Terri-Lynne Smiles writes accessible, cross-genre novels from her central Ohio home. Her science fantasy novels composing The Rothston Series creates “a fascinating sci-fi world [is] mapped directly onto the everyday reality.” (The Kirkus Review). Possessing “a native talent for imaginative storytelling,” (Midwest Book Review) Terri-Lynne’s analytic were previously put to work as an attorney, where she was recognized as a Best Lawyer in America, an Ohio Super Lawyer, and one of the Top 25 Female Attorneys in Ohio. Her novels have been noted as “highly recommended reading” by the Midwest Book review. She is an active volunteer for several nonprofit civic organizations and is current board chair of the Ohio Association.
What inspires you to write?
I love to write and I love to think about morality and human interactions. I’ve always thought that fiction provides a wonderful means for examining what we believe to be right and wrong by testing it in new contexts. I believe fiction can be “popular” – meaning fun and readable – while still having that core of something to think about after the last page is turned.
Tell us about your writing process.
Plot is vital in fiction – and that doesn’t mean having a good story. Plot is the skeleton that allows a good story inhabited by good characters hang together. If you aren’t sure about what a plot requires, I recommend 20 Master Plots by Ronald Tobias. Very easy and accessible information. I reread it before I start each novel. Then I do a 30,000 foot outline. Then I create a scene by scene outline of the first 1/3 to 1/2 of the book. Then I set the outlines aside (but the framework remains in my head) and just write. Often climax scene writes just after the opening scenes. When I have the first two acts of the novel completed, I do a scene by scene outline of the last 1/3 and follow it pretty closely.
For Fiction Writers: Do you listen (or talk to) to your characters?
My characters are real people to me. They talk to me constantly while I’m writing. At first, this was problematic – they would balk at the terrible things I had in store for them. When I listened to them, the stories became bland and lacked tension. I had to learn to have the conversations with them but remain the captain of the ship in my head.
What advice would you give other writers?
Listen critically to all advice you are given. Accept that which makes you a better writer, even if you don’t like it because it makes you work harder. Reject the advice that amounts to “Write the next ___” with the blank being the most recent blockbuster novel. You will hear a lot of that in different forms, but unless that is your passion, don’t listen. You need to write YOUR books, not copies of someone else’s.
How did you decide how to publish your books?
My novels are currently published with a small publisher and I retain the rights to pull my work from them (under certain circumstances). Thus, I’ve kept the flexibility to sign with a major publisher. My decision to go small press was based on my novels being cross-genre – neither entirely science fiction, entirely fantasy, nor entirely thriller. That makes marketing more difficult because the audience is not as easily accessible, and made my initial novel, Foreseen, less desirable to traditional publishers given that I was an unknown author. My suggestions for new authors is to take their time in making the decision. Self-publishing and even indie publishing is seductively fast and easy, but the process of querying and receiving rejections provides information about your work as well as market forces.
What do you think about the future of book publishing?
Books will survive, as will authors. Oddly, I think there is a market for short, badly written novels and a separate market for quality works. Right now, these two products are mixed together, but I suspect that overtime, different different access points will develop bringing the readers and authors of each type together in separate forums.
What do you use?
Professional Editor, Professional Cover Designer, Beta Readers
What genres do you write?
Science fiction, fantasy, thriller
What formats are your books in?
Both eBook and Print