Stacey Wallace Benefiel is an awesome Self-Pubbed author who's also awesome in general. Her Zellie Wells Trilogy sounds awesome (it's on my TBR list), and her other books do too. (Make sure to visit the links to the books when you're on her site :) ). You can find Stacey on her site, Twitter, Facebook, Google+, and Goodreads.
1. When did you start writing?
I've been writing down stories and making little books since I was in elementary school. Even before that, I was involved in theatre and making up stories.
2. What made you want to write?
I write so that I can express what I want to say, but am able to change the words and phrasing up to clearly get my point across. I'm horrible in an argument - I can be silly on the fly, like when doing improv, but if I have to express an idea, I freeze up. I wanted to write so that other people could understand all the crazy ideas and stories I have in my head.
3. When did you decide you wanted to write to be published? (As opposed to writing just to write)
I was late to the game with this one. I'd had a couple of poems and short stories published in lit mags over the years, but it never occurred to me to pursue publishing beyond that. Then, when I finished Glimpse in 2005 I thought, "Well, I've gone and written a book. I wonder if anyone will publish it?" That began the seriously lame and annoying hell that is querying. (Pick me! Pick me!) I took some time off from getting rejection letters to have two children and then started the querying process again in 2009. For Christmas that year, my husband gave me a Kindle. I discovered indie authors, decided to self-publish and never looked back. Now writing to publish is my career.
4. What genre(s) do you write?
Most of what I write is paranormal romance/urban fantasy. I have YA and NA series in those genres. I also like to write humorous essays and I have a book of those out called The Toilet Business (A lifetime of crappy jobs). I've been trying my hand at writing contemporary NA and that's been going pretty well. I also write erotica under a pen name.
5. Why that(those) genre(s)?
I write what I like to read.
6. Do you have any particular ritual when you write? (A specific way things are done during the process)
I think that I don't, but I probably do. I don't have specific times when I write - I have two little kids, so I write when I get the chance. I still manage to get something done every day. I do always write at my desk. I'm not a laptop person and I can tune out the things I'm used to hearing in my office (like Blues Clues). I always begin every manuscript already formatted for Smashwords - single spaced, .3 indent, 0 pt trailing - title, published by, copyright. That helps me later on so that I don't have to do much formatting and it also puts me in the frame of mind that what I'm working on is a real book, not just some blurbs on the page.
7. Do you use an outline, or do you just start writing?
I don't really outline. I make notes as I go along and I'll write down ideas, but a lot of the time I don't know what's going to happen next. I am trying to loosely outline the next trilogy set in the Zellie world - I didn't do that the first time around and it is really hard to keep track of the threads that run through all of the books without some sort of plotting chart. I'm hoping it will help me be able to get the books out faster. Less time staring blankly at the screen. :)
8. Is there something you MUST have when you're writing? (Aside from the typical writer tools-computer, pen, paper, etc)
Nope, I'm easy. Sometimes music, sometimes ice water. Cigarettes used to be a must-have, but obviously that hasn't been the case in forever.
9. Do you write out your story on paper and then transfer to a computer, or straight to the computer?
Straight onto the computer. I lose half the stuff I write on paper.
10. How many books/short stories have you written? (Published or not, even those you wrote and then thought-what the hell?)
I've published thirteen works in two years. There are also a couple of stories in anthologies and, gah, thirty or so starts in my Other Writing file on my computer. Plenty. My answer is plenty. :)
11. Is there, or has there been, anyone in your life (real or online) who thought you being a writer is/was just another hobby? Or that you are/were wasting your time as a writer?
Not really. I think my friends and family probably thought this was another one of my things that I would do for a year and then move on - that has totally been my M.O. in the past. I got more support from everyone the longer I stuck with it and the more money I made.
12. Do you do Social Media sites? If so, which ones? If not, why don't you?
I am on all of the Social Media sites. Probably some that I didn't even know I was on. I use Facebook, Twitter, and Goodreads the most.
13. Any advice for writers that makes you cringe every time you hear it? (I know there is some cringe-worthy advice still worth following, so only advice you don't follow.)
I cringe when self-published authors tell other self-published authors, or those thinking of self-publishing, to hire out their e-book formatting. Dude, it's just not that hard. I am not a computer whiz and I learned, for free, how to do it all by myself.
14. How do you manage to (successfully) get anything done with little ones?
I'm not really sure how I do it. Every time I finish a story or novel, I'm amazed that I actually finished. :) It helps to write something, anything every day. It helps to be able to tune the TV out. I send the kids outside to play in the backyard when I can, but we live in Oregon and it rains a lot. They watch TV in the playroom and play with their toys that never get picked up and we all count the years until they're in elementary school. Ha!
15. Where did you get the inspiration for your Zellie Wells trilogy?
Do you remember that show Roswell? My sister and I were BIG fans, like obsessive fans. When it ended, we were bummed. My sister joked that I could probably write something like Roswell and that I should because it would take her mind off of missing the show. So, I did. Before writing the Zellie books, I'd never written a novel. I wrote essays, plays, skits, poetry, and short stories. I didn't know what I was doing, but things turned out okay. :)
16. Would you want to have Zellie's powers?
I would totally have Zellie's powers. I think it would be awesome to be able to save lives! And, hey, if being a teenager is going to suck anyway, might as well make the most out of what you can do for good.
17. How/when did you become a member of the Indelibles?
I believe I was a second round draft pick. :) Lisa Nowak and Angela Carlie nominated me. We're in another group that Angela and I started called Pacific Northwest YA Authors. Cheri Lasota is in it too. We give talks at schools, libraries, bookstores, and we attend book fairs together. We did a tour last fall. http://pacificnorthwestyaauthors.wordpress.com I know, it's a totally catchy name. :)
18. Do you have critique partners (or even just one)? If not, why?
I don't have CPs. I have a Sarah. Sarah is my best friend and a grammar/spelling nazi. She also reads a TON. We've been best friends since we were YA's and she will tell me when something sucks. She'll also tell me what she thinks I need to do to change things. So, she's a CP, but I don't get to critique anything she does. lol After Sarah reads and edits, I send my books to beta readers, make changes from their comments (if three people say the same thing, I change it) and then Sarah gets it again for final approval. That last sentence, for instance, would probably make her crazy. :)
19. What do you do when you aren't writing?
I hang out with my family. I like to cook and go to the movies. I read a lot and always have a DVR full of TV to watch. I like to head to the beach several times a year. Normal, boring stuff. :)
20. Any words of wisdom for anyone who is thinking of becoming a writer, or just something you think all writers should know?
Zoe Winters told me that "keeping your eyes on your own paper" is the best thing a writer can do. Meaning, your journey is your journey and don't compare yourself to anyone else. I think that's great advice not just for writing, but for life.