What inspired you to start writing?
My mother gave me a notebook in the fourth grade and I filled it with stories and terrible poems. I used my writing as a place to escape when the world just got too tough.
My teachers, throughout my education, would say: J has a great imagination and loves to tell stories, but she talks too much.
So, I began to talk less and write more. Although, my family may argue that. My mom said I came out of the womb with a notepad and a voice. The jury is still out.
What inspires me to write, I guess, is my imagination. It's like a tea kettle reaching critical mass. If I don't get what I'm thinking down on paper, I'll explode. Not literally, of course. Don't get me wrong, I'm not inspired all the time. Inspiration doesn't always shoot from my fingertips. I have to write even when I'm uninspired and that's probably 80 percent of the time.
Long answer shorter: my imagination. AND! My husband built an amazing writing room for me that I can seclude myself in.
Do you plan to write other books?
Yes! In fact, I just got the second book (Crimson Lace) in the Black Blood Chronicles back from my publisher for edits. Also, I just finished a standalone book titled: Standing Sideways, due out spring 2018.
Do any of your characters mimic real-life people?
Sometimes I take bits and pieces of people in my life and weave them into my characters. But no particular character is exactly one particular person or another in my life. But most of my characters are fictional.
You work a big-girl job, have a husband, two children, two cats and a betta fish named after a dinosaur. How do you make time to write?
I get this question a lot, actually. If you find something that you are passionate about, you make time for it. My brain works best in the early hours of the morning. When I'm working on a manuscript I try to average 2,000 words a day until the book is written. Once I'm done writing it, the editing (YUK!) begins.
How do you handle negative reviews?
I don't read reviews. Simple. If there's an outstanding review, my publisher will send it to me. But other than that, I try to keep it as simple as possible.
If I'm proud of the book, that's all that matters. My husband gave me the best advice when Black Five went live. He said, "Honey, not everybody loves Brussel Sprouts."
Do you have any advice for aspiring authors/writers?
I don't know that I'm qualified to give advice, but I can give you some tips about what works for me.
First, read. Read as much as you can as often as you can. Reading helps me to see how other authors craft a story. How they use language. How beautiful sentences are constructed. How they move from one scene to the next, etc.
Second, write. Every single day, write. WRITE.
Write when you're uninspired
Write when you're tired.
Write when you're frustrated.
Write when you're sad.
Write when you're mad.
Write when you're happy.
Write when you're afraid.
Write when those voices tell you: you aren't good enough.
And, it may not be a manuscript you're chipping away at. It might be a blog post, a journal entry, notes, a speech, perhaps. Just make sure you're working on your craft as often as possible.
Allow others you trust to read your work. Be open to feedback too. I worked with an English professor at our local community college and he gave me invaluable advice. It was honest, at times hard to hear, but he challenged me as a writer. He helped me find my voice. We need people to be honest with us if we want to improve. The best thing I could have done as a writer is I became teachable.
Shhhhh...lean in closer. No, closer. This is the best tip I can offer as it was told to me:
WRITE FOR YOU.
Don't write to please others. Don't write to get published. WRITE. FOR. YOU.