Hi Niki, Congratulations on the release of your debut novel Love Out of Order, and thank you for joining and talking to us here today.
On Saturday, you enjoyed your first book signing experience, how did it go?
I had a lot of fun meeting some new people and hopefully potential newconstant readers. And the event was pretty successful as these things go. I only had eight books left by the end of it! I signed theleftover stock and it's now on the bookstore's shelves!
I am posting a full comment on my experience in my blog on Tuesday, please come along and read it.
When did you first start writing and when did it become more than a pleasurable pastime for you?
I first started writing when I was 7. I was obsessed with acquiring spiral-bound notebooks and writing stories in them. The earliest one I remember was a black and green one that I loved.
I actually started trying to get published almost as an accident. In 2007, I heard about something called the Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award. So I entered in its inaugural year with a much under-prepared manuscript. Clearly, I didn't win, but I did have something I'd never had before. A novel-length manuscript I thought might be
publication-worthy. So I worked on it, finishing up some parts I'd rushed in order to get it into the contest by the deadline and editing it more generally. Then, I decided to send it out to a few publishing houses. I chose one in particular because I enjoyed reading that publisher's romance novels. And they asked for more material. Later, I got a call from the editor, saying they'd be interested in the story if I made a few changes. That manuscript became Love Out of Order last year. I am really glad I entered that contest because it gave me the push I needed to try to get published!
Who was/is your inspiration to write?
You know, I would say my mom as far as writing to get published goes. I always wrote. It was just something I did without even thinking about it, just simply because I enjoyed it. But she always thought I could get published. I always thought she was just being a mom and giving me the obligatory encouragement. Plus, I was horrified at the
idea of anybody seeing anything I wrote. Ever! I hid all my writing from people, except my cousin. We even co-wrote a couple of stories, which was fun. But that's another story for another day. Anyway, my mom kept at me and eventually I started thinking maybe she was on to something.
Have you kept any samples of your earliest writings and do you ever go and read them?
Good question! I have them all stored away in big plastic containers at home. I haven't looked at the very earliest stuff, but over the winter break I went back and read something I wrote while I was in high school. It wasn't as cringe-worthy as I expected it to be, but it was...a little...strange to put it nicely. Still, I think the idea had some potential. But it was still nowhere near publishable quality. I really admire people like Hannah Mosk and Kody Keplinger who are publishing novels at such a young age. That's a difficult thing to do--to even be ready to accomplish writing ability wise.
Do you write straight to your computer or do you ever use pen and paper?
Mostly straight to my computer. However, I have taken recently to writing first drafts of short stories using pen and paper. There are definite advantages to the pen and paper. They give you more time to think than typing on a keyboard does. Still, I prefer the keyboard for novels because when I'm working on a novel, I tend to write a pretty large number of words per day and using pen and paper would just take too long.
Do you use personal experiences to hang a story on?
I think there's always a little bit of my life mixed in to each story. Some of my characters "borrow" traits from people I know. I don't think I've ever based a story on an actual event in my life, but I do take a lot of inspiration from things that happened to me. Things that I've observed and/or learned. To me, this is what the phrase "write
what you know" means.
Do you like silence or music in the back ground when you write, and if music what is your favourite and why?
Music. It's my inspiration. I actually did a blog post recently about this. I make a playlist (which is usually really long) and a soundtrack (I try to keep it around 15 songs or so) for each novel. Music helps me feel what the characters are feeling. It helps me get into a certain scene or mood. And sometimes the lyrics even inspire me to know just what to say. I've even gotten story ideas from lyrics before. As to my favorite, I'm not sure. I listen to everything and I do mean everything. If you backed me into a corner and told me I had to choose a favorite, I'd say singer-songwriters. Why? They always tell a story. I'm a big fan of stories.
Why did you choose the genre you have, to write in? Is there any other you might branch into one day? Have you set yourself any particular writing goals?
I've always enjoyed reading the types of romance that I write. That's actually why I wrote to the publisher who ended up giving me a contract. I also write young adult novels because I enjoy reading those, too. Eventually, I would like to put out one romance novel and one young adult novel a year. I would also like to get an agent and
I'm working on that now.
What other goals and dreams do you have?
I would like to first and foremost pass the bar and become a licensed lawyer. Then, I'd like to work in intellectual property law for a few years, more specifically copyright law. I'd eventually like to get my MFA in creative writing and complete a publishing course. After that; I'd like to get a job in the publishing industry, either at a publishing house or a literary agency. So as you see, most of these are long-term goals. And my far-off and unrealistic dream is to one day become a full-time writer.
Why do you say 'unrealistic?
The main reason I call it unrealistic is that the competition out here is so stiff. There areso many good writers out here. Readers have so many great books tochoose from. Who am I to think I'll sell enough books to supportmyself one day? Of course, if I could...dream come true! I'd love tobe the next Brenda Jackson or Nora Roberts if I could.
Thanks on the goals! I'm working hard on reaching them... :)
Do you have a particular writing space and routine?
Not really. I usually sit at my desk because it's the most comfortable writing space in my apartment. There's a coffeehouse I've come to really like and I've started meeting there with a couple of local writers at least once a week. I try to get up early enough in the mornings to do at least 30 minutes of writing before my day starts, but I can rarely manage that. I'm quite a night owl. So most of my writing happens late at night, or rather, in the wee hours of the morning, after I've finished everything else on the day's to-do list.
You enjoy a wide variety of books and writers, do you strive emulate any of them?
Not outright, but I'm sure it subconsciously comes out in my writing. However, there is one author who inspired me to write the very first draft of the novel that is now Love Out of Order. The one I wrote for the contest I mentioned earlier. I'd just read some of J.J. Murray's work right before the contest and I really liked the way he approached the contemporary romance novel. It was different from anything I'd read before. I also really like Crystal Hubbard's approach to contemporary romance now that I've discovered her.
Do you read while you are writing?
I sure do. I tend to read the opposite of the genre I'm writing--not always, but most of the time. For instance, if I'm writing romance at the moment, I'll read young adult and vice versa. Or I'll read something completely different like horror or an
What are novels are you working on?
I'm currently working on what I hope will be the last round of revisions before I send off my second novel to the publisher for consideration. I've sent the first three chapters and the synopsis to my publisher, but I'm trying to polish the manuscript up some more
before I send the full thing off to the publisher. Once I send it, they'll let me know if they like it enough to buy it or not and we'll go from there. Also once I send it, I plan to start revisions on my NaNo 2009 project, which I hope will be my third published romance novel. I'm also working on a novella, which I plan to shop to some places that publish shorter length fiction.
I'm also writing a first draft of a young adult novel. I plan to query agents with this novel once it's ready for that stage.
Please tell us a little bit about your new novel?
Sure. Love Out of Order is a love story about law students. Here's the tag line: When a studious second-year law student complicates her life by falling in love, the risky romance she embarks on threatens to destroy her carefully created life.
You can buy it from most online book retailers. Here's a link to my publisher's website where you can also buy it: http://www.genesis-press.com
Please will you share an excerpt with us?
Love to! In this scene, John and Denise are part of a team that's building a house for charity. John has just showed Denise how to properly sand wood: --
Not far into the sanding, John laughed and put his hand over my sanding hand. Heat flooded from that hand and over the rest of my body.
"Denise," he said, placing his hand on my back, "Have you ever sanded before?"
"No," I said, too busy being aware of how close his body was to mine to have time to feel embarrassed.
"Oh and you do?"
"Yeah. My uncle owns a bunch of construction companies." He said this as if everyone's uncles did and it wasn't a big deal. "I used to help out sometimes in the summers. Back in high school."
"Okay." I realized we were still in a strange embrace, one of his hands still on my back and the other still over mine, holding the sander to the wall.
His eyes moved over my face for a moment and I was frozen in his gaze. Somebody shouted about needing more nails and broke the trance. I realized somebody should say anything before the awkwardness became any more stifling.
"Fine. You think you're so great? Show me how to sand a stupid wall then," I said, grinning.
He laughed and actually moved closer. I had never known sanding could be so much fun. He stood with his shoulder touching mine, pointing to the wall and giving out instructions in a low voice. The scent of his cologne mixed with sweat and sawdust filled the air around us and I couldn't get enough of it.
"So am I doing it right?" I asked, looking back at him, my hand moving across the wall the way he'd shown me.
"Oh yeah." It didn't sound like John was talking about the wall. He certainly wasn't looking at it. His emerald eyes burned into my brown ones.
I stopped sanding.
Thank you Niki, for joining us today, and best wishes with your new book.
If you have enjoyed Niki's company today, please leave a comment.