Are you a planner (outline, etc.) or pantser?
I am a pantser until I figure out what the book is about. Once I have a good shell of the book in my mind, I tend to write all of my scenes on a calendar so I know what happens day to day. It keeps me organized!
Do you write daily or sporadically when you’re inspired?
Only when I’m inspired unfortunately. But once I get inspired, the words just seem to tumble out of me.
What kind of mood are you typically in when you write (happy, sad, etc.)?
I always have to be happy or my sadness/stress will come through on the pages. My sadness makes my characters act angsty!
Where is your favorite place to write?
There is this bed and breakfast called the Inn at Vaucluse Spring in Virginia. I go there a couple times a year when I find I really need to concentrate. They have great coffee, lots of cookies, no internet, and hardly any cell phone reception! Also, they have a TV to keep my husband entertained.
What tool(s) do you use to write? Microsoft Word, Pages, Scrivener, typewriter, pen and paper, and/or napkins/toilet paper?
I use scraps of paper and notebooks and pens to write notes. I do all of my writing in MS Word. I tried Scrivener and I found that I suck at Scrivener. I outline using my calendars. For my new book, I’m using a sexy beach calendar even though the book is about horse racing.
What resources do you recommend for new writers?
Read tons of books in your genre. Read tons of books out of your genre. I’ve learned a lot from the book 20 MASTER PLOTS and Anne Lamott’s BIRD BY BIRD. While I didn’t learn how to write a plot from 20 MASTER PLOTS, it has these really helpful checklists on what all stories should have. Like, a “Quest plot” should have the main character set out to find something, but generally by the end of the book, the main character has found something different (and usually better) than what they set out to find. Also, a Quest plot usually has some sort of sacrifice. (A good example of a Quest plot is GOING BOVINE by Libba Bray. Or LOOKING FOR ALASKA by John Green is a Quest plot in my opinion. Or AMY AND ROGER’S EPIC DETOUR by Morgan Matson).
Another example is the Transformation plot. A character changes his mindset over the course of the story. Not only does this kind of plot require you to show change, it requires you to show the effects of change. And generally change leads to wisdom, and with wisdom comes a certain sadness. (My favorite transformation stories are ALONG FOR THE RIDE, THIS LULLABY, and THE TRUTH ABOUT FOREVER, all by Sarah Dessen.
Also, a story doesn’t have to be just one type of plot. For instance, one could argue that LOOKING FOR ALASKA and GOING BOVINE are transformative and quest plots.
What are your thoughts on traditional publishing vs. self-publishing?
I am in awe of the people who successfully self-publish. I don’t think I could do it myself, because the idea of distributing a book on a national level scares the hell out of me. I’d rather have a publisher get my book into every Barnes and Noble in the country while I spend time writing my next book. I couldn’t do that if I were self-publishing.