Tell us about your first book sale…
Um… I honestly can’t remember. It’s because I juggled 4-6 writing jobs at one time all through the ’90s, and somewhere in there my husband, also a writer, and I were invited to write books through our comics/merchandise connections. It was either the first Sabrina the Teenage Witch or an Are You Afraid of the Dark? but I’m not sure which.
What has been the hardest part about being an author?
Making a living. All I want to do is write. It’s all I’ve ever wanted to do. I think my parents despaired a little. I’ve been lucky enough to manage a living most of the time, but there have been many poor years. Advice: don’t launch into a freelance writing career unless you’re prepared to 1) exist on the brink of poverty a lot, 2) have a second and maybe third job, or 3) marry someone rich. Sure, some writers hit the jackpot, but most of us struggle.
What has surprised you the most about being an author?
That I ever made it at all.
What is a funny or embarrassing publishing story that you have?
This story is so off-the-charts that it’s more shocking than anything else. When I was writing comics for Disney and Warner Bros., I wrote a Pinky and the Brain spoof of the movie musical Paint Your Wagon. It’s a major classic film. So I called the comic Paint Your Noggin. Well, I got a call from my editor who said that I had to change the title. When I asked why, my editor — with as much despair as I would soon feel — explained that the Warner Bros. accountant in charge of cutting my paycheck didn’t understand the title and refused to pay me until I changed it. I said, “WHAT?! An ACCOUNTANT is editing the comics?!” I mean, how did he/she even get the script? Well, my editor tried to resolve the situation, but let’s face it — the bean counters of the world are in control. I was forced to change the title to Oil’s Well That Ends Well, which the accountant understood because the story involved oil wells. I still get furious thinking about it. (And if I ever EVER find out who that accountant was, I will capture them in a sack and toss them into a giant vat of boiling chocolate.)
What do you think makes a good story?
Coherence. No matter what story you want to tell, if you don’t write it in such a way that a reader can understand it, it’s pointless. Always keep your reader in mind. Ask yourself: does this make sense? Does A clearly lead to B and B to C, etc.? If you can’t answer those questions, or if you let your ego answer them without the talent and effort to back it up, your story isn’t ready. If you can’t handle that, then you’re not a serious writer. I hate to sound mean, but because of the self-publishing movement, I’m seeing tons of bad books out there clogging up the works. In the immortal words of George Carlin, “STOP THAT!”
What are three marketing ideas that have worked for you and one that didn’t?
I’m new to the whole self-publishing thing, so I can’t really answer this question. I’ve been thinking of traveling to big cities, going to the tops of their tallest buildings and yelling out, “BUY! MY! BOOKS!” but I’m not sure I can shout loud enough. Beyond that, I dunno. Marketing is evil.
If you were to write a letter to yourself of five years ago… what would you warn, or encourage yourself about, or tell yourself to do differently.
That’s easy. I’d tell myself not to give up. Five years ago things were really bad for me (which is weird to say because I’d just gotten one of the coolest jobs ever, Writer for the Disney Fairies MMO Pixie Hollow). But my personal life was awful. Everything was going really really wrong. And I just gave up. Thank goodness I had Pixie Hollow to hang onto. And then — okay, go ahead, laugh at me, but it’s the truth — I started watching the new Doctor Who series. I was already a major Who fan because the character of the Doctor is just so wonderfully powerful and positive and energetic. It was David Tennant’s turn as the Doctor, and he just lifted me right up and out of my funk. I kept thinking, “The Doctor wouldn’t quit. He never quits.” And THAT is why I write. Writing is powerful. Characters and stories are powerful and important.
Do you use an eReader (Kindle, Nook, tablet)? Do you think it has changed the way you read or your purchasing habits?
I used to have a Nook, and I loved it. I was able to read more because of the convenience, and I was able to find and read old books in ebook form that I couldn’t find anywhere in physical form. Then the stupid thing broke. I’ll probably get a Kindle soon. But I would like to add that holding a physical book in my hands, smelling it, turning the pages — eReaders can never replace that!
Are you already working on your next project? Tell us about it.
Of course I have more projects! I can’t NOT write. I’m in the beginning stages of a New Adult science fiction trilogy that’s turning into a weird combination of creepy horror and dark comedy. I’ve already spent a year worldbuilding and plotting, and I really like it so far. It’s at that stage where the characters are starting to tell ME what they want to do. That’s always such a bizarre feeling. I hope to have the first book self-published next year. Then I’ve got two children’s chapter book series in the works. One is a comedy about a goofy girl whose parents named her after a bottle of shampoo — I’ve got the first book more than halfway done, so I should have it out next year, too. The other series is about a girl who lives with a lot of animals, and it’s sort of an adventure/edutainment series. It may sit for awhile because I want to do the other projects first. Plus I want to write another novel for adult readers. Heck, I’m all over the map, but if you look at my resume on my website, that’s the way my career has been!
How to Reach the Author
I’m currently building up my Goodreads profile, so it’s not much yet. Soon, though!