What should readers know about your books before they buy them?
That with every book of mine they read, a puppy finds a home, a fairy gets its wings, and an inch of ice returns to the arctic. All right, more seriously…The one thing I try to do in my writing is spin a good yarn around characters that you’ll be glad you hung out with. I think you’ll enjoy the stories and there are free samples of every novel and a number of free short stories on my website, so do browse around. Also, all the Path books, Crosspointe books, and some of the Diamond City books are available now from Audible.com.
Are any of your books interrelated and do I have to read them in order?
The Path Trilogy probably should be read in order. I tried to make each stand alone, but it really is a story arc. The Crosspointe Books stand alone more. Each is about different characters against a background of interrelated intrigue. Problems in the world are escalating. But each can be read separately and are very complete. The Diamond City Magic books should be read in order.
Will you write more Path/Crosspointe books?
At this point, I don’t foresee any more Path books. I’d love to go back and explore some things and maybe I’ll do some short stories, but probably no more novels. Crosspointe will have another book, hopefully in the near future, but I’m no longer sure when.
Why do you choose the Fantasy genre to write in?
I didn’t so much choose it as it chose me. That’s where my imagination builds stories. I don’t really know why, any more than I know why an okapi looks like it does. But I like okapis.
I’m new to your books. Do you have a recommendation which I should read first?
I would say Path of Fate if you like the more traditional fantasy, The Cipher if you like contemporary fantasy/urban fantasy. Trace of Magic is awesome all the way around. It’s urban, noir, mystery, fantasy, and fun. I’m also very fond of my Mission: Magic world and stories. It’s a bit on the steamy side, though.
What are your heroes and heroines like?
They are most definitely flawed. They each have some sort of failing and some are even hard to like. But they all work hard to overcome their flaws and to redeem themselves, no matter what they’ve done. I think in the end that readers will like them by the end of the books and be rooting for them.
What do you hope readers take with them after reading one of your books?
That they’ve lost themselves in the story and felt like these characters were real, that their lives and their world were real and I hope that readers were worried for them, rooting for them, and caring about them. I want readers to have a rocking good time more than anything else.
How many books do you usually write a year?
Right now, I’m on a three to four book schedule.
Where do you get your ideas for your stories/books?
Everywhere. I mean that most seriously. A writer is all about observation. We watch everything and it all becomes fodder. I’m one of those people who wonder about people’s stories and who imagine plots and spin stories out of the air. I’m a daydreamer. I think about how other people’s stories might have been told differently, how things my go on after a book or movie ends, what would happen if.
What do you like most about being a writer?
The writing. It’s the losing myself in the story and entirely entertaining myself in the process. It’s loving the words and the nuance of character and then having people read those stories–there’s nothing like it.
How much research do you do and how do you do it?
I do a lot of research for most novels. There are so many things that I need to know to make the fantasy world feel real—even a contemporary fantasy. The Black Ship was one that was particularly research intensive. It’s set on a square-rigged clipper ship. I know nothing about sailing. Check that—I knew nothing about sailing. Now I know a lot.
For my research for The Black Ship, I talked to harbor masters, museums, crews on currently working clipper ships, and tall ship groups on MySpace. I also read stories of sailing. I read how-to books, and history books. I read sailor handbooks and dictionaries of sailor slang. I dug online and I dug everywhere I could think of until I decided I knew enough to create a plausible world with plausible characters. I needed command of the sailing language and jargon, and I needed to really know how things would work so that I could plot the book so that I didn’t have gaping problems.
Which of the books you have written is your favorite?
That’s like picking my favorite chocolate—I like them all. Each are lovely, rich and delightful (if I do say so myself) in their own way.
Does reader’s feedback help you with your writing? Is feedback something that is very important to you?
I use beta readers—people who I trust to know something about writing and about story and about my style, to give me feedback on my drafts. I also get feedback from my editor and agent. It’s tremendously important to get those critiques to improve the book. Usually by the time readers get to my books, it’s too late for changes. I hope they enjoy and am sorry when they don’t connect as well as I’d hoped.
Any advice to aspiring writers?
Persevere. Keep writing, keep studying and keep practicing your craft. Read widely, polish and before you start submitting, learn the business so that you know what you’re doing.
How did you get started? How did you become a writer?
I have always been a storyteller, but I didn’t start writing until college when I took some classes. I was an avid reader, particularly of fantasy, and those were the kinds of stories I wanted to tell. So I started writing. Eventually I had something good enough to try to sell and started shopping it to agents and editors. That was Path of Fate and the rest, as they say, is history.
What was your first story to be published?
That’s actually a hard question. It was published in a very small press and I don’t even remember what the press was, but the story was “Nothing Left to Lose,” which is available here for free.
What kinds of books do you read and who are your favorites?
I read a lot of things. My favorite is fantasy and my favorite authors change as I discover new books and new writers. A few favorites include Carol Berg, Patricia Briggs, Ilona Andrews, Ann Aguirre, Elizabeth Moon, C.E. Murphy, Anne Bishop, Sheri Tepper, Julie Czerneda, Robin LeFeveres . . . I could go on forever.
What do you do when you aren’t writing?
I’m always writing! But seriously, I teach, I herd kids and dogs, glance at the mess in the house and try to ignore it, cook, garden, geocache, rock-hound, read, crochet, knit, and so forth.
I have been taking on clients to do content development editing. Generally I charge a minimum of $500 per manuscript, depending on length and quality and what the client is looking for. I will offer global comments and chapter by chapter comments, and a short phone call or skype meeting. The more in-depth I go, the more time it takes, and the more I charge. Contact me through my contact form if you are interested in hiring me.