Sci-fi and Fantasy author, Sandra Ulbrich, originally interviewed me about writing on her blog. Here is the interview:
Where do you get your story ideas?
Funny enough, Sophie's story came to me in a dream when I was actually visiting New Orleans with my family. I dreamt of this woman who had the power to change evil people good. The next flash of my dream showed Saint Louis Cathedral in New Orleans absolutely covered in monarch butterflies. I tried to fall back asleep, but couldn't, so I wrote the dream in my journal. One year later I decided to write a novel about that character and since voodoo is such a big part of the New Orleans culture, I decided to have her unexpectedly inherit a voodoo shop down there. The catch? She knows nothing about voodoo or her secret power when the book starts.
How do you deal with writer’s block?
I actually don't get writer's block. [Insert crickets chirping]. Since I'm always taking notes and only have limited writing time daily, I always know what I'm going to write about. Right now, I have two folders full of notes containing my plans for book 2 in the Voodoo Butterfly series.
Are you a “plotter” or a “pantser” (do you plan/outline the story ahead of time or write “by the seat of your pants”)?
For Voodoo Butterfly, I was a pantser. A scene would flash in my mind, I'd jot it down, and then deal with it during my writing time. When I had enough of these bits and pieces, I worked them into a loose outline. With the second book in the series, I decided to try an outline, but I give myself flexibility to move things around.
Do you use critique partners or beta readers? Why or why not?
Both. A few beta readers provided feedback for the first version of Voodoo Butterfly. I did have several agents and NYC editors request a partial or full manuscript, but it just wasn't getting picked up. Then I was asked to join The Lit Ladies critique group. They provided feedback and I worked through the manuscript for about three years (in the midst of moving twice, having a surgery, having a baby, etc.). After I went through all of their suggestions, I submitted to some writing contests. In October 2013 I finaled in the NW Houston RWA's Lone Star Contest. One of the judges was the owner of Soul Mate Publishing, who offered me a contract. So that's how I landed a publisher.
How much time do you spend on research? What type of research do you do?
"Research" for my books is extremely fun. I utilize some of my own experiences (from growing up in a haunted house and visiting haunted locations), but I've also made a trip down to New Orleans in the name of "research." On that trip, I was pregnant so I couldn't get into too much trouble. (Ha!) But I did get to go on a cemetery walking tour through Saint Louis Cemetery Number One and I also stayed at Oak Alley Plantation (which was made famous by the movie Interview with a Vampire).
Is there anything you find particularly challenging to write?
Writing is soooo hard for me, but the challenge is a part of why I love it.