I had the enormous pleasure of Mudville Dames hosting an online Q & A for me. It was a blast and I feel so encouraged by the questions asked, not by just them, but my friends as well. Due to the outpouring of support and the responses, I decided to provide a blog for those who were unable to attend but wanted to read the Q & A themselves. To those of you who came, THANK YOU SO MUCH!! An author is nothing without the support of their friends and family! ❤
For your pleasure, M.D refers to Mudville Dames. Anything NOT in bold is me, the other bolded initials and names are those who took part and made it a Q & A that I will never forget. Love you all!!
M.D-Let’s assume there is a foster kid right now, reading this Q & A, what would be the one thing you would want to say to him/her?
No matter what people tell you or how you feel inside, no matter how many homes you go through….. It is not you that is the failure. YOU ARE INCREDIBLE, YOU HAVE SO MUCH TO OFFER…. just because today is a bad day, and maybe tomorrow is too…. doesn’t mean it will always be that way……. every tunnel has a light at the end of it. WRITE THAT SOMEWHERE and don’t ever forget it!!! And remember…. there is someone out there who needs what you have to offer!! DO NOT GIVE UP!
M.D- Was reading and/or writing an important part of your childhood? Did you always possess a talent for writing?
Ha ha ha ha……. Oh my goodness. I have always been a writer, but I haven’t always been a writer. Let me explain. When I was younger, I wrote poems… dark poems and stories to deal with the pain I felt growing up. I continued that as I got older off and on, but I really wanted to be an actress or a singer…… So no matter how much I was writing I always pushed it to the side to do plays, or sing….. I even moved to Nashville a few years back to write songs and sing….. but writing has always been my calling, and once I moved back to Stockton, I realized it was all I had left…. so I pushed aside everything everyone had said about not making it, and I have thrown my all into it.
M.D-Reading just the title of the first chapter, ‘hungry’ made my heart drop. Many are probably aware that this story is based off your personal experiences. Would you share with us if this first chapter is actually something you personally experienced, or whether you experienced hunger only with family or only while in foster care?
Yes, this event I remember very vividly…… I remember my very large nanny with lots of curly short hair and her hateful expressions every time I left my room. I know I was young, but I don’t think that is something that anyone ever forgets…… thankfully…… I never faced hunger like that in foster care, not until I was much older and had been left alone…….. there was a short time I lived in a house by myself and the only way I could eat was going to school and eating cafeteria lunch…… on the weekends I would call my grandpa and ask him if he could bring me money so that I could get food. I didn’t tell him what it was for and he had no idea I was living alone for a short while.
M.D- I love that Star has such a strong bond with her grandpa. He is the only grounding factor in Star’s life: the only constant. How did you develop that character? Was he based on a real person?
Yes! Star’s grandpa (star being me) was a real life person…… he remained my constant until I turned 17…… It never mattered where I lived or where I went, he was just a phone call away. I think him more than anyone is the reason why I kept going….. He always loved me, and always showed that love in tangible ways.
T. Allen-What motivated you to write this particular book?
Tim Allen, thank you so much for asking! GREAT question. Little Lost Girl was something that had been on my heart for a long time, as I had a pretty difficult upbringing (as I know that so many people do) the more sad stories I heard…. the more I felt compelled to share my own story, but wanted to do so in a way that people would want to read it. I decided on writing a fictional retelling of my life…… and it has given me the opportunity to share personal things in my past while creating something that people want to read.
N.W Moors-If you could cast your characters in the Hollywood adaptation of your book, who would play your characters: Star, Grandfather, etc?
Is there a right answer????? I would love for Julia Roberts to play star!! I have always loved her, especially in Erin Brokovich (spelling?) I would have had Robin Williams play my grandpa, as I loved him as dearly as you would any real person….. Rip… As far as my dad and step mom…. that is hard… I will have to think about that!! Love this question!
J.Peck-Some people leave a career to work from home or pursue art or writing. Was that the case for you or are you a stay at home mother as well? I know I quit working because of my disability and the anxiety it causes me. Now I would rather work from home and write.
I originally was an assistant manager at a Christian bookstore, and I loved it! I quit there to move to Nashville, TN to be a singer/songwriter…. and then when we moved back home… I realized that I had been fooling myself and that I was always meant to write…… when my hubby got diagnosed with a few degenerative disorders due to his diabetes… I realized I needed to quit messing around and start getting serious…. so now it is something I aspire to do with the hopes that when he is no longer able to work… it will be okay
N.W Moors-If you had a superpower, what would it be?
This is easy, I would want to be able to read people’s hearts. I read a book a long time ago called “the heart reader.” it is written by an unknown author and the author was able to read people’s minds, but it was more than that. He was able to understand the reasoning behind their actions. I see so much unwarranted anger, and frustration, and hatred that people have toward each other… that I want the ability to read people’s hearts so I can understand why they feel that way and then I could help them on a real level.
JM Steger-When you’re stuck on a word, or a sentence and need to keep pushing forward what is the biggest drive you have that motivates you?
I feel like right now, I don’t have a choice. I either write or get really good or we are going to struggle forever. Not to mention, I don’t know how to give up. There is no time for giving up…. my dad and step mom gave up and I vowed that I would never be like them. I will keep going, even if it kills me. (Figuratively)
RJ Conte-Why are you so generous and thoughtful? How do you connect personally with your fans, without being too open or blunt or bold (My problem!)
Aww! You are such a sweetheart. I think the one good thing that comes with growing up without… and having certain things happen…. is learning to be more empathetic to what other people are thinking and feeling. I have been hurt a lot by family, friends and etc…. and I never want to intentionally hurt other people. My personal motto is “Be kind to everyone, even if they don’t deserve it.” I try to live and breathe it. There are enough hateful people, I want my children to grow up being kind. The only way they are going to do that is if they see me living it out.
The other part of that question… I treat everyone like I have known them for years, we all want love and kindness…. it’s very easy to be loving and kind towards people you have known for years. Also, you can be personal without being intimate…. no need to share every detail of your life, but being complimentary (genuinely) and highlighting positive things that people are doing right, is a great way to connect to people. Everyone needs to hear what they are doing right.
N.W Moors- What do you find is the easiest thing about writing? And what is the hardest?
I am pretty open about who I am and what I am going through in life, I have always been that way. It wasn’t until I learned that no everyone wants to know all those things…… I realized that sharing everything about myself made people run away… lol….. So once I figured out that writing could be my channel…….. That is what it is for me……. so to answer your question… the easiest thing to me about writing, is doing it…… everything I write, all the characters, the scenes….. they all have some link to me and who I am……. as long as I sit down and do it…… it’s not difficult……. however…… sitting down and not getting distracted by life, kids, fb, etc….. that is the hardest….. Lol
T.Allen-Who has the biggest influence on your writing at this time? Who’s the one (besides yourself) that makes you want to write more?
This is fairly easy…… I have several reasons. My hubby of course who has type 1 diabetes and has had some health scares in the past year…. really opened my eyes to realizing that one day he isn’t going to be able to work the way he does and I have to be prepared for that, and number 1 reason (through 4) are my girls….. Everyone always says you can reach your dreams, but I don’t know anyone who has actually fought for their dreams and achieved them…. I want to be that for my girls.
N.W Moors-What would you say is your most interesting writing quirk?
Well, I don’t know about interesting….. But….. I have to wear headphones when I am writing. Unless I am out in public and I am just jotting down a paragraph… or an idea…… headphones make me feel like I am in a safe bubble and then I can get down to it.
Tim Allen-What advice or words of inspiration can you give to writers whose personal stories keep them from achieving their dreams?
I love this question! It’s my favorite. Number one…… if you love to write, then don’t let anyone else tell you not to! , and number two…. if you are a writer…. then you have to do it regularly! You cannot get better at something that you never do. Last but certainly not least, there is a ton of competition out there…no matter what your passion is. You cannot let the fact that there may be someone who is better than you, stop you from doing what you love…. keep at it, keep working for it and you will get there. I believe that with all my heart!!
M. Smith-Are you a “planner” or do you just start writing and go?
Morgan Smith That is an awesome question… I have always been a just write and go type of person while that has always worked in the past….. I find myself recently being more of a planner…. at least as much as I can be. In the past when I haven’t planned, and I have just flowed with it…. I ended up with loopholes ……:0 I’m already loopy enough! Don’t want my books to be!!
C.G. Tambunan-Being a busy wife and mother, how do you find the time to write? 💖
ha ha ha ha!! I LOVE IT………. I squeeze writing time just like I do breathing….. I have apps on my phone so if an idea comes to me I can write it down….. I have my favorite app up on the computer all the time… so if the kids are sleeping, or eating, or taking a bath… I can rush over and key out a paragraph or two before I have to mommy again. My phone is my best friend…. If I know where I have left off… I can write a paragraph or two on my phone when the girls are eating, or playing outside, or we are at an appt…. then I email it to myself, copy and paste…. smile emoticon writing is life!!
Nancy W Moors-Where do you find your inspiration for your stories (aside from this story as it was based on true events)?
Thank you, Nancy W Moors for the awesome question!! My first series a Ya-series (which is being re-edited for release) was based on a small part of a dream I had. I dream that I kept thinking about and it eventually expanded, I love allegories, so I based Redemption of the Changed on allegory, similar to C.S Lewis and the chronicles of Narnia. Eden’s Serum is a novel that my husband had suggested, more of as a joke… but I liked the idea so much… I ran with it…. and my Nano novel Clara’s diary is also based on a dream I had…..
T.Allen-You seem to be a strong woman, a great mother, and an exceptional writer. I understand that the book reflects your younger life, did the adversity you faced in your younger years ever make you want to give up? And if it did what made you continue? (I’m glad you did by the way)
Something that I touch on in later books, or maybe I won’t. I am not sure yet…. there were times I contemplated giving up…. in a home that I lived in…. things got the darkest they had ever been and I was going to end it all……… thankfully the lady (even though I didn’t like her) had me picked up by police officers and I was officially put into foster care after that. As I have gotten older, I have faced that a couple more times, but always there has been someone who loved me enough to tell me to keep on…. I think a survivor is a survivor no matter how rough life gets…. and the ones that do eventually give up… I don’t think it’s really them giving up. I think, in a weird way it’s how they survive. I am here to say though, you can survive…. and it be so much more than that……. life is full of so many amazing things…… I know that sounds so corny… but our perspective has the ability to make or break us.
Lorena Mendez-I have a question my dear friend, what did you feel while writing this book??? What motivated you or inspired you??
Oh goodness…. I cried a lot when I wrote this book…. it is based on real life events so it really stirred up a lot of emotions for me…… when it was done though, the joy of putting it on paper….knowing that someone else who may be struggling or have gone through something similar could get help… that made me really happy!
Joshua Peck-What projects do you have lined up after this?
Hi, Joshua Peck! Thank you so much for asking!! I currently am awaiting for the edited copy of Little Lost Girl 2 back from my editor. That will be going to print and e-book hopefully no later than next week. After that, I am sending my sci-fi novel about a fatal immortality serum to my editor, it’s called Eden’s Serum… and it is different than my typical style of writing but I am having a blast with it! I am also working on a murder mystery called Clara’s Diary, and a YA-series called Redemption of the Changed, which is finished but also awaiting editing!
T.Allen-Last one from me, how many different books have you got half written or “queued” for writing? Can we expect several more spanning up to your current life?
Ha ha ha ha….. Yes!!! Never one to leave something unfinished… I currently have NINE books Queued! WOOOOOOO!!!
N.W Moors-Tell us about the cover and how it came about. What was the inspiration?
I don’t do any of my covers, I have ideas about covers, but my dear friend and awesome graphic designer Steger Productions handles all of that! He knows me very well and anything I want he seems to get without much explanation. I am very lucky for that!!
N. W Moors-What is your favorite book/author and why?
This is a great question…… My favorite book of all time is called “Redeeming love” by Francine rivers…… it is a story about a man who falls in love with a prostitute and he does everything in his power to show her that he loves her with no strings attached. However, it is not until she runs away and finds herself that she is able to really love him and be loved. It is my favorite story because I feel that way about my hubby (he is an amazing man) I fought him for a very long time… always pushing him away and doing things to get him to leave me, but it wasn’t until I realized who I was that I was able to finally love (not just myself, but my kids too) and be loved back. Unfortunately, my experiences when I was younger taught me that I was unlovable….. And it took a long time to learn otherwise.
Steger Productions-What would you say makes the “magic” happen? Where do your ideas come from? And what advice would you suggest to other Foster care children? My husband was a foster child and suffered a lot of abuse – your book series really speaks well with him.
❤ Love this! The magic happens everywhere!! ❤ A memory comes up and inspires a story idea, I have a dream that I love and need to know more about it, my hubby was the one who jokingly said something about writing a story about an immortality serum (that’s where Eden’s Serum came from)
The other part of the question to those who are former fosters is this: No matter what anyone in your life has told you, no matter how anyone has treated you……. You CANNOT believe those words anymore…. even if you have been tossed around like someone’s used garbage, you are more than that……. You HAVE TO BELIEVE THAT…. you were made for a purpose, and there is nothing and no one in this life that can take that purpose from you! Tell your hubby that, and give him a hug for me!
PJ Sterling-I know that most authors attach themselves to their main characters… How hard or different was it to write as yourself?
Oh, it was so much easier……. it was nice not to have to think differently but just to go with how know I normally am. It was slightly complicated writing a younger version of myself, realizing that I didn’t think the same way then as I do now. So, really digging for how I responded and how I reacted was slightly more complicated, but not as much as trying to come up with an entirely new character.