Exclusive Interview with
When did you start writing?
I have always written since I was in the third grade. I loved writing scary stories and my third-grade teacher, Mr. Alogna, joked I was the next Stephen King. I had no idea who King was until later in high school when I watched the movie, Carrie and was freaked out by it. Decades past and my life was consumed with traditional happenings (college, study abroad, working multiple jobs to pay bills, dating, engagement, marriage, children) before I had some time to myself to write––creating my first completed novel by 2015 and getting it published that same year! And it’s not a scary story . . . but there is a scene that has readers on the edge of their seat according to a few Amazon reviews. ;)
What makes writing your passion?
I love reading and writing and it’s literally my full-time job (school teacher) as well as my hobby.
How long have you been writing?
I would say it wasn’t until my youngest felt confident enough to hunker down in her room to independently complete her homework when I said, “Okay, Mama’s going to start her novel now, but holler if you need me!” She was ten so it has been a solid eight years where I have disciplined myself to write every day.
What was the feeling when you published your first book?
Excited and the words, “I finally did it!” escaped my mouth a few times. ;)
What’s the story behind your choice of characters?
Honestly, they came to me in a dream.
What annoys you the most in pursuing a writing career?
All the marketing I do. That in itself is a full-time job and can be an arduous one at times. Anywhere and everywhere I go, I somehow sneak in my book in conversation with anyone and everyone I meet! ;)
How do you get over the “writer’s block”?
I read an easy book and by that, I mean one with a light-hearted plot. And somehow, afterward, it brings me back to my laptop to write.
We all know the writer’s path is never easy, what makes you keep going? What advice would you give to new authors?
What keeps me writing is the pure joy of creating characters in my mind and making them do whatever my heart desires! ;) The advice I give new authors is to know the book market is highly competitive. If you want people to read your book, you have to tell them about it. New authors cannot depend solely on their publisher to market for them because most publishers are cutting back on advertising. Initially, I was skeptical about doing this because I didn’t want it to sound like I was boasting but there are ways to humbly market yourself and your brand, hence your book, so that people will be like, “That’s so cool!” and ask you a ton of follow-up questions. ;)
If you could go back in time and talk to your younger self, what would you say?
Don’t pass on fruitful opportunities because of some lame and selfish excuse.
Do you read your book reviews? How do you deal with the bad ones?
Yes, of course, I read my book reviews. I even write ones for other authors when I finish their book. Sharing and spreading love is my motto. If the bad ones offer constructive criticism I find that helpful. If others just give it one or two stars without reason I also don’t get discouraged because I know readers won’t pay attention to them. At least I don’t. If readers go the length of coloring in the stars, they ought to at least write one detailed sentence explaining why. I personally know someone who told me they couldn’t finish my novel because one of the characters had premarital sex. I begged her to go on Amazon and give it one star and say just that! But she wouldn’t. Her review may have made some readers want to read my book! ;)
What is the feeling when you get a good review?
Have you ever incorporated something that happened to you in real life into your novels?
Which of your characters you can compare yourself with? Did you base that character on you?
In my debut novel, Because of Savannah, there are many endearing characters and I feel each of them has a little bit of me inside them. But I’m not telling you which ones. ;)
What do you think, the book cover is as important as the story?
It is pretty important to have a jacket that grabs a person’s attention and that person doesn’t have to be the actual reader. For example, I have had people buy my novel for their friend’s daughter because her name’s Savannah. Or, their friend loves fiction and cupcakes and my jacket has a photograph of a decorative and yummy looking cupcake!
Do you connect with your readers? Do you mind having a chat with them or you prefer to express yourself through your writing?
I consider myself a gregarious person and I absolutely love connecting with my readers. I once had a Facebook PM conversation with one of my readers who told me her mother bought my book for her to read in rehab and my story gave her hope. She also told me she purposely left it behind so it can circulate among other patients. :)
How do you feel when people appreciate your work or recognize you in public?
Exuberant. I’ve had two people approach me because they recognized me from the photo in the back of my book. One was at the YMCA where I exercise and one was at CVS in the toothpaste aisle. Both women made me feel like a celebrity! ;)
Who is your favorite author? Why?
I don’t play favorites. ;) I admire a plethora of authors ranging in genre.
What’s the dream? Whom would you like to be as big as?
I am fifty-one years old and hope to have my trilogy made into a television series. My protagonist, Dakota, has four years of college ahead of her and I believe her day to day life would make a good script. John Grisham is an attorney, politician, activist and best selling author. His novels have been made into movies starring award-winning actors, so I’d say he’s a definite candidate for inspiring me to keep busy with things you believe in and have a passion for and good things will happen.
Would you rewrite any of your books? Why?
The only change I’d make with, Because of Savannah is to have Dakota seventeen turning eighteen instead of sixteen turning seventeen.