Brain to Books Cyber Convention

books to brain

As an author participating in the 2016 Brain to Books Cyber Convention, I was asked to post answers to these interview questions.  So…I’m going to expose a bit of myself here and do my best to answer them.

1. Describe your favorite scene in your your book and tell us why it’s your favorite.

My favorite scenes in Scrubs involve the interactions between Randy and his best friend, Jim Ryan.  Their relationship was fun to write and their friendship is inspiring.  They have unconditional love and support for one another.  They stand together through the worst times and celebrate each other’s successes.  They joke around, as friends do, yet can have a serious discussion all in the same breath.  I love their conversations.

2. Which of your characters, do you relate to the most (or) who is your favorite character and why?

The character in Scrubs I relate to the most is Jane.  She went through some hardships in her life, but with a little love and encouragement, eventually found her strength and overcame those obstacles.  She’s a sensitive, emotional woman who is strong when she needs to be.

My favorite character is Jim.  He’s a fun-loving surfer wannabe medical student who has a snarky disposition, a sharp tongue, and is an all around laidback guy.  He speaks in surfer slang, which took quite a bit of research for me to create, but in the end, he’s a fun character.

3. “Story” has always been the center of all human cultures. We need it. We seek it out. When we lack it, we invent it. What does “story” mean to you?

Story means expressing thoughts and imaginings people can relate to.  Story is showing emotion and displaying the human side of characters.   Story is allowing your imagination to run wild and creating characters and scenarios that you not only enjoy writing about but that readers will also enjoy reading.

4.  What story has recently inspired/moved you?

I’ve had several stories/ books over the years that have inspired me.   Back in Junior High, I enjoyed The Outsiders by S.E. Hinton.  To this day it has stuck with me because the characters were easy to relate to.  They were “real” people encountering “real” situations and I found myself rooting for them.  I recently reread this book, and it still moved me.

Several years ago I read Fear Nothing by Dean Koontz.  This is one of my favorite books  Although the chain of events in the story are pretty unlikely to happen, the author made them feel real.  I was able to follow the characters throughout and experience emotions right along with them.

The most recent book that moved me was The Notebook by Nicholas Sparks.  I think each of us has gone through some sort of emotional confusion both characters experienced in this book.  I felt the heartache and joy they felt.  This was a moving love story that touched my heart.

Star Wars.  I saw the first movie when it first came out in theatres.  The characters tell the story and the story evolves with the characters.  I’ve followed the series over the years, and recently watched the latest movie.  I still love it, and will always be a Star Wars fan.

5.  Characters begin with their strengths and weaknesses. Many authors reflect their own strengths and weaknesses in their characters. What are some strengths and weaknesses that you relate to, and how have these traits influenced your characters?

I’m an emotional person.  I’m also an introvert who is highly driven and sets high standards for myself and others.   In fact, I’ve been told I’m too hard on myself.   I don’t like drama, try to avoid conflict, and don’t dwell on the past or let hardships drag me down.  I relate to characters who have struggles, but at the same time aren’t afraid to admit their fears.  They take action to overcome their problems and are motivated, driven, and don’t give up easily.   Just as people in real life learn and grow through interactions and relationships they have with other people, the characters in my stories learn and grow, either outwardly or internally, because of personal encounters with other characters.

When I write, I create my characters first.  I get into their heads, think how they think, and envision the world through their eyes.  A bit of me is in each of my characters.  Randy, for instance, doesn’t like conflict and is a highly driven, goal oriented guy.  Although he does encounter struggles, he doesn’t dwell on them.  He pushes through or works around the problem and tries to find a solution.  Unlike me, he’s social, but tends to keep his emotions hidden from others around him.  He only shares his deepest thoughts with people he’s closest to, which makes him hard to read sometimes.  Although Jane is emotional like me, much of her personality is the complete opposite of mine.   She’s a social butterfly and openly speaks her mind.  Jim is sarcastic and enjoys life to its fullest.  Bruce processes things internally and won’t let life’s circumstances stand in his way.  Mandy has random tendencies, much like me, and Sarah is quiet and shy.

My characters tell their own story, and the story evolves through them.  They build on their strengths and learn from their weakness.

5.  What did story mean to you as a child?

Character.  Imagination.  Creativity.  Adventure.  From childhood, I loved to read and write stories about imaginary places, people, and things.  I created stories in my head and on paper and even acted out adventures with these characters I created.  Whether watching movies, reading books, listening to music, or writing, I’ve always had a story in my head.

Inspiring Questions

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Recently, as part of the Sisterhood of the World Bloggers Award, a poet and fellow blogger,  Toni Umbarger, asked me some rather thought-provoking questions.  No one had ever asked me these particular questions before so it took me a while to answer.

1. If you could have one wish granted, what would it be?

The one thing I wish more than anything is for my children to fulfill their dreams and live happy and successful lives.  Both are currently in the college stage of their lives and both are goal-oriented.  They work hard and have always earned good grades, so I am confident they will pursue their dreams and push themselves towards success.

2. What would be a good estimate of the number of books you have read in your lifetime?

This one is a bit more difficult, because I honestly don’t know the answer.  I’ve read so many books as a child, teenager, and an adult, that I never took the time to count them all.  Not to mention all the books I’ve read to my students over the years, including picture books, chapter books, historical fiction, non-fiction content-based books, and poetry.  I’ve also read many books about the craft of writing and the art of teaching.  I read from many genres, and I prefer to give a book the time it deserves.  So I delve into a book when I can dedicate uninterrupted time to read it.  Weekends, summer vacation, and holiday breaks from the classroom are my most productive reading times.

3. What historical figure would you enjoy meeting and interviewing?

Oh wow…there are so many.  But the one I would enjoy meeting the most would have to be Harriet Tubman.  She was a tiny woman with a big heart.  Although she was considered a fugitive, Harriet was a hero and an icon who risked her own safety to guide hundreds of slaves to freedom.  The slaves affectionately called her “Moses.”  Aside from her heroic acts of abolition, she spoke at anti-slavery meetings and advocated for women’s rights.  The courage and selflessness she displayed was truly inspiring and I would love to hear her story firsthand.

I’m curious to know what historical figure all of you would you want to meet and why.  Please leave your answers in the comments section.

Thank you, Toni, for these questions and for the nomination!  You too are an inspiring woman.