Over the years I have often been asked about my writing process. As I often respond, my process is very free. I do not outline or put together character bios or have a board on my wall plastered with colored index cards. I write as the story is revealed to me. I call it freestyle noveling. It is how I am able to hear the story for what it is. Below are some of the questions and my responses. Be sure to also check The Write Reads for my book recommendations and these links below for video tips on writing: Know the Purpose, Make the Time, Don’t Overthink the Process, Don’t Judge the Work, Change Your Environment, Have Fun, Move, Tell the Truth, Sleep, and Write.
Here are some of the questions asked along with my responses:
Q: When did you decide writing was what you wanted to do?
: The first time I heard a character’s voice. It felt so natural, like an innate ability I had denied since I could hold a pen. The year was 2000 and I had not long since gotten out of the military. As I sat at the desk questioning my life while on a temporary job assignment, a voice whispered in my ear. Its whisper held so much angst, so much authority; it demanded my attention. And that I gave it. I opened up a blank document on the borrowed laptop and typed out the secret that had been shared with me. It was then that I knew I had tapped into something—into some part of me—that I did not want to let go of; a visceral part of me that I would not let go of. I’ve been writing ever since.
Q: You say that writing wasn’t a childhood passion and that you found it later in life. What prompted the discovery and what is it about writing that gives you a sense of satisfaction?
: Writing found me; it summoned me from the depths of my soul and gave me a choice. A choice I accepted, willingly. I did not like writing in school because it was forced. Teachers required so much reading and writing from subjects of no interest to me that I did the bare minimum just to get through—which I barely did. And though I was an avid reader, I had not thought about writing as a profession or even as a creative outlet. My parents had bought me a journal one Christmas to which I wrote in consecutively for three or four days, then wouldn’t pick it back up until the next Christmas. Writing wasn’t my thing. But when it did become my thing in ’00, it was an outlet for me. It took me away from my world and whatever was going on in it to another world where the experiences were so far from my own. Writing allows me to play, to create, to imagine what could be possible if just one thing in my life were to change. I feel at home when I’m writing; it satisfies my soul from a simple keystroke to watching blue ink flow across the page like a wave climbing up the shore. There’s an ache in my soul when I’m not moving words across the page, so I know that writing is what I am supposed to be doing. It’s what satisfies me and heals me no matter what pain I am experiencing.
Q: Do you write from life stories and events or from other places? If so, where do the ideas come from?
: I write from experiences. We all experience pain, joy, love, heartache. We all cry. We’ve all lost someone. We’ve all experienced “roller-coasters” in life. Those are the things I write about. From the time that voice called out to me in 2000, I’ve relied on stories transmitted to me via a spiritual realm. I don’t believe these stories are figments of my imagination. Someone somewhere from some point in time needs their story told and I do believe I am one of the vessels they trust to tell it. They are where my ideas come from.
Q: From Military brat, later working for the County Jail, and even national security, what gave rise to you labeling yourself and actually becoming a ‘Storyteller on a mission’?
: I think it was a combination of all of those experiences. It was in them where I was able to find myself and discover my purpose in life which is to help better lives univerSOULly every story. Each story I tell is mission-driven to help better lives in some way. I believe living on three different continents and having such diverse career paths afforded me the exposure to gather life from different realities and contain them in the banks of my brain for later use. Not knowing what to do with those experiences led me to the call of writing, and since then, I’ve been on a mission to tell stories from all walks of life.
Q: What made writing different from the other jobs you’d had?
: Creative ownership. No other job allowed me to express myself creatively. There were always rules and regulations or a format I had to follow. Everything was so matter-of-fact (probably due to being governmental) that it was hard to step outside of those bounds. It was a task to feel any sort of freedom in my previous careers. They also felt routine. Every day was the same day, just a different prefix. Writing is never the same. The stories are different and so are the characters; it’s quite a variety. Boredom never crosses my path and complacency is an issue I do not face because as each new character arrives, they bring with them a new genre of story. I can’t say I have had any other job that can allow me to travel the globe or try out new careers without ever leaving the room.
Q: Your Debut novel Parallel Pasts, where your characters escape and overcome their histories and learn to love their mates through the process, were your characters inspired by actual events or persons in your world?
: None whatsoever. If anything, when I write, it’s the emotions and feelings that are familiar. Everything else is inspired creativity. I do believe that I connect to a spirit-realm in my storytelling which is why many situations seem familiar and relatable to readers. As I write, I tend to step outside of myself and connect with wandering spirits. I walk with them and listen as they share their journeys through life. It’s weird when I think about it, but that’s how I began writing, so I accept it and flow with it. I find it easy to write about people I know or actual events, so I avoid those kinds of stories and simply write as the characters reveal themselves.
Q: Your book The Last Exhale discusses the challenges of love and marriage. This is an interesting topic, especially with divorce rates high and marriage rates low, do you think people are afraid love or really don’t understand the truth of what it really means to be in love?
: The rate of divorce is scary. I believe many aren’t willing to get married for that reason. Yet, people get in relationships that aren’t working from day one, yet they stay in them because the dating world is not what it used to be. Why get married then divorced, when just being together is working? The sad part about that is the relationship isn’t working. It’s easier, or let’s say safer, to stay in a situation than it is to get back out there and start over. We’re afraid to put ourselves out there, to be vulnerable, to show people our truths, to love fully, so we’d rather be in what looks good rather than what is good. Let’s be honest, there haven’t been a lot of positive examples of what it means to love until death do us part. Thankfully, I’ve seen it and believe in it. My parents have been married going on forty years this December. There can be more successful marriages, but not until we are honest, and once we do that, we have to live, learn, grow and love through the fears.
Q: There are many different forms of writing: creative, journalism, corporate, etc . . . . you decided to tell people’s stories. What prompted your choice?
: It goes back to the moment I heard that voice whisper in my ear: I had been given someone else’s story to tell. There’s responsibility in that, a responsibility I feel I am responsible for. I don’t know, it’s weird. It’s as if there is some kind of spiritual realm where other spirits—past, present, and future—communicate, and their messages trickle down into my psyche. I receive bits and pieces, not always comprehendible, but enough for me to know it’s time to pull out the pen and paper. I can be driving down the highway and will hear a whisper, then my mind starts going; wondering takes over. I want to know more; I need to know more. It’s the same with other forms of writing: the need to find out the story and tell it effectively. The only difference is my writing is from a fictional perspective but can feel factual as it resonates with people’s experiences.
Q: Are there still challenges you face today as someone with a career in writing?
: Oh yes. There’s always the challenge of acceptance. Anytime you write something and put it out there, you’re opening yourself up to rejection, ridicule, you name it. It is such a subjective field so you’re always anticipating what people are going to think. Even with two published novels out there, whether a publisher decides to sign me or not will be based on how well my previous work sold. I truly believe there are levels to challenges: in the beginning it’s the challenge to write the book, then the challenge to get an agent/have the book published, and once that happens, there’s the challenge to find readers. The cycle continues because you always want to do better with each project you produce. Most of the challenges are internal, but they exist, and once you win those, you have to face everything external.