Your name seems popular as I know a few.
Tell us about your latest novel or project:
My NaNoWriMo project this year was Redeemer Chronicles Book 3: Reclaiming the Darklands. (Book 1: Awakening can be obtained for free from my website.) Book 1 introduces people to Victoria (Vic), the Chosen Redeemer of a planet called Aeris. Book 2 has Vic and her friends scrambling to stop a holy war between the two magic races on the planet.
Book 3 picks up where The Holy War (Book 2) ended. The Outcast (ultimate evil here) has targeted Vic’s family and friends because he knows she can stop him. In her heart, Vic knows she must reclaim the Darklands, but she doesn’t know how or what (or who) it will cost.
I love Nano, everyone should give it a go.
Do you ever get the opportunity to travel for your writing? Either to market or to research.
I was going to go to a writing conference in Hawaii but that fell through. I ended up using the flight credit to go to London. Although that wasn’t exclusively a writing trip, I intend to write a story set there someday, so it’ll turn into one after the fact. Guess I’d call it a research trip then.
Who in your life is your greatest cheerleader or support in your writing?
One of my former students has become a pretty close friend and book cheerleader. She’s the one who mentioned that human trafficking still exists. The more I learned about that issue, the more it popped up in various stories. She sends me encouraging notes from time to time. Those are invaluable.
Do you read your book reviews? How do you handle the good and the bad ones?
I love feedback, so, yes, I read every book review. I actually do a charity book review thing every year where $1 gets donated to one of five charities for every new Amazon review. Most reviews are good, so they make me happy. Um, how do I handle good ones? Bask in the glow for a few seconds and move on with life. Bad ones usually fall into two categories, constructive criticism and the ridiculous. Mostly, I just shrug and move on with life.
It seems like everything has Easter Eggs (surprise reference to your other work) do you have any Easter Eggs in your books?
Definitely! Would it spoil the fun to point some of them out?
(Mild spoiler alert…)
Heartfelt Cases mentions Anotech Chronicles which is part of the working title of an unpublished series of scifi books.
The FBI agents from the Heartfelt Cases series have a cameo at the end of Ashlynn’s Dreams.
Nadia’s Tears (Devya’s Children Book 2) might also mention Anotech Chronicles.
Malia’s Miracles brings in the Davidson family (from Heartfelt Cases).
Thin Black Road (book of Christian inspirational poetry) contains poems that also show up in Ashlynn’s Dreams and the Heartfelt Cases series.
So far, there are no Easter Eggs involving Redeemer Chronicles or Spirit’s Bane.
How long does it take you to write a book? Do you have any secrets to productivity?
Since I’m also a teacher, I can only manage 1 chapter a day during the normal school week. That’s about 2000 words. This takes about 3-4 hours (from 7-11 p.m.) on average. Usually, if I’m deep into a book, that means 5-7 chs a week. The estimated time to finish the book depends on the length of the book. A typical 80K novel takes about a month because I usually can’t manage to write every single day.
Wow you are a machine. I'm a teacher as well. I'm happy if I get 400 words in a school day and usually do most of my writing in the holidays.
Where did you get the idea for your first or latest book?
The very first book is currently unpublished, though I am reworking it and might release it in 2018. That one was about a girl who gets kidnapped then winds up leading a rebellion against the nonsensical customs of a planet. Honestly not sure where the idea came from. Just wanted to write about a kidnapping set in a scifi world. Yeah, kidnapping’s kind of a theme in a lot of my stories.
Latest book is the third in a trilogy, so the ideas flowed right out of book 2, that’s a lot easier to explain. The series started as a dare/challenge from a friend, but it ended up being a tad more serious and deep.
Do you have any writing rituals?
Not sure what this question means. I tend to write the same way. I’ve taken to outlining with possible chapter titles and a list of stuff I want to happen. Later, that gets hammered into a paragraph that guides the events of each chapter.
What is your best experience meeting a fan?
Once got fan mail from a kid that bothered to go through the self-publisher…that was kinda cool. One of my friends has been recently sending me playlists inspired by certain books. That’s been very cool as well. Music adds a whole new layer to a story, especially ones that have deep spiritual undertones like Redeemer Chronicles.
How important do you think marketing is for authors today?
Super important. Networking and marketing are both key. If nobody ever knows your book, it’s never going to sell. There are literally thousands of books being published every week, so you’ve got to find some way to connect to the readers.
That said, I’m learning it’s not so much about the masses (though that would be cool) … for me, it’s about reaching as many as possible and just blessing their day.
Do you have any book you have written that won’t ever see the light of day and why?
Ha. I used to say my first book, but I think I’ve finally reached a point where I’m brave enough to dig it out and clean it up for public consumption. It’s not terrible, but it’s exceedingly awkward at points.
Many authors have a word or a phrase they automatically use too often. Do you have one?
I have to go back and edit out “just” and “a bit.” I think I’ve used something like “tried to remember how to breathe” a few times.
Often writers get to approach some serious subjects. Which serious subject are you most proud to have written about or was the hardest to write about?
Human trafficking is likely the most serious topic I’ve tackled.
Curing cancer has shown up as well. One of the beautiful things about writing some near-future scifi like Devya’s Children is the ability to play with notions of curing cancer and giving people spectacular Gifts. A recurring theme in several series is the idea that some are given Gifts (healing, telepathy, exceptional fighting abilities, etc) that set them apart, and everybody has gifts that can be used to bless others. No matter what gifts you have, use them well.
Thank you for sharing some of your story and good luck with your next project.