This post has been updated! The original was for a contest that is long gone, but I thought you might enjoy the questions and answers. Original post date was Independence Day of 2010!!!
Susan K- Who edits your books and how does that work? Well, that is a complicated question. Originally, I had several people going over it with me, hoping to catch things. I thought with lots of fresh eyes, it’d work better, but actually, it didn’t. I had the gift of editing from a friend for Shadows & Secrets, and it had many fewer errors. For Aggie and Cloaked in Secrets, I hired a professional editor, Barbara Coyle, after another friend and I combed it first. I’ll probably stick with doing that in the future. Basically, I send the book, they send it back with questions and correction suggestions, I do those, they read again, and voila! Then I get to find all the stuff we missed when I go through the proof copy. It’s amazing what you find when you actually have it in your hands that you missed on the screen.
Susan K- When are you going on a book tour? Just as soon as I win the lottery. Wait, I have to play to win, don’t I? Well, as soon as someone sends me a winning ticket or as soon as I sell enough copies to pay for it. Ok, seriously though, I can’t see ever being “big” enough to warrant something like that.
Susan K- I want to know if you are going to shop Santa around to a publisher, I know its been asked already, but I want to know also. We’re doing that now. My friend Darcie is getting the book ready, is writing the query letter and book proposal, and then we’re going “shopping” to find someone to publish it. (2016 update: I chose not to do that after all!)
Geri H- What does your family typically eat for dinner when you are in a writing frenzy? Um, basically what we always eat. If I don’t fix it, Kevin does. Actually, he cooks more often than I do half the time. I think it’s more likely to be something like Chili Spaghetti or Hamburgers than it is to be those things on other nights of the week just because it usually means I’ve forgotten to defrost something.
Geri H- If you were asked to have your books turned into movies, would you? I’d have to see the screen play first. You know, I almost didn’t answer this one because it’s almost a duplicate, but then I realized that I have another book that I think would make a GREAT movie and would definitely agree to. Alexa and her mysteries would be cool movies!
Geri H- What do you do to bring out your creativity or when you are having a writer’s cramp and can’t think of what to write about? That just doesn’t happen. However, when I feel like I’m not enjoying it as much, I usually go make some cards, watch a movie, read a book, sew a garment, or take a nap. Then I’m ready to go again. I don’t think I’ve ever had writer’s block. I always have the opposite problem. I have DOZENS and dozens of stories swirling in my brain and I can’t type them out fast enough. Drives me nuts.
Mitchell- Have you looked into getting your books approved for the AR reading program so school children can get credit for reading them? I have requested that Shadows & Secrets be considered for the AR program, but have not heard back from them about it aside from the initial “Thank you for your suggestion. We will take it under advisement…” yadda yadda. Once the second book is in print, I plan to ask again and include that one. I hope that by asking with every book, eventually they’ll agree.
Mitchell- Is Lord Charles Morgan still the lord of Wynnewood Castle in the second book? Yes he is! And,he is in the third as well!
Mitchell- When reading the first book of the series, I came away feeling like Dove was just like any other little girl and don’t understand why the villagers treat her so badly, does the second book reveal the reason? The second book doesn’t reveal why Dove is so feared, but it does show that Bertha’s requirement for the cloak and the secrecy is wise. In the second book, someone does see her and the result is almost catastrophic. You will find out the fear and what causes it in the third book, Beneath the Cloak.
Mitchell- I love book series with lots of books — can you make Wynnewood a 10-book series? That’s a very interesting question, because I was trying to decide if I should make it just the three, ending with knowing Dove’s secret, or if I should go in and branch out into some of the other characters etc. I do have another series in mind that would have at least five to seven books, so I can’t decide which to do. I think, after book two is available, I’ll put up a poll on the website and see what everyone thinks.
Zachary- Have you considered adding monkeys to your stories? (Would be funny if it was a barking monkey — yes, I’m silly.) I like monkeys. I actually have a character in one of my books who has a spider monkey! (2016 update: I can’t remember who that was, which is funny considering the next question…)
Cari- How do you keep your many story-lines straight? Just kind of like how you keep your kids straight. You might get their names mixed up when calling for them or talking about them, but your head has it straight. What cracks me up is how often I mixed King Jack and Prince Rupert in Froggilandria. My characters are like “imaginary friends” to me. They’re very real in my head, so keeping them straight is usually fairly easy. What isn’t easy is being sure of what happened when in relation to different stories. I don’t want to write that so and so was married when they hadn’t met Mr. Right yet.
Cari- Do you ever find you are confusing one story with another (since you have so many going at once)? Not generally, no. Where I find it most is in Aggie and Wynnewood due to the series. Once in a while, I am not sure if I wrote xyz in the first or at the beginning of the second, but usually I keep them very clearly marked in my mind.
Cari- Have you ever started writing one story only to have a character within that story demand it’s only story be told which results in another book? Yep. Christine from Thirty Days Hath DEMANDED her own story (especially since I FORCED myself to stick to the outline), as did April. I was writing Bentley when I realized that Tait insisted on having his own story too. It actually happens quite frequently now that I think of it. Weird.
Cari- Do your characters have their own “life” so to speak or do you feel you dictate how their life exists? Mostly, they tell me the story, and I try to convince them to do what I want. Sometimes they’re very tractable and follow my “script” and other times they refuse to obey. They dig in their heels, turn the wheel, or do whatever has to be done to make things go their way. It’s very annoying.
CindyLouWho- How long did it take you to write your first book? The first Aggie was written slowly over the space of a few months. I was really writing for my own amusement and that of a friend, and then I kind of got addicted. I’d say three or four months. (However, that first book was 60k words and went through most of the timeline of books one and two and a tiny bit of 3. By the time I got done editing, book one alone was 120K words)
CindyLouWho- How many books in all have you written now. Ok, lemme go count… Ok, I have nineteen books that are completed or 3/4 completed. I then have about thirty-five or so more books that are in progress. Published, I have five as soon as Cloaked in Secrets is available. (And in 2016, I have over 50 in print, over 200 in planning, and 7 that I’m actively working on in any given week)
CindyLouWho- Do you ever sleep? Every day whether I need it or not. No seriously, I sleep at least 9-10 hours a day. (I am healthier today than I was in 2010 and I only need 8 or 9 hours of sleep now. WOOT!)
CindyLouWho-How do you find time to do everything you currently do? You know, I tried to figure that out once, but halfway through that process, I realized that there was a whole lot I could have gotten done while I wasted my time trying to see where I got the time in the first place. I think the answer is that I don’t “make” time, don’t schedule this and plan that. I just live. And as I live, things get done. Oh, and I shamelessly pay my children to do my work on a regular basis. (And in 2016, I plan a LOT now. Things got complicated when the whole marketing and social media entered the picture)
CindyLouWho- Do you have a housekeeper do the housework while you’re writing? No, I have children for that. Seriously, if it’s my job to get something done, and I don’t want to do it, I pay them to do it for me. Andra and Jenna both got paid for cleaning my room this week. Andra did the initial blow through, Jenna did the fine detail work. Brilliant.
CindyLouWho- How many late night writing sprees do you usually have? About 365 give or take one or two. Seriously. The family usually is in bed by 10. I write until Nolan calls me to pick him up, go get him, write some more, he goes to bed, and then I write some more.
CindyLouWho- Will you be having any book signings in AZ? “) Got a spare room? Not a spare ‘oom, a spare room?
CindyLouWho- Having not read any of your books yet, are your plots christian or just good wholesome reading or ? All of my plots are Christian aside from Moore’s Code which is pure fantasy silliness. It’s crazy that I, who never pretended about Santa much less believed in him and did have him as a part of our family’s Christmas celebrations, wrote a Santa story.
CindyLouWho- Are you in any bookstores in AZ that you know of? Any Christian bookstore CAN get my books. They are also available on Amazon and Barnes & Noble,. I know Barnes and Noble will order it for you. I always like to hear that someone went into their local Christian bookstore and requested my book. Most bookstores will order a second copy for the shelf and that gets my books into more hands. 😀 (in 2016, many bookstores have my books and even Walmart has one! WOOT! Libraries also carry it. :D)
Sharon B- Which book is Kevin’s favorite? I’d say the one that sells the most. Kevin hasn’t read my books. They’re not really his genre. He’s more of a techie non-fiction sort or a Tom Clancy type. And epic fantasy. He loves epic fantasy. (2016 update. Kevin is reading more these days. Funny aside: He also loves Christy Barritt. He’s read all of hers. I find it funny.)
Sharon B- What do your children think of Wynnewood? Jenna loves it. She and her friend Hannah hound me for finishing the next frequently. I don’t know if the older girls read it or not. If they did, they didn’t love or hate it, because those I hear about. Andra hasn’t read it yet, but it’s on her list for the school year.
Sharon B- What is your must have snack while you write? I prefer things that aren’t messy. Red hots (Cinnamon Imperials from Brachs), m&m’s stuff like that. Usually I’d say COKE, but it’s summer, and I don’t drink Coke most summers.
Sharon B- Do you have a time of day that you are more inspired? When the house is quiet at night and no one is around yammering at me. hee hee
Sharon B- Have you thought of naming a character Sweetie? No, but now I have one in my mind already. Oh thanks a LOT. ARGH. She’s gonna be fun. Oy. Ok, I’m going to have to find a title and make a document now. Sheesh. Some people.
Sharon B- How soon will the third book be released? (This is from my girls, lol.) I’m hoping for Winter 2011
Sharon B- Will you write another children’s series from another time period? I plan to do a few. I want to write the stories of Willow’s childhood. Kind of like Little House on the Prairie but Willow style. Then, I want to do my other fantasy series so it’ll be from a time that never existed. It’s going to be a whole world unto itself. Then, I was thinking about a children’s sci-fi series that starts with my Exiles of Kedwick that Rachel asked about. Other than that, I’m not sure.
Sharon B- Has the book writing slowed down you other interests such as sewing? Actually, that slowed down before I started writing consistently. What really hurt it was when I decided to close my website. I was tired. Then, I started to sew again just before I got sick and I haven’t really recuperated fully. I still sew (going in to help Andra with a skirt in a minute) but not as frequently as I did, but that we can’t blame on writing. I was writing Aggie in the height of my web-business.
Bethany G- Does Kevin read your books? Nope. One of the guys at work ribs him about that, but it doesn’t bother me. If he wrote a book, it’d likely be on computer interface systems, and aside from checking the book out or reading the preface to see what the point was, I doubt I’d read it either.
Bethany G- Does Kevin or your kids ever make fun of anything you’ve written? Oh, sure. Braelyn hates Noble Pursuits. They make fun of my teeth more, though.
Bethany G- How do you decide on/come up with character’s names? It’s an extremely scientific process that would take a great deal of time to explain. Ok, I go through baby name lists until something feels like the person. Sometimes I get the name first and the story comes later. That happened with Rhonna and Tennyson. I chose Aggie for Ready or Not because of what I wanted Ian to call her. For Wynnewood, I had the HARDEST time coming up with a name. I knew her permanent name and why she had it, but for the “nickname” that Philip gave her, it took forever.
Bethany G- Have you written non-fiction? Some, yes, but nothing I’ve shared with anyone. I’m not confident on non-fiction. I prefer fiction.
Bethany G- If you were to write non-fiction, would you write a book about someone you know personally, such as yourself, a friend or family member; or would you write about someone/something famous/historical? I would like to write a biography of California Joe, but I doubt I will. I prefer the sanitized version of his life as told in the ballad over the truth. If I wrote non-fiction, it’d probably be about a subject I wanted to encourage people in such as parenting or some kind of self-help thing.
Bethany G- Have you ever knowingly put people you know in your books? Espically your children? Not people, but scenarios, yes. For example, in Aggie, the scene where Aggie freaks over Vannie and wants to rush her to the doctor, that happened to a friend of mine. I used the name Verily, which is my friend’s husband’s name, but I don’t know her husband at all, so I have no idea if my Verily is anything like hers. I accidentally put my son-in-law in Aggie as Luke long before I ever met him, but I guess that doesn’t count. I did almost feed Challice hot chocolate as an infant in the exact manner that Aggie fed Ian coffee. I just happened to catch it when I squirted my arm with it and noticed it was brown. There is a lot of my mom’s and Challice’s personalities in Grace, but I didn’t choose to do it deliberately. Basically, no. (2016- This is no longer true, but I won’t out the person or the book to protect the innocent/guilty).
Bethany G- What would your kids think if you put them in a book? I think it depends upon how I portrayed them. 😉
Bethany G- Would you ever write a book in German? Nein. Es wäre ein sehr kurzes Buch.
JoAnn WV- Do you see yourself in any of your characters? Which one or ones? Hmmmmm There is a bit of me in Mavis, but more of my mother. I actually tried to use Mom as a pattern for Mavis. I also see a lot of me in Kari (Willow’s mom). There is some of me in Grace, but only because in some ways, I’m a lot like my mom.
JoAnn WV- Do all of your characters have a real person that they are based on? No, most do not. I did realize that Princess Paisley and events and people in that book are very very very loosely based upon Dell’s children and family.
JoAnn WV- Will you publish Princess Paisley? Yes. I’m trying to edit it now. I wanted to have that out for Christmas this year.
JoAnn WV- Which of your characters is most like you? Kevin? Lorna? Most like me, I’d say Dean in Corner Booth. Like Kevin? Hmmm probably David in None So Blind. Lorna? Well, possibly Cari in Aggie. If that child had half a chance to take over the world, she’d do it… and keep them laughing all the while. Since I’m more confident than Aggie, she doesn’t try to pull those stunts with me, but she will try with Andra because Andra will let the kid get away with murder if I don’t keep on top of it. (2016 Update: I changed mine and Lorna wouldn’t be anything like Cari now. Much closer to Ellie in Ready or Not)
Barbara H- Jonah wants to know: when is the last book coming out? *lol* impatient, isn’t he? Well, I’ve already started it, and hope to have it out in Winter of 2011. That’ll depend upon the ability to get it written with NANO coming up and of course with Craig’s schedule. He is so generous to me, that I don’t want to put any pressure on him to “hop through hoops” to keep up with me.
Wow! That was fun to read and see what has changed, what hasn’t, and so forth. I’m amazed at how many titles changed and what I didn’t write that I was so sure would be “next.” Some of the books referenced are still in that original format!