Interview with Hannah Carmack: Seven Sided Spy

The lovely Hannah Carmack is on the blog today answering some questions about her writing process. Her novel Seven Sided Spy, out now and available from NineStar Press and other e-book retailers is fresh, intriguing, and fun. If you are a fan of Spy vs Spy thrillers and Kathrine Dunn’s Geek Love, this book is for you. 

Here are Hannah’s answers about her writing process. 

  1. Where is your favorite place to write?

I hate to admit it, but I’m one of those people that basically owns and operates from their bedroom, so if I’m writing I’m likely at my sewing desk, or sitting on my bed.

  1. Do you write to music? Is there a playlist for Seven Sided Spy?

Yes! I feel like it’s becoming more and more popular to write/publish with music. I mean, Steve Almond did it, so why can’t we? The playlist I listened to while writing SEVEN-SIDED SPY was called KGB Pissbabies, which honestly could have been the name of the book, HA. But, I’ve also put out a new playlist to listen along with while you read. That can be found on my Spotify here

  1. How did you research the settings/time period for Seven Sided Spy?

I was fortunate in that I started writing this while in school. So my research process was going to my AP US History course for 45 minutes a day. On top of that there were case-by-case basis where I’d do a bit more digging, i.e. cars of the time period, music, weapons, so on and so forth. J

  1. If you could time travel what time period would you travel to?

Funny you should mention time travel. If you’ve read SEVEN-SIDED SPY, then you know future sight, backwards sight, it’s all a bit dangerous. If given the option, I’d probably stay right here and not risk fucking up the timeline by going to the past or ruining my ambition by traveling to the future.

  1. What is your favorite genre to read?

I love reading contemporary. I write a lot of “high-concept” genre stuff, but I do have a deep appreciation for a basic, down-to-earth real-world based story. They’re easy to read and tend to make me think.

  1. Pantser or plotter?

This is one of the questions you get a lot as a writer, and I cannot stress enough the benefits of being a plotter. Pantsing is fun for first drafts, but when you get down to the knitty-gritty, having an outline is IMMENSELY helpful in long-term planning.


Hannah Carmack enjoys volunteer work and spends most of her time working for the organization STEM Read, connecting reluctant readers and bookworms alike to the world of literature and science. Her debut novel Seven-Sided Spy will be hitting shelves this January with NineStar Press. You can find out about her other works at

Teaser: In the midst of the cold war, the CIA’s finest and most fatal female agent, Diana Riley, vanishes. Kidnapped by the KGB and taken to the backcountry of North Carolina, she and her team of unsavory partners are forced to undergo illegal experimentation.

But, when the experiments leave them horribly deformed and unable to reenter society without someone crying monster, the previously glamorous and high-maintenance spies must escape KGB captivity and avoid recapture at the hands of Nikola, a ruthless KGB agent with an intense and well-justified grudge against her former flame.




Nine Star Press:




Guest Post: Jeffe Kennedy

Jeffe Kennedy is here and has been kind enough to answer a set of questions I asked her. She set to release the third in The Uncharted Realms series. I have a review of The Shift of the Tide that I will post next week. The cover is just as gorgeous as the writing inside. It is a very worthy addition to the series. 

Imagine Jeffe and I sitting together sharing a glass of wine and talking. If you know either of this, it will not be hard. 

Here’s JEFFE, 

It’s fun to be here, virtually visiting my friend, Brenda. We had a great time drinking a lot of free wine together at the Siren’s conference in Denver last fall.

Brenda asked me an interesting set of questions: Who do you write for? Who do you have in mind when you write a story? An audience? A specific person? Or yourself?

It’s something that newbie writers get asked a lot, but that I haven’t thought about in a while. I always found the question hugely aggravating back in the day. It seemed that two kinds of people asked it – writing teachers/critiquers and agents. Who is the audience for this book? They’d ask, in this earnest, quasi-helpful way. To my ear it sounded like the agents were saying, “Can you think of more than five people who would buy this?” and the teacher/critiquers were dancing around telling you that it was a hot mess that no one could possibly want to read.

Beyond the annoying subtext, I also hated the question because I never knew the answer. The first image that sprang to mind was always one of those street shots of commuter time in New York City with thousands of people walking up and down the sidewalks. I felt like I was supposed to freeze-frame that and circle likely faces.

Look! My audience! Out there… somewhere.

People were hung up on this question. Who are you writing for? Some advice-giving types would nod sagely and say you should have one special person that you tell your stories to. Kind of a combo soul-mate/muse. I love my husband and he’s great support, but he doesn’t read fiction. I’ve had a lot of first readers over the years. Usually several at once, which I guess makes me a polygamist, special reader-wise.

But I like how Brenda phrased this: Who do you have in mind when you write a story?

Because sometimes that happens. I hear enough from my readers that I know by now which ones will love certain aspects of a story. I write parts and smile, thinking of them wriggling in delight. Sometimes I put in a detail that I know will mean something to one person, and it’s a way of sending them a hug and a wink.

Still, for the most part, having anyone’s reaction in my head while I’m writing is a problem. I have a sign over my desk that says, “What would you write if you weren’t afraid?” I look at that when I find myself anticipating reactions to what I’m writing, good or bad. For me, that “afraid” means worrying about what other people will think. And that just gets in the way.

The best writing – and by that I mean, the kind that flows without pause, that seems to come to me from another place, not necessarily the best quality or most inspired, though they’re often the same – happens when I have no one in mind.

Maybe that’s why I always hated that audience question. While I truly believe the cycle of art is completed when it reaches another person, I also think it’s best born and nurtured away from anyone else’s gaze. It’s like quantum physics – as soon as someone else’s consciousness touches the thing, it changes. There’s a time for that, and it can be an important part of the story’s eventual growth, but not during drafting.

So, Brenda, when I write, I try to have nothing and no one in mind. Not even myself.

About Jeffe Kennedy

Jeffe Kennedy is an award-winning author whose works include novels, non-fiction, poetry, and short fiction. She has been a Ucross Foundation Fellow, received the Wyoming Arts Council Fellowship for Poetry, and was awarded a Frank Nelson Doubleday Memorial Award. Her award-winning fantasy romance trilogy The Twelve Kingdoms hit the shelves starting in May 2014. Book 1, The Mark of the Tala, received a starred Library Journal review and was nominated for the RT Book of the Year while the sequel, The Tears of the Rose received a Top Pick Gold and was nominated for the RT Reviewers’ Choice Best Fantasy Romance of 2014. The third book, The Talon of the Hawk, won the RT Reviewers’ Choice Best Fantasy Romance of 2015. Two more books followed in this world, beginning the spin-off series The Uncharted Realms. Book one in that series, The Pages of the Mind, has also been nominated for the RT Reviewer’s Choice Best Fantasy Romance of 2016 and is a finalist for RWA’s RITA Award. The second book, The Edge of the Blade, released December 27, 2016, and is a PRISM finalist, along with The Pages of the Mind. The next in the series, The Shift of the Tide, will be out in August, 2017. A high fantasy trilogy taking place in The Twelve Kingdoms world is forthcoming from Rebel Base books in 2018. She also introduced a new fantasy romance series, Sorcerous Moons, which includes Lonen’s War, Oria’s Gambit, The Tides of Bàra, and The Forests of Dru. She’s begun releasing a new contemporary erotic romance series, Missed Connections, which started with Last Dance and continues in With a Prince. In 2019, St. Martins Press will release the first book in a new fantasy romance series, Throne of Flowers. Her other works include a number of fiction series: the fantasy romance novels of A Covenant of Thorns; the contemporary BDSM novellas of the Facets of Passion; an erotic contemporary serial novel, Master of the Opera; and the erotic romance trilogy, Falling Under, which includes Going Under, Under His Touch and Under Contract. She lives in Santa Fe, New Mexico, with two Maine coon cats, plentiful free-range lizards and a very handsome Doctor of Oriental Medicine. Jeffe can be found online at her website:, every Sunday at the popular SFF Seven blog, on Facebook, on Goodreads and pretty much constantly on Twitter @jeffekennedy. She is represented by Sarah Younger of Nancy Yost Literary Agency.






Women’s Voices_ Interview with Sonali Dev


Like many of the authors I have had the privilege of meeting I met Sonali Dev at one of my favorite writer’s conferences Chicago North RWA’s Biannual Spring Fling conference. Sonali’s books are complex sensual stories of love.  I was hooked from her first book  The Bollywood Affair, and continued my obsession with The Bollywood Bride.

Her most recent book A Change of Heart is a departure from the first two in intensity and subject matter. I hope this book will become as much a classic as Toni Morrison’s The Bluest Eye.  While A Change of Heart has a much happier ending than The Bluest Eye it is a riveting unflinching look at the aftermath of sexual assault. A Change of Heart does not gloss over or look away from the lack of agency and threats that women experience because of socioeconomic and cultural  factors. 

How is this a romance you ask? Sonali makes it work and she does it in her signature heartfelt and graceful style. This brutal beautifully written story manages to tell the story of survivors that does not diminish the horror of sexual assault but addresses in a very real way the challenges for any woman trying to find way to not only survive but thrive sexual assault.  

I was impressed with the amount of research necessary for A Change of Heart and Sonali graciously agreed to answer some questions about her process for the blog. 

  1. Change of Heart reflects detailed research in many areas to get the story right. How did you conduct your research?

Sonali Dev: I have to admit that doing research for this book was not fun. I wasn’t at all organized about my research (I never am). The story always comes first for me, and based on the elements and events of the story, I start to realize the gaps in my knowledge and then go in search of information to fill them. For A Change Of Heart, that meant researching Doctors Without Borders, human trafficking, organ trade, transplant surgery, Dharavi (a slum in Mumbai), and the Mumbai police force. I read a lot of archived articles (the internet is a beautiful thing), spoke with subject matter experts, visited Dharavi and watched several documentaries. Some of the transplant videos would have been really interesting if I weren’t so queasy but the rest of it was a struggle to internalize.

  1. Do you draft your story first and then research or is it concurrent?

Sonali Dev: When you’re writing fiction, what your research really needs to do is inform your writing in the form of character choices and reactions. My stories come from things I want to explore and am curious about. So, when the story starts to take form in my head, I tend to research a lot of the aspects of the story and try to immerse myself in the world and the information. For example, once I knew that Nikhil and Jen work for Doctors Without Borders and I started doing research on the organization even before I started drafting. So, some of the story came from the research. On the other hand as the story progressed I had to research a lot of details and specifics about everything from crimes to medical procedures. In the end it was a combination of concurrent and preparatory research.

  1. Did you conduct interviews as part of your research?

Sonali Dev: I did. You can always get a more human and specific perspective from interviews.

  1. How did you organize your research? What system do you use?

Sonali Dev: As I said before, I’m not terribly organized about research. My focus is more on internalizing the research on behalf of my characters so I’m not dumping information on readers but instead informing my fiction so it is authentic and factually accurate. I keep detailed barely organized notes, but that’s about all.

  1. What advice do you have for young/ new/ beginning writers about research?

Sonali Dev: I’m not an academic or a scholar so I can’t answer this question except to say that I do feel the need to be armed with as much information as possible when I write about specific issues. It just makes things easier when you understand the world you’re writing within. At least to the extent it is possible to understand some horrific things as an observer who is trying to emulate an experiencer. But the more informed I am the more solid the foundation of my story feels and the more I feel like I own the characters and their decisions. This is more about creative process for me. I don’t like feeling like an imposter, and knowledge and research really helps with that.


Find out more about Sonali at her website:

Award winning author, Sonali Dev, writes Bollywood-style love stories that let her explore issues faced by women around the world while still indulging her faith in a happily ever after. Sonali’s novels have been on Library Journal, NPR, Washington Post and Kirkus Best Books lists. She won the American Library Association’s award for best romance in 2014, is a RITA Finalist, RT Reviewer Choice Award Nominee, and winner of the RT Seal of Excellence. Sonali lives in the Chicago suburbs with her very patient and often amused husband and two teens who demand both patience and humor, and the world’s most perfect dog. Find out more at


Women’s Voices- Interview with Jeffe Kennedy


You may have noticed that I have been on a Fantasy, with a capital F reading spree over the summer. I reviewed the first book in this series,  Lonen’s War in this post.   I confess to not usually being a fan of the slow burn type of romance, but Jeffe Kennedy has done the most amazing job of making it worth the wait. This book contains hands down one of the most scorching sex scenes I have ever read. If you have not started the series pick Lonen’s War and start from the beginning, although this book can stand alone, it will be infinitely better if you read the series in order.

If you are a fan of Jeffe Kennedy’s you may have wondered as I have at times: How the hell do you keep up with all of your projects? Blog posts, two series, short stories, interviews, teaching, etc.

Jeffe was kind enough to take the time to answer this, and other questions I had about her organization system and work process. If you can’t get enough of Jeffe after this post head over to for more of her witty, engaging and informative posts.

  1. As a writer who is involved in many literary projects (book series, blog posts, short story anthologies, etc.) what is your system of organization? How do you go about managing multiple deadlines and stages of production?

JEFFE: You know the short answer to this, right? Spreadsheets! As the Spreadsheet Queen, I have an Excel workbook that’s called “Progress Count.” The name is a little deceptive because it contains so much more than that. That’s how it started, though – as a single sheet where I tracked my daily wordcounts – and that’s how I know where to find it.

In there I have a spreadsheet for every “live” project, from a fragments all the way through galley proof stage. I track daily, weekly, monthly and annual wordcounts, and I have worksheets for my priority list and commitments. The Commitments worksheet has Gantt Charts that help me visualize overlapping projects – like teaching online classes while also drafting a book, for example – and to monitor spacing of release dates. The Priority List worksheet shows which projects are in my court, which are in someone else’s court (e.g., with my editor, on submission, etc.), and which are still glimmers of ideas. I have a fairly complex system of interconnecting dates where I estimate how long a phase of a project will take, highlighting fixed deadlines, and that shows me what I need to focus on next.

Finally I have a separated workbook that houses my ongoing To Do List. My assistant tracks promo efforts – like when interviews like this are expected! – and I space them out so I do one per day. 

  1. You have generously shared your beat sheet spread sheets with word counts on the blog The SFF Seven How did those evolve?

JEFFE: When I was shopping my first novel – and was unsuccessful for a number of years – I cast about for techniques to tighten the plot structure. I hit upon the Three-Act Structure, using the percentages you reference in those beat sheets. It made sense to me as a way to understand the “bones” of my story – and to adjust the pacing – AND it fit nicely into my Progress Count spreadsheets! I use those percentages and beats to track the growth of a story as I write it, which also helps me to predict how much longer it will take me to finish. For example, once I’ve finished Act I (all the stakes are set and the Act I climax is complete), then I know I have 75% of the story still to write. It’s a very reliable predictor for me.

When I went to write a serial novel – and set up the worksheet for that – I played with the percentages to figure both the individual section pacing and where it intersected with the overall pacing. I did a blog post on that and a local RWA chapter asked me to come teach that, which led me to play with applying the formula to a trilogy also. 

  1. Do you envision a series when you start writing or start with one novel and see where it takes you?

JEFFE: I pretty much envision the series, but in a general way. The best analogy is that the whole series feels like planning a cross-country road trip. I know I’m starting in Seattle and that I want to end up in the Florida Keys. Or someplace like that. Then I start “driving” and see how far I get. Things change along the way – I might pick up hitchhikers or get stuck for a while in St. Louis. Sometimes I finish a “trilogy” and I realize I’d like to leave the Keys and take a ship to the Virgin Islands.

  1. You have referred to yourself as a gardener, building a trellis for your story to grow on versus a pantser or plotter. How did you arrive at your current system for writing organization? Do you consistently use the same system of organization?

JEFFE: I touched on this a bit above. As a writer I tend to operate intuitively. The stories feel like they flow from elsewhere and I like it that way. I’m fairly superstitious about messing with my process, too. So, yes, I consistently use this system, which has grown organically over the last twenty or so years of writing. If I find a way to tweak that system, I’ll try it out – there’s always room to grow and improve – but I’m a big believer in a writer learning her own process and owning that.

  1. If you had one thing you could say to the new/beginning/young writer what would that be?

JEFFE: It’s not popular advice, but I stand by it: Build a Consistent Writing Habit. For most people, that means writing every day, probably at the same time every day. I spent years fighting this because I simply could not fit it into my life. Finally I started getting up at 4am and writing for two hours before work in the morning. And I was *so* not a morning person! But it was the only time I could carve out to write consistently at the same time, every day. After years now, I have a consistent writing habit. I don’t necessarily have to start at the exact same time, I can take weekends off, etc. But that’s because writing is a habit for me now. I feel weird if I’m not getting the work done, instead of that awful endless cycles of procrastination and dread that consumes us before we build that habit.


Jeffe Kennedy is an award-winning author whose works include non-fiction, poetry, short fiction, and novels. She has been a Ucross Foundation Fellow, received the Wyoming Arts Council Fellowship for Poetry, and was awarded a Frank Nelson Doubleday Memorial Award. Her essays have appeared in many publications, including Redbook.

Her most recent works include a number of fiction series: the fantasy romance novels of A Covenant of Thorns; the contemporary BDSM novellas of the Facets of Passion, and an erotic contemporary serial novel, Master of the Opera. A fourth series, the fantasy trilogy The Twelve Kingdoms, hit the shelves starting in May 2014 and book 1, The Mark of the Tala, received a starred Library Journal review was nominated for the RT Book of the Year while the sequel, The Tears of the Rose was nominated for the RT Reviewers’ Choice Best Fantasy Romance of 2014 and the third book, The Talon of the Hawk, won the RT Reviewers’ Choice Best Fantasy Romance of 2015. Two more books will follow in this world, beginning with The Pages of the Mind May 2016. A fifth series, the erotic romance trilogy, Falling Under, started with Going Under, and was followed by Under His Touch and Under Contract.

She lives in Santa Fe, New Mexico, with two Maine coon cats, plentiful free-range lizards and a very handsome Doctor of Oriental Medicine.

Jeffe can be found online at her website:, every Sunday at the popular SFF Seven blog, on Facebook, on Goodreads and pretty much constantly on Twitter @jeffekennedy. She is represented by Connor Goldsmith of Fuse Literary.



Have Journal Will Travel: Interview with Fiona Zedde

half italy

I have written before about writing while traveling and keeping a journal while traveling as a way to infuse your writing with sensual energy and filling your creative well. Today’s post features one of my favorite authors, Fiona Zedde. Ms. Zedde recently celebrated the tenth anniversary of her first novel Bliss. I talk about my favorites of her novels in this post .

From her speculative fiction to her contemporary romance, Ms. Zedde never disappoints. Her novels are rich, sensuous and decadent. I live vicariously by following her travel adventures. As she prepares for the release of To Italy with Love and Other Stories, she very graciously took time out of her busy travel schedule to answer some questions about traveling as a writer.

  1. Have you always had the desire to travel?

Since I was twelve! I got on my first airplane when emigrating from Jamaica, and that’s when I fell in love with traveling. The entire experience captured my imagination and my interest – leaving one culture to immerse myself in another; hovering over the world and looking at it through strange little windows; even the food. I remember they served callaloo on that first Air Jamaica flight. I love food.

  1. Which comes first, the idea for a story in a certain setting, or choosing a setting and seeing what stories come from the experience?

Usually being in a particular setting will spawn ideas. Either through the things I experience in that place or because the setting itself is very evocative. Like the afternoon when I ended up riding on the back of an ancient motorbike through the medina in Marrakesh.

  1. Do you typically travel alone, or with other creatives/ writers/friends?

Actually a combination of both. I’ll travel somewhere with a friend and we’ll bum around together for a while then, once they go back home after a week or three, I travel on my own.

  1. Do you see all travel as research for writing or do you plan trips that are just about visiting family/friends/ relaxing without an agenda?

My official statement for my tax guy is “it’s all research!”

To clarify though, I’m a wanderer. I love seeing new places and experiencing new things. There’s nothing like being plopped down in a completely foreign culture, being disoriented by its unique structures and language then slowly feeling my way to familiarity, swimming back from that deep end. I treasure ways of turning those experiences into fiction.

  1. What are your top five destinations you have traveled to?

Morocco. Greece. Naples. Paris. Antwerp.

  1. What one destination do you want to revisit the most?

I feel a little clichéd in saying this, but it’s Paris. Their bakeries are amazing.

What are your top three travel tips for creatives abroad?

  1. Be open to traveling alone. You tend to meet more people when you’re not cliqued up and sometimes (subconsciously) closed off.
  2. If possible, experience a place at least twice.
  3. Make notes in your journal and take photos, of course. But not so much that you aren’t fully experiencing the moment.

F. Zedde-2-1

Jamaican-born Fiona Zedde currently lives and writes in Atlanta, Georgia. She is the author of several novellas and novels of lesbian love and desire, including the Lambda Literary Award finalists Bliss and Every Dark Desire. Her novel, Dangerous Pleasures, was winner of the Readers’ Choice Award for Best Lesbian Novel or Memoir of 2012. Find out more at 


Megan Hart’s Lovely Wild_ A Year of Women’s Voices


I met Megan Hart at the CNRWA Spring Fling 2014 conference. She was charming and hella funny. One of the things we talked about besides RVs and family vacations, was music and writing. I appreciate Megan’s ability to write across many different genres. It is not often you find a writer that has a story for you, no matter what your mood.In Lovely Wild, Megan Hart’s most recent release, Megan brilliantly tells the story of Mari, a woman with a past that does and does not define her. Over a summer spent in her childhood home, Mari discovers past and present betrayals, encounters her hidden history, and finds her strength in the love she has for her children and herself. Reminding us all that people can be so much more than they appear to be, Mari is a character that you will remember long after you close the book. Lovely Wild is a story of growth, redemption, and family secrets that will keep you turning pages with that wonderful edge of your seat feeling that comes with a well written suspense novel. Be advised, do not start this book at bedtime unless you want to stay up all night reading.

Megan includes playlists in each of her books that enrich the reading experience in a visceral way. If you have read Megan’s other books, and let us be clear here, you should, listen to the playlists included, it is a way to enjoy the story all over again.  I had some questions about how Megan uses music when she writes and Megan has answered them here:
 1.    Have
you always written / worked to music?
Megan Hart: Yes!
Honestly, the iPod was the best invention ever, because before that I had to
make mix tapes and/or CDs and use them for playlists. So yes, I have always
used music while writing.
you sing along with the lyrics when you are writing? 
Megan Hart: Absolutely.
And sometimes I dance.
you have playlists for certain types of writing?
Megan Hart: Not
necessarily for different types of writing, but definitely a different playlist
for each book. The songs can be pertinent or somehow relating to the book or
just what I happen to be into listening to at the time, but what’s so crazy is
that when I look back at what songs are on old playlists, I can really sink
back into how it felt when I was writing that book.
does music influence you? Is it a way to block distractions, or do you think
that the mood created by lyrics / music enables you to get where you need to be
emotionally for what you are writing?
Megan Hart: Both.
If I’m trying to write in a public space (which I had to do a LOT when my kids
were smaller and I’d write in a coffee shop or the playground or whatever) the
music definitely is used to block out the distractions. But also, when I put on
something sad or happy or ethereal it really gets me into the spirit of the
book. I have a long playlist of songs that stab me in the heart, and I listen
to them to get where I need to be for the writing, because fortunately my
default emotional setting is not woebegone angstmonster. So I have to find a way
to dig into that, and music helps.
you ever written lyrics, or considered writing songs?
Megan Hart: I have. I write lyrics a lot, but I can’t
read or write music, so it’s really not very productive! I wrote a song for a
story that will be out some time in 2015 and someone did write music for it,
which was amazing.
you listen to different types of music when you are editing versus first draft?
Megan Hart: Not
really. Pretty much the same throughout.
you listen to the same playlist each time you work on a project?
Megan Hart: Yes,
the music suggest the story, or does the story come you and then the music?
Megan Hart: Story
comes first, then I find the music that fits. There have been a few times when
a song inspired something, or lyrics have prompted a scene, but usually the
music is backdrop.
of music do you detest?
 Megan Hart: Jazz.
I hate jazz so much. Jazz makes me want to stab out my ears. Modern jazz, I
guess, all the boopdeleeboopedeedoo whatever. Once I went to a modern jazz band
with my husband and I wanted to both die and kill everyone in the room at the
same time, that’s how much I hate it.
10.  What kind of music is
your favorite?
Megan Hart: That’s
a harder question to answer. I love such a wide range. I love classical, pop,
hip hop, rock, hard rock, heavy metal…really, I love almost everything (except
modern jazz.)
As a writer this is what I have learned reading Megan Hart:

1. Great stories do not have to be set in exotic
2.  Internal dialogue is as important as external
3.  Pacing is essential to building suspense.
4.  Create characters that are capable of doing the
extraordinary when they reach the tipping point.
5.  Embrace the dark side of your characters, all of
them, not just the villains.
6.  Emotions are never
simple, don’t be afraid to show exactly how complicated they are.
7.  Do not back off from
social class conflict and social expectations, show just how deep and ugly they
can be.
 Mega Hart’s new novel Lovely
Wild is out now: You can purchase the book here or your favorite independent book store


Embrace Your Attention Issues: Terese Ramin Interview


The bar. Again.

I met Terese Ramin at my first writers’ conference. Chicago-North RWA Spring Fling 2012 to be exact. I was loitering at the bar waiting to register. I noticed Terese’s conference badge, and struck up a conversation. She was presenting at the conference. We spent
most of the evening laughing, talking, and getting to know each other over
fries and good beer.

Terese is gracious,
encouraging, and supportive. She is also has ADD/ADHD, and is a successful novelist, and editor. She very kindly agreed to do an interview for this blog.  I have enjoyed Terese’s books.   This is the link to Terese’s Amazon page.   Her biography follows the interview.

1. When were
you diagnosed with ADD/ADHD?

 Terese: **I
was officially diagnosed with ADD in 1996 when I took my son for diagnosis at
his high school’s request. I took the test with him to be supportive.
Was there a specific event that caused you to seek a diagnosis?
son’s high school requested that he be tested (and put on medication).
Do you think having a diagnosis helped?
Terese: **Yes,
it helped *me* realize what had always held me back / been “wrong” with me, and
why there were “bad conduct” marks on my school records. Girls didn’t have
ADD/ADHD when I was in grade school.
Have you faced any discrimination because of your diagnosis?
Terese: **No.
As an adult, the only people who know about my ADD/ADHD are those I choose to
tell. And since being ADD/ADHD affects my entire life, I let people know. My
son, on the other hand, didn’t want people to know, didn’t want to take meds,
etc., because it would have labeled him in high school as “one of those kids”
who got called out of class to take a prescription medication. We worked with
his ADD/ADHD in other ways and, boy, am I glad! He’s very successful as a
teacher now.
How did you organize/ focus yourself to write books?
Terese: **When
was first diagnosed, I saw a therapist who gave me suggestions to help keep me
focused – creating a CD that looped with the question “Are you on task?” played
at 5 and 10 minutes  intervals.
also used a CD called High Focus that essentially
plays white noise. It was highly effective, especially played softly. I also
used guided meditation and a couple of “In the Zone” CDs that are used to help
athletes maintain focus while they work out.
What is the biggest challenge for you when writing a novel?
Terese: **Oh
man. <G> For writing a novel, I need to get to the place in the book
where I can go into hyper-focus. Hyper-focus is something I’m good at – as long
as I’m being stimulated by what I do, or as long as what I’m doing is a
relatively simple, repetitive task (I’m a great editor due to hyper-focus, and
I’m pretty good at detail work – as long my brain doesn’t decide the details
are boring.) Boredom is my biggest problem.
thing that works is for me to be able to get up and wander around doing simple,
non-thinking tasks as I write – taking care of the laundry, loading the
dishwasher, dusting, etc. Those are things I hate to do, but when I do them
during the process of working on a novel, I don’t have to come out of the
“zone” or the story to do them. Doing
simple tasks allows me to daydream the next line, paragraph, or scene, and
return to the computer able to write a few more pages.
Are you an Outliner or Pantser?
Terese: **HA!
I wish I could outline a novel or create a beat sheet, then just fill in the
blanks on the pages. The moment I start to do that, my brain screams “lunch!”
and refuses to budge – it’s that boredom thing or the restless ADHD thing
kicking in: an outline causes me to tell the story to myself, which means I’ve
already written it, which means “bored now” when it comes to trying to write
all 70-85,000 words.
counter this, I give myself a blurb to remind myself where I need to get to
from here, post that on the wall where I can see it, and slowly make my way
toward the end goal: a completed novel.
How do you handle the distraction of the internet?
Terese: **Badly.
I have a routine of getting up in the morning, handling my email, reading the
online news, doing a little Facebook / Twitter / social media to keep my name
out there, but that means I also use up my best creative time. I might be
finished with all of those internet things by 8 a.m., but then the dogs need
attention, there are dirty dishes that need attention, the laundry needs to go
into the dryer, etc. It would be far better for me to revise that routine and
start with writing, but it takes a long time for me to create a routine that
works for me. It’s much easier to fall back on the routine I have. The bottom
line is that I’m much much more productive
if I follow a daily routine, but creating the right routine takes thought and discipline that I sometimes don’t
Do you think that it would have been helpful to be diagnosed at an earlier age?
in today’s climate, yes. Back when I was growing up? Maybe – at least then my
parents and teachers would have understood the reason for why I was the way I
was. But being diagnosed earlier – especially back in a time when using
ADD/ADHD medication properly was still pretty new – might also have meant being
medicated, which brings up a whole new world of issues.
What advice would you give writers struggling with attention issues?
Terese: **Embrace
your attention issues. I look at my son who’s always done seven or eight things
at the same time – and that worked for him. When he was in school, if he wasn’t
listening to at least one sporting event, playing the guitar (or the bassoon,
or something), reading a book, talking on the phone, trolling the internet AND
doing his homework, I knew he wasn’t getting his schoolwork done. He’s never
needed to be medicated and I’m proud of the man he’s become.
I also look at the way he innately handled his ADD/ADHD and I realize that my
own process of staying in the zone by doing housework while I’m writing is much
the same thing. I just need to “stay on task” get back to that routine.
 I hope that reading Terese’s interview inspires you to start writing if you haven’t and to keep going if you have stopped.
Terese Ramin is the award winning
author of eleven novels and numerous short stories. Her autobiographical essay,
“Two-Puppy Theory”, is included in the anthology The Sound and the Furry, sales of which benefit the International
Fund for Animal Welfare. The Cured,
her most recent release with author David Wind, is her first suspense-thriller.
Her next release will be an urban paranormal romance with writing partner Dawn
Aside from writing, Terese works
as an editor, ghost writer, book doctor, and a paranormal investigator. She
lives in Michigan with her husband and a bunch of rescued dogs.