- Congrats on publishing How To Get Arrested! Where did you first get the idea to publish ‘episodes’ of a story?
When I first came up with the idea for Zurik and Trent I was planning on have them be two full length Romance novels. Yeah, we’ve come a long way. Anyway, I knew specific events and the rough outline for Zurik’s story, but when it came to Trent’s, it seemed like his was going to take place in the middle of Zurik’s. Fast forward a few frustrating years and I’m listening to a podcast by Joanna Penn. Her guest, Nick Stephenson, said the advent of Kindle Unlimited changed the way authors wrote. Shorter pieces made more money. Couple that with the fact that I was just wishing someone would write a book into short episodes I could read one a day and the idea for Starsboro was born.
- What is the biggest challenge you’ve faced as an author?
For me, its all about balance. In the first year I really decided to hunker down and make this dream a reality I had a hard time balancing it and life. As a mother of two humans and six fur babies, plus starting Amphibian Press with Sara, writing was tough. I felt like if I was doing well in two areas of my life, I was failing in the third. So for a while I tried to rotate so I was never failing at the same thing for too long. Haha. I also searched for tools to make my job easier and more efficient. Tweetdeck and Buffer App have been life savers. I definitely still have room for improvement but I’m just taking it one day at a time.
- What events in your own life have influenced your characters’ worlds and plots?
I doubt Starsboro would have been set on North Carolina’s east coast if I hadn’t lived there for the four years my husband was in the Marines. I think the biggest things that influence my writing though, are the people I interact with. I don’t mean to, but after the first draft when I’m revising I can see people I know in my characters. In their reactions and even their hobbies and dreams.
- How does writing fit into your goals in regards to a career and family?
As far as my career, I want two things. One, is to be an author. To be prolific and provide entertainment for my fans. And two, to help other authors do the same. Writing fits into both of those rather well since I am constantly working on a piece of fiction or a blog post. Family is a little bit more complicated. My sons are still pretty little and need quite a bit from me. So I have to fit in a few sentences here or there between filling up cups, making snacks, and cleaning up spills. And that’s when I’m not chasing them around during a tickle war.
- I know my characters often surprise me, and it seems like they have minds of their own; what was the biggest surprise one of your characters sprung on you?
I have a thriller series that is has been put on the back burner for now, but I put a ton of work into planning. It was supposed to be a trilogy and it was all planned out and when I sat down to write the first book I knew three thing had to happen: Scarlet was to be betrothed to Liam, she was supposed to love him, and he was supposed to be too hung up on the girl who broke his heart to reciprocate. Well, Scarlet had other ideas. No matter what I tried to do, she didn’t care about Liam. She thought he was nice and less crazy than his mother and possibly the only non homicidal one of the bunch, but there were no sparks. NONE. Until, I introduced her to Gabriel, one of Liam’s many older brother’s who was also very unhappily married.
- If you could achieve one thing with your work, what would it be?
I want to inspire people. To get them thinking and I want them to have that horrible feeling when the story is over. The empty, what the heck am I supposed to do now, feeling. I want to entertain people. To give them an escape from real life.
- Which authors inspire you the most?
Sherrilyn Kennyon, because her stories are funny and entertaining but also because she’s so prolific. The other author who inspires me is newer. V. S. Holmes inspires me so much. She works so hard not only to get her stories out but to improve her work and try new things. Every time I finish one of her books I think, man, I wish I could do that. She argues that I’m better with humor than she is but that’s like if Jim Carey told Brad Pitt he wished he was as good at acting and Brad Pitt responded with “Well, you’re better at making people laugh”. Well, I would hope so, it’s kinda the only thing I do….
- The virtual party for the release of How to Get Arrested was a big success. Are you planning on celebrating the release of each episode with a similar event?
It was a lot of fun, but I think it could also get really old if I do it every single month so I’m thinking we only do the parties for the big events, The season finale and premier episodes. For the ones in the middle I am simply hosting giveaways.
- Starsboro sounds like a pretty time-intensive project. Do you have a second season planned?
I have a very rough outline for season two. I pretty much know the main points and things that need to happen to progress the story. I do plan to write most of it during the second camp NaNoWriMo this year. So, hopefully I get it planned out better before that….
- What about other, unrelated writing projects?
This year, unrelated projects are on the back burner. I am working on a post apocalyptic story involving zombies which I would love to have out for October but I’m not sure that’s going to happen this year. If I can get the first season of Starsboro set to go maybe.
- What has made the biggest difference for you in regards to your writing career, that you would like to share with aspiring authors?
I decided in January of 2015 that I would publish my first piece in January of 2016. Then, I did it. I’m not sure what lead to this change but suddenly writing wasn’t a hobby. It was my job and I treated it like that. I think goals, schedules, and having someone hold you accountable are the best things you can do to realize this particular dream.
Thanks so much for your great answers, Cameron! Readers: If you want to know more, Cameron writes many of our blog posts here on Amphibian Authors, from time management when you have children to the ins-and-outs of marketing.
- Do you write from home?
I write all over, really. During the winter I mostly write from home, though I will sojourn to the local coffee shop to work with my writers’ group. I work as an archaeologist for the other three seasons, so I travel throughout the northeast depending on the location of our sites. Most hotels have a workstation in the rooms with great wifi, power outlets and a desk, and that’s where I write during the dig season.
- Wherever you write, describe your desk/writing area.
Messy. As it’s winter, I’m home. My home desk is currently covered in two TBR piles, headphones, a stack of Archaeology magazine issues and two coffee cups. It’s tucked into a makeshift alcove under a bank of windows and the walls are covered with small prints and original work that I’ve acquired from various Comic Cons. There’s a book case on my right with my favorites and a box on my left for books I’m bringing to our local used book store. Right now the trees are bare, so I have a nice view through the window of a rather bleak sky.
- What influences your writing the most?
Experiences. Immersing myself in something, smelling the scents, hearing the sounds. People watching. Richness, whether it’s the sound of a thick fabric moving when I walk through a warehouse with a friend or the smell of chicken soup cooked in a clay basin underground.
- What is your definition of success?
On a personal level, it’s reading a manuscript and thinking, “hey, not bad at all.” When I’m looking over a story and feel just as excited as I did when I concocted the first scene (despite the horrible days it might have taken to get there), I feel like I’ve succeeded.
On a different level, if one person reads my work and the characters, the setting, something, reaches out of the pages and grips their heart, that is success. I want readers to be able to see themselves in my work, or find solace from their own world, or a solution to an issue they face.
- Does how you grew up influence your writing?
I imagine it does, quite a bit. I grew up in a very remote area without any children my age close by. I didn’t make friends very easily or have siblings, so I spent a lot of my time alone. We had 10.5 acres of land that abutted several miles of wilderness that is now a wildlife preserve. I spent almost all my time wandering the woods and streams there in my own little world. Pieces of that land are woven into the landscapes of my books for sure. My parents read a lot to me, and my dad would make up stories or share tales from his younger, rather colorful, days. Though I wasn’t allowed much in the way of televised entertainment, I did watch NOVA, Cosmos, and Nature, which informed a lot of my love for science fiction.
- What made you decide to write a book?
I didn’t really decide to write a book, I just started putting down a story in my head and continued to work on it. Eventually I realized I could actually do something with the project. Now it’s the foundation for 16 books. I think the key is to not disregard something even if you can’t surmise the purpose just yet.
- Where did the inspiration for series like Reforged and Nel Bently come from?
The story line of the first two books in Reforged started as a single book. There was an image in a National Geographic (I think) of a ruined city in a desert. The image of a young woman, waking in that city, sparked the character who is now Alea.
The Nel Bently Books began as a joke over the whole joke that is the Ancient Aliens TV show. Since my actual profession is archaeology, and I study prehistoric human migration, it seemed like a fun project for the camp that the National Novel Writing Month people hold a few months during the year. After a few chapters I fell in love with Nel, Mikey, and Lin.
- Who is your favorite character that you’ve created? What book can we find them in?
Well that’s like asking a parent to pick a favorite child. Obviously I love my main characters, elsewise I wouldn’t have written about them. But I’ll choose a favorite supporting character.
An’thor (An’thoriend Domariigo) is a warrior from the frozen tundra of Neneviir. He’s a drunk who wavers between jaded, desperate, and kind. An’thor is introduced first in Smoke and Rain, but he appears more often in Madness and Gods and Blood and Mercy, where he acts as a mentor/antagonist for one of the main characters. I plan to add more to his history in the prequel quartet.
- What made you decide to be an Indie Author instead of going the traditional route?
I tried the traditional route, and got several bites for Smoke and Rain, but the real thing for me was time. I work full time and if I couldn’t make my own deadlines there was no way I was going to make someone else’s. Being female in the publishing industry isn’t easy, and being a female that isn’t a cis/straight female or writing romance is also tough. A lot of authors find their female-MC covers “sexed-up,” and frankly I don’t have time for that bull.
- Where are you most active on Social media?
I’m a big fan of Twitter (if you use it properly, for fate’s sake stop shouting at people). I’m on there often and will be sure to listen, interact, and ask. Facebook is a bit of a necessary evil for me, and I find the quality, authenticity, and professionalism of the conversations much easier to regulate on Twitter.
I’ve met some phenomenal humans just by listening and engaging people, and some who had really changed my view of the world.
- What are you working on right now?
I’m adding the final edits to Lightning and Flames, the second Reforged book, drafting Madness and Gods (the third one) and Drifters (the second Nel Bently Book).
- What is the single most important thing you have learned from this process that you wish to share with other writers/authors?
To experience. Take time to listen to other people, to strangers, to dear friends. Smell the air — fresh wind or stagnant exhaust, smell it all. People watch. Try new things, even if you’re uncomfortable at first. Those experiences will make your writing sing.