Like most people, I am many things to many people. I am a wife to one, a mother to two, and the friendly gal at the VOIP Help Desk who resolves phone issues to many. However, I like to think of myself as an indie author.
My writing career started in the back of an elementary school bus where I made up stories to entertain my friends on the long ride home. In middle school, I wrote teenage romances for my friends, and in high school, I wrote my first book for the heck of it amid lots of bad teenage poetry. From middle school through college I exchanged letters with a penpal a couple of times a month and during college, I wrote in real time chat forums on GEnie. As an adult, I write technical procedures and copious amounts of email. Now I've written a second book, my first published book, Tenderfoot, for an audience of complete strangers on the Internet!
Obviously, writing has been a constant in my life. As the audience changes, so does my skillset. Playing the persona of a character in a chat room was a daily experiment in how quick-witted I could be in real-time. Putting together a technical procedure requires being precise and writing simply. Writing letters to my loyal penpal was an ongoing opportunity to express my feelings about what occurred in my life. All of this was great training when it came time to write Tenderfoot.
Writing for me is like assembling a puzzle. Working together the characters, settings, and events is like picking up the pieces and seeing how they all fit together. Sometimes a certain phrase or twist occurs while writing and then part of the puzzle comes into view and I understand instantly how the next section of the story will be told. The other metaphor I like to use is weaving. I like weaving in elements to a story that pop up later, adding emotional significance to a scene or event.
Selecting first person to write Tenderfoot in seemed natural. I wanted the audience to know what it felt like to be Jules, the narrator and main character. She's different from her new friends in college and she knows it. She didn't grow up in one place like them; she has a fractured background from living abroad and losing her mother. All she wants is to be seen as normal and accepted. That's where I wondered "what if...?" and added the paranormal elements to the book. Jules is not normal, and never will be. How does she come to accept that? How does she manage this within the confines of her first major relationship? Going to college is pretty damn scary to start with so I loved adding the pressure on Jules. Yeah, she has a couple of freak outs, but ultimately she'd one tough chick.
Character development is what interests me most as both a reader and a writer. Even with TV shows, the ones I like best are about the characters, especially if there is tension involved. That's why there is tension between my three main characters Jules, Andrew, and Nick. They all have their own motivations and mistakes to make. They are flawed as individuals and I love them for it. Getting to know them was a journey for me. With a couple of big issues in the book, I sat down with a piece of paper and wrote from each character's perspective about how they viewed the issue. Those exercises felt like cheating - they are fun to do yet no one gets to read them!
I decided on a setting for my book that is nearby. I chose the campus of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill because it's about fifteen minutes away and a lovely place to visit. As the oldest public university in America, it has a history of its own that weaves well into a story. The cover of Tenderfoot was taken in Battle Park, adjacent to UNC-CH. I believe it captures the feeling of my book well. I added in South Mountains State Park west of Charlotte, North Carolina, to get the characters out of the microcosm that is a college campus and into nature. I like to use the photos I took at these locations in my blog posts. For me, being able to bring readers with me to these beautiful places is a bonus.
While writing Tenderfoot I developed my own way of organizing the process using character summaries and an outline of a plot. Over time, these notes grew fat. Every few chapters, I go back and type in the notes penciled in the margins. A little bag of these notes, outlines, and maps goes everywhere with me as I never know when I will get a moment to slip away into the next part of their story, Blinded.
I'm excited about the developments in the next book. I know my readers have some questions about Nick, Andrew, and the mysterious bad guy who makes one short appearance in Tenderfoot yet looms over everything. I've got most of it hammered out with my mighty paranormal pen and I can't wait to offer it to my readers this Fall. Please leave a comment, or contact me on Facebook and Twitter.