How important is research to you when writing a book?
If one wants a realistic story, one always does at least a bit of research. I like to do a good bit of research. When I pick a town to be the setting, I look up things like the restaurants, the street names, neighborhoods, colleges, those sorts of things. I’ve even gone so far as to look up what the weather was on certain dates for stories I wrote that were in the past. In my opinion, research makes a story.
What works best for you: Typewriters, fountain pen, dictate, computer or longhand?
I use my laptop, exclusively. I tried my hand at writing down things, especially outlines but that became tedious, looking back and forth at the paper and the computer screen. I’ve used dictation before as well. It didn’t work for me. I have a love affair with the sound of keys clicking away as my story grows.
When did it dawn upon you that you wanted to be a writer?
I was writing a lot when I was a kid. I made up plays, which I wrote down and gave the neighborhood kids copies of and we acted the plays out. I also wrote a good bit of satire; my mother was my biggest fan. I’d play out the satirical act and loved making her laugh. But adulthood took me over, and I immersed myself in the role of wife and mother to 5 children. When I got my youngest one in Junior High and found some down time, I began to read again, and that triggered my passion for writing once more. A passion I don’t see giving up again.
How often do you write?
Almost every single day, I write. I do take mini-vacations so I can refocus and relax my mind a bit. Even on the vacation days, my mind struggles not to think about my current book. But I push it back to allow myself some me-time.
Do you have a set schedule for writing, or are you one of those who write only when they feel inspired?
My schedule is fairly strict. Not only do I write for myself, but I’m also a Ghost Writer. This means I have deadlines to meet. My typical schedule is up at 7 a.m. bath, breakfast, and get to reading what I wrote the previous day. By nine I should be writing. It’s important to note that I treat it just like I was at the office. I only take important calls and try to remain focused on my project. I stop for an hour for lunch about noon and add in a few chores, start laundry, do a bit of housework, like sweeping or dusting, then back I go to writing until 5 p.m. I never write or edit after 5, I finish any chores I didn’t get to at lunch then make dinner, and the family starts filtering in around six.
Do you aim to complete a set number of pages or words each day?
I do make a goal for each day. Usually, I set a goal of 5 to 7 thousand words, depending on what all I have to do that day. And I almost always reach my goals.
Writers are often associated with loner tendencies; is there any truth to that?
I must admit that my family has ragged on me about this. When I first began writing, I would write from morning until I went to bed. I loved it. But my family hated it. So, I made up a schedule that would work for us all. I love people, I love being around people. I have a large family and my time with them is important to me. But I also love writing and getting into another world. I must have quiet, and it’s best if I’m alone to fully get involved in my writing. So, yes, in my case, I have loner tendencies but push past them to let my family know I love them more than I love being alone.
Do you set a plot or prefer going wherever an idea takes you?
Having written both with plots and without, I do much better with a plot and an extensive outline to guide me. I do give myself the freedom to change my outline if the characters demand it. My characters can go off on their own from time to time, and I will rewrite my outline if that happens.
How much of yourself do you put into your books?
I believe that most characters have parts of their writers in them. It’s unintentional when I put aspects of myself in a character, but upon reading my work, I’ve seen myself in my characters. I did write a few books with certain things that I felt hurt by in my past. And I have to admit that dealing with those emotions through a character, exploring the deepness of the whole thing, was cathartic. I’d recommend to anyone who has past issues to write a little story using a character to see if it helps to cleanse you of the luggage you’ve been carrying around.
Have you ever experienced “Writer’s Block”? How long do they usually last?
I have experienced writer’s block. The best way to get out of that mindset is to read. Grab yourself a great novel and get to reading. It has always stimulated my mind, and before I knew it, I was putting the book down, one I’d gotten to the end of mind you, and getting back to my writing.
Does a bad review affect your writing?
I’d be lying if I said it didn’t. That said, I do read all the reviews. And a well-constructed negative review can be something I learn from. I’m striving to be the best writer I can be after all and I know there’s always room for improvement. Constructive criticism is appreciated, and I do take it into account when I get going on my next project. But some reviewers seem to be having a bad day and are just hateful. I tend to ignore those reviews, they offer nothing in the way of how things could’ve been better or what exactly was wrong.
Do you read any of your own work?
Of course! If my work isn’t good enough to get me to read it then how can I expect anyone else to want to?
It is often believed that almost all writers have had their hearts broken at some point in time, does that remain true for you as well?
My heart has been ripped out and stomped on a few times, and I use that pain in my writing. It’s my opinion that one cannot write about a thing they haven’t personally experienced, very well. That said, I’ve forgiven all my former heartbreakers because their ill treatment of me has paid off, financially!
How do you see writing? As a hobby or a passion?
Writing is definitely my passion. One I had no idea was lying dormant inside of me for many years. It’s what I think about most of the time. My family takes up the rest of the time.
How did it feel when your first book got published?
Like it wasn’t real. I kept looking at the paperback copy of my book and just shaking my head. My mother was an avid reader, and she’d tried her hand at writing in the late ‘80’s but it didn’t go anywhere. She passed away 16 years ago, and when I took that first book of mine out of the box it came in, well, it was an emotion I’d never felt before. I’d met my mother’s dream and mine at the same time. Every now and then, that same feeling rises up in me, the feeling that this isn’t real. Especially when I see something I’ve written on Best Seller’s lists. And I know Mom’s watching over me and wishes me the best.
Are you friends with other writers?
Yes, I belong to Facebook clubs, and we help each other out all the time with advice and information. I also work with other ghostwriters on projects and love the creativity that we bat back and forth.
Do you prefer writing over reviewing the work of others?
I prefer to write. I’m a terrible reviewer. I hate to criticize anyone’s work. If I hate something, I just don’t leave a review at all. If I like the work, I leave a great review.
Does it get frustrating if you are unable to recall an idea you had in your mind sometime earlier?
It does get frustrating when that happens. I try to always have a little notebook and a pen handy to capture any fleeting ideas that might pop into my head. The worst is when I wake up in the middle of the night with an idea but am too tired to get up and write it down. I always think I’ll remember it when it’s time to get up and then can’t recall any more than the fact that I had an idea and it was the best one ever!
Have you ever written a story you wish you hadn’t?
As a ghostwriter, I’ve written several. That said, any writing one does, takes them a step further into their journey as an author, and they learn something from it. So, I regret nothing.
Do you need to be in a specific place or room to write, or can you just sit in the middle of a café full of people and write?
I can’t write in a room full of people. I don’t like to write with anyone around, really. If you want to pour your heart into a piece of work, some tears may flow, or you might laugh out loud, and people will give you odd looks if you do that. I don’t even attempt to write in public places. I need tranquility and can find it in many places, just not public ones.