Join me in welcoming author Megan Clemons
1 - When did you first start writing?
I have been writing ever since I’ve been able to hold a crayon. I have always loved writing stories and looking at the world in a different way. My first serious efforts at writing began two years ago. I participated in my first NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) and created the framework for my current romantic drama duology Cinnamon.
2 - Do you read much? If yes, have you always loved reading?
I adore reading. Growing up, my parents rewarded our good grades with books. My mom would take us to the local bookstore where we would browse for our new books and end each visit sipping hot chocolate in the little café. That adventurous feeling of hunting for a special book hidden amongst the old shelves and exploring the worlds between its pages—it created a wonder in me which I’ve carried into adulthood.
3 - Who’s your favorite author? What’s your favorite book?
Only one? That is a challenge. I would say Sherwood Smith’s fantasy works (her Crown Duel duology and Inda series are fabulous.)
If I may cheat and choose others, I would add Frances Hodgson Burnett (Secret Garden), J.M. Barrie (Peter Pan), Rudyard Kipling (The Jungle Book), C.S. Lewis (Narnia series and Space trilogy), Francine Rivers (Mark of the Lion trilogy), Ted Dekker (House and Three), J.K. Rowling (Harry Potter series), and J.R.R. Tolkien (The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings series).
4 - What writers have influenced you the most?
I have been influenced most by three writers. Reading Lucy Montgomery (author of the classic Anne of Green Gables series) has shown me how to find the whimsical elements of everyday life. There is a childlike wonder and simple logic in J.M. Barrie’s work which has influenced the portions of my novels written from a four-year-old’s viewpoint.
Lastly, Tim Parks’ witty perspective on life in Italy (found in his book Italian Neighbors) cuts through the overly romanticized notions of Italian culture and shows what living in Italy is truly like. Because my novels take place in Tuscany, I found his experiences helpful in creating a realistic setting for my novels.
5 - Do you have a favorite fictional character? Either from a book or movie or a tv show?
I greatly admire the character Meliara from Sherwood Smith’s Crown Duel duology. This feisty, strong-spirited heroine is a wonderfully complex character. While she is loyal, creative, determined, and resilient, she is also stubborn, ignorant, prejudiced, and hot-headed. A well-crafted character is both appealing and frustrating to a reader. Meliara’s greatest strength (her devotion to defend the needs of her people) coupled with her judgmental tendencies nearly causes her to fail. It takes a skilled author to turn a character’s greatest strength and into a stumbling block. Very well-written.
6 - What are you working on right now? Can you tell us something about it?
My debut Cinnamon novels are romantic dramas set in the rustic town of Pienza, Italy. Both novels are currently in the review process. Here is a brief blurb of Book One:
When la bella vita falls apart…
Vincent Farina has never liked tourists, despite living in the Renaissance town of Pienza, Italy which draws in visitors by the herd. As the pastry chef of their family café, he is content leaving customer interaction to his fun-loving wife, Angela, and the other quirky members of their family. But when a tragic accident rips his world apart, Vincent must struggle with grief as well as the darkening depression of his four-year-old daughter, Cassia, who carries a secret about her mother’s untimely death.
Eleni Michaels is precisely the type of obnoxious tourist Vincent hates most. Personalities and cultures clash when this free-spirited children's author from Kentucky barges her way into the Bella Sole Café. But as fate drives their lives closer together, Vincent recognizes the American’s one redeeming quality—she has made a connection with his daughter.
With Cassia growing worse, Vincent makes an uneasy truce with this bizarre redhead whose ideas for "helping" often set his teeth on edge. Could Eleni be the key to healing the wounds of the Farina family? Or will her eclectic nature and stubborn attitude rub Vincent's nerves raw?
7 - Is there anything in particular that you do to get in the mood to write, or to get in the ‘zone’? Any particular pre-writing routines?
My writing process involves sipping a chai tea latté (or glass of wine depending on the time of day) and listening to acoustic or classical music as the words work their way through my fingers into my laptop. Chocolate never hurts, either.
8 - Where do you do your writing?
My usual spot is sitting cross-legged on the comfiest couch in my house. Although, I do sometimes hit up a lovely local café for a change of scenery. This locale also allows me to people-watch over the rim of my coffee cup, which is an excellent way to gather new character ideas.
9 - How do you approach your writing? i.e. - Do you do outlines? Character bios? Etc.?
I am a planner. There are several worksheets which I work through to establish a strong framework (plot, setting, character breakdowns, etc.). Some people swear by an organic style of story composition, but I believe starting from a strong outline enables me to write creatively in a focused direction. Establishing themes, character goals, key conflicts, a solid story arch, character backstories and quirks, and setting is vital to creating a believable, colorful story.
10 - Do you have any advice for other writers?
If you want to write, start writing every day. Even when you have no inspiration or motivation to do so, write anyway. Write about your experiences, thoughts, fears, dreams, and trips to the supermarket. Many would-be authors dream about writing but never translate their words onto paper. Even if your first attempts are garbage, garbage can be worked with. Nothing can be done with an empty page.
11 - Are you a morning person or evening person? Day or night?
Definitely a night owl. I appreciate the concept of waking up with the sun, but my mind comes alive when the moon is out and the cicadas are singing at my window.
12 - Do you have any pets?
Unfortunately, I have allergies to dogs and cats. I did grow up with a guinea pig, though. Her name was Fidget, because when we bought her she got loose in the store. That was one fast rodent.
13 - What’s your favorite ‘I need a break from writing’ activity?
I find baking to be a nice escape. The smell of banana bread and apple crisp baking in the oven does wonders for inspiration. My husband is very supportive of this method.
14 - How do you approach writing sex scenes? They can range from mild to wild. Where are you on the mild to wild meter?
Writing romantic drama, this topic is one which I had to think about carefully. I do write many passion-charged scenes, but I tend to steer away from smutty sex scenes. To me, there is something more intimate about a gentle kiss on the forehead of one’s Beloved than a steamy tryst with an oversexed stranger. My personal opinion. Perhaps I will lose some readers with this stance. That’s fine. Each person is entitled to her own taste in romance.
15 - Do you write in one genre? Or more than one?
I enjoy writing slice-of-life stories. I tend to dwell inside the realms of romance and drama with the context of foreign cultures. Besides writing, I am also a teacher and a lifelong learner. Exploring new cultures through my stories is fascinating. Not to mention, culture clash always creates amusing moments for my characters.
16 - Are you self-published or with a publishing house?
I have not yet published my debut novels and am currently exploring traditional publishing options. However, I am also open to indie publishing if it provides better opportunities. We shall see how it goes.
17 - What are your thoughts on getting a literary agent?
Literary agents are highly beneficial if you want to publish traditionally. Most reputable publishing houses will not accept unsolicited work, which makes having an agent vital if this is your chosen route. Agents do take a percentage of your revenue; however, if you can find one who does her job well, you will reap the benefits of her connections and expertise.
18 - What about marketing? How do you approach that area?
I am building my writing platform as we speak. (For prospective writers, you should consider doing this even before you are published.) Many traditional publishers/agents like to see that writers already have a vehicle for marketing in place. For self-publishers, marketing is vital if you want your work to be seen. My approach is to have a writing website and/or blog established as a home base for promoting your work. I also have author pages on several social media networks.
19 - What about beta readers? Do you use them? How many do you have? Where do you find them?
I have both alpha readers and beta readers. I use 4 alphas who provide feedback for my work as it is being written and 8 betas who read my work after I have self-edited. With these 8 betas, I let half of them read first and provide feedback. After incorporating their suggestions, I send the revised version to my second wave of betas and see if the noted issues were resolved.
However, it is important to find the right team of betas. Beta readers should be from your target audience demographic. They should be avid readers who are willing to give an honest critique of your work. Having a few fellow authors/editors/grammar Nazis on board is a plus, too.
20 - What’s your favorite food?
Mamma’s lasagna (classic recipe passed down through the family). Favorite dessert would be anything involving lemon, caramel, or Oreo. I have a definite sweet tooth.
21 - What’s your favorite color?
22 - Is there a particular website or facebook page or blog that you, as a writer, find very helpful?
This author’s website provides witty writing advice from pre-writing through publication:
This writing blog has many helpful writing hints is:
23 - What’s your favorite time of the year?
Autumn. There is something nostalgic about freshly-picked apples, hot cider, fuzzy sweaters, campfires, falling leaves, and the smell of cold weather.
24 - What’s your most recent book about? And where can people buy it?
My most recent work is my debut novel duology Cinnamon, which I discussed in question 6 above. (I’ll resist being redundant.)
25 - As a writer, what do you feel is your strongest gift or talent or skill that you have, that helps you the most as a writer?
My strongest gift as a writer is the ability to create realistic characters with unique voices. I spend a lot of time developing my characters. And not just their strengths, weaknesses, and backstory—lifelike characters are so much more complex than that. What is his deepest desire and greatest fear? What is her favorite snack, and how will sharing that snack signal a change in her relationship with another character? How will his culture and personality clash with hers? How will she respond when threatened or bribed? Would he ever bend his moral standards? Does she have nervous tics or tells? How would he handle confrontation? Such questions enable me to craft engaging, complex characters.
26 - Please share some of your links with us - facebook author page, website, where people can find your books –
I’d love to! You can learn more about my Cinnamon novels, behind-the-scenes blogs and more at: http://www.meganclemons.weebly.com
You can also connect with me on: