F R E Q U E N T L Y A S K E D Q U E S T I O N S
I'm always happy to answer questions about myself or my books, but please check below to see if I've already answered your question.
Will you send me a copy of one of your books to review?
Because of the amount I get, I no long respond to email requests for review copies. Unfortunately, I just don’t have the ARCs or finished books to spare!
Will you do an interview/contest for my blog?
Not at this time, alas! My schedule is nuts and I’m terribly backlogged on requests.
What is Brightly Woven? Will it have a sequel?
Brightly Woven was my debut novel that is now, sadly, out of print due to the publisher closing its doors. It's currently only available as used copies, but I'm trying to work out a solution that'll allow you guys to read it.
Will you read my fanfiction/manuscript/query and give me feedback?
I can’t–if I say yes for one person, then I’ll have to say yes to everyone and, oh boy, I just don’t have the time to read much beyond my own work these days! I can’t express enough how important it is to find wonderful critique partners or a reader you can trust, but that person can’t be me. Also, I’m pretty sure there’s some legal thing that says I can’t or shouldn’t.
Will you recommend me to your agent?
Not unless you are a very good friend, I’ve read some of your writing, and you write the genres that she represents. Also, I can’t even begin to express what a bad idea it is to pretend to know me–or any author–and use that as a way to get in with her or other agents.
Who do I contact about business-related questions?
That would be my agent, Merrilee Heifetz
Where do you get your ideas from?
All over the place! History, stories that others tell me, random happenstances of imagination, watching others on the train… There’s not one deep well I pull from, unfortunately.
How did you get published while you were still in college?
I started out by participating in NaNoWriMo--National Novel Writing Month my freshman year and caught the novel writing bug! From that moment on, I wrote a little bit every day, queried agents once I had manuscripts in shape, and just tried. I have SO many rejections from when I first started out, and it just took finding the right story to tell and the right agent who wanted to represent it. There was no secret path to publication for me, just hard work and obsession. (I really needed an excuse to not go to law school!)
Do you have any advice for aspiring writers?
With writing, the only way to improve is to put in the mileage, and sometimes with school and life, the only way to put in the mileage is to not progress as quickly as you’d like. That’s okay. Writing is a lifelong journey, you know? I have always really loved the advice Ira Glass gave about staring out in writing and how your skill doesn’t necessarily line up with your taste, but developing that taste and figuring out what you like and the kinds of stories you want to tell is just as important. If there’s no time to write, then make time to read. Highlight passages in books that you admire or resonate with you, think about character arcs, try to pin down what the theme of the work is. There are many ways to practice, you just have to find what works best for you. For me, that was committing to writing a chapter or two of fanfic a week and putting it online for feedback, good and bad.
The hardest thing about writing is knowing that what you work on might not be published one day, and no one other than yourself may get to read it. I got SO many rejections when I was starting out. SO, SO MANY. And I used to read this poem by W.B. Yeats whenever I was feeling down about them, or that I was a failure because things weren’t working out, or my writing wasn’t good enough yet, etc. I still live with that fear whenever I start a new project. I’m worried that it’s going to be a mess, or not live up to my vision, or no one will want to read it, let alone buy it. But, real talk, you have to believe in yourself and your story. You have to believe in yourself first before other people can. You have to love the process and the story itself, and that’s the real reward.
Do you have any advice for writer's block?
Writer's block is a real thing, believe me. I've learned that it's usually a sign that something in the story isn't working. That is, there's some key element in overall plot arc or character that isn't clicking, and I need to step away, figure out what it is, and then address it. Sometimes the only way to go forward is to go backwards. ;) But, occasionally, it's a sign that I'm feeling bored with the story and I need to find an element to jazz it up. Writing is revising, so don't be afraid of reworking as you write.
How do you focus on your stories and not lose interest?
I’m not sure you have to write every single day, you know? I skip writing days when I’m not feeling well, or if I have a ton of stuff happening IRL, or I’m working on marketing/promo/online stuff. You can’t sit around waiting for the muse to drop in, but I think it’s important to recognize people write and create at different paces. I wrote TDM series on weekends and vacations, because I was so exhausted after my day job I couldn’t work in the evening. PASSENGER was the first book I ever let myself take a few weekends off. I guess, for me personally, I adjust my writing habits to fit deadlines. But sometimes deadlines add a kind of pressure that makes writing impossible, and paralyzes you. I think that occasionally happens with people who do NaNo.
You’re in high school, so you don’t need me to tell you that you have a TON going on every day between classes and friends and family. That’s the way it should be. I think people get in a hurry to finish a project and be published, when high school is really an awesome opportunity to start really honing your writing voice/style and learn the fundamentals of how stories are constructed. I don’t mean to be discouraging if your goal is to be published at a young age, but having gone that route, I do want to stress the importance of not sacrificing fun times to try to make that goal. I always suggest high school friends make an appointment with themselves and their manuscript for an hour or two at least once a week that they keep and protect and don’t let anyone else talk them out of. That way you’re getting work done, but you’re also living yo’ life.
A couple of points:
-Sometimes story ideas are really just scene ideas, and it’s ok to drop them after you’ve written that out and get stumped. No writing is ever wasted! You can probably use that material in a later story.
- Sometimes hitting a wall is a sign that you need to stop and think the plot or characters through before actually continuing.
- I tried to set daily word count goals for myself with Wayfarer (2k/day) and it resulted in me trying to fluff the scenes out with unnecessary elements to hit that goal without moving the plot forward. What works better for me is to try to have a goal in mind for finishing a specific scene, rather than a chapter or any word count.
- Maybe this trick will help: the night before, I spent my usual reading time either starting to write out the beginning of the next scene, or outlining how it’s going to go. That way I don’t feel so lost and prone to drift off to Twitter or Instagram.