Today, we're very pleased and excited to welcome Minxy Friend and Twitter Buddy, Tina Vaughn to the blog. Take it away, Tina!
What is your writing process?
I start with the characters...always. I write from the first time they meet or from the first time my hero and heroine realize they are attracted to each other. (This might not be the inciting incident, and I know that some of what I'm writing may never end up in the manuscript, but this helps me get a better understanding of characters' voices, goals, motivations, conflicts, etc.)
After that I write a log line, back-of-the-book blurb and a rough one-page synopsis that includes the plot points: the set up, a turning point, the midpoint, the second turning point, the black moment and the resolution.
Despite my love of words, I'm also a visual learner. I use the backs of pages from my very large desk calendar to develop a table/chart that includes these plot points. To these, I add the characters' conflicts (internal, external) with a brief note regarding how those conflicts manifest themselves at each plot point.
I like this method, because while it's a good month's worth of work for me up front, I believe it saves me from a lot of other struggles, including (but not limited to) writer's block, sagging middles, etc.
Everyone who writes knows it's not easy - what methods do you use to keep at it on days when it would be so much easier to go shoe shopping?
Are you familiar with that expression, “the only person standing in your way is you.” Yep. Pretty powerful stuff. I think about that and remember that if I want to achieve my goals, if I want to live my dream, then I need to be writing.
Keeping fit: Do you have an exercise regime to counterbalance all those hours sitting at a computer?
Ugh. I don't. It's that word “regime.” Creeps me out. True story. Just a couple weeks ago I finally found my weights and they were covered in spiderwebs. Despite all that, I do know I need to be exercising so I just registered for a cardio class with some of my family members. It's three days per week. I'll let you know how it goes.
Do you believe in writer's block?
So far, that's something I've not experienced. I don't do a detailed plot, but I believe the outline and the time I've spent getting to know my characters “up front” helps. I'm also a scene-hopper, so if I feel that I'm losing direction or focus in one part of the book I simply jump to another.
Have you ever used an incident from real life in a book? If so, did it get you into trouble?
All the time, but it's more inspiration than transcription, you know what I mean? Songs, articles, scenery, my friends and family, snippets of conversation I overhear while I'm waiting in line at the grocery store. I think being able to find a story in even the smallest of ideas or moments is a necessity for a writer.
In what way is being a published writer different to how you thought it would be?
I never thought about people actually reading my work. That probably sounds crazy, but I really didn't expect it. I guess I thought No Sweeter Love would just go out into universe and sit, and I was cool with that because, well, I had a really great cover that had my name on it. LOL But, I receive messages, emails and tweets from people telling me they bought my book or that they read it and loved it. And then people take time from their busy lives to actually review and rate it on Goodreads or Amazon or B&N. It's mind-boggling. I'm humbled by all the support and feedback and... Shew. I'm getting a little choked up here.
Promotion is no longer a dirty word. In what ways do you strive to reach more readers?
I'm on Twitter, Facebook, Goodreads and I blog. I'm a member of a fabulous critique group Passionate Critters (http://passionatecritters.blogspot.com) and am a contributor with The Hot Pink Typewriter (http://thehotpinktypewriter.blogspot.com). But that stuff doesn't feel like promo. It's more like hanging out with my friends, other readers and writers who share similar hopes and goals. So...I don't know. I guess you could consider all that promo but most days it just feels like partying.
What is your top promo tip for other authors?
Just write. If you don't have a product to market, then promo doesn't even matter all that much. Also, if you are published, an easy-to-navigate website with all your books (including blurbs and excerpts) is a must. If I've taken the time to visit your website, then you want to make it as easy as possible for me to find your booklist (including blurbs, excerpts and buy links.)
What did you learn while writing this book?
I was reminded of how important forgiveness is, for yourself and others. It's hard to move on when you're wrapped up in the mistakes and regrets of the past.
What was the most fun part of writing this book?
I really enjoyed writing the interaction between Jolene and Emily. Most of the time I felt like I was eavesdropping on a conversation between best friends. Those were the easiest parts of the book to write, and the most fun.
And just for fun: what would your hero’s honeymoon destination of choice be?
I picture Ryan on a beach somewhere. He's a big, hot guy so I'm thinking anywhere where he could wear boardshorts and nothing else would be best.
Super congrats on your debut, Tina! It's been a blast having you here :)