Wendy's favorite quotes

"Be who you are and say what you feel, because those who mind don't matter, and those who matter don't mind."— Dr. Seuss

Sunday, June 27, 2010

A Panel Discussion With Author Dan Wells

At Storymakers 2010, we had the opportunity to hear a panel discussion from these amazing authors. This is part 1 of 5. I’ll be posting the comments of the other authors on the panel over the next few weeks.

Dan Wells writes chapter by chapter paragraphs summing up his novel’s storyline. Once he has a good outline, he begins to write. After the first draft is done, he waits 2-3 months before he goes into revisions on a rough draft. Dan comments that once the revisions have been done, it’s important to “know when to leave a book—don’t marry yourself to it.”

He warns that publishing is a slow moving machine. He sold his horror novel, I Am Not A Serial Killer, three years ago, and it just hit shelves a couple months ago. Back then, he’d work all day and then come home and write between the hours of 10pm and 2am. He felt burned out after work, but he used that for motivation to keep writing. He says, “the last thing I wanted to do with my life is go back to work about a shampoo” so he had to make the change happen through writing.

When asked about his late hours, Dan mentioned that he did find some meds that cured his insomniac tendencies, but after sleeping through the night for a week, he decided to drop the meds. He joked, “this is crap! How do people without insomnia get anything done?”

Directing his gaze to the audience, Dan pointed a finger. “If you want to do this (writing) for your living, you cannot do it in your spare time. Treat it like a job and find the time. If you don’t have time to write, it’s not a scheduling problem, it’s a value issue.”

While suffering through mind-numbing college classes, his delightfully twisted brain made a goal that “someday, I’ll do a book and some shmuck will have to do an essay on it.” (enter muah-haha here)

On agents, Dan says, “eventually you’ll need an agent. Yes. As soon as I got an offer, I went and got an agent, but even then I was rejected four times.” Be careful though, “if an agent asks for money, drop them and report them. To become an agent requires no schooling. You could stand up and say you’re an agent and it would be true. Look them up!” A great website to check them out is Preditors and Editors.

I found Dan to be both knowledgeable and charming with his quick wit and well timed jokes. He kept us laughing while we soaked up his helpful hints and insights.

A special thanks to Dan Wells for being such a good sport throughout—even when a mock version of his novel titled “I Am Not A Cereal Killer” (about someone who ate all the cereal) became the running joke of the conference.

I was most impressed by his matter of fact determination. Write no matter what, no matter when. Make it happen seemed to be his motto.

*Update* you can watch Dan give a presentation on story structure on youtube for free! I've been struggling with creating an outline for one of my current novels and I have to say that watching this video really helped me organize my thoughts. Easy to follow, entertaining, and educational. Yup, he's the man.

Do any of you keep odd/late writing hours like Dan does?

New Set Of Posts About Writing On The Way!

First of all, supremely awesome readers, I beg your pardon for not posting more frequently this month. Farming season has me in its clutches. You can see what I’ve been doing on the farm here. I’ll be more regular now that I’ve settled into the routine again. Eat, sleep, work like a dog…and write late into the night so my brain gets its fix. Then get up and do it all again.

I’m working on another round of blog posts that are from my notes from the writer’s conference, Storymakers 2010. So, stay tuned for a panel discussion with Dan Wells, Aprilynne Pike, David Wolverton, Anita Stansfield, and Stephanie Black. I visited with some of these authors outside of the workshop time and let me say, they are really cool people.

I always send blog posts to the authors first so they have the opportunity to check any quotes I took of them for accuracy, but I’ll have the first couple up in a few days.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Winner of the Drabble Contest...

First of all, a big thanks to all you awesome writers who played along with my Drabble Contest. Your entries were great fun to read!

And the winner is.....*drum roll*......*using Random.org*......

Little Berry Girl!

Congratulations! You requested Seasons of America Past, by Eric Sloane. Consider it done.

Everyone, when my blog hits 100 followers, we'll play another giveaway game. Thanks for sharing your time and talents with me.


...and happy writing!

Sunday, June 6, 2010

A Visit With Heather Justesen, Author of Rebound

I recently had the privilege of reading Heather Justesen’s new release, REBOUND, and I couldn’t put it down.

You can read my review HERE but I bet you can already guess that I really enjoyed this book.

Heather is a fellow member of Author’s Incognito and she was kind enough to answer a few questions about her writing experience.

1. How long from when you started looking did it take you find your publisher/agent?

The LDS market is very small, so there are far fewer places to submit, and we don't use agents. I started submitting my first book in early March and had a contract in late September—but Cedar Fort had only had my manuscript for a couple of months before they offered to publish it.

2. Were you surprised with how many edits your editor asked of you or was it what you expected?

Honestly, I'm not sure what I expected. I did very few edits—and I've since learned it was far fewer than most publishers go through. That means I have to be extra diligent about self-editing and getting good feedback from reliable sources--but then, that's true no matter what publisher you work with.

3. Did you ever feel like giving up on your quest to be published?

I took several breaks during my journey to being published (and it was nearly 10 years before I got a contract) but not because I decided I didn't care, so much as because I had other priorities that had to come first.

I love writing and can't imagine giving it up, but I've had my moments of doubt about whether I would ever see a book in print, or if I was wasting my time--I don't know anyone who doesn't feel that way from time to time.

4. What is the hardest part about writing for you?

Building enough plot to keep the momentum going. I started out as a seat-of-your-pants writer and had trouble pushing the book through to the end because I either didn't build enough conflict into the manuscript, or I wasn't using the conflict I had well enough, so I would start to flounder around 60%-70% of the way through. I still struggle with that, but I do some basic plotting ahead of time now, so I have a better idea of where I'm going.

5. What's the easiest?

The first kiss--that scene pretty much writes itself!

6. Has your family always been supportive of you being a writer or did anyone need convincing?

I still remember telling my mother-in-law that I was going to be a writer and her saying "That's a nice hobby, but what are you going to do for a living?" Then she read one of my early manuscripts and became one of my staunchest supporters. =)

As for my family, my siblings claim they always knew I would be a writer one day--apparently I was the only one taken by surprise. I guess I'm very lucky in that my Uncle Allan Burgess was published many times over during his life, so it wasn't this odd fantasy that my family scoffed at--it was a totally doable goal.

7. How many drafts of your queries did you go through before you found one that worked?

You don't really do a normal query in this market, because all of the publishers take unsolicited submissions, but I'm terrible and admit that I only tweaked my cover letters a couple of times each before sending them. I've since learned a great deal more about queries and am taking this a lot more seriously in future submissions, including getting feedback from people who know more about a good query letter than I do.

8. I heard you mention in Danielle Ferguson’s interview that your next few books don't have basketball in them. Is there a reason you held to the basketball theme for the 1st two and then changed out for the next?

I don't think that was a conscious decision, actually. The fact is, I established in the first book that Curtis played basketball, and I wanted to make him a main character in the second book, so it ended up being basketball related. The next book in the series uses characters that aren't basketball players--and those characters actually existed before either of the books I have published. Sometimes I make decisions about what kinds of things I want the characters to be doing, and sometimes they tell me how it's going to be. =)

9. what did you want to be when you grew up?

I ran the gamut, but in college I seriously considered marine biology, and even took a bunch of heavy chemistry and biology classes, but changed to English Lit partway through my first year. I really didn't know what I wanted to be when I finished, but I remember thinking I wanted to do something with books and publishing, because I love books so much--but I wasn't going to be a writer, so I didn't plan for that at all! Writing is something that happened to me, and I found that I loved it and couldn't let it go, so I went after it. It wasn't something I planned from childhood like so many people I know--if it were, I probably would have been published years ago.

10. Is there any fun thing about yourself that we don't know?

I'm mildly allergic to melons, so I can hardly ever eat them, and I have a real thing for Rice Crispy Treats using the cocoa flavored cereal. So yummy!

11. anything else you'd like to mention?

Check out my BLOG between June 21 and 25th for some really fun giveaways!

Thank you ,Heather, for both the enjoyable read and the interview. It’s been fun getting to know you better!