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How long does it take you to write a book?

That depends. A minimum of three to four months if I am familiar with the characters and universe. But it usually takes longer when I am starting a new series. The kids book I am working on is taking a lot longer because it is not easy to think like a kid.

What’s the best part of writing?

Making my imagination come to life.

Do you have any pets?

Four dogs, yes, four. They are the best co-workers ever.

What’s your writing process?

I break my book creation process into four phases: writing and editing. When writing, I set word count quotas that I must meet each day. When I start a book, they are pretty modest. By the end it’s a minimum of 5,000 words a day. I find that allows me to really get a story to a good place relatively quickly.

Phase two is the editing phase. After I have the rough draft, I go through and start adding in details, fleshing out story points. 

Phase three is when I feel the story is in a good place. Then I do the most important part of the writing process: I ignore the book for at least two weeks. I usually start working on a different book: research, outlining, ideas for scenes. But I make myself think about an entirely different story. 

Phase four: After two weeks, I re-read the original story and try to find all the plot holes, or confusing points that I need to address or sections I need to fine tune. Then its off to the editor!

Where do you get your ideas?

I can’t really answer that. Sometimes its a book I read or a story I see on TV. Then I start researching whatever the topic is. One thing leads to another, and I have story points.

Do you always know how a story is going to end?

Sometimes that is all I know! There are some writers who outline an entire story before they begin. I’m not like that. I start writing whatever scene is the clearest in my head. Sometimes that is actually the last scene in the book. Then I have to figure out how I get my characters there.

Did you always know you were going to be a writer?

Absolutely not! In fact, if ten years ago you had said I was going to writing full-time I would have said you were crazy. I grew up in a strictly blue collar household with two Scottish born parents who instilled in each of their four kids a strong work ethic. We also knew that the most important thing about a job was that you were guaranteed a paycheck every two weeks. If you weren’t guaranteed a set paycheck, it was not a job worth considering! 

So although I always made stories up in my head, I never seriously considered becoming a writer until un life. After I went to college, after I got a Ph.D. in criminology, after in fact, I became a tenured professor. It was during my sabbatical that I began writing The Belial Stone. And the rest, as they say, is history!

Do you ever get any help when writing books?

Yes. I will contact people to help with certain facts or issues if I don’t understand them. I am lucky to have people in my life to bounce ideas off of and I am extremely lucky to study at a martial arts school that lets me play around with fight scenes. :)

Who’s your favorite author?

I don’t have one. I have lots of them! Robert J. Crane’s Girl in the Box series is one of my all time favorites. But I also love Shannon Meyer, Karen Lynch, Sarah J. Maas, Jordan Rivet, Annie Bellet, and I am always looking for new authors.

What are your hobbies?

One of my favorite hobbies is getting lost in a book! When one of my favorite authors comes out with a good book, I will happily curl up for hours and get lost in a different world. I also refinish furniture, study martial arts, bake and run.

Do you have a favorite quote?

I do! It's by Albert Einstein:

“Imagination is more important than knowledge. For knowledge is limited to all we now know and understand, while imagination embraces the entire world, and all there ever will be to know and understand.”