Q: Isabel...what made you become a writer?
A: It kind of all began in a casual way. I've always felt like I had something to say, so as I grew up I felt the need to put my thoughts in writing, until characters and stories and plots just started taking form, and that's how my first book came to life.
Q: What is your typical writing day like?
A: I try to be as constant as I can. Unfortunately, writing isn't my only job, so there are days when I am unable to write. But the days when I force myself to just focus on writing I usually wake up, take the dog out (which is a great excuse for a morning walk and doing some exercise before sitting at the computer for hours), grab a cappuccino and I'm ready to start writing. If I haven't written in a couple of days then I probably have tons of things to write down: I can either start by writing from where I left off right or try to make an outline of what I want to write. If I'm having some kind of writer's block, I might start off the day by reading, or listening to music...doing whatever might trigger my inspiration. Apart from random interruptions or doing small chores around the house, I try to spend my writing day on the computer as much as I can. I try to take breaks every couple of hours by talking a walk around the neighborhood (again, the dog), but aside from that I pretty much just “sit at a typewriter and bleed”.
Q: Do you outline? If so, how extensive are your outlines?
A: I'm used to making a very broad outline of the book I want to write. Mostly it's something like: “I want to tell this kind of story, which begins with A then something like B-C-D happen and E is the outcome.” Then I start writing, letting my spur of the moment inspiration take me from a A to B, etc. If I have sub-plots (which I pretty much always have) I try to make general outlines of that, seeing how they can fit in with the main plot. I'm not the kind of author who does detailed outlines for every chapter and who already knows how everything will evolve right from the start. I tried that “technique” once, but it just doesn't work for me.
Q: How many revisions will you typically do on a novel?
A: Many. I tend to re-read what I write a lot of times and I end up making lots of revisions along the way.
Q: What is your best tip for editing a manuscript?
A: As common as it might sound, I'd say hire a professional proofreader/editor. Have more people read your book before publishing it, because as much as you re-read your writing there will always be something you miss.
Q: Which writing habits and/or tricks of the trade have made you a better writer?
A: The only habit I can think of is reading: the more I read, the better I become at writing. I think it's a universal rule for all authors.
Q: Do you ever suffer through writer’s block? If so, how do you fight it?
A: It happens, yes. Not so much as “I have no idea what I want to write next in this chapter,” but it's more like I get stuck on how to put the words down on paper. So whenever that happens I try to take my mind off that particular scene and maybe I jump on writing something else, or I might simply get up from my desk and go for a walk. Reading or watching a movie/TV show or listening to music is also a great way to get my inspiration moving along.
Q: What drew you to write your preferred genre(s)?
A: I mostly write young adult novels and new adult contemporary romance novels probably because those are the genres I love reading most. I feel like the stories I want to tell and the messages I [want] to convey are best for young adult readers; they are the perfect audience to whom I can still relate (although my ID says I'm not exactly a teenager anymore).
Q: Do you utilize beta readers?
A: I've never utilized beta readers, and I don't plan in a near future either...but never say never!
Q: In your most recently published novel, what’s one scene you really enjoyed writing—and why?
A: There are a few scenes during the second half of the book I just published (Before Life Happened, the Before series #1) where a pretty important character comes into action and I had a lot of fun writing the dialogue between this character (Sunrise) and the main protagonist of the story (Hayden). Sunrise is supposed to be a pretty funny and easygoing person, while Hayden is the opposite, so their interaction (and their forced journey together) was pretty entertaining to write.
Q: What makes the main character(s) of your most recent novel so special?
A: Hayden is an average teenage girl struggling with grief. Like many kids her age she is faced with peer pressure and choices to make. When life takes an unexpected turn we see her make every wrong step toward destruction, but in the end she will find her way back (thanks to Sunrise). She's the emblem of how things can get out of control in an instant, and getting back on track can be hard...but not impossible. She's special because she doesn't give up.
Q: What is your best advice for author self-promotion?
A: First of all, get a Twitter account and build a website to promote yourself and your books. Then try to contact as many book bloggers and book review websites as possible to they can review/read/promote your novel. Try to think as a reader, and figure out how you – as a reader – might come across your own book and promote yourself there. Also, offer an e-book for free (maybe the first in a series). It's a great way for people to notice you. Giveaways are a great promotional tool as well.
Q: How do you deal with negative reviews?
A: I try to not get too demoralized, since I already know that not everyone will like my work. I try to accept everyone's opinions. If [the opinions] are productive, that's even better; I can improve my writing and fix my flaws as suggested. So far I've received more 5 star reviews than low reviews, which obviously makes me happy.
Q: What is your favorite aspect of being an indie author?
A: Reinventing yourself every day. By being your own boss and an entrepreneur you get to chance to be a marketing specialist one day, a social media manager the next, a graphic and cover designer and website developer on Monday and a foreign rights expert on Friday...you never get bored!
Q: What is your least favorite aspect of being an indie author?
A: Unless you can afford to pay people to help you, you have to do all aforementioned tasks on your own. It can get overwhelming sometimes. Writing should be the primary focus for a writer...but you cannot put aside marketing and publicity, otherwise you end up writing only for yourself.
Q: What is your current writing project?
A: I'm currently working on my first contemporary romance series. The first book, Unexpected Love, will be published for free as an e-book within the month; the second part, Unexpected Return, will be published a few weeks after that.
Q: What are three of your favorite novels?
A: Slaughterhouse-Five by Kurt Vonnegut; Invisible Monsters by Chuck Palahniuk; Ocean Sea by Alessandro Baricco
Q: If you could have lunch with any novelist, living or dead, who would it be? What would talk to them about?
A: I'd like to meet Chuck Palahniuk…and would ask him how on earth he pronounces his last name! Then I would mostly praise him for his genius work.
Q: What is your best piece of advice for budding authors?
A: Do it your way. I've spent days reading online tips and advice on how to become an author, how to self-promote yourself, the do's and don'ts of writing... in the end it all comes down to what you really want and how you feel more comfortable achieving your goals. This is your journey, so you can't walk it in someone else's shoes.
Q: What is your favorite inspirational quote?
A: “Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover” – H. Jackson Brown Jr.