Tell us about yourself and your books.:
I am originally from Newport Beach, California, and have twenty years of experience writing fiction, nonfiction, and movie screenplays. My areas of expertise also includes film and media production, global strategy, and international marketing.
I received a Bachelor of Arts in British Literature and European History from Brown University; did post- graduate work at Harvard University; earned an MBA from Boston College; and am pursuing a Master of Science in Advanced Management and a PhD in Strategy.
I am now based in San Diego, and am a strong supporter of education and the arts. I enjoys world travel, reading, riding, swimming, sailing, tennis, and am currently on a National School Book Tour with Britfield & The Lost Crown speaking to students on the importance of creativity!
Britfield & The Lost Crown was conceived as an idea over 10 years ago while I was enduring a boring finance seminar. It started as a sketch of a hot air balloon with a young boy and girl trapped inside. From this simple drawing sprang the entire concept and story for Britfield.
Do you have any unusual writing habits?
Not really – but I am REALLY a morning person! I write best in the early morning. Once I start creating or editing a book, I will finish it, whether it takes eight weeks or eight months—I stay with it until it’s complete. For me, the best way to write is uninterrupted, in a quiet place. Just start and keep going until you are finished. Everyone has their own style—what works best for them. I’ll start early in the morning, go for about three or four hours, take a break: working out, running or swimming. Then I’ll have lunch, rest and go back to writing for another four or five hours. By five or six o’clock in the evening, I’m exhausted and finished for the day.
What authors have influenced you?
I loved reading as a child, movies and storytelling, so all these areas had a huge influence on my life. Some of my favorite books growing up were The Mouse and the Motorcycle, by Beverly Cleary; James and the Giant Peach and Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, by Roald Dahl; and the Hardy Boys series. As I grew older, I enjoyed Charles Dickens and his ability to take a Shakespearean cast of characters and seamlessly weave them through his stories (Oliver Twist, David Copperfield, and Great Expectations). I was heavily influenced by C. S. Lewis, his amazing depth and creativity as an author. Jane Austen captured the aristocracy, the intrigue, the forced etiquette and the psychological games and hypocrisies of the upper classes. The Bronte sisters, Charlotte, Emily and Anne, wrote mysterious, romantic gothic novels that are powerful, moving and deep, such as Jane Eyre and Wuthering Heights. Thomas Hardy took simple characters living in a rural setting and created complex, multilayered stories. And Daphne du Maurier, such as her epic novel Rebecca. I have visited most of the places these stories took place or were based on.
Do you have any advice for new authors?
Story is everything. It can be simple or complex, but it must be interesting and well-told. Find a unique story and start writing. First create your structure: beginning, middle and end. It’s easier when you think about the story in chapters: where’s the book going, what happens next and how will it end? Develop your characters and know them well—give them depth and obstacles that they must overcome. Do your research and master the subject you’re writing about. Also, read. Enjoy reading and understand what’s out in the market. Find writers you like and learn from them: how they tell a story, the way they structure or pace their narrative, how they describe things. Analyze these books and figure out what makes them interesting or compelling—why they’re successful or why they work as a novel. You never want to copy a style or another writer, but it’s essential to study the literary world you want to enter. If I were a painter, I would study other painters. If I were a composer, I would study other composers. It’s very important to develop your own style and what makes you unique, but this will come with time and experience.
Remember, nothing happens overnight. It takes commitment, discipline and endurance to produce an engaging and inspiring novel. To write and finish a book, you must first begin and spend time with it. Don’t worry about your first draft; just get your ideas and words onto paper (or the computer). Challenge yourself each day to produce a certain amount, perhaps two or three new pages. If you’re stuck on the next chapter, but you know what happens in another section, then jump to that scene. Just keep writing. If you can’t think of anything new, then start editing what you’ve already written, but just keep writing. This is the discipline and commitment needed to finish a book. However, it’s one thing to create your story, structure, characters and a compelling narrative; it’s another to edit. They say that writing is 10% and editing is 90%. I find this relatively accurate. The more you edit, the better your story becomes; the more you edit, the more polished your writing becomes. Nevertheless, there is a time when you must finish and let it go, so you can move onto your next story. Most importantly, have fun. Write because you enjoy it.
What is the best advice you have ever heard?
The most important thing I have been told about writing is to just keep writing, not to lose your flow or momentum: get your words out and down on paper (or computer). If you get stuck, just leapfrog to a section you want to write or already have an idea on how it will go. You could be off to a great start, then get stuck on page 50 or 70 or 100. Simply jump to another section that you have already thought about, write, then jump back and continue on or finish the previous section.
What are you reading now?
Princess Bride by William Goldman – LOVE!
What’s your biggest weakness?
It is difficult for me to read bad reviews on my writing!
What is your favorite book of all time?
Books = The Chronicles of Narnia by C. S. Lewis
What has inspired you and your writing style?
I enjoy biographies and history, which has obviously influenced my writing. I like going deep into a subject, learning the details of people’s lives, how they lived, what they overcame and how they succeeded. I just finished two extraordinary biographies–Mary, Queen of the Scots by Antonia Fraser and The Life of Elizabeth I by Alison Weir—and I highly recommend both books. The history is fascinating and what these two women endured is stunning. The truth is often far more dramatic than fiction, which is why I enjoy weaving history into my novels.
Also, I am very visually, so I like to visualize the scene I am writing. I usually see it as a movie unfolding as I write—the setting, the tone, the mood, the surroundings, the characters.
What are you working on now?
I finished Britfield & the Rise of the Lion, Book II (set in France) last July. I am presently in the midst of the editing process. I will be starting on Britfield & the Return of the Prince, Book III (set in Italy) very soon!
What is your method for promoting your work?
Book promotion is a full-time job, period. Not many have the luxury of dedicating this amount of time, but it is what is truly need. Here are a few basics:
You need to put together a marketing plan and strategy. Find someone with business savvy who can help you. Put together at least a 1-year plan, with goals and objectives.
Create your own story and continue to tell it: Why this book and what does it mean to you?
Apply for book awards: this is a great way to achieve recognition and exposure.
Set up a dynamic website that tells your story and captures emails/comments
Create a blog that you can share with other authors: tips, promotions, insight
Set up your Amazon platform and learn all the tricks about exposure and rankings
Do as much media: social media, radio and television as you can (email contacts, networks and other platforms). What is your hook? Why would they like to interview you?
Try to do book presentations (or readings), not just at bookstores but other organizations and schools.
What’s next for you as a writer?
I finished Britfield & the Rise of the Lion, Book II (set in France) and have begun the editing process. I will be starting on Britfield & the Return of the Prince, Book III (set in Italy) very soon.
How well do you work under pressure?
I have not had to write under pressure yet!
Writing a book (a story) is like taking a long driving trip across the country: having a beginning and an end. Everywhere you stop along the way is a chapter. It is demanding process but worth it in "The End"!
How do you decide what tone to use with a particular piece of writing?
I trust the story and my instincts. I spend the time needed to create something exceptional. It took me 4 years and 2500 hours to write and edit Britfield & the Lost Crown. I also piloted draft three at several public and private schools, receiving feedback directly from my reading audience. Ironically, I started Britfield as a children’s book, figuring maybe 30 pages—something fun with pictures. Yet as I wrote, the story overtook me, characters came to life, subplots development and an entire series was created 384 pages latter.
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