Friday, January 28, 2011

Working around family and finding the time to write



Excerpt from a previously published post on the same topic:


Writing is my full time job that I hope to get paid for someday. I work on average 8 hours a day. Some mornings I have to get up at 4:30 A.M. if I expect to have a busy day. I have a few things that help, like a chapter mapping system, and House of Order plan. Right now I’m just getting the story down. I’m sure when I go back to edit and tighten, my word count will be lower. My family is really good about understanding that this is my job. I have break time, meal time, family play time, cuddle time, exercise time, and school time with my family.

Because I’m so busy I have to make my time with family count. I’ve become a follower of Marie Ricks and her House of Order program.http://www.houseoforder.com/ It saves me hours everyday when I use her meal and cleaning plans. My house is set up efficiently, I don’t watch T.V. or play video games unless its what we decide to do for family time. I take vitamin B 12, workout, and generally eat healthy so I can keep my energy up and my brain active.


Here are some other ideas that help me save time as a mom and author. I hope it can help you too.

Keep a notebook near you at all times.
I have one in my purse, by my bed, in the car, in my gym bag, and in the diaper bag.
Before my husband got me a light-up pen, I would wake up in the middle of the night with an idea for a story and reach for my pen and notebook and wrote all I could in the dark room. One morning I realized that I had written all over my sheets but at least the storyline was down.

Maximize your trips.
I designated one day a week for running errands. This is when I go to the bank, post office, copy center, grocery store, and drop off or pick up whatever else I need.

Create a filing system.
This will help you keep your creative work area clutter free. Make folders for bills, letters, insurance information, book ideas, things to edit, etc.

Prioritize.
Even driven, talented, athletic super men and women can’t do everything. Is it really important to you to have an immaculate house all the time? Do you really want to spend and hour and a half getting ready to go out and get the mail? Would you rather spend three hours watching T.V., or would you rather spend that time working on your next book? Decide what is important to you and what you can cut out. Find your time wasters and eliminate them.

Make a reading pile.
Have all the books, newspapers, magazines, manuscripts to be critiques, scriptures, etc., near your bed so you can read to unwind from the day.

Keep lists.
Whether you’re planning a trip out of town, a trip to the grocery story, or creating a schedule, keep a small note book handy so if you think of something you need you can add it to the list.
This will save you lots of time when you try to recall what you were supposed to do, where you were suppose to go, what you need to pack, or pick up at the store.

Take care of yourself.
Get in shape and stay fit. You will have sooooo much more energy for real life and better blood flow to your brain which means more thinking power.
Get your kids involved with exercise. Its quality family time and you’re teaching them a good habit. My young child likes to bounce on the exercise ball with me and play tag.


Get to know your characters.
I spend about two weeks getting to know my characters before I start writing. The better you know your characters the more they will help you write the story. Create a character bible. Figure out their strengths, weaknesses, past history, nervous habits, favorite foods, their dreams and hopes, character flaws, and special skills. Get to know them so well that if you sat down with them in a restaurant you would know what they would be wearing, what they would order, and how they would tip the waitress. Also figure out the geography you are working with and any significant items, like magic swords or priceless family heirlooms. Objects can have their own history, weaknesses, or special powers.

Chapter mapping system.

Make a timeline, and break down your book into chapters. Next, break down your chapters into scenes. Record significant people, places, or things that come along, or happen within each chapter. Write down any ideas, including dialogue, that pops into you mind as you are filling out each chapter.

It’s okay to say “no.”
I am an illustrator and web designer - two things that authors want and need. In order to find time to write my books I’ve had to limit illustration projects to only publishers that I have portfolios with. I’ve also had to completely cut out my web design business. The only webpage I maintain now is my own and I’ve made that site pretty much self sufficient.


Take Sundays off.
It really helps, and you will be able to get more done during the week, if you give yourself a break.
I also take Tuesday off (my husbands other day off besides Sunday) We use Tuesday as a family day to hang out and go fishing, take a trip to the park, go on a long walk or embark on some other adventure.

Write now edit later.
Yep, just get it down. If you’re worried about the small details of editing or spend fifteen minutes searching for the “right word” you’re going to disrupt the flow of your story. First drafts aren’t pretty. I don’t even spell check until my second draft.

Meditate.
I spend 45 min to an hour every morning meditating. I go through my day in my head and create a battle plan for how to tackle life. I also go through the chapter I’m going to be working on that day in my head as if it was an extension of my own personal life. For example: I get up and get ready for the day, get breakfast ready for everyone and then spend an hour doing one on one homeschooling with my son. I do house work and plan the meals for the day and answer emails. My son goes down for his nap, I sit at my computer and enter a forbidden valley that has become infested with trolls, make lunch then start my hunt for the vial of phoenix blood, hidden somewhere in the troll city.

I know it sounds silly, but athletes use this same technique right before a big game or competition.



Use paper plates.
I know it might not seem environmentally friendly but neither is running the dishwasher everyday and using the extra detergent. Besides, you can always recycle paper plates.

Get a food storage.
I have a nice food storage and I plan out all my meals in advance so I only have to go grocery shopping twice a month. I make it a quick trip, and I try to get someone to watch my child. For some reason it always takes longer with him. If I do take him I turn it into a school trip and we talk about what color the bananas are, lets count the apples, etc.

Teach your kids to do chores.
It’s easier if you teach them while they are young instead of suddenly expecting your teenagers to take responsibility for household duties.
My two-year-old helps me push the vacuum and pick up toys. Yeah, it would be faster if I just did it myself but who knows, maybe by the time he is three or four he will be able to vacuum a room by himself.
My advice would be to teach your kids to do the maintenance stuff (the things that need to be done every day) like dishes, sweeping, and feeding pets.

Cleaning.
I don’t clean my whole house everyday like I use to, and I don’t deep clean my house every month like I use to.
In the morning I pick two rooms and clean them. I only deep clean my house every few months, and the whole family helps. You can assign each member of the family a room and have a contest to see who can get their room or section of the house the cleanest. The winner gets to choose the toppings on the pizza (you won’t want to cook that night, trust me).
See House of Order for more ideas.
http://www.houseoforder.com/

Help other authors when you can.
Critique groups are great and can help you work through trouble spots in your story. Remember to pay it forward and be willing to critique other’s manuscripts as well.




Sunday, January 23, 2011

Blog Award



I was awarded this awesome award!
Thank you to Tanya Reimer

1.Thank and link back to the person who awarded it
2.Share 7 things about myself
3.Award 10 recently discovered great bloggers
4.Contact these bloggers and tell them about the award.



Okay, so 7 things about myself.

1. I can shoot a long bow while standing upside down and backward.
2. I bite my nails, especially when I'm editing. Its a bad habit, I know, but I can thing or more life threatening and expensive habits. Maybe one day I'll get counselling for my nail biting when I don't have bigger things to worry about.
3. I like to turn up the music and dance around my living room with my toddler.
4. I've studied mixed martial arts.
5. I can do a flip while holding a sword. (Not bad for an old lady like me.)
6. I LOVE LOVE LOVE kitties, horses, deer and unicorns. I just want to kiss all their faces.
7. I wish I had the super powers to replicate myself and fly.

Here are my ten bloggers (in no particular order). Check them out.



http://www.kristadarrach.blogspot.com








Friday, January 21, 2011

Interview with Author Tamara Hart Heiner

Picture of Deirdra and Tamara





Deirdra: When did you first know you wanted to be an author?

Tamara: A long long time ago. When I was about 15, I tried to get the first draft to Perilous published. (I was unsuccessful.)


Deirdra: What is your writing and educational background?

Tamara: I don't really feel like I have a writing background. I got an English degree at Brigham Young University.


Deirdra: What makes you passionate about writing?

Tamara: I think about it 24/7. New ideas, new novels, when I'm going to write...I don't know if that makes me passionate, or if that's a manifestation of my passion.


Deirdra: What was the pathway like for you to get your first book published?
Tamara: When I wrote Perilous, I was very young. I consider this novel to be my 'starter novel.' That being the case, I wasn't as concerned with getting an agent and making it huge. I just wanted to get published, get my name out there, and pave the path for bigger, better novels. So I opted for a small press, where you don't need an agent and it doesn't take nearly as long. Getting Perilous published is a huge milestone for me and represents the ability to achieve a childhood dream.

Deirdra: Were you ever discouraged along the way? If so, how did you deal with it?
Tamara: Yes. I revised.

Deirdra: As a busy mom and military wife when do you find time to write?

Tamara: oh, good question. I'm still trying to find the time! It's been crazy since the birth of my last child, and really, if I want to write, something else has to go. Usually it's sleep, though often it's housework. Ask me again in a year.

Deirdra: Where do your ideas come from? How do you know the idea is good enough to write a book about it?
Tamara: My ideas come from music, dreams, real life. I think any idea is good enough to write a book about. I might have to embellish, create new plot lines, but a one-line idea can turn itself into a book. Very fun process, actually.

Deirdra: Can you tell us about your newest book Perilous.

Tamara: Perilous is a book I wrote when I was a teenager. It follows the journey of four girls as they escape from a criminal and trek across the country with him in their shadows. Getting Perilous published is one of those things where I just feel like, "I did it!" Sure, the plot stretches reality at times, but so does Star Wars, right?


Deirdra: How many beta readers do you have review your manuscript before you send it to your editor?

Tamara: For Perilous, tons. I worked on it for years. For the sequel, I've cut the at number down to about five. I think I understand how these things work better this time.


Deirdra: What do you hope readers will get from your books?

Tamara: I want them to love my characters. To come away feeling like they met someone new and that person will always be in their heads. To maybe feel like they grew through the experiences the characters have.


Deirdra: What is your process of brainstorming a story? Do you just sit down and write, waiting to see what happens next? Or do you outline first?
Tamara: I outline. And then I sit down and write.

Deirdra: Do you ever experience a snag in a story, a form of writer's block? If so, how do you deal with it?
Tamara: Yes. I skip it. I write one line kind of summarizing what I think should happen there, and then I move on. Often when I come back to it the second time around, it's very easy to fill in the blank.

Deirdra: Do you need absolute quiet to write? Do you listen to music when you are writing?
Tamara: I need silence. I tried music/movies/kids but I can't do it.

Deirdra: What kinds of inspiration do you use during your story creation periods?
Tamara: What's a story creation period? Like, brainstorming? I like to brainstorm while I drive. Or when I'm falling asleep. That heavy feeling seems to lull my mind into creative places.

Deirdra: Who has made the greatest difference for you as a writer?
Tamara: Yikes, I don't know. Probably my husband. Without his support and encouragement, I couldn't do any of this.

Deirdra: What’s your secret to making the character’s in your books come to life?

Tamara: They're real to me. One of the hardest things was editing out backstories and dialogues that didn't move the story along, but revealed more of the characters. I think the readers missed that, too.

Deirdra: What authors do you admire, and why?
Tamara: Mom writers. Especially Stephanie Meyer, who pretty much encapulates (is that a word?) the mom/writer dream.

Deirdra: What is your favorite snack to have while you are writing?

Tamara: I don't like to eat while I write. Food on the keyboard? I don't know how people do that.


Deirdra: Besides writing what other talents or hobbies do you have?

Tamara: Cooking and occasionally scrapbooking. Very occasionally.


Deirdra: What words of advice do you have for other writers who desire to have their manuscripts become books in print?

Tamara: Figure out how badly you want it and what you're willing to sacrifice. Then choose your path and go.


Deirdra: What are you working on now?

Tamara: A paranormal romantic suspense called Inevitable, about a girl who can see the way people will die.

Deirdra: Where can our readers go to find your books and order them?
Tamara: Very few bookstores have it in stock, but all of them will order it if you go in and ask for it. Otherwise, it can be found at all the online venues, including Amazon.com, Barnes & Noble, and my website.

Deirdra: Any final words you would like to share?
Tamara: Thanks for having me, Deirdra! It's so nice to be able to talk about myself and my book!

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Interview with Author Preston Norton


Deirdra: When did you first know you wanted to be an author?
Preston: I think I was about ten when I actually attempted writing a novel for the first time. I was a huge fan of Bunnicula, so my main characters were cats and dogs, and the bulk of the story involved them getting lost in Australia. Kind of a Homeward Bound copycat to be honest! I only got about thirty pages into it, but back then, I thought that was A LOT!

Deirdra: What is your writing and educational background?
Preston: I am the author of five unpublished YA novels, mostly urban fantasy and paranormal. None of these stories are sequels, although I honestly wrote each one with a series in mind. I am currently attending BYU - Idaho, majoring in English Education Composite, but that never stops me from pursuing the dream of being a big-time author.

Deirdra: Besides writing what other talents do you have?
Preston: I'm kind of a glutton for public speaking. I love it! Somehow, between school and church, I always find ways to feed this rather silly addiction.


Deirdra: What is your writing schedule like?
Preston: That depends on my school or work schedule, although my greatest writing has always happened between midnight and 5 a.m. All of the chi/karma/zen stuff of the writer's universe tends to explode during these hours!

Deirdra: Where do your ideas come from? How do you know the idea is good enough to write a book about it?
Preston: They almost always come when I'm not looking for them. Usually when I'm at work and my mind is left to wander free. Somehow, during a mindless eight-hour shift, the foundation of a story manages to write itself on its own.


Deirdra: When did the idea of writing a book first come to you?
Preston: Aside from my ten-year-old attempt, I tried writing another book when I was fourteen, when my entire world suddenly became high fantasy. That one didn't make it far past fifty pages. Finally, when I was sixteen, I commenced work on what would soon become my first complete novel (and still my longest book to this day) The Mark of Mekken.


Deirdra: What do you hope readers will someday get from you books?
Preston: My favorite storylines are the ones with characters and plot twists that stay cemented in my brain forever, subliminally affecting everything that I do and say and think! Heh heh, okay, maybe that's a little too intense, but I'd still like to provide my readers with something that sticks deep into the mind.


Deirdra: What is your process of brainstorming a story? Do you just sit down and write, waiting to see what happens next? Or do you outline first?
Preston: I never have a written outline. Occasionally I'll write down little action cues, or reminders, or names of characters that I wish to introduce later, but that's it. The vast outline in my head can only be written in one way, and that is in novel-format.


Deirdra: Do you ever experience a snag in a story, a form of writer's block? If so, how do you deal with it?
Preston: Not so much writer's block, rather being I'm bored with my own story. At that point, I usually have to delete up to a certain point and start fresh.

Deirdra: Do you need absolute quiet to write? Do you listen to music when you are writing?
Preston: I usually prefer quiet, although when I really need drive during an epic sequence, I'll go to Pandora's website and type in Hans Zimmer.

Deirdra: What kinds of inspiration do you use during your story creation periods?
Preston: For each of my books, I really do visualize them in movie format. As such, oddly enough, I have songs picked out for each movie's end credits. Somoehow, listening to just one three-minute song can fill me with all the inspirational drive I need.

Deirdra: Who has made the greatest difference for you as a writer?
Preston: Two people, actually. One is Christopher Paolini of the Eregon series. When I finished my first novel at eighteen years old, and experienced my first taste of writer's rejection, I wrote him a fan-letter, expressing my frustrations. And he wrote me back! Not just a stupid form response, but a very personalized, three page letter of encouragment. That has always stuck with me.

The other person is James Dashner of Maze Runner fame. I actually wrote this dude his very first fan letter, back in the days of his Jimmy Fincher Saga. I know because he was friends with my mom, and he told her, and she told me. I remember my mom telling me about all of his early frustrations getting noticed as writer...and now he's rockin' the New York Times Bestseller List! If that's not inspirational, I don't know what is!


Deirdra: What’s your secret to making the character’s in your books come to life?
Preston: I wish I knew! These characters usually come to life on their own. And when they don't, I rewrite them and rewrite them until they do.

Deirdra: Which of your books is your favorite, and why?
Preston: My most recent novel: Darla Summer and the Dark Lord. This story defnitely involved the most planning, and I actually have it mapped out in my head as a five part series. It's been intriguing writing elements in this first part, knowing that their significance won't come into play until several books later.


Deirdra: What is your favorite snack to have while you are writing?
Preston: I can't eat and write. It's a curse.

Deirdra: What words of advice do you have for other writers who desire to have their manuscripts become books in print?
Preston: Well I'm not in print, so I don't have too much room to talk...BUT I do know that laziness and procrastination do not equal success. If your heart is dead set on being a published author, and then pour your whole heart and soul into it!

Deirdra: What are you working on now?
Preston: It's called Demonica...and yes, it involves demons.

Deirdra: What is the most difficult thing about being an author?
Preston: Rejection with no input.

Deirdra: What is the best thing about being an author?
Preston: Being so emotionally involved with your characters that you cry when they cry.
Deirdra: You are a true author, Preston.

Deirdra: What are your goals as an author for the next three years?
Preston: I have a page-long written gameplan pinned above my bed, outlining how I will become a New York Times Bestselling author by Dec 31, 2012. You can hold me to it!

Deirdra: Where is your favorite place to write?
Preston: On my bed.

Deirdra: How do you come up with your character’s names?
Preston: It's a painful process that usually involves looking up possibilities online, and getting distracted by facebook.

Deirdra: What is the best complement you could receive from a reader?
Preston: One buddy of mine read my third novel, Danny the Undead, and told me that he couldn't stop thinking about it. I was flattered beyond words.

Deirdra: Any final words you would like to share?
Preston: This may sound a little morbid, but I would rather commit suicide than accept the possibility that I'll never become a successful published author. But I suppose that's just the determination I need to keep on keepin' on.

Thank you so much, Preston. It is a real honor to get your insights.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Interview with Author Rachel Rager






Plunged into a musical family at birth, Rachel Rager was exposed to the excitement and magic of musical theater throughout her childhood. Starry-eyed, she attended college musical rehearsals with her pianist mother – imagining herself as the heroine in the spotlight – becoming a hopeless romantic from the start. Though Rachel’s own natural musical gifts motivated her through college and she now holds a vocal performance degree in operatic singing, she has loved writing sweet romance novels for over eight years. Creative writing has served as a beautiful escape from the emotional rigors of raising her family.

Rachel published her first novel, By Love or By Sea in April of 2009 and continues to write sweet romance novels. She currently lives in Provo, Utah with her handsome husband – the love of her life – where she enjoys curling up by a blazing fire with a good book, getting her own creative thoughts on paper, and singing until the coyotes start howling. She loves picnics in the park and being the mom to three future starlets.


Deirdra: When did you first know you wanted to be an author?

Rachel: About nine years ago, after I finished writing my first book, that’s when I decided that I wanted to be an author. I woke up from a dream and decided to try and write it down. After I finished, I wanted to get it published and be an author.

Deirdra: What is your writing and educational background?

Rachel: I have nothing but what I’ve taught myself and learned from my friends. Growing up, I hated English and only did the minimum to pass my AP classes with a ‘B’. When I got to college, I did the basics for the credits, and that’s it. (I am happy to say that this last semester, I took a creative and imaginative writing class and got an ‘A’!)

Deirdra: What makes you passionate about writing?

Rachel: I love getting lost in my worlds and the stories. I only write the heroes I LOVE!! And I love it when people sigh and smile at the end!

Deirdra: What was the pathway like for you to get your first book published?

Rachel: Long and rough! I submitted my first novel after it was done. I was so proud that I had done it, and then devastated when it was rejected. (Looking back, it was terrible and worthy of a rejection, but at the time, it broke my heart.) I didn’t give up. I worked hard, learned what I could about the querying process and continued to write more books. With each book I wrote, I got better and better. Finally, after five and a half years, I got a contract for my third story! And just over six years from when I started writing, I held my book in my hand!

Deirdra: Were you ever discouraged along the way? If so, how did you deal with it?

Rachel: Of course. Who isn’t? Rejections are hard. Every time I get a critique and someone isn’t absolutely in love with my book, it’s hard. I’ve discovered that in order to be an author, you have to have tough skin. I douse my woes in chocolate and then get up the next day, call a friend who loves me, get hyped back up, and try again!

Deirdra: What is your writing schedule like?

Rachel: I write whenever I get a chance. I used to write during nap time. However, as my girls get older, that’s harder. More regularly, I write in the evenings after they are in bed. (Yes, I ignore my husband those nights. But in fairness, he watches movies and TV shows I don’t like, so it works out well!)

Deirdra: Where do your ideas come from? How do you know the idea is good enough to write a book about it?

Rachel: My ideas come from all over. One day, I was sitting at a stop light and saw a guy cross the intersection in a beat up pick-up truck. He was EXACTLY what I’d been looking for for a character! I have gotten ideas for books from dreams, TV, life at the mall, you name it. If you walk around with an open mind and are willing to question what you see and make-up lives for people you encounter, it’s amazing what worlds of possibilities open up.

Deirdra: Can you tell us a little about By Love or By Sea?

Rachel: By Love or By Sea was written as the third book in a set. It was also the third book I wrote. (I don’t know if the other two will ever see the light of the printed world, but you never know.) I had written the character of Caleb Newman in the first book and he was five. His fun personality won him a special spot in my heart. However, I did pattern him after my brother, so maybe that’s why. As I was writing my second book, I got to thinking about pirates and being lost at sea, and the whole thing just kind of came together.

Caleb goes to sea and his ship sinks and he is presumed dead. Then he shows up seven years later and tries to put his life back together.

Alice Frank lives with her grandparents and thinks Caleb is a ghost. As a child, she had loved him, but he was too old for her. Now, he’s back and trying to win her heart, but she’s engaged to someone else and swore never to love Caleb again. Caleb must then decide if she’s worth fighting for and if he can overcome his dark past.

Deirdra: What are "Sweet Romance" books? How do they differ from regular romance books?

Rachel: I call them ‘sweet romances’ because they have all the excitement and passion of a good old romance book without the smut. They are clean, so you don’t have to feel embarrassed or compromised in reading them. I don’t write what I don’t want to read. And honestly, if I had to write something like that, I’d be too embarrassed to EVER publish it.

Deirdra: What do you hope readers will get from your books?

Rachel: I hope readers come away with feeling refreshed. For me, reading is about escape. I hope my readers feel the escape and the fun that is meant to be enjoyed while reading them.

Deirdra: What is your process of brainstorming a story? Do you just sit down and write, waiting to see what happens next? Or do you outline first?

Rachel: It depends on the story. I have a story I wrote for my Wednesday Romance section on my blog, and I just sat down and wrote it out. I’ve had others where I’ve actually outlined and calculated the events and when they need to occur to make things work out. For me, it depends on the story. Most of my brainstorming is done in my head, but I have found that the occasional character interview helps to clear up a few details.

Deirdra: Do you ever experience a snag in a story, a form of writer's block? If so, how do you deal with it?

Rachel: Ha! All the time. Usually in the form of facebook! Oh wait. Writer’s block. I get that kind of snag too! Strangely enough, in By Love or By Sea, I had the entire book worked out in my head. I knew the conflict and the end, everything. Except HOW to solve the problem I’d created! I sat in front of my computer screen, not knowing what to write, every day for a month. I’d write all sorts of stuff, only to delete it all. But I found that just sitting down and trying every day, even though I knew I’d probably get rid of it all, helped me to find my solution. One day, after a terrible day of writing, I jumped on-line and found one little word that fixed ALL my problems! I did my research and finished the book in a week!!

Deirdra: Do you need absolute quiet to write? Do you listen to music when you are writing?

Rachel: No. I sometimes need quiet. It depends on the day I’ve had and how loud my kids have been. I don’t mind a little music now and then, but I also don’t mind quiet. Sometimes, if my husband’s watching something on TV with intense music, I’ll close the door to my office and turn on some music, too. I’m not writing murder stories, after all!

Deirdra: What kinds of inspiration do you use during your story creation periods?

Rachel: Everything. If I see you on the street, you have the potential to appear in a book. If you are doing something I find particularly intriguing, I might write about it. I have notebooks everywhere, so don’t think I won’t write down a phrase or two about you, because I will! (eye brow wiggle)

Also, when my husband and I travel, I find myself looking at the landscape and will often have ideas swarm into my head. Fortunately I have notebooks and pencils in my car too!

Deirdra: Who has made the greatest difference for you as a writer?

Rachel: I have learned lots from many of my friends and fellow authors, but the woman who inspired me to write was Marcia Lynn McClure. I never read much growing up. I didn’t spell well and I didn’t like to read. So I didn’t. When my oldest daughter was eight months old, my mother-in-law gave me A Heavenly Surrender, by Marcia Lynn McClure and I was hooked. Marcia writes clean romances, many of which are historical. After reading her books, I began to daydream and imagine and that’s when I began to write.

Deirdra: What’s your secret to making the character’s in your books come to life?

Rachel: I have to love them. If I don’t love them and find them fascinating, I can’t write them. They are flat. I need to know them and have them be a part of my life. How do I do that? I talk to them in my head. I think of them constantly. Really, it’s kind of like having an affair in my head. I have to know them that well, or they will fall flat.

Deirdra: What authors do you admire, and why?

Rachel: I admire all authors. I know that’s a cowardly answer but it’s true. At some point, all authors have had the dream and felt the fever that goes along with writing. They felt it so much that they learned and honed their craft and worked to accomplish their goal. It’s not an easy thing to do, and I admire anyone who’s willing to put that much time and effort into making their dream a reality.

Deirdra: What is your favorite snack to have while you are writing?

Rachel: I love anything chocolate. Those yogurt cover pretzels are good too. Usually, I don’t eat while writing so much as when I edit. When I edit, I LOVE to much! (As is evident by my waistline!)

Deirdra: Besides writing what other talents or hobbies do you have?

Rachel: I actually majored in Vocal Performance in college and sing opera! I play the piano too. I come from a musical family and it comes easily. While growing up, I played the violin too.

One thing that most of my readers don’t know about me is that my family used to sing together. My mom would play the piano, my dad would sing bass or tenor, (depending on my brother’s age) my sister would sing alto, I’d sing soprano, and my brother would sing wherever he was needed! We’d sing for church and other functions. One day, we were driving to Washington from Wyoming for a family reunion, and our car broke down. Each family was supposed to put together a talent to share. My family was working on a complex a cappella song. So, while we were waiting for our tow, we were practicing and really getting into it. A trucker on the side of the road came over to see if we were okay or needed help. When he saw us jamming out to our own beat, he thought we were drugged up and loony! J

Deirdra: What words of advice do you have for other writers who desire to have their manuscripts become books in print?

Rachel: Perseverance is key to any goal you have. If publishing a book is something you desperately want, do your homework, learn everything you can about your craft, make friends with people who can help you. And keep at it. Don’t let rejection knock you down. Get back up and go again!

Deirdra: What are you working on now?

Rachel: I’m working on several things. I’m finishing up edits on a book with a working title of Sweet Ivy.

Ivy Lewis, provider and nurturer for her seven siblings, finds herself lonely and forgotten. Accepting life as hopeless, she becomes entranced with daydreams of the handsome Lord Sterling Bennett, Earl of Oakly. Ivy soon realizes this charming man of wealth will torture her heart, unwittingly envelope her in dangerous secrets, and save her life.

Amidst such duress she finds herself spending time with the humble gardener, Mr. Alan, who has secrets of his own. Left confused betwixt two loves, she finds her way through the adventurous lies surrounding her love and her heart.

I’m also editing a historical romance set at Fort Caspar in Wyoming. That’s fun because I’m from there and it was fun to learn about the area I grew up in.

Then I’m writing a fantasy romance. It’s unlike anything I’ve ever done before, but I’m entranced with the characters and LOVING it!

Deirdra: Where can our readers go to find your books and order them?

Rachel: By Love or By Sea is available in print or in ebook from



Amazon.com http://www.amazon.com/Love-Sea-Rachel-Rager/dp/1599552213/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1294286603&sr=8-1

Barnes and Noble http://search.barnesandnoble.com/By-Love-or-By-Sea/Rachel-Rager/e/9781599552217/?itm=5&USRI=rachel+rager

Cedar Fort, Inc. http://cedarfort.com/#%7Bselector%3A%22.ldsba-body%22%2Cmodule%3A%22/ldsba/productDetail.module%22%2Cparameters%3A%7Bproduct%3A%2220067553%22%7D%7D

I also have several ebooks available.



The Tiger Unleashed http://www.smashwords.com/books/view/27745


A Season for Love http://www.smashwords.com/books/view/28735

The Feather Kiss http://www.smashwords.com/books/view/28810

Wednesday Romances http://www.smashwords.com/books/view/28868

Deirdra: Any final words you would like to share?

Rachel: On Wednesdays I post a chapter to a clean romance. So if you follow along, you can read things as I go. Some stories I finish on my blog, others I don’t. All I turn into ebooks for purchase. It’s just a fun way to help get over the hump in the middle of the week.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Interview with Author Sarah M. Eden



At the ripe old age of five, Sarah M. Eden wrote her first book. Entitled “The Sun,” this work of literary genius contained such awe inspiring passages as, “The sun is yellow.” It was a ground-breaking success among the kindergartens of Roadrunner Elementary. On the heels of this triumph, she went on to write absolutely nothing for many, many years. Now, at the ripe old age of a bit more than five, Sarah has ten historical romances to her name, including Courting Miss Lancaster (2009), The Accidental Wife (2010) and 2008 Whitney Award Finalist,Seeking Persephone.
When not reading, writing or researching, Sarah spends her free time avoiding responsible things like cooking dinner, doing laundry and sleeping regularly. She can be found on the web at www.SarahMEden.com, where she makes friends, influences people and entertains herself.



Interview
Deirdra: When did you first know you wanted to be an author?
Sarah: When the voices in my head told me to be.
Actually, I wrote my first book kind of on a dare. I was not an avid reader growing up like many authors are. I hadn't always wanted to write, though I did enjoy making up stories. Writing wasn't on my radar screen until my mother suggested I try writing a book instead of getting so frustrated over the lack of good books. I gave it a shot and was almost immediately addicted.


Deirdra: What is your writing and educational background?
Sarah: I earned my Bachelor's degree from Brigham Young University. I did not, however, major in writing or English or literature or romanticness or anything that might make sense for a future romance writer. Mine was a research major, one in which I gathered data, ran statistical analyses, came to conclusions based on theories and other research and then wrote a very uncreative, unfictional thesis. I loved it, because I have this sickness: I enjoy numbers and research.
So, when I decided to try my hand at writing, I had a lot to learn. I grabbed every how-to book on writing I could find, attended writing seminars, joined writing groups, etc. Eventually I might even figure out what I'm doing.

Deirdra: What makes you passionate about writing?
Sarah: When I write, the voices in my head get a lot quieter. Sometime they're quiet enough that I actually sleep. So, I guess you could say, my desire to not go completely out of my mind is among my chief reasons for being passionate about writing. That and it's a really good excuse to not clean my house.

Deirdra: What was the pathway like for you to get your first book published?

Sarah: Winding and exhausting. I began as a self-published author. I write very traditional Regency-era romances--think Jane Austen but with slightly modernized language. Traditional Regencies are always "clean" reads and, sadly, there's not much of a call for those among national publishers. So I published my works myself while I hoped and prayed and looked around for a better alternative.
My novel Seeking Persephone was chosen as a Whitney Award finalist in 2008 and, as a result of that, came to the attention of Annette Lyon. She and I became friends (something for which I am infinitely grateful) and she told me that I ought to try submitting to Covenant, the company she is published with. I followed her advice and, as they say, the rest is history.

Deirdra: Were you ever discouraged along the way? If so, how did you deal with it?

Sarah: An author who has never been discouraged isn't working hard enough. You can quote me on that.
Discouragement is simply part of this industry. That alone is reason enough to have a group of fellow writers you can turn to for support, advice and encouragement, people who know where you're coming from and know when to pat you on the back and when to kick you in the pants. I am fortunate enough to have several really close author friends who do this for me: Annette Lyon, Heather Moore, Michele Paige Holmes, LuAnn Staheli, Robison Wells, Jeff Savage, Janette Rallison and Donna Hatch. I'd be a total and complete mess if not for them!


Deirdra: What is your writing schedule like?
Sarah: It depends on the time of year. During summer vacation I write after my kids go to bed. During the school year I write while they are at school.
I set an alarm for myself for an hour or two, disconnect the internet, turn off the ringer on my phone and hunker down. For those couple hours I'm not allowed to do anything but write. If I hit something that needs to be researched, I make a note to myself and keep going. One day a week my writing time is for researching. If I have emails, interviews, etc. to do, I set aside separate time to do that. It's a little rigid, but it helps me concentrate and not completely neglect everything else I need to do.


Deirdra: Where do your ideas come from? How do you know the idea is good enough to write a book about it?

Sarah: My stories always begin with a character. I'll think of a possible hero or heroine and a problem, quirk, etc. that they have and the story generally grows from there. Sometimes the original idea I had is tossed out and something new takes its place, but that's where it begins.
How do I know if it's any good? Honestly, I don't know until I've tried writing it. I have an entire folder on my computer stuffed full of ideas that turned to be no good. Sometimes I can tell within the first couple chapters. There are a couple manuscripts that I actually completed and then, looking back over them, realized they were crummy. I hold out hope that someday I'll pull them out again and figure out how to salvage them.

Deirdra: Can you tell us a little about your book The Kiss of a Stranger.
Sarah: The Kiss of a Stranger was actually the first book I ever wrote--the one I wrote because my mom essentially dared me to. It was originally self-published under the title The Ramshackle Knight." It has been out of print for some time now and, thanks to my fabulous publisher, Covenant, is available again. I had the fabulous opportunity to go back and fix it up, making up for mistakes I'd made at the time out of ignorance as an author and a historian.
The book tells the story of a young lord, Crispin, Lord Cavratt, who, by the end of the very first chapter, has made a complete mess out of his life. He thoroughly and extensively kissed a woman in the garden of a country inn, thinking she was a mere serving woman and, therefore, such a thing would be no big deal. He quickly discovers she is actually a lady of birth. Her uncle forces and engagement and an almost immediate marriage. Now Crispin is faced with the daunting prospect of putting things right. Could theirs become a true marriage of the heart, or are has he managed to ruin both their lives?

Deirdra: What do you think makes authors (especially LDS authors) so unique from the rest of society. 

Sarah: I've often said that if authors were ever psychoanalyzed, we'd universally be declared completely out of our minds. Think about it. We talk to the voices in our head and, worse yet, they answer back and, worser still, we obey them and do what they tell us to do. Then we gather together in droves and celebrate this sickness we all share. It's madness. Complete and utter madness.

Deirdra: How many beta readers do you have review your manuscript before you send it to your editor?
Sarah: My husband hears everything I write before anyone else, so he's my "Alpha Reader." I have my critique group, The Superb Seven, Annette Lyon, Heather Moore, Michele Paige Holmes, LuAnn Staheli, Robison Wells, Jeff Savage and me. They help me fix my manuscripts as I'm writing them. Once completed, I send my manuscript to five beta readers who help me find plot wholes, characterization errors, etc. They each have their own area they're particularly good at and they never let me down. With the last manuscript I sent out, one of my readers (hi, Jewel!) found a HUGE problem that will take eons to fix but will make the book so much better! I probably owe her a lot of chocolate.


Deirdra: What do you hope readers will get from your books?
Sarah: First and foremost, my books are meant to be a pleasant escape. I want readers to walk away from them feeling refreshed and uplifted as well as entertained. On a deeper level, though, I try to make my books something of an exploration of humanity. Though I write humorously, my characters have real-world problems and difficulties. I would hope that seeing them work through their struggles would offer some encouragement to readers who are facing difficulties of their own.
Oh, and I hope my readers laugh. A lot.

Deirdra: What is your process of brainstorming a story? Do you just sit down and write, waiting to see what happens next? Or do you outline first?

Sarah: I'm somewhere in between. Once I have an idea, I sit down and do very extensive character sketches. Very extensive. Once I feel like I know my characters pretty well, then I do mountains of research. I want to know everything I can about the time period the story is set in--down to what happened on a specific day in a specific location, significant world and national events during their lifetime, etc. I research occupations, the schools where they might have been educated, social expectations, etc.
After all that, then my approach is "sit down and write." I don't outline the plot, though I sometimes have a general idea of where it's going. I guess I'm more of an organic writer.


Deirdra: Do you ever experience a snag in a story, a form of writer's block? If so, how do you deal with it?

Sarah: Never. *ahem*
Every single book I have ever written suffered from what I call "a sagging middle." I think it happens to every writer. You reach a point in your story where either you are burned out or you don't know where the story goes next or you've written yourself into a corner, etc.
For me, the best approach has always been to walk away for a while. I'll work on another project, perhaps start something new. I give myself a couple weeks, sometimes as much as six months, before coming back to it. The trick is during that time the story is percolating in the back of my mind, my "muse" is working out the issues. When I come back to it, I usually have a fresh perspective and the motivation to push through or rewrite or whatever needs to be done.


Deirdra: Do you need absolute quiet to write? Do you listen to music when you are writing?

Sarah: Complete silence makes me twitch. I always have music playing in the background. I choose music that fits what I'm writing--a tense scene needs tense music, a romantic scene needs lovey-dovey music, etc. My other musical requirement is that the music not have lyrics--I get too easily distracted. Most of my writing music is classical or movie/television scores.


Deirdra: What kinds of inspiration do you use during your story creation periods?

Sarah: Research. I know that makes me sound like a dork, but I am a dork. I am constantly researching the time period in which my books take place, even if I am not actively formulating a new story or looking for specific pieces of information. For me, this brings the entire era to life and it becomes real to me. The connection I feel to the people of this time period and their struggles and joys and difficulties is both motivation and inspiration.


Deirdra: Who has made the greatest difference for you as a writer?

Sarah: It's hard to come up with one person who has had the greatest impact. I don't think I could, honestly. That's a lame answer, but there you go.


Deirdra: What’s your secret to making the character’s in your books come to life?
Sarah: I give them flaws. It may seem odd, but I have found that once I pinpoint what their quirk or flaw or problem is, that is when they become real to me. No one can relate to a perfect person. Whether their flaw is so engrained and horrible that they then become the villain, or it is a failing they are trying hard to overcome, endearing them to me, every character I write has flaws. Often their strengths are directly related to their weaknesses. It makes them well-rounded and realistic.

Deirdra: What authors do you admire, and why?

Sarah: I have always admired Jane Austen. Yes she wrote fabulous books and created a legacy that far outlived her. But that's not what I admire about her. She wrote at a time when being lady writer was social-suicide. She wrote under a pen name so she wouldn't be shunned. She paid to have her own books published, taking a leap of faith that something good would come of it. Jane Austen wrote at a time long before word processors, when edits and changes meant rewriting, by hand, entire pages of a manuscript. She had no appliances, no modern conveniences and, yet, found time to write. Most modern-day authors would crumble under those requirements


Deirdra: What is your favorite snack to have while you are writing?
Sarah: Cheetos. End of story.


Deirdra: Besides writing what other talents or hobbies do you have?
Sarah: I like to sing and I play the piano. I can tie a cherry stem with my tongue. I have recently learned to drive in snowy weather. I was a dancer for many years (but my severely messed up joints put that to a swift end). And I draw absolutely fantastic stick figures.


Deirdra: What words of advice do you have for other writers who desire to have their manuscripts become books in print?
Sarah: What you want has to be more than that. If simply having a book in print is your end goal, you'll find it isn't sustaining. Being published cannot be the final destination. For me, my goal is to reach the point where I can look at my own work and know with confidence that it's good--more than good, that it is amazing. That means learning everything I can. It means working hard every day to get better. Working toward being published is part of that, certainly, and can be an important step on the road. But that's just it--it's a step. Once you are published, the journey isn't over.


Deirdra: What are you working on now?
Sarah: Way too many things. I am editing and submitting some finished manuscripts to my publisher. I recently started a new project in a slightly different genre that I'm not sure will turn out but hope that it will. And, to my annoyance, I had a fantastic idea enter my brain last month that I want to write, if I ever have a break. *sigh*


Deirdra: Where can our readers go to find your books and order them?

Sarah: You can find all the latest info, links, etc. at my website www.SarahMEden.com. My books can be found and ordered at http://deseretbook.com/auth/20537/Sarah_M_Eden

Deirdra: Any final words you would like to share?

Sarah: I've pretty much reached my "words that sound remotely wise" quota for the day. I run out of intelligent-sounding catch phrases really quickly. So, I guess the answer is no.