Frequently Asked Questions
1. How many hours a day do you write?
It depends on the day. I try to get in six solid hours, but six hours does not mean six in a row. For me, it means writing some in the morning, some in the afternoon and/or some at night, depending on other commitments I have. This also doesn't include work related to writing like researching, reading, promoting and various other business tasks. I do try to write every day, however, just a little, even if I am overwhelmed with other things. If I skip a day, it takes a long time for me to get back up to speed on whatever I'm working on.
2. Where do you get your ideas?
Mostly from brainstorming. I'm always gathering details from observing the people and events around me, but the actual plot comes from mulling over those traits by jotting down thoughts and ideas on lots and lots of scrap paper. The stories I write also tend to end up as a combination of various story threads I've been thinking about. I've noticed as well that the ideas always stem from a specific theme going on in my life. This isn't conscious; I only realize it afterward -- when I'm reading back through my first draft and discover that the character is going through the same thing I am!
3. Did you always want to be a writer?
I've written since I could write. I got a diary when I was five, although it doesn't have many entries, but I did frequently write poems at that age, which I then illustrated. I have more fun with fiction than non-fiction, which is I think why the diary wasn't a success. I prefer making up stories about other people. Like I said in my bio, it was not until my cousin Paula announced that she was going to be a writer that I decided that it would be my profession, too -- mainly because I looked up to her and wanted to do everything she did.
4. Do you have any pets?
I had a miniature schnauzer named Fritzi when I was a kid, and also two African frogs named Bruce (for Bruce Springsteen) and Paulie (for Paul Newman), but I don't have any pets now. I do, however, frequently take care of my friends' pets.
5. Do you have any kids?
I don't have kids, which is why I love hanging out with my friends' kids and the kids I meet volunteering. I also have two wonderful nephews.
6. Who are your favorite writers?
There are so many, it's impossible list them all, but here are a few: Jean Stafford, Graham Greene, Jane Austen, Edith Wharton, Ferrol Sams, David Mitchell and Patricia Highsmith. The names of the children's and YA authors I love are endless. A couple whom I return to again and again for inspiration are E.L. Konigsberg and M.E. Kerr. I've been trying to add all of my favorite books to my "Read" bookshelf on GoodReads, so check there for other names.
7. What are you working on next?
To find out what I'm writing and other current projects I'm trying to catch up on, check out the Book News page, where I keep an updated list in the side bar.
8. How long does it take you to write a novel?
Between six months and a year, depending what else I'm working on and what other commitments I have (such as promoting an earlier book).
9. Do you like writing?
I do. It can be very frustrating and I'm frequently discouraged by bad passages I've written, but I always feel better at night if I've written a little that day. I also happen to love revising (thankfully, since I tend to do a lot of it). It's the first two or three drafts I find the hardest, because most of that is raw, original material.
Do you have other questions? If so, send them to me.