Featured Author Today – Terri Haynes

Today’s featured author is Terri Haynes.  Please welcome her to my blog today.

 Can you tell us a little bit about yourself?

THAuthorPhoto_Jan18

I am a wife; my husband is retired Army. Although I am a former Army wife, I still care very deeply about that community. I am the mother of three children, a daughter and two sons. I love my family and consider that the most important thing about me behind my relationship with God. I am an ordained minister and my husband, and I pastor a church plant in Fort Washington, MD. I am the worship leader and executive pastor. I work in a bookstore, which keeps my TBR list very long. I am a crafter. I knit, crochet and just got into yarn dyeing(and I am already addicted). I am also an avid reader in addition to be a writer. I grew up in Baltimore and have lived in Europe, thanks to military hubby.

Lastly, I love people and love hearing people’s stories.

 If you had to give up either snacks and drinks during writing sessions, or music, which would you find more difficult to say goodbye to?

Music would be the hardest. I often write without snacks because there are a limited number of snacks I can eat and keep my hands clean. That’s one of my pet peeves: dirty or sticky hands. Also, depending on what time of the night I’m writing, I don’t want to drink too much fluid. But music, I can’t live without my soundtrack. Music effects mood and I often use movie soundtracks to set the mood of what I’m writing.

Which is your favorite season to write in, and why?

Fall. Something about the changing leaves and cooling temperatures. Maybe it’s the colors. Also in fall, my schedule seems to slow down a bit. A big factor in my fall writing is weather. I suffer from weather related migraines and summer is always bad for me. One of my biggest symptoms is cognitive decline, which makes it extremely hard to think and write. After a migraine filled summer, fall seems like I’ve come back to life after a long time.

 
If you had the opportunity to live anywhere in the world for a year while writing a book that took place in that same setting, where would you choose?

Outer Banks, North Carolina. That is my happy place. I love watching the ocean and the waves. My parents were from North Carolina so in my heart, I’m a southern girl. Both my southern girl and my beach girl are happy when I’m in the Outer Banks. The Outer Banks also provides a great backdrop to lots of different stories. You could have a love story, a spy story or even a YA story set in the Outer Banks.

 
Picture this: You feel uninspired and you’ve sat at the computer for an hour without conquering any words. How do you get your creativity flowing?

In addition to being a writer, I am a graphic designer. One of the things I learned when studying art is to feed yourself visually. Meaning, as an artist, I should seek out art to feed my creativity like I would feed my body. I found that to work for both my art and my writing. If I get stuck, I will often grab a book, but one not in the genre I’m writing. I will also read writing magazines, websites or listen to a podcast about writing.

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What has influenced you the most as a writer?

My love for books has been greatly influenced me. I often feel like I’m a reader first and a writer second. I love to read and I love a good story. My TBR pile has almost every genre on it because I find many topics fascinating. Also, I grew up with some health issues and I used books to escape my challenges.

Do you like audiobooks, physical books, or e-books better? Why?

I don’t have a preference because each format do something different for me. I knit, so audiobooks allows me to keep my hands free. I read multiple books at once, so an e-reader and e-books are good when I’m on the go. Physical books are all about the emotion. When I want to “curl up with a good book,” for me that means a physical book. But I read all formats as long as I can keep reading.

 
What is your preferred font to write in?

Times New Roman, the default font. I normally go with that once because whatever I’m writing will be formatted based on the publisher. I also like Garamond. I prefer san serif fonts.

 
Do you use any special writing software? If so what is it, and what are a few of your favorite perks of it?

My normal is Word but I am transitioning into using Scrivener. It has some really cool features that streamline the outlining and research part of the story. I currently outline my books in spiral notebooks so it’s been hard to let that go. But I did get an iPad and an Apple pencil for my birthday. The iPad allows me to write when I can’t get to the computer, like when I have a migraine. If I can stand the light, I can lie in bed and write. Also, Scrivener is compatible with the Apple, so I’m exited.

 

If you have pictures on your writing desk, who/what are they of?

I don’t have pictures because my desk is so small. I have a wall mounted cabinet desk, also a birthday present. But what I do have is a medicine ball next to my desk and the people I love normally come and sit on it. I don’t need pictures of them. My family visits me while I’m writing…which is not always helpful. Maybe I should get pictures. Pictures don’t talk.

 
What is your most unusual writing quirk?

I must clean before I write. Sometimes I clean the whole room I’m writing in. And I promise you, that significantly cuts down on my writing time. And I don’t mean a quick organize, I’m talking vacuuming and dusting. But sometimes I have to just go where someone else has already cleaned to write, like Panera or the library.

 
Do you feel like it’s most important to have A) Strong characters B) Mind-blowing Plot twists or C) Epic settings?

Strong characters. The other two fall flat without a character to experience them. Without strong characters, setting and plot twists don’t matter because the reader doesn’t have a reason to care about them. Readers experience those things through the characters eyes. The plot twists and settings are great because of the way the character interacts with them.

 
What is your favorite genre to read, and why?

Oh, that’s like asking me to pick my favorite child. I like too many. Often, I don’t care about the genre, I care about the story the book is going to tell me.

 
What behind-the-scenes tidbit in your life would probably surprise your readers the most?

That I am in pain almost every day. Actually, I can’t remember the last time I wasn’t in pain. I have a shoulder injury from a car accident a few years ago that aches all the time. I suffer from migraines and have some type of headache everyday. I was born with a clubbed foot. The doctors straightened the leg, but my knees still hurt, and I occasionally have back pain. And I have allergies and am normally congested. I often go without painkillers because I would be taking too much if I tried to remedy all the pain I’m in. Pain is like a background noise for me. I know it’s there, but I often ignore it and keep going.

What is the funniest typo you’ve ever written?

I don’t normally get funny typos and if I do, they make my editor laugh. But I do have a bad habit of misspelling characters names. You would think I would pick easier names to spell but I don’t. In my book Captured, one of the main characters was named Will. It drove spellcheck crazy every time I typed, “Will will…” That was pretty funny to have to go back through the manuscript and rewrite all those sentences.

Do you feel like you’d be a better writer if you wore sparkly socks during your writing sessions?

I’m a better writer if I wear socks period. My feet are always cold which can be extremely distracting. I have several pairs of fluffy purple socks that I keep under my desk for that purpose.

 

What does being a successful author look like to you?

An author who identifies their audience and builds a readership. That’s my idea of success. I believe everyone, regardless of the job or task, has to define his or her idea of success. Using someone else’s measurements can lead to stress and heartache.

 
What are two of your favorite covers of all time? (Not your own.)

Again, too many to narrow down to two. Elizabeth Bennett and Fitzwilliam Darcy. Katness Everdeen. The Count of Monte Christo. I recently read a book where Sherlock Holmes was actually Charlotte Holmes. Loved that. Jason from the Percy Jackson series. Gandolf and Arrogon. Amanda Bell from Murder, Mayhem and Fine Man by Claudia Muir Burney.

 
What is your favorite cover out of all your books? Why is it your favorite?

I wrote a Christmas novella a few years ago called The Perfect Christmas Gift. It was a simple design but it was visually clean and communicated the store well.

How do you come up with names for your characters?

It depends if it’s contemporary or historical. For my historical, I normally search the most popular names of a decade and pick one I like. My lasted book had a character names Hiram, which was a popular name from the 1800’s. For contemporary, I aim for something a little more unique and unusual. In my book Love Simplified, the main character was named Tempest. In Captured, one of the main characters was Savannah. But I tend to only give my girls unusual names.

Who is the most supportive person in your life when it comes to your writing?

My husband, Brian! Oh my goodness, this man is the best cheerleader ever. Not only does he encourage me to write, he will make sure I can and do write. Once, I was on a deadline but had other chores to do. He packed up my laptop and put me out of the house, and then took care of all my chores. I am so blessed to have someone who supports me because living with a writer isn’t easy.

 
Do you ever take random writing breaks to dance? If so, when do these breaks generally occur?

Yes! I am a Christian so a praise break can happen at any time. My daughter recently hooked me on Christian trap (Lecrae, Tedashii, KB,). They normally happen after I’ve accomplished something, like finishing a scene or writing a good one.

How many drafts do your books generally to through before publication?

One draft. Many edits. I don’t believe in multiple drafts because not all of what was in the first draft was bad. Also, I believe the good writing is made in the editing. So I will write an absolutely terrible rough draft and edit the snot out of it. But it takes me a good month, working at least 3 days a week, to edit something to the point I’m satisfied.

 
Give a shout-out to a fellow author.

Only one? Just finished a book by Christina Suzann Nelson called If We Make It Home. Jodie Baily, Cecelia Downey, Ronie Kendig, Toni Shiloh, Leslie Sherrod, Vivian Kay (Yejide Kilanko),Vanessa Riley, Tori Chase and Lisa Crayton. You gonna get me in trouble because I know I forgot someone.

 
What would the logline be for your book?

A book about me? Wow. That’s hard. Maybe: A sassy woman tried to live a life filled with faith with time constraints and health issues. That sounds incredibly boring.

 
What was the hardest part of writing your author bio?

Narrowing it down. I hate writing short bios. It’s so hard to decide what’s really important. I have had a lot of life experiences that define me and each of them made a significant impact. I want to show people a broad picture of who I am, and I struggle to do that in a short bio.

What is your favorite time to write, and why?

I am a major night owl. I actually have to force myself to go to bed at night because I could easily stay up until 3 am. I think it is because the world is quiet. Hubby and children are in bed, I’m not getting a million emails and no one is calling me. I love writing at night, but alas, I have to be functional in the daytime so I try to end my writing at 11 pm.

How do you think being a writer has helped you as a person?

Yes, especially writing fiction. Developing characters has helped me develop my characters. I try not to write characters that are not like me, and in a way, that has helped me define myself. I find myself comparing myself to my characters to be sure I’m not just writing myself. But there is a lot of self-discovery there.

 
What is your favorite word, and why?

My best friend and beta reader would say, “but.” I don’t know why I use it so much, but I like the fact that “but” means a change in direction. It also is the best way to describe a contradictory idea. Like someone is stern but kind, introvert but warm. Like I was a sinner but saved by grace.

Do you have any writing buddies?

Yes, I have a few and making more. That helps, having a buddy. Writing has such a specific rules and evokes some specific emotions that it’s good to have someone who gets that.

Underground Railroad Brides Collection

https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/the-underground-railroad-brides-collection-barbara-tifft-blakey/1127353425?ean=9781683226321#/

 

 

The Perfect Christmas Gift Amazon Barnes & Noble iBooks

https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/the-perfect-christmas-gift-terri-j-haynes/1125322989?ean=2940153905365

 

Captured

https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/captured-terri-j-haynes/1122654888?ean=9781625179678

 

 

Love Simplified

https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/love-simplified-terri-j-haynes/1113576107?ean=2940044984158

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