Want to know more about T.C.?
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What is behind the "T.C."?
What's in a name? A lot in my opinion and I was named after a very sweet little song just like hundreds of other little girls back in my day. Problem is, I’m not all that sweet. I write thrillers and after-apocalypse fantasy thrillers, after all. I also hated it when my name was called and - never failed - a handful of women in the room would stand up.
I'm not hiding my name, honest. I'm simply ignoring it in the hopes people won't start calling me by it all the time again. I already have to hear it from telemarketers (who clearly announce who they are to all in my house when they ask for me by my full name) and everyone who reads it off of a form or some kind of official papers. I'm stuck with it in those situations, I realize, and I can live with that. But please, please, realize I'm T.C. It fits me much better :) And let's leave it at that.
Why do you write so often in Male POVs?
I really don't have an explanation for it. I never thought a thing about it until my first experience with an agency in 1997. I discovered a female writer taking on a male POV wasn't common and they were quite surprised to realize I was female because I had created Codey Mathews, the protagonist in my first book, so convincingly. I write the characters as they come to me, not paying any attention to gender - only to character personality. The owner of the story is the POV I write. In all my stories, I use multiple POVs. I don't prefer writing one gender over the other. I just write who fits the scenes.
Where do you get your ideas?
My ideas come from many places and often start with one little incident I read, saw on television, or dreamed. That one little incident will grow in my mind to a full blown plot. I ask the question, "what if?" while creating the plot.
How long does it take for you to write a novel?
It takes however long it takes to get the story right. I refuse to publish a half-baked plot with flat characters just to get books out there quickly. Whispers of Insanity, my first work, took me over ten years to perfect, but it was also a learning tool. Gone Before Dawn, my second, was begun two years before Whispers of Insanity was published in September of 2002. Gone Before Dawn went to print in April of 2003. I began the Manipulated Evil series in the summer of 2003. It was written and in print in under two years, but the book I started right after it took four years. It took longer to find all the research to complete the plot for Among the Ancients. Since then, I’ve written a seven book series. Some books in the series took just months, others took at least a year.
When did you first realize you wanted to write books?
I've been writing stories since I was very young, probably around age 8. I would spend hours with pen and paper, drawing and creating fictional lives. Although none of my early works were fit for publication, they did build the foundation I now use to create my characters and stories.
What is your favorite time of day to write?
I always start new scenes at night, usually after 9 p.m. and work into the wee hours of the morning. It is this time of day where I can relax and let the creative juices flow free without interruptions from my girls, the telephone, the laundry, the dirty dishes, or anything of that sort. Some authors say they can only write first thing in the morning when their mind is fresh, but I've always been a night person. Nothing I ever try to write in the morning comes out well.
Do you have a writing schedule?
Not really. I do try to make it a point to sit down and work after my girls are all tucked into bed, whether I feel like it or not. I never try to force it though. If I don't feel like starting something new, I go over what's already written and improve it. By the time I reach the end of a 65,000 word novel, I've read the first half of it at least a dozen times. This keeps what is happening with the characters fresh in my mind and enables me to weave in tiny details seamlessly.
What inspires you?
Music and nature. Sitting alone surrounded by trees and wildlife is a great breath of fresh air for my creative mind. My girls have taught me plot twists. Nothing can change the expected way life goes better than a child. But when creating a mood for my books, I always have the stereo on to my favorite CDs and often one song will strongly influence a scene.
Why do you write in the suspense, thriller, and fantasy genres?
I'm not sure. Even when taking the writing course from Long Ridge Writers Group in the early 1990s I was asked this question. Yet whenever I tried to step outside the darker genres with my lessons, my work was weak. When writing suspense, I was at my strongest. I couldn't see the wisdom in fighting it. When I first sent Whispers of Insanity to market, I was told a young mother, from rural Pennsylvania wasn't saleable as an author of thrillers, yet I sure did get their attention. Even with rejection letters, I received personal, hand-written notes on a job well done. And my readers don't seem to mind who I am when they are in the midst of reading one of my books. They just know they like it.
Do you do an outline for your books?
I don't start with outlines. The outline usually comes near the middle of the book. I write down where my characters have already been and where they need to go. This process helps me to keep things straight but often the end of these outlines changes more times than I can count before I finish a book. I refuse to lock my characters into a strict outline. In doing that, I think I would squelch any originality and surprises my characters might come up with.
What comes first, plot or characters?
Characters, no question about it. I know my characters inside and out before I start a novel. I know what and how they eat. I know how they sleep, what haunts their dreams, what haunts their memories and what creates their fears and doubts. I know everything about them because they drive my plots. It is their personalities and histories that create direction for how the plot will unfold. Plot is also important, but without full flesh and blood characters, they will become puppets in a play. I don't write like that.
Can anyone be a writer?
Sure, anyone can be a writer. Most people are, in fact. I don't know anyone who hasn't written letters to friends or written in journals. But being a writer is a far cry from being an author.
What's the difference? Every author is a writer, but not all writers are authors. An author is in the business of writing, and yes, it is a business, a time consuming and often blood curdling business. It's tiring, it's disheartening many times, and some see it as either impossible to tread through or not worth the effort. I have learned it takes a very determined person to become an author, a person who is able to let rejection roll off their back without dragging its claws down their spine. And an author is always willing to learn what's new with the writing and publishing world and change accordingly.
What do you advise a beginning writer to do first?
First, learn and perfect your writing style. Decide what genre you want to write and why you want to write it. If you want to write just to put your views into the world and other people's hands, you may not be writing for the right reason. Yes, you can get your views into the hands of others, but it is much smarter to write a book geared toward those you hope will be your reading public. Writing for them, instead of at them, will take you further.
Why did you publish your books with print on demand publishers?
I spent years with Whispers of Insanity floating around the publishing market, represented by an agent from 1997 to late 1998. I got many praises on a job well done, but once it became clear who I was and that I had obligations that kept me grounded to my local area so I couldn’t travel, the interest faded. I was also concerned about what several publishers said about Whispers of Insanity. Although they said it was a well written piece of work, it was too "innocent" for the thriller market. What did that mean? It meant they wanted more gore in the book, much more. And I wasn't willing to do it.
Publishing with a print on demand publisher allowed me to keep all the rights to my work. I was able to publish it how I wanted it without all the shock-value gore (and got many praises from readers for it). There was no huge out of pocket money demands. Yet there is little to no difference between traditional house trade paperbacks like Random House and POD trade paperbacks when they are done correctly. I made sure my books were done correctly with only the best editing and designing used to create them. No, I never edit my own work even though I am very capable of editing, but I do most of my cover designs (all but the 2002 version of Whispers).
What is print on demand (POD)?
Print on Demand is a technology. It simply means a book is not printed until it is ordered. There is no need for warehousing facilities or huge print runs with no guarantees the copies will be sold. There is less waste, there is less hassle. But the quality of the book is not sacrificed so long as the author does their research and chooses a POD publisher who knows the business and is able to produce top-notch products.
Why aren't your books in all the bookstores?
My books can be ordered from any bookstore. I am listed with Ingram and Baker and Taylor. The brick and mortar stores (actual buildings as opposed to online bookstores) are much more reluctant to place new titles from relatively unknown authors on their limited shelf space. And they require a hefty discount from the publisher. They also return many of the copies they purchase, causing the author not only to buy back the copies but also to pay all shipping. In essence, the author basically buys their own book, taking a loss. And bookstores rarely keep books on shelves for long before returning them.
Not finding a book in your local bookstore does not mean the title is not worthy of your time, money, or effort. Sometimes the reason it's not found is as frivolous as the book not being sized correctly to fit on their shelves.
Are all POD publishers the same?
No, not even close. If you are considering publishing with a publisher who uses POD technology, please be sure to do your research. Take time to inspect other books they have published and pay attention to the quality of their cover work, their formatting, their editing. And you need to learn exactly what they do to help you promote your work. Some publishers do nothing to help you with the marketing. Some do as little as listing your title with Ingram. Others do much more. But the cold hard truth is, no matter how you publish, non traditionally or traditionally, authors are finding marketing is more their job than anyone else's.