If you had a time machine, where and when would you be right now?
The far future, say 1000 years from present. The science fiction personality in me wants to know what great advancements I will see in terms of both technology and culture. I’ve written about my visions in the Ambasadora series, but there is no doubt so much more ahead than any of us imagined.
What advice would you give your younger self?
Keep it up. Your hard work, unwavering curiosity, and constant search for the good in this world all pay off. And you’ll find someone to marry who feels exactly the same way.
What is your favorite resource for writers?
Why, MANY GENRES, ONE CRAFT, of course. Seriously, I use it for my university classes and my informal library classes all the time. The 65 contributors provided so many angles on the craft and business of writing and even specific genre studies. As my co-editor Michael Arnzen says in his introduction: “This is a writer’s residency in a bottle.”
What has been the most satisfying aspect of your literary career?
It’s when I reach what Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi calls flow. I’ll be so involved with a project that I dream about it, both at night and when I zone off in the day. I’m feeling that now working on a thriller series with my husband. We went for long walks and talked out the characters and plot before we started to write–the experience was euphoric. Nothing else mattered at the moment except for our little fabricated world.
What is your favorite tip for writers?
The two tips I always get pushback on from mostly new writers, though some pros have been known to disagree as well, are reading and outlining. I can’t understand a writer who hates to read. And that’s all I’ll say about that. As far as the outlining goes, don’t worry about making it a formal Roman-numeral-laden monstrosity full of proper formatting and topic sentences. Just know what you want to happen for each chapter, for each character, for each plotline, and write it down. Most pros will tell you that once you’re established, you’ll be selling on-spec, which means you write out a complete synopsis (size is usually determined by your agent or editor, though I tend to go long) and the publisher decides if they like the idea enough to buy it. You’ve obviously proven that you can execute ideas since you’ve finished novels already. The bonus is that when you sit down to write, you can read the summary for that chapter and know exactly what has to occur and from whom’s POV we need to see it happen. There tend to be a lot less wasted words with an outline or synopsis.
What is the most challenging aspect of your work?
Migraine headaches. I was so debilitated by them last year that I had to take a hiatus. Worst of all, I had to tell a publisher for the first time ever that I might not finish a contracted book. Lucky for me, said publisher was quite understanding and gave me a year’s extension. I’m happy to say the book, Man of War, is coming out this year from the wonderful people at Meteor House. Though I am back to writing, I have slowed down considerably and may never be able to reach the word counts I did before. But I’ll do what I can because even a little is better than nothing.
Tell me about a project or accomplishment that you consider to be the most significant in your career.
Man of War. Simply because I truly didn’t believe I would ever finish it, let alone write anything again. That book symbolizes a very long and painful journey toward healing. Oh, and did I mention it is a sequel to a Philip Jose Farmer book?! It took two years to get the contract finalized to begin with using a chapter by chapter outline initially to show them the concept. That long summary went through three editors at Meteor House, Farmer’s agent, and two of my agents (I changed agencies when the project was in its early stages) before I actually started the first draft. Even as excited and honored as I was then, I couldn’t have known what Man of War would mean to my life personally.
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