Q: How long have you been writing?
Since around the seventh grade. As a kid, I wrote a sort of soap opera in roughly 250-word increments. The original characters were in high school and middle school, but there were some Star Wars characters and supermodels thrown in for good measure. Writing was so much fun…just a hobby, of course.
Q: How long did it take you to publish?
No time at all. Did I mention that I’m a sophomore in high school right now? Okay, honestly…I was not an overnight success. I became serious about trying to get published in 2002. I attended a writers’ retreat that focused on craft, and I rewrote a manuscript several times to practice what I’d learned about storytelling. It took me three years to generate a book that I felt was ready to send to agents. Would-Be Witch and a sequel sold to the Berkley Publishing Group in June 2007.
Q: How many manuscripts do you have hidden away/under the bed/in storage?
I have two in the closet that will never see the light of day. I also have a lot of partially finished/different versions of projects on my laptop.
Q: Do you have a writing schedule and if so, what is it?
I don’t have a writing schedule.
Q: Do you have a critique group? If yes, how many are in the group?
Not presently. I was part of a critique group for about five or six years. It was a mixed genre group, and I really liked it, but the way I write and edit my work is different now and not really amenable to using a critique group. I tend to do some brainstorming and then write the entire manuscript without showing much to anyone. When I’ve polished the first draft and have fixed any problems that I find, I give it to my two critique partners. They do a very detailed critique for me and then I revise the manuscript with their comments in mind.
Q: When developing an idea for a new story, which comes first – the plot or the title or the characters?
Often I’ll start with a premise, then I do some exploratory writing to get to know the characters and at the same time I’ll brainstorm the plot a bit. I have a terrible time coming up with titles. Titles usually come last.
Q: How do you handle new story ideas that pop up when you’re in the middle of a project? (ex: notebook by the bed/separate word file, etc?)
I jot notes in a writing journal or sketchbook…or on scraps of paper. Sometimes I’ll indulge myself and write four or five thousand words on something new just to scratch that itch. If I’ve written scenes, I’ll keep the story notes and the loose manuscript pages in a binder or folder. When it comes to the actual creative process, organization and routine aren’t a high priority for me.
Q: Have you ever gotten to the middle of a project and got bored or lost your momentum? If so, how did you handle it?
That hasn’t happened recently, but when I was learning to tell stories in novel form, it happened several frustrating times. I later realized getting stuck in the middle of a book was a symptom of not knowing the story’s ending. Now when I begin a book, I figure out the climax so I can write toward it.
Q: Finish this sentence: If I could write anything I wanted and knew it would sell, it would be…books that don’t fall easily into a genre or subgenre.
Q: What is the best advice you ever received?
Keep writing, and you’ll be published.
Q: What is the worst?
Vampire fiction is passé. (It was the summer of 2004, and the paranormal market for vampires was not even close to saturation. I regret that I abandoned the urban fantasy that I was working on in favor of a project that I liked less.)
Q: What is your favorite part of the writing process?
I love that “in the zone” writing where the characters do their thing and I just trail after them writing about what happens. When I’m deep enough in their world, I don’t even exist. I find that very cool.
Q: What is your least favorite part of the writing process?
Q: Which came first for you – the editor or the agent?
Q: How many contests did you enter before you sold? How many did you final in?
I entered one contest, but I didn’t final. It was when I’d just started writing romance and I was hoping for helpful feedback, which I got.
Q: How do you promote your books?
For Would-Be Witch, since it’s my debut, I’m doing a little of everything. My website, of course. Also, bookmarks & brochures, a couple ads and book signing events, teaching workshops, a blog tour, and MySpace. It’s overwhelming, but I wanted to feel like I’m doing something to help the first book succeed. I definitely plan to spend less time on promotion after this month. I’m looking forward to just getting back to writing books! My favorite days are always when I get lost in a story and don’t have to come out.