How can I join your awesome newsletter?
Why, thank you for the compliment. You can sign up for the newsletter here.
Do you have a printable booklist?
Right here - print to your heart's content.
I hear you're co-writing with Catherine Coulter. What's up with that?
I am honored to be co-writing a brand new FBI series with Catherine called "A Brit in the FBI." The first novel is called THE FINAL CUT and will release September 17, 2013. You can pre-order it now. Collaboration is so much fun, especially with a writer of Catherine's caliber, and our main character, Nicholas Drummond, is to die for. Think Memphis Highsmythe meets Dr. John Baldwin meets James Bond. And if you haven't read Catherine's gritty FBI series or historicals, I very much recommend them both.
When is the next Samantha Owens book?
The latest Samantha Owens novel is called EDGE OF BLACK, and you can order it now. I'm working on the next installment (WHEN SHADOWS FALL) that's tenatively slated for a March 1, 2014 release.
When is the next Taylor Jackson book?
Taylor and Baldwin are taking a well-deserved vacation right now while I explore a few other avenues. But their story isn't finished, not by a long shot. (In other words, I don't know, but there will be another Taylor book down the road.) In the meantime, look for Taylor in the novellas SLICES OF NIGHT and STORM SEASON.
Where are you from?
I grew up in Colorado, then moved to Northern Virginia in my early teens. I attended high school, college and graduate school in the area, then moved to Tennessee in 1998 with my husband.
How did you get into writing?
I've always written, though not always creatively. I received my first rejection at the tender age of ten, when my grandmother submitted a school poem to True Confessions Magazine. Multiple short stories and poems ensued. I studied creative writing in college, and was planning to go on to get an MFA. My thesis advisor discouraged me from that path; she felt I wasn't a good enough writer to see publication. Sadly, I listened, and went into politics instead. I returned to writing full-time in 2003, and I haven't looked back since.
What's your typical writing day?
I like to do business in the morning to get my head geared up - email, social networks, research, news, then at noon, everything gets turned off and I write in a lovely, quiet cocoon until 4:00 p.m. I try to write 1,000 words a day, about five pages. I start by rereading what I wrote the day before to get myself in the flow, then I charge ahead. I don't worry about getting it perfect, I worry about getting the story down. I tend to do several drafts before I turn the book in to my editor.
How long does it take you to write a book?
About six months - a month for research, four for writing, and a month of editing. That said, those six months are spread across a year's true time frame because of editorial and promotion with other books in the series. I'm generally always writing a book, editing a book and promoting a book at the same time. The bane of the two a year schedule, but it works for me.
Where did you get the idea for Taylor Jackson?
She was born because of John Sandford’s PREY series. I was driving down Interstate 40, thinking about Lucas Davenport’s icy smile that didn’t quite reach his eyes, and that scar, and his depression, and realized I wanted to write about a woman in his shoes. A woman in control, who’s strong without being strident, who commands the respect of her peers and her enemies. One who’s worked hard and paid her dues. Taylor literally leapt fully formed into my mind, talking in that low, smoky drawl, and I was hooked. I knew I had to tell her story. She’s half cop, half rock star to Nashville. She’s a wonderful character to write – difficult, sometimes, but a lot of fun. My Athena. Nashville’s Athena.
Whatever happened to EDGE OF BLACK, the book that was excerpted at the end of JUDAS KISS?
EDGE OF BLACK was renamed, and released in 2010 as THE COLD ROOM. It is now the title of the second Samantha Owens novel.
What is the chronological order of the Taylor Jackson books?
1. ALL THE PRETTY GIRLS (2007)
2. 14 (2008)
3. JUDAS KISS (2009)
4. THE COLD ROOM (2010)
5. THE IMMORTALS (2010)
6. SO CLOSE THE HAND OF DEATH (2011)
7. WHERE ALL THE DEAD LIE (2011)
What is the chronological order of the Samantha Owens books?
1. A DEEPER DARKNESS (2012)
2. EDGE OF BLACK (2012)
Do I need to read your books in order?
That's a hard question to answer. The truth is yes, you'll probably enjoy them more if you read in order, simply because the characters and story lines have a certain interconnectedness that's necessary to sustain a series. But each book has enough information so you can pick it up and read them out of order. So it's really your choice. For the Taylor series, I would recommend reading 14 before SO CLOSE THE HAND OF DEATH, but it's not a necessity.
How do I get a book signed?
Are your books available on my e-reader?
Yes! All of the books are in all digital formats.
Are your books available in audio?
Yes! The books are currently available from Brilliance Audio and PlayAway, and are read by the incomparable Joyce Bean.
Have your books been made into a movie or television show yet?
Not yet. Feel free to contact my agent, Scott Miller of Trident Media Group, with inquiries.
Will you speak to my bookclub?
I'd love to! Bookclubs are my favorite. Just email me through my contact page and we'll work something out. Locally I'll attend in person, out of state I can do speakerphone or Skype.
Will you donate books to my foundation/school fundraiser/charity event?
Please direct all donation requests to my publisher, Mira Books.
How do you do your research?
Very carefully. I love research, and try to do as much hands on as I can. I think the more important question is how do YOU do research? My advice is don't be afraid - just pick up the phone and ask. It's been my experience that all aspects of law enforcement, from the police to the military to the FBI, want you to get it right, and are willing to help you do so. Check this out too: How to do research on a budget.
Can I get the name of your contacts?
Now where's the fun in that? There are no shortcuts in publishing, especially in research. I had to work hard to cultivate my contacts, and you'll be much happier working with your own.
How can I get published?
The very best advice I can give is to do your research, learn everything there is to know about the publishing industry. Publishers Marketplace, Publishers Weekly and Writer's Digest are all must reads. Once you've polished your work through multiple revisions and outside critiques, then you need to look for an agent. Agents take a lot of the pressure off you, handling everything from securing your publishing deal to the money to advice and friendship. Look for agents who are reputable, who adhere to the AAR (Association of Authors Representatives) guidelines. Agents typically charge a 15% commission on all monies you make. A note of warning - in legitimate publishing, the money always flows to the author. Any agent who wants money up front is a scam, and should be passed on. Read Preditors and Editors for warnings about shady agents.
What books do you recommend writers read to help learn the craft and stay focused?
On Writing - Stephen King
Write Away - Elizabeth George
The Writer's Journey - Christopher Vogler
Bird by Bird - Anne Lamott
Forest For The Trees - Betsy Lerner
The War of Art – Steven Pressfield
The Creative Habit – Twyla Tharp
Rapt: Attention and the Focused Life – Winifred Gallagher
Flow: The Psychology of Optimal Experience – Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi
Hamlet's Blackberry - William Powers
The Artist's Way - Julia Cameron
And here's some more...
Will you endorse my book?
Please direct all endorsement requests to my agent, Scott Miller, at Trident Media Group.
Will you help me spread the word about my new digital release?
This counts as an endorsement, so please direct your request to my agent. Just as with traditional books, I need two months advance notice to look at digital releases.
Will you read my unpublished manuscript?
I wish I could, but the liability issues are tremendous. Get a good independent editor, a critique group, and beta readers. Join the national organizations and make contact with other writers who are coming up. Support one another through honest, gentle critique.
If I have a great story idea, can I send it to you and we can write the book together?
No. Again, liability issues are at play, but I have too many ideas of my own to process. If it's that great an idea, I suggest you write the book yourself!
What advice do you have for aspiring writers?
You become a great writer through reading other great writers. If you don't read, I truly believe that your writing will suffer tremendously. So read, everything you can get your hands on. Also, read Stephen King's ON WRITING, Twyla Tharp's THE CREATIVE HABIT, and Steven Pressfield's THE WAR OF ART. If those books speak to you, you have the soul of a writer and you should push on. Create good writing habits. Join the organizations like Mystery Writers of America, Romance Writers of America, International Thriller Writers and Sisters in Crime. All these groups have arms for unpublished writers and are a font of great information. You can also read my Top Ten List for Unpublished Authors for more tips.