The lovely Kristen Taber, YA fantasy author and a great friend, invited me to participate in IC Publishing's writing path blog tour - thank you, Kristen. Please check out her answers to the tour questions. As I'm composing mine, I'm actually in the spot where most of my writing endeavors take place, next to the corner window of my bedroom complete with cluttered desk and PC. The clutter is necessary; it's how I write. Speaking of writing....
1. How do you start your writing projects?
With history as inspiration. I write historical fiction of the medieval period. Those European settings and people of the era call to me like a siren song. I also write about historical figures, typically the lesser-known characters who lost the battle and never got to tell their side of the story, or those for whom their religion, gender, or socioeconomic status kept them marginalized in the annals. I love history! It can teach us more than details of the past; the topic informs who we are as a society, how our worldviews formed, and illuminate the roots of today's conflicts. Seriously, I do NOT get people who think history is boring - they're obviously reading the wrong kind.
Once an idea blossoms, I think of the characters; especially, the supporting characters since not every main character can’t have been at a certain place and time. I learn as much of the history of the central figures; where they lived and died, their children and dependents, their perspectives on larger societal and religious issues, and their roles in society of their time. Then it's off to the books - I've amassed tons of research on the medieval period, simply hoping that I might write about a particular era. If I don't have the titles I need, Amazon.com is a mouse click away. Once the history and characters are set, it's easy to plan the number of chapters I'll need to tell the story and to sketch my outline, which is more like a chapter-by-chapter summary incorporating major dates and events. There it is, no magic, no mystery.
2. How do you continue your writing process?
I'm obsessive, in case no one could tell, so that facet of my personality guarantees once I’ve started something, I'll finish it. The story may change from conception to completion - I've written two outlines / chapter summaries only to alter the stories significantly about two-thirds in. But the novels still reach the same conclusion. Perseverance takes commitment and sacrifice; sometimes, that means a lack of sleep, or less time with my loved ones. I never miss the important stuff with them for writing's sake and one day, I'll cure my self-imposed insomnia. Ultimately, the end goal keeps me motivated.
3. How do you finish your writing project?
Speaking of which, The End is the most satisfying phrase I have ever typed, even better than Chapter 1. Like all other writers dedicated to their craft, I pour my heart and soul into my stories. That doesn't mean I have any problem trimming the fat wherever my editor tells me to, or I'm so in love with my own words. I have looked at a chapter in one of my books and thought, 'I could have phrased that better.' I know my writing's not to everyone's taste or interest, and frankly, I have never thought my stories would have mass appeal. Fear of negative reviews doesn’t bother me, not when I still enjoy those emails and comments from readers, one at time, as they share how much they enjoyed a story, the characters, or the history. Truly makes typing The End so worthwhile.
4. Include one challenge or additional tip that our collective communities could help with or benefit from.
I challenge my fellow writers to do one thing. Publish. I don't care if you spend the rest of your life querying agents and editors, or self-publishing your work. Stop talking about the book you're going to publish and get it published. Work hard at this endeavor, make it the best you can, believe in it and yourself, and put your words out there for consumption and criticism. Take the advice that works for you, as well as some you may not like - sometimes, the best criticism is the one no writer wants to hear. Query until you drop or sell, or upload your work to any of the self-publishing distribution channels you've researched, ensuring you have the best cover and cover copy you can achieve. Too often, many unpublished writers spend too much time bemoaning the process. Just get it done in the best way you know how. If you make a mistake, you can learn from it, but you'll never know if publishing your work isn't the start of your greatest venture.
Next up, I'm inviting some other writing buds, my dear friends Anita Davison, Mirella Patzer and Sheila Lamb. Want to participate? Email me at lyarde1175 at gmail dot com so I can note your name here and link to your future post.