Well, my Question and Answer sessions were mildly successful. They were attended, just not as greatly as I’d hoped. I think holding them on a holiday weekend probably played into that.
As promised, here are transcripts of the questions asked, and my replies. Screen names or first names only are used to protect participants privacy. I’ve arranged the questions according to topic rather than chronological order or forum asked on. (One was on Plurk, the other on Facebook.)
Manateehugs: Oooh yay Q&A! This is more of a business-y type question. How is the experience of selling your book at Conventions? I love the energy at cons and artists alleys so I have a fantasy of doing like wise, but I was wondering if you could give me some pointers and or insight.
I admit I wish my sales were better. But considering I can only afford to attend the same 3 cons every year (because they’re all in town), my expectations aren’t high.
Karen: Describe how you come up with ideas: I.e., plot, characters, setting, for example.
My husband and I hashed out the bare bones of the seven-book story arc back in 2006, when it was still in the early stages. Before I start each manuscript, I’ll write out several pages of plot points which cover the main plot for that book and the sub-plots which run through the series. These do NOT always get followed strictly. The first book was entirely pantsed. All I knew was my basic formula. As the story progressed through the books, I was better able to plot ahead; but I often have cases of characters introducing themselves unplanned or established characters not following directions. Usually, this works out better than hoped.
Some of my inspiration in the early books came from articles in National Geographic or Smithsonian Magazine. Usually, this was when I was trying to decide where to stage the story, or elements to include in connection to a book’s Sister of Power. (Each book deals with a separate one, hence a seven-book arc.)
I made a point to research piracy and areas the story takes place in before beginning to write. Have to know what the rules are before you can break them, after all.
Karen: Haha, good point.
As a writer, I’m always intrigued by methods & schedules other writers use. How does a typical week of writing or revising/editing go for you?
Most of my writing has been done during work breaks over the years. There always seems to be too many distractions at home (cats, husband) to get good writing concentration. Lately, I’ve been frustrated and not getting as much writing done during my lunch break. I have a coworker who has gravitated to the table I use and feels the need to fill the silence with constant inane chatter. Kristina knows who I’m referring to. I keep telling myself I won’t get sucked in and will just ignore them, but it’s like not being able to log out of FB when you want to. Luckily (or un, depending on your POV) I got a good deal of writing done during time off for a recent med procedure.
I CAN make myself focus on typing up MSs and revising them, when I need to, though. (I do all my first drafts by hand in composition books; after all, you don’t have to worry about anyone stealing one of THOSE like you would a tablet or laptop.)
Just Sunday (May 30), I made myself stay offline until I got the MS of a horror short story unrelated to this series typed up and gone through one revision. I still need to figure out how to trim another 500 words off it, though, to meet the min-max word count requirements for the publisher it’s slated for.
Manateehugs: Vik definitely has the morality of a pirate of his time, has that ever been emotionally hard for you to write?
Actually, no. What has been hardest for me to write with him has been the first part of book 7. He’s a bit depressed and mourning the loss of a very important person to him. Getting in that mindset has been rough.
Manateehugs: I understand the roughness of writing the depression part. I have a really hard time sticking with a narrative if the character has lost their fighting spirit and there seems to be no end of the depression in sight.
I think he’s coming out of it some. He’s still putting off finishing his quest. Juma holds a special, unreasoning dread for him, another emotion he is completely unfamiliar with dealing with.
Kristina: Belladonna is so far one of my favorite characters. When you write about her do you identify with her? To me she seems like this beautifully scary, feminine (in human form) yet sexually lethal creature.
That pretty much pegs how I see Belladonna. She’s very fun to write. I do get into her head space, but she would be viewed as borderline sociopathic by an analyst. Since she’s not human, she doesn’t always fully understand WHY humans react the way they do to some situations. She doesn’t really feel remorse and only understands it academically. She is several thousand years old, despite her youthful appearance, so she knows her prey very well and can almost seamlessly mimic humans.