Tuesday, September 8, 2015


Q) Do you own a cat? The Black Cat Blog wants proof (a picture). In addition, I enjoy pictures of all your pets. Do you still ride horses? (Yes, I read your Dear Teen letter. I always stalk before I interview.)

Nope, don’t have a cat, but have two year old goofy German shepherd. Her name is Keena and she is a perpetual puppy saving our neighborhood from every car that threatens it. She has a perfect track record. Every car she’s barked at has run away down the street in abject terror.

Horses have been a joy in my life. Never owned one, but have worked with and trained many for others. Since I moved here to Maryland, I haven’t ridden as much. Just this year, however, I have started volunteering at a horse rescue called Gentle Giants. I love any time I get to devote there. With them, more riding opportunities are available. Hopefully I’ll have a new riding picture for you soon.

Q) WORST life advice you ever received.

Growing up I was told I could be a doctor or a lawyer. I wish I had seen so many other options earlier. Now when I teach my students I make sure they realize all the choices out there and help them get there.

Q) BEST life advice you ever received.

The world isn’t made up of good people and deatheaters. Yes, I know this came from Harry Potter, but it has really stuck with me. We have to take people as they are and not put them in boxes that are convenient to us. Friendship and love are so much easier when you follow this.

A close runner up for this, however, is “Keep moving forward”. Everyone is going to stumble in their life. Even the most successful people have failed and hit road blocks. Being successful isn’t about being perfect, it’s about how we pick ourselves up and make a plan to make tomorrow better. We have to remember, especially when it comes to writing, the difference between a master and a beginner is that the master has failed more times than the beginner ever thought to try. They just continued until they got it right.

Q) Please share a picture of your favorite shoes.

This is hard because, as my husband will attest, I do subscribe to the game of “She who has the most shoes at the end of the game wins”, but if I had to nail it down to just one pair it would have to be my boots.

Q) What's your favorite Disney film?

The Princess and the Frog. I love the message of balance in this one. And, you know, New Orleans.

Q) I'm a rule breaker, too. (Again, stalking) I read your blog post on how the "right" way is to write out a manuscript and THEN edit. I never do this. I edit the previous chapter then move on. It puts me in "the mood," so to speak. The more "rules" I read, the less I want to abide by them. Also, the more rules I read, the more I notice that not every publisher follows the same editing rules. 

I need to get to my question:
- What's your favorite writing rule that you live by?
- What rule do you hate?

As you can tell on my blog, even though so many successful writers vow on this “right” way, there are often times I break the rules. My favorite writing rule is to spend more time revising than drafting. Shannon Hale once said “I’m writing a first draft and reminding myself that I’m simply shoveling sand into a box so that later I can build castles.” Revising is the time you take your draft and make a castle unlike anyone will every make again. To me, revising is where you shape the work to be a reflection of your soul. So, the time on this stage is precious and important to me.

The rule I hate is the percentages game. You must be to this point at this percentage and then to this point at this percentage. I love Campbell’s monomyth as a guideline for story work, but to say every story has to hit exactly these marks at exactly these points just feels wrong. There are so many stories to be told so many ways. We shouldn't limit ourselves.

Q) How do you balance having a family and writing? Time is such a constraint.

With both my husband and me writing, and the whole family working and going to school and all of us doing martial arts and other hobbies, I’m not going to lie, it’s tough. What works for us is after our son goes to bed, my husband and I set aside specific times to write. We have marks or time or word count we want to reach, and we aim for that. This allows our brains to click into writing mode and we get far more done. Sticking to this, the balance become much easier.

Isn't there a saying:
the family that hunts zombies together,
stays together?

Q) What event would you call your breakthrough as an author?

Not sure I’ve had one yet. My favorite moment has been my editor and my mother both getting so caught up in my story that they got emotional over who my character should be with. Experiencing that made me realize, hey, my characters might be real to people. We all want fandoms arguing over what our characters should do. Analyzing them like real people. It was the first time I really got to feel that in action. I hope for a lot more of that. (Oh and an inside tidbit, given who both of them wanted my character, Rowan, to be with, they are going to kill me after book 2.)

Q) What do you know now that you wish you knew much earlier on as an author?

Believe in yourself. Writing always seemed like such a pipe dream to me. I’d always been told by teachers to continue writing my stories. Even back in middle school. But I would dismiss it as, well, authors write and I’m certainly no author. My own self-doubt stopped my pen and later my keys. If only I’d believed in myself earlier…

Q) What's the best marketing advice you can give other authors?

I really wish I knew the secret to pass on. I myself am still learning. So the best advice I can give you is what I’ve witnessed from one of my favorite authors, Kim Harrison. Connect with your readers. Always take time to write to them and answer questions and connect with them. More than a key chain or a magnet, that connection, plus a little freebee that ties to the story not the book, will gain you far more loyalty.

Q) Name 5 books you wish you'd written (and not just for the money and fame).

Oh such a hard, hard question.
1)    The Hallows series by Kim Harrison
2)    The Martian by Andy Weir
3)    The Harry Potter series by J. K. Rowling
4)    Othello by William Shakespeare
5)    Frankenstein by Mary Shelly 

Q) List 5 books you loved as a child.

1.     Nightmares: Poems to Trouble your Sleep by Jack Prelutsky
2.     The Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien
3.     The Dragon series by Jane Yolen
4.     The Witches by Roald Dahl
5.     Anything in the horror series by Christopher Pike

Q) If you were to be executed tomorrow, what would you choose as a meal for your last supper?

Sushi. Lots and lots of sushi. And a lemon doberge cake for dessert. Yum.


  • I am a writing coach and ever hopeful author, striving everyday to improve my skills, usually learning from those I help. I am wife to a man who inspires all those around him, and mother to a son with creativity twice his size.

    Learn more about Courtney on her Dark Draftings BLOG

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