Q  and A

I get a lot of questions about writing, and I always tell people the same basic things. No matter who asks me. ANYONE who wants to write, should. 

Simply put, you will never know until you try. Don’t let pre-determined “information” make you run away;  I.E – Iv’e never been a good writer. 

 If you have always wanted to write a book, the best thing to do is to sit down and do it.

Here are some basic questions I get and tips on how to start your journey.

Can I buy your books? I love romance!

No, not quite. I have an agent now who is trying to sell them. Currently I am working on things for publication online, and I will be working with an editor to get things out there sooner. I’m aiming for Spring of ’18. There are excerpts all over in my blogs, though.

Why did you pick romance? I don’t know what to write about.

Well, romance just kind of found me. I am a comic book geek by trade, and wanted to write fantasy. I sat with that blank page for a couple of weeks, not even knowing where to begin. Then, in my kindle “recommendations” list came a fantasy romance by Sylvia Day called In the Heat of the Night. That was it for me. And while I have been sticking to erotica, (that’s just fun to write!) I will eventually dive into other things, like fantasy romance, or even sci-fi romance.

How did you find time? I have kids, and a job.

So do I. It wasn’t easy and still isn’t. I would hide in the bathroom for a few moments at a time while my kids were watching TV. “Mommy has a belly ache”. No. Mommy just wanted to finish her book. The first one took three years, but after that, you gain a rythm. And, well, you lose sleep.

Is it hard to get published?

Yes. Anyone can publish online. But here is a HUGE dealbreaker with readers; If there are a thousand grammatical errors (which I am famous for, my grammar sucks!), people will put it down and never look you up again. If you are going to publish online, get an editor. Put effort and a little money into it. Your story is going to say something about who you are as a writer, and if they like the product, they will buy more books.

Publishers get hundreds of cold queries a day. No matter how good you are, if they aren’t accepting unsolicited submissions, then you are out of luck. If they are, follow thier directions. They won’t look twice if it’s sent in the wrong format for example.

How do you get an agent?

Just like college or any career really, you have to invest. Time, money, and attitude. I PAID for pitch classes and work shops. I got to know people, and understand the industry. I got myself in front of four major editors. Because of that, I got manuscript requests, and therefore an agent using Publishers Marketplace. You will have to pay for the website access.

I use Algonkian for all of my retreats. Michael Neff is a great mentor and now, friend. He has taught me many things, both the good and bad sides of publishing. Invest. Stay engaged. WANT IT.

How did you know you wanted to be a writer?

I was 8 and in 2nd grade. My dog had died, and I was crying in class. My teacher gave me a book by Wilson Rawles called, Where the Red Fern Grows. It’s about a poor young man who lives in the mountains. He saves his money to buy coon hounds, works hard, and trains them. The male dog dies saving him from a bear attack and the other from a broken heart. It opened my eyes up to not only the power of story telling, but the world in general. I started thinking on a wider scale, realizing that the world didn’t revolve around my 8 year old self. 

I knew I wanted to tell stories that helped people escape from thier problems. I struggled for may years though, keeping my creativity in check as a real career choice. It’s a hard road, being creative, but the truth is, I couldn’t live without it, and consequently, have no choice but to chase the dream of being creative for a living.

I’ve started a book and I can’t seem to finish it.

Slumps are normal. No one just sits down and writes a book without having setbacks and pitfalls. I’ve abandoned stories alltogether. It happens. Some ideas don’t pan out. But if you are stuck, take a step back and rest your eyes. Start something else to get your juices flowing. It’s alwaty exciting in the start, and just like any job, you hit a rut. You just do. Don’t get discouraged. Find the motivation and plow ahead. You will find a rythm again.

For instance, summer is REALLY hard for me. My kids are 12, 12 and 9. I spend a lot of time with them in the summer. We go all over and have all kinds of fun, so my writing slacks off. I try not to go too long without even doing a chapter to keep me fresh and aware. I carry a notebook all the time too, so even though you are at a pool, or lake, or beach, you have an instrument. 

Where do your ideas come from? How do you come up with characters?

Everywhere. I take my characters from all kinds of people I know. I add traits I admire and sometimes wish I had.

Think of it this way. You get to build a world you always wanted to live in. For me, it’s anything Celtic and anything related to the IRA. I love those worlds. My family is Irish and I love that universe. I’m also married, and I LOVE my husband. I would never be unfaithful, nor do I wish to be. But like any healthy person, I fantasize. I have SO many book boyfriends. 🙂 So fun.

I make women with features I would love to have. Men I would love to look at in real life. Close your eyes. If you could paint your world, what would it look like? Then write down key points. 

  • I like cooler weather locations
  • I like rough coastlines
  • I love castles
  • I like to hike, so I will need to be near mountains
  • I love women with red hair and fiesty attitudes
  • I would love to own a little pub in a small Irish town
  • Men with dark hair and blue eyes are stunning

Outlines are your friends. And ALWAYS keep something next to bed. You will always get ideas at night. Or in a dream.

PEOPLE WATCH. Seriously. Go to a mall. A city street. A bookstore. Watch people’s movements and practice describing them. What do they look like? What do you think they do for a living?

Think of writing as a giant game of mad libs. Fill in blanks, and always make your characters real. Does he bite his nails when he’s nervous? Does she like to twirl her hair? Give them REAL traits. PEOPLE WATCH.

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