Writing became a big part of my life in 2005 when a friend (Author Misti Blake) and I began writing stories with one another. I was still in high school at the time and we would write just for the fun and pure joy we experienced through writing. My writing took a bit of a hiatus when I finished high school and started college to earn my degree in Criminal Justice. That didn’t last very long, because a few months after starting college I was diagnosed with Tourette’s syndrome in 2009. Months later I found out the only thing that helped keep my ticks at bay was writing, and I picked the art back up. Wickedly Misunderstood was the first novel I began writing after my diagnosis and it all started with a dream. My advice to everyone is to find something that you love doing and do it. Don’t let anyone tell you can’t do it, because if you love it enough you’ll succeed. Do what you love, and love what you do. You never know what your dreams can lead you to accomplish.
How would you describe your story in one sentence?
- One crazy rescue mission to save your friend and the love of your life.
What inspired you to write your story/characters/theme?
- So the Valhaven Island Trilogy all started with a dream I had one night several years ago. I dreamt of a girl named Ember who had superhuman powers and watched her story unfold in my dreams and decided I’d type it up the next day and it just kept flowing into what it is today. As for most of the characters they are based off of friends, or at least the main roles in the story are based off of close friends and those that have impacted my life in some way.
Which authors have influenced you?
- This is a tough question. A lot of authors have influenced me to write. I think my biggest influencers are Lewis Carrol and J.K. Rowling. Lewis Carrol is my favorite author. Misti Blake, a fellow indie author, is also a major influence for me because the days I really struggle she’s in my head screaming at me to keep moving forward. After all, if it wasn’t for writing with her in high school, my love for writing stories might not have reached the level of where it is today.
Which are your favorite literary genres?
- Primarily, my novels are fantasy based. I do have short stories that are horror in nature as I don’t have a problem writing a seven-thousand word horror short story, I just can’t seem to get a full-length novel (although I’ve never actually tried). I’d say fantasy, sci-fi, and teen are typically where I dwell as far as reading goes as well. I like to stay in my imaginary world as much as possible.
What makes a book/story special for you?
- If I can get hooked on a book really quick to where I can’t put it down then that book is golden for me. Lately, I’ve been in a reading funk, but I’m in the middle of releasing a novel and doing book trailers and covers and the holidays are approaching, so the funk is bound to happen. The ideal book for me has short chapters that aren’t over ten pages in length, because nothing is more frustrating than a chapter that’s forty pages long and you have to stop halfway through because of life. So, I like short, quick chapters that I can read quickly before life comes knocking at my door.
Where do you live? Did your hometown/country/culture influenced your story?
- I live in good ‘ole North Carolina. My hometown didn’t influence this upcoming novel coming out but it is the basis for a novel I have in the works that I plan to release in the future. I grew up in Mount Pleasant, NC. And there are a few characters in the Valhaven Island Trilogy that are from NC but not from my hometown, and the character who is a derivative of myself isn’t from NC. But, a nice little twist does happen in Wicked Rescue Mission and you find out where Ember’s parents are originally from, and I don’t want to give that away.
How long did you need to write this book/for your first draft/ for your revision/editing process?
- I’d say a little over a year and a half. I planned to release this past June but because my wedding was also in June my novel release got pushed back because I didn’t have the time to finish it and plan my wedding. Editing took around three-ish months. Designing the cover was the easiest thing and that took maybe a week, if that.
Did you hire a cover artist/editor/proofreader?
- I’m a cover artist, so I do my own cover work. I also have a few friends that I trust to edit my work and my group is amazing and I wouldn’t trade them for anything in the world.
What have you learned while writing and publishing? Did unexpected things happened?
- I’ve learned that I’m my biggest critic and that I’m always going to think the worst of things. It’s just how my brain works, and I’ve come to learn that most writers have this same mentality. As I said earlier, my novel was supposed to release in June, but because my wedding was in June I couldn’t devote the time to writing my novel and planning my wedding. So, I planned my wedding and set the novel aside for a little bit. There’s a lot of unexpected things that can pop up; hard-drive failures, losing your notebooks, pens dying while at work, etc.
What helped you to get inspired and overcome hurdles along the writing of your book?
- My husband, mom, friends, and fans. I have friends that have read the book and they’ve messaged me wanting to know what happens next and they’ve been upset that it’s taken me over a year to publish the second book of the trilogy. They’ve been my drive to get it out there, because I go through times of just wanting to throw in the towel and give up. But, I think of those who want to know what happens next and that drives me to finish the story so I don’t have any straggling readers who have unanswered questions, because nothing is worse than having unanswered questions.
What would you do differently on a next project?
- Committing more time to writing and less time to distraction. I allow myself to get distracted far too easily, and I think I’ve figured out a way to solve this problem, at least for my nano story. I’ve been streaming me typing it live for the last few days and because I’m streaming I’m not going to other sites when I should be typing. But, when I’m working on longer novels, like the last book in this trilogy I handwrite it, so I wouldn’t really be able to stream it as well.
Best piece (s) of advice for first time writers?
- If you want to write and have ideas the best advice I can give you is to just write. Don’t worry what the world will think of what you have to say and don’t worry how it sounds. Don’t worry about grammar and things of that nature because that’s what editing is for. Just write your story and get it told, and worry about tightening it all up once you have it written. If you do it as you go, you’ll forget half your story and you’ll grow to dislike what you’re writing.
Where can readers contact you in the internet? Do you have a blog/website?
What are you planning to write/publish next?
- Next I plan to publish a novel called The Moonstone Fairy which is my Nano story. I hope to release it around June or July next year and plan to release Rebuilding the Misunderstood, Book Three of the Valhaven Island Trilogy by the end of next year. I also have some anthologies coming out next year as well. We’ve all Been There: Tales of Tenacity April, 2016 and Carolina Horror Stories.