Tell us about yourself and how many books you have written.
I am a YA author who loves a good story, and the art of writing. I started writing at a young age, finishing my first novel when I was twelve years old, and I published my first book, Clara Claus, when I was nineteen. Since then, I have gone on to publish over twenty titles, including novels, short stories, and novellas, as well as the Amazon bestselling Christmas series, the Snowflake Triplet. Aside from writing fiction, I work to encourage authors both new and old with writing tips on my blog and in my young writers guild; I have also penned a book about keeping inspiration in your writing, and am working on another writing-centered nonfiction title.
Though novels are my first love, I am also an artist, and post pictures of characters on my website and Instagram. I love to see characters come to life in a visual way, and am always looking for a different way to tell stories. A few years ago I fell into screenwriting as well, and have been working on scripts as another storytelling method. If there’s a story to be told, I’m happy!
What is the name of your latest book and what inspired it?
My latest title is actually an online read, free for readers. Its a first draft of a reimagining of one of my original published books, called Shadows of Past Pages: a Fantasy story about a girl whose creative writing project seems a little too real, and her best friend, who is definitely hiding something. I post every Tuesday.
Otherwise, my upcoming title is a short story from the Snowflake Triplet, called “The Tale of Wind and Winter”, out October 18th in ebook format (it will appear in paperback along with the final installment of the series, Clara Frost, next year). Every story I write is special to me, but this story in particular has been a different, unique experience. It picks up where the short “North of Dreams” left off, and my characters are in a very dark, sad, frustrating spot in their lives. Each book definitely has a Christmas theme, and usually a happy one, so when I set out to write this story I wanted to shake things up a bit, and have a little bit more mature vibe. This particular story is less about the happiness of the holiday, and more about how a family pulls together to aid one another in a rough time. Here you have four people who are vastly different, only two of them related by blood, and they become a rock for one another, even though some have only just met. It was fun to write, but really it reflects how I feel about family: sometimes you choose it, and sometimes you don’t, but a family is always there when you need them.
Do you have any unusual writing habits?
Many, probably! All writers have something strange that they do, I think.
My strangest writing habit is probably my need to switch from writing on the computer to writing in a notebook, and vice versa, sometimes in the middle of a project. I also tend to work on as many as five projects at once, writing a chapter or two before switching, or even a few pages. It’s not for everyone, but it seems to be how I work best.
What authors, or books have influenced you?
There are so many authors and books that have been the building blocks for my life, both creatively and personally. I am so indebted to the wonderful people who have come before me — and the wonderful people who follow after, some of whom I have met and been inspired by as well.
My favorite author is Madeleine L’Engle, best known for “A Wrinkle In Time”. I particularly love her nonfiction books, because I feel like I’m reading the thoughts of someone who is so much like me, only wiser, and that can be a great comfort. I adore the work of C.S. Lewis and J.R.R. Tolkien, who have been an inspiration to me in many ways. The first author I ever met at a book signing is Ridley Pearson, who is one of the nicest writers I know, and who gave me wonderful advice when I was just starting out.
I love classical novels, particularly Frankenstein, which has influenced my work plenty. Fantastic works like Dracula made me love the dark and creepy, and fantasy tales such as The Princess and the Goblin drew me towards Fantasy as a child. Peter Pan is my all-time favorite book, because I love that story so much, and it has had such a large influence on my life; the book is definitely different than the play, and is my favorite version of the story. The Books of Ember, by Jeanne DuPrau are a particular favorite of mine. But it was Artemis Fowl, by Eoin Colfer, that made me decide, as a young teen, that I wanted to be an author. I had so much fun reading that story that I decided I wanted to write books that others could enjoy.
What are you working on now?
Several things (see question above)!
The most prominent titles on my WIP list right now are the last book in the Snowflake Triplet series, Clara Frost, which is scheduled to be released holiday season, 2017 — seven years after the first book was published! — as well as a third installment in my Phantasmagoria Duet, a contemporary Fantasy series that has been loads of fun to write. Aside from that I have several short stories, a few other novels, and a gigantic project that is an unofficial sequel to my favorite book, Peter Pan.
What is your best method or website when it comes to promoting your books?
I am always trying new things when it comes to writing, marketing, and the like. While I can say Twitter has probably been the best tool to tell people about my books, I’ve found that nothing replaces word-of-mouth, even in the digital age. Striking up conversations, getting out there and meeting people, having book signings — these are the best ways that I’ve found to connect with readers. Plus, I love hearing feedback from my readers, and seeing how my stories have struck a chord with them!
Do you have any advice for new authors?
There are many things that I think are important when it comes to writing — being yourself, learning the difference between constructive criticism and plain criticism, mastering the elements of grammar, learning to find inspiration in everything — but I’ve found that my biggest advice would be this: take your time.
So many people want to jump into publishing, because it’s a lot easier than it used to be — and on the other end, writers can be very tempted to throw the words onto the page, and then immediately hand them to an editor or think the book is finished. But writing is like anything else: it takes practice and discipline — the kind of discipline that means putting in plenty of hours of practice and taking quiet chances, trying new things, writing and rewriting, so that when the time comes to release a book or do a signing or speak, you are confident and ready because you’ve taken the time to prepare. A doctor cannot read one book on medicine and expect to be able to take care of someone properly — and neither can a writer. So, my advice is, if nothing else: take your time.
Do these things: read, learn, experiment, keep writing, keep rewriting. Learning never truly ends, but if we put in the time, we can be the best writers possible when the time comes to move forward towards publishing and communicating with others.
What is the best advice you have ever heard?
“Just keep writing until you get to the end”, and “finish something, because most people don’t finish”, both said to me by Ridley Pearson at a book signing (I’m paraphrasing, but that’s basically it). I think most writers struggle with finishing, especially if they’re working on their first story. Finishing is difficult, and sometimes it’s difficult to see the end clearly with all of the things that have happened in the middle, so I think it’s solid advice. Just keep going.
What are you reading now?
I read books like I write books: several at a time.
I’m about finished with the Middle Grade title “Flights and Chimes and Mysterious Times”, by Emma Trevayne. I’m also working on “Fierce on the Page” by Sage Cohen (a great writing book!), and “The Problem of Pain”, by C.S. Lewis. I’m somewhere in a book of fairytales, too.
What’s next for you as a writer?
That’s difficult to say, as I’m always trying something new. You never know with me!
Definitely the work and release of the books above: Clara Frost and the 3rd Phantasmagoria Duet story (still pondering a title). And the continued posting of Shadows of Past Pages on my website (please check it out — it’s a fun one). Otherwise, continuing to teach young writers, work on scripts, and perfect my art skills.
I would like to get more into screenwriting in the near future, and perhaps try my hand at a comic. We shall see!
If you were going to be stranded on a desert island and allowed to take 3 or 4 books with you what books would you bring?
Such a hard choice! Can I really only choose a few?
I probably would bring my copy of “The Hobbit”, because it’s very dear to me, hand selected by my brother when I first showed interest in Tolkien. Probably “Howl’s Moving Castle” by Dianna Wynne Jones, because it always makes me laugh. Probably “Peter Pan”, because I can’t imagine never reading it again. And if I could possibly find a book that would eat and trap all of my other books for later use, I’d bring that one, too. If not then probably “A Circle of Quiet”, by Madeleine L’Engle.