Good Evening Tori, thank you for taking the time to answer some questions about being an independent author and about your most recent release, Love Made From Scratch: A Coming Home Novel

Q: So Tori, why did you decide to write a book?
A: It wasn’t like I sat down one day and said, “I’m going to write a book.”  The idea of writing a book has been one that would be a passing thought and disappear throughout my life.  It took the death of a close friend to prompt me to start writing creatively.

Q: How long have you been writing?
A: In school, I loved writing papers.  A lot of my writing has been focused on developing training programs and newsletters.  As I mentioned earlier it wasn’t until the death of a close friend that I started writing creatively.  It was through the process of composing memories the characters Anne and Maggie were developed and they began to tell their story in my first book, Coming Home A Second Chance at Goodbye.  While I pulled from personal past experience, Coming Home-A Second Chance at Goodbye is very much Anne and Maggie’s story.

The Coming Home series evolved when I realized that Aunt Ethel and Madison (two secondary characters in the first book) needed their own story.  That was the beginning of Ethel’s Song and led into the final book – Love Made from Scratch.

Q: How long did it take you to write this book?
A: he first book took approximately five years.  Ethel’s Song was complete within two years.  The last took four years, because like Coming Home – A Second Chance at Goodbye it is a very personal story.  Again, I pulled from personal experiences of having a hearing-impaired brother.

Q: What do you use to write your books?
A: I have horrible handwriting and especially when the creative juices are flowing.  So, I like to use my computer.

Q: What problems did you encounter Tori?
A: I hit a huge brick wall with how to move my first book’s storyline forward.  Luckily, I met a great writing coach.  She taught me how to use the story-mapping technique to develop my plot points, how to develop my characters, and kept me accountable for the weekly goals I would set for my writing.  I still use these techniques when working on a manuscript.

Q: How do you think you’ve evolved as a writer since you’ve started?
A: Yes. I did not realize how rusty I was with the basic mechanics of writing such as grammar and punctuation.  I have created a process when starting a new manuscript that helps keep me organized.  My dialogue has a more natural flow and I am more conscious of when I am telling a story instead of showing.

Q: Do you structure your plots or just go with the flow?
A: I am a hybrid of both.  Part of my process is I first develop my primary characters, define my plot points, and map out how I want the story to end.  Then I sit down, clear my head, plug in my favourite playlist for writing and just write.  I don’t worry about grammar, punctuation, and if I hit a roadblock I make notes as to what I want to happen in a particular scene within the manuscript and keep writing.

Q: Do you work for a set amount of words per day or does it change?
A: No, I don’t set a word or page goal.  I have a large dry erase board in my office and I set scene goals for the chapter I am writing.  As I complete a scene, I place a check mark by it on my board.

Q: Do you do a lot of research when writing a book?
A: Yes.  I conduct interviews with people that are experts in the area I am researching, of course, there’s Google, and I will visit the library.

Q: How would you describe your writing process?
A: Manic, frustration, sprinkled with moments of sheer joy and epiphanies.

Q: What time of the day do you find is best to write?
A: Either early morning before the chaos of the day begins.

Q: Where do you draw your inspiration from?
A: Life – An idea can come from listening to a conversation, reading the news, or wandering through an antique shop.  There are stories around us waiting to be discovered.  We just have to listen, observe, and explore the world around us.

Q: What draws you to this genre, Tori?
A: As an avid reader, I’ve always like romance and suspense.  I don’t like to know how a story is going to end by the time I’ve read the first chapter.  I want twists, turns, moments that catch my breath, make me reach for my Kleenex, or laugh out loud.

Q: Have you ever tried to write other genres?
A: No.

Q: Which author/book would compare yours too?
A: Nora Roberts and Sandra Brown

Q: Tori, can you relate to any of your own stories?
A: Yes.  In Coming Home – A Second Chance at Goodbye, I pulled my years of being a pilot.  I was a flight instructor and corporate pilot.  I also pulled from my love for horses and the small farm I rented when I had my horses.  In Ethel’s Song, I relied on my years of being a 911 Communication Officer.  We received a lot of Domestic Violence training, because, unfortunately, we process a lot of calls that are DV related.  Love Made from Scratch has a lot of my experience of having a hearing-impaired brother and his family.

Q: How many books have you written?
A: Three

Q: Have you ever written in collaboration with another author?
A: No, I have been included in two anthologies – A Cup of Christmas and Chicken Soup for the Soul-My Very Good, Very Bad Cat.

Q: Who designed your front cover?
A: I did

Q: Who was the first person you showed your novel too?
A: My editor

Q: Have you ever dedicated a book to someone?
A: Yes.  Two of my books have been dedicated to close friends that I have lost.  The reason is that both of them had a lot of impact on my life.

Q: How do you market your books?
A: I primarily use social media because it is the best form of marketing and that is creating a ‘word of mouth’ campaign.  It also allows me to connect with my followers.  I like using Facebook, Twitter, Youtube and Pinterest.  I also have a website. 

Q: How do you deal with bad reviews?
A: Not to sound flippant, but, you can’t please everyone.  I read the review and see if there is anything constructive or a takeaway that will help me in my future writing.  Like in life, you just have to take things with a grain of salt and keep moving forward.

Q: Do you use an agent?
A: No, I wanted to establish my readership and platform before moving toward an agent.

Q: How much time do you devote to marketing your books?
A: I set aside at least two hours a day to work on marketing, be it posting on social media, making a video, creating promotional material, or researching potential avenues that will help me and my books.

Q: How do you get your book reviews/reviewed?
A: I ask other authors and submit to publications or book reviewers.

Q: Do you do all your own proofreading and editing Tori?
A: No. That is like a Doctor trying to treat their own illness.  I have two editors to go through my manuscripts and then I select a group of beta readers.

Q: How and where are you publishing this book?
A: My books are published by Turnip Press Publishing and all three are available.

Q: What are the main benefits of being an independent author?
A: The control I have over the decision-making process of my books.  Turnip Press Publishing understands the independent spirit of authors and allows me to be a part of the process of publishing my book.

Q: What are you reading at the moment? Which book do you have by your bed?
A: At this time I am not reading anything.

Q: What was the first book you ever read?
A: Gosh, this is a hard question to answer.  I remember I loved the Amelia Bedilla books as a child, during my tweens I read Ellery Queen and the Hardy Boys, then there was the summer my Aunt gave my mom a grocery bag full of Harlequins.  In my teenage years, I graduated to Danielle Steele and any “smut” book that was being shared within my circle of friends. As an adult, I continue to read romance romantic suspense, mysteries, courtroom thrillers and biographies.

Q: Who is your favourite author/book?
A: Again, this is a hard one to answer because there are so many.  I guess my first choice would be Danielle Steele’s book – Palomino.  That was the first book that taught me how exciting it is to be surprised by the author in their development of character and storyline.

Q: What is your favourite book to film adaptation?
A: I never like film adaptations of books I’ve liked, because, I feel so much gets lost in the translation from the book to the screenplay and onto the screen.  Because a movie has approximately 180 minutes to relate all the nuances of the characters and their stories onto a screen that the writer spent time filling the pages of the book.

Q: Where are your favourite places to read?
A: Outside on my patio, in bed, or in my living room.

Q: When you read do you prefer a book or a Kindle/tablet?
A: I like the feel of a book, but sometimes due to print size it is easier for me to read on my tablet.

Q: Do you have any tips for aspiring authors?
A: Write, Write, Write and Write some more.  Just put it on paper.  It is easier to re-write and correct words than a blank page.  Become a sponge and absorb as much knowledge as you can about the writing process, the business side of writing, and finding your unique voice.

Q: What’s coming next Tori?
A: I am currently working on my next book, which, will be another romantic-suspense.  I already have the title and book cover designed.  Hopefully, it will be released next year (2018)