As I travel around promoting my books, I meet many people who are interested in the writing process--how I write, when I write, etc. So, briefly, I will try to tell those who are themselves trying to write how I go about it.

First of all, my writing philosophy consists only of trying to tell a good story. That, I think, is the primary purpose of a storyteller. You want a protagonist that readers like and can identify with, regardless of whether the story you are telling is a romance, a mystery, a police procedural, a thriller, a fantasy or a western. After that, you want to tell a story that keeps readers turning the pages to find out what happens next. It should go without saying that you must know the rules of grammar, punctuation and manuscript preparation. More than anything, though, you should know your characters so that they do not say or do anything that is inconsistent with the personalities you have established for them.

My writing time is in the mornings and, when I am working on a book, I write every day,seven days a week in order to keep the story fresh and foremost in my mind.

I write for three to four hours each day, or until my fingers get too tired to hit the right keys. With this schedule, I can write a 400-page manuscript in six or seven months. I rarely outline a story, preferring to let the characters, through their dialogue, lead me into and through the story they want to tell. I do,however, usually have a general idea of how the story will go when I begin.

All except for the first book, which I started writing without a clue as to how it would turn out.

The most important advice I can give an aspiring writer is this: You must write! Thinking about it, researching it, talking and dreaming about it will never get it done. You must put words on paper, one after the other, even though doing that is lonely, unglamorous and sometimes pure drudgery. But to be a writer, you must write.