1. How do you come up with the names for your characters?
Well, the bad characters get the names of former students and distant family members who gave me grief or bad Christmas presents. Characters I like are sometimes named after friends, family members who still claim me, and names I get from peeking into Cabbage Patch boxes at Wal-Mart.
2. Do you listen to music when you write, and if so what kind?
Sure I do. It’s so inspirational for putting you right into the heart of a scene. And since I have some romantic elements in most of my books, that of course means I listen to a lot of. . . polka. For special moments I even break out the kazoo. (side note: I once worked in a school where the faculty were given NOSE kazoos. No kidding. I still have that thing, but have yet to perfect it.)
3. Where do you find the time to teach full time AND write?
In a word: elves.
And along those lines, I’d like to offer a few time-saving tips for the rest of you. These have sure helped me.
a. Wear the same outfit every day. People will stare, but they will not comment for fear of rudeness. Or fear of getting too close.
b. Become friends with your messy house. A dusty coffee table isn’t a problem. It’s a great place for tic-tac-toe at dinner parties.
c. Send pets out to find their own food. Once upon a time it’s what animals did. How hard could it be?
d. Forget setting aside time for running or lifting weights. Your exercise? Emailing. It’s got to burn at least some calories. Like three.
e. Press your nose to your neighbor’s dining room window and look pitiful. Instant invitation to dinner. It makes them feel included in your career. (And Mrs. Rumpskie, I like a little more ketchup on my meatloaf, by the way. See you Thursday.)
4. What are some of your favorite books?
I like a variety. I enjoy anything by YA author Richard Peck, especially A Year Down Yonder. I also love books by Meg Cabot, Susan Elizabeth Phillips, Sarah Mlynowski, and Natalie Lloyd. And you cannot forget your classics such as Shakespeare, Langston Hughes, and Walter the Farting Dog.
5. How do I get published?
You do what I did—search long and hard for a four leaf clover, stalk a few leprechauns, then convert your life savings into pennies and toss them into every fountain in the lower forty-eight. Other than that, put your butt in the seat and write. And get it to the right people—either an agent or editor for traditional or a distributor (Kobo, Amazon, Nook, iBooks, etc.) for indie.
6. What’s the best part of being an author?
Connecting with readers! Time is a precious commodity, so it’s an honor that someone would choose to give up some of those hours to read one of my books.
7. What’s the worst part of being an author?
Writer’s Butt ™. You could search for Wikipedia on this condition or just take it from me—it’s serious. You sit for such long periods of time that your butt starts to mold to the shape of the giant seat cushion. Other Writer’s Butt phenomenon include your tushie becoming resistant to gravity, an intense desire to wear sweats every day, and the delusion that Ben and Jerry’s ice cream is your friend.