Advice you would give new authors?
Write. Write every day. Don’t feel guilty or give up when you don’t write every day. Get feedback on your writing. Don’t feel like it needs to be perfect before you get feedback. If something isn’t working, try something else. For example, if you are convinced you write better with no outline, but keep getting stuck, write an outline. And the opposite is true as well. Any advice you hear from another writer, if it doesn’t work for you, that’s ok. Try something else.
What makes a good story?
For me, a good story is all about the characters and their development, and good world building. I don’t really care what your plot is. Just make sure it moves forward at a good pace, and use it to grow your characters and introduce me to the world you created.
What are they currently reading?
A new book just came out by one of my favorite authors, Ilona Andrews, so I re read the books in the series, then read through the new book. Emerald Blaze. I read it too fast and now I’m sad. :]
What is your writing process? For instance do you do an outline first? Do you do the chapters first?
When I started my first book, I didn’t outline. I “knew” where the story was going, so I didn’t think it was necessary. THen I got really bogged down with writing, and started getting frustrated, so I tried outlining, and it made finishing the book SO much simpler. I am definitely an outliner now, although of my first three books, I’ve outlined each one differently, so I’m still fine tuning my process. Usually long before I outline, I come up with scenes or moments in the story that I know I’m gonna want. So when I get to the outline, I have all these short chapters or scenes or blocks of dialog that I fit into my outline. I usually write the draft in order, starting at chapter one, and moving on from there, but if a scene comes to me, I will write it out then and there. For example, while I was in the middle of drafting book 2 in The Misplaced Children series, a key scene at the very end of book 3 came to me, so I wrote it all out and saved it. Those scenes end up being my favorites too, like little waystations when I’m writing out the draft. And while I always end up editing them later, I love seeing how the story falls into place around them as I write.
What are common traps for aspiring writers?
Thinking your story has to be perfect before you can move on. I think a lot of writers are so focused on writing the perfect paragraph that they never finish the page. Just write it all out. Make it messy, put in place holders like NAME when you need to come up with something but don’t wanna break your momentum. Then go back and clean it up AFTER you finish. If you insist on making it perfect before you get to the end, you won’t finish it.
One other big trap is sharing your story too soon. This isn’t true for everyone, but for me, and for some other writers I’ve met, if you have a few chapters done, and just want people to read it now, once you get that, you may never go back and finish the rest. It’s like you have that story building in you, and once you start letting it out, you lose the deep burning need to write it, and it can kill your productivity. For some writers, this will also happen in the form of telling someone all about your story and the characters before ever putting it on paper. You think your idea is SO cool, your characters are awesome, your magic system is perfect, so you spend 45 minutes telling another writer all about how cool it will be when you write it, then when you’re done talking, that motivation to put words on a page starts to droop, and you never get around to actually doing it.
What is your writing Kryptonite?
A to do list. When I have things that need to get done in my real life, I have a hard time being productive. This means needing to get my oil changed, needing to clean the cat box, or take out the trash. If I’m gonna have a productive weekend writing, I need to get these things done during the week so I have the brain space to write. I also struggle a lot with stress. If there are things that are stressing me out, I have a hard time being creative, and I can spend 3 hours and barely write 250 words. This means I try really hard to keep a healthy personal life, and take care of my mental health whenever I can,
Do you try more to be original or to deliver to readers what they want?
I am very very aware there is nothing new under the sun. I want my writing to be fresh and feel new. A Misplaced Child does a lot of things ‘wrong’ when you talk about what is on market, but I don’t totally care, because this is a story really close to my heart. And ultimately if it’s not successful, I’m writing this one for me, and I hope that it reaches the right audience. I am also planning another series that is a little more in line to what I think most readers expect from YA fantasy, but it will still have a lot of me in it, and I don’t want to just rehash the exact same story you can find 50 copies of on a bookstore shelf.
If you could tell your younger writing self anything, what would it be?
Keep going. Don’t stop. Writing is what makes you good at writing.
Do you believe in writer’s block?
I don’t believe in writer’s block as a condition or an all powerful force we have no control over. I think that first we need to realize writer’s block and burnout are two very different things. Writer’s block is something you need to push past, and burnout is something you need to give yourself grace and time to get past. To me, writer’s block means there’s something I need to do differently. If I’m stuck on a scene, there’s a few things I need to check:
* Is this scene really important for the story? If I hate writing it, maybe it needs to be cut.
* Did I outline what needs to happen here well enough? If I’m stuck, maybe I need to go back to planning.
* Am I just not in the mood to write? Try writing another scene, or do something else for a few hours like answering emails, or taking a walk. Or, alternatively, suck it up and make myself do it.
* Am I stressed about something? Get it taken care of. Call that person I keep rehashing my last conversation with and get what I need off my chest. Return that text I’m avoiding. End that friendship that is sucking out my soul.
Another great tip for me getting past writer’s block is to try writing a scene differently. Maybe I will start by just writing out the dialogue, and then going back and filling in any action that’s needed. Maybe I need to go lay on my bed and use voice to text on my phone and talk out the scene in a stream of consciousness.
What kind of world ruler would you be?
I don’t think I would make a great world ruler. But if I ever went evil, I think I would be a great evil ruler. My personality type is an advocate with a strong splash of mediator thrown in. Reading about my personality type, when they are really unhealthy, it takes a lot for us to go bad, but when we do we go REALLY bad, believing our ideals of the world are correct, and taking any action necessary to make them a reality for the good of all. I actually love these types of bad guys, and this is something I plan to explore, not in Elodie’s story, but in a follow up series I have planned after Elodie’s story.