Keeping the Faith Fridays: Spotlight ME!

For the final installment of Keeping the Faith Fridays, I’m turning the lens on myself. Why? Because it’s good for me to write and reflect on how I’m doing this thing–see what’s working, what’s not, what could be better. Basically, this entire series has been an excuse to ask my smart writer-friends their best practices so I can steal them for myself. Mission accomplished! (For me at least!) Hope you’ve enjoyed as well. And now, to quote George Washington in Hamilton: One la-AAAST tii-iiime!

Me doing what I do: holding a baby.

Me doing what I do: holding a baby.

1.) Why do you write? What does writing mean to you?

I write because it’s the thing that I do that makes me feel better about all the other things I do. Writing excites me. It calms me. It helps me leave some of my existential angst–stuff doesn’t get to me as much when I’m writing. Writing is my best fun.

2.) What do you write?
Middle grade fiction. Also, some book reviews on Goodreads, some internet stuff, and THIS BLOG!
3.) How long have you been writing seriously?
For a little over five years now.

4.) Do you have a writing regimen? (Outlining vs. pantsing? Process for various drafts? Beta readers? Revision m.o.? Do you send pages to someone as you’re drafting? Tell us anything/everything!)
When I’m working on a first draft, I’m very focused. I have daily/weekly word goals–usually 1,000 words a day or 6,000 words a week. The first draft gets written fairly quickly. For the book I’m working on now, I’m not making a strict outline per se, but I am thinking of it in thirds. I know which plot points I want to hit at the end of the first, second, and third acts. I’m trying to plot out the acts as I come to them: basically thinking of every scene that needs to happen before the end of that act, and arranging it in such a way that it makes sense. We’ll see how it goes. The “regimen” is ever-evolving.

 I would LOVE to have a better revision M.O.–I often write the book and then don’t know what to do with it for a while. It’s like Wile E. Coyote, running and running until he realizes he’s off the cliff. But I definitely have beta readers; that’s non-negotiable.
5.) What’s the number one thing you’ve learned while writing? What piece of advice would you give to others/yourself?
Have patience. This is haaaaaard for me. I want to write a book as quickly as I can, then move on to something else. Things I’ve learned now that I’m on my fourth manuscript: the work is worth doing, no matter the reward. Nothing is wasted–articles that don’t get printed, books that don’t get made–the work builds on itself, and you get better by writing it down. Making books is a long, slow game. But all you can do is show up to the computer each day and write your words. Give yourself to the practice. Keep the faith, day by day, and good will follow (though “good” can come in a lot of different forms).
6.) What non-writing activities do you do to help your creative process?

The Morning Pages from The Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron. This is technically a “writing activity,” but it’s really more a form of meditation for me–getting out all the junk in my head on paper in order to grease the wheels for when I actually get going on my “real” writing. I listen to podcasts, do yoga poses, color, occasionally bake. I get out of the house and take a long walk when I can–being home with two small babies for long stretches of time, this doesn’t happen nearly as often as it used to. But I relish those walks when I get the chance.
7.) What are you working on right now?
A complete re-write of the book I wrote last year. Some character names have been kept. . . but that’s pretty much it.

8.) Who are your big influences in your genre?

Hmm. Rainbow Rowell writes YA and Adult (not middle grade), but I love everything she does; it’s so real.  I’ve recently discovered Lesley Connor’s books and think they’re kind of perfect. Also, Rebecca Stead. As for individual books I admire, there’s about a million of those: The Thing About Jellyfish by Ali Benjamin, Summerlost by Ally Condie, Blackbird Fly by Erin Entrada Kelly. . . I could go on.

9.) Top three favorite books of all time. Don’t think. 
The Tender Bar by JR Moehringer
Anne of Green Gables by Lucy Maud Montgomery
Emma by Jane Austen
10.) Your turn for the Sorting Hat. Which is your Hogwarts House? Why?
I’m quiet and booky (obvi!), so Ravenclaw.

*Bonus Question!: A magic fairy waves her magic wand and grants you one superpower. What is it?

On a weekly basis, I would love to be in Dallas, Atlanta, AND Pittsburgh seeing my people. So–Harry Potter-style apparition, I guess. With my whole family. If it’s easier than lugging two babies in and out of carseats.


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