Terry, welcome back to Over Coffee. I always love having you visit. You share so many interesting things with the articles you written for me. You already know that I love your beautiful Bears. My McKye Bear has gotten lots of comments.
You write several series and did so while working full time. How did you manage your time to do that?
I was working eighty hours a week. I had my 40-per week job, and then every minute in the morning before work I would catch up on promo and emails. Sometimes I had enough time to write a little. When I got home from work, I’d start writing. I had a word-goal every week. I think it was a 1,000 words a day. And then on weekends, I would write, get caught up on everything else, and write some more. At some point, I knew I couldn't continue to do that. One or the other had to go. It was just too much stress.
You've recently quit your full time job to concentrate on writing. That’s quite a leap of faith, isn't it?
It was a huge risk. It was really hard for me to get that full-time library job. And I loved my coworkers and many of the patrons. It was a really big step to take. Yet, I knew, just like with characters in a book, sometimes we just have to take the risk. There was no going back. I had to move forward. I had to take the chance. I had to believe in myself. And I had to work like the devil to prove I could do it. But like when a character’s life is turned upside down, I knew I had to get out of that stressful rat race and do one or the other. Or pay the consequences in health issues down the road.
What’s happened that you weren't you expecting when left the day job and immersed yourself into your writing career?
I am extremely goal-oriented. That means, I've been able to get at least 10,000 words a week done on my stories, sometimes as much as 5-10,000 a day. I can actually write a book in a month if I don’t have a lot of other (promotional) stuff going on.
One of the things that I love about this is I've been able to go to readers’ conventions, something I couldn't do before this because I didn't have enough leave time. What leave I did have, would have to be divided up between my son and daughter and maybe attend RWA Nationals.
I was able to go to 4 conferences last year, see my daughter a number of times, my son, and visit a number of zoos and other wildlife sites for research. This year I’m going to five conferences, and seeing a little of Chicago where one of the conferences is being held and to the International Wolf Center in Ely with a friend and fan. I also have a book signing while there.
In other words, I’m writing much more, and I’m getting to do lots of fun things, rather than just filling in another 40 hours at a day job.
You are both traditionally published and publish independently. How do you blend both?
I love doing both. I have a ton of stories I've already written way before I was published. It took me ten years to finally get a contract. Two of my Highland books were some of the first under contract. When she [acquiring editor] switched to inspirational, no violence, no sex, I started independently publishing the books. Sales from the next three highly successful Highland medieval series was what made it possible for me to quit my day job.
Doing both means I’m always working on something.
I have deadlines with traditional publishing and so I always work on the story that is coming up next. If I have time, like with one of the Highland series, a story that was nearly done, just needed some more research and changes, I was able to publish it in between two traditional books. Scenes come to me all the time, so I’m a fast writer.
Your wolf series pulls a lot from the natural dynamics of a wolf pack. What kind of research did you do to make your wolf world realistic from a wolf’s standpoint?
Wolves have distinctive personalities, just like dogs and cats do. Just like any animal does. I have a pet roadrunner. He has claimed my home for his territory. He peeks in the windows at me sometimes. He watches me while I take pictures of him outside. I can guarantee that another roadrunner wouldn't be just like him.
When I do research on wolves, I watch their behavior—wolf reserves in Texas and Nebraska, videotapes of them. Wolves in captivity will do what they wouldn't do in the wild. Which also gives me fodder for my stories. Reading wolf biologists’ accounts also have helped me to create personalities for the wolves based on REAL wolf personalities. But when you hear about them, you think, these are like human personalities.
Some are shy, retiring, alpha, omega. Some are playful. One was the greyhound of the wolf pack, and her alpha pack leader sister chased her off, but she was the fastest wolf in the pack and would often times chase down the prey they needed to feed the pack. Do you feel badly for her? I did. The sister tried to drum her out of the pack. Tried to force her to be an omega who couldn't share in the meals or take part in the camaraderie of the pack. And yet she was the best hunter of the pack! The sister was killed, and the alpha male took the greyhound of a wolf as his mate. HEA. And this was a true story.
In a natural wolf pack differences and actions can cause members to be ostracized.
My example of the greyhound wolf, that’s a good case in point. The sister didn't like her, probably because she was just as alpha, and the other wolves couldn't help but see her as a beneficial pack member. Even the male never tried to chase her away. Just the sister. She would go for days on her own, but she was a real pack animal. And being on their own is really dangerous. So they need a pack’s protection. Yet, she was persistent in wanting to belong to that pack, to that family. They were her family, no matter how much her sister tried to get rid of her. Even going to another wolf pack can spell a wolf’s death. So they can’t just always look for another wolf pack to join up with.
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Elizabeth was close to her mother and father. They were good for her. They showed her a love and compassion that everyone deserves to have. But when she lost them, she lost her protection. Yet, she couldn't leave the area either. She still had that draw to be near the wolf pack. She finally had to leave, or be killed outright, but when she had evidence of wrongdoing in her parents’ deaths, she had to return and set things right.
What do you admire about her?
Her persistence to do what was right, but when she feared it would cause another wolf’s pack involvement and might hurt them in the process, she was willing to sacrifice her need for setting things right, and protecting a wolf pack that had done nothing but treated her with kindness and respect. So putting aside her needs to protect someone else is what I truly admire about her. And for going on with her life and making the most of it, despite all that she’d been through.
I’m currently working on A SEAL Wolf for Sale, set in Montana, so doing lots of research in the new area. After that will be A Silver Wolf Christmas. I’m also working on The Viking’s Highland Lass to release this year, and Phantom Fae, the next in the teen fae series.
Terry, thank you for taking the time out of your busy schedule to answer my questions. I’m looking forward to reading Silence of the Wolf.
Thanks so much for having me here today, Sia! Always a pleasure!!!
- My question to readers is do you like to learn fun facts when you’re reading fiction, or does it matter? I always wonder when I’m reading a book if there’s any truth behind the fiction.
"Giving new meaning to the term alpha male where fantasy IS reality."
Heart of the Wolf--Publishers Weekly "Best Books of the Year!"
A SEAL in Wolf's Clothing--USA Today Bestseller