Sorry for the silence for the past 2 weeks. I picked up a cold on the last day of November and it took me down hard. But I’m feeling much better now! Unfortunately, my days have been wrapped up with working on STEEL MAGIC edits, and my NaNoWriMo novel is still languishing at 70k words. But I’m happy to chat about it in the meantime!

I know, I know…

(Find the original post about book 3, STEEL BLOOD, here.)

1. Is the book turning out how you thought it would be, or is it defying your expectations?

Yes and no. I had the entire novel outlined by scene before NaNoWriMo began, so I knew where I was headed. But little things changed, and some characters have challenged and surprised me. Victory and Mikelos’ relationship has been a joy to write and explore, and my Romeo and Juliet analogs have astonished me with their depths of character. Which, considering I’m the writer, hopefully means that I’m doing something right!

2. What’s your first sentence (or paragraph)?

Change was coming.

Zhuanxu Xian smelled it in the air and felt it caress the skin on the back of his hands. He heard it in the giggling of his many-times over granddaughter Zhinu and her handmaids, picking out the melodic sounds from among the murmuring of the many others present at court for Governor Yu’s announcement. But the lacquered banquet table beneath his fingers was solid as ever, as unchanging as the tropical breeze that stirred through the hall.

3. Are you a plotter or a pantser? Have you ever tried both methods and how did it turn out?

Definitely, definitely a plotter, especially since I incorporate NaNoWriMo into my larger projects. I would waste too much time if I didn’t know where I was headed. But for short projects (less than 10k words), I am happier to meander and explore and figure out things out on the way.

4. What do you reward yourself with after meeting a goal?

I wasn’t allowed to watch Netflix until I was done with my writing for the day! (Unless I was at the gym. Netflix is always allowed while on a treadmill.)

5. What do you look for in a name? Do you have themes and where do you find your names?

Because of the book’s setting, the majority of my secondary characters had names of Chinese, Japanese, or Korean origin. I used a combination of Wikipedia and baby name websites for my inspiration.

6. What is your favorite to write: beginning, middle, or end — and why?

I love writing the beginning. Things are building up, new characters are appearing, and conflicts are escalating. I love writing the end. The shit has hit the fan and lots of bloodshed will probably ensue. The middle is a soul-sucking morass that requires lots of chocolate and alcohol to wade through.

7. Who’s your current favorite character in your novel?

Victory is basically my spirit animal and I adore writing her, so that’s a silly question. But out of my new characters, I’m very entertained by Zhinu, a young woman with lots of potential and fire.

8. What kind of things have you researched for this project, and how do you go about researching? (What’s the weirdest thing you’ve researched?!)

Chinese culture and aesthetic have been my primary research focus. But the strangest thing has definitely been Chinese treasure junks, figuring out what was fact and what was probably myth and how both could be incorporated into my fantasy world.

9. Do you write better alone or with others? Do you share your work or prefer to keep it to yourself?

I definitely write better when I’m surrounded by other people, even if it’s only at the local coffee shop. I had a great time at every local NaNoWriMo write-in, and even met up with people other evenings.

I’ll talk about what I’m working on in general terms, but only my critique partners and favorite beta reader will probably see any of this before I submit to my editor, and not until the entire draft is finished!

10. What are your writing habits? Is there a specific snack you eat? Do you listen to music? What time of day do you write best? Feel free to show us a picture of your writing space!

Music is a must, and I have a Pandora station built to suit. Time of day is whenever I have the time, whether it’s first thing in the morning on days off or in the evening after work.

I wrote at home on Thanksgiving, supervised by cats. You can also spot the elusive husband, who kept me company playing Fallout 4!

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There’s no place like home.

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