Do you have any writing rituals? If so, what are they?
I’m not necessarily beholden to a set ritual but perhaps for one. Each time I sit down to write the continuation of a story, I meticulously reread the previously written ten to twenty pages to stay in the flow of the story line and any new character developments. I’ve found this helpful on many levels - not only to set the table for that session’s writing, but it helps me discover some things (both good and bad) about what I’ve already written.
What are the most important attributes to remaining sane as a writer?
There are many I can point to, and I’m of course my own evaluator, but the few that come to mind are, first, a thick skin. You’re going to come up against critique during the manuscript review process and some of the commentary is ruthless. Just know that one person’s negative viewpoint is not a game breaker. In fact, I use those as editorial markers and either act on them if I think they have merit, or dismiss them if I think they’re out of bounds. And a second important attribute is simply perseverance. Call it grit, determination, or any word that works for you, but the publishing business is harsh, and you’ve got to hang in there and keep battling. Never pull the plug!
Are there any occupational hazards to being a writer?
Sleep deprivation, distractedness, sore finger joints, and a noticeable advancement of gray hair… but those are mostly ailments for debut authors.
How do you begin a new project? Are you a plotter (outliner) or a pantser (free-writer)?
I’m a combination of the two. When I have a story I’m really enthused about, I generally know the beginning, the ending, and some of the chapters in between. So, I’ll write the beginning, which gets me launched, and then I’ll frame out the ending. The middle sections are mostly free writing, but beholden to a loose outline in my head. I just sort of know when to salt in a chapter to help with character or story development. That said, every chapter written is to propel the reader forward. I want them to not want to put the book down.
Do you write long-hand with pen/pencil and paper or do you write on a computer?
Oh that’s an easy one…computer!
Do you write every day? What is your writing routine? How do you discipline yourself to keep at it?
As much as I’d like to say I write every day, that’s just not feasible. My routine is to write as often as I possibly can. It’s streaky, but it seems to work.
Have you ever tried writing outside of your “comfort zone”? If so, what were the results?
That is exactly what got me launched! My first leap was the inspiration to tackle a full scale theatrical production. Never dabbled in being playwright until that moment. Call it incredible inspiration or naïve insanity, but the results were wildly successful – way beyond even my most hopeful expectations. It’s what drove me to tackle a novel.
Are the names of the characters in your writing important? What about the titles? How do you choose them?
Both names and titles are vitally important. I believe the right name with each character is a key ingredient. For example, a detective named Bill Smith (apologies to anyone reading this named Bill Smith) isn’t quite the same as a Sherlock Holmes, Miss Marple, Hercule Poirot or, in my case, Roger Viceroy (and by no means am I insinuating my hero is in the same elite air as the characters I just mentioned).
But as a writer I believe you must think through each character’s name and just make sure the name “feels good” with the character. When you’re writing, you generally know what a character looks like, their flaws, their strengths and, to some degree, their outcomes in your story. If you’re comfortable with a name, then go with it. I’ve changed names of characters, however, once I’ve written more of their development. As for the book title, that’s more important in my view. It’s what grabs the reader’s attention, or turns them away from considering your book. The book’s title is a brand. It defines you as an author. It can be a make-or-break element to a book’s success.
What’s the hardest scene you have ever written and why was it so hard to write?
I don’t want to give anything away from my book, but there is a chapter that was daunting to write. It’s a dark chapter, full of violence and ugliness, but essential to the plot. And, it needed to be graphic, but not over-the-top, which I found to be a delicate tightrope to walk as an author. Going all in on graphic descriptions would’ve been easy, but I wanted to handle this particular scene in a way that the reader would have an emotional reaction, and perhaps haunt them a bit, but not so explicit that it took all the oxygen out of the story or the reader’s enjoyment of the remainder of the book.
Print books versus e-books; do you have a preference, and why?
I’ve read in both formats and, honestly, I prefer print. There’s just nothing like sitting down and physically turning a page, plus you have the cover art forever visible.
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