I was wondering where you get your story ideas?
That’s actually a hard question for me. I’ve been asked it a few times, and the answer tends to be that things just pop into my head. Sometimes out of nowhere. Sometimes someone around me will say something, or I will say something, that spawns an idea. Or it’s something I see in real life, or in a movie, or read in a book. The one thing I can say in all honesty is I’ve never, ever once had a dream that became a story idea.
What is the usual process for your fiction writing? Are you a plotter or a pantser?
I’m kind of half and half. I tend to plot things out only to a degree, and then sit down and see what emerges with those things in mind. But I’m definitely not an outliner. More like scribbling bits and pieces in a notebook—or whatever I can write on at the time—and piecing them together like a jigsaw puzzle.
Once you have an idea that sparks your imagination do you research your idea or do any world-building exercises, or do you just begin to write and see where the Muse takes you?
Definitely just begin to write. I research only when I have to. Of course I will fact-check along the way, but if the Muse is doing her job I’ll just keep going and worry about fixing stuff later. The fact is, I hate researching. So unless I’ve got a story mostly written as motivation to do the research, I’m likely to just keep putting off writing the story at all to avoid the research.
What is your daily writing like?
Well, first of all it’s not “daily.” I tend to write in spurts. I’ll go days or even weeks without writing, and then if I’m inspired I’ll just write and write and write until it’s all out. No specific time of day either. I am a night owl, but I stay up late reading, not writing. My writing gets squeezed in during the day around homeschooling my kids and whatever else is going on. I wish I were more disciplined about writing every day, but truly if I try to force it I just end up frustrated.
Right now I’m a full-time homeschooling mom. I definitely want to become a full-time writer, though! I know it may be a farther down the road than I’d hoped, but I do believe it will happen…eventually.
Can you tell us about your experience working with your current publisher? (Any other publishers?) (And/Or your self-publishing experiences?)
I’m with a small press, and that of course has pros and cons. I’ll get the negative out of the way first—small presses have small budgets. So marketing has been the hardest part of all this. But as for the other side of things, such as editing and book cover production, things couldn’t have gone smoother with Splashdown Books. I had editors that really got my voice and understood my vision for the stories. They were tough, but everything was done out of love for the books and a desire for them to be their best.
And the artistic synergy for the book covers was incredible. I’m an artist and had definite ideas for the covers, and my publisher let me come up with design concepts. I did the drawings that are on the covers (the locket and keyhole on Finding Angel, the hinges and clasp on Seeking Unseen) but others took over the tech side of actually putting the elements together, and at times I felt like they were reading my mind. Actually, Grace (the owner of Splashdown) mentioned she had always wanted to do a book with a cover that looked like an old leather book—which was exactly what I had in mind for Seeking Unseen. Those kinds of moments happened so many times it was almost scary ;).
I also had the pleasure of working with an amazing narrator when making the audiobook for Finding Angel. She did the narration and editing and worked so hard! Her voice was exactly what I had in my head for Angel, and she met the challenge of the other characters’ accents head-on. She was wonderful to work with.
What is your current release and (without spoilers) tell us about the new book or series.
My most current release is Seeking Unseen, the sequel to Finding Angel. In this book, Angel is worried about her little foster brother’s safety and ends up visiting her old hometown in order to find out what is going on. In the process she runs into an old friend, who follows her back to Toch Island—where a completely different kind of danger emerges.
Can you tell us about some of your other writing and any appearances or signings that you have planned?
My other writing includes a lot of short stories! I’ve had about a dozen short fiction pieces published in various magazines and anthologies. Most of them fall into the fantasy or horror genres, with a few sci-fi pieces thrown in. Another dozen short stories so far have been featured in the online magazine and print digest of Avenir Eclectia, which is published by Splashdown Books.
I’ve also written a dozen or so short personal experience stories, many of which have sold multiple times in various religious magazines and anthologies. The biggest bragging rights I have in that realm are two stories in Chicken Soup for the Soul and a story that was published in both the American and German versions of the Salvation Army’s national magazine.
As for appearances, I’ll be teaching a workshop at the Florida Inspirational Writers Retreat in September on the topic of writing for a YA audience. And in October, I’ll be on writers panels at the Necronomicon sci-fi/fantasy/horror/gaming convention in Tampa, FL.
To me the most important thing is learning to sort through the advice. There is so much advice for writers out there, but it does not all apply to everyone! You have to learn to discern between good and bad critique of your writing. Too many writers get caught in a perpetual cycle of revision trying to please everyone, trying to implement every piece of critique they get on their writing. Sometimes, the best thing you can do, though, is ignore advice—but the key is knowing which advice to heed and which to ignore.
Who is your favorite author, and can you recommend a book by that author?
I cry foul on this one! A single favorite author??? No way! That would make my brain explode. I read gobs of YA fiction and some of my favorites are J.K. Rowling (Harry Potter series only), Cornelia Funke (Inkheart series), Maggie Stiefvater (The Raven Boys), Nova Ren Suma (Imaginary Girls), Laini Taylor (Daughter of Smoke and Bone), Rick Yancey (Monstrumologist), and Kersten Hamilton (Tyger Tyger). In the adult fiction realm (which I read considerably less of), I’d have to go with Patrick Rothfuss, Stephen King, and Steven James. And I’ve discovered so many indie authors lately that have blown my mind: Fred Warren, Kerry Nietz, Robynn Tolbert, Diane Graham, Keven Newsome, Robert Mullin, and Rebecca Minor.