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Sunday, December 25, 2016

Meet Author Colleen Cross

                                                                Colleen's Office

1. Tell me about your writing process. Are you an outliner, a "pantser", or a hybrid of both?  
I am mostly an outliner, though I do tend to stray from my outline partway through the story. My characters take over, so I never really know what the ending will be like till I write it. I think that makes me a failed outliner, rather than a strict pantser.

2. What's your writing schedule like?
I write for 3 hours in the morning, then take my dog Jaeger out for a walk or run for 2 hours. Then I write another 3 hours before dinner, and usually another 2-3 hours after dinner.  I write 7 days a week, though I'm trying to take more time off on the weekends.  During my breaks, I also "power weed" my garden or do some yoga.

3. Do you have word count goals or chapter goals for your writing sessions? 
I try to write at least a chapter a day, ideally two. That's usually about 2,500 words.

4. Where do you do the majority of your writing? 
I have a lovely office that overlooks my backyard. My house is on a hill, so I kind of feel like I'm up in the trees. There are lots of birds to distract me in the trees outside my window. And squirrels, to distract Jaeger - when he's not sleeping on the job that is (see photo)  I can write anywhere, though. I always have paper and pencil with me wherever I go. 

5. Do you have any writing rituals?
Not really, other than getting my butt in the chair, as early as possible. With my extra strong morning coffee, of course.  I do writing in the morning and editing in the afternoon because my brain seems to be fresher and more creative first thing in the morning.

6. What programs do you use to work on your manuscript?
I've tried a few different programs like Scrivener, but have come back to Word. I also sometimes use Dragon Dictate, a speech recognition program that allows me to dictate my story into Word. I alternate between dictating and typing depending on my mood and which draft I'm working on. I only use dictation for my first draft, though. I'm a pretty fast typist, but I find my ideas come faster than I can type. so that's where the dictation software works great. 

7. What genres do you most enjoy reading?  
I like all types of mystery, but especially psychological thrillers and cozy mysteries.

8. How do you celebrate a completed book?
The biggest treat is starting the next book. I don't really do any other celebration. For me, starting a new and shiny book is the biggest reward of all. I'm kind of boring I guess.  I do treat myself with a brand new notebook when I start a new series, though. I outline first on paper, then on the computer.

9. Which of your characters is the most like you or someone you know?
All of my main female characters have parts of me, but they are much more daring than I am.  Cendrine West, from my Westwick Witches Cozy Mystery series, is probably closest in personality to me. I don't have any supernatural powers, though. That's probably a good thing, as I would almost certainly misuse them!

10. Where do you see yourself in ten years? Will you still be writing?
I will be doing lots of traveling, and writing as I go. I'll always be writing. I would feel a huge void in my life without it. 

11. Knowing what you know now about publishing, what advice would you give to new writers?
There are plenty of great books that just don't sell, simply because they aren't what most readers are looking for. You can still write the book of your heart, but just be aware that if you want to make money, you have to write what sells. That means studying the tropes in your genre and ensuring your book adheres to reader expectations. For example, a happily ever after ending in a romance novel is what romance readers expect, so if you don't provide that, most won't like it. Read the bestsellers in your genre, study the similarities. Add your own spin and voila, you will have the book you love to write, and that readers love to read!  

                                                         Colleen's Trusty Writing Companion

For more information about Colleen and her books, visit her website here:

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