When did you begin your journey as an author? Did you just wake up one morning and decide to write or was it an idea building in the back of your mind for some time?
When I was fifteen or maybe younger, I started writing YA fantasy. So yes, I wrote YA fantasy before it was cool. Of course, I was a pantser then, and most of my ideas were X-men type knock-offs or were-wolf stories or something a little too close to an Anne McCaffrey planet or Lloyd Alexander's Prydain for comfort. I only actually finished one of those, so I suppose that's why, when I started writing again, I became more of a plotter.
It wasn't until after this little storm we had here in the city that I decided not to put off writing again any longer and an idea just started to come to me. You never know what the future will hold, so don't put off writing. It's easy and can be done anywhere you can put pen to paper or fingers to keys. Please don't write your novel on your Palm Pre in the middle of rush hour traffic, though. We writers get enough flack from normal people.
Describe your writing process? Do you like to outline first or do you build the story as you go?
I'm definitely a plotter, but I wouldn't go so far as saying I'm an outliner. While the pivotal scenes are pretty clear in my head, the rest is written as I go, or as I think of what to write next based on how my characters are developing. I sometimes skip ahead and write these pivotal scenes down; they become goals to catch up with to keep me writing. Whenever I overtake one of these scenes I feel like I've really accomplished something, and it makes it easier to believe that I'll soon have a finished first draft. They sometimes need a little editing when I get to them, or are even changed drastically if the story calls for it.
I never fear editing like that, and the surprises that come up, the unexpected turns and twists and complex subplots, are what make the writing fun and keep it fresh for me. I never start writing a story before I at least know how the main character is going to change, but even I don't always know the sum experiences that change said character until the first draft is done.
Who is your favorite literary character (either one of your own or someone else's) and why do they appeal to you?
This may sound weird, but Max from Where the Wild Things Are is my favorite if he counts as a literary character. With only a pair of pajamas and his imagination, he's King of the Wild Rumpus in the land of the Wild Things and back in his bed before morning. I'm dying to see the movie.
Who would you say your greatest writing influences are?
Reading Anne McCaffrey, Heinlen, Bruce Coville and even Anne Rice made me want to be a fantasy writer. Hmm, looking back on it now, I suppose reading Anne Rice at the impressionable age of thirteen probably steered me toward the paranormal and explains a lot about my current WiP. As I read more and more contemporary Young Adult fantasy, I've been taking inspiration and writing tips from authors like Melissa Marr, Scott Westerfeld and Suzanne Collins. Writing contemporary YA is a tricky business but these authors do it with flair, great storytelling and perfect pacing.
You've said before that you're new to the blogging world. What are your thoughts to blogging as a whole, as well as how it impacts your writing?
I used to be addicted to agent blogs. It's great that aspiring authors can finally hear from overworked agents in a relaxed, informal setting that can be both informative and entertaining. Since I've had my own blog, what I get most out of the experience is the knowledge that there are so many other unpublished writers out there enduring the same trials of writing-- editing, submitting, editing again, and finally giving up and starting over-- that I am. Just knowing that others, including published authors, have the same worries gives me hope. To outsiders, non-writers, it might seem odd that I would sympathize so deeply with people who at first glance would appear to be the competition. But other blogging writers have taught me more than just writing tips; they are the ones who taught me perseverance, confidence, and faith.
You're in the process of submitting works to agents/editors/publishers now. How do you feel about the whole process?
So sick of it. I'm actually about to put Evangeline out to pasture. It's hard when your betas love something, but you just can't get an agent to love it the way they do. It's a tough business when even the crafting of a simple query can make you second-guess the quality of your completed novel. It is at once the most thrilling and soul-crushing experience. Reading agent blogs does make the whole process seem less daunting, more human. It is my least favorite part of the writing process, but after shopping around my third book, I am getting used to it.
What's your chosen genre? What makes it appealing to you as a writer?
Lately all my stories seem to come out as YA Paranormal Romances. For some reason I can't write reality. Not sure if I even want to. This wasn't a genre when I was in high school, back in the days before they cracked the human genome and boy bands roamed the Earth. Sci-fi and fantasy were my favorite books to read as a teen, but there was something I always found a little dated about the books written before I was born that filled the shelves of my podunk high-school library. Still not sure how I ever survived before the invention of Amazon. The appeal is also in the unknown, and the ability to explore the limits of my creativity.
What's your favorite color and why? (see, you didn't really think I'd ask that, huh?)
It changes every few years. Right now it's turquoise. I like it because it's bright-- but not too bright-- uplifting, and plays well with lots of other colors. It used to be blue, then pink, then green...
Any hints of what works you currently have in progress?
The novel I'm currently plowing my way through-- seriously, I've never written anything so fast in my life-- is still untitled. It started out with only a hint of paranormal and no romance, but now it is thoroughly YA paranormal romance. I'm doomed to a life of writing star-crossed teenage lovers, it seems. I've been trying to figure out a plot for a sci-fi novel, but that is so back burner I don't even have characters yet, just a vague and incomplete setting/conflict concept, nothing to write yet. While paranormal comes easy, writing sci-fi is like shoving my brain through a meat grinder and sifting for crumbs of story. Okay, maybe it's more like panning for dilithium crystals.
Any lessons learned you want to share with the rest of us?
Even if you think your manuscript is ready to pitch to literary agents, wait a little while longer than you think. Send it out one last time to a reader. Make sure you're sure, because you may not get a second chance with the agents who request pages.
And while it might seem egotistical to think that your manuscript is the best thing since The Kite Runner, it doesn't hurt to be proud of your work. Just be open to the realization that the same manuscript you once thought would be a best-seller, might seem mediocre the next day. Even after countless rejections, every time I start a new project I think, THIS IS THE ONE. And because I'm learning, and growing and practicing and thinking critically about my work, who knows? This time, it just might be.
Thank you Tere, for letting us see where you're coming from. It's always really interesting to hear about writing from other viewpoints, other perspectives. I particularly like your thoughts on lessons learned. There's some good nuggets there we can all take away.