This page is where I’ll answer some of the most frequent questions that I’m asked by readers. If you have a question that’s not addressed here or would like some additional clarification, by all means please contact me. Alternately, if you’re on Goodreads, you can submit a question to me via their Ask the Author program.
Question: I have a lot of ideas for stories, but where do I begin?
First and most important, you have to make time to write every day. Make a daily goal for yourself, be it time or words. For example, I general aim for 1,000 words a day. That takes me about an hour. Treat your writing time as sacred. It’s not a chore. It’s a ritual.
Beyond that, pick up my favorite writing books: On Writing by Stephen King and Hooked by Les Edgerton. King’s book is a brilliant memoir of the craft, but also contains a ton of helpful, practical advice. Edgerton’s book focuses on how to craft a solid first chapter, but it also contains a lot of great pragmatic tips on writing a solid story.
Question: How do I become a published novelist?
If you’re looking to break into the industry, start by going to writing conferences or workshops. They’re great venues to learn more about the craft of writing and to meet and interact with fellow writers. If you’re going to be a successful writer, you need to befriend writers. Period. Other writers who are just starting out can be a great resource as beta-readers or future collaborators. More established writers can help spread the word about your work, provide career advice, and open new doors. But don’t go to these events with an agenda or hyper-network with the faculty. As Joss Whedon said, “Remember to always be yourself. Unless you suck.”
Beyond that, read, read, read. Read as many books as you can and diversify outside of your chosen genre. The best way to learn how to write—and to stay on top of your game—is to read other authors.
Question: What’s your daily writing ritual?
I do my writing first thing in the morning, after pouring myself a cup of coffee and feeding the critters. Usually, I like to read a poem before I begin writing. I always wear shoes or slippers. Writing while barefoot just feels wrong. And while my time at the laptop usually only lasts an hour, my mind usually chews on whatever I’ve written the rest of the day—especially during my morning commute. I’ll make story notes throughout the day and address them later in the evening or the following morning.
ON THE SCARY TALES
Question: How did you get the idea for The Scary Tales?
When my daughter was much younger, one of her first movies was Disney’s “Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs.” I had a great time watching it with her and seeing her reaction. Snow’s frightened dash through the woods really freaked her out! Over the course of the next few months, she wanted to watch that movie over and over again.
If you watch anything enough times, either your brain will melt or you’ll start to see the darkness between the lines just to keep yourself entertained. It seemed silly to me that Snow’s curse would end with a simple kiss. I mean, that’s too easy. Wouldn’t it be all the more sinister if that kiss was actually the catalyst for something far worse?
Plus, Snow White was such a weak character, like a lot of the fairy tale princesses. As my daughter said, “She wasn’t very smart to eat that apple.” So, I also wanted to update her and some of the other female fairy tale characters and make them less passive and stronger, yet realistic and relatable.
Question: How long will The Scary Tales series be?
Originally, I intended for That Risen Snow to be a stand-alone novel, but the characters and story arcs kept expanding. I quickly realized that there was so much more to this world. First, it grew into a trilogy. As I kept writing, the series kept growing. By the time it’s all said and done, The Scary Tales will encompass ten novels. It’ll also introduce my own spin on all of the major Universal Monsters, such as Wolf-Man, the Mummy, Dracula, and even Phantom of the Opera.
The Scary Tales started as a simple mash-up one-off story. And now it’s become my personal love letter to classic horror monsters written in the margins of Grimms’ Fairy Tales.
Question: Do you have a favorite dwarf either based on your story or from the original Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs?
I’d say my favorite dwarfs from the original Disney movie were Dopey and Grouchy. I liked Dopey because I always had the sense that there was much more to his goofy grin. And I liked Grouchy because he had the strongest character arc–going from this woman-hating grouch to someone who genuinely cared for Snow White. In my own story, I grew very attached to Merry. In fact, I’m always surprised when readers talk about how much they hated him. The little guy means well, and he’s plagued by almost debilitating depression and anxiety. But I also love Grouchy and Dim. The scenes with Grouchy and Snow were my favorite of the first book.
Question: Do you have a favorite fairy tale?
Easy. Little Red Riding Hood. I love wolves. In fact, I’ve volunteered at a couple different wolf sanctuaries. So, despite the fact that the Red Riding Hood tale casts wolves in a negative light, it’s still my favorite. I was thrilled to introduce readers to Red in Book Three of the Scary Tales, That Ravenous Moon: A Scary Tale of Red Riding Hood & Werewolves.