kimh asks: Who was your inspiration for writing, and if you weren't writing, what would you be doing?
PC: I don't know who I'd list as an "inspiration," but someone told me once I reminded them of Jenny Crusie when she first started out, and that made me very happy indeed!
Realistically, if I wasn't writing, I'd still be teaching. Since I don't like students all that much, I'm very glad that's not the case.
PM: I worked as a book reviewer for a romance website and had so many of the authors there offer advice and encouragement -- Kathie DeNosky, Kristi Gold and Elizabeth Sinclair especially. Leanne Banks was the first romance writer I met online and she continues to cheer me on. I met Roxanne St. Claire at my first conference and I want to be like her when I grow up. Our Mavens at Heart of Dixie RWA -- Beverly Barton, Linda Howard and Linda Winstead Jones -- have been a source of constant help and information (and the occasional boot in the rear when I need it). And last but certainly not least the other Playfriends have paved the way for me as I straggled along behind them in the whole process.
If I wasn't writing, I'd probably still be reviewing books.
SP: My earliest writing influences were writers like Stephen King, Dean Koontz and Mary Higgins Clark. I was definitely drawn to thrillers early on. As I got a little older and got my hands on spicier stuff, I started reading historicals by Bertrice Small and Jude Deveraux. Turns out I couldn't make myself write it, though. Right now, I'd have to say that the work of writers like Maven LJ and Charlaine Harris push me to write better within my genre, which I consider to be quirky paranormals with fun characters.
If I couldn't write, I'd probably throw all my energy behind starting a wedding business. Own my own chapel or coordinator company. Wedding cakes and such. I really enjoy doing it, but I simply don't have the energy to chase both dreams at once.
Insti: There are sooo many influences in my decision to write. Every last author I've read since I turned thirteen and discovered Harlequin and romance novels. They all brought me something different, took me to different places and opened worlds to me that I wouldn't have seen without their work.
I might have met the Mavens after I'd made the decision to write but they are a HUGE part of the reason I'm published. They're also hugely responsible for the fact that I didn't quit and for the fact that I was ready and aware of the industry I'd decided to become a part of.
What would I be doing if I wasn't writing? Probably still doing my day job (office manager for a small company). Although, I'd also need a new obsession to take the place of my writing time. I'm not sure what that would be. It would probably involve something that would drive the girls batty and/or embarrass them to death. Honestly, I'd probably turn into a stage mom. The girls appreciate my editor more than she will ever know.
Angel: Early in my reading of romance, I was influenced by authors like Phyllis A Whitney and Mary Stewart. Since I started writing, my biggest influences have been our Mavens (Linda Winstead Jones, Beverly Barton, and Linda Howard) who have taught us both craft and the business side of writing, and the Playfriends, who are available for a pep talk or to help solve a plot problem at any given moment.
But I have to say my biggest influences aren't writing friends. They are my husband and my mother and sister. Both have encouraged me from the moment I first said out loud that I wanted to write a book. They ask me about my writing and listen when I try to explain the ins and outs of this challenging industry. More than anything, they believe in me. Whether I ever sell a book or not, that belief is something I will cherish for the rest of my life.
Without writing in my life, I'd have a heck of a lot more free time, I can tell you that! But I honestly can't imagine my life without it anymore. So I can't answer that part of the question.
*kimh, send us your address to claim your prize!