This is so much fun! I love writing in color...heehee. Thank you, Aunty Cindy for starting this!
1) When did you start writing? Or if you've been writing all your life, then
when and how did you decide to pursue publication?
This is one of those questions that makes me scratch my head and say, "you mean other people don't DO this?" Ha! I've been reading since I was about 4. My Dad's a librarian, my Mom was an English Teacher. I was doomed from the start. I started writing as soon as I could, so I could (as someone else said) rewrite the endings or middles that didn't please me. I didn't decide to pursue publication until I divorced my first husband and got therapy. Yeah, I know, we usually need therapy because of the voices in our heads, I just had to get his voice - the "you can't do it" voice - out of my head and I was off like a shot. That being said, my knees knocked hard enough to give me bruises the first time I wrote something and read it in a writing group. (Circa 1995)
2) What books/authors have influenced you?
Almost every book I've ever read has influenced me, in some way. Even if it was just to say, "Gosh, that was awful!" I loved the Swiss Family Robinson, anything by Andre Norton, the swashbuckling books like Ivanhoe and Captain Blood, and all the Anne of Green Gables books. Fast forward to modern times...Anne McCaffrey, Mercedes Lackey, Nora Roberts, Janet Evanovich, Dan Brown, David Eddings, Jennifer Cruisie and everyone of you in the Packers. You've influenced me a TON!
3) Describe your writing process.
I loved what Trish said about being a Plot-zer. That's me. No color coded cards, but I do outline. A little bit. Okay, so I'm more of a Pantzer w/ an Outline than a Plotter. :> Sometimes a character who's key does something so stupid they have to die. Then I have to figure out who's going to do all the rest of the stuff that character was supposed to do...It would be so much easier if I plotted. But, like Caren said, I had to learn to be true to my process - a lot harder than it sounds! - and pantzing w/ an outline works for me.
4) Tell us about your current Work In Progress and what is next for you?
I'm a good, schizophrenic writer. :> I have two WIPs going on in addition to the revisions I'm working on for an editor. (Please cross your fingers that she's interested...) The first WIP is a paranormal w/ pixies and gnomes. Heroine sees them and works with them as she rehaps old buildings in Chicago. Hero owns a rival construction company. Both are targeted by an arsonist and have to band together to figure out why they're targeted and stay alive. Second WIP is RS w/ a woman who inherits a funeral home business, winds up with two attractive men courting her just in time to have someone shot in one of the locked visitations rooms while another service is in progress. :> As to what's next, a contract, of course! Yeah! And hopefully to final again in GH.
5) Any advice for others or personal observations?
Advice? I'm full of it. Snork. I'd second Caren's observation about following your process. I tried everyone else's method for writing - cards, story boards, character letters, diagrams (not to be confused w/ diaphrams) All of it stymied my writing, instead of speeding it. I'm a dyed in the wool pantzer (with an outline!) but learning all of those skills helped too, to define that for me, so I can't regret it. :> Be true to your story, even if it languishes under the bed for a while. Take heart from examples like Sherrilyn Kenyon, and our own Stacey and Foanna. NO market is ever "dead." Not westerns, not historicals, not vampires. (Okay, so the vampires are UNdead.) And last but not least as Mercedes Lackey told me several years ago, just don't forget to write, write, write.
Oh, and be lucky enough to final in the GH and get friends like the ones I'm privileged to have in the 06 Packers!