Questions & Answers *Brought to you by the Fans on Facebook (some really creative minds out there - thanks guys!)
1. Asked by Laura Milano: Where do you get your ideas from? Did you do a lot of research for your book?
I've always had a love of paranormal, fantasy and sci-fi books. I've been reading fantasy for over two decades and can't even begin to count how many vampire books I've read. I've often had little day-dreams about where I would set my own vampire series and why. The day-dreams escalated from there until I had a whole world in my head—but I wrote none of it down, nor thought anyone would be interested in my story until one fateful late-night talk in my friend's car after book club.
Research? Well, not on vampires. If I learned one thing from all those books it's that you can pick and choose which parts of history you'd like to incorporate and then make up the rest. That truly is the joy of writing - it's your world and your rules.
I did do research on Alaska. I'd love to travel there one day, but honestly I'm not so sure I want my first trip above the Arctic Circle to be in the winter!
2. Asked by Sharon Stern: Why did you decide to write about vampires?
I like the way vampires are portrayed in fiction. You've got a huge spectrum of ideas to choose from - horror, passion, evil spawn of satan, crime fighter, monster, rogue, self-centered, to compassionate - whatever! It seemed like a great way to mix my love of fantasy into a more modern time frame and come up with a unique and powerful cast of characters.
Sadly, I'm not the only writer out there attempting to write a vampire series right now. Here's to hoping my unique take combined with a monogamous couple will tip the scales in my favor.
3. Asked by Lori Tasca: What was your inspiration to write this book?
Hot Monogamy. Yes, I swear. I was tired of reading about a strong protagonist who had a wreck of a social life. Or that by the seventh book she has yet again saved the day and still botched another relationship. I was sick of all the constant relationship conflict written into books - they didn't ring true for me.
Marriage is about compromise and getting along—it takes hard work to not want to smother your spouse day in and day out, trust me. Why can't anyone write about that? If 50% of marriages in our country wind up divorced, what do the ones who have a good marriage get to read? And what about the single ones dreaming of a solid relationship—why do they only get to read how people met?
I wanted a sexy adventure where the guy and girl save each other and stand by one another—not a weak heroine that needs to be rescued and not a jerk of a guy who walks out because he doesn't understand her. So I wrote one.
4. Asked by Meredith Wartelle: Which character can you most relate to or is most like you?
Hmm... I have copper-red hair. Need I say any more? ;-)
5. Asked by Sue Hickton:Where do get your ideas and inspiration from?
Have you ever heard the expression "write what you know"? Well there are times both my husband and myself have felt like our lives could be a Seinfeld episode. I'm not saying I've ever hung from the rafters or been chained to a wall, but the dialogue I write is often what I hear around me or snarkily comes out of my own mouth. In addition, some of the characters in the book are based on people I know.
The rest, I plot. I like to build in small clues, twists, and turns. I plan out what will happen and when to write in a sex scene, a slow down of the pace, or an action scene. I love to see the story unfold from my bare bones outline to a full color movie in my head.
I've had ideas come to me at the oddest times - like sleeping, shopping, cooking dinner, folding laundry... once while washing my hands in the bathroom. I keep a small, thin mole-skin notebook on hand for ideas only. It goes everywhere with me (except the bathroom) and I have yet to fill the first one up.
6. Asked by Madonna Nicolai:How do you stick at it and what do you do to relax and get things flowing agiain if you do hit a block?
I'm new to writing and I've picked up a lot of tips and information from some great books and author sites (check out the writing resource area for some info and titles). One thing the most prolific writers seem to agree on is that there is no such thing as writer's block. I have no idea if that is true or not because I haven't been writing long enough to offer a fair opinion.
These same authors stress that to be a writer you must WRITE. Every damn day. Be it in a blog, a journal, an assignment for work or school, or in the creative outlet of your choice— poetry, short stories, screen plays, novellas and the like. When writing a book—you sit and write the book. When it's done you write another book. And another.
But, there are some days I don't write. I don't make it the norm and I try to make up for it. Let me explain an average day because I don't write all day long:
Throughout the day I'll either self-edit my work, network, learn how to design and load my own website, critique other writer's work, plot and plan, do online workshops, or try to learn as much as I can about writing (the industry and the craft)—be it through online information or reading instructional books. All of it is working toward the goal of becoming a better writer, writing a good story, and eventually selling my work, so I think it all counts as "work".
I don't have a need to listen to certain music or relax to write—but I do need a relatively clean house. I find it to be very easy to procrastinate when my house is cluttered, the laundry is piling up and I have no food in the house... I can name more distractions, but you get the idea.
Take care of the mundane and shut everyone out for one hour a day to start. Carve out that time when the kids are in bed, the work day is done, or before it has begun (Get up early?!? Yes, you'll do it if you want to write a book).
7. Asked by Cynthia Anne MoriczdeTecso: Who are your favorite authors? Mentors? Did you enjoy writing your entire life or is this something that emerged lately?
I really enjoy reading the genre I'm writing in as well as others. I've read some so-so authors and some really great ones too. My favorites are Jenna Black, Rachel Caine, Kim Harrison, Charlaine Harris, Laurell K. Hamilton, Jim Butcher, Mario Acevedo, Victoria Laurie, Keri Arthur, P.N. Elrod, Kelley Armstrong, Christopher Moore, Janet Evanovich... good God, I could go on and on!
Mentors? Hmm... honestly the single person who has helped more than anyone alive to achieve my writing goals is my first writing partner. I took every bit of advice she shared with me - I was in awe that she was writing a book and a professional editor for her day job (not to mention her journalism degree). She was patient and didn't laugh when she politely sent me a document on comma usage. She was super supportive and blew so much sunshine my way while I was writing it's amazing my big head ever made it through the door! *your turn* (inside joke)
Did I enjoy writing my whole life? I've always had the gift for gab (as these long-ass answers can attest to), and always thought I had a flare for writing when I wrote to friends. Of course, I've also had some friends point out that my emails were so damn long they almost never read them all the way through—usually followed by a snarky "why don't you just write a damn book?"
Overall though, I'd have to say that no, I never in my wildest dreams thought I could be a writer. A quote that stood out to me in someone's email signature line:
"I'm not a good writer, but a good re-writer." I loved this line because I felt it embodied everything I was doing—learning how to write as I went and re-writing what needed it.
YES! No offense to Hollywood, but they seem to be putting out a lot of crap lately or re-doing anything that was ever good in the past (and sometimes not doing as good a job as the original). I also think The V V Inn would make a great cable series.
There is a whole discussion topic on the FB page dedicated to the actors the fans and I thought would be good in the roles for each character. Perhaps we'll open a forum topic up on it here - could be fun!
9. Asked by April Seames-Wooten:Why Facebook as an outlet to your writing, despite what others may have told you about not putting everything out in the open before it was published?
The nicest way to say this is the most honest—I had no idea what was wrong and what was right when I started. I began writing on February 10, 2009. Joined my first critiquing site in March and launched the Facebook Fan Page on April 12th. I had sent my paperwork off to Romance Writers of America and Sisters in Crime only a few days before the fan page was launched.
I had no one telling me not to do it until I had already done it. Real people showed an interest - real readers enjoyed it - I had the beginnings of a fan base. I haven't looked back.
Using Facebook over MySpace was a choice I made because it was an easier social networking tool and not as cluttered. I had recently connected with my old high school classmates prior to our reunion and found the site easy to use and navigate. Viola!
I'm posting the same seven chapters on here that I did on Facebook which gained me over 1000 fans. I see no reason to follow the rules this late in the game and take the work down. Either someone likes what they've read and buys the book based on the free chapters or they don't and would have been disappointed buying the book based on a two to ten page excerpt.
Most everyone in my 200-member plus private reading group who have read the entire rough draft says the same thing—the book and my writing only get better as they continued reading. I hope anyone who buys it feels the same way.
Now, let's see if all the hard work and risk pays off!
Yes. I have four books planned in the series so far. I hope readers find them worthy of their time.
11. Asked by Deneishia Jacobpito: Why have you chosen the genre you have and do you see yourself writing outside of the urban fantasy/paranormal romance box in the future?
I've read that you should try to write what you like to read. I've also read that you should never try to write in a genre that you are not familiar with, meaning one you don't read often. I really wanted to incorporate some great sex scenes into a story with a plot that gripped you by the throat and keep you turning pages to the end—but, something that also made you laugh. I've had my fill of dark and foreboding reads, believe me.
I found out when fellow writers started reading my work that not many of them are comfortable with the sex scenes and those who are write erotica. The erotica writers didn't think my book had enough sex,"forget that dead body, get them naked again!"
It's been a challenge to walk the middle ground between agents telling me my story isn't mystery enough to be a vampire mystery, too sexy to be a paranormal suspense and not enough relationship conflict to be a true romance. I'm open to writing other series, but they will happen in between the four books I've already planned. I've got some stories inside me for Vivian and Rafe and I hope to share them with you.
12. Asked by Nicole Hadaway: If you were a tree, what kind of tree would you be?
Seriously, girlfriend? I laughed out loud when I read this one! Okay, let's see... I'd be a California Redwood. Make of that what you will!