Wednesday, August 12, 2015


Q: David...what made you become a writer?

A: Well, I have all those voices in my head, so it was either seek psychological help or become a writer…But seriously, a lot of writers will understand if I answer that question by saying I simply had no choice in the matter. Writing was something I knew I needed to do starting from when I was a child. When I went to college, I majored in journalism because it seemed like the most practical way to get someone to pay me to do something I loved. Working as a public relations director, writing still plays a critical role in my life. It is not as fulfilling as my creative writing, though. Suffice it to say I feel incomplete if I don’t have some sort of writing project in the pipeline.

Q: What is your typical writing day like?

A: I wish I could say I had a “typical” day or a writing routine. There is no fixed time or place for me. The reality is that life is hectic, so I have to make time to write when and where I can. I squeeze in an hour or two at night before bed. I take my laptop with me on my lunch hour or when I know I’ll be sitting in the doctor’s waiting room. When the weather is nice on weekends, I can usually find a few hours on the patio. I usually start by reading what I wrote during my last session. For me, this is like warming up a car’s engine on a cold morning. It kick-starts my brain so it’s able to start writing at an appropriate tempo. I avoid editing during this time, especially when I’m getting my first draft down. Otherwise, I would get mired in refining what I’ve written and would never finish the story!

Q: Do you outline? If so, how extensive are your outlines?

A: Writing something as complex as a novel is similar to taking a cross-country road trip. If you don’t have a map, you’ll wind up somewhere eventually. You’ll even have some interesting experiences along the way. But getting to a desirable destination without GPS takes much longer than necessary, and you’re going to get lost several times along the way. The more I write, the more I see the benefits of outlining longer projects. My outlines are basic – usually just 50 to 100 words per chapter. But I find having an outline keeps the project from stalling, helps me avoid writer’s block and – this is critical – makes it much easier to pick up a project if I’m forced to set it aside for a month or two. Having an outline for the whole project also makes it easier for me to find subtle connections elements of plot, character, symbolism and theme. Outlining helps me be intentional with my writing, but I’m still constantly surprised by things my characters do, themes that pop up as I craft my novel, and directions my stories take. I have heard writers say outlining takes away their own spontaneity and discovery. I don’t find that to be the case because I view my outline as a guide, not a bible. I can always take a detour if I find inspiration during the actual writing.

Q: How many revisions will you typically do on a novel?

A: Frankly, I lose count. I cringe at writers who don’t understand the adage that “writing is rewriting.” Yes, writing is more fun than editing. Editing is hard work, but that work shows in your product. With An Exquisite Darkness, I probably did a dozen major edits and rewrites on my own before I turned the story loose on my beta readers. I did a couple revisions after those readers gave me feedback, and another revision after I signed with an agent. When my agent did not find a publisher interested in my novel, I did yet another revision prior to self-publishing. In this final rewrite I reverted some of the changes my agent had requested back to my original version. I decided that if I were going to go indie, it would be with the story I wanted to tell and the way I wanted to tell it.

Q: What is your best tip for editing a manuscript?

A: There is a tendency for writers to want to keep all their words sacred. After all, they worked hard on those sentences! The reality is, there are scenes and even chapters in your novel that aren’t necessary. That’s why writers must embrace the adage, “Kill your darlings.” Force yourself to be objective about the writing. Otherwise, you might be afraid to make big changes. Just because you love that stretch of dialogue does not mean it helps your story. If a scene doesn’t advance plot or character, eliminate it.

Q: Which writing habits and/or tricks of the trade have made you a better writer?

A: It’s a little fundamental, but the two main things that will improve your writing are A) reading as much as you can, and B) writing as much as you can. Read as many kinds of different writing as you can. Don’t just read a novel for the plot. Study it for elements of the craft of writing. How did the writer control pacing and mood and theme through her choice of words? What is it about an author’s style that makes it distinct – or cliché? Why did the writer choose one plot point or character trait over another? Writing as much as you can should be self explanatory, but for many authors it’s not. Too many people start writing their dream novel without practicing their craft on more manageable projects. Every Tweet, every email, every short story, every piece of dialogue sketched out on a cocktail napkin can teach you something about the craft.

Q: Do you ever suffer through writer’s block? If so, how do you fight it?

A: I don’t suffer from writer’s block so much as “inspiration block.” My challenge is finding the energy and enthusiasm to write. I tend to overcome that by talking to other writers or by reading something that makes me wish I had written it. It remind me why I want to write. Ultimately, writing is more “work” than “play,” and some days you just have to force your butt into a chair in front of my computer and put words on paper, whether you feel like it or not.

Q: What drew you to write your preferred genre(s)?

A: An Exquisite Darkness is a dark, violent psychological thriller. My current work in process is a lighter mystery – a quirky, more commercial “beach read.” I think my next project may be a thriller with light science fiction elements. Ultimately, I write what I’m inspired by at any given moment. If I ever get wildly successful with one of my books, I may make a commercial decision to narrow down to one genre, but for now I write what my muse tells me to write.

Q: Do you utilize beta readers?

A: I do, once the project is “done” by my standards. Typically, these readers are a collection of fellow writers and family/friends. The feedback from the former is generally more valuable than suggestions from family and friends, who are biased and therefore rarely harsh enough critics.

Q: In your most recently published novel, what’s one scene you really enjoyed writing—and why

A: An Exquisite Darkness has a few scenes that are incredibly violent and dark. One scene in particular involves one of my two protagonists “solving” a problem involving the book’s main antagonist by employing some creative – and horrific – tactics. It’s shockingly brutal and emotionally disturbing, but it is also intimate and in a way darkly funny. It asks a hard question: How far is too far when you’re trying to save someone you love? I love the juxtaposition of elements of that scene, and the conflicting emotions it produces for the reader.

Q: What makes the main character(s) of your most recent novel so special?

A: An Exquisite Darkness explores the lives and psyches of two women who have endured traumatic experiences in their lives and responded in dramatically different ways. For Cassie, this trauma meant withdrawing into herself and living life as a victim, whereas Valeri forged an emotionally stronger – but distinctly darker – personality. And while Cassie envies the strength of her fiery surrogate sister, pursuing Valeri’s solutions forces her to make unthinkable choices that change her life forever. I love the dichotomy of these characters.

Q: What is your best advice for author self-promotion?

A: Build a platform before you are ready to start selling. Develop a separate professional social media presence on Twitter and Facebook, but don’t just use it to sell your book. There is so much noise and clutter on social media that you have to give your followers value. Start a blog. If you are writing non-fiction, begin positioning yourself as a subject matter expert, working to get your name out to the media and other writers. And, of course, don’t forget to be supportive of other writers.

Q: How do you deal with negative reviews?

A: Unless the review is from an Internet troll, the comments are coming from someone who took the time to read and comment on my book. They are my target audience. They even paid me for my writing. So, I objectively listen to them. I see if there is something I can learn from them. In my future writing, I may make changes based on that feedback. Then again, I might thank them for their feedback and go my own way.

Q: What is your favorite aspect of being an indie author?

A: I like the fact that in 2015 there are free avenues where indie authors can present their writing to the world without getting the approval and support of agents and publishing houses. That being said, that lack of industry gatekeepers unleashes a lot of god-awful writing on the world. That ease of access and lack of barriers lead many aspiring writers to think their books are “good enough.” As a result, they view themselves as “professional, published authors” and delude themselves about their writing skills. As a result, they never step up their game in terms of mastering their craft.

Q: What is your least favorite aspect of being an indie author?

A: I’m a huge introvert, so I hate self-promotion and self-marketing. Some folks love that part of the work. Personally, I’d rather get root canal surgery.

Q: What is your current writing project?

A: I’m superstitious and self-conscious, so I never really discuss a writing project in detail until it’s done. Suffice it to say my current novel is a quirky, character-driven mystery, much lighter and more commercial than my first novel. It has elements of humor in it, but I’m also surprised by how much unintentional darkness I see creeping into the story in unexpected places.

Q: What are three of your favorite novels?

A: My all-time favorite novels are by Tolkien, so I suppose that counts as four books. But I’ll cheat and say my other favorites are probably The Stand by Stephen King and, for sheer sentimentality, Where the Red Fern Grows by Wilson Rawls.

Q: If you could have lunch with any novelist, living or dead, who would it be? What would talk to them about?

A: Would it be trite or cliché to say Hemingway? And what else would we talk about except writing?

Q: What is your best piece of advice for budding authors?

A: There are rules to grammar, punctuation and writing. They exist for a reason. Study them and, once you think you have mastered them, study them some more. Only then are you allowed to break those rules.

Q: What is your favorite inspirational quote?

A: “Amateurs sit and wait for inspiration. The rest of us just get up and go to work.” - Stephen King


No witches, warlocks or vampires...
just a sexy tale about trying to live the Hollywood dream...

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