Monday, September 8, 2014

AUTHOR INTERVIEW: Maria Hoagland

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Tell me a about yourself. What got you started in writing?

Writing for me has been a little cyclical. As with many other authors, I remember writing short stories early on (second grade), but then I didn't really get into it until I was a teen. When I went to college, I thought I’d be “more practical” about my writing and majored in communications (journalism), but after completing enough classes to earn a minor, I decided journalism wasn't really for me. Instead, I started taking all the creative writing and editing classes I could. Taking classes in both types of writing, I think, made me a more well-rounded writer. During college and after, I dabbled in short stories and poetry, wrote a full-length memoir, and then put writing away while I had young children. It wasn't until my youngest was starting kindergarten that I even had the desire to write again. That was nine years ago, and now writing has become 
my passion—it’s what I most want to do in my spare time.

How and where do you write? Do you prefer a lap top or do you prefer writing freehand?
          
Writing freehand takes too long! I do jot down notes on scraps of paper, in little notebooks I carry in my purse, and on my phone, and eventually I end up with a notebook or two of outlines throughout the writing process as I work through outlining or checking for plot holes. But my favorite way to write is on a netbook—preferably outside. I find if I stay in my office with my nice, fast, laptop, I end up spending more time online, but my netbook, especially when I’m away from internet, gives me no other option than to write or edit. I prefer sitting in parks—the kind with playgrounds—which I hope doesn't creep anyone out because I’m glaringly without children. When the weather is less than accommodating, I head to bookstores
or cafes.

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What's your favorite part about writing? Your least favorite part about writing?

One thing I love about writing is that I’m always ready for the next phase. Right now, I’m excited to start outlining and planning my next book, and then, of course, I’ll spend time drafting, etc. Just before I complete a phase of writing, I’m eager to start the next, and that keeps me moving forward. If I had to choose what I dread the most, I’d have to say the waiting—waiting for beta readers, editors, and proofreaders. I’m not really great at working on more than one project at a time and that makes the time seem longer, but I've found that the time away from the project helps me see it with fresher eyes when the manuscript is returned to me.

How do you come up with your characters? Why would readers want to get to know them?

I love to people watch and Frankenstein bits of people I've met or things I've heard and then let my imagination take me from there. I think it’s funny when a reader tells me they “know” who a certain character is in my books, when in reality, I know that while they may have something in common with that character, there is no one person my characters are based on. Though my characters are fictional, I love that readers are able to connect with each of them and find them so compelling and realistic, so developed, that they think they know the characters personally.

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What types of marketing do you do to promote your writing?

Marketing is the hardest part of this indie gig! I wish I could just write and let the books sell themselves, but somehow people have to find out about these amazing books of mine lest they languish in obscurity. So I do as much as I can in getting the word out through Facebook, Twitter, and Goodreads. Word of mouth and reviews help tremendously, as do reviewers and blogs and websites like this awesome one. (Thank you, Kathryn, for hosting this interview.) Recently I've started delving into Pinterest because it’s so much fun, but the most effective way I've found in marketing is cross-promoting with other talented authors because, oftentimes, it’s easier to sell someone else’s book over my own.

How do you schedule your writing time? When do you write?

I work half days as a reading tutor for English language learners at an elementary school and love working with the students, but that leaves a limited amount of time to write before my own children return home from school. Because of this, I do most of my writing in the afternoon and fill in with whatever available time I can scrounge up—like while waiting in the car at soccer practices, before band concerts, etc.

What are you currently working on? Do you have a new book out?

I’m so excited about my latest completed project! Last month, I released my third novel, Still Time. It is about a middle-aged LDS woman who is fighting moving into the next stage of life. She’d love to be able to keep her kids small, herself young, her marriage strong, but challenges keep getting thrown at her. She has her own hopes and dreams that somehow seem to be being back-burnered, but the most important thing to her is taking care of her family—it’s just that she’s not sure what is best for them. I think most readers can relate to that, and I don’t know about you, but sometimes I want to see how other people deal with adversity because it makes me feel less alone and gives me hope that I too can prevail.

Do you have a project on the back burner? Tell me about it.

Before I finished Still Time, I had a bright, shiny new idea come to me that I've been itching to start. This time, I’m switching genres a little. My previous books have all been geared toward an LDS audience, but next I've decided to move toward a national audience. I’m planning a line of books that will be a little lighter than what I've done in the past with a little more romance and a touch of home renovation. I’m super excited to get started!

What would you tell a beginning writer who wants to publish but doesn't believe he/she has enough talent?

Keep learning and don’t give up! One of the best things I did to improve my writing skills was attend writer’s conferences. Not only do I learn more about the craft and the business, but I also connect with people who become my critique group, beta readers, and mentors. Learning from others, practicing, writing, editing, editing some more, and then editing again are just things you need to do. Also, read, study, learn, and more than anything write. If it is something you really want, you’ll find a way to make it happen.

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Thank you Maria! 

Learn more about Maria here: 


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