Thanks to Niamh Murphy for suggesting this and asking me to play along!

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This is a ‘Tag’ post, so if you’re an author yourself, check out the end of the post to see how you can get involved!

What is the title and genre of your debut Novel?

My first novel, Telling Lies Online, is a romance. It’s written as a romantic comedy in the style of some of my favorite rom-coms, and I pictured it as being made into a movie that Sandra Bullock could’ve starred in circa 1990, had Sandra Bullock lesbian rom-com movies ever been a thing. They really should have been a thing, right?

What gave you the idea to start writing it?

Actually, it was a much darker news article I read about a catfishing scam, where a woman had made up a man and posed as him online, and eventually “killed him off” through an illness, both to mess with the woman she’d been corresponding with and also, presumably, to scam her out of money to help with the fictional illness. It wasn’t funny at all, but I immediately thought, “What if someone accidentally found themselves in this type of situation?” And then the potential for humor was pretty clear.

How long did it take you to finish?

I started this book as a NaNoWriMo project, which is National Novel Writing Month. I did the outline in late October of 2015, and then tried to write 50,000 words in November, as the challenge demands. I failed at the challenge, but I finished the first draft later in December, and after editing and proofreading, the final 72,000 word novel was published in February of 2016.

What was the biggest challenge you had when writing it?

There were two. First, the time constraint of the NaNo challenge was nothing I’d attempted before, especially when it coincided with a cross-country driving trip to Texas for Thanksgiving. It is very hard to type on a highway. But second, the premise of the main character getting caught up in so many lies was difficult because I wanted her to be a generally likeable and honest person and someone the reader could easily see themselves in. She didn’t try to lie about who she was, but when an error resulted in the perfect woman essentially landing in her lap, the temptation to hide the truth was overwhelming. It was a very fine line between making her keep up the pretense, which after all was the whole premise of the story, and knowing that the longer she took to come clean, the less sympathetic she might appear to readers. Ultimately, I hoped that readers would think, “I don’t like that she’s doing this, but can I honestly say I would do it differently?”

How did you get it published, Indie or Trad?

I had opted for indie even before I wrote the book. I attended a conference hosted by my local chapter of RWA (Romance Writers of America) and heard a very successful author of straight contemporary romance extolling the virtues of indie publishing. For years, I had played around with the idea of writing more seriously, but the whole traditional publishing process made me hesitate. I hated the idea of spending months or years on a book and being at the mercy of a publisher to decide if it would ever see the light of day. Knowing I could make it happen on my own terms was a huge incentive to finally following through.

What was the most important thing you learnt from the process?

The creative process requires discipline! When I told myself I could just write “when I feel like it,” I had a couple of unfinished manuscripts that lacked direction that I had been poking around with for two years or more. I thought finishing a whole book would take forever. When I set a goal of 50k words in a month and worked from an outline, I ended up with an actual book in 3 months, and have completed seven full-length novels in two years! And let me tell you, the latest one is a doozy, at over 90k words.

What are you working on right now?

Right now, I am working on getting my final draft of Stockholm Syndrome formatted for publication, and will be following it up with a sequel due out in early 2018. Stockholm Syndrome is the story of a seasoned spy, Leigh, who joins forces with a surprisingly savvy office temp, Amanda, as a result of dialing a wrong number. It started out as an entry in my Americans Abroad series, where American women travel abroad and find love on the road, but it soon took on a life of its own and is now the first book in a new series, the Agency of Secret Agents. It’s a silly name for a series, but hopefully you’ll see the humor in it by the time you get to the end of the first book. Oh, and if the names Leigh and Amanda seem familiar to you, first, you are probably as old as I am, and second, you may have been a fan of Scarecrow and Mrs. King back in the 1980s. I sure was, so using the same character names was a little tribute to the show.

If you’re an author, why not play ‘Tag’? Cut and paste these questions into your own blog with a link back to me, and provide your own answers to the questions! Then drop me a comment below with the link to your blog and I’ll check it out! I can’t wait to hear about all your debut-novel journeys!

And don’t forget to check out Niamh Murphy’s answers on her blog, and to  sign up for my newsletter to claim your free copy of Telling Lies Online!