This is Part 2 of my “interview of myself”, with the purpose of sharing about my life and work as a writer. (You can find the Introduction and Part 1 HERE).
And now, without further ado, I will continue answering questions about writing my first historical novel Blue, Gray & Crimson: A Story of Civilian Courage at Gettysburg
9. What does your family think of your writing?
They’re some of my best fans and definitely my best and most honest critics. My mom, dad, and brothers were so supportive during the writing process and were enlisted to join the proof-reading team! If they like a story or piece of writing, I know there’s a good chance a world of readers will enjoy it too.
10. What was one of the most surprising things you learned in creating your books?
Okay, this might sound a little strange – but there’s actually a stage (usually in the editing process) when you’ll hate your writing. Never want to see it again. Never want to read it. I hit that stage while working with professional editors and when I’d read the manuscript for the fifteenth time. (Read it about five more times before it was published!) It was a lovely moment months later when I was reading the book for a book reading and realized – I LOVE my story again.
I’ve only written one that’s been published so far, so I guess that one’s my favorite. (There are a few manuscripts which will not be published). I’m working on a new fiction project and I’m really liking it too. We’ll have to see if it rivals Blue, Gray & Crimson in the end or if I simply enjoy it in a different way…
12. Do you have any suggestions to help other writers? If so, what are they?
Oh dear, I’m no expert. (smiles wryly) I’ve made mistakes. But I guess I’d say – just write. Don’t believe in writer’s block: you can write or think your way out of any plot difficulties. Hire good editors. Read all publishing contracts carefully and ask for advice if you don’t know what to do. Make sure you like the characters you’re crafting because you’ll “spend a lot of time with them.” And if you don’t have time to write now, jot down your ideas in a notebook – then you’ll have them when you do have the opportunity to research / write.
13. Do you hear from your readers much? What kinds of things do they say?
Yes, I do get feedback from readers. Sometimes they ask about the writing process or the history. Often they ask about a second novel or sequel. Usually, they share a favorite part of the book or a character they particularly enjoyed. Sometimes they send suggestions for future books or articles. I enjoy hearing from readers and getting feedback on what was enjoyed and what might need to be improved in a different story!
14. Do you like to create books for adults?
This is kind of a strange question for me, but since it’s on the list, I’ll answer. Adults aren’t my target audience. Families are. I want to write stories that families will be able to enjoy together – to read, discuss, and remember. Basically I’m writing for ages 10+ I’ve had children, teens, and adults contact me and tell me what the story meant to them, and that’s a great feeling. I will never write bad language, inappropriate romance, or other vices which might prohibit conservative young people from enjoying a story. If adults love the story (and many do!) that’s great. I have been amazed by how many adults are looking for a clean and enjoyable historical novel – I love to hear “I read your book and now I’m reading it with my daughter.”
15. What do you think makes a good story?
Strong characters – they don’t necessary all have to be beloved by the readers, but they have to have motivation and uniqueness. I like a good plot; it doesn’t have to be a whirlwind of motion and adventure, but it has to have a great climax and satisfying resolution. Details – I love it when a story includes historical details or descriptions of an object, place, or setting. (However, a story that gets bogged down with details tends to lose momentum, and I don’t like that.) Ultimately, I’m looking for a story that will skillfully tear my heart in pieces and then put it back together, teaching me something in the process.
Well, when I was three, I wanted to be a veterinarian. Then I got older and discovered history, books, and writing. From about age nine, I knew I wanted to write. In my teen years, I decided I wanted to be a historian too. Overall, I think I am accomplishing those goals. It might not look exactly like I dreamed in childhood, but I am happy. There is one bigger goal in life that I’ve always wanted, and someday it might replace or put on hold my research and writing…but right now I am content with my current work and opportunities.
There – now you’ve heard a little about the writing process. (I think the history is much more interesting!) Next week, I’m going to share one of the special parts of crafting Blue, Gray & Crimson. Stay tuned…
Your Historian & Authoress,