How did you know you wanted to be an author?: I caught the writing bug when I was a child. An early reader, I was lucky to grow up in a family of bookworms. Their diverse interests gave me access to a wide variety of genres, which helped to feed my growing fascination. I started writing poetry in elementary school, as well as short stories (usually mysteries or detective stories). I was always scribbling something in a notebook, including scripts for movies and my favorite TV shows. I would create my own commercials and news reports, then perform them like plays for my family. By the time I was sixteen, I was dreaming of one day being published. That summer I decided to write my first full-length novel. I was writing by hand for a while when my dad bought me a typewriter. I sat up a card table in the living room and spent countless days and nights writing. The finished product was a behemoth of a post-apocalyptic novel entitled, A Twist of Fate. I hired an editor and even sent the manuscript out to a few publishers. None of them came calling, of course. It needed a lot more work than I realized at the time. But the seed was planted. It took a long time to make my dream come true. I put it on the backburner for years to focus on work and family. But I never stopped writing, and I never gave up. Holding my first published book in my hands was a moment I will never forget.
What is your advice for aspiring authors?: My advice is to connect. Reach out through social media or writers groups and start building relationships with other writers and authors as soon as you can. Don’t be like me and wait until you publish. I was always under the impression that other authors would be my competition, so I wasn’t in a hurry to venture into those waters. I was so wrong. Once I dived in, I discovered this whole community of people in the same (or similar) boat as me, and it was a real game changer. I found everyone to be warm and welcoming, and the advice was as free-flowing as the congratulations—and the (sometimes) much-needed commiserations. I’ve learned a great deal from my indie friends, and I do my best to pay it back as often as I can. By sharing knowledge, best practices, challenges, and failures, we not only help ourselves, but each other.
Do you have any writing rituals or practices?: I’m not sure it’s a ritual, really, but I start every story in a notebook. Maybe it’s a throwback to my early years, but I love the endless possibilities of a blank page. Blank screens, not so much 😊 Usually, I do a barebones draft on paper, concentrating on the first few chapters and any other scenes that are vivid in my mind. It’s quite a mess, with words in the margins, lots of scribbles, and very few complete sentences. Half the time I’m writing so furiously, I can’t even read it after. Once I have a good handle on things, I transfer my mess to the laptop and (after deciphering my handwriting) expand on my idea as I go along. I start out writing linear, but that changes early on. Certain scenes won’t leave my head until I get them down, so I jump around as need be and then go back and fill in the gaps later.
What message do you want readers to remember?: I write for my characters, to tell their story. But my goal is to pull my readers into that story. I want them to experience it, to live it, not just read it. I want to make them feel, to take them on an emotional journey that will last after they close the book. So if I’ve ever made you smile, laugh, cry, gasp, or curse in frustration—I’m glad! It’s my job. And I’d love to hear about it. So please reach out, and let’s chat!
How can fans get in contact with you?: I can be reached through the contact form on my website at www.clschneiderauthor.com or on social media. I hang out the most on Twitter, but you can find me on Facebook, Instagram, Goodreads, and occasionally Google+. I also try to attend at least 5 comic cons and a couple of book signings or library events each year. Keep an eye on the event page on my website or subscribe to my newsletter for dates and locations. If you’re in the area, please stop by. I’d love to meet you!