When I was young, I used to daydream about being a writer and read everything I could get my hands on, but I planned on going to school for a Fine Arts degree, and started college right after graduation. I wasn’t enjoying my classes, though, and left school and ended up working instead. I spent most of my twenties and early thirties in various sales positions before I got the idea for STILL MISSING. Six months later I sold my house and lived on savings to pursue my dream.
I always have ideas floating around in my back brain, but they aren’t always good. I keep a document where I jot down random concepts. The premise for STILL MISSING came to me while I was working at an open house, and then the rest happened organically while I was writing the book. NEVER KNOWING was the result of a conversation I had with my editor, a “What if?” premise, which grew into a story. In ALWAYS WATCHING I wanted to write about Nadine, the therapist in my first two novels, and I was intrigued with the debate about repressed memories and also the subject of cults. THAT NIGHT grew from an idea I had while watching a true story on television about a man who was falsely convicted for murder.
After I have the initial premise for a novel, the rest of the story grows as I get to know the characters and see their world unfold in my mind. Sometimes there are situations that I have read about or feelings that I have experienced in my own life that I want to explore.
Most of the book pages have PDF that you can download which explains the inspiration behind that particular story in more detail.
STILL MISSING took over four years because I was working and also learning how to write. NEVER KNOWING and ALWAYS WATCHING each took a year and a half. THAT NIGHT took less than a year–most of it was written while I was fueled on pregnancy hormones, and the final revisions were completed after my daughter was born. THOSE GIRLS was a year and a half, same with NEVER LET YOU GO, but DARK ROADS took the longest. That is because I spend two years working on the wrong books which I ended up tossing out.
STILL MISSING was written organically but I now submit an outline to my editor and try to work out as much as possible beforehand. There are still surprises that pop up when I start writing.
That has varied over the years, especially now that I have a child. It has truly been a case of “when I can.” It used to be that my brain was the sharpest in the morning but now that time is often spent getting my daughter off to school and catching up on household tasks. During the day I mix writing with the other parts of running a business and a family. In the evenings, I spend time with my daughter usually. I don’t watch much TV anymore, but I like to read.
When I’m outlining I will often do some initial research, just so I can make sure the story holds together, then I dig deeper into the subject as I go along. I have some great sources, but I also do a lot of research online.
Occasionally it can be frustrating when I need to move forward with a section in a book and I can’t get hold of a source. I try to just work around it until I can get the information that I need.
Go to conferences, read books on writing, join critique groups, and online forums. In my opinion, learning how to evaluate feedback is one of the most important steps. The mistake I see the most with new writers is that they often want to be published so badly, they rush the process. Don’t be so in love with your own words that you can’t see how your work can be improved. Step back, get others to read it (people you trust), and keep an open mind.
The Internet is an amazing source of information. Do your homework, put in the time. And write about something you truly care about, a story that you feel passionate about. You are going to be working on it for a long time. Make sure that your premise excites you.
When I was a teenager I worked in a restaurant as a dishwasher and a prep cook. Then I was a cashier, and eventually a store manager at a drug store. After that, I was a sales rep, traveling on the road up and down the island for eight years. In my late twenties, I got my real estate license and worked as an agent for three years before getting the idea for STILL MISSING at an open house. I quit real estate to finish the book, but I had to go back to work for a while as a real estate assistant, and again as a sales rep year during the last year I was revising STILL MISSING. Six months after the book sold to Saint Martin’s Press, and to some foreign countries, I was finally able to work full time as a writer.
I read all sorts of genres. When I was younger, I loved Stephen King, Piers Anthony, Lawrence Sanders, Sidney Sheldon, V.C. Andrews, and I read a lot of fantasy and romance. When I got older, I enjoyed Ed McBain and true crime novels, like the ones by Anne Rule. Bryce Courtney’s POWER OF ONE is probably my all-time favorite book, but I also like Pat Conroy, and many, many others. Now I typically read memoirs and romance. When I am deep into writing, I need something completely different as entertainment.
Stephen King is the author I would most like to meet and my biggest inspiration.
Usually by the evening, I am tired, and I want something light, so I will often watch stand-up comics on Netflix. I like sweet romances, like “The Kissing Booth” and I enjoy British shows.
Due to my own writing schedule I don’t have time to read anyone else’s work. My publisher and agent have also asked me not to read anything that’s not under contract for legal reasons.
I’ve recently switched over to a new contact management system and hopefully I will have a better bounce rate. I usually only send one or two leading up to publication of my latest book so I don’t annoy people.