1. What is the most productive time of the day for you to write?
I get most of my writing done when the house is empty - so anytime from my first cup of coffee, until late afternoon when kids and spouse get home. Once the house fills up, there are too many interruptions to bother, although I do sneak in some light editing in the evenings when I'm on a roll.
2. Do you start your projects writing with paper and pen or is it all on the computer?
All computer. I do carry around a small notebook though, and jot ideas or snatches of dialogue down in it, but typing is so much faster, not to mention neater. And it's easier to rearrange words on a computer screen without making a mess of things.
3. What do you draw inspiration from?
My inspiration comes from real life historical figures. I'm curious as to what drove them to make the choices they did, what qualities make a leader or strong individual and then I try to get at the core of what motivated them, what they aspired to, what they feared. I find research fascinating.
4. Do you set goals for yourself when you sit down to write such as word count?
I avoid setting a daily word count. It's more important to me that I get a scene completed or polish something I've already written. In other words, it's the quality of the writing I get done each day that matters more to me than the quantity. When I nail a scene it's enormously satisfying - doesn't matter whether it's 500 words or 5,000.
5. Are you a published or a self published author and how do you come up with your cover art?
I am a self-published author. I had been agented and while we garnered the interest of some editors at major houses and came close to a contract a couple of times, the deal never quite materialized. At some point, I needed to move forward and becoming an indie author allowed me to get my stories out there for readers.
My cover art was inspired by a photo I found that fit my first book, The Crown in the Heather, The Bruce Trilogy: Book I, perfectly. I came up with a fairly specific idea of how I wanted it to look and then worked with a graphic artist, Lance Ganey, on the layout.
6. What drives you to choose the career of being a writer?
While my kids were younger, writing was a very fulfilling way to spend my time. I love the way that words sound and how they can impact people when you put them together in the right way. And certain periods of history have always enthralled me. So I guess what drives me is being able to share those passions with others. It's really about connecting with readers on a human level.
7. Do you own an ebook reading device?
I have Kindle on my laptop and am grateful to Amazon for providing this option. Hopefully, one day soon I'll have earned enough from writing not only to pay off some pesky bills, but buy myself a Kindle or other e-reader.
8. Who are some of your favorite authors and What are you reading now?
Favorite authors in historical fiction are Bernard Cornwell for the non-stop action and his recklessly courageous anti-hero Untred in his Saxon Tales, and Philippa Gregory for her rich characterization. I also love Mitch Albom - his stories are very simple but deeply moving. Garth Stein's The Art of Racing in the Rain is another favorite of mine. Right now I'm reading Ann Weisgarber's The Secret History of Rachel Dupree, about a black pioneer women in the early 20th century Badlands.
9. What do you think of book trailers and do you have any plans to have any?
Book trailers are one more tool that writers can use to spread the word, but they shouldn't just be slapped together in an hour. They should serve as a teaser - provide a visual and just hit on the hook of what the story is about.
But since you asked, yes, I do have one:
10. What are you working on now that you can talk about?
My next book, Isabeau, A Novel of Queen Isabella and Sir Roger Mortimer, will be out in September of 2010. It takes place in the early 14th century, just like The Bruce Trilogy, but in England and France, rather than Scotland. Queen Isabella, the wife of Edward II, has her income, lands and children taken away from her by her husband's 'favorite', Lord Hugh Despenser. Eventually, Isabella is allowed to go to France to negotiate a peace treaty, but while there she becomes involved with Sir Roger Mortimer, an escaped rebel . . . and England's history is forever changed.
I'm also in the process of final revisions for the second Bruce book, Worth Dying For. With some diligence, it should be available by January of 2011.