I’m so happy to have fellow TWRP author, friend and fellow OKRWA member, Anna Kittrell on The Ranch today!
We are also sister Scrimshaw Doll authors. Her new book, Skinbound comes years after Home and though her actual book follows others after mine, it also connects directly to Home in a small way.
I dragged Anna here to torture I mean ask some questions to let you get to know her some.
- Anna, please list your absolute necessities in order to write at your best.
- I need plenty of teeny-tiny spiral notepads, on which I write scene ideas continuously. I crumple up each page and throw it away as I weave notes into my story. I love that part. It gives me a feeling of accomplishment.
- A quiet surrounding is essential when I’m in a creative mindset. When working on scenes and dialogue, I physically isolate myself from the rest of my household or plug into white noise to minimalize distractions. Other writing activities such as character sketches or light outlining, I can manage on the sofa with other family members around.
- I rise early and workout with exercise DVDs. Jennifer Galardi is my favorite instructor. Sweating first thing in the morning gets my blood and creativity pumping.
- A few moments of quiet time, reflection, and thanking God for the day ahead gives me fresh focus and strength for what the day brings.
- A printed calendar for my characters! As I learned the hard way, character timelines have a habit of twisting, turning, and tying themselves in knots. Pretty soon you find yourself burying folks who aren’t even dead yet. LOL. Lesson learned. Now I always print out at least a three month calendar to write the activities of my characters on. The sad part is, that while my characters’ calendars are filled to bursting with interesting and exciting events…my own is markedly blank.
Your process sounds interesting, Anna. I wish I had the motivation to work out any time. LOL
- Which comes first for you—plot or characters?
Normally, the idea for a plotline surfaces right along with visions of my main characters.
- What aspect of writing comes easy to you? What is difficult?
The positive feedback I’ve received from readers and contest judges, hopefully means I write believable characters. Creating relatable people with extraordinary circumstances, then placing them in realistic settings is my passion.
Harder for me is executing an action I know little about—no matter how simple. For example, in Skinbound, my hero, Cabin, borrows a boat from his friend Richard. To get the vessel into the lake, the truck hauling the boat trailer had to be backed to the dock, then the boat had to be unhitched and guided into the water. Seemed easy enough. An hour and a half of research and two You Tube videos later, and Cabin and Richard finally had the boat in the water. To avoid making frivolous errors, I research even the most elementary tasks before writing them into my story. A little time invested now saves much embarrassment later. Keeps me from putting the trailer before the boat, so to speak.
LOL Great idea. I do that with certain things too. Of course, when I research it is usually hours before I get back to write what I was researching for… :/
- What is your writing routine?
In the summer months I rise early, enjoy the exercise and quiet time I mentioned earlier, shower, dress, then sit down to write. I write three or four hours at a time, have a short break, then write another three or four hours. Unfortunately, my writer’s dream-life comes to a screeching halt in August, when I return to work in the public school system. For the ten months that follow, my writing routine is hit or miss, catch it when I can, lunch hours, after work and weekends. I do, however, love the middle school secretary job I’ve performed for twelve years, and plan to keep my feet planted firmly under that desk until I can rest them fulltime beneath my own.
- What inspires you?
Strangely, I don’t know what inspires me until the ‘spark’ happens. Epiphanies strike from all-but-forgotten events in my childhood, idle conversation I’ve overheard in department stores, comments I’ve read on Facebook, my most embarrassing moments, and polite small talk. Many times I am inspired by the simple question, “What if?”
Some fun questions:
- Who or what would you walk over hot coals, climb a mountain, or swim an ocean to get to and why?
My husband, Tim. We have been together since I was fifteen years old, and I think the two of us have already done everything on your list. We’ve grown up together, and managed to keep from growing apart. I can’t imagine life without him, and I’m pretty sure I wouldn’t want to live in the world if he wasn’t in it. He also gave me my two, astonishing, practically grown children, Evan and Brandilyn.
A true love story. And you celebrated your anniversary recently. Congrats again.
- Favorite television shows?
The SyFy network’s series ‘Face Off,’ in which contestants are judged by their ability to apply special effects makeup is my favorite show—I follow it faithfully. I also love to watch ‘Chopped’ on the Food Network. Personally, the only makeup I apply is the kind I slather on my face each morning, and I rarely cook anything more exotic than fried chicken. But there is something deeply gratifying about watching people do the things they are truly passionate about. No matter what that something is.
We talked about Face Off being your fave show. I’m not a foodie, so I just don’t ‘get’ shows that are food centered…though I love hell’s Kitchen! Weird. I think it’s mostly Gordon Ramsey that draws me in there. J
- Salty, sweet, or both?
Salty. I’m a Ruffles with French onion dip, queso and tortilla chip kind of gal.
Me too on certain days. Love PayDay candy bar. Now share a little about you.
Anna Kittrell has written stories for as long as she can remember. She still has most of her tattered creations—leftovers she was unable to sell on the playground for a dime—written in childish handwriting on notebook paper, bound with too many staples. Her love of storytelling has grown throughout the years, and she is thrilled her tales are now worth more than ten cents.
Growing up in small town Oklahoma, Anna spent many a summer day on the lakeshores she often writes about. Today, she works as a middle school secretary in her beloved hometown, where she resides with her high school sweetheart-turned-husband, Tim, and their two practically grown children, Evan and Brandilyn. She still loves visiting those muddy red lakeshores of her childhood, when she’s not too busy writing about them instead.
Twitter user name: @KittrellAnna
Facebook author page:
An ancient scrimshaw doll—does its gypsy magic protect or destroy?
As a child, Darcy Vaughan cowered beneath the malice of her twin sister, Scarlett. Now, Scarlett is back and Darcy hopes to establish the sisterly bond she’s always longed for. Instead, Scarlett tries to destroy Darcy’s life—and her new relationship with the town doctor.
Dr. Cabin Creighton returned to his hometown near Lake Chickasha, Oklahoma to take over his father’s practice. One look at Darcy, and Cabin wants nothing more than to love her forever. But a guilty heart and memories of his deceased wife are holding him back.
When someone from Scarlett’s past reappears, bad things start to happen. Darcy and Cabin struggle to keep their love alive, but as danger draws closer, Darcy finds herself once more at her sister’s mercy, with nothing but the yellowed bones of an ancient doll to protect her.
“Really? This is how you treat your sister? Your twin?” Scarlett pushed past Darcy, into the living room.
“You promised to check on me. I had a coughing spasm and very well could have died in that house all by myself.” She shook a cigarette from her pack, looked around the room, then slid it back in.
“May I intervene?” Cabin asked, his piercing gaze aimed at Scarlett. “You’re perfectly fine. I would have sent you to the hospital if I’d thought otherwise. As for the coughing spasm…you can blame those cigarettes for that.”
“Thank you, Dr. Drew. I’ll check into Celebrity Rehab right away.” She cackled, her breath reeking of alcohol. She turned to Darcy, snatching the doll from her hand. “Where did you get this?” she demanded. “How many crap-filled dumpsters did you have to dive into before you found the ridiculous thing? They should’ve buried these dried up bones right along with that crotchety old bat’s.” She pumped the doll’s legs in a suggestive motion and laughed, holding it from reach as Darcy grabbed for it.
Cabin circled Scarlett’s wrists with one hand, twisting the doll free with the other, and handed it to Darcy.
“My, you are a strong one.” Scarlett batted her lashes over bloodshot eyes. “I can certainly see why my sister…my twin sister…has such a bad case of Cabin fever.” She turned on her stilettoed heel and staggered through the doorway, onto the porch. “I hope you can remedy that, doctor.” She laughed as Cabin shut the door.
Thanks for this great excerpt and lovely cover share, Anna. I’m so proud to have you on my Ranch with Skinbound. And- listen up people!- Anna has graciously offered up a copy of her book to one lucky duck who comments! Show Anna the Ranch love for your chance win! I’ll announce the winner Sunday.