The inspiration from Blue Moon actually came from a writing prompt given me by my critique group. Believe it or not, the writing prompt had very little to do with how the story ended up. The prompt was actually to write something to do with a hospital gurney, as one of my friends was going in for surgery and we thought that a few stories dealing with a similar situation might cheer her up. That just goes to prove that inspiration really can come from anywhere, because even though Blue Moon followed the prompt, it has very little to do with a hospital gurney at all.
Now, you also asked what makes for a good hook in my stories. My answer is very simple: It has to be something I would want to read. And when I say “something I would want to read”, I mean something I would really want to read. My story won’t be good enough until it reaches that point for me. I have to get caught up in the narrative as I’m reading it, forget that I actually wrote what I’m reading, and really see the story playing out before my eyes as if it’s not my writing at all. It has happened to me before… on very rare occasions, but it has happened. And that’s when I know that the narrative of the story is good enough.
The same goes for when I’m querying agents and editors. The query hook is almost like a book blurb, and it has to be enthralling and concise. If I write a query hook, look back, and decide that the blurb is too long and rambly, or gives away too much information, or not enough information, or even if I decide that it’s just not interesting enough, then it’s simply not good enough yet. I have to go back and write it again. 🙂
With that said, I am definitely a pantster (that is somebody who writes “by the seat of their pants”, as we say in the writing world; someone who doesn’t outline their story completely first). I never know how my story is going to work out until I sit down and actually hash out a scene, or even several. I don’t like to outline because my story usually ends up going in a completely different direction as I’m writing it. However, I do journal my ideas… not on a regular basis, but still. I have notebooks at home full of nothing but these little “letters” to myself, describing an idea that I had for my current WIP, and I use these notes within my story and to help me keep track of what I’m writing about.
A normal writing day for me consists of college classes all morning and deep into the afternoon, grabbing snatches of writing time in between classes as I work on homework, and jotting down notes and rough scenes during class time. At night I go home, try to finish my homework, and if I’m not so tired that I can’t see straight afterward, I hide up in my room and pull out my laptop. I usually end up with a cat in my lap who is begging for my attention and tapping random keys as she chases my fingers over the keyboard, or my youngest sibling clinging to my forearm. If I’m not extremely tired, and if I get caught up in my work, I could stay up writing until 3 or 4 AM.
If you are asking who my favorite modern author is, I’d have to say Cornelia Funke. I love the fact that Mrs. Funke has such a clear view and understanding of who her audience is, and you can see this in her writing because she never oversteps those boundaries. On top of that, Mrs. Funke paints vivid imagery with her words, and creates characters that (in my opinion) are hard not to fall in love with. I would like to be able to one day feel like my stories do the same for my readers that Mrs. Funke’s books do for me. That’s what I strive for in all of my stories… not just in Blue Moon.
To be quite honest, there is nothing about writing in and of itself that I don’t enjoy. I even like writing essays and research papers for classes…
What I don’t like is my ability to procrastinate when I should be writing. I suppose part of this comes from being so busy all the time, but still. If there is any part of this hobby that I dislike, it would be that.
6. Do you make time to read and if you do what are you reading right now?
What drew me to writing YA? I have always loved younger kids. I’m the oldest of 6, you see, and my youngest sister is only 7. When I was 8 and 9, I used to tell stories to my younger siblings off the top of my head. When I was 12 my little brother asked me to write him a story to read him at bedtime. from 15 on up I started reading novels to my brothers and sisters; they would gather in the living room before bed, and I would read several chapters aloud from the book I was reading at the time. (And I even drew in my mom and dad several times. ;D)
I believe in the power of a young imagination, and I truly want to encourage the (slightly) younger generation to continue reading, imagining, and writing. I want to reach out to them and continue to show them how wonderful reading can be, and where it can take you. I find it so sad that so many kids are afraid of reading and writing… they simply don’t understand the joy that can be found in it. I want to help encourage them… give them a glimpse of how I look at it. Maybe then they will start to see it’s value, rather than looking at a book as if it were a giant spider about to drop on them and eat them alive.
The publishing industry is a fickle thing, in my opinion. It’s ever changing, never constant, always moving. Right now it seems there is a small war being waged between the advantages to an author of self publication, versus the advantages of traditional publishing. Now, I can’t pretend not to notice the shift that the publishing world has taken towards digital publication, but no, I don’t think self publishing is for everyone… through amazon or otherwise.
You see, the traditional publishing world does have its advantages no matter what any self published author may have to say about the matter. There is a sense of validation that comes with a publishing “house” accepting a writer’s manuscript for publication, and the deal does usually come with professional editing, professional cover art, and professional promotion. It also comes with a team of people there to work on managing sales, getting in touch with publicists, pushing the book in bookstores, etc, etc…
Self publication offers an author control, but that is not always the best way to go. To be altogether cliched here, I’m going to quote Peter Parker’s Uncle Ben in the movie “Spider Man”:
In the case of self publication, you could easily switch out the word “power” for the word “control”. I’m going to be real here: with self publication you don’t get any of the cushy niceties of the traditional publishing route. Self publishing requires the author to do everything, and whether or not an author believes that they handle that responsibility is not even the point. What is the point is whether or not that author is talented enough to handle that responsibility, whether or not that author is a business minded person, whether or not that author is a self driven entrepreneur.
I’m not trying to blow myself up or anything; I’ve just done my research. Not every author is an entrepreneur. Not every author needs to be (if they decide to self publish only for friends and family). But if an author is not self driven but still wants to do well, that person should try the traditional publishing route, because in order to be successful in the self publishing business, one must be self driven and have a business model in mind. You can’t just slap a decent-looking cover on a badly edited book and expect it to do well. You can’t even do that with a well written, well edited book if you don’t have a marketing plan in mind. And if you aren’t driven to stay with the process, even when it get’s boring — if you’re not ready to stick through it even when everything starts to feel overwhelming — then you might as well not self publish.
Of course, I don’t claim to be successful yet, but I’ve always been the extremely self driven type. I only have one short story out at the moment, and while it has not done terribly within the single week it’s been available, it’s not done wonderfully either. But I have a plan in mind. This short story is just me barely dipping my big toe in the water. I haven’t even stepped in to my ankles yet. 😀 As much as I enjoyed writing this story, and as much as I hope people will enjoy it, I don’t expect it to “take off”. But it is the first brick of the path I’m paving for my novel, “Song of the Daystar”. It is the beginning of something that has the potential to grow. Hopefully it will grow.
You can visit my blog at www.theravenquill.blogspot.com.
10. Do you have any more stories in the works? What kinds of stories do you plan to write next?
Besides that I have my current WIP, “Song of the Daystar”, my biggest project to date, “Eldrei”, and my nano project of 2009, “The Spinner’s Apprentice”. I have many other story ideas and excerpts written down, but those three books are what have taken up most of my attention as a writer.
Wow… that’s a really tough question. If I could meet anyone from any time, I would want to meet my Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. But I think I would be overwhelmed and not able to say anything… at least at first.
If I could meet any writer from any time, I think I would have to choose C.S. Lewis. And my first question would have to be… um… let me think a minute…
I think my first question would be “What, besides the picture of the faun with the umbrella, inspired you to write ‘The Chronicles of Narnia’?”