What were your goals when you started writing?
I started writing very early, but I was a teenager when I realized this is what I really wanted to do with my life. I wanted to be published in romantic fiction. Romance novels have always been my first love. There was a manuscript that shall-not-be-named that I helped co-write with another author. It was briefly considered by Harlequin. It was rejected when I was 18. I was always writing creative fiction even though I was working toward my degree in mass communications. Up until my dad died, that is. I stopped writing altogether after that. Insert long interlude without any writing. Five years. I wanted to write, I made multiple attempts, but nothing worked. And then one day I realized I was going to die (eventually, not any time soon) without accomplishing my goal of getting published. That was very depressing. It was a life changer. It took nine months, but I did complete my first full-length novel in 2009. The funny thing about it is, I put it in the back recesses of my flash drive. I didn't stop writing, but I didn't do anything with that book for another three years. My third novel was the first one to be published (that happened in 2012) and I did it all myself. Not only had I sought publication, I learned the ins and outs of self-publication too, which is no easy feat.
What are your goals now?
Get books in the the hands of readers. Readers who want them and readers who pick it up and are open-minded enough to say, "I didn't consider reading a book like this before, but I'm so glad I did." I don't care if I sell 10 copies or 100,000 copies, as long as my readers are pleased at the end.
What pays the bills now?
I work a 40 hour week at a day job because writing isn't paying the bills--yet. There's always the chance for that break-through book, but I'm content pushing my imprint and working with small presses. It was never my goal to make scads of money doing this (see the last question). Happy readers = happy author.
Assuming writing doesn't pay the bills, what motivates you to keep writing?
I don't know any way to quit. I get frustrated, I have months where very little writing happens. Last year I worked on seven novels and wrote over 300,000 words. This year I've managed to finish one full-length one, write a novella, and the end of a novel I started last year. It's totaled up to a little over 200,000 words. It's frustrating and a little sad given the previous year. But there are some characters who won't be denied and I have to get their stories out. There are stories I have to tell because I can't get them out of my head until they're jotted down. And there are a hundred reasons to keep going when even a simple line from a reader tells me they loved the story and they hope there will be more.
What advice would you give young authors hoping to make a career out of writing?
It can be done. I see authors in my social networks who do it. Or at least they make very good money at it. But it's also a lot of promoting, a lot of finding the right niches, the right audience, good timing. It's a gamble and much of it depends on your willingness to put yourself out there. God knows, I probably don't do enough of it. I sell books without having to do much more than keep up a blog and a Facebook fan page. Not tons, not enough to help me quit my day job, but enough that the extra income makes a small difference. And for me, happy readers are enough. I live for the messages that say, 'I couldn't put it down'.