Where were you born?
I was born in Omaha, NE. In 1997, I relocated to Miami, FL for two years, and then to Denver, CO for another two years. My former career demanded almost 100% travel. I’ve traveled across the US, and to date, there are roughly 11 states I haven’t set foot in, if memory serves correctly. I’ve also traveled internationally. My motto: Have passport? Will travel!
When did you start writing?
As a 6-year-old, I remember pretending to write. I’d scribble on a paper and act like I was writing beautiful cursive words. The first story I recall writing and illustrating was about a dog that chased cars. One day, the dog chased a semi. It didn’t end wall. After that story, I started writing plays for my friends and dabbled in poetry.
What was your early inspiration?
My mother used to read Dr. Seuss’ Sneetches to me. In fact, that book, and all the stories in it, are among my favorites. I don’t write like Dr. Seuss, but his ideas helped formulate some of my personal views about people and what we’re capable of accomplishing.
Did you study writing in college?
English was one of my undergraduate minors. After completing my undergraduate Psychology requirements, I chose to add graduate-level coursework in Educational Psychology to my schedule, and not add more English classes. My original plan was to pursue a career in law. I knew I’d always write. Writing a book didn’t become a goal until later.
What other books have you written?
I’ve written a few books. I just haven’t published them. I’m gearing up to release my second book, Deadly Sins: A Dezeray Jackson Mini-Series, in February 2014. It’s launching as an e-book first.
How has your life affected your writing voice?
My writing voice has matured. I see this more now as I revisit Dezeray Jackson. The first novel I wrote featured Dezeray. I completed the draft in 2005. I set it aside. Once in a while, I’d look at the draft, but things about it frustrated me. This year, two authors gave me another perspective. (Neither know each other. The only two things they shared in common were being a guest on Back Porch Writer and being women.) One of the authors decided to write and release a book of short stories involving her character. The other author talked about how she got inside the head of her MG protagonist. Without realizing it, these two women sparked a series of ideas in my mind, and I hit the ground running. I started writing short mysteries starring adult Dez, and another set with her as a middle grade student. Doing this has given me more insights into my character — who she is, and why she is the way she is.
What’s your writing style?
I like tight dialogue and short narratives. I want the story to move at a quick clip and not a leisurely pace. That’s what I enjoy reading in my down time. In college, I challenged myself to write an entire story in dialogue for a creative writing course. At some point, I might try my hand at writing a screenplay.
What made you decide to self-publish?
I like a challenge. In 2011, I had no clue how to do it, but I wanted to learn. I selected several essays I’d written (and published, in some cases) to include in My Life in Black and White: A Book of Experiences. The biggest obstacle was figuring out how to format everything.
When you self-publish, do you do it all yourself?
No! I hire graphic artists to create the covers. If I could show you an example of the dog and the semi, you’d understand why. My drawing hasn’t improved much. I have volunteers read my drafts and give feedback. Some of these people are fellow writers (They’re pretty good editors, too). And, I ask Larry Miller to do intermediate and last edits. There are other aspects I’d be happy to hire out, but haven’t — yet.
Why don’t you publish traditionally?
I like self-publishing because of the amount of control I have over my projects, but I’m also interested in finding an agent/traditional publisher. I’m querying two children’s books: Splash! and Dante. I’ve received some great rejection letters. What does that mean? It means that they weren’t form letters. That’s been encouraging. I haven’t found the right agent, but I’m not giving up. I plan to pursue traditional publishing for my MG novels: The Coyote Wars and Archer Jaxson and The Compass Wars. Both of these are in various stages of readiness, so I’m not querying them now. To me, it’s not an either/or scenario. It’s all about the project.