Former gemology teacher Caryn DeVincenti, who writes under the pen name Dana Ross, left all things shiny to become a full-time novelist. She is the regional director of the Florida Writers’ Association, Palm Beach County and is an active member of the Women Fiction Writers Association and the Florida Writers Association. Caryn earned her M.F.A. in creative writing from Wilkes University and loves mentoring budding novelists. Her articles on love, divorce, and relationships have appeared on DivorcedMoms.com and The Good Men Project. When not writing, Caryn enjoys dancing to loud 80s music, obsessing over social media, and playing with her insane Cairn terrier. Her first novel will be released through The Wild Rose Press on February 18, 2019. You can read her blogs at mysocalledwritinglife.wordpress.com and www.danaross.com
What inspires you to write?
My stories have always been birthed from real life struggles. Writing is cathartic, and fiction is the perfect way to right the world's wrongs. For example, when my daughter struggled to fit in with her middle school cohort, I drafted a story about a young girl who told lies to fit in, but then she started seeing ghosts and no one believed her. I also find inspiration through real-life friends and family members–but I usually combine two people to make one character.
Tell us about your writing process.
It took a few years until I started outlining, but now I'll never go back. I first create a character worksheet with details that may or may not ever see the manuscript. Music playlists are created to help set the mood, nd I sometimes scan the internet for pictures of what I imagine my characters would look like. I used to use whiteboards with timelines when I first started but, but now I usually journal in the voice of my protagonist or antagonist. Routines are paramount, and I sit down at my writing (kitchen) table every day, rain or shine, and make writing as much of my daily process as brushing my teeth. Most days my prose is drivel, but editing and going back to flesh out scenes is part of the process, so I don't get too critical. I always wrote while my kids were in school or out with their friends, but it was hard sometimes to quickly swap "writer" hat for "mommy" cap–especially when writing dark entries.
For Fiction Writers: Do you listen (or talk to) to your characters?
Growing up, I was in a school of the arts that featured Shakespearean plays, and we learned a lot about acting and "staying in character" Writing is similar in the sense that authors oftentimes talk to or in the voice of our muses. Sometimes I find myself thinking and–gasping–in the ways of my protagonist. It cannot be helped; we get pretty intimate with these fiction beings.
Who are your favorite authors?
Ray Bradbury's "Fahrenheit 451" is probably my all time favorite book and I often buy copies for loved ones. I have also been a longtime fan of Jhumpa Lahiri's short stories and the way they make your heart ache. Isabel Allende is a painter/word weaver and I love her use of vivid imagery and the way she creates unforgettable characters. I read almost every Jennifer Weiner novel–fun, flirty, yet packed with emotion, and I recently discovered Celeste Ng's "Little Fires Everywhere" and cannot recommend this highly enough.
How did you decide how to publish your books?
I stumbled on my publisher while querying agents, and saw they'd won a prestigious award. I sent them my manuscript, it was accepted by a lovely editor who, unfortunately, left the company. Luckily, they paired me with another sharp gal who was incredibly patient with me during the editorial process.
What do you think about the future of book publishing?
My grandmother was a librarian for over seventy-five years. She snubbed digital reading devices but I assured her they'd only open the doors and attract readers that might not go to bookstores or libraries. My daughter has read entire books on her phone. I see more young readers doing this, and digital is probably the wave of the future–especially being in the age of blogging. But, I still love the feel and smell of paper and imagine there will always be purists (dinosaurs) like me who love holding a book in hand.
What genres do you write?
Contemporary, romance, YA
What formats are your books in?
All information is provided by the author and is presented as it was submitted so you the reader get to hear the author’s own “voice” in their interview.