Today I’d like for you all to help me welcome romance author Allie McCormack. She’s written some fascinating and entertaining stories I think you might love. But let’s find out more about her and then about her writing process and the stories she loves to share with readers. Let’s start with her bio and brief statement about herself:
Allie McCormack is a disabled U.S. military veteran, now pursuing her lifelong dream of being a writer. A long-time member of Romance Writers of America, she has lived all around the U.S., as well as a year in Cairo, Egypt as an exchange student and a year working in a hospital in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. After a somewhat nomadic life, she settled in Tucson, Arizona with her two rescue cats. You can visit Allie’s website at http://www.AllieMcCormack.com.
Allie says: “A writer is who and what I am…a romance writer. I write what I know, and what I know is romance. Dozens of story lines and literally hundreds of characters live and breathe within the not-so-narrow confines of my imagination, and it is my joy and privilege to bring them to life, to share them with others by writing their stories.”
Douglas needed a miracle. What he got was a genie…
Veterinarian Douglas McCandliss considered himself an ordinary kinda guy with an ordinary kinda life. He had no idea why he’d bought the old silver teapot, and when a young woman appeared before him claiming to be a genie, he almost wished he hadn’t. If only she wasn’t so damned cute.
Ebullient and cheerful, Jacinth loved granting wishes and helping people. So she was thrilled when her teapot’s new owner, a single father with custody of two young children, asked her to stay until he could find a nanny. The problem was, the longer she stayed, the more she was attracted to Douglas, and she was certainly not willing to turn over care of Ben and little Molly to just anybody. But she was a 900-year-old genie, and had no intention of falling in love with a mortal. None whatsoever.
This is the second book in my Wishes & Dreams paranormal romance series.
Betty: How many books have you written and published?
Allie: 6 written, 4 published (so far!)
Betty: What genre(s) do you write in and why?
Allie: I write in romance genre only, mostly because I’m a die-hard romantic, and the stories that come to me are *always* romance! I can’t imagine writing anything else. I write both multicultural and paranormal romance.
Betty: What themes or motifs did you use in your recent release and why were they important to your story?
Allie: I have the recurring Djinn (genie) theme with some Arabic overtones, since Djinn originated in pre-Islamic folklore, and I used both Islamic and pre-Islamic accounts of Djinn, as well as the Arabian Nights tales, as the basis for my world-building. Also, I lived in the Middle East and had some experience with the culture and I enjoy recounting that; I feel like it adds touches of exotic flare and interest to the stories.
Betty: Do you have a specific place that you write? Revise?
Allie: Absolutely! My L-shaped desk sits in the center of a bay window looking out over the Sonora Desert and the Catalina Mountains. It’s a spectacular view, and 3 days a month, the full moon rises straight up the middle of the center bay window, directly above my monitor. I’m a career typist, so after more years than I want to admit to, sitting at a computer desk (with good posture) typing is far more natural to me than anything else, and I do my best work here. I do have a laptop that I take out to restaurants for a prolonged writing session over a meal, which is fun too!
Betty: Do you have any writing rituals while you write? Did you have a special drink, or music, or time of day that you gravitated toward?
Allie: Absolutely. I have to have a full glass of iced tea at my side when I get started. I have a writing playlist…I need music to write, I can’t have silence, but also it has to be mostly instrumental only, because vocals tend to pull my out of my head. I also have specific snacks just for writing; high-energy/protein, low on carbs and sugar and anything that’s going to make me sleepy.
Betty: What helped you move from unpublished to published? A mentor or organization or something else?
Allie: I’ve been writing and writing and writing, and had all these manuscripts in more or less finished state. I was still querying agents and publishers like mad, when one day I realized that my judgement was clouded; I was still in the mindset of 2000, when I first started writing for publication. Indie publishing wasn’t even really much of a thing back then, small presses and ebooks on CD (as pdf’s) were just beginning to proliferate, and Kindle wasn’t invented yet. Being traditionally published was THE way to go, if you wanted any respect for being an author. But here we are, with…well, everything!…available to authors who want to self-publish. This enlightenment kind of rocked me off balance, and I came to the conclusion that there wasn’t all that much incentive for me to continue to hold out for traditional publishing; I could do everything myself! Now… this isn’t to say that I wouldn’t LOVE to be discovered by Berkley (who, by the way, has never heard of me), but at this point, a publisher would have to offer some pretty good inducement (Marketing!!! Promotion!) to change my mind. One last thing that really tipped the scales is that, if I self-published, I wouldn’t be required to write explicit sex scenes if I didn’t want to, which, mostly, I don’t. So I found a terrific professional cover artist, someone to do professional formatting, and I never looked back!
Betty: What do you think is your greatest strength in your writing?
Allie: My ability to get lost in the story I’m telling. I immerse myself in the story/world, and bring it to life.
Betty: What comes first when you’re brainstorming a new story: setting, situation, characters?
Allie: Characters, absolutely. They show up in my head and make their story known, and I delve deeper to find out the setting, the situation. I’m not so much creating as I am uncovering!
Betty: Do you have a structured time to write or is it more fluid/flexible? Do you have to write between family obligations or do you set aside a block of time?
Allie: Definitely fluid. I don’t have any obligations (except to feed the cats 3 times a day!), so I can write whenever. The only set block of time is Saturdays from 1-5 pm, when I co-hostess a write-in. All that aside… my best writing time is after 10 pm. I have no idea why, but that’s when the ideas come, the words flow, when my focus/concentration is best.
Betty: What is one recent struggle you’ve experienced in your writing?
Allie: Ugh. My back went out in early January, and I’m still having problems with it now (end of March at the time of this writing). It’s limiting the amount of time I can spend at my desk writing. While I can take the laptop to the recliner, writing like that doesn’t feel natural, it’s awkward and odd, and that stifles the creative flow. If I have to do that, I usually focus more on editing. It’s slowed me way down; I’m still on the final read-through/polish of A Gift of Jacinth, although I’ll be done with that by the time this interview goes live! J
Betty: Do you participate in NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month)? Why or why not?
Allie: Absolutely!!! This will be my 12th year, and I’ve “won” 4 of those. I actually plan my entire year (and publishing schedule) around NaNoWriMo. I make it a HUGE event in my life, where I work on something new and really let the ideas come flying. It’s not for everyone, because everyone writes differently, but for me it’s a huge motivation, and I look forward to it with excitement and anticipation. It’d be fair to say that NaNo is the highlight of my entire year!
Betty: What are you reading right now?
Allie: I’ve been re-reading old favorites lately: Georgette Heyer, Nora Roberts, Christine Feehan, Dick Francis.
Betty: What is your favorite genre to read?
Betty: What are your keeper books? How often might you reread them?
Allie: WAY too many to list here…I can re-read my really old favorites (Georgette Heyer & Nora Roberts) as often as 2-3 times a year, others such as Christine Feehan, Anne McCaffrey, Lord of the Rings, about once a year.
Betty: When you’re writing, do you read in the same genre as your work in progress or something else?
Allie: Definitely something else. If I stay in the same genre, my mind is busy making comparisons. Or at least subgenre; for instance, I can read Georgette Heyer any time since those are Regency romances. I can read Christine Feehan while I’m writing my multicultural romances, but not while I’m working on the paranormal romances.
Betty: Do you have a “day job” or do you write full time?
Allie: I’m disabled, so I don’t have a day job; however, I deal a lot with chronic pain (and the associated depression), and I find ways to work around those issues. Which is the main reason I don’t have a writing schedule or a specific time of day that I write; I write when I am able!
Betty: What do you wish readers knew about the publishing industry?
Allie: That reviews COUNT! That writing is not easy… it’s hard work, emotionally draining as we pour out our hearts and soul into the written word. Then editing, editing, editing, editing, editing to polish it into perfection. There’s the nightmare that is marketing and promotion, even for traditionally published authors. And finally, releasing your book out to the reading public. If you read and like a book, please, please, please! Write a review and let us know!
Betty: What advice do you have for new writers?
Allie: Just keep writing! That’s how you improve your craft and skills, how you develop your “voice” and it’s how you gain confidence.
Also, ignore anyone who says you “have to…” do this, that or the other. No, you don’t. Writing is an individual experience. Some very famous authors are “pantsers” (write “by the seat of their pants” with no plotting ahead of time), and it’s just as legitimate as plotting/outlining. Writing by pen and paper is just as valid as typing on the computer or dictating into your phone’s recorder app. Love adverbs? Go for it (within reason, but ignore those who claim adverbs are bad). There’s a lot of BAD advice floating around out there, claiming to be the One and Only True Way to (insert activity of choice). RUN from these people!
Learn to be able to judge critique impartially as you can; if a comment isn’t positive, is there still merit to it? Are you hearing the same comment from several readers? You have to learn when to shrug it off, and when there might be something in there you can use. And never take it personally!
You’re going to run into a lot of people who belittle your dream of being a writer, and from some of the most surprising sources: family, close friends, people you otherwise count on for support. It’s going to happen. Accept that, and start trying to figure out how you’re going to deal with it. Believe me, when someone close to you makes fun of you or tells you you’re wasting your time or asks when you’re going to write a “real” book…it hurts!
Betty: Any hints of what you’re next writing project might be?
Allie: Absolutely! I have a 16th-century paranormal (vampire) romance in an Arabian-Nights type setting; it’s a trilogy, with one primary story arc (the romance) spread across three books. I’m totally, totally excited about it! In fact, I’m so excited about it that I’m not allowing myself to work on it until after my last book being released this year has been sent for formatting, because I know that once I get into that world, it’ll be hard to pull myself out, and I don’t want to have to be having the tug-of-war of *having* to be doing something else when I want to be writing on my trilogy.
Betty: What kind of writing would you like to experiment with? Or what’s a different genre you’ve considered writing but haven’t yet?
Allie: Honestly, none. This is where I belong, where I’m happy, and I have no desire to expand into other areas.
Thank you for your service, Allie! And wow, what great advice and cool stories you have to tell! Thanks for sharing with us about your writing process and upcoming stories. Working and writing through pain and discomfort I know can be a huge challenge, but I’m glad you’re finding a way to tell your stories. Wishing you all the best with your career!
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