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Today, my Twitter friend Dahlia Adler joins me to talk about her upcoming contemporary debut, NaNoWriMo, and more. I hope you enjoy getting to know her, and make sure you check her out on Twitter when you get a chance; she’s lots of fun to chat with!

1. When did you start writing?

I started writing back when I was a kid, I’d say around eight or so? I don’t think my books even had plots back then, but for me it was really just about creating characters and settings. I wrote contemporary YA back then and still do now!

2. Are you a pantser or a planner?

I’m sort of a mix, but definitely leaning toward pantser. I used to plot much more, and my debut, BEHIND THE SCENES, had an incredibly detailed outline, which is probably the only reason it was a NaNoWriMo success. My next book, though, was a retelling, so I really just based it on the original as closely as possible. My next one was originally partially planned but I went so far off track that I just gave up. I could see returning to plotting, but probably in a looser way than I used to do it.

3. Can you give us an idea of your writing process?

My writing process involves doing a ton of writing in my head, especially on my commute. I don’t get a lot of time to write, between my fulltime job and my freelance copyediting work, so when I do, I have to maximize it. My writing is strictly nights, Saturday nights, and Sundays, done entirely at my desk, and usually accompanied by Gushers. Though, lately, because I’ve been so short on time and so into my WIP, I’ve been handwriting scene by scene in a notebook on the subway.

4. Which authors have influenced your work?

I have no idea who the writers were behind the billions of Sweet Valley High books in existence, but they were probably the number one influencers! Ann M. Martin too—I loved the Baby-Sitters Club, and I think the way she created those girls that had really specific personalities and quirks and styles helped me understand the different ways you can make characters unique.

5. What are you plans/future projects/new releases that we should be aware of?

It feels like forever away right now, but my first book, a contemporary YA romance set in Hollywood called BEHIND THE SCENES, releases from Spencer Hill Contemporary on June 24, 2014. I’m super excited about that, and it’s the first in a three-book deal, so I’ll have two more releasing with them—titles and dates TBD! Currently, I’m working on a contemporary New Adult about a college sophomore on a downward spiral who becomes the guardian of her younger brothers after their parents are killed. I love the romance in it, and it’s really, really fun writing a bad girl, but every now and again, it breaks my heart too. I also have two contemporary YAs with my agent right now—JUST VISITING, which is about two polar-opposite best friends who learn about themselves and each other on a series of college visits, and THE BOOK OF ESTHER, which is a retelling of the biblical book of Esther, very much on the darker end of the spectrum.

6. Any tips for new writers?

Every writer needs to do what works for him or her, so don’t get bogged down in other people telling you what to do. I will say that for me, the most helpful tips have been Always Write Forward, because if you stop to revise you’ll never get anywhere (and I’ve found doing NaNoWriMo to be an excellent way to force this skill in yourself – I highly recommend doing it at least once!) and You Can’t Edit What You Don’t Put Down On the Page.

7. Any tips for old writers?

Keep challenging yourself. Keep trying new things. I get massive amounts of satisfaction from trying new perspectives, different tenses, different categories – whatever keeps things interesting. Do whatever you have to do to make sure you never fall out of love with writing.

You can find me on Twitter at @MissDahlELama and on my blog at http://dailydahlia.wordpress.com.

BEHIND THE SCENES, Spencer Hill Contemporary, June 24, 2014