What made you decide to write your first novel? Was there any particular author you read that made you think, I could write like that?
I’ve been writing ever since I was a little girl. I wrote a lot in middle school and high school, but after I graduated, I put my fictional writing on the back burner. I focused more on nonfiction writing, as I was working on articles for my magazine (Crown of Beauty) and other projects. I actually started writing The Coronation when I was a teenager, but never finished it. (Author’s you know how that feels!) It wasn’t until a few years later when my cousins were visiting and I read some of it to them, just for fun.
They really enjoyed it, and it made me think, ‘Hmm…I wonder what would happen if I buckled down and finished this thing? Would the girls who read my magazine be interested in this story?’ It turned out, they were! I had some beta readers go through it and I was overjoyed by their responses. I can’t say that there was ever one particular author who inspired me to write, but I have very very lofty ambitions and harbor this totally unrealistic whimsical daydream of maybe just MAYBE writing stories as beautiful as Jane Austen…but I know I’ve got a long way to go.
How long did it take you to write your book? How many rewrites did you do on it? Who helped you with the editing?
As I mentioned, I wrote the first half of The Coronation in high school. When I returned and decided to take the story seriously, it was a year of rewrites, then another six months of editing.
What is the hardest part of writing for you? Starting? Creating a scene? Dialog? Tension, etc?
It used to be dialogue. I struggled with giving each character a unique voice and making sure they didn’t all sound like me! But as I continue to write, that’s become easier. I have three more novels (unpublished) I’ve written since The Coronation, and I feel like I’ve improved a lot.
The hardest part for me is ending the story. I get a little nervous because you want that final scene to be absolutely stunning. In my mind, the two most important scenes are the first scene and the last scene. Because at the beginning of the book, if the reader is excited they’ll want to tell their friends about it. And if, at the end of the book they’re struck with intense emotion (be it happy, sad, bittersweet, etc), then they’ll be excited about the next installment. (The Coronation is the first in a trilogy, hence the reason I really want that last scene to sparkle!)
What’s the best encouragement you’ve had in your writing?
For me, the greatest encouragement has been when a reader is truly, truly in love with my work. When the characters feel like their best friends. When they laugh and cry, and send you an intense email about how they stayed up past midnight reading your story. What could possibly be more encouraging than that?
Words of affirmation and excitement from readers really fill my tank of inspiration and perseverance and help me to continue plowing forward. I’ve always been encouraged by the fact that even when I receive negative reviews about my debut novel (yeah, it happens), I’ll often find words of encouragement buried beneath all the harsh critique.
Someone will say, “Even though I didn’t like the story, this author has a gift.” Or, “I see some inexperience here, but I’m looking forward to seeing what she does in the future.” And even though it’s not a raving 5 Star Review, it’s enough to say, ‘Keep going! Keep moving forward! You’re not perfect yet, but you’re making progress, and as long as you don’t give up, you’re going to keep getting better and better.’ As authors, I think that’s something we all need to remember.
We have all experienced rejection. Give me an example of how you learned to write past it.
I’m going to be completely honest here: the first negative review I received caused me to cry. I didn’t think it was going to. But it did. The tears fell and I felt as though I had just wasted years of my life on something which this person didn’t care about. They didn’t embrace it, they didn’t like it, and they nitpicked all of the reasons why it wasn’t their cup of tea. It wasn’t a direct attack against me, but that’s what it felt like: an arrow of insecurity shooting directly toward my soul.
After a few more sniffles, praying a little bit, and getting my mind back in the right place, I was reminded of the truth: I am not defined by what I write. But who I am should define what I write. If someone doesn’t like my story…that is completely fine. There are people who don’t like castles, and glitter, and fairy tales, and I have to be okay with that. Negatives reviews will come, and people will nitpick my plot, my characters, my motives and my skill…but I’m going to write anyway. At the end of the day, I write because there are stories inside that I know I need to get out. It brings me so much joy to let my fingers fly, and if others can join in on the fun…that’s wonderful! And if not? Well, I’m going to write anyway.
What made you choose the indie route?
I looked a lot at different publishing options for many years. I chose self-publishing for The Coronation because I already had eager readers excited to get their hands on the paperback version. I’d been building a platform for several years already, and the girls were asking for it. Self-publishing gave me the ability to share this story in my own way, without having to go through the long process of working with an agent and begin traditionally published.
I could definitely see myself pursuing traditional publishing in the future, as my platform and readership continues to grow, and I want to launch new series’ and novels. But for starting out, it’s all about connecting with readers, and I feel like self-publishing is such a great way to get yourself out there, make the experience really purposeful and meaningful for your readers, invite them to be part of the process, and gift them with a high quality, easy to access, professional-quality book.
What was the most challenging part about putting together the book?
The hardest part about self-publishing is most definitely the formatting, but thankfully I have a sweet and knowledgeable friend who helped with that! Otherwise, one may need to seek help from a professional, because the formatting of your book is so extremely important.
What do you know now about writing that you wished you had known sooner?
Negative reviews are not the end of the world. The purpose of writing isn’t to please everybody. It’s to express the gift that is inside of you, tell the stories that are burning in your heart, and encourage those to whom your works are destined to touch.
What is some of the best writing advice that you’ve received or could give?
One of my favorite quotes is, “If you don’t see the book on the shelf that you want to read, write it!” I’m not sure who said that, but I’ve kept that quote close to my heart for many years. It really resonates with me, because when I was a young teen, I really struggled to find books that I enjoyed.
In a profession as competitive as this one, it’s easy to think, “There are already millions of books out there! Nobody cares about what I have to say. Why would I write another story, when there might already be something similar, and far more popular, out there?” That’s true. But you know what’s also true? Nobody on this planet has the same fingerprint as you. They don’t have the same voice, the same mind, or the same personality. You are 100% unique and this world needs your uniqueness! I truly believe that everyone has something special and one-of-a-kind to give.
So why not bring your gifts to the table? Why not write something that could potentially have the power to change someone’s life? And if, at the very least, just brighten someone’s day? There’s not enough joy, happiness, smiles, and beauty in this world…so why not lift your pen and start spreading it around? Why not plant flowers of love and seeds of hope, and be who you were TRULY created to be?
Are there any other points about writing that you would like to add?
Just do it. Fear tries to keep us silent. Fear tries to keep the caps on our pens, and our Word documents closed. We’re too busy, too inexperienced, too scatterbrained, too stressed, too imperfect…but we’ve listened to the excuses for far too long.
It is time to silence them, the fears and be who we truly are. Writers. And writers write.
They don’t just dream about writing. They don’t just talk about writing. They dig down deep, to where the gut of the issue is, and start WRITING. Write every day. Seriously. Don’t skip a day! Work on that story. Don’t leave it hanging there for months on end. Write something…write anything! Even if it’s just a sentence. Keep going. Set goals, and demolish them.
Make sacrifices. Keep going. Because the more you write, the better you get…I promise you! I’ve really only been writing seriously, for about a year and a half, and I can scarcely believe the improvements I’ve seen in my own writing! Just imagine how good you could be five years from now. Ten years from now! Just like anything else in life, writing all starts in your mind. You have to conquer your inner critique, silence the lie, and go for it.
What is the next book that will be coming out? Can you give me a short
The Rebellion is a sequel to The Coronation! I don’t want to give away too much (especially for those who haven’t read The Coronation yet!) but the Tales of Tarsurella continue in this fictitious, European nation. Prince Addison (who is now King) is faced with all sorts of fresh political issues. The people of Tarsurella are not pleased with this change of power and responsibility in some shocking and rather disturbing ways. Addison must strive for a way to bring his Kingdom together before it all falls apart.