Do the characters all come to you at the same time or do some of them come to you as you write?
Before I begin writing, I usually have the characters all mapped out, from the hero/heroine to their families and friends.
What kind of research do you do before you begin writing a book?
It depends on who I am writing. IF their profession is detailed, I read books / blog posts/ articles about that subject. Last year, I wrote a cancer survivor, so I spent weeks with my head in blogs and forums about cancers, survival rates, experiences, fears, joys. But nothing gives you knowledge like talking to someone who knows what they’re talking about. For this book I had an attorney read it and tell me where I was completely off and had no idea what I was talking about.
Do you see writing as a career?
Nah…I could never see myself living off of my writing proceeds. It’s a lucrative side gig that pays for techy toys and vacations. I love my full-time day job and I plan to stay there. When I retire and I have the security of a 401K and insurance, I’ll write full time.
What do you think about the current publishing market?
I’m a self-publisher, but of course I have my eye on the traditional market. I think if they don’t come into the present times, in a hurry, they’re going to be in huge trouble. Indie is choking the life out of romance, in my opinion. Don’t even let other genres catch on.
Trad publishing also has a great deal of work to do with regard to publishing work that is not by white men and women. Let us tell our own stories. Paying a white author several million dollars to tell a story that isn’t hers to tell is a slap in the face.
Do you read yourself and if so what is your favorite genre?
I like mysteries, crime thrillers, legal thrillers. I love a police procedural, anything about a medical examiner… all of that. Not much of a cozy mystery reader because it’s too cute, not enough teeth to it. Horror goes too far past the thriller mark but those crime and legal dramas hit just right. I also read quite a bit of Black romance.
Do you prefer to write in silence or with noise? Why?
I need something to ignore. I usually bring up my white noise app and do brown noise (like the sound of an airplane interior, or a clothes dryer).
Do you write one book at a time or do you have several going at a time?
One at a time, usually. If I write more than once, they both sound the same. I also take long breaks between books otherwise the next book sounds too much like the book I just finshed.
Pen or typewriter or computer?
Computer. My brain moves too fast to hand write anything. I just get frustrated and move to computer.
What made you want to become an author and do you feel it was the right decision?
I just had these stories I wanted to tell, and felt like I could tell them well.
A day in the life of the author?
I work full time, so I get up and go to work everyday. I don’t write on week days, but I’ll nit pick and edit what I wrote the weekend before. If I’m mid-project, I’ll write Thursday night, Friday night, get up early on Saturday and Sunday and go write from anywhere from 8-10AM to 2-4 PM. Then I edit during the week.
YES I edit while writing. I cannot move ahead until what I previously wrote is right on the page. It works for me. Might not work for others.
Advice they would give new authors?
Write. Don’t worry about a single thing until you have finished that darn book. Write the book. Know yourself and your work style and know that that won’t change when you sit down to write. You won’t suddenly turn into a morning person if you’re usually a night owl. Be yourself. Write that book, then worry about selling it.
What makes a good story?
I need to know who the major players are and why I should care about them and what’s stopping them from getting what they want. If those elements are compelling and interesting enough, I am in.
What are they currently reading?
I am currently eading like four books. I almost always have legal thriller going and I read a lot of advance reader copies because a) I am too spoiled to wait for release day to read some authors; b) I like knowing I am helping pre-publication buzz for a good book and c) it helps to keep the book budget down.
What is your writing process? For instance do you do an outline first? Do you do the chapters first? What are common traps for aspiring writers?
I need to know the characters (the who and the why does anyone care???) and how I want it to end. Then I start writing. Sometimes details reveal themselves in the first few chaps and I find that hard to plan. Once I am a couple of chaps in, I stop and take stock in where I am and where I need to go. And I do a very loose outline from there.
I almost always know what I want the ending will be, just not how my characters will get there.
What is your writing Kryptonite?
Trying to write before I am ready. Most of my full length novels have to sit and marinate for a least a year. Six months at the least. Very few books were imagined and written in months. I just don’t work that way.
Do you try more to be original or to deliver to readers what they want?
I can only write what comes to me. The one time I tried to write to a trend, it was a miserable fail. Never again.
If you could tell your younger writing self anything, what would it be?
Don’t stop writing. And pick up that reading habit.
What’s the most difficult thing about writing characters from the opposite sex?
I super enjoy writing men. I think it’s hard to not write them as Alpha holes or the sex crazed freaks that they’re painted as in most of entertainment. Men aren’t dumb or lazy or heartless. They have motivations that aren’t always obvious, that are obfuscated by whatever male conditioning they’re taught to participate in.
How long on average does it take you to write a book?
From original idea to the end? About a year. Sometimes more. The shortest I’ve ever written a book was about 9 weeks. It was a short one, not too deep.
Do you believe in writer’s block?
I absolutely do. It absolutely exists (for me) and I absolutely have to come up with strategies to combat it. I absolutely do sit at my desk in tears because I want desperately to write but I have nothing for the page, for the story, for my characters. Writers who say it doesn’t exist should amend that it doesn’t exist for them, then direct the person asking about writer’s block to a resource that can help them.