I was tagged by Breeanna Pierce, my amazing critique partner, to complete a 20-question survey designed to get to know authors in the blog-o-sphere. For the original post on the tag and the participation guidelines, go here.

When did you first start writing? Was being a writer something you always aspired to be?

I started writing in early high school. I spontaneous invented fanfiction and then discovered that the Internet was already waaaaay ahead of me. Fanfiction still has a happy place in my heart, but I moved on to original fiction in high school. Before that I was totally going to be an astronaut.

What genre do you write?

Speculative fiction, primarily urban fantasy and alternate history.

Can you tell us a little about your current work in progress? When did you start working on this project?

I am currently cranking my way through the first draft of book 3 in the STEEL EMPIRE series, called STEEL BLOOD.

What was your first piece that you can remember writing? What was it about?

A Highlander: The Series fanfic about Methos and MacLeod rescuing a young girl kidnapped by the Watchers. It was incredibly convoluted and overly melodramatic.

What’s the best part about writing?

Warping preconceived notions of genre into something unique and different.

What’s the worst part about writing?

Actually sitting down and writing. I can revise and edit all day long, but getting those initial words onto paper are like pulling teeth to me.

What’s the name of your favorite character and why? (This can be from a book by another author or from your own work. Book crushes are perfectly acceptable here as well.)

From my own work: Victory and Toria are my favorites, depending on whose POV I am writing at the time. From other works, the original love of my life (as unattainable as he is for multiple reasons, not the least that he is a fictional character) is Vanyel Ashkevron, the last Herald-Mage of Valdemar.

How much time a day/week do you get to write? When is the best time for you to write (morning or night)?

On a good day, I can spare an hour to crank out 1k words. On a good week, I manage this 3 or 4 days. The best time of day for me is late afternoon/early evening, usually at one of three local cafes.

Did you go to college for writing? Or if you haven’t been to college yet, do you plan to?

I have a BA in English from St. Mary’s College of Maryland (2005) and an MA in Writing Popular Fiction from Seton Hill University (2007). I highly recommend both schools and would be happy to chat anytime about either program.

What bothers you more: spelling errors, punctuation errors, or grammar errors?

This is a trick question, because I’m a professional editor and I SEE THEM ALL.

What is the best writing advice that anyone has given you?

Make sure that each scene contains conflict, whether it is versus an external force such as another character or the environment or internal conflict of self. Conflict drives plot and cuts down on the amount of extraneous fluff you have to cut at the end of the draft.

What advice would you give to another writer?

To not put so much faith in advice about writing. Read and absorb all the advice that you can, but focus on what works best for you. And when you discover what works best, never let anyone tell you that you’re doing it wrong.

What are your favorite writing sites or blogs that you turn to for help, tips or encouragement?

I am a terrible person who does not really use writing sites and blogs. I cheat by having access to the SHU Writing Popular Fiction community, which is worth so much more than the fancy letters after my name.

Besides writing, what else do you enjoy doing? What are your hobbies?

I am a voracious reader and Netflix binge-watcher, I harass my three Siamese cats, I gleefully enjoy adult coloring books, and I play table-top role playing games (like Dungeons & Dragons) with my husband and friends.

What is the best book you’ve read this year?

THE MAN WHO LOVED ALIEN LANDSCAPES by Albert Wendland. Fantastic space opera with a murder mystery and a treasure hunt and a mysterious alien race. I read it in one sitting.

What is the best movie you’ve seen this year?

I am an unapologetic Marvel fangirl, and I saw Avengers: Age of Ultron three times opening weekend.

What is your favorite book or series of all time?

Some of the books are better than others, as in the case of any sprawling series, but it is absolutely the novels of the Valdemar Universe by Mercedes Lackey.

Who is your favorite author?

Catherine Asaro is my favorite all-around author, especially her Skolian Empire novels.

What are your plans for the rest of the year in terms of your writing?

Finish the first draft of STEEL BLOOD (mostly through effective use of NaNoWriMo).

Where else can we find you online?

Tagging other authors!