1. You’re a great encouragement to aspiring writers everywhere. Your blog, your contests, your positive input has created a band of writing friends. What’s one thing in your own writing career that’s kept you going?
It's funny timing, this question. I've just gone through a season of discouragement that was particularly hard to climb out of. (Writing is a series of ups and downs, as we all know.) I know that if I tried to "just keep swimming" in my own strength, I'd never make it. But I've got a supportive husband who keeps reminding me that he believes in me, and I've got a wonderful group of writing friends/critique partners who never let me down. The MSFV blog community itself has been a HUGE source of encouragement in my life. And I've got a superb agent who oozes enthusiasm and support, which makes all the difference in the world.
The one thing that truly keeps me going, though, is my faith in Jesus Christ. It's His unconditional love for me that undergirds everything I do, and it's His presence that fills me when I'm empty. Everything I am, I am in Him.
2. Would you continue writing even if you never landed an agent or contract - ever?
These are deep questions! I can't imagine my life without writing in it, for sure. And regardless of where this path leads me, I believe I will always write something. But writing novels is something I can't see myself continuing to do without being published. It's a lot of hard work. Grueling, even. And I'm in this game to be published; that's the bottom line. I would never be able to settle, at this point, for writing a novel without going through all the steps that are necessary to make it GOOD. And I can't see myself continuing to go through all those steps without a contract on the horizon.
I've got a ridiculously useless talent for writing verse easily. It's not something I'll make money doing, but it's fun, if nothing else. So when I'm 90, I'll probably still be writing sonnets for my husband.
3. Practicing and perfecting craft is key to becoming a great writer. What tips or practices have you incorporated into your daily writing to improve it?
Well, some writers like to warm up or practice with writing prompts or short stories or myriad other tricks. For me, though, jumping into my current project makes me happiest. When I'm drafting, I have a 1000-word-a-day rule that I NEVER BREAK. In this way, I've trained myself to write to deadline, and am able to finish a first draft in three months.
The biggest change in my writing approach over the past year or so is that I am no longer an unabashed pantser. I use the "beat sheet" method to plan my stories, and it's made a world of difference in my drafting. My plans are solid enough to keep the plot arc flowing, but open enough to allow scenes to develop on their own. It's been wonderfully freeing!
4. If you could be any character in any story ever written, who would you be and why?
Elizabeth Bennett in Pride and Prejudice. Any girl who turns down two marriage proposals during a time period that would consider her actions social suicide definitely wins points for "feisty" and "independent"! And, in the end, she wins the ever-constant Mr. Darcy after all, and becomes mistress of Pemberly. It's a wonderful love story, and I'm all over that. The gorgeous dresses are an added bonus.