First, can you give us some background about yourself?
- I have been writing for as long as I can remember. As a child, I loved creating stories and making up characters. During my youth, I received several awards for creative writing and research papers I wrote, and a love affair with poetry ignited. I began writing poetry around the age of ten and had several poems published in my high school’s literary magazine. I earned a college scholarship for a poem I published and it appeared in a national publication that same year. It was also during this time that I began playing around with writing novels. I started off just creating stories in a notebook, most of which I don’t even have anymore. After graduating from high school, I continued to write stories, that’s where the Scrubs series began. In graduate school, I took a few classes about Gifted and Talented Education. During that time, I co-wrote an article that was published in a statewide educational journal. I’ve been writing poetry and fiction ever since.
When not writing, I teach full time. I love gardening, photography, nature walks, and listening to music from various genres. I currently reside in South Central Texas, but have lived in Washington, Oregon, Idaho, and California. I’m a Pacific Northwest girl and consider Seattle my home.
What have you written?
- I have written several poems, one of which was published in World Treasury of Great Poems, Vol. II. I co-wrote an article, ‘Gifted and Talented Education at the Close of the Decade of the Brain’, which was published in the educational journal Perspectives: Idaho Association of School Administrators, Vol. XVI, No. 1. My first novel, Scrubs, was released in May 2015, and my second novel, Sand & Sutures, was released May 2016. The other two books in the series have already been written but are in the revising/ editing stage.
Are you currently working on anything?
- Currently, I'm revising and editing the third and fourth books in my Scrubs series. I also have two other works in progress, a Young Adult fantasy book and an adult crime novel.
How much research do you do for your writing?
- The amount of research I do depends on what I'm writing. For my Scrubs series, I had to do quite a bit of research. The series is medical-themed, so I spent a lot of time researching the inner workings of the medical field. I also read through medical school forums and articles by resident doctors.
What is your process like in the midst of writing a book?
- I'm a fly by the seat of your pants type of writer. I don't outline. I always start with characters and build my story around them. I have a general idea of where my story is heading, but as I write, my characters take over. They tell their story, they communicate with one another, I merely hold the pen. Once the story is written, I spend quite a bit of time polishing it up.
What does your routine look like when you get to the editing process?
- Revising and editing is the stage I spend the most time with. I'm very thorough. The entire process is actually a set of multiple stages I go through. I re-read my book several times. The first time, I add more details, change scenes, or delete unnecessary items/ chapters/ scenes. The second re-read, I check for flow. Does the story proceed forward without awkward pauses or long, drawn out descriptions? Is the pacing good? Once that's done, I check for word choice and alternative phrases. Then I examine my dialogue and either add what is needed to develop the characters more, combine dialogue to shorten the conversation, or delete dialogue if it doesn't fit.
Editing is the last thing I do, and I always take a break for a few weeks after I've done revisions before I start editing. Here, I check for consistency, grammatical issues, sentence structure, basically looking for anything and everything grammar and spelling related. I slowly read through my novel several times (I even read it backwards) and triple check everything before I have a second set of eyes look at it. Even with that, I still don't catch everything. Once you've looked at a manuscript a hundred times, you start to see double after a while.
Do you have any quirks or rituals that help you achieve your writing goals?
- Not really. I just sit down and write. I work 50+ hours a week, so when I come home, writing is my stress relief. It's something I do everyday, and it relaxes me.
Tell us about your work space.
- I write on my couch with a laptop, and usually a cat, sitting on my lap. I'm surrounded by writing reference materials, alternative word cheat sheets, phrase books, and notebooks full of ideas I jotted down. I have sticky notes and notepad sheets all over the place, each labeled with story title and put in some sort of chronological order so when I start writing, the ideas are right in front of me. My chaotic methods would drive a highly organized person crazy, but it works for me.
Are there any software or apps that help you in your writing process?
- I use Microsoft Word. That's it. I do have a PDF converter and editor so I can adjust and make changes to the actual print copy of my book as needed. But I don't use any other software or apps. My daughter designed my first book cover. I need to invest in Photoshop so she can create more covers.
What do you do when you lose focus? Any tips for getting it back?
- I don't lose focus often, but when I do, I walk. I get out into nature, take photographs, and listen to music. I am inspired by music a lot. Certain songs I hear generate story ideas. I jot these ideas down for later use. Reading books gets the creative juices flowing. I read from all genres, and sitting down to enjoy a good story often helps me refocus. I have also been known to take a break and work on another project, like editing another piece or returning to a previous one. That is also a good time to work on my blog or do some social media marketing.
Tell us about your publishing process.
- I am an independent author. I chose this route because I want control of my work and don't want to have to worry about meeting deadlines. I prefer to work at my own pace and publish when I'm ready. I create and write my own work, which I own complete rights to. I have an editor I trust, although I do the majority of the editing myself. I have a general idea of what I want my cover to look like and have a professional graphic artist (or my daughter who's good at that sort of thing) design it for me. I'm published through a local small press publishing company. They do all of the e-book conversion, professional cover design, formatting, Amazon and Barnes and Nobel distribution, and paperback printing for me. Marketing, however, is up to me. Since I own all rights to my books, I have the option of uploading electronic copies to various sites, like Smashwords, and can schedule book signings, attend book fests, and set up giveaways whenever I want. I like that freedom. On the downside, self-promotion is extremely difficult, especially when I'm not well trained in marketing tactics and tend to be an introvert. It's been hard for me to throw myself out there and get noticed.
Where can people find you and your work?
- Purchase information:
Amazon: (Paperback and Kindle) https://www.amazon.com/L.-M.-Nelson/e/B00ZO1ZZ6Y
Smashwords: (E-book only) https://www.smashwords.com/profile/view/lmnelson
Texas Authors: (Paperback only) http://books.txauthors.com/category-s/2208.htm
Barnes & Nobel: (Paperback and Nook) http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/sand-sutures-l-m-nelson/1123757871?ean=9780986128585
Twitter: https://twitter.com/authorlmnelson (@authorlmnelson)
Website/ Blog: https://lmnelsonscorner.wordpress.com/