A Little Q&A

These questions come from a post on aliasfaithrivens’ blog. I like reading Q&As like this from people I know, and it’s kind of fun answering them too.

When did you first start writing? Was being a writer something you always aspired to?
I started writing stories in elementary school. I recently dug up one of my first stories, written when I was 10 years old. I don’t know if the hard copy exists somewhere (I suspect it doesn’t), but I’d typed it into my parents’ old Tandy 1000. This was around 1992.

When I was older—somewhere between twelve and fourteen—I wrote a good start on what I had planned to be the first in a series of books for teenagers. That story I still have in several notebooks tucked away.

But apparently in middle and high school, I left fiction writing behind and turned to poetry. I wrote some good, some bad, some uplifting, some angsty poems. And during a creative writing class in high school, I even went as far as to say (in a reflection paper at the end of the class) that though I’d enjoyed writing the short story required for the class, I didn’t think I’d have a reason to write fiction again in the future.

What genre do you write?
Lately, mostly speculative fiction. My main book series seems to have landed squarely on post-apocalyptic science fiction. I wouldn’t normally consider myself a sci-fi writer, though…just sort of happened that way. Outside of this one series, I write more contemporary fiction, sometimes with a Christian bent.

Can you tell us a little about your current work in progress? When did you start working on this project?
It’s actually a weird feeling to not say that my current WIP is “Pithea.” But since that one’s done, it’ll be time to move on soon. I’ll be turning my attention soon to “Pursuit of Power.” This novel is about a young man who becomes suspicious about his dad’s accidental death, starts to dig, and ends up drawing a lot of unwanted attention.

Technically I started working on this in 2009. I wrote most of the first draft during NaNoWriMo that year. Then I re-imagined the story world I’d tried to create and rewrote the story in 2014. The very basics of the original were the same—main characters, their main goals, and a general ending—but it’s a completely different story now.

What was your first piece that you can remember writing? What was it about?

The NickersonsAs I mentioned above, the first piece I remember writing was when I was 10. It was a story about a couple adopting a 10-year-old girl, along with that girl’s best friend, because the girl they were adopting insisted. It was 186 words long. I started writing a sequel that was supposed to be a bit of a mystery, and though I didn’t finish it, it was already longer than the first story. I still remember what was supposed to happen in that story. Maybe I should finish it.

What’s the best part about writing?
There are so many things about writing that I love. If I had to choose one thing, it would be the discovery. The sudden light bulb when a brand new idea strikes, when a blockage is broken through, or when things suddenly become fun again.

What’s the worst part about writing?
In contrast to the previous answer, I think the worst part of writing is when things just aren’t working out. New ideas aren’t flowing, you can’t break through the block, and you feel downright un-creative.

What’s the name of your favorite character and why?
Though Missy would be the logical choice, as the MC of my first novel and a character who will feature or at least appear in more of the rest of the series than any one character (I’m pretty sure, at least), she is still a second to my favorite. His name is Remiel Azrael, and he is one of the main characters in “Outcast.”  Of everything I have written, “Outcast” remains my favorite piece, which I’m sure is part of the reason he became my favorite. I wrote it as fanfiction 7 years ago, and for the moment, it still only exists as fanfiction. It will eventually take place in the same world as “Pithea,” and in fact Missy is a big character in it too. But I just really love Remiel.

How much time a day/week do you get to write? When is the best time for you to write (morning or night)?
Ideally, I have 2-3 hours per night after my youngest goes to bed. Sometimes bedtime is later, or I have other things I have to get to first. Weekends are sometimes a chance for extra time, and sometimes we’re so busy I can barely get any time in.

Did you go to college for writing?
No, I didn’t get re-interested in writing fiction until I started writing fanfiction after my oldest son was born.

What bothers you more: speeling errors; punctuation, errors, or errors for grammar?
I’m not sure one is more bothersome to me than another.

What is the best writing advice that anyone has given you?
Don’t worry about perfection. I’ve read so many articles and blog posts by writers who make it seem like a manuscript will never be ready. It will always need another draft. While it’s true it will never be perfect, just maybe it doesn’t have to be. If I hadn’t read this advice from two different sources, I’m not sure if I would be ready to submit my first novel, or if I’d still be reading through it, looking for things to fix. Or maybe I’d be proceeding like I am, but paranoid that it’s too soon.

What advice would you give to another writer?
Take any writing tips, rules, and advice with a grain of salt. Writing is an art, and what works for one person doesn’t always work for others. Reading blogs about writing is a good thing. It’s good to find out what works for others, especially when you’re new to writing, because most likely something will resound within you. But if it doesn’t feel right, and you’d have to force yourself to adhere to someone’s suggestions…just don’t do it. (Not referring to grammar rules and such.)

What are your favorite writing sites or blogs that you turn to for help, tips or encouragement?
I don’t have any sites in particular. I tend to do online searches when I have questions.

Besides writing, what else do you enjoy doing? What are your hobbies?
I don’t actually have a lot of time for hobbies these days. I enjoy reading, but haven’t finished a book in a while. I like to scrapbook, but that’s been on the backburner for a few years. I don’t even play computer games much anymore. I do like game nights with my family once a month and on holidays, playing board games for hours.

What’s the best book you’ve read this year?
As I mentioned, I haven’t finished a book in a while. I’ve started several, and hope to get back to some of them soon. (I’ve set up a challenge on Goodreads to finish 25 books this year…I should probably get started on that soon.)

What’s the best movie you’ve seen this year?
I actually don’t watch all that many movies. And of those I do watch, including ones I watched at home, I’m not sure I can think back and remember them all (using 2015 for the question, rather than the few days of 2016 so far). I’ll go with Jurassic World.

What is your favorite book or series of all time?
The Oath by Frank Peretti is my favorite book of all time, with Thr3e by Ted Dekker coming in a close second.

The Mandie Books series by Lois Gladys Leppard still holds a special place in my heart, as a series I loved as a kid.

Who is your favorite author?
Frank Peretti

What are your plans for the rest of the year in terms of your writing?
I’m currently working on submitting my first novel to publishers, and have spent the last week or so getting a novelette self-published. When these two things have settled down some, I play to turn my full attention to the beginning revision stages of “Pursuit of Power.”

Where else can we find you online?
Facebook, Twitter, Goodreads (though I created that account only a few days ago)
Amazon Author Page, Story Blog

I never do these tag posts like normal people though, so I’m not tagging anyone. But feel free to share your own answers to any of these questions.

NaNoWriMo Tag

I’ve been seeing this on WordPress over the last week, so I’ve decided to join the party. It’s really just a way of procrastinating, but it sounds like fun to answer too. These questions were originally posed by Kristine Horner in a YouTube video, but I don’t do videos. I’m only barely a blogger, really. So anyway, here are the questions with my answers:

1. How many times have you done NaNoWriMo?
I have done NaNo 5 times before, with the first being in 2007.

2. How did you first find out about NaNoWriMo?
The admin of a fanfiction forum I was part of, specifically fanfiction for Ragnarok Online, mentioned it in October 2007. I will always be grateful that she made that off-hand comment about who was going to be participating, because it’s opened up a whole world to me.

3. What was the name of the first novel you attempted with NaNo?
It was called “Outcast,” it was fanfiction, and it was the best thing I’d ever written. It’s still one of my absolute favorites, and will be revisited and adapted to the world I’ve created for my series of novels eventually.

4. Give us a 1 sentence summary of what you’re writing this year.
A loud, obnoxious blade smith disappears during a historical reenactment, and the daughter of a neighboring blacksmith begins to suspect foul play when she notices the suspicious behavior of some of the other reenactors.

5. What’s the best writing advice you’ve ever been given?
Don’t edit the crap out of your writing. I’ve read so many articles and blog posts by writers who make it seem like a manuscript will never be ready. It will always need another draft. While it’s true it will never be perfect, just maybe it doesn’t have to be. That’s given me a lot of freedom in my current revision of my first novel to not feel like I have to keep going for another 2 years, editing it to death and probably losing my voice at the same time.

6. Did you ever take a year off from NaNo? Why?
Yes, I skipped 2008, 2010, and 2011. 2008 was mostly because I didn’t have any ideas for what to write and didn’t know how to coax inspiration at the time. I was also wishing I could transition from fanfiction to original fiction, and it wasn’t working out. The other two years were mostly because having a baby (in 2010) and then young toddler (in 2011) along with homeschooling an older kid made me feel that doing NaNo would be too overwhelming. Add to that the same “lack of idea” issue from 2008, and I gave those years a pass. Though I spent at least half of November those years thinking “maybe I could still jump in.”

7. What’s your biggest inspiration when figuring out what to write?
All sorts of things. I don’t know if I can narrow it down. Song lyrics, a movie I watched and thought, “What if this were different?” Some random thing someone said, or something that came out during free writing. My husband also makes a great sounding board, and helps me break through blocks in planning sometimes.

8. Read us the first sentence from one of your novels.
“Thousands of years ago, the world was much more technologically advanced than it is now.”

9. Why do you love writing?
It’s so much fun to develop these random ideas into something real. Something that’s outside of my head. Something I can share with someone. There’s just something about letting the thoughts spill out that is better than keeping them swirling around in my head. It’s become such a part of who I am that I don’t think I would be the same if I couldn’t write anymore.

(My plan to write 25K words on the first day took a bit of an unexpected turn around 7 this morning when I realized I had no choice but to get some sleep. I haven’t stayed up all night in quite a while, and apparently I can’t do it anymore. But I’m still on target, and if you want to check my progress, you can do so here.)

Why do they call this a “tag” anyway? I thought it was because we’re supposed to tag others to do it, but I’ve yet to see anyone tagging anyone in these posts. Feel free to share your own answers to any of these questions.