I'm a lazy, lazy blogger, so I hope to use this space to keep you updated about important stuff. Well, or non-important stuff that I just want to tell you. Either way.
FAQ from readers
Do you sell signed books? Can I mail you a book with a SASE and have you send it back to me?
I’m sorry, but I don’t sell signed books. I just don’t have the availability to take this on, but please know that I wish I could do this. I don’t have an assistant, a website manager, etc., so I’m doing everything myself.
The times that I’ve had people send me books with a SASE still mean that I need to go to the PO to check the postage, and for whatever reason, the postage always seems off! It really ends up being a bit of a hassle and taking time out of my day to make a special trip, etc. Again, I’m so sorry about this, and I promise that if I become a super famous author that I will try to take care of these things!
Are you doing any book signings near me?
Check this page for that info, but I don’t do nearly as many as I would like. Aside from the fact that it’s super expensive (airfare, hotel, table fees, books to sell), my husband works about a million hours a week, and I’ve got a son I obviously can’t leave totally unattended while I’m gone, so that means working out coverage for him, etc. Believe me, I am SO jealous when I see authors who are able to fly all over the country (or to other countries!) and do such fun signings, but I’m trying to do what I can.
What inspires you to write the kinds of stories and characters that you do?
I like writing about pain and coping mechanisms, how those blend with different personalities, and how people can survive, even thrive, in the face of pain, loss, abandonment, grief, etc. My father is a clinical psychologist, and I grew up surrounded by the Cambridge, MA therapeutic community, so that thinking was part of my life from early on. I studies psychology in college and went to graduate school for social work, so human development and the psyche have always been at the forefront of my motivation. But instead of being a practicing clinician, I like studying people through my characters.
And I suppose there is part of me that hopes that my characters and their stories may help others who have been through struggles. That I can offer comfort, camaraderie, solace.. A bit of healing.
And of course, I do love making people laugh, although I can't tell you the number of times that I've written some crazy scene and wondered if anyone would find it funny... But it's worked out okay. Mostly. (See numerous reviews that claim I am desperately trying to be witty and failing terrifically. So there's that.)
Why aren’t your books available at Barnes & Noble and other sites? Why only Amazon?
Although initially Flat-Out Love was self-published, it and Left Drowning are now owned by Skyscape, one of Amazon’s imprints, and so those books are Amazon exclusives. It makes no sense for me to try to sell Flat-Out Matt or Flat-Out Celeste, both of which are self-published, anywhere but on Amazon because that is (and always has been) where my sales are.
The book that I’m working on now will likely be sold on other avenues, but I’ll have to see how that goes and if I can build an audience on other platforms. Going exclusively with Amazon, called Kindle Select, also gives me access to great promotional opportunities, like Kindle Countdown sales, as well as let me make my books available for borrowing through Prime and Kindle Unlimited.
Why are some of your books self-published and some aren’t?
Well... I self-published when no one would buy Relatively Famous or Flat-Out Love, and I fell in worship with it. About a year and a half after FOL was published, Skyscape (an Amazon imprint) offered me a deal for that book and for my next, Left Drowning. They offer a very interesting publishing model that is different in many ways from traditional publishing, so I took a gamble to see how it would work for me. While there were and are some pieces that worked out well, ceding control doesn’t sit all that well with me, and it’s hard to hand over a book and let others handle it in a way that I would not. But that’s life in publishing, right? There are sides to self-publishing that I don’t love either, so I’m not opposed to working with a publisher again if the terms make the control trade-off worth it.
All writers are essentially gambling addicts, if you ask me. J
For more of my thoughts on self-publishing, check out this page.
What kind of environment do you like to write in? I write in bed. Literally. Propped up on one of those funny chair pillows with my laptop on a little lift lap-pad thing. My dogs curled up next to me. Our bedroom is on the lower level of the house, and it tends to be pretty dark and Bat Cave-y, but I like it that way. Sometimes I have the TV on mute in the background because it makes me feel as though I’m not working, I just happen to be writing a book. You know, all casual and whatnot.
During certain scenes, I put in headphones and listen to music, often with one song that fits that scene on repeat.
When it’s time to do final edits, or compare documents, or such, I move to my desk and use the big screen to give me a full view. If I’m at my desk, I tend to be very business-like and focused, which is good for handling boring copyedits.
What’s your writing process like?
I stew a lot. For months. I let ideas roll around in my head for ages before I even consider putting anything down on paper. Often the spark of an idea (a cardboard cutout of a person!) leads to me asking a lot of “Why?” and “What if?” questions to steamroll a plot. There is usual one scene that I picture that basically becomes the entire reason to write the book; all the chapters before lead up to that delicious day when I’ve earned the right to type it out. And I always like to know where a story is headed in full so that my early chapters are infused with the full story arc.
I outline like mad. Mad! After talking out loud with fellow authors about my story ideas, and when I feel that I have a full enough handle on the basic gist, and after I’ve then pitched fits and moaned a lot, I type up an outline. I used to do very, very detailed outlines of scenes, but I’ve gotten less strict with that as I’ve become more comfortable with my writing abilities; I now know when I can fill in a scene and when I can’t. So sometimes a plot point will be more of an emotional arc (ie: Character A needs to see Character B in a new light), and I’m learning to trust that I can tackle then when it’s time.
So I write, step by step, always chapter by chapter as I have them ordered until I hit the end. The first third or half of a book is pretty slow for me, and I tend to finish by late afternoon. This section of the book is true work and takes sheer will on my part to do. I will confess that I don’t love this stage. It’s exhausting and frustrating, and I don’t have enough of a word count to feel particularly thrilled about what I have. But that second half? And, oh man, the last fourth of a book? It’s amazing. I’ll write until one in the morning or later; it’s such a rush when all of that early work I did on the book has set the stage to write those big, juicy scenes.
When I have a complete rough draft, I go back to the beginning and read my story, taking notes about what needs work. I am a pretty slow and steady writer, and I make sure not to write myself into a corner or fling around plot ideas with no plan, so I don’t tend to have major restructuring issues to deal with. Sometimes I send chapter chunks to fellow authors or select beta readers as I write to see if I’m on the right path, and that helps minimize major edits, too. But beta readers definitely help with a finished manuscript, although I’m careful not to have too many people involved, or I end up with a proverbial case of too many cooks.
And that’s how my book babies are born.
Am I your favorite Sarai? Without question, my favorite is Sarai Larivee Winslow, who may or may not have submitted this question for this page.
What is your favorite sushi roll? All of them. I like complicated ones, simple ones, ones with jalapenos, ones with spicy mayo, ones with lobster. Scallop sashimi.... rolls that are crunchy and soft at the same time... Oh God, I’m starving now... I love albacore and yellowtail more than I love anything else in the world (ignore the absurd exaggeration). It sucks being gluten free because most places don’t have gf tempura batter, so I miss out on all rolls that have battered stuff or the delectable crunchies, however I just discovered a local restaurant that does amazing gf tempura, so I’ve been going maki crazy! If you happen to be in the Manchester, NH area, give Mint Bistro a try. They also make a killer mojito!
What is your usual coffee order at Starbucks? In the warm months, venti coffee Frappuccino with an extra shot and mocha drizzle. In cold months, a hot salted caramel latte. I’m also milk-free (I know, kill me), and so I bring in my own almond milk, which works fantastically for coffee drinks. Ironically, I can find stores in NH that let me do this, but if I go to California, the land of special-diet menus, they won’t take it. I think I need to start petitioning Starbucks because soy milk makes me gag.
If you were on The Voice, who would you want to pick you? Um, hello? Adam. I mean, really, who asked this? <winks>
If you weren't a writer, what would you be doing? I would... be in a puddle..on the floor... lost and listless. Stop that! Don’t even talk about that!
When did you figure out that this was your destiny? This is tough to answer., mostly because I'm not Luke Skywalker, but I think when Flat-Out Love really started selling enough that I was making decent money every month. I mean, it’s one thing to believe in yourself and your work, but it’s impossible to ignore the reality that this is a career that needs to provide income. I sold only a few books per month, I really couldn’t continue writing full-time, as much as I love it. If I know there is an audience for my work, that my books are impacting people and making them feel/dream/hope/believe, then that is more fuel than I could have imagined.
Star Wars vs Star Trek? Star Wars, no question. Because Chewbacca.
Favorite city? I’m obsessed with San Diego. It’s the perfect city, as far as I’m concerned. But I did grow up in the Boston area, and I will always have wicked love for my hometown. That's why these cities--and coastal Maine, for that matter--end up in my books.
What’s on your bucket list? Move to said fabulous city. of San Diego. Have enough money to move to said fabulous city. Have a pool at new house in said fabulous city... And I want to own a life-size replica of Han Solo in carbonite.
I dunno. Mostly? Mostly I want to keep writing.