When a guest interrogated me recently, I decided to turn it into blog fodder.
Q: How did you get into this writing gig?
I love to read. I went on a binge in 2002, reading over 350 historical romance novels, along with history books. A Wyoming historical journal essay about a western town inspired me to write Unbroken Hearts in 2002-3. It was edited and revised at least ten times (I stopped counting!).
I went through the query-go-round, and almost made it (one publisher requested full MS and sent it through their ringer), but no cigar. Looking back, the rejections were the best thing that could have happened, because I've made far more money on the book as a self-published work.
The big publishers can't come close to the 70% royalty rate that Amazon is offering, and advances are low in the genre.
I published my first book on Amazon in March, 2008.
Q: How many books have you self published?
Four. Untamed Hearts and Undaunted Hearts are the sequels to the first western historical romance. TAKEDOWN is my latest. It's a contemporary romantic suspense/thriller.
Q: How do you write a story?
I start with the broad story arc and characters. I develop an outline, and this goes through several iterations as subplots and color are added. It continues to expand until it becomes the book. This is also known as the "Snowflake method."
Q: What advice would you give to new authors?
Write in scenes. I typically have 3 scenes per chapter. Every scene, whether it is action, dialogue, internal monologue, or narrative, must move the plot forward.
Will you write plot-driven or character-driven books? Decide which is your strength.
Writing is difficult, as it requires macro and micro skills: Envisioning broad plot and characters, and, at the detail level, picking apart sentence structure, grammar, spelling. Very few people operate at both levels. Proofreaders and editors are critical.
Q: How long does it take to write a book?
The first book took 8-10 months, but now it goes faster because I have an established process.
When I'm "heads down" writing I'll spend 4-5 hours a day working, and I can finish a book in 4-5 months at that pace. I'm always doing research alongside, always reading historical stuff. I read 30-40 history books before I started the first series.
Q: Tell me about your latest work.
TAKEDOWN combines many life experiences I've had with a thriller plot line. The heroine in TAKEDOWN, Jane Nelson, receives the same "thanks for sex last night" misdirected emails I received when I ran a community website, but of course they lead to more interesting problems for her.
In addition to writing, I've worked as a programmer, systems analyst, and web designer for 20+ years. I'm also an avid stock market investor, and I belong to the Investor Village AAPL (Apple) Sanity community, where my friends from Wall Street and beyond inspired ideas for TAKEDOWN.