Hi, everyone! This month I wanted to talk about one of my wonderful publishers, NineStar Press. I had an amazing experience working with them. My editor was accessible and professional, and the managing director is totally hands-on. They were supportive of my efforts to have a book table at Phoenix Pride, all the way from sending me a supply of books to providing me with swag to give away. Their catalogue is full of diverse offerings, the majority written by own-voices authors.
Check out their website to see what’s coming soon! The following interview first appeared on my NineStar Press author page, and it’s one of my most favorite author interviews ever. I’d love to give away copies of my Spectrum Nights duology, Pieces of Me and See My Words, to three commenters, so please ask me questions or just say hi!
Thanks so much, Dani, for hosting me today!.
- Where do your inspirations come from? I get inspiration from so many places! I’m always on the lookout for news articles and human interest stories, and when I run across one that speaks to me, I save it. Also, my former career as a court reporter is a gold mine of inspiration. There were so many interesting people and scenarios that I ran across and will never forget.
- Who is your favorite character? Why? My favorite character to read is Marcus Stanton from Joey W. Hill’s brilliant m/m romance Rough Canvas. He’s an alpha hero, and a wounded man. Not damaged, but resilient and a survivor. His toppy-top Dom exterior hides an extremely loving, tender heart and soul. My favorite character to write has to be Eliot Devlin, from my novel Unquiet. Eliot is very, very special to me. He was a challenge, and he pushed me to grow as a writer. I’ll love him always and forever.
- When did you start writing? I started writing in the summer of 2013, when I read a m/m romance series that I fell in love with and just had to write fanfic for. My stories were fairly well-received on Tumblr and AO3, so when NaNoWriMo of 2013 rolled around, I thought…why not? I gave it a try, and ended up with a 62K-word novel that was picked up for publication. That book led to another, and another, and here I am!
- Do you work to an outline or plot or do you prefer just see where an idea takes you? Usually I get an idea, and start making random notes in an email that I save to drafts so that it’s always there to add to no matter what device I’m working on. I jot down snippets of dialogue that come to me, or scenes, but I wouldn’t say it’s anything close to an outline. Then once I have an opening in mind, I sit down and pretty much pants it until hopefully it turns into something halfway decent.
- What made you decide to sit down and actually start writing with the intent to publish? I enjoyed writing fanfic a lot, and I had an idea for a novel, so when November and NaNo rolled around, I decided to see if I could actually write 50K. It surprisingly flowed very well, and I finished NaNo two weeks early! I took about six more months to polish the story, and then I submitted it, just to see what would happen.
- Do you have a special time/place to write, or do you write whenever/wherever you can? My favorite time to write is in the very early morning, usually around 4 a.m. I find that because the house is so quiet, and I’m more or less refreshed from a good night’s sleep, the words flow much better than any other time of day. The rest of the day is pretty chaotic with work, and kids, and life. Any other time is just not as conducive as those early mornings. I live for them, and actually look forward to getting up to write.
- How long on average does it take you to write a book? Oh wow, that totally varies. One of my books only took about eight weeks, and my current book, which is under contract negotiations now, has taken me well over a year. I think it depends on life stressors, and quality time to write, so many things. I can’t imagine I’ll ever be considered prolific.
- Do you ever get writer’s block? If so, how do you deal with it? I do get writer’s block, and I’ve found it’s definitely situational. If things are rough in my personal life, I don’t find writing to be an outlet or a stress relief like I’ve seen others say. Things need to be on a pretty even keel personally and emotionally before I can be productive. Long walks with music is my therapy of choice, whether I’m blocked or just needing an outlet. I do my best story planning on my walks, too.
- What are your thoughts on good/bad reviews? I don’t read reviews if I can help it. If I’m tagged in one on social media, I usually have a trusted friend vet it before I decide if I’m going to read it or not. Reviews aren’t for me, they’re for readers. My job is to put the story out there, my absolute best effort, and it is what it is. Some people are going to love it, other people won’t, because reading is so subjective. I feel like I’d drive myself crazy if I worried about every reader reaction, both good and bad. Writing is hard enough without that.
- What is your favorite motivational phrase? I heard this somewhere, and I love it. “The only person you should try to be better than is the person you were yesterday.” That applies to so many things, writing, relationships, parenting…life. It’s something I tell myself when self-doubt tries to creep in.
- What is your favorite quote? Oh, it would have to be this one from Wayne Gretzky. “You miss 100% of the shots you don’t take.”
- What advice would you give to aspiring writers? The best advice I could give goes along with my motivational quote above. Don’t compare yourself to others! That is a trap, and the kiss of death for creativity. I think what gets to me is comparing myself to authors who manage to put a book out every couple of months. That will never be me, no matter how much I want it to be, and once I acknowledged that and let go of that unrealistic goal, writing became fun again and not something I was stressing so much over.
- What do you think makes a good story? Second chance at love stories! Or friends to lovers. Those are my absolute favorite tropes. I love realistic stories, where the characters are totally relatable, flaws and all.
- What is your definition of a happily ever after? Two people who are committed to doing their best. That’s all anyone can do. There are no guarantees in life, and I think that translates to romance, too. Everyone has challenges to overcome, and nobody’s perfect, so nobody can expect perfection in anyone else. But saying, “I’ll do my best for you, and being with you makes me want to be the best I can be,” well, that’s all anyone can ask for.