I had several reasons for starting to write young. I just loved doing it and using my creativity and imagination. I write for fun, too. I did small stuff like poetry and short stories in elementary school. When I was 16, I decided to graduate to books. I wanted to experiment and see if I could, and getting to my second reason—to escape. HS was horrible for me socially, and I wanted to return to my backwood and backyard adventures in some way; I couldn’t do it in play anymore. It seemed like a sensible solution to the problem, and a challenge. I love challenges. I succeeded and things just avalanched after that.
What motivates you to keep writing when life gets tough and in this tough market?
Basically the same reasons in Q1: love of doing it and as an escape and release, and for fun. Writing relaxes me and I have to channel my imagination or I go through DTs or a ‘full brain syndrome’. The series I am writing in has only grown exponentially since it began 15 years ago. I mostly write for fun.
What most influenced you to write in this genre (one particular author or many)?
I have a natural tendency to enjoy fantasy and science fiction, but I also love horror, mysteries, the paranormal, some history, and mythology. Books, movies, video games, and personal interests come into play. The main ingredient for anything I read, watch, or play MUST HAVE action and adventure, or I get bored with it very fast. Fantasy and scifi have a tendency to engulf the other genres at least to me. You can mix other genres into a fantasy, scifi, or a combo of the two easier than the other way around. You can add a mystery to a fantasy/scifi plot much easier than trying to place a fantasy/scifi piece or idea into a Nancy Drew book for instance.
Please tell about your WIPs, at least genre and age group, even if the rest is hush-hush.
I am working on two WIP that follow the same MG/YA fantasy/scifi action adventure (mouthful I know) saga involving the Native American warrior Neiko. Book #1 Neiko’s Five Land Adventure is just the beginning and a small taste of what is to come, and it is the book that began my writing career at 16. It is the product of my experiment that led to the rest. I skipped around some over the years, so I am going back and filling in the gaps. One is Book #4, Ramses Vs Hawote, and the other is around book #15, Residing Evil. I can’t really share the plots of these since they would contain spoilers for the other books in between. For some of the others I completed in the past, I am going back to make improvements to them.
Are you an outliner or a pantser and why?
Actually, I am a combination of the two. I have point A, point B, and point C within the story, and then the books fall in a particular order within the saga, so like the point A to point B scenario. However, within the books, I let the characters take me from point A to point B. They create situations and outcomes I could have never planned, but we still get to point B. I go back for my edits and I wonder where THAT came from because I didn’t plan it, and it comes out so much better than if I forced my characters to do my bidding. Some of my characters have minds of their own and wouldn’t like me to boss them around or they would just disobey to prove their point. That’s how real these guys and gals really are! I am pleased if the readers could also pick up on that sense as well.
What is your editing system, a local critique group, online partners, beta readers, pro, etc.?
For the most part I do most of the editing on my own before I grab me a content editor. I do two or three of my own edits before I send it to the editor, and not in quick succession. I let the manuscript set a little while after an edit. I am not afraid to tell myself that this part is totally dumb, unrealistic, or doesn’t make sense or that this story needs a different title because this one SUCKS. If there is a part that bugs me that I cannot fix or don’t know how to fix it, then I tell my editor about it before they edit so they can fix it and/or give me some tips and suggestions on how to fix it. They catch what I missed and offer a differing perspective on something I didn’t consider that I can add in to make it better. Of course, I go back through a couple times after the content edit to check for typos or missing punctuation that we missed.
What are the top three reasons you decided to publish as an indie?
I am indie because:
1) No other choice (and it’s not because I suck). I tried publishing traditionally when I was 21, and it didn’t work out; I was rejected, and it was/is incredibly complex. I didn’t want to wait any longer because so many people told me I need to share my work (locals, strangers, and professional authors), and I had to get busy to begin getting the saga out to its readers.
2) Simplicity. In my own theory (at 21), publishing a book is supposed to be simple, but marketing is hard, but I had no idea how right I really was, and these were my thoughts when I knew nothing about publishing. Publishing the indie way is simple and is the easiest thing about the whole process since it is structured and straightforward. The traditional model just isn’t, and I have and still wonder why they complicate it.
3) CONTROL. I put this in all caps since it is the big one for me. I am a writer and an artist, so I have a double dose of controlfreakism, but I am open suggestions to make improvements since I want to put on my Sunday best work. Not only do I write the stories; I draw the characters. I know what they look like, and I want to show the readers. I dreamed of illustrations if I ever published, and I knew how I wanted them. The notion of me having control over the design of everything, and this has paid off for me. Who tells me? The readers who have seen/read my book so far, but I need more of them (readers), but all in good time. They tell me everything about the book is cool. I know it is due to me being an integral part of the book’s creation into a compact package from my word document, portfolios (yes plural) of sketches, and my artist’s eye. (Check out one of Amanda’s illustrations and you’ll see what she means.)
Is there a message in this book for your readers or is it just meant to entertain? Sort of both, but mostly to entertain. There are messages within: fight for yourself, others, and your beliefs, don’t give up no matter how bad it gets or how impossible things seem, don’t be bullied, you may gave to sacrifice yourself for others or the greater good or to win. However, I have had this happen too; the characters teach the reader something I didn’t know was there that a reader picked up on, and one was to take your own life into your own hands among others.
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