Your latest project is the Crazy Girls Handbook Series … what can you tell us about it?
The Crazy Girl’s Handbook was so much fun to work on once I got over the initial case of writer’s block. I had been invited to participate in a Valentine’s themed novella box set and said yes even though I had zero ideas. Okay, I had one, and that was that I should have gum play a part. Totally random. I know. Gum kept sticking in my mind (pun kinda intended, lol) but I couldn’t think of any good way to use it. Eventually, my friend Serene suggested I use it as an icebreaker between the two MCs, by having Greenly‘s 4-year-old nephew accidentally spit it in her hair, which Roman valiantly tries to get out. It’s the first mishap in a series of crazy encounters. Eventually meant to be only a novella, my beta readers wanted more, so it’s now available in the Valentine, Pets & Kisses box set as a novella, and as a full-length novel on its own.
Tell us a bit about your writing process: do you work with an outline? Do you know how a book is going to end when you start?
I despise outlines and only resort to making one when I get stuck or can’t keep track of details. I am more of a just go with it kind of writer. I usually get an idea, or have a scene in mind and have no clue where it will take me. Even when I have an end goal in mind, the path to that goal is something I figure out as I write. Sometimes that means rewrites later on, but I don’t write well when I feel boxed in by what has to happen to make a story work. Most of my books take large detours at some point, and I find a way to put it all together in the end.
You’re in touch with your readers quite a lot, aren’t you? How does their feedback and support influence your writing?
My readers are so much fun to be involved with. I started out writing YA, so I have a lot of enthusiastic young readers who love to find me on social media and tell me about their thoughts on a book or character and ask lots of questions! Many of them have become beta readers for me. It’s awesome to get feedback directly from my target audience, but it’s been really neat to see what they’re doing and how their lives change over time. Readers who first got in contact with me while reading on Wattpad in between high school classes are now in college, still reading and some even writing their own stories. I love getting updates and knowing that reading stays a big part of their lives.
What a beautiful testament to the fact that books aren’t dead! Now, you’re a mother, you go to a real job every day, and you write books…a lot of books. When do you sleep? No, seriously, how do you manage to fit everything in?
Well, right now I only work twelve hours a week, so I have more time at this point in my life than I did when I was in the dental hygiene program or working more, and my kids are now 9 and 12, so they’re pretty independent. This is a time period where I can spend more time writing, and I try to make the best of it without it taking over my life. Sometimes that’s really hard for me. I tend to get obsessive when writing, but I’ve been trying to focus more on putting it away in the evening so I can spend time with my husband and kids. Writing is stress relief for me, so it helps keeps me centered when things are a little crazy, but I still have to work on balancing that with everything else. My husband is extremely supportive of my writing, as well, and his encouragement is what originally pushed me to take my writing seriously and do something with it.
Can you tell a funny story about the publishing process or about writing?
Any funny stories I have are usually from mistakes I’ve made. I am terrible with directions and geography. I get lost easily. When I wrote my first book, I was 16 and Google Maps wasn’t really a big thing, and I guess I just never thought to check later. I remember going back and reading the book much later after I had published it and was getting ready to write book two, and realizing I had written the setting as being in Upstate New York…with a beach. Uh, yeah. I had to fix that.
Your book covers are quite distinctive. Is there a story behind your covers?
Aside from my Date Shark series, I do all my own cover design. I have a strong background in art and design and love being able to put that to use. Sometimes, it’s the only visually creative thing I do, even though I have a stockpile of art supplies in my basement.
The cover art for the Twin Souls books was made to look like traditional pottery designs from some of the Native American tribes in the Southwest where the books are based. Part of the design of the Aerling series came from fan art one of my readers sent to me and gave me permission to use part of the concept in the full cover. The Escaping Fate books are my own artwork (painting and chalk pastels) I created for the series because finding pictures of Aztec gods and Celtic curse stones isn’t easy! Basically, I love art and design and enjoy bringing my written words into a visual field to share another aspect of my vision for the story.
Some of your books are available for free or in boxed sets. How did these special deals come to pass?
Free books have always worked well for me, and I realize readers find it hard to take a risk on a new author, so I want to make it as easy as possible for readers to give one of my books a try. I see my relationship with my readers as give and take. I don’t expect them to take a risk buying a book they aren’t familiar without having a good reason to.
Box sets have been something I’ve been a part of more recently and has been a great experience. Getting your name out there is tough, and when you have 10-20 authors all using their reader lists and influence to push the same product, you get your book or story into the hands of so many more readers than what you can do on your own. Plus, you meet awesome people and learn a lot from their experiences as well.
More about DelSheree:
The Crazy Girl’s Handbook
Spending the weekend babysitting her two nephews and a puppy was supposed to be fun. Sweating to death at a baseball game while getting gum in her hair, soda down her shirt, and an ice cream pedicure wasn’t part of the deal. Neither was finding out the best guy she’d ever missed a blind date with had witnessed it all. Longest. Weekend. Ever.
DelSheree Gladden is a USA Today bestselling young adult and romance author, whose writing includes everything from dystopian and Native American mythology to sweet and funny romances.