From Today's Catfish Literary YA Panel Discussion #amwriting

I enjoyed the YA panel discussion at the Catfish Literary Festival today. The atmosphere was relaxed, and the moderator brought some questions that I hadn’t answered before.

What is your favorite childhood book?

I was one of those kids who loved horses. I’d have to say The Black Stallion. I had a whole series of black stallion books in paperback.

Have you ever gotten reader’s block? (What do you not like to read?)

I’m not a big fan of mystery or fantasy books.

Since we’re in a library, what kind of research do you do, and how long do you spend researching before beginning a new book?

I research all the time using Google. People would find my search engine queries peculiar, like “what sound does a shotgun make?” I don’t do a lot of up-front research before beginning a new book but instead research all along the way.

How many hours a day do you write?

An hour and a half a day during weekdays. On weekends, it depends—sometimes more, sometimes less.

What was your hardest scene to write?

Writing conflict is challenging for me. I’m an introvert by nature, and that means that conflict is hard, even on the page. Sometimes I have to go multiple times before I can get it right.

What other authors are you friends with, and how do they help you become a better writer?

Amber D. Tran is another writer that I’m friends with. We have lunch together every month or so and share about our writing. She’s taught me about social media and things to do with Twitter. She’s so much more extroverted than me, and she’s helped me with self-promotion in my writing.

What did you do with your first writing paycheck?

I took a photocopy of it. Then I put it into the bank.

What’s the best way to market your books?

Face-to-face events work well. I’ve had good success with the book clubs, library events, and festivals. I do not think buying ads does a lot, and I’m not sure what social media does.

What did you or your editor cut out of a book?

In Hollow Beauty, I had some sections where the character started self-harming, and my editor thought that didn’t belong in the book. I took it out. She was right.

Do you read your book reviews? How do you deal with bad or good ones?

I read all my book reviews. The good ones make me feel really happy and full of joy, but the bad ones, don’t have the same effect on the negative side. It’s just feedback.