to a few publishers, really looking forward to my first rejection letter. I never received a reply. That was much worse than being rejected. I looked into a couple of pay to publish “publishers” but they were too eager to publish my book without even looking at it. I decided to self publish as it was less expensive and I had more control.
If you are trying to get published, shop around and find what works best for you. Beware of so called publishers who want to give you a deal that sounds too good to be true because it is. Look up potentials on the web. See what others have to say about their services and hidden fees. There are good and bad traditional, vanity, and self publishers out there.
What do you think about the future of book publishing?
I am new to the field but I believe there will always be room for traditional and self publishers. The way we read is changing but at least people are still reading. Some still like books. Others are convinced that e-readers are the way of the future. Audio books are gaining popularity. With large traditional publishers you almost have to already be famous or infamous to get published. They want the sure thing. That leaves a lot of room for self publishing and small publishers to give us the works of the other 98% of writers.
What do you use?: Professional Editor, Beta Readers
What genres do you write?: juvenile/teen fantasy fiction
What formats are your books in?: Both eBook and Print