FAQ (with answers!)

Here are some questions I hear asked at book signings all the time. If you have other questions, bring them on! Fill out the form on the Contact page, and, if appropriate, I’ll post my answer here!

When did you know you wanted to be a writer?

The first time I remember saying I wanted to be an author, I was about 12, but I rarely put any effort into it over the years. In the summer of 2012, I went to a writer’s conference in New York City, mostly because I saw Lee Child would be speaking, but I also signed up for the writing intensives the days before. There, I met and attended Steve and Elizabeth Berry’s fiction intensive. They were kind enough to introduce me to Lee Child the next day, and, after I was over my initial fangirling, I had an actual, honest-to-God conversation where I laughed and joked with him, Steve, and Elizabeth Berry. Writer’s dream come true! Anyway, I went home from that trip with a renewed sense of determination to become an author.

Where do you get your ideas from?

I used to get so frustrated when I heard authors say “everywhere” to this question. But it’s so true! The key part is training your brain to always be thinking “how can that be a story idea?”. Michael and I play a game when we’re out and about and ask each other, “If you had to start a story here, how would you do it?” We come up with some really interesting stuff! (For an expanded answer, see my blog post on this topic.)

Do you outline or not? How extensive is your outline?

I didn’t use to, but I do now. It seemed to take me longer to come up with a story as I wrote than to write the outline beforehand. Plus, as a goal-driven person, it helps me to know how far into a story I am. As for the extensiveness, I plot out the entire story, beginning to end, with as much detail as I can write in shorthand. My short story outlines are generally a page or two. That way, I have little excuse for not writing the story because most of the work is already done!

What is your writing process?

For short stories, it takes me about a week to outline, three weeks to write it, and another two weeks to go through my initial edits. Then I hand it off to my hubby, who reads for content and plot. I go through the story again after reading his comments. Then I bring it to a writer’s group and have them tear it up. Once again, I do my own edits after picking up the pieces from the writer’s group. If I made drastic changes, I’ll put it back through Michael and the writer’s group. I’m still working out the timeline for the novel.

How do you balance writing with a job?

A big part of that is I am blessed with a team that respects boundaries when it comes to my work-life balance. When I leave my office at the end of the day, I leave work behind. That gives me all night and weekend to attend to my many after-work activities, including writing. Another thing that helps me is to plan out my week. I have certain goals (writing and otherwise) I want to accomplish each week, so, based on my calendar, I break those goals down into day-by-day activities. That way, I know exactly what I need to do each day when I get home, and I know that, if I get all those done, I will have accomplished my goals for the week!