Where you live: I was born and raised on Long Island, a suburb of New York City. Just before my 23rd Birthday, we moved to Central Iowa, and this August we’ll be living here 9 years.
1) How long have you been writing?: I’ve been a writer all of my life pretty much. I always did well and excelled in English, Reading, and any writing assignment all through school. My Essays were the reason I passed my English and Social Studies Regents exams in high school. It wasn’t until I was a Senior in high school that I knew I wanted to write a book. I did some freelance writing for friends, writing their college papers, 20+ and never scoring lower than a 90%. I eventually stopped because I wanted credit for my own work.
2) What or who was your inspiration to write?: I started writing for myself and seriously after suffering a nervous breakdown. My therapist suggested it as a coping mechanism and I haven’t looked back. It was a positive and non-destructive way to deal with my emotions, and I eventually started writing poetry again, then a book about my niece, and then my A Telltale Destiny series. My nervous breakdown is easily the Best thing that ever happened to me because it forced me to finally deal with all of the emotional trauma of my life and it led me back to writing, which has led me to my life’s
purpose of being an Activist in the Global Fight against HIV/AIDS.
3) Which genre do you like to read? Why? My Favorite is Fantasy and Sci Fi. I love that there are no boundaries or rules and anything is possible if the imagination is daring enough to create it. Makes for a Great Escape. Though, one of my favorite books is To Kill A Mockingbird by Harper Lee, so if it’s written well and piques my interest, I’ll read anything.
4) Do you write this genre or others? Why? I write Young Adult Fantasy because like I said before, anything is possible. There are no rules and the only limit is how far I can push my imagination. I’ve written a children’s book about my niece, which is based upon the time we baked a rainbow cake together, so it’s based in reality with a twist of fiction. I want to eventually write 10 books for that series. I can see it being the next Superfudge.
5) Who are your favorite authors? Jo Rowling, because her life story really inspired me to stick with my own story, which I was writing with blind faith. I had no idea where it was going. Knowing that she herself had hit emotional rock bottom herself was incredible for me after having become a certified Potterhead. Harry gave me someplace safe to go where I felt accepted and protected. Potter saved me from the world of Misery I was drowning in. I scoff at people who say it’s just for kids, because they don’t understand how powerful the underlying themes are, there being so many. It’s so much more than just ‘Wizards and Magic’. Jo Rowling is my literary hero.
6) How do you create your characters? My characters generally just materialize in my head on their own, but every single one of them in their heart and soul are based upon real people. Some of my characters are people I’ve written into the story, but that could be said for all of them, really.
7) Do you give them names before you develop them? It depends on how they come together. Sometimes I do and sometimes I don’t. The best example I can give you is Devyn Shire. She’s introduced as a cold heartless snob. I’ve gotten criticism for her being not fleshed out enough, but if this person read more than just 6 chapters, they’d have gotten that warmth they were looking for. Devyn has a very good reason for why she’s a snob, but that reason won’t be revealed until Book 3. ‘A Telltale Kindling’. Anyway, I wanted her name to reflect her personality, and Devyn Shire to me, sounds like a real snooty neighborhood, so it was perfect. Her looks are based on Aubrey O’Day from when she was on Celebrity Apprentice and that obnoxious self centered snobby attitude Aubrey had is also written into my character. When I created Evan, I knew he was going to be hopelessly in love with Devyn, so I purposely rhymed their names, a little nod to Dr. Seuss. It felt like a very Seuss thing to do.
8) How do you choose your characters names? It all depends, it could be anything that makes me choose. Characters that I intentionally create that are based on real people, I’ll play with their real names. Like, my friend Mel. Her name is actually Melanie and she won a contest on my Author page to be written into Book 2, A Telltale Magic. Her character’s name is Melina. My friend Christine, her brother was Tragically shot to death in an act of gun violence. She asked me to write him into my Novels and his name was Michael McLaurin, but his Character’s name is Mikah Laurie. My Friend Gemma expressed a real desire to be written into Book 3, and I love her name so much, I’ve kept it for her Character. Willow, my protagonist was named for my favorite tree. Prince Avery was named for former New York Ranger #16 Sean Avery. And then you have Devyn and Evan who I talked about in the previous question. It could be anything that will give a character their name.
9) Do you edit as you write or after you get your manuscript written? I like to get my manuscript written and then go back. Book One I edited 13 Times. I rewrote several chapters and the story kept
growing and evolving. Book 2, I did only 2 edits because I was finally in the swing of Novel writing and because of book one, I learned from my mistakes, so I was able to focus more on the actual story.
10) Do you have an agent, publisher, or self-publish? If you’ve used more than one which was most profitable? My publisher is Ronnie C. Dawson, CEO and Founder of Broken Bars Publishing. He is a most wonderful friend and I’m very lucky. He treats me like a partner and lets me do my own thing. He loves that I take initiative to do things and is constantly amazed with photo edits or Promo or really how hard I work to put myself out there. I’m very determined and driven and he really appreciates that. A few days ago, I was just messing around with t-shirt designs based on A Telltale Secret and he was blown away. He appreciates the effort, time, energy, and creativity I put into everything I do. We also both share the same passion to change the world and he’s doing everything he can to help me impact 3rd World Africa. Like I said, I’m very lucky. I don’t think I could be this happy being signed with anyone else. I’m not really a writer to be dirty rich. I’m a writer because it’s what I love and it’s my heart’s desire. I want to change the world. Don’t misunderstand me. I would love to pay down my debt, buy a house, give my family security, take my family on the best vacation they ever had, but beyond that I just want to keep going and bless the world. 36 Million people have died from AIDS and it’s a tragedy. I can’t know what I know and sit here doing nothing about it. I have always wanted to be a Philanthropist, and thought it would be awesome to spend billions of dollars changing people’s lives. If no Billionaire will let me be a blessing with their money, then I’ll just keep working hard and use my own. The problem with the world today is not enough people care and if more people cared, more change would happen. People say “I need this and I need that, let someone else worry about them.” Guess what? I’m on Government assistance, My husband is living with AIDS, our car wants to blow up, we barely have any money after paying bills, I went 14 years without health insurance, seen my fair share of ridiculous nonsense, I have Anxiety and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, Irritable Bowel Syndrome, Rheumatory Arthritis … I’ve got plenty of reasons to be selfish or sit around feeling sorry for myself, yet I care more about helping and Impacting 3rd World Africa. So, when people have that kind of poor selfish attitude, it’s not good enough. We ALL have the power to do better, we just have to want to. It’s as simple as that. It’s not Quantum Physics. It’s a moral decision.
11) What advice have you received to help you and what advice would you give a new writer? If you truly want to be a Published Author, then WRITE. STOP TALKING and START WRITING!! NEVER GIVE UP. EVER. BE FEARLESS. If someone doesn’t like your story, great. On to the next one. Don’t be offended by criticism, LISTEN and LEARN. If you can’t be criticized, you’re in the wrong business. Trust your instinct and follow your heart, they will never lead you in the wrong direction. Above all, Enjoy Every Single Minute of Your Journey because all of your experiences will only happen for the first time once. I got 47 Rejection letters and LOVED each and every one of them. KEEP A POSITIVE ATTITUDE and You will have the time of your life!!!
My Novel Blog: http://mjrainwriter.wordpress.com
My Author Page on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Mj-Rain/517670434943373
Nook Link for A Telltale Secret: