Author Interview

  • When did you know you had a story you needed to tell?

When I first started figuring out this whole language thing (maybe two, three years old), I immediately started narrating my life as if it were a storybook. I have no memory of this, but that was when my parents looked at each other and thought, She’s going to be a writer.

  • Do you storyboard your works?

I tend to write out most of the details of the important scenes before I start writing the book itself—it’s probably closer to a film treatment than an outline or storyboard. I currently have a 3,000-word treatment of my next book ready to go, and I’m not starting on that one until November.

  • What inspires you to write?

Being in beautiful places. Observation. Diverse herbal teas. “Inspired” is my default state of being: stress, anxiety, and depression tend to take it away, whereas there’s no one thing that brings it back.

  • How has releasing your book changed your life?

It’s changed how I see writing as a whole. Where it used to be an escape, it’s now a business: there’s more to my writing than just my books. On one hand that’s a little sad, but on the other I feel like it’s added a whole new dimension to my work. I’ve always written with a message, but streamlining a story as a business venture has made those messages far clearer, more direct.

I also write a lot more. I’ll get into this in the next question, but I publish a serial—meaning I have a deadline to meet each month. So there’s no procrastination, I have deadlines to meet. My writing’s improved drastically since I started releasing The Letter Mage.

  • Do you self-publish, or traditionally publish?

Self-publish, although I’m seeking traditional publishing for my novels. The Letter Mage is a serial, which doesn’t lend itself well to the traditional method. I put it out monthly and put up a book every four months, which is kind of a crash course in publishing every time I do it.

  • Tell us, what got you into editing?

Editing as a business helps me pay the bills. Editing as a writer helps me improve my craft, which is a pain but extremely satisfying once you have a finished product.

  • How much time to you spend on your work per week?

10-20 hours, which is spent writing, submitting short stories, planning releases, editing, emailing, and at events.

  • What is your favorite social media source?

Facebook is the most effective for me, but I’m a little weird in self-publishing in that social media hasn’t been a huge boon for me. I make my best sales in interviews, readings, and personal appearances. Not even a contest.

  • Do you find ebooks or paperbacks sell better?

Another weirdo when it comes to self-publishing: paperbacks by a large margin. I’ve sold out at multiple bookstores.

  • What do you do when you’re not writing or editing?

I have a nonprofit for writers, The Writers’ Rooms! But I’m not sure that counts. I also crochet, go to the gym, paint, and make all sorts of art.

  • How to people react when they find out you’re an author?

“Wow! How do you pay the bills?”

  • Do you ever get so into your work that you forget about what’s going on around you?

All the time! I will also occasionally get some weird dissonance, like that time I wrote one of my most intense character-death scenes while the coffee shop played “I Like Big Butts”. The character in question would have loved the moment, though, so it was oddly fitting.

  • Where is your favorite workspace?

I’m a cliché: coffee shops. Any coffee shop. I’m pretty good at sussing one out within 24 hours of arriving somewhere.

  • Do you use any writers groups to help you up your game?

I run one! As previously mentioned, I’m a Director of The Writers’ Rooms, an Iowa City-based organization that provides a community for writers of multiple genres and demographics. They’re amazing: we have such a supportive, sweet community, and it’s home to writers of all levels and demographics.

  • What do you feel is your biggest writing accomplishment?

My work with students. I had one student use my book as inspiration for his reading goal, which was the most amazing feeling in the world—and he’s saving up to buy them for himself so he doesn’t have to keep checking them out of the classroom library. I teared up a little when I heard about that. I’m so proud of him!

  • What I you dislike the most about being an author?

You have to be social like, all the time. I love my fans. I love my community. I also love time by myself where I don’t have to talk to anyone, and that’s rare these days. I actively schedule it out now.

  • How do you handle writer’s block?

Usually it’s caused by something else that’s bothering me: stress, anxiety, depression, over-socialization. I try to spend time each evening meditating before bed, which helps me sort through and solve whatever’s getting to me. Once those blocks are gone, my writers’ block usually is too.

If not, it means the writing itself doesn’t like whatever I’m doing. It means I’m writing something I’m not passionate about, or I’m getting a character wrong, or trying to make someone do something that doesn’t fit their personality. So I try doing something else, something wild and different, until the plot clicks.

  • How often do you attend signings, or other author events?

All the time! Over the next few weeks I have them weekly (check my site for my book tour schedule) and I try to get one a month minimum. Author events are the best part of the job.

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