Time to meet another author friend of mine whose DEBUT NOVEL is coming out in just a couple weeks, on March 27th!
I am so excited for this AND I’ve been able to read the book but…. YOU will have to wait to see what I think about it until next week. I know, bummer huh?
So, grab a drink and get to know A. M., or as I know her, Alexis.
Where did you grow up and do you live around there still? What drew you to where you live now?
I was born in Tampa, Florida but we moved around a bunch until I was ten because my father was in the Army. Eventually we settled back in Tampa (the majority of my family still lives there) but I currently live in Dallas, Georgia with my husband.
Dogs or cats?
Definitely dogs. We both had one coming into the relationship and got a third just a few years ago. We love our fur babies! Koda, Bentley and Riley.
Morning person or night owl?
I consider myself a night owl because I love to sleep in and I can literally spend the entire night on my couch binging on Netflix. But, I do my best writing first thing after I wake and find it difficult to motivate myself at night.
Coffee or apple cider or hot chocolate?
You know, I didn’t even try hot apple cider until a couple years ago (I loved it) but I’m going to have to remain loyal to hot chocolate.
City or country or ‘burbs?
Currently we live in the ‘burbs. I suppose it’s a happy medium for us because we’re not too far from Atlanta and yet we live in a quiet neighborhood. My husband is probably grateful we don’t have more than an acre because A.) he hates mowing the lawn and B.) if we had the land I would fill it with livestock. There would be pigs, horses, goats, a grumpy donkey…
Favorite music to write to? (or silence?)
I MUST have silence!
Favorite movie? (It’s okay if there’s a few… I’m not sure I could narrow down to less than 10, haha!)
Probably a tie between The Princess Bride and Beauty and the Beast (cartoon version, duh). A close second would be Reservoir Dogs.
What do you do when you’re not writing?
I work at a restaurant and that occupies more of my time than I would like. When not working the “day” job (the majority of my shifts are at night) I like to read (duh) and cook. I love making meals completely from scratch and I’m fortunate my husband isn’t a picky eater. I’m a big couch potato, if the T.V is on I’m probably watching the Food Network or the CW.
Top 3 MUST READ books?
I hope you didn’t want me to put my babies in any particular order! Kushiel’s Dart by Jaqueline Carey (this series is underrated and if you haven’t read you simply must!) Treason by Orson Scott Card- the world building is nuts. A Court of Wings and Ruin by Sarah J. Mass this trilogy gave me the worst book hangover, it was hard to read anything else, I wanted more Feyre! Warbreaker by Brandon Sanderson although I’m still not sure if that’s my favorite of his because I absolutely love everything he’d ever written. Lastly I’ll say the Harry Potter series and I know that’s a series but you only gave me the option to write five and this was really hard!
When did you first know you were a writer? Was there a specific moment when you thought “yes, I want to be a writer” or has it always been part of you?
I have always wanted to be a writer. I began writing stories before I could even spell, I would scribble on paper and then tell my parents long elaborate stories made up on the spot. It wasn’t until high school that I began to think of writing as a possible career.
When did you decide to pursue writing as a career? How did those closest to you respond?
Oops I sort of jumped the gun in the last question. To elaborate, I have my writing career due to a few English teachers who encouraged my writing. After a college professor noticed my passion for writing I changed my major from education to Creative Writing and I haven’t looked back.
What is your general writing process?
I just wing it. I have a general idea of what sorts of things need to happen but for the most part I just try to take it chapter by chapter. For instance, in this chapter the two characters need to establish a connection. The interpretation of how that happens is decided during the process of actually writing it. I do have a problem with skipping around however. I like to write the book in chronological order as the events happen and starting at chapter one but sometimes an idea will pop up for something that doesn’t happen until a later chapter and I’ll have to write down the scene before I forget. I’m currently finishing up the sequel for my debut novel and when I started writing it, I only had an ending. I actually think the following books in a series are more difficult to write than the first because at this point there is a pressure to meet certain expectations, I’m feeling cautiously optimistic about this one though.
What is your general editing process? How long do you wait between finishing the first draft and starting to edit?
I like to forget about it for a month or two and start my next project. Since I’m writing a series, the next project is usually something new altogether- whether it be a short story or a new book. During this time I send my draft out to my trusted team of beta readers and after I begin to get some feedback I finally go back for a thorough line edit with my notes. Then I harass my editor friend until she’s annoyed enough to give me some free editing and then I send it off to my publisher.
Do you use alpha/beta readers? How do you find them?
My sister is my alpha reader and she is amazing. She’s had to endure hours of discussion on world building and character development and she’s the only person who knows all the spoilers as they come to me. She’s basically my developmental editor. My beta readers are more like critique partners- fellow writers who read it in exchange for my reading their current project. It works out great because they can look at it as both someone in the business but also as a reader. Lastly I have two to three friends I pull who enjoy the genre and are willing to give me some basic feedback.
How many times do you edit your manuscript before sending it off to your editor/publisher?
Ignited was edited about four or five times and has a total of 25,000 words added to it before it was ready to send off to the publisher. So far I’ve only gone through one round of edits with its sequel but there is still plenty of time for more.
In Ignited, you had a number of excellent subplots. How do you determine which subplots you want to follow?
The Dance of the Elements series is all about showing how different people fit together to make a grand story. Each character contributes to the plot in some way and yet each also has their own goal. I enjoy showing the same event from different perspectives.
What is your character development method?
I try to ask myself questions about my characters as I notice things in everyday life. If I have an experience I consider what Jura would do if she was in my shoes, or Kay. I don’t really have a list of specific questions or anything, I just try to know the basics and focus on remaining consistent.
How do you work your writing/research? Do you write a bit first and then research? Research and then write? Some other combination?
I write and add the research bit as I need. I don’t enjoy research and while I enjoy creating worlds I’m terrible at fine tuning the more detailed aspects of it. That’s why I’m grateful for my thorough alpha reader; she’s always asking annoying questions that need to be explained and pointing out plot holes.
What is the best piece of writing advice someone gave you?
Write everyday, no matter what.
Do you have a writing mentor? How did you find this person?
No but I have a writing bestie who keeps me motivated! We went through USF’s creative writing program together and still keep in touch to swap stories and lives.
What does your personal writing community look like?
Aside from my sister and alpha I have a network of friends online, mostly found from the Author’s Tale forum on Facebook.
What are your go-to ways to overcome writer’s block?
I go outside and call my sister. I like to pace while I think so I’ll pace my deck or take the fur babies out for a walk while I talk out my issue. The change of scenery and my sister’s questions usually clears things up for me.
If you could give starting out writers a piece of advice, what would you most want to tell them?
Don’t give up! Write everyday and never give up.
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