I lead a double life. As a practicing artist (woodcarver/painter) and writer, for most of the summer and fall, I’ve walked a tightrope between the two. Do I have a favorite? Sure, the one I’m involved with at any particular moment!
Is there any advice you can give other authors?
Allow yourself to grow through your writing. Expand, experiment, excel. Give yourself permission to go for the gold by moving out of your safety zone, the formula you’ve gotten comfortable using.
What is your writing process?
My writing process is muse-directed. If the muse isn’t present, I do something else. I don’t force the writing because that reflects on the page. I would much rather spend time producing quality work than amassing pages and pages of paragraphs that probably won’t make the cut. That also applies to my art.
How do you get your inspiration?
How do you do your research? Do you pretty much stick to the Internet or consult experts or librarians?
The internet is great, but it can be filled with inaccuracies. I prefer books, but rarely in libraries. I spend a lot of time on research before I begin to write. I’m a book freak. Owning a book is much better than borrowing, so my personal library is fairly good-sized. I sometimes rely on other people’s knowledge and I’m not shy about asking them to share. I recently gutted a manuscript on the Pueblo Revolt because on my hundredth read I came to the conclusion that it was completely one-sided. I discovered from the time I did the original research, a dozen more books had been written on the subject, so I added them to my library and read them all.
What was the most interesting factoid you’ve learned as an author?
Pay attention. Don’t just write it because you think it. In my first mystery, the last chapter indicated that the character could see the ocean and the beach as she landed. An alert reader emailed me to say that the country I had chosen is inland and miles from the ocean.
Have your reading tastes changed since you became an author?
For a long time all I read was mysteries, hundreds of them. Then Michael McGarrity stopped writing mysteries and took three years off to write a trilogy on the West. I couldn’t put the first two books down and hated for them to end. That’s what I hope readers will say about my books someday.
Are there any bestselling authors you hope to emulate?
Not at the moment. I’m cultivating my own “inner author”.
What promotional tool has worked best for you?
Facebook only works if you have hundreds of friends and are “public.” I like Twitter and am planning to learn Instagram (but first I need an iPhone!)
Which promotional tools have been the least effective?
Contacting book stores by phone to carry your book. You need to do this in person, and have copies of your book available.
What is the most valuable lesson you’ve learned since you started publishing?
Don’t underestimate the intelligence of your readers; and, there’s always someone out there who knows a little more on a subject than you do.
Do you have any fun stories to share from author events or interactions with fans?
My last event at Collected Works in Santa Fe was the most fun I’ve had in a long time. I chose a good friend of mine to moderate, someone who is funny and witty. We had the audience rolling in the aisles because of our interaction. Someone later asked if we had rehearsed, but it was all ad-libbed.