This interview originally ran on TW Fendley's blog:
PART 1: ABOUT YOU
How long have you been writing? I remember typing stories on my mom’s electronic typewriter when I was 9. When I was in high school and college, I wrote for my schools’ newspapers. Then in my journalism program at the University of Missouri, I reported local news at an NBC affiliate, where we had to write all our own scripts and work with editors before the story aired. Eventually I took creative writing in grad school, but then I got a job teaching freshman Composition classes and I spent so much time grading the writing of others, that I had no time or energy to write for myself. So when I decided to quit teaching in order to be a SAHM, I decided this would be my season to write!
Tell us about your early works—what was the first thing you ever wrote? Actually, I remember publishing poetry in a couple of anthologies in middle school. Our teacher submitted poems from each student and we all “got published.” Now I realize those were vanity presses, but I felt so proud at the time. I still have those books
When did you first consider yourself a professional writer? In Journalism school at the University of Missouri, they taught us to call ourselves writers from the very start. That was weird for me. I’d half-heartedly call myself a “writer” over the next decade or so, but now that I have Voodoo Butterfly on Amazon, I accept that title.
What genre do you write? Voodoo Butterfly is a mixture of the paranormal romance and women’s fiction genres. I’ll always have aspects of paranormal and romance in my writing, but I really love discovering the woman’s journey.
If you couldn’t be an author, what would your ideal career be? Teaching would serve me well in many ways. I am absolutely in LOVE with learning plus I enjoy group discussions about “big ideas.” A huge reason why teaching still appeals to me is the schedule. Being able to do what you love combined with a schedule where you can be with your kids when they have school breaks would just be perfect.
PART 2: THE WRITING LIFE
What is your writing process? Do you follow a regular routine? Do you use pen and paper or computer? Work at home or at the library/Starbucks, etc. I’ll write at the computer or with a pen and paper; I can work at home or sometimes I’ll go to a coffee shop. I’ve got to change things up or I get bored. A big part of my writing process is taking notes throughout the day when inspiration hits. I have notepads in my kitchen, living room, bedroom, and car. I only commit to writing 15 minutes a day, so those notes keep me focused.
How do you balance writing with other aspects of your life? As a busy mom, this is so hard! I’ve found that if I dedicate time (even if it’s just 15-20 minutes per day) to 1) yoga/exercise and 2) writing, then I feel really balanced. Every other moment of my life revolves around my home life and family, but if I don’t allow myself those two outlets, I get a little wonky.
When do you write? During the toddler’s nap time and, now that she’s in preschool and my older son is in elementary school, I make time two mornings a week to work on writing-related activities. I plan to write full time when they are both in school. I also do writing retreats a few times a year (even if it’s just to a friend’s house for the weekend).
How much time per day do you spend on your writing? My routine is to commit to 15 minutes a day of writing time, which doesn’t sound like much but I was able to, over the course of one year, write a draft ofVoodoo Butterfly that was ready to submit to New York editors and agents. Normally the 15 minutes will stretch into an hour, but sometimes I could only make time for the 15 minutes.
What has been the most surprising reaction to something you’ve written? Sophie, my heroine, deals with some difficult emotional issues in Voodoo Butterfly and it must have hit home with some people, because I had some readers express that they felt angry. I don’t think they were angry at me, I think the situation in the book brought up some unresolved emotion in them. To me, good writing should evoke an emotional response, so I see that as a success.