Please start by telling us a little about yourself (education, jobs, significant other, children, pets, etc.)
~ Well, I'm married to an ex-Navy man who is now an author (Arleigh Bison Westunlied) and truck driver and have 3 awesome boys (David, Jaime and Imz) and one cat (Onyx). I graduated from UC Santa Cruz (GO BANANA SLUGS!) and am currently a stay-at-home Mum. In the past I have worked mostly social service type jobs, usually with the developmental and behavourial community. I live in a "tiny house" in West Virginia with a garden and lots of WV magic!
Tell us about your latest New Adult book and what inspired you to write it.
~ Acquittal (The Revenant Series Book One) is the first in a five book NA paranormal mystery series (though it could extend to more than five if I don't stop brainstorming with the husband!) I had just finished writing my first book, The Fantastical Life of Serenity: A collection of short stories about what could be… but not quite is, and told my husband that I loved the little supernatural teases in the book and decided then and there I wanted to write a paranormal mystery. I started it as a back-burner project while I wrote the second Fantastical book, then went full force on it once Fantastical: Epilogue was released. I love paranormal and I love mystery so I guess what inspired me was wanting to be a magic detective LOL.
The New Adult genre is fairly new. What's your definition of it? How does it differ from Young Adult or just regular Adult books?
~When I think New Adult, I think of college age. Or, rather the age most people are when they go to college, 18-25 ish I guess. I think it's a great way to include those readers/characters that are somewhat lost between childhood and adulthood… not young enough for "young adult" but not considered full on adults yet.
Do you belong to any critique groups and/or do you have other people read your work as you're writing it? Who's brutally honest and who's a cheerleader? Which do you prefer?
~I don't belong to any groups, but I do have my husband read. We have a 100% honesty policy in everything we do, including our writing. If he does or doesn't like something, he'll say it and I do the same for him. He's my brutally honest cheerleader! I have gotten better about taking criticism as I've gotten older, but he has a way of being honest without hurting my feelings-too much!-, so it works.
What are your all-time favorite authors/books?
~Oh, how long do you want this to be? Short list, okay… um… Annette Blair's Kitchen Witch/Favorite Witch/Scot, Witch and the Wardrobe series (LOVE!), I ADORE Maggie Shayne, I'll read just about anything mystery and I liked Anne Rice's Mayfair Witches series. VC Andrews was just twisted enough that I read everything she put out (up until her passing, her ghostwriters don't write the same) and I also enjoyed Mary Higgins Clark…M. Jet is my new current favorite and I do believe I will read everything she writes!
Do you outline before you write or just dive head-first into a manuscript? Do you maintain a schedule for writing, or is it more haphazard?
~Outline? What's that? LOL, no seriously, I am actually pretty organized, but I don't do outlines. I have a running list of characters/arc ideas and a calendar that I put story happenings on, but I pretty much just dive right in. As for scheduling, I have a toddler… there is no such thing as a schedule! :)
Where do you do your best writing? (Ex: desk in your office, public library, under a tree in the park, in front of a Real Housewives TV marathon, etc.) Do you like music or some other background noise, or do you need quiet?
~I write in my breakfast nook. Nowhere else (partially because my computer is so old that if I unplug it it will turn itself off before I can make it to another outlet, then it's a coin toss whether it will start back up again without an hour of begging, pleading, hitting keys, cursing and threatening it. When I get a new one, I may venture out to other places and see if that works. I must have quiet, (not counting the toddler noises), I don't listen to music while I write or watch TV, but sometimes a scene will bring a song to my head and it will be in my head while I write. When I'm done with the scene though, it is gone.
What are the best and worst parts of writing a book?
~The worst part is waiting for that first person to let you know what they thought… the best part is everything else!
When you're driving and you have a sudden, brilliant idea for the new manuscript you're working on, what do you do? (Ex: pull over and fire up the laptop, keep driving while scribbling on a McDonald's bag, tell Siri, etc.)
~If my teenager is in the car, I tell him (for some reason, telling someone else out loud helps me not to forget), if he is not in the car, I will record it on my phone (I have the voice recorder app front and center for just this purpose).
Imagine you have a whole day free for shopping. Where do you go? (Mall, unique boutiques, flea market, antique shops, bookstore, home improvement store, etc.)
~I love eclectic shops, independent shops, things like that. Pacific Avenue in Santa Cruz before The Limited and Coldstone moved in sort of shopping.
What are the top 5 titles in your Netflix queue? (Be honest.) Or if you don't have a Netflix queue, which books are on your bedside table? (Again, be honest.)
~Right now I have the Once Upon a Time Season Two DVDs in my top five. My son and I cosplay and we decided to cosplay some Once Upon a Time characters, we're doing research ;) On my bedside table currently is Actual Innocence (Scheck/Neufeld/Dwyer), which is a non-fiction book containing real stories of justice gone wrong and how it was made right.
Do you prefer to read ebooks or print?
~I prefer print, though I do have some ebooks. I don't have a Kindle or a tablet, so I have to either read them on my computer or phone, which honestly I find annoying. I'd rather prop up in bed with a paperback.
Where is your favorite place in the world?
~At home with my family.
Do you have any advice for people who want to write a book?
~Just do it! THEN get a brutally honest cheerleader to tell you if you should put it out!
~I am in several places online and I LOVE to interact!
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