A combination of an active imagination, boredom, and just the plain old need to express myself on paper.
2) How long have you been writing? When did you sell your first book?
I've been writing since before I could write. My first book I dictated to willing and not so willing adults. I started to get serious about publishing something when I joined ANWA. (American Night Writers Association--That sounds like a motorcycle gang when you say it out loud but it's really made up of nice sweet church ladies.) Every one else seemed serious about submitting things and I suddenly realized I could too. My first book was published in 1996.
3) What type of writer are you? Do you plan ahead/plot or do you simply fly by the seat of your pants?
I always have some idea where the story is heading and how it will end. The more I've written, the more I rely on plotting out things ahead. It saves a lot of rewriting along the way. (When you get contracts suddenly time becomes a big issue. You have deadlines to meet and can't wait around for inspiration to develop the story for you.) That doesn't mean the story always goes the way I planned it though. A lot of times it doesn't, and that's okay too. As long as I think I know where it's going I can push ahead without fear.
4) How do you choose your characters' names?
For my heroine and hero I always choose names that I wanted to name my children but didn't, either because my husband wouldn't let me (What, you want a Sierra and a Savannah--will you call the next one Tundra?) or because I ran out of children. (Five is enough kids, but I had way more names that I liked.) I also let my children choose some of the minor characters names. All their friends have been in my novels at one point or another.
5) What type of writing schedule do you have?
I used to write during nap time. Then I moved onto the Dragon Tales/ Clifford hour, then I wrote while my kids were in preschool. My last child is going to kindergarten next year so I'll finally have more time to get things done. Wahoo!
6) How do you handle life interruptions?
Not very well. I can't write while the kids are around because they interupt me every two minutes and I can't keep my thoughts on track. Also, when big stressfull things happen in life, I also find it very hard to write. Years ago we had an adoption fall through and I couldn't write for about a year after that. That's one of the downsides to writing comedy. Sometimes you just don't feel like anything is funny.
7) Do you get blocked? Any hints on how to stave it off?
I lay Almond Joys out by my computer to lure my muse there.. At least that's my story and I'm sticking to it.
8) What have you always dreamed of writing, but haven't yet?
Many things. My last mortgage check comes to mind. Also, I'd like to write some fantasy novels. One day I'll get to those.
9) What one thing do you like most about writing? Least?
I love it when you're writing and things just come together, when the characters seem to act and talk of their own volition--and they're more clever and funny than you could ever hope to be. It's a feeling that you've somehow been involved in the magic we call creativity. My least favorite thing about writing is being blocked and feeling like nothing is working and everything I write is awful. Also, I'm not a big fan of self promotion. I would rather sit in front of the computer--actually I would rather go to the dentist-- than walk into book stores, introduce myself to employees, and ask them to please, please, please carry my books.
10) What is your next project?
I need to write a short story for a compilation book, (No clue what to write . . . and yes, right now there is an empty candy bar wrapper sitting beside my computer) I need to edit my last completed manuscript, tentively being called: Last Wish, and I need to figure out the plot for my next book and get busy on that.
11) What is your advice for other writers?
Read. Read. Read. (In fact, read my books and maybe I won't have such a hard time convincing local bookstores to carry them.) Read writing books, go to writing conferences, and look into joining a writers' critique group. Then write. Write. Write and don't stop.
12) Tell us about your new book, How to Take the Ex out of Ex-boyfriend.
Here is the descriptions from a review at Bookloons.com:
"Giovanna's life is far from perfect, but she does have one thing going for her: her sweet, caring, and incredibly handsome boyfriend Jesse. The rest of her existence is filled with fighting with her step-mom and doing community service for a crime she did not commit, although the recovered evidence points to her. Things go from bad to worse, though, when her twin brother Dante challenges the most popular boy in school, Wilson, in the upcoming student president campaign and Jesse becomes Wilson's campaign manager. When she presses him for an explanation, all Jesse will tell her is that Wilson called in a favor. Furious at Jesse for being used by the opposing candidate, Giovanna breaks up with him and agrees to be Dante's campaign manager. After a few days, Giovanna begins to regret her rash decision as she realizes she still wants to be with Jesse. Now Giovanna and her friends must help get Dante elected while trying to get the opposing campaign managers back together."
Janette, I understand you're running a contest to celebrate the release of How to Take the Ex out of Ex-boyfriend.
Yes, in honor of my newest book, I'm starting a Dish-out-dirt-on-your-Ex contest. We'll call it "The Good, The Bad, and The Oh So Ugly." Write a paragraph or two or three on why your boyfriend was either 1) a total jerk or 2) a real cool guy, despite the fact that the two of you are no longer together.
Send your stories to: email@example.com. (I may do some editing if they're too long.) Also let me know if you want your name used with the story. After I get a sufficient quantity of stories, I'll post the best ones on my website. Then I'll choose a winner who will receive a signed copy of Ex-boyfriend, which let me tell you right now is a very cool story, even if they didn't put the cover that I wanted on the book. (see Photo Shoot on my website for that story)
Thank you for the interview, Janette.
It was fun!