Do you have any writing rituals?If so, what are they?
I do like to pray before I write, this gives me perspective and keeps me focused.
What are the most important attributes to remaining sane as a writer? Chocolate first, but like-minded writing friends who keep me focused and on track. Remembering that first drafts are the worst, but the best part is…they can only get better.
Are there any occupational hazards to being a writer?
Loneliness. Boredom. Distractions. The last one being the worst. I’m easily distracted.
Describe your Muse. How does she/he/it influence your writing process?
God. Keeping His perspective is my greatest inspiration.
How do you begin a new project? Are you a plotter (outliner) or a pantser (free-writer)?
I outline in my head and then from that point, I’m a pantser. Sometimes when I sit to write a chapter, I’m actually surprised and shocked at how the scene transpires.
Do you write long-hand with pen/pencil and paper or do you write on a computer?
Computer only. My first print out is for editing.
Do you write every day? What is your writing routine? How do you discipline yourself to keep at it?
I do not write every day. I wish I could, but I also have a summer (seasonal) job. Until Labor Day hits, I struggle to find the energy and time to write. Winter is my time and then I try hard to write at least three or four times a week. Some days, I just don’t feel inspired. I try to write, but often I find myself frustrated and discouraged, so I quit. On great days, when everything is clicking inspirationally and also I’m writing well, I can spend up to eight to ten hours straight in writing mode. One thing that keeps me writing is the accolades of fans. When they are encouraging me to finish a new book, which sometimes is every day, I know I need to fulfill their desires. Best part of writing.
Have you ever tried writing outside of your “comfort zone”? If so, what were the results?
I like to try new venues to writing. I want to learn how to write screenplays soon. I also am getting more and more into historical fiction and I’m excited to keep growing in these new avenues.
What are your favorite writing and research tools?
Google of course. I have been a newspaper reporter and editor for the last 12 years and digging into other newspaper articles or the history of a certain event brings me excitement to see where it can take me. I love hearing personal stories from folks about their life or an incident in their life they can’t explain. My imagination explodes when I hear of an event/incident that spurs a tale of some sort.
How many drafts does it usually take to bring your manuscript to “The End” and ready to submit to your editor?
Can’t count that high! LOL! Actually, I write my first pitiful manuscript and within about eight to ten complete changes, I’m ready for an editor. I can only look at something so long before my eyes blur and I fail to see any mistakes. Then another two or three swipes (of the entire manuscript) after a second-hand edit and I’m about ready to say “the end.”
Are the names of the characters in your writing important? What about the titles?How do you choose them?
I want them to be true to their characters time and era. I also love creating characters and somehow the name just fits. My titles are a whole ‘nother story. Often I have the book almost complete before I can narrow down a title I like. But when it comes, I’m pretty confident it is the right one as soon as I imagine it. I’m on my fourth novel right now and it is about 2/3 completed and I still don’t have a title.
To what extent is your fiction or poetry autobiographical? Have you ever seen yourself as a character in one of your stories or poems and, has that been a help or a hindrance?
All three of my novels have a particular family slant to them, except my first one. The last two are roughly based on a family tale my mother and aunt used to tell me and my parent’s love story. I use many of the things they used to tell me about their growing up years in the books. I did have to wait until my parents were gone before I could write their love story. I think my ‘voice’ comes out in my books, but I have yet to fashion a character after myself.
Has a child, the family pet or another animal ever “eaten” your manuscript? If so, please, tell us that story!
Oh my, no. The dog wouldn’t have lived long. The children either. LOL!
Who are your favorite authors? Please list a few and their titles, so we can go look for them at our local library!
Favorite inspirational author is Francine Rivers. She wrote, ‘Redeeming Love’ and ‘The Sin Eater.’ I love Jan Karon – (Mitford series), Lynn Austin – ‘Until We Reach Home’ and ‘Fire by Night,’ C. S. Lewis, Laura Ingalls Wilder (childhood favorite.) Top Fav - but oh so many more!
Which three authors (alive or dead) would you most like invite to a dinner party and what would you like to talk about?
Definitely Francine Rivers, Tricia Goyer, Lynn Austin and probably Abraham Lincoln. I’d talk inspirational fiction with the first three and then dig into the mind of Abe (he was an avid reader) to find out which books he read that he enjoyed the most. Abe has a wit about him that I admire and love. Abe is also a distant relative of mine and we could talk about our family. How was he inspired to write the Gettysburg Address?
I’m a school teacher. What can you offer to help me prepare 6th graders to appreciate writing, now and for the rest of their lives?
I loved writing even as I was taught how to read. In first grade I read 100 books. Whenever a teacher assigned a writing task, I thought it better than recess. I think it is a God-inspired trait that you either have to write or die. My youngest son doesn’t enjoy books or writing. It is a struggle for him to even sit down and write a sentence. So, for those students who are like me...allow them to stay in for recess to write. Encourage it and help them to master English well, so they don’t struggle with edits like I do! LOL! For those of them who struggle to write, let them go out for recess.
How do you react to a negative review of one of your manuscripts?
More chocolate! And, I look into the depths of the review. Most of mine are about my content, not my writing. Many people are offended about my strong faith and that’s okay. I try not to take it personally, but some days it does get the best of me. Thankfully, often the accolades far exceed the two or three people who tell me the book isn’t for them. I also never ask, “So, what did you think?” after someone has read my book. If they liked it, they’ll tell me…if they didn’t…that’s okay, too, but it prevents them from having to tell me to ‘not quit my day job,’ which were the exact words from one of my bad reviews. Writing is subjective. I always try and remember that.
Do you ever write naked?
Nope. Although some of my greatest inspiration is in the shower. I usually towel off and at least put on underwear before I head for a pen to write it down.
What was your favorite scene or poem to write, and why was it so enjoyable?
In ‘Promise at Daybreak’ (my second book), I was stuck on a scene. I went to work that day and a lady told me how she had gotten stuck in her bathroom in her RV for 10 hours because of a locked door she couldn’t open. I went home and added her comments/reactions/story to my stuck chapter and I found it to be one of the best chapters in my book. I also love to get to about ¾ of the way into my novel. Somehow, at that point, I find myself not wanting to quit writing. Like a roller coaster headed down the largest hill, I can’t stop the momentum or type fast enough.
What’s the hardest scene or poem you have ever written and why was it so hard to write?
First chapters are the worst. For one thing, you know it will change multiple times and you also know that great expectations are balanced on keeping a reader’s attention at this point. It’s stressful and I never like it. I also have a chapter in ‘Just a Train Ride’ that is about my mother having to give back to the state a foster child she had cared for. That was particularly hard because I never fully realized the sadness and loss she must have felt for that child she had loved for over a year until I sat to write about it. My mother loved her children greatly, and to think of giving one up and back to an abusive father and mother would have nearly killed her. But the state had given the little boy an opportunity to choose and of course, he chose his biological parents. She was struggling to have one of her own, so giving this child back was a great sacrifice.
Do you ever use your writing as therapy, to either work out an issue, punish a perpetrator from your real life, or fantasize about what you could have done differently? If so, give us one example of how this manifested in your manuscript.
Writing is therapy. Like reading, it’s often an escape from real life. It is therapeutic when you can name a character after someone you miss or admire (who is no longer living) and remember all the wonderful reasons you loved them. You can make things go better or less harsh to characters, who in real life, might suffer horribly for bad choices they’ve made.
Print books versus e-books; do you have a preference, and why?
Print…all the way! I once was in bed on a cold, winter’s night and my e-book lost power. In the last few chapters of the book. I had to get out of my warm bed, find my charger, hook up and by that time grew more awake to just keep reading. I love to read outside and an e-book often has glare, making it impossible. Print for this writer! Always. Something about holding a book in your hand. I still love to go to the library.
Name a topic that you refuse to write about, and tell us, why won’t you write about that topic?
Horror (I hate to make people more scared than they already are), making light of topics like death/religion, and anything that gives power to magic or demons. I have a strong faith in a God who controls the realms of heaven and earth. Anything that is out of His control is inaccurate and leads a person down a dark path. I’d rather bring light to good things. Instill morals and values into people’s lives.
What is your best advice for beginning writers?
Don’t stop learning your craft. Dig deep into English and grammar. Learn that well. Don’t stop writing, but also know that life can sometimes take over and that’s okay. A time will come when your writing can flourish, if you strive hard to continue it. Read, read, and read more.
What’s the worst advice you ever received from another writer?
I had a literary agent once pull out a synopsis I had written and instead of looking at any of my writing, he criticized the way I had labeled a certain writing word. I thought my career was doomed! Instead of realizing he was just pointing out something an agent looks at to determine how far along I was in my career, he sent me into despair thinking I couldn’t write at all. I also was asked, by another writer, if I knew how to diagram a sentence. It implied to me that I didn’t know basic grammar skills.
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Written by Elizabeth Wehman...
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