I was intrigued that 13 to Life began with the Textnovel.com contest. What was it like, writing with such immediate feedback? Do you miss that sort of feedback now?
I enjoyed the feedback I got (and the participation of people in some of my polls which challenged me to bend to what the public hoped for next in the story). When I need feedback now I call on my CPs and Betas and occasionally post snippets on Twitter. I want to get back to Textnovel.com, though--it's a great site.
That brings us to the next question. How do you get feedback on your current projects?
My husband, CPs and Betas are great about giving feedback to me with my current projects. Everyone but my husband does an NDA and then gets email attachments to read and make comments on. And my CPs and Betas ROCK!
Has there been a particularly helpful critique? How did it strengthen your writing?
All of my CPs and Betas are very different in what they bring to a critique. I had one CP who was great at grammar. Robin is tremendous about looking at the feel and mood and romantic elements, while Carla and Annette are terrific about scoping out the humor and overall pacing. My husband and father are more about the story's flow and how it (literally) sounds as they listen to it read by a robotic voice while they're on the road. Their motto is basically: If it sounds great read by a robot, it should sound even better when people read it themselves. My agent, Stan Soper, also reads and makes suggestions. I have a great team really.
What sort of books did you read as a teen? How have they influenced your writing today?
I was a sci-fi, fantasy and mythology girl. I loved Anne McCaffrey, Mercedes Lackey, Robin McKinley, Shakespeare and Andre Norton. I think reading them helped me understand voice and character (The Ship Who Sang and The Hero and The Crown were awesome) and the depth of a world--without having to reveal all of the world's depth in the very first book (hint, hint).
You've blogged about how you never thought you'd never write about werewolves, even though it's turned out to be "enriching". So I have to ask, what made you write about werewolves in the first place?
Frankly, I was seeing a sea of vampires and (although they're awesome in lots of ways) I have a great respect and fondness for wolves. And the legends of werewolves have as rich a history as vamps (easily). I wanted to know where the werewolf heroes were and so I wrote some myself.
Your website biography says that you began writing in earnest when your grandmother fell ill. If it's not too personal, what did you write? Were you writing with the intent of getting published?
I was only a kid then, so I was writing about unicorns and volcanos erupting. I dreamed of being published as a kid (and first got published when I was still in 8th grade) but wasn't serious about it.
It's totally off topic, but you raise heritage livestock in upstate New York. I'd love to know more how you ended up in such unique work.
I like to believe I'm a relatively independent thinker and the idea of being self-sufficient (our animals and land produce a variety of products for us) is very appealing to me. Going back to more traditional breeds of livestock (and plants) is also a bit of a fascination for me--there are reasons certain breeds have lasted this long and (although I'd NEVER say it's easy work) farming's good and grounding. There's nothing better to check your attitude as an author than to have to scrape manure off your boots before you come in your front door. ;-)
(Love it. Nothing like manure to ground a person.)
And now... the promised 13 to Life snippet.