Question: What is your writing regimen? I write by hand on yellow lined note paper, usually at night propped up in bed or in my den (or on airplanes, in restrooms, hospital waiting rooms, dentist's office, etc.) and the next morning I type my daily goal of 4 handwritten pages into the computer. This prints out about 5double-spaced pages, about 1200 words/day. That afternoon or evening I (1) edit the printed pages and (2) write 4 more handwritten pages.
I don't particularly recommend writing by hand unless it comes naturally to you. I was an editor for 34 years and it feels "right" to draw circles and arrows and move things around on the first draft. But I do recommend writing consistently--every day, if you can manage. Even a little bit, 10 minutes, keeps the creative juices flowing.
Question: Do you enjoy the research stage of writing? Oh, boy, do I! I'm really a frustrated history major at heart and I love doing research. On the other hand, it can bog down the writing time, to say nothing of clogging the written story itself. My suggestions for not bogging or clogging are two: (1) do the research concurrent with the writing; (2) in your book, use the specific concrete details gleaned from research as you would use other adjectives, for example, the "carved silver box," the "heavy gold-link pendant"; the folds of her "green silk gown."
Question: What was your favorite part of writing Templar Knight, Forbidden Bride? The tournament at Carcassonne! Derring-do and brave knights and lovely ladies, oh my!
How do you balance your historical information with telling the story? Mostly, I don't. I love using the historical details I find, and I tend to "flavor-up" my stories a lot. My editor first says, "Great--it feels like I'm actually there." Later she adds, "But the reader doesn't really need to know who was fighting whom in 12th century Spain."
I usually write about a period I love, and I read books and look at pictures until I'm immersed in the era. I want the setting to feel real to the reader.
Have you any advice for aspiring authors? Oh, wow, where's my soapbox! First, try to write consistently, every day if you can manage, but not if you have a migraine or your child has the measles. If you wrote 2 pages/day, you could finish a 365-page novel in 6 months!
Second, go to workshops, writing groups, and classes. Join the toughest critique group you can find. You may suffer, but you can learn a lot from published writers. You can learn a lot from how-to books, as well.
Third, read widely--not just in your own genre. Note how other writers deal with things like point of view, foreshadowing, tension, etc.
Fourth, always, always use correct grammar and punctuation. If you need better control over the tools of this trade, take a basic English class. One good book for quick-reference is Write Right, By Jan Venolia (paperback).
Note: A version of this post was previously published on Shauna Roberts' For Love of Words blog at: http://ShaunaRoberts.blogspot.com.