Alrighty then. Let's just pretend it hasn't actually been eleven days since I last posted. Okay? Deal.;)
The good news is that it's because I have been working so hard on my sequel to WINGS. It's coming along nicely and I'm hoping it will be really polished and ready for my second round of betas in less than two weeks. Yay!
Okay, I am charging through the rest of the Q&A because, quite frankly, I keep forgetting. (Why yes, I do have a mind like a steel sieve.) So without further delay, here are the LJ questions and then the rest of the blogger questions.
And just to keep you reading, I will be announcing my next book giveaway on Monday, so stay tuned!
*Where did you get the idea for the WINGS books?
I think that is always the most FA of the FAQs for authors. I actually decided one day that I wanted to write a YA about faeries, but I wanted them to be a kind of faeries than no one had ever seen before. (And to find out just what kind of faeries those are, you'll just have to read.;)) So I came up with the basic idea after a long night of bad sleep (and I was seven and a half months pregnant at the time, so bad sleep was not uncommon.:)) and my husband and I bounced the idea around for a couple of days and built up a fairly extensive mythology. Then we started doing the what-ifs and eventually came up with what I think is a fun story.
*Are there ever any problems writing under your real name instead of a pseudonym? If you really make it big, are there privacy concerns you have?
Not really. The nice thing about authors is that even if you hit it big, like JK Rowling type big, it's not like being a movie star. Paparazzi don't follow you around, your kids don't have to go to super-private schools, etc. Honestly, in terms of paperwork and etc. I think it is probably LESS of a hassle using your real name. And the nice thing is, if I get really big *insert laugh*, I can always do what Stephenie Meyer jokingly suggested in her EW article (which you can find here. It's a really great article and I got to meet the reporter when I had dinner with Stephenie in May. She was way nice! And man, the picture is gorgeous! Nobody is photogenic like Stephenie.) I can "put up a fence and get shepherds. And then I'll have a button and get to say 'Release the hounds!'''" Hehe, I got a major kick out of that!
*How are you preparing for your first workshop? (You can find details of the workshop here.)
Preparing? Am I supposed to prepare? *blinkblink*
*Do you consider yourself a 'professional writer'? Why or why not?
I do, actually. There's something about getting that first check that makes you feel very professional. And there's something about knowing I am supporting my family for the next five years that makes me take that role even more seriously than I might have otherwise, which is probably a good thing.
*My question would have to be, what books/authors influenced you the most as a young adult? What do you enjoy reading today?
I read a lot of Beverly Cleary, Laura Ingalls Wilder, Christopher Pike, VC Andrews, EB White, and CS Lewis as a child and young adult. Actually, I spent most of high school in a very small town that didn't have a great library so I did a lot of reading my literature textbooks in high school. I think I read every single one cover to cover. Oh, I also discovered Lois Lowry's The Giver in high school.
I adore the depth and variety of YA on the market today and have enjoyed reading a lot of it. Lately I have enjoyed Sarah Dessen's Just Listen, I just finished Claudia Gray's Evernight, I am eating up John Green's Looking for Alaska, I recently got my hands on an ARC of Neil Gaiman's The Graveyard Book as well as an ARC of Carrie Ryan's The Forest of Hands and Teeth and I will admit that Sarah Shepherd's Pretty Little Liars series is a guilty pleasure of mine. Oh, and Anna Godbersen's The Luxe. Mmmm, the Luxe.:) I'm looking forward to getting ARC's of Saundra Mitchell's Shadowed Summer in the next couple of weeks, and Erin Dionne's Real Models Don't Eat Chocolate Cookies shortly after that. So basically I'm all over the board.:)
*Do you sign books? (and will you sign mine?)
Yes, and yes.:)
*Are you still into Natural Birthing and will you ever be a doula again?
Not a writing FAQ, but one near and dear to my heart anyway. Yes, I am still into natural birthing (none of my kids were born in hospitals and I hope to keep that up) but I probably will not doula consistently again just because I don't know my schedule well enough to be on call, which is a shame. I do have a repeat client in October and will probably doula for friends and family intermittently, but probably not full time again. *sad*
*What was the best compliment you have received about your writing? What was your harshest criticism? How have these things affected your writing (if at all)?
Best compliment I have ever received about my writing came from my editor, Tara. She told me my writing was "compulsively readable."
My harshest criticism was from a source I'm not going to share and they told me they just had no interest in finishing the book.
Tara's compliment makes me feel less self-conscious when I see some writers' beautiful prose. It helps me remember that I am not that author and I don't have to be. I write very commercial fiction and that's okay because it is "compulsively readable.":)
And honestly, any criticism makes me want to do better. My reaction to this particular criticism was that I needed to make my book more interesting.:)
*I've been reading a series of essays by book authors. They each touch on the moment they felt like they had to be a writer; knew they were going to write as a profession. So, at what moment did you know you were a writer?
Um, is it bad to say I didn't know for sure until the moment I had a deal? I knew I wanted to be a writer the morning I woke up with the idea for the first book I ever write. But the morning I got the call from my agent that we had interest in WINGS, I had just convinced myself that after over two years of trying, I needed to give up; it was never going to happen. Go figure.
*What's your writing schedule (or hoped for schedule) now that you'll be writing full-time for the summer? And where do you write?
For the summer I write in my bedroom which has our home office in it. I lock myself in at ten in the morning and finish at four in the afternoon. It works beautifully!
*What fostered your love of writing?
Reading, reading, reading, and reading. I wanted to do what the authors of books I loved had done!
*When you look back on this incredible journey from unpublished author to four-book deal with HarperTeen, what would you say has been your favorite part and why?
I think sharing my joy with my family and friends who have supported and encouraged me from the beginning was probably my favorite part. I loved showing that their belief in me, which never faltered, had been justified.
*How rough is your first "rough" draft of any manuscript?
Oh man, today is a great day for me to answer this. My first draft is currently 66,000 words. I expect to change no less than 20,000 of them.
So yeah, generally quite rough . . . although it does vary.
*Describe your writing process. Do you plot/outline? How many drafts do you usually go through before you have something ready to submit to your agent/editor? How long does it usually take you to write a book?
I generally plot in my head. I don't like to do outlines, although I have in the past. I write linearly, from the beginning to the end (I learned from going through and writing all of the most exciting parts first. Bad idea!) I think I generally go through about five or six drafts before I show it to my agent (sometimes more) and she and I go about three rounds before sending stuff out to editors. From start to finish it takes me about four to ten months to write a book.
*When did you start writing?
I started writing my first serious book about five years ago. I finished my first book about three years ago and I finished my first publishable book one year ago.:)
*Is your husband ready to be the homemaker?! Do you ever get asked for your autograph in real life, or been recognized on the street, yet?
Oh, my husband is a better mom than I am.:) But he won't be the homemaker after this summer. I a still hanging on to that role. He is a law student at the moment and after that will be a PhD student. And no, I haven't been asked for an autograph or been recognized as and author. Not yet, anyway.;)
*What do you think is more important to a story: the beginning or the ending? Also, which one is harder to construct writing-wise?
I am mixed on this. I think that the ending is more memorable and will make up for many flaws in the book. But I think the beginning is both more important and more difficult to write because it is our first impression. If your beginning sucks, the reader may never get to your phenomenal ending.
*Do you do a lot of research when writing your books or do you just let the ideas flow and connect from your imagination? What and how much did you research in order to write Wings?
Both. I let the general plot flow, but there is a lot of research involved in the little things. I tend do do my research as I got along because otherwise I get all the fun, imagination stuff down and THEN have to go back and do all the research. If I do it as I go I get a nice mix.
For WINGS I did a lot of research of the geography and topography of Northern California and Crescent City, where my book is set. I also read a lot of faerie lore and did a lot of research of Aurthurian legends and stories about Avalon. For the sequel I am doing a lot of research on herbs and ecology as well as homeopathics and naturopathy.
*How did you get beyond the slush pile and get Jodi Reamer's attention?
I actually didn't come out of Jodi's slush pile. I was lucky enough to get a client recommendation. However, I did make it out of a lot of other agent's slush in the interim and my "secret" to that is the same secret you can find anywhere: a striking query and very strong opening pages. I'm afraid there are no other tricks.:)
*How much of writing success is gift, and how much is sweat. I would like explanations and percentages of each.
Honestly? I think it is fifty-fifty and that a super big helping on either side can tip the scale. I know authors who can roll prose off like nobody's business and they don't have to work quite as hard. I also know authors who work their tails off for every word they write, but they work and work and work and they make it too.
Personally, I think mine skews about 40-60 . . . with the 60 being sweat.;)
Okay, that really is all the questions. Thank you so much everyone for submitting them!! And remember, next book giveaway is on Monday.