TA: First, introduce yourself to our lovely readers.
VP: I was born and raised in Northeastern Ohio and still live here. I've wanted to be a writer for as long as I can remember, and I've never wavered in my focus. I come from a large family, both immediate and extended, who have always been supportive of what I do, even if they didn't quite 'get' it. After high school, I attended Kent State University and graduated with an English degree. Then, I went on to a wide variety of jobs, everything from working at a golf course to tech support for AT&T. The job I enjoyed the most, aside from my current one, was returning to my former school as a junior / senior high teacher for its last five years open. Now, I'm a full-time writer. Some of what I do is editing, but most is ghostwriting short stories, novellas and full-length novels.
TA: Do you have a specific writing ritual or process you go through when creating your works?
VP: Since I've been writing professionally, I've had to become even more organized than I was before. I write anywhere from 100,000 to 150,000 words a month, and most of that is broken into at least four to five different jobs for different clients. I use outlines and keep detailed notes to keep straight all of the characters and plots. For my own writing, I've always been a note taker and have folders for everything from character sketches to research, but I tend to let things flow a bit more. One thing stays the same for both. I always listen to music while I'm writing. I have different playlists on my iTunes for different genres and I listen accordingly.
TA: What is the first thing you can recall ever writing?
VP: My mom loves to tell people that when I was a toddler, I used to tell her to go away because I wanted to play by myself, and then she would hear me making up stories with my toys. My Barbies had entire backstories that included a pair of twins separated at birth. The first story I actually remember having written down, however, was when I was in third grade. I'd been bored in class and made myself little paper dolls who lived in my desk. I created a mystery that they had to solve and decided at some point to write it down. The Conny Twins and the Lost Mine. Or something close to that anyway. I wrote a sequel about a jeweled butterfly too. I even did the illustrations. Unfortunately.
TA: Now, many of us writers deal with what's known as the dreaded 'writers block' (like when you're staring at a blank screen unsure of where to go with the work). How do you deal with it?
VP: I used to go off and do something else like read for a while, but since the majority of my writing is on a deadline, I've had to learn to force my way through it. A college professor of mine once said that the best way to write a book is to just “vomit it all up at once” and then worry about making it pretty later. I don't worry about making it smooth and polished. I just get the story out and then go back and make it better.
TA: Tell us about The Dragon Three.
VP: I first came up with the idea for The Dragon Three while I was re-reading the Harry Potter series. I found myself wondering what it would be like if everyone in the world was magical, and one girl was born without magic. The story begins by introducing us to Brina Fine, the only person in her entire world who doesn't have magic. Only her parents know about her 'disability' and they've worked to protect that secret, teaching her from home. Now, she's been accepted into a prestigious school based on her family's reputation and she knows that she won't be able to keep people from finding out that she's different. At the school, she meets Aidan and Thana, the other two of the Dragon Three. At first, the story seems to be about her journey through school, but that changes when she realizes that she has a connection to an ancient and mysterious object. There's also fighting, romance, humor and, of course, a dragon.
TA: What do you do when you're not writing?
VP: Right now, I'm pretty much always writing. I do take breaks for family events, which generally involve trivia games, and I attend church as well as a woman's group from my church. As for hobbies, I've always been a voracious reader and the only thing that's changed is how much time I have for that. I do also like to watch movies and television because I love a good story, but I'm generally working while I do that, so I'm not sure it counts.
TA: What's coming up for you? Plug away. :)
VP: Over the next month and a half, I'm going to be releasing new editions of my first three books: Reeves' Island, The Last Summer, and Three, Two, One. They'll be available in paperback and e-book, both of which will have new covers and the latter two will contain new scenes and information. I'm also working on a story that explains how characters from one book are able to pop up in another when the two worlds seem completely different. All I'll say about that one is that it will involve the descendants of some of the great classic writers such as Shakespeare, Poe, Dickens, Stoker and more. I hope to finish it by the end of the year and be looking towards a 2015 release.
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Last chance to download my newest Horror/Fantasy short, Dusk to Dawn for free from Smashwords:
Dusk to Dawn on Smashwords
Use the coupon code XW45M at checkout. :)