Monday, August 10, 2009

You're in the Spotlight!!!

You're in the spotlight now! For some of you this may be your first official interview and for some it may be one of many.

Questions from a 12 year old budding author!
My oldest daughter Nina, as a new budding tween-teen sci-fi romance author and Mormon Mommy blog reader has a few pressing questions for you!

  1. How long does it take you to finish writing a book? (Start to finish because mine feels like forever)
  2. What do agents expect of you?
  3. How many re-writes have you done?
  4. What do you do when you get stuck with your book?
  5. What kind of tips do you have for new writers?
  6. How do you find time to do your writing?
  7. How do you develop your character? Is it during the story? Do you do it before you write?
  8. Is there a special place that you write in that gives you the best inspiration?
  9. How do you know if you have enough detail in your book?
  10. Is there any special way that you organize your book? Do you have it in your mind? Do you write it down step by step before you begin?


  1. Wowzers! That's alot of questions!! I better get started!
    1. I tried for 5 years to finish a book to no avail. Then about a year ago, I applied tips from a writing book and I wrote a complete novel in 6 weeks. It was only the first draft though, so technically, it's still not finished.
    2. What do agents expect? Um...your firstborn...novel that is! Make it your best, it's all they can ask for...well not really they want your blood sweat and tears too.
    3. a rewrite? I get it perfect on one try...NOT! I'm on my third complete rewrite, meaning I don't carry over much at all from previous drafts.
    4. What do I get when I get stuck? Does banging my head on the keyboard count? I have some people in my writing group that swear by the power of Cheetos. But actually I have found that taking a walk while thinking of my story helps alot.
    5. Tips for new writers? DON'T DO IT...RUN...SAVE YOURSELVES!! Seriously, I would say to be patient with yourself and your talent. That's advice I'm still trying to take.
    6. Time for writing? What's that? Haha. I get up at o'dark thirty to write while my editing side is still asleep.
    7. My characters always develop during the story. I learn alot about them as I through obstacles in their way that I never could have planned before the story was written.
    8. Special place to write? In bed with my eyes still closed. That is my serious answer, refer to #6.
    9. Enough detail? Actually I found that our first drafts are so full of useless details and not full enough of the right details. It's more like trial and error when it comes to this item.
    10. Organize a book? Why would I want to do that? I tried to write a story once by mapping out everything ahead of time with a worksheet for every character and chapter. Let me just say, I threw the book down and didn't want to touch it! I am not good with sticking to patterns or anything that doesn't allow me to be creative the whole way through. That being said, there is a certain amount of organization that goes on in my head.
    Does any of that help? Good luck with your writing, you are smart starting now. That way you have many years to perfect your skills!

  2. 1. I assume you mean novel? It’s a question of practice. The first is the longest—for sure. I spent a dedicated year, two or more hours a day before my first “novel” of 450 pages was written—first draft.
    2. Agents… Hm. No comment?
    3. Rewrites? Total rewrites or simply general editing? My first novel is still in that process. (Yes, it was THAT bad.) The second, however, came together much more smoothly, and after only two-hundred edits I can read it without cringing. (You think I exaggerate!) The honest truth is, you can edit you entire life away, so I suggest periodically taking time off, letting it sit for a while, then coming back. Fresh perspective helps you really see what needs changing. (That's why I have so many rotating projects on the docket.)
    4. Writers block? There are several tools you can use. The one that works best for me is popping in some mood music—the mood of whatever sequence I want to develop. The rule of seven is also a great way to go. When you get stuck, stop and chart out seven possible next steps. Creativity begets excitement, which begets compulsive typing.
    5. Practice, practice, practice! Read everything you can about the trade, and dive in.
    6. Time? Ha ha!!! There’s no “find.” There is a very solid and firm hour in my house declared as “mommy’s writing hour”. Nobody crosses that line.
    7. I dream stories. That’s where the initial plot and characters come from. (No, I don’t sit and try to come up with them from scratch.) They become more real as I write and ponder. Often as I’m sitting in a bus or at the grocery store I’ll see people interact in a way that makes me think, “Hm, that would be a great character trait”. Those thoughts get stored away and resurrected when the right character comes along.
    8. Nature. Creativity knows no friend like mountains or a quiet beach and a fresh breeze.
    9. Enough detail? Is there such a thing? (Okay, I’ll admit Victor Hugo and Dickens go a little over the top sometimes…) Create as rich an environment as you can through the five senses. If details are cumbersome you will discover it on a later edit, but initially, don’t stem those urges to explore.
    10. To plot or not to plot, that is the question. I have written both: a fully charted storyline, and wherever the wind took me. A happy medium is the best of both worlds. Plot, plan, determine, but never stop a character when they suddenly take you off the prescribed path. (Unless later you determine that path is irrelevant to the unfolding story.)

    Good luck! Have fun, and enjoy.

  3. I don't think I am qualified to answer many of Nina's questions. But I like reading the responses. I will say that for #1 I am still trying to figure that one out and yes forever does seem like the correct time line for my progress.

  4. The best advice I have is to write, write, write, and then read, read, read, and then write, write write! I find that when I take a break from my editing if I read a lot of books in the same genre that I am in, I learn a LOT!

    Also, I suggest really knowing your characters, before you begin. They may change as your novel progresses, but that's part of why you need to go back through for a rewrite, to make sure the characters stay consistent to themselves.

    One good way to know your characters is to interview them.

    Congrats on getting such an early start.. and good luck!!!

  5. 1. I started my very first novel when I was 16 years old and thought it was way cheesy. I put it away for a year. I picked at it and put it away again. Eventually, I finished it. It took me 8 years to compose it because it was hand-written and over 700 pages long. I finally had a chance to edit it as I transferred it into my new computer after I got married. I have written 5 novels since and can't say that there is a standard length of time to complete--that depends on when I can get to it. One took about a month and a half. The novel I wrote before that took about two months.

    2. What do agents expect of me? I think it’s safe to say that they expect the writer to do her or his best in everything from the synopsis, query letter to the entire manuscript. You have to convince them that you are a great writer and know what you are doing. Remember you are selling your work.

    3. The book I’ve just submitted has experienced at least 4 rewrites. Crazy! But who knows how many more once it is accepted! I always go back through the manuscript after setting it aside for a few weeks. The mistakes are more obvious and I’m not afraid to hack it up then.

    4. For starters, I always say a heart-felt prayer. I make sure that my scriptures are read (and my primary lesson prepared) before I start. There have been times when I feel so stuck that I pray for inspiration. I ask for a blessing. I save fasting for last. Imagine receiving inspiration straight for Heavenly Father?

    5. I’d like to think that imagination is pure magic. Don’t ever let it die. If you don't like a story you’ve started out, that's okay. Just set it aside and keep it for later. Like the first novel I wrote when I was 16. Never give up on it. Also, it helps to get together with others who enjoy writing as well. Have you ever noticed that when you tell someone you are writing a story they look at you as if you’re from another planet? They do with me! Writers need each other!

    6. WOW... Well, it isn't always easy find time for writing but I can usually feel the magic floating around me. I make sure that I don’t write until I’ve tucked in every last of my kidlets. I also hold quiet time. For an hour straight, my kids go to their rooms and have unplugged time while I have plugged time!

    7. Hmmm, good question. How do I develop my characters? Sometimes when a story idea hits me, I jot it down before I forget it. Very general. For the most part I know how the character would react to certain situations as I begin my story. I pretend I’m that character as I write about each one. They just come to life on their own. It’s amazing to see them breathe! I like how Kristy suggested interviewing them! You can also create a profile for each one. What they like and don't like. You could act out your scenes with your family. Ask them to help you. You could be your favorite character!

    8. I wish I had a special place! I don't have a choice but go where my computer is. Before my laptop croaked, though, it was in my bedroom during the day and in the living room at night.

    9. The best way to find out is to ask my friends to read it after I’m done editing it. They can tell me what’s missing. What sounds good. What sounds weird. This is your critique circle. See if you can get other writers so you could swap. You'll be amazed how much learning you’ll do.

    10. It starts out as a summary paragraph, most of the time without the ending. I brainstorm a lot once I decide to write. During my brainstorming stage, the real story takes place. The cauldron of magic potion begins to sizzle. It just flows out. I have to admit that I have written at least 20 pages and got rid of them because I didn't like the direction the novel was heading. That's okay, too!

    Good luck with your writing adventures! If you need a mentor, I'd LOVE to help you, just let me know. :)

  6. I'm crossing my fingers and hoping this comment will go through!....

    1. My longest book was 10 weeks—the shortest was the one I co-wrote with Kasie and we did that in 10 days.
    2. Agents want you to have the most perfected story you are capable of creating.
    3. So far with my first book Pride & Popularity—12
    4. Step back, pray, find out what is wrong—what angle I’m missing. Maybe someone else has to speak first, or maybe another character needs to come through the door. I find out what the problem is and as soon as I fix it, the words start flowing again.
    5. Write, write, write. The best way for me to write and write quickly was I did timed sessions with some of my writer friends. We wrote as fast as we could for a certain amount of time and then saw who got the most words.
    6. I try and set aside certain times each day to write and then in the morning I edit what I already have.
    7. I have to know a bit about the character before I begin, but most of the rest just comes out in the writing.
    8. I’m all about ultimate silence at my computer (or with a playlist going—depends on the story)
    9. If things make sense and my readers can picture it, then I know I’ve got enough.
    10. I’m very organic. I know the beginning, I have an idea of the middle… and sometimes I know the end, but really I just let the story tell itself.



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