Dana Wayne is an award-winning author and 6th generation Texan (or 7th depending on which relative you ask). She resides in East Texas with her husband (and biggest fan) along with a Calico cat named Katie, three children and four grandchildren. She routinely speaks to books clubs, services organizations, writers groups and other organizations on writing and publishing.
"I grew up listening to my father read passages from the stack of paperback westerns beside his chair, and was fascinated at how someone could paint a picture with words so vivid, I could see it in my mind. That's when I knew that one day I would be a writer. Life has a way of delaying dreams and that happened to me. It wasn't until I retired in late 2013 that I was able to devote as much time as I wanted to writing. My first book was published in 2016 and I’ll release my fourth one in May 2019. My stories do have some heat to them but I believe romance is more about emotion than sex, and the journey is more important than the destination."
She is a member of Romance Writers of American, Texas Association of Authors and Writers League of Texas as well as several local writers groups.
What question do you wish that someone would ask about your book(s), but nobody has? Write it out here, and then answer it.
There have been so many questions over the last three or four years, I think they pretty much covered it all. I love to write, always have and will do so until the words stop coming.
What is your writing process? Do you follow a regular routine or do you have any weird, funny, or unusual habits while writing and what are they?
I write everyday except Sunday and am usually at my computer 10 a.m. If I am on a roll, I can be there for hours at a time, but normally, I break for lunch and get back to work after that. I really have to treat it as a job in order to stay on track.
More than once I have woke up in the middle of the night with my 'imaginary friends' talking to me, working out a scene or plot line, and I have to get up and write it down before I can go back to sleep.
Do you ever suffer from writer’s block? If so, what do you do about it?
Goodness, yes! Every writer does to some extent. But, like most writers, I have more than one story going at a time. I will focus on whatever is the goal story so-to-speak but if those imaginary friends aren't talking to me, I'll pull up another and write on it. Sometimes, I need a break from the story and will focus on presentations I do, or blog posts. I also work on book trailers for other authors so that gives me a break as well.
What is the single most important piece of advice for aspiring authors?
Never give up. Period. Write every day about something, anything to keep the creative vibe going. And never give up.
What are your current/future projects?
I'm about to release my fourth book, a contemporary romance entitled Chasing Hope. I have another western historical and a romantic suspense on the the fast track and have to decide which one will be next. I'm also working on a cookbook. that I hope to have done early next year.
Why did you choose to write in your particular field or genre? If you write more than one, how do you balance them?
I'm a die-hard romantic and love that HEA - happily ever after feeling. I also love romantic suspense with it's combination of romance and suspense, so those are my favorites. The world is a hectic, stress-filled place these days and reading, particularly a romance novel with its guaranteed HEA, helps you escape for while or ride the emotional roller coaster of a suspense, all the while knowing it's gonna end with an HEA.
What do you think is the future for independent authors and do you think it will continue to be easy for anyone to be a published author?
That's a hard question. The industry is changing by leaps and bounds and with the advancements in technology, I think indie authors will always be able to self-publish.
Traditional publishing is always going to be a hard sell for indie's. There's too much competition from the big guns. Unless, of course, you are very talented and extremely lucky. I believe that getting in the door of the traditional publishing house is always going to be a challenge for the independent author.
Are you traditional or self-published, and what process did you go through to get your book published?
I am self published. I did have a couple of agents who expressed interest but after learning more of the traditional publishing world, I knew that was not for me.
Have you ever changed a title, book cover, or even the content of your book after it was published? What was that process like?
Not yet. I've considered doing so on my first book but not committed to it. Most authors I know say once its done, it's done, and you move on to the next project.
What opportunities have being an author presented you with and share those memories? (i.e. travel, friends, events, speaking, etc..)
I love being an author. I love meeting people at signings or speaking engagements and finding out what they like or don't like about my books or books in general. My books have enabled me to go places I would not have gone to otherwise, and I have met some awesome fans as well as some of my favorite authors in the process. How cool is that!
What are your marketing, advertising, promotion strategies and which one(s) have worked the best for you? If you had to share your most valuable promotion tip, what would that be?
The most valuable piece of information I can give it that you have to get out there. Attend events, schedule signings, do speaking engagements or programs at local schools.
Online and ebooks sales are great but you can't beat the in-person experience. Once your book is out and you have sold to all your friends and family, that market is gone and you have to go beyond your area. Like ripples in a pond when you toss a rock, you have to extend out. Draw a circle on the map indicating how far out you are willing to travel and then search for events in that area. Pick some that fits what you do - for instance, a romance writer would not choose a gun and knife show but any type of craft event would work. Some events are free others charge, so you need to know how much you are willing to spend and go from there. You could also call the local chamber of a town you want to visit and ask what they have. Make a flyer for yourself and send it to nearby chambers and services clubs offering to present a program for them. Those groups are always looking for speakers. And I have had sales there as well.
If you are a self-published author, which platform do you prefer? (Amazon, Smashwords, Lulu, Author House, or something not mentioned), and why?
I use every platform I can. If you limit yourself to one, you limit your sales. The more the merrier.
What field or genre would you classify your book(s) and what attracted you to write in that field or genre?
I am all about the romance. I publish in the romantic suspense, western historical and contemporary romance sub genres. My stories do contain some heat but frankly, its more about the journey than the destination because romance is about emotion, not sex.
What do you do if inspiration strikes in an inconvenient place like (car, restaurant, bathroom/shower, etc..) and how do you capture that moment before it gets away from you?
I have been known to jot things down on a napkin if I'm at restaurant when inspiration strikes and don't have my bag with me. I am rarely without a pen and pad, though. And my husband gave me this handheld recorder after one such notes-on-a-napkin event.
Do you have a target amount of words/pages for each of your books or do you just know when enough is enough?
I like a book I can read in an evening, which is around 250-275 pages. But the story will tell me when it's done, regardless of how many words I am aiming for, which is usually 60-65K.
How do you think you have evolved as a person/author because of your writing and do you believe your writing has helped others, how/why?
I have come so very far since I began this journey, and I like to think I have grown, both as a writer and as a person. I am fortunate to have several well established authors who have encouraged and supported me in this endeavor, and I believe in paying it forward. I will happily offer whatever assistance I can to any writer who asks. When someone tells me they laughed or cried or got angry at something I wrote, it makes me smile because it says they enjoyed the words I crafted together. If I can make someone become immersed in my story, I have succeeded in my goal.
How much influence do you believe a title, cover, content, page numbers have in purchasing decisions of potential buyers/readers?
Like most avid readers, I judge a book by its cover. This is the first impression they have of what the story is about and must be the best it can. If the cover grabs my interest, I turn it over and read the back. If I'm still hooked, I buy it.
Length doesn't play as big a role if its something or someone that really peaks my interest. I have been known to stay up all night to read 400 page book.
Do you believe there is value in a Press Release, have you used any press release service, and what have your experiences been?
I have used a couple of press release services but have not had much success with this except locally. Most big newspapers will take your info and if its a really slow news day, put on the back of page 10. Now, if you do something really big, win a big award or such, it might be different.
Do you believe there is value in a review? Do you believe they are under rated, over rated, or don’t matter at all?
On the whole, reviews are gold to authors. Some people put a lot of stock in reviews and look at them before deciding if they will purchase a book or not. Personally, I will look to see what the highest and lowest reviews say but don't let that sway my decision.
What are your thoughts on authors doing review swaps, paying for reviews, or reviews that just don’t seem right for the book?
I don't pay for reviews or do review swaps. If I truly enjoy a book, i review it. If there were issues that bothered me in the book, I email the author if I can, but don't post a review.
Do you believe there are competitors or general readers out to sabotage authors with bad reviews and what are your experiences with this?
I've not had an experience with that but know others who have.
Have you ever had an interesting, funny, or even bad experience during a live interview, reading, event, or autograph session?
Not really. Most have been pretty normal. Well, other than the festival when it was a bright summer day one minute and storming the next. Had to hustle to get my books put away before they got wet.
With self publishing being so easy these days, do you believe there is an over abundance of books out there and how do you sort through all the hype or copycats?
There's no question the market is flooded with books these days which makes it difficult for the reader to find new authors.
As an author, you try and utilize whatever promo avenues are at your disposal to entice the reader. As a reader, you just have to keep sifting until you find that nugget of gold hiding in the masses.
What is your biggest fear about having a book published?
Oh my goodness...easy one...that no one would read it!
If you have multiple books published what do you feel is your greatest work, why?
I think my third book is the best of the ones published thus far because it was my first attempt at a romantic suspense. Juggling those two very different story lines really made me stretch my writing abilities. Everyone who has read all my books raved about it being the best for that reason. And I have to agee.
What is the intended audience for you book?
Romance lovers of all ages and genders. My characters are between the ages of 33-43 so anyone who likes the road to HEA (happily ever after) with more mature adults. Romance is a journey, and I like to take a few stops along the way to make it more enjoyable.
Give us a fun fact about your book(s)?
I try to use humor where I can. My third book had more than the others because that worked well for the characters. Humor can be a great tool for relieving tension or giving the reader a chance to take a breath before the next turn in the story. But there is a time and place for it.
If you had the chance to get one message out there to reach readers all over the world, what would that message be?
It's never too late to fall in love.
Do you find it easier to connect with your readers with the advances in technology we have today like social media? What platform do you prefer, and why?
I use social media lot, mainly Facebook and Instagram. I have Twitter, too but don't use it as much. There is so much out there anymore you can really go down that rabbit hole with it. I think it's best to choose one or two and stick with that.
What makes a good story, why?
Someone told me at a conference recently that all stories have been told - except the one where you tell it your way. So I guess that's the answer. You have to take a plot or story line that's been told a gazillion times, put your spin on it, your voice to it and make it interesting enough that someone will say, "oh I have to read that one!"
How important are names to you in your books? Do you choose the names based on liking the way it sounds or the meaning? Do you have any name choosing resources you recommend?
Names are a vital piece of the puzzle. I know the names of my characters as soon as the story hits my head. I may not know what they look like, or sound like, but I will know their names right away. Sometimes, it's the name that comes to me first, and I have to find the story for the name.
Do you read your reviews? Do you respond to them, good or bad? Do you have any advice on how to deal with the bad?
You can't have a thin skin and be a writer. I know up front that not everyone will like what I write or how I write it, so I don't stress over a less-than-stellar review or react to them.
I will glance over them to see what is said. If more than one person had a negative comment about something in particular, maybe I need to look at that for the next one.
What are some events you have attended or participated in that has been a positive experience/influence on/for your writing?
I take something away from every event I attend. It might be a general feeling of accomplishment or maybe someone said something that struck a cord, but, as a whole, each event has given me a positive experience.
What is the easiest/hardest scene for you to write, why? (Love, action, fight, death, racy, controversial, etc…)
I still struggle with love scenes. How much is too much? How much is enough? The story itself plays a part in the type of love scene as well. The romance/muchy stuff is easy, the other, not so much.
What would you like to write about that you have never written about before?
I would like to write a really good, suspenseful murder mystery.
Have you ever had a book idea or characters come to you in a dream? What did you do about it afterwards?
My third book, Whispers On The Wind, was the result of a dream that woke me up at 3 a.m. A ghost was talking to someone about something - at the time I woke up, had no idea who was saying what, but I couldn't go back to sleep until I put something on paper. By the time I got my computer up and going, I knew who the ghost was and who she was talking to. I wrote for two hours, then went back to bed.
Do you have any characters you would like to introduce in other books or a combination of characters from multiple books you would like to write about in one book?
I do have characters from my third book that have cameo roles in my fourth, but I'd like to expand that down the road.
Were your characters based off real life people/events or did you make it all up?
People ask me that all the time, mainly because they are so interesting, but, really, they are just a figment of my very active imagination.
What are the most important elements of good writing? According to you, what tools are must-haves for writers?
Take the steps necessary to ensure the final product is the best it can be. Be creative and think outside the box. Don't be like everyone else, be original.
What book(s), author(s), or significant life event(s) have had a positive or negative influence in your life that inspired you to begin writing?
I grew up listening to my father read from a stack of paperback westerns he kept beside his chair. He read every day. Riders of The Purple Sage by Zane Grey was my favorite (and the first book I ever owned) and started my fascination with writing. I was amazed at how the author could paint a picture with words so vivid, I could see it in my mind. Today, I am addicted to Sandra Brown, Linda Howard and Tami Hoag. All of them have inspired me to want to do better at my craft.
What are your thoughts about eBooks vs. print books?
Because I travel a lot, I always have ebooks with me. But, I am a book person through and through. I love the feel of a book in my hands, even the smell of it. It is much easier to go back and read sections again for whatever reason, too. I have books that I have owned for a number of years and read multiple times.
Do you view writing as a career, labor of love, hobby, creative outlet, therapy, or something else?
All of the above, for sure. There are days when I'm down or tired or just not in the mood. But, the moment I sit down and start writing, all that goes away. There is just something about the process that invigorates me. I absolutely love it!
Were there any challenges (research, literary, psychological, or logistical) in bringing your book to life?
Every book has its own set of challenges. Research is always tough. The internet helps a lot but sometimes, you need that first person perspective, though finding that person can be difficult. And then there is life. You know, grandkids ball games, hubby's reunion, doctor's appointments, etc. There is nothing more frustrating for me as a writer, than to be 'in the zone' and not be able to stay with it.
Do you proofread/edit your own books or do you send them off to an editor? If you send them off to an editor, who/what have you had the best experience with?
I do proof my own but I also use a proof reader as well as beta readers. In addition, I have a wonderful critique partner who is great at helping me fine tune my writing. If I am struggling with a section, I have an editor I can ask for assistance.
What are the advantages/disadvantages of self or traditional publishing?
The biggest advantage to self-publishing for me is total creative control, and all the royalties.
The biggest disadvantage is that you are responsible for everything - the cover, the formatting, the editing, etc. and have no professional assistance. Which means you pay for everything, so you need to have a budget before you start.
Whether you self-publish or go traditional, you still have to do all the marketing yourself, unless you happen to be Nora Roberts or James Patterson.
Do you have a subject/genre you would never write about, why?
I don't do erotica or horror. Just don't appeal to me.
What motivates you to write and where does your inspiration come from?
Inspiration can come from anywhere, anytime. Motivation comes from inside - the desire to create with words.
What makes your book stand out from the crowd?
It's not the run-of-the-mill romance. I like to throw in twists you don't see coming and humor is always present.
Do you design your own cover? If not who does, why?
I use a designer out Canada, JoAnna Walker with Just Write Creations. She is an awesome individual to work with and easily captures my vision.
What is your most/least favorite part of the writing process, why?
Without a doubt it is the editing phase. Once the book is done, I let it marinate for a week or so, then pick it up again, going through it with a critical eye. Do I need this? Should add something here? Did I drag this scene out? It's a long process. Worth it, of course, but still, its long and time consuming.