Tell me a about yourself. What got you started in writing?
I’ve always loved books and reading. As a child, I would go to the library and bring home stacks of books, or give my mom a long list of books I wanted from the book
fair. I spent many a summer reading.
fair. I spent many a summer reading.
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When I was in high school, my English teacher submitted a couple of my poems to the school’s literary journal. She didn’t tell me about it, not until they were accepted. I wrote a short story for an assignment and she helped me rewrite it and submit it to a school contest. She made comments and gave me tips about the story. Finally, she helped me go line by line and fix the little things. It was my first real experience working with an editor. Near the end of the school year, she encouraged me to take creative writing and sponsored me so I could get into the class. Before Joyce Oldroyd, I had no idea I could write.
I took creative writing in college from an amazing professor (Marion K. Smith) who was also a science fiction and fantasy scholar. Then I joined the science fiction club (Quark), the science fiction magazine staff (The Leading Edge) and the science fiction symposium committee (LTUE). Those, along with some very special teachers in the English department Changed my life forever (Dr. Steven C. Walker, Dr. Sue Ream, Dr. Sally Taylor). And a librarian whose love of science fiction was truly epic (Betty Pope). They were all amazing.
Throughout the years I’ve also met some wonderful authors who have inspired me and given me encouragement. Chief among them are Orson Scott Card, David Farland, Tracy Hickman, and Michael R. Collings.
I admit that I let other things get in the way of my writing: children, musical theatre, conrunning. But now my kids are grown, I no longer have the vision to do musical theatre, and I retired (mostly) as a convention organizer and event planner. So, now I’m focusing once again on my writing. It really is never too late to write.
How do you schedule your writing time? When do you write?
I find I write best at night when others are asleep. However, I try to do a little bit every day. It doesn’t always work, but if I have several projects in various stages, I can write, edit, or plot something. I mostly write short stories and poetry, so this works well for me. There’s always something I can pull out that’s been sitting for several weeks or months that needs fresh eyes.
How and where do you write? Do you prefer a lap top or some other method of getting your words down?
I prefer a desktop computer. That’s because I am visually impaired and need a large screen where I can zoom in on the text. Some writers like to dictate their stories, but I prefer to type where I can be thinking and organizing mentally while I type. It also makes it easier to go back and edit. I love the spell check to catch things my eyes miss.
For poetry, I used to prefer writing by hand, but that is no longer an option, so I also use a computer. I recommend writing down a poem at least during one stage of the process. There’s a different connection with your brain when you actually edit on paper.
What's your favorite part about writing? Your least favorite part about writing?
I love the creative process when the ideas keep coming. Often, I will work on a scene in a story and then, while I’m in bed trying to sleep, other ideas will come to me that work much better. I pull out my phone and set a reminder for myself with the idea or the dialog. Then, the next day, I’ll get the reminder and go back to the story and make the change. That’s a very rewarding part of the process.
It’s also rewarding to listen to your story out loud and realize it’s better than you thought it was. Lol
I recommend reading your story out loud or having someone read it to you. You hear things you miss when you’re reading.
Finally, there’s nothing like submitting a story or book for publication and getting an acceptance letter. That lets you know all your hard work is paying off.
What I dislike most is when the ideas aren’t coming and I have to try one idea after another without finding one that really fits the story or the characters. That is often when I’ll set the story aside and pick up something else. For this reason, I keep a folder with story ideas and starters that I can go to so I don’t stop writing. I also keep stories that need another edit or a rewrite. Sometimes taking a mental break helps. But it’s frustrating.
I still find other things taking up my writing time. That’s both discouraging and frustrating.
And I hate the rejections. It’s part of being a writer, but it’s discouraging and frustrating when you can’t find the right market or editor for your story.
How did you come up with your book idea? How long did it take you to write your book?
My short story, “Cowchip Charlie and the Tumbleweed Gang” is loosely based on stories my Dad would tell me and my brothers when we were children. He made up this character named “Cowchip Charlie” who was half horse and very much a Pecos Bill type character. I wrote this story several years ago, but I could not find a market. I got a lot of replies that said they liked it, but it didn’t fit their magazine or anthology. So, I filed it away. Then, a few years ago, a friend told me she was putting together an anthology about rabid vegetation and with very minor tweaking, my story fit the guidelines. So I sent it to her. She later told me that she and her co-editor liked it so much they both agreed it should definitely go in the anthology. I eventually plan on writing more stories and publishing them as a collection.
What types of marketing do you do to promote your writing?
I attend writing conferences, library events, and conventions where I can meet other authors and readers of speculative fiction and sell some books. When I can, I participate on panels and talk about the craft of writing or the various genres in speculative fiction.
I have a facebook page and twitter account, where I often promote the craft of writing. I also have a webpage to promote my work.
What are you currently working on? Do you have a new book out?
I wrote a short story last year and I’m working on turning it into a novel. It’s a fantasy story set in a post-apocalyptic future. I have two short stories that need to be rewritten. I want to turn them from short stories into novellas. I have a poem that will be published some time this year.
I finished a short story about a little girl who prays to Pacha Mama for the god of the local tin mine to go away – with catastrophic results. I’ll be sending that out to markets this month.
I have a number of completed poems I need to send out to magazines.
Do you have a project on the back burner? Tell me about it.
I always have something on the back burner. When I get an idea, I will do a quick write-up in a text document and stick it in a folder. Sometimes, the ideas for that particular story keep coming, so it moves to the front burner. Otherwise, it says on the back burner and from time to time I go through the folder and see what sparks my interest.
On the front burner is the post-apocalyptic story about a young priestess and a village elder who have to overcome prejudice and a necromancer to save both their villages from a fallen god.
What would you tell a beginning writer who wants to publish but doesn't believe he/she has enough talent?
Go to writing conferences and workshops to learn your craft. There are some amazing writers who put writing tips online. Many have writing courses. David Farland and Michaelbrent Collings are two of them.
If you have a favorite author or two, look them up online. Read their writing tips. Follow them on social media.
Writers Digest has a series of books about writing if you want to read them. There are also a number of websites about writing that have some very good writing tips. Get involved in NaNoWriMo and NaPoWriMo. Find a group of local authors who can encourage you.
Most important, read a lot: new authors, classics, different genres. This is not so you can copy the other authors, but so that you can learn the craft of writing and WRITE. Your first stories may not be very good, but that’s okay. You’ll get better as you go. First drafts are never good. Most stories become good through the editing process.
Never give up. Never, never, never give up. It’s never too late to start a writing career. I know people who published their first book after they turned 70.
Blog tours are one way of promoting yourself to new audiences. But how do you find the right blogs? How can you make blog tours successful? How do you promote your own blog?
These are all great questions, many of them handled in my book, Marketing Your Book on a Budget, but let's see what I can do here.
For blog tours, I find that connecting with other authors through Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter helps. I have joined various groups that speak about writing and we help each other out with occasional blog tours. As for successful blog tours, I'm still trying to figure that one out, but it seems to me that advertising is the key - getting the word out there as much as you can. If the blogger who is handling the contest has a lot of followers, that seems to help too.
For my own blog, I make sure that I let my readers know through the same channels that a new post is up. I also use google+, pinterest, and make sure my Amazon page is up to date. I have recently joined a site called Alignable. The site is for small business owners, and so I have put my work there, as well as information about my blog. I also do author interviews like this one, as well as character interviews and Friday Flicks spots - where I promote other writers book trailers. Connecting with other writers is always a good thing. This means I also write posts for other blogs.
I have gotten pretty good at putting together my own book trailers and post these on my blog page whenever I can. I also make sure to get a list of names and email addresses when I do personal book signings. This way, I can sign interested readers up for my newsletter. They can also contact me from the newsletter and find out what I do on my blog.
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