Posts Tagged: writing

Creative Ladies: Laryssa Wirstiuk

LaryssaWirstiuk

Laryssa Wirstiuk is the author of The Prescribed Burn, which I wrote about on HelloGiggles way back in 2012. I really enjoyed her book, so I was super-excited that Laryssa agreed to answer my nosy Creative Ladies questions. You can find Laryssa on her website and on Twitter @ryssiebee.

What’s your main creative gig (this can be your day job, your freelance work, or both)? Describe what you do on a normal working day.

I have two primary jobs: I’m a college-level writing instructor and a marketing professional. I teach creative writing and digital media at Rutgers University. In addition, I work for a small pharmaceutical marketing agency in Manhattan. When I’m not doing either of these jobs, I tutor privately, edit manuscripts, and write articles/reviews. I don’t really have a normal working day because every day is so different; the best part is that I have a lot of control over the hours I spend working!

What are your creative, just-for-fun (not money or career advancement) hobbies?

My main hobby is creative writing. I enjoy writing short stories, poems, and plays. When I don’t feel like writing, I practice yoga, experiment with vegan cooking, and play with my dog Charlotte Moo. In addition, I like to read books and magazines.

Laryssa's adorable dog Charlotte

Laryssa’s adorable dog Charlotte

What inspires you? Feel free to be as literal or as figurative as you want.

My students definitely inspire me. I’m so charged by their positive attitudes and their hopeful outlook on the world. I’m also inspired by my belief that I’m only guaranteed this present moment; with this attitude, I try to fill the present with as much joy and creative energy as possible.

In three words, describe your creative aesthetic/viewpoint.

Color, simplicity, depth.

How would you describe your creative “process”? Does it involve a lot of staring into space, doodling, or candy eating?

To be creative, I definitely need quiet and some time to myself. On days when I’m rushing from task to task or surrounded by lots of people, I feel like my head is crowded with noise, and I struggle with being creative. I sometimes need to spend an entire day alone to decompress. Though I wouldn’t describe myself as shy or reserved, I’m definitely an introvert and use alone time to recharge my creative batteries.

What creative accomplishment are you most proud of?

I’m most proud of my book The Prescribed Burn, which I published through my publishing company Painted Egg Press in December 2012. The Prescribed Burn evolved from being my graduate school thesis, which I started in the fall of 2007, into a complete short story collection. In May 2012, I used Kickstarter to raise $5,500, which covered the costs of printing the book. In the fall of 2013, my book won honorable mention in the Writer’s Digest 21st Annual Self-Published Book Awards, in the Mainstream/Literary Fiction category: http://www.writersdigest.com/online-exclusives/april-14/21st-annual-writers-digest-self-published-book-awards-winners.

What’s a big creative challenge/failure/embarrassment you’ve learned from?

When I was in graduate school, I started an online magazine called Too Shy to Stop. I recruited young writers from all over the country to submit articles related to arts and culture and hired both a designer and a programmer to build the site. I loved running Too Shy to Stop, but it involved a lot of work; I was basically running an online magazine by myself! I ran out of energy and time, and I couldn’t figure out how to monetize the project. I consider Too Shy to Stop to be one of my biggest failures. What I learned from it is that I’m passionate and energetic, but digital publishing is a tricky industry that often requires more luck than strategy.

Who’s your Creative Lady role model (this can be a person you know, a celebrity, a fictional character, etc.)?

My Creative Lady role model is my friend and current boss Madeleine Beckman. She’s a published poet, journalist, fiction writer, and overall awesome person. I see her about three times per week, and I can talk to her about anything from the latest New York Times book reviews to fashion to the men we’re currently crushing on. I consider her to be one of my mentors, and she’s given me a lot of invaluable advice about building my career.

What time of day are you most creative? Are you a morning person or a night owl?

I love waking up early, especially on the weekends, because everything is so quiet, but I’m definitely most creative at night, right before I go to sleep. I sometimes need a whole day to mentally prepare myself for writing. I can’t just wake up and write.

Being an awesome Creative Lady can be overwhelming. What do you do to relax?

To relax, I practice yoga and “japa mala” meditation, which is a type of meditation that uses “japa mala” beads or Hindu prayer beads. I also love reading vegan cooking blogs. I’m addicted to pinning vegan recipes on Pinterest.

What books would you recommend to other Creative Ladies?

The Art of Seduction by Robert Greene: The ultimate guide to understanding what attracts one person to another and how you can make that knowledge work for you.
Bluets by Maggie Nelson: A genre-bending study of the color blue.
The Stranger Manual by Catie Rosemurgy: One of the most unusual and awesome poetry collections I’ve ever read, The Stranger Manual follows a fictional character named Miss Peach.
The Meat and Spirit Plan by Selah Saterstrom: Another genre-bending book, this is an amazing coming-of-age story.
Proofs and Theories by Louise Gluck: For anyone who loves poetry and language, by a Pulitzer-Prize-winning poet.

What advice would you give to other Creative Ladies who want to do what you do?

I can’t say it enough: believe in yourself. No one will believe in you if you don’t believe in yourself first. You have to be your own best cheerleader and advocate. You have to “fake it until you make it” with the blind faith that what you’re doing every day is moving you forward, closer to your goals.

What’s your Creative Lady motto?

Trust the process.

Creative Ladies: Anne Leigh Parrish

Anne Leigh Parrish, 1

Anne Leigh Parrish is the author of Our Love Could Light the World, as well as many other things. I appreciate that she took time out of her busy schedule to answer my nosy questions about process, inspiration, and book recommendations. You can find Anne on her website, her Facebook page, and on Twitter @AnneLParrish.

Thanks again, Anne! If you’d like to be interviewed for Creative Ladies, just send me an email at welcometoladyville@gmail.com.

What’s your main creative gig (this can be your day job, your freelance work, or both)? Describe what you do on a normal working day.

Writing has been my main gig for almost twenty-four years – that’s how long it’s been since I stopped working outside of the home in any capacity, a privilege made possible by my very hard-working husband. Of course, into that mix came two children who are now grown and much more on their own. I juggled child care and writing for quite a while. And then my daughter was diagnosed with a tricky chronic condition that required careful monitoring several times a day. A typical day starts for me around 7:30 a.m. My husband and I both work at home. We read the paper, he walks the dogs, and we repair to our respective offices. At that point, it’s a matter of producing new material or editing old material; promoting myself through Twitter – I have over 10,000 followers now – Facebook, Google + groups, and so on. I usually knock off around 3 to 3:30, though my husband keeps it most days until 5:00. He’s a lawyer, and his time is a lot less flexible than mine. Evenings, I’m willing to admit, are spent in front of the television.

What are your creative, just-for-fun (not money or career advancement) hobbies?

You know, I don’t have a whole lot, to tell you the truth. Sometimes I can be moved to take an enthusiastic interest in my garden, or in a new recipe, or an art exhibit. I do spend a fair amount of time reading, particularly on my Kindle, which I adore. I’m one of those people who reads a book for a while, then puts it down, starts another book, puts that one down, and returns to the first book. Having a Kindle spares me a tower of books on every table in my house, although there are still plenty of books in every room.

What inspires you? Feel free to be as literal or as figurative as you want.

Life, how people overcome adversity, how they make peace with what cannot be changed. Anything beautiful inspires me, particularly flowers, but also manmade things – my home is full of original art I’ve picked up here and there. I’ve gotten more interested in glass – fused glass, in particular, and the way it catches the light. I suppose that’s a function of living at latitude 47! Seattle is very far north, and our winters are dark.

In three words, describe your creative aesthetic/viewpoint.

I try to emphasize elegance, beauty, and balance.

How would you describe your creative “process”? Does it involve a lot of staring into space, doodling, or candy eating?

So often it begins with a scene, two people in a state of conflict or misunderstanding, some sort of strife, real or imagined. From there, everything I write tends to grow organically. I don’t outline. And yes, I stare into space a lot, and play a lot of online solitaire. Then there comes a point of pulling out all the underlying themes and movements in a piece and making sure they’re in sync – or knowing, to my own satisfaction – why they’re not.

What creative accomplishment are you most proud of?

I’d have to say the novel I just finished writing, What Is Found, What Is Lost. It was very hard to write, a lot of details to keep track of, since it spans the lives of four generations of women in one family. And after what I thought I had one solid version, I restructured it completely. I’m happy with it now. I hope my readers will be, too.

Anne's desk, which belonged to her grandfather and her father before she inherited it.

Anne’s desk, which belonged to her grandfather and her father before she inherited it.

What’s a big creative challenge/failure/embarrassment you’ve learned from?

Being overeager. I began as a short story writer – and wrote only stories until about 2012. Anyway, the mistake I made was to submit everything I wrote, from the very beginning. This, obviously, led to a huge amount of disappointment, because those early stories weren’t nearly good enough to get published. I was dogged, though, and kept on sending out everything I finished, even as I jumped into another story. The one good thing to that particular madness was that I was able to develop a relationship with a number of editors who took the time to respond to my submissions personally. I learned a lot from their insights.

Who’s your Creative Lady role model (this can be a person you know, a celebrity, a fictional character, etc.)?

I’d have to say Alice Munro. She had no formal education as a writer, in that she didn’t earn the beloved MFA degree (nor did I); she wove writing into the rest of her life, which was largely domestic and consumed with raising children; she took huge literary risks and stretched the reader’s expectations. She was fearless in what she wrote. Unapologetic about her focus on women and women’s lives.

What time of day are you most creative? Are you a morning person or a night owl?

I do well right after breakfast. That tends to be a very creative time of day for me. Right after dinner I can be pretty focused, too. I guess I need to have my batteries fully charged in order to be brilliant, or what passes for brilliance in my case.

Being an awesome Creative Lady can be overwhelming. What do you do to relax?

I watch a lot of shows on Home and Garden network; anything that has to do with history; old movies. Lots of television, in other words.

What books would you recommend to other Creative Ladies?

Well, since I just mentioned her, anything by Alice Munro. Mrs. Dalloway by Virginia Wolfe. Tiger Moon by Penelope Lively. Olive Kitteridge by Elizabeth Strout.

What advice would you give to other Creative Ladies who want to do what you do?

Know, at the outset, that writing is hard work and don’t expect it to come easily. Focus on the craft first, and later on what you really want to say. If you don’t hone the skill, the message, however fine and essential, gets lost. Also, I’d say don’t worry too much about what other people say – unless they’re talking specifically about craft. Don’t let people make you feel bad about specific artistic choices you make – they’re your choices, after all. As long as you consciously making them, and not just following a habit, or something you’ve learned to do.

What’s your Creative Lady motto?

When life shoves you around, shove it back.

Creative Ladies: Ruby McNally

A picture of Ruby's bookshelf because she says she's "not ready" for her grandma to find out about her career. Understandable.

A picture of Ruby’s bookshelf because she’s “not ready” for her grandma to find out about her career. Understandable.

I’ve had the pleasure of featuring tons of Creative Ladies in this series…YA authors, poets, photographers, musicians, illustrators, and more. But one profession I haven’t yet featured? Erotic romance author. Until now, that is! I’m really happy to share this interview with Ruby McNally, the author of Crash (which you can buy right here on Amazon). Ruby talked to me about writing on the subway, complicated female characters, and the dangers of looking at adoptable dogs online (been there). You can find Ruby on her Tumblr and on Twitter @Ruby_McNally.

What’s your main creative gig (this can be your day job, your freelance work, or both)? Describe what you do on a normal working day.

Writing is my main gig–erotic romance, to be specific, which still feels a little odd to write out in full. I mean, I write extremely graphic sex scenes, for money. I still haven’t told my mother.

It didn’t start out that way. I was always a huge reader as a kid–like, I’m talking five, six books on the go at the same time–but until a couple of years ago I hadn’t read a single romance novel. I was a huge snot about it. I’d always wanted to be a writer, but I wanted to write Serious Literature or whatever, never mind that I was absolutely happiest typing away at hundreds of thousands of words of fanfiction that always included extended kissing scenes. Anyway, I more or less gave up on that dream in high school when I realized how tough it is to make a go of being an author (with some unsubtle help from my guidance counselor–good job getting me to go to college, Mrs. Caputo.) I got a sensible degree and a sensible job, and I stopped plotting out narrative arcs. I wrote a lot of fanfiction. Still, I always sort of assumed that if I ever did publish a book, it wouldn’t have nipples on its cover, you know?

But then E.L. James happened. Suddenly erotica was everywhere, and it was making money. My friend sent me a romance novel in the mail with a note saying, I bet we could do better. I don’t even remember what book it was. It was about a Navy SEAL, which doesn’t exactly narrow it down, but it was short, and it was bad. The sex was boring, the plot was dumb, the characters were vapid. And it was a book. A real, published book. And I thought, Hey, maybe I can do this.

I’ve since read much, much better romance novels. Like, hugely, intimidatingly good, that knocked me right off my high horse. But I’m always thankful I read that crappy one first. It gave me an artificially inflated sense of self-confidence that got me through the first draft of CRASH, got me to a publishing house, and got me writing the LIGHTS AND SIRENS series. And here I am, getting paid to write extremely graphic sex scenes in my spare time. Hi, Mom.

What are your creative, just-for-fun (not money or career advancement) hobbies?

I like to keep a running tally of professions it would be hard to write a romance novel about. Aging dive-bar cover-band guitarist. Woman butcher. Prostitute without a heart of gold. And then I decide how I would write them. The answer in this particular situation, obviously, is a polyamorous threesome.

What inspires you? Feel free to be as literal or as figurative as you want.

Movies, tv shows, people on the subway. My lapsed Catholic guilt. The scene in West Wing where President Bartlet shouts in Latin in the church. The other scene in West Wing where President Bartlet takes down Jenna Jacobs. The episode of Buffy where Buffy’s mother dies. The entirety of The Wire. I watch a lot of TV, clearly.

my trusty West Wing box set

In three words, describe your creative aesthetic/viewpoint.

“Okay, now kiss.”

How would you describe your creative “process”? Does it involve a lot of staring into space, doodling, or candy eating?

Hm. I mean, I spend a lot of time on Tumblr looking at moody pictures of barns? I procrastinate, I walk around my apartment. I browse adoptable dogs online. I write best on the subway, actually. Any moving vehicle does it, but I’m on the subway the most. What I really need is a car and someone to drive me around in circles while I sit in the passenger’s seat and write. Something about the movement tricks my brain into focusing.
always have plants
What creative accomplishment are you most proud of?

The whole LIGHTS AND SIRENS series, really. It’s a trio of books about emergency service workers in the Berkshires. The first book, CRASH, is out from Samhain Publishing on March 4. It’s about two EMTs, a widower and a girl who’s the head of her Shameless-style brood of siblings. There’s a Greek diner I wish existed in real life, plus a crumbling triple decker and a Craftsman with cabbage rose wallpaper. There’s a dog named Atlas and a lot of family ties. There’s sex too, obviously, although not in the back of an ambulance. I thought that might be a little crass. Most importantly, there’s a happy ending.

The second book in the series, SINGE, is going through its third round of edits at Samhain right now. It’s about two firefighters, and it takes place over the course of one summer as a string of arsons are sweeping through Great Barrington. The Greek diner from CRASH has a cameo, which is how you know I love it. And finally, I just started working on the last book, BANG. It’s about–wait for it–two cops.

I wrote the series because I was trying to write the kind of romance novel I’d want to read. Like, a romance novel about real people, where no one’s a millionaire or a celebrity or devastatingly beautiful. CRASH’s heroine didn’t go to college, SINGE’s can be real bossy and insecure. BANG’s is a divorced mother with a four-year-old and stretch marks. Also, it was really important to me that if I was going to do a series about emergency service workers, both the hero and heroine would be in the profession. So often romance novels have just the dude with the sexy job title–he’s a SEAL or a cop or a rock star or what have you. Masculine, action-packed professions. I wanted to write a novel where both the hero and the heroine had the same job. And not only that, I wanted to show the more pedestrian, realistic sides of those jobs. Not that the work emergency service personnel does is ever pedestrian, but the Berkshires aren’t exactly the South Bronx in the 70s, you know? There are a string of arsons in SINGE, but it’s such an aberration it alarms the whole community. There’s a shooting in BANG, but it’s the first one in ten years. That kind of thing.

What’s a big creative challenge/failure/embarrassment you’ve learned from?

I actually think a nice thing about coming from a fandom/fanfiction background is that, really quickly, you get used to the idea that the minute you put yourself out there in the universe, it’s inevitable that not everybody’s going to like what you do. Not everybody’s gonna see canon the same way you do. Not everybody’s gonna like how you describe things. It’s really liberating to figure that out as early as possible.

A thing I’ve already bumped up against a little bit is that the heroine of CRASH, Taryn, is not everybody’s cup of tea. She’s brash, she’s brutally honest, she’s had a tough go and she’s not always so nice about it, and she changes her mind a lot. Basically, she’s a human person. Like I said, I wanted to write the kind of books that I wanted to read, and I really like the idea of a difficult, complicated, pain-in-the-ass lady in love–but I guess it’s kind of inevitable that some readers were just going to find her, well, a pain in the ass.
Now, leaving aside the discussion of why we in romance (and also, like, in life) are so hard on our lady characters–which I think is a hugely important discussion, and one I absolutely want to have pretty much all the time–it’s kind of like, what can you do? All I could do was keep writing fanfic the way I wrote fanfic. And all I can do is keep writing books I’d want to read.

Who’s your Creative Lady role model (this can be a person you know, a celebrity, a fictional character, etc.)?

Oh man, Rainbow Rowell, 110%. I’d like to grow up to be her. My editor, Christa Desir, who is a freakin’ champion in all kinds of ways. Our Lady Beyonce.

What time of day are you most creative? Are you a morning person or a night owl?

I am a lunchtime person, actually. I write on my lunch break. It’s gotten to the point where I’m considering one of those little keyboard vacuums to take care of crumbs.

Lucky pigs from Ruby's grandma

Lucky pigs from Ruby’s grandma


Being an awesome Creative Lady can be overwhelming. What do you do to relax?

Imagine what I’d do with my millions if my books ever went the way of E.L. James. Mostly, though, I watch the Food Network. I can’t cook, but I find it mind-numbingly soothing to watch others do it. Not coincidentally, the characters in SINGE find it soothing, too.

What books would you recommend to other Creative Ladies?

On Writing, by Stephen King (true story: I deleted 4,000 adverbs from the first draft of CRASH. FOUR. THOUSAND. ADVERBS.). All Sabrina Ward Harrison’s books. Richard Siken’s Crush and Marty McConnell’s wine for a shotgun.

What advice would you give to other Creative Ladies who want to do what you do?

Procrastinating by looking at adoptable dogs online is a slippery slope. Next you’re looking at your no-pets lease provision for loopholes and googling Life Hacks for secretly owning a pet.

But most importantly: don’t give up on your childhood dream just because you had a crappy career advisor in high school. There are always, always roundabout ways to achieve your passion.

What’s your Creative Lady motto?

No matter what the question, the answer is always more coffee.

Creative Ladies: Beth Scorzato

beth

Beth Scorzato works for Papercutz, a kids’ graphic novel publisher. Coolest job ever? Possibly. She talked to me about about creative work, the soothing power of coloring, great books, and finding inspiration in other female creators. You can find Beth on Twitter @girladactyl.

What’s your main creative gig (this can be your day job, your freelance work, or both)? Describe what you do on a normal working day.

I work as a Production Coordinator for Papercutz, a kids’ graphic novel publisher. We’re a small company so I wear a variety of hats from proofreading to creating files for ebooks to making graphics for web and social media, but my primary job function is to make sure the books actually become books. I try to keep the practical side of the publishing on schedule.

What are your creative, just-for-fun (not money or career advancement) hobbies?

I really love coloring! I started experimenting on my own with digital coloring a few years ago and I’m actually just starting an online class to try and level up my skill on that front. I can’t draw at all, but I find coloring very soothing and rewarding.

What inspires you? Feel free to be as literal or as figurative as you want.

Other female creators! As cheesy and feminist as that sounds, I work in a heavily male-dominated segment of the publishing industry. Even with “nerd culture” becoming more mainstream, within the community there is still a lot of the same pushback against women that has been going on for years. But there are so many phenomenal female creators that I look up to that are willing to stand up and say, “No. I am good and what I do and I deserve to be here and anyone who’s not on board can GTFO.” Seeing work by other awesome creative ladies always gets me fired up to go out and make something awesome.

In three words, describe your creative aesthetic/viewpoint.

Make great art.

How would you describe your creative “process”? Does it involve a lot of staring into space, doodling, or candy eating?

It definitely involves a lot of coffee. I’m a procrastinator to the extreme, but it’s become a part of the process for me. I work well under a deadline and I find the longer I wait, the more my brain subconsciously ruminates on a problem. I’ve cracked many a storyline (I used to work as an Assistant Editor for Paper Lantern Lit) and written many an article in bed at three a.m. When I do finally sit down I tend to find it all just rushes out of me all at once and I usually end up with something I’m pleased with. Of course it still needs secondary editing but I never tend to find that as hard. It’s certainly not a process that works for everyone and I’ve had people tell me it sounds incredibly stressful, but I’ve found a lot of great work, personally, in essentially building up pressure and popping the cork.

Beth's workspace (and her cat, Akima)

Beth’s workspace (and her cat, Akima)

What creative accomplishment are you most proud of?

For about three years I ran Spandexless, a website dedicated to the review and feature of indie comics outside the superhero genre. It’s a project I was and still am passionate about and I am incredibly proud of the site and community we built around the works that we covered. Unfortunately it’s a project that I’ve had to put on hold, but I’m always thinking of what the best way to bring it back and make it viable will be.

What’s a big creative challenge/failure/embarrassment you’ve learned from?

Ironically this is probably also Spandexless. I’m so disappointed and dismayed that the site ended up falling to the wayside. It was a serious lesson in time-management and a problem I’m still trying to solve. It was a huge undertaking and I wouldn’t take it back for the world, but next time I need to come into it with a better plan.

Who’s your Creative Lady role model (this can be a person you know, a celebrity, a fictional character, etc.)?

Kelly Sue Deconnick. Hands down. She’s absolutely amazing.

What time of day are you most creative? Are you a morning person or a night owl?

I guess this goes hand in hand with the “popping the cork” creative process but I find my best work happens between about 2 and 5am. It’s not the most practical but sometimes it’s just got to happen! I’m least creative right after I get out of the office for the day.

Being an awesome Creative Lady can be overwhelming. What do you do to relax?

Read! And drink tea! With my cat! I’m such an old lady.

What books would you recommend to other Creative Ladies?

Oh man this is a dangerous question because I have a tendency to read things from all over the map. In terms of comics I would highly recommend Habibi by Craig Thompson, but only if you’re already familiar with reading comics because it’s some heavy-duty graphic stuff. If you want to read a slightly less intense comic I’d recommend The Unwritten or Fables. If you want something aimed younger I’d go with Princeless. In terms of regular novels? I’ll always swear by anything by Neil Gaiman or Nick Horby. But that one book that I buy every time I find a copy just to give it to other people is How to Buy a Love of Reading by Tanyan Egan Gibson.

What advice would you give to other Creative Ladies who want to do what you do?

Just keep applying and keep learning. Comics is such a small segment in an already insular publishing agency. But if you are talented and qualified it will show. Good dedicated workers can be hard to find in any industry. Prove yourself. Put your work out there. The Internet has become the greatest tool for an aspiring comics artist. Get yourself out there and constantly strive to be better and never let anyone tell you you can’t do it. Not everyone is going to work at Marvel or DC but there are so many other amazing publishers out there that want to work with new talent. Don’t give up!

What’s your Creative Lady motto?

If it’s worth doing then it’s worth doing right. You don’t have to be perfectionist every time, but don’t waste your time on personal projects you’re not proud of.

Creative Ladies: Katie Cotugno

Katie_Cotugno_300wide

I was so excited when Katie Cotugno agreed to be this week’s Creative Lady. She’s the author of the awesome YA novel How to Love, and can I just say that I’m SO excited about her next book? You’ll read about it in a second, but seriously, it combines all my favorite things. Katie was nice enough to take the time to talk to me about her process, her inspirations, and the challenge/nightmare that is public speaking. You can find Katie on her website, her Tumblr, and on Twitter @katiecotugno.

What’s your main creative gig (this can be your day job, your freelance work, or both)? Describe what you do on a normal working day.

I write contemporary YA fiction–specifically HOW TO LOVE, which is out now from Balzer+Bray/HarperCollins. It’s a character-driven romance that’s told in alternating before and after chapters about a couple falling in love twice, three years apart.

My next book, 99 DAYS, is about a girl who comes back to her hometown in the Adirondack mountains the summer before college to face the mess–and the two boys–she left behind. It’s kind of an homage to some of my favorite 80s movies–Dirty Dancing, Mystic Pizza. I’m having such a ball with it–I can’t wait to share.

What are your creative, just-for-fun (not money or career advancement) hobbies?

I bake a lot of no-knead bread, honestly. I hate the kind you have to knead.

What inspires you? Feel free to be as literal or as figurative as you want.

Rambly walks around my neighborhood. George Strait pandora. Cop shows about partners who are Partners.

In three words, describe your creative aesthetic/viewpoint.

Messy, realistic romance.

How would you describe your creative “process”? Does it involve a lot of staring into space, doodling, or candy eating?

I’m the slowest writer ever, oh my God. I write a paragraph, I go look at Kilim rugs for sale on Craigslist, I write a little more, I get up and make a pb sandwich. I delete what I wrote the first time, I creep on some random stranger’s Pinterest board for their four-year-old’s birthday party decor and sometimes judge them a little. It is excruciating, I’m so slow. I wouldn’t wish it on anyone.

What creative accomplishment are you most proud of?

HOW TO LOVE being an actual book in the world that people can buy.
howtolove-final-cover-21

What’s a big creative challenge/failure/embarrassment you’ve learned from?

A thing I think I wasn’t counting on when I sold HOW TO LOVE was that then I’d have to go out and actually talk about it. I’m terrible at public speaking, I hate it, and I also think that as ladies we’re kind of conditioned to not want to talk about the things we’ve accomplished. Having to get comfortable saying, hey, I made this and I want to tell you about it has absolutely been the toughest thing about this journey for me.

(Also hey, if you want to hear me talk about stuff I made, I’m out and about on the Story Crush winter tour March 1-5! Details are here.)

Who’s your Creative Lady role model (this can be a person you know, a celebrity, a fictional character, etc.)?

Shonda Rhimes. Barbara Kingsolver. Kathleen Kelly. Tassie Cameron. Nora Roberts. Every last member of the Fourteenery. Olivia Pope. My mom.

What time of day are you most creative? Are you a morning person or a night owl?

I tend to work in stuttery little pockets all day long, but I’m definitely not an up-all-nighter. I’m totally useless after like eleven or so. I melt down like a small child.

Being an awesome Creative Lady can be overwhelming. What do you do to relax?

I watch a lot of TV, which I know is supposed to sap your creativity, but that’s not been my experience at all. I drink kind of a fair amount of beer. I recognize that I just described Homer Simpson.

What books would you recommend to other Creative Ladies?

I’ve heard such great things about Twyla Tharp’s The Creative Habit and haven’t had time to get to it, so let’s all just read it together, okay? Okay good talk.

What advice would you give to other Creative Ladies who want to do what you do?

Don’t be afraid to ask for things. Don’t get discouraged by rejections. So much of this job is just pressing on a little at a time.

What’s your Creative Lady motto?

Shut up and write, Cotugno.