Within every novel you enter so many mind-sets. You have to be the beautiful woman, the psycho criminal, the judge, the jury. That’s the role of an author: to play everyone. if you don’t play them convincingly, your characters are cardboard.
Do you know how a book/series is going to end when you begin it?
I always have a beginning, middle and end in mind when starting a novel. Sometimes I have a 50 page outline. Sometimes only a collection of thoughts on character or plot. But the big mistake first time writers make is filling up the car, getting behind the wheel and starting off driving without knowing a destination. A quick formula for running out of gas.
How can I get Disney to approve my ideas/writing?
I am lucky to have been asked to write for Disney and love working with them. That said, writing ideas are not copyrighted, but stories can be. Disney owns the copyrights to The Kingdom Keepers stories and also owns the trademarks on the Disney characters, but anything can be written when done in fun. I suggest you keep writing and not worry about getting published.
At what age did you start writing?
I started writing when I was ten. Took a long break during high school and college (homework!) and started up again after college as a songwriter. From there it moved to script writing and eventually novels. I was first published in 1985.
Being an experienced author, what do you generally have to submit to a publisher to get your book published?
My experience now, 48 published novels, and that of the beginning novelist are VERY different. Typically an agent (it’s critical to have an agent) want to see a completed outline and three or four really well-written chapters. The competition out there is fierce. My agencies receives 20,000 unsolicited manuscripts a year–with thousands of solicited manuscripts to read on top of that.
Do you have any writing advice for beginner writers?
If you read, read, read and study the way various authors make characters come to life on the page you will see that working both with the five senses and internal thoughts can really help. My advice is to read the character descriptions in the books you love and to especially pay attention to how they speak and what they say as that is what shapes people’s impressions of us and therefore readers’ impressions of characters.
Most importantly, pick an amount of time each day, 30 mins, 1 hour, and sit down and DO IT.
Have you found certain methods or tricks for writing novels?
I don’t have tricks. It comes down to hours and hours of work. I rewrite every novel no fewer than four times, sometimes as many as nine times. You can’t believe how many hours that consumes. It’s ENDLESS. You have to be patient to be a published writer, and you have to practice humility, because the editor (or teacher) is nearly always right.
What inspires you to write? Where do you get your ideas?
I love telling stories. I’ve been a storyteller much of my life, and I think the novels allow me to express that. My ideas come from experience, newspapers, listening to others, observation. It’s all around us. Everything has a story if you take the time to listen and look for it.