Tuesday, August 18, 2015


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

A: I think that the real reason I "became" a writer was that I couldn’t make myself stop writing. I’ve been telling stories for my entire life, blaming dragons for the mess in my playroom and writing poetry and story ideas on the edges of math papers. The moment I really remember as being pivotal, though, was in my 3rd (or was it 4th?) grade Reading and English class when Mrs. Keeling had us write a poem about bubblegum. I remember revising 7+ times before I felt ready to turn it in.

Q: What is your typical writing day like?

A: I have no typical writing day at this point because I have a toddler and I’m not teaching this year. I had routines for years…and they basically meant that I was writing any time I could possibly do so! Now that I’m focusing more on writing and have a toddler as well, it seems I never write! I try to use her rest times, but those are getting shorter now. Sometimes I can write while she’s playing, especially if she’s playing "writer games" in which she gets her notebook, draws a few pages, and makes me guess what she’s writing about. (Incidentally, one of her bedtime stories that she made up is currently being made into a picture book which we hope to release in October!)

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

A: While the short answer here is "no," it isn’t entirely accurate. You see, I do three different types of pre-writing that are similar to an outline. I write everything by hand first, so my "first draft" becomes both outline and draft as I go to type up the story. I write lines that pop into my head, or sketch pictures, and jot notes beside them so that they are a mix of outlining and brainstorming. Finally, and most normally, I use note cards. Every character is given a note card and I must give their names, histories, and summarization of their parts in the story briefly enough to fit one (two at the most!) note card. If I cannot do that then I either don’t know them well enough, or they need more tweaking.

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

A: The first book in the Stone Dragon Saga series is actually currently undergoing it’s 7th revision. I finished it 5 years ago, revised it 5 times before publishing, did another revision 6 months later, and still feel like there are areas to fix.  Books 2 and 3 will be getting the same treatment at some point. Conversely, my short story compilations have each only gone through a couple revisions. However, my novels generally get between 3 and 7 revisions depending on editing criterion and structure. 

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

A: Let it rest for at least a few weeks before you start to edit, and make sure you are not the only editor! When you have just finished a story, the rush of endorphins and adrenaline is unreal. You won’t want to cut a single piece of that baby’s hair! So wait a few weeks, work on something else, move along in your writing world, and when you are separated enough from the feel of the story you can go back and work on the minutia. One pair of eyes will probably not be enough to fix every little mistake, because you won’t see them all. So find a few beta readers and/or hire a professional editor so that you can get the best product to put out there. 

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

A: I carry a notebook and colored pens with me everywhere. Anytime I have an idea or a jolt of understanding, I have something that I can jot that down in and with. Even if it is just on my phone, I keep a constant reckoning of my ideas and storylines. My aunt even got me an old school tape recorder with the mini-tapes so I would stop trying to write things down at the stoplight! I also still love to read, and I don’t just read in the genres I write in. If I only read YA non-romance fantasy with no cussing etc., I would be in a fairly small boat made of mostly retro wood. I know my trade and I do read those books; however, I also read any YA, MG, Children’s, NA, A, etc. Anything that catches my fancy. Doing that has brought me great ideas, new understanding of how to work with words, and even a new friend or two.

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

A: All the time. Writer’s block is a horrendous and mean little monster. I sometimes try to struggle and write through it, then wind up kicking most of that out during revisions. If I’m not in that stubborn mood, I go do something else. I craft, play with my daughter, read, watch television, clean, or edit. Taking my mind off of the issue allows my characters to work through it without me.

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

A: My series began as a response to a writing.com contest. I wrote up my entry and just couldn’t seem to find a way out. So I kept writing and a YA fantasy was born. I’ve always loved Young Adult novels and fantasy has been a favorite for my entire life, so it just seems natural to me. My new picture book, Leonard the Lemur (currently available for pre-release) came about because I am a teacher and nature lover. Leonard goes on adventures, meeting new animals in new areas of the world, and the facts will be in the back of the book! As for Paulonious Punk, a children’s adventure book, My House, a New Adult/Adult novel, Vincent, a NA romance, and Sylvester, a NA fantasy/romance…I cannot even begin to tell you how those happened. They just popped up and I’m enjoying the genres, so I will probably continue on in them

Q: Do you utilize beta readers?

A: I am with the new children’s and picture books, though I have never completely done so before. Previously, I have just given outlines, character ideas, or tricky chapters to beta readers and asked for opinions.  

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

A: I loved writing the scene in Dragon on the Green where our main characters have taken the evil sorcerer captive…and then lose him again. The entire scene is full of sass and snark, and I just couldn’t help but to have fun being all of those different characters as I worked out the dialogue and movements.

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

A: Both the most recently published novel and one of my current WIPs have Aliphonsore as the main, main character. "Al" is the only known fairy dragon in existence. He is the size of a choker necklace and has amazing powers that no other dragon has ever been able to boast. But his most special quality is his fierce love and loyalty for his friends and family. It is that love and loyalty that led him on a search for his family, who had been turned to stone and scattered throughout our world. It is also that love and loyalty that has caused the Fairy Queen to swear vengeance upon him, his friends, his family, and his King…her husband.

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

A: Just do it! Tweet, Facebook, blog…whatever it is you do, remind people a few times a week that you are an author! Include your book and author page links in your email signature, use background pictures with that information, create business cards with your name and book info, and leave random swag pieces for people…like bookmarks, t-shirts, jewelry…or just the cards.

Q: How do you deal with negative reviews?

A: I cry and then I check to see what other reviews that person puts out. If they are perpetually negative, I try to realize that it isn’t just my stuff. They are not happy with anything. Either way, I try to react positively. I thank them for their opinion and, if they haven’t given me any revisions etc. that could make it more enjoyable for them, I ask. Then I remember that I have a book that, so far, has exclusively 5-star ratings and I am worth good reviews!

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

A: Being able to make the decisions! I love having control over my ideas, my books, my blog, and even getting to make or order my own author swag.

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

A: Being in control of everything! Because being in control of it all means that I have to remember advertising and interview dates and all that jazz. It is exhausting just to think about!

Q: What is your current writing project? 

A: "Dragons in the Deep." 
The 4th installment of the Stone Dragon Saga in which we join a salvaging crew who have discovered an ancient Spanish Galleon, sunken in the Caribbean but still flying a pirate flag under the waves. Is there magic involved? Could this be where someone from Al’s stone family is waiting to be discovered and awakened? And why is there a giant Kraken keeping an eye on things?

"Leonard the Lemur." A picture book/levelled reader for ELA and Science in the K-3 classroom (approximately), "Leonard the Lemur" is an introduction to Leonard as he finds himself moving from a comfortable home with Ms. Patty, his human, into the Tanganyika Wildlife Park in Goddard, Kansas. We meet the various animals and learn a little about each one, and about the park. This book and following books will include Leonard’s adventures with Ms. Patty as we focus on the different types of animal friends he makes at the park. For example, Leonard loves lighthouses and will visit Florida (St. Mark’s) in an upcoming book. Along the way he will meet cousins to his albino alligator friend, and relay messages between them. Every book will end with fact pages for the students and teacher, and will be filled with fun story and bright illustrations for those just reading for the fun of it!

"Dragon Writing." A middle-grade novel in the same world as the Stone Dragon Saga, and using many of the same characters. This book is set 5 years after the final battle between Passiona (Fairy Queen) and Aliphonsore’s group. The majority of the story will take place in a 5th-grade writing classroom.

"Wishbone Tree." This story is still in its basic outlining stages (if I tell the illustrator I have another picture book for her to draw out, I won’t have an illustrator anymore!) but is an exciting idea for me to roll around in my mind. It has to do with a roasted chicken and old fairy tales.

"Paulonious Punk and the Search for an Adventure." In Pauly’s family, every new 7-year-old receives a trunk full of adventure journals and a blank writing journal for their birthday. They fill the journals with their adventures until the next Punk kid becomes of age…then they pass it along. There’s just one problem. Paulonious is 9 and his little sister turns 7 in two weeks, but he’s NEVER HAD AN ADVENTURE! Now he and his best friend are seeking out adventure before it’s too late.

Q: What are three of your favorite novels?

A: Only three? I’ll try: Alice in Wonderland, The HobbitAnne of Green Gables, the Narnia books, the Harry Potter series, Kelley Armstrong's Otherworld series, Rachel Caine anything...I’ll stop there, but there are more, so many more. I didn’t even get to put Tim Tingle, Rick Riordan down, or Nora Roberts. Pretend that’s only three…

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

A: I have no idea. I have thought about this question a lot more than I probably should have and I can’t choose. I would love to chat about writing and kids with A.A. Milne; writing and high fantasy and self-doubt with Tolkien; world differences with Kelley Armstrong; and who the characters in Alice in Wonderland REALLY are with anyone who would care to listen. In all honesty, I would rather have lunch with my great-grandmother one more time and tell her all about my books. I was always her favorite.

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

A: Read and write, write and read. Then, oh my, WRITE MORE. The only way to get strong is to exercise. So exercise those writing muscles as often as possible. Give yourself, or have others give you, random and weird prompts to write to. Set a schedule, carry a notebook and pen everywhere, and people watch.

Q: What is your favorite inspirational quote?

A: Oh now you’ve done it! I have two full boards on Pinterest dedicated to quotes…but I will only give you one this time: "Creativity is just intelligence having fun." – Albert Einstein. 


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

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