I was trying to figure out what I wanted to blog about today. Can you believe I am at a loss for words or thoughts? Yeah, me neither! I decided to take the easy way out, or so I thought, and answer questions that have been emailed or messaged to me over the last few weeks. It was not as easy as I thought it would be. If you have a question, you would like me to answer in a future blog, go ahead and email me at email@example.com
Do you have any weird quirks or habits when you write? Allie, Chicago
I have many weird habits and quirks! Hmm..when I write though…. I guess I have some rituals. I like to pray before I write. I pray for guidance that I choose the right words, that my words will help others, and that I can help people open their eyes and ears. I was once told by an old man, that I didn’t really know, that we were given two eyes to see with and two ears to hear with but most of us only choose to use one ear and one eye. My goal is to help people use both when they read my books. I don’t think praying is weird though, but it is a habit before I sit down to write. I do have a favorite writing shirt. It is a button down, navy blue, men’s XXL tall shirt. It is super big and very comfy. It completely puts me in the mood to escape to another world. I write very well when I wear it.
Has anyone ever over analyzed your work? Bill, Houston
Hmm… I do get called out on typos a lot. I could use a good editor for sure. 🙂 As for over analyzing the stories? I don’t think there is such a thing. I believe when you read a story, you can pull different things from it and apply it to your life, your situation, and where you are. For example, my first novel, Silence, was reviewed by a woman last year, and she made a religious reference focusing on the struggle Daniel faced between his traditional beliefs and his Christian beliefs. She talked about Daniel on the rope bridge watching Cali be airlifted up and on each side of the bridge people were praying in different ways. One side was in his native language with traditional prayers, the other side was Catholic prayers. He was caught in the middle of two worlds, two cultures, etc… I don’t recall everything she said, but she did make me think. It was not my intention as a writer to create a visual of his internal struggle this way; however, I loved that she pulled that from my writing. It also made me wonder about all those tedious questions in high school literature classes where the teacher would ask a thought provoking question like: How did the author compare the internal struggle Daniel Romero faced while on the bridge? Hahaha as the author…. I can honestly tell you…. the author didn’t even think about it (wink) but it is pretty darn cool she did!
What is your process? Do you pre-plan your entire story with note cards? Helen, Iowa
My process? Haphazard? Is that a good answer? Seriously, I don’t pre-plan. I have a general idea in my head. I create a character that I absolutely love or loathe and build from there. Once I start writing a book it becomes all consuming. It takes a lot out of me physically and emotionally. After I have finished the first chapter, it is almost like the characters come to me to tell me how to tell their stories. I know this sounds completely nuts, but I will lay in bed and hear their voices, see their faces, and their stories will play out in my mind until I write it. When I write, I sleep very little. I’ll hammer out a novel in a month… some people will take a full year or more. When I am through writing though, I am emotionally drained and exhausted. It is like running a marathon. I always pull from my own life, things I have experienced, seen, heard, felt; therefore, I have a spiritual, emotional and physical connection to each my books. Back to process… I just start writing and see where my characters take me. I am just as surprised at the end of the book as the reader is.
Is there personal truth in your stories? Cathy, Miami
Yes. My books are healing for me to write. Through my writing, I deal with stuff that I have buried. I confront my secrets and my demons when I write. The first scene in Silence comes from my life… I recall standing in a doorway watching my father and mother fight and hearing the words he said to her, seeing the blood, seeing her helpless in a ball on the floor… and the first scene in Deception is even more personal… I recall being face down in the dirt, struggling, fighting, the taste of the gravel, the dirt…. Yes, there is truth in my stories, part of me… is in every book I write.
Will you do a sequel to Shadows in the Storm? Mari, Atlanta
I wrote Shadows in the Storm a year ago. I wrote it in four days over the 4th of July. Yes, just four days. It was the most healing story for me to write. I wrote Shadows in the Storm for myself, but when I released it, I realized I wrote it for so many others. I received letters from men and women who thanked me for writing it. People I didn’t even know reached out to me and told me how it helped them face their own past. That was the biggest compliment I could ever receive. I am constantly being asked to continue the story of Chris, Colleen and Kenny. I think I will. You will see a sequel to this story. I have a pretty exciting plan for the three of them. 🙂
When is the next installment of the NAWS series coming out? Craig, New Mexico
I was hoping to release it at the end of the summer. I may push it back until the fall. I really wanted to take a trip to the Black Hills before I released the next book in the NAWS series. I have some new characters in it that I think you will love or love to hate.
Do you cast your novels when you write them? If so who do you see as Dylan Paul? Daniel and Adam Romero? Who were Chayton and Mike in your mind? Dawn, Nashville
Yes! Yes! Yes! I do cast my novels as I write them. Then I binge watch movies, interviews, television shows that they were in. It helps me visualize the characters as the stories play out in my mind. Are those the only characters you are curious about? Okay, Dylan Paul…. that was easy… I pictured Christian Kane. He is not only known as an actor, he is a country singer, he is Native American, and I could see him break a man’s jaw, nose, and eye socket with one punch. (wink) Some readers wrote to me and said they saw Adam Beach, Chaske Spencer, Christian Parish, or Stevie Salas as Dylan Paul. When I wrote Silence, I pictured Michael Greyeyes as Daniel and Adam Beach as Adam. But numerous people said they saw Adam Beach as Daniel or the Spears brothers as Adam and Daniel. As for Chayton and Mike, I pictured Wes Studi and Gil Birmingham. I had people tell me they pictured Tommy Lee Jones and Lou Diamond Phillips. I think it is up to the reader to cast the story in their mind, but as to your question, yes…. I do cast my stories 🙂
Are you single? Rick, Denver
I am not looking. 🙂
Where do you see yourself in ten years? Ann, New Jersey
In ten years? I will have won an Oscar and an Emmy for my writing. I will have written a major motion picture, and I will have developed and written at least three television series. Also, a minimum of four of my books will have made it to the top ten list, and yes, I have no doubt that I will achieve those goals.
Who were your high school celebrity crushes? John, UK
High school was so long ago. I was head over heals in love with David Bowie, John Taylor (Duran Duran), Howard Jones, and Brett Michaels. My walls were plastered with their posters.
Will we learn more about Itchy in book 3 of the NAWS series? I loved the way you expanded his character in Deception. Patty, New York
Thank you! Itchy is a complex character, and I think we learned more about him and what makes him tick in Deception. I think he is a favorite character of many of my readers because he is mysterious, yet there is something in him that is in all of us. Although he doesn’t show it, he is insecure, and he has demons. We start to see that in Deception. I promise you will get to know Itchy even further in the next book.
Will you do any book signings, and if so can you come to Boston? Bryan, Boston
I would love to do book signings. I would do them everywhere and every weekend if I could afford to do so. Book signings are extremely expenisve, and I do not have the financing to travel, ship the books, and cover the basic expenses. I would love to go to Boston and sign your book. Maybe someday soon I will be able to. I have never been to Boston. It is definitely on my list of places to go.
I listened to you on the radio for at least ten years. I miss hearing your voice. Do you ever consider bringing back your show? My all-time favorite was Midnights with Mercedes. Your voice was the perfect soothing way to fall asleep. Jeff, Minnesota
First off, I am flattered and THANK YOU. I loved radio. I still do. If an opportunity presented itself to me, I would consider it without a doubt. Mid-Days with Mercedes was a blast, Sunday Morning Mercy in the UK was fun, but I agree with you Mid-nights with Mercedes was the best!. I loved being on in the middle of the night. I could take it to the line and sometimes stumble across that line. I like to push boundaries and buttons. I could do that at mid-night. Yeah, okay I miss it! I admit it. You know I do voice my own audio books. (wink) I have two on the market now Combustion and Shadows in the Storm. You could always get one of those to fall asleep to. (giggle)
What is the one rule you have for yourself when it comes to writing that you will not deviate from? Julie, LA
My one rule…hmmm… my first chapter… my first scene… it has to be powerful.. it has to hook the reader in the first few pages. If it doesn’t, I have failed. As a reader I give a book 3 – 5 pages to catch my attention. If it doesn’t, I close the book.
What is it like to be in the head of all those characters in your books? Eileen, Mobile
I’m in their heads?? Ha! No, it is the other way around; trust me they are in mine. They do not let me sleep, they argue, and plead until I have told their stories. It is almost schitzophranic like. Sometimes, I find myself questioning my own sanity. (grin)
What inspired you to write in the first place? Faith, Wyoming
I enjoy writing; I have always used it to get in touch with my feelings and my emotions. It has always been a way to deal with things I could not figure out how to talk about. My first writing award was given to me in the 7th grade. I wrote a story for a young authors contest at Holmes Junior High, in Mount Prospect, Il. My story was about a young girl who committed suicide. It was my cry for help. It was my way of asking the grownups around me to look into what was going on in my life. No one did…. The first time I had attempted suicide, I was around 16ish. All you Zombies by the Hooters was on the radio… Writing is healing… writing is like my oxygen…. writing keeps me alive.
Do you have a day job or can you support yourself on your writing alone? Bob, Kentucky
Ha! Right now I am working about seven jobs….. speaking of which… do you need a voiceover… maybe you would like to buy an add in a major Native fashion magazine (wink)
Which characters do you feel closest too in your books and why? Pat, Chicago
In Silence and Deception, I felt very close to Cali. She and I share a lot of personal experiences. She is a shell of a woman that blooms into a powerful force to be reckoned with. I truly believe I am in the process of blooming, and that some day I will stand tall and strong. In Shadows, I connect well with Colleen. She was a high school outcast who was made fun of, overweight, and eccentric. Colleen has a wall around her and hardly lets anyone inside. Colleen and I are a lot alike. I do not trust often. When I do open up to someone and let them inside, it is kind of a big deal. I have really only allowed a few people to get to know me, the real me, my deepest darkest secrets, my fears, my dreams… and sometimes I trust to easily or I trust the wrong person, and I get hurt. I just make my wall bigger, wider, and thicker so it becomes even more difficult for the next person. Colleen and I are very much alike.