What made you decide to write your first novel?
My passion for writing began in early childhood but after walking into my first college writing class, I succumbed to fear, switched my major to Accounting, and forgot about writing. Two decades later, I found myself trying to process the pastor’s words at my aunt and uncle’s wedding. “Surely there’s someone here who could write their story,” he’d said. Their story was powerful. I agreed it should be written, but not by me. So why did I feel like that comment was pointed at my direction? I was not a writer.
My protest was futile. From that moment on, I could not stop myself from writing. I devoured writing literature and wrote like a madwoman. I never did write my aunt and uncle’s story, but at the end of 2009, I told a friend I felt compelled to write a fictional story. “So write it,” she said, and I did, and so began the journey toward my first novel.
In 2013, you won an award for a story with a slightly different name. Is that the book that you published? How did you hear about the publisher or the contest?
Yes. At the Water’s Edge was the original title, but in 2015, a well-known author published a novel with the same title, and my publisher and I decided to change our title to On the Edge.
I found FaithWriters.com while searching for an online writers group. I loved the friendly, nurturing environment, and experienced most of my writing growth there. FaithWriters.com offers writing resources, writer forums, weekly writing challenges, and an annual Page Turner Contest. Winners of the Page Turner contest receive a prize package including a sum of cash, free manuscript editing, and the possibility of publication by Breath of Fresh Air Publishing (BoFAP). It was a fortunate turn of events that I’d won the contest, received free editing, and was accepted for publication!
Who helped you with the editing?
After I’d won the contest, my manuscript was put into the hands of Jan Ackerson, of Superior Editing Services. Jan is an incredibly talented editor who understood my writing style as well as my intentions for the story. I worked on her edits for a few months and submitted the manuscript to Deb Porter, owner of BoFAP.
What did your editor remind you to do most often?
I have a very poor understanding of how commas are supposed to be used, apparently. I can’t tell you how many times I was told to add, delete, or move a comma.
How long did it take to go from the acceptance of your manuscript to the time it was published?
The manuscript was accepted for publication in the summer of 2014. The novel was scheduled to come out the following summer, but it was delayed and came out in March 2016.
Tell me about the process of publishing your book.
The two-year editing process consisted of intense, grueling bursts of refining, and long, dry spells of waiting. This was my favorite part of the writing process. It was thrilling to watch my original story transform from “Hmm. I think I have a story here.” To “Holy Toledo, this is looking like an actual, real novel!”
I was fortunate to be able to work with Deb and Jan on this book. These amazing women brought my book to life. I also received relentless support from a handful of close friends, women who encouraged me when I was up and lifted me out of the dark when I was down. My gratitude also goes out to FaithWriters.com, where I felt safe to spread my writing wings.
What is the hardest part of writing for you? Starting? Creating a scene? Dialog? Tension, etc?
Starting is definitely the hardest part about writing for me. I’ve logged lots of hours staring at a blank page. But once I start, the story or scene practically writes itself.
What’s the best encouragement you’ve had in your writing?
At a FaithWriters Writing Conference in Portland, Oregon, I met bestselling author Leslie Gould. As I babbled on about my work in progress, Leslie listened. She told me I had a good story and she encouraged me to enter the Page Turner contest. Leslie’s encouragement came at a time when I was experiencing a lot of fear and doubt. Leslie and I stayed in touch. She fielded questions, helped me with my synopsis, and wrote an endorsement for On the Edge. Having an established author who believed in me was a blessing unlike any other.
What has surprised you the most in writing/publishing?
What surprised me most during the writing process was how willing folks were to share their expertise with me. Police officers, EMTs, a rescue diver, a boat expert, a pastor, an auto mechanic specializing in Mustangs, and an ER nurse were all more than happy to answer my research questions.
What frustrated you the most?
One of the most frustrating aspects of writing is how isolating a writer’s life can become. Sometimes, you can’t get outside of your own head and it seems that no one understands what you’re going through. I’ve learned how important it is for every writer to collect a few close writer friends. These are the folks who get you, who know what you’re going through, and who know how to pull you out.
What do you know now about writing that you wished you had known sooner?
People’s reactions to your writing are not a reflection of you, but a reflection of themselves. If I’d learned this long ago, I could have saved myself a lot of hurt feelings.
What is some of the best writing advice that you’ve received or could give?
The only way to become a good writer is to do the work. Log the hours. Sit down and write. Never give up. The difference between published and non-published writers is persistence. Find a good editor, and she/he will be worth their weight in gold.
Are there any other points about writing that you would like to add?
Yes. These are my favorite writing resources:
· Bird by Bird, by Anne Lamott
· On Writing, by Stephen King
· The Synonym Finder, by J.I. Rodale
· The Emotion Thesaurus, by Angela Ackerman & Becca Puglisi
· The First Five Pages, by Noah Lukeman
· Self-Editing for Fiction Writers, by Renni Browne & Dave King
What is the next book that will be coming out? Can you give me a short synopsis?
I’m presently writing two books that are related to my first one. On the Edge was written from Kristen’s POV, the sequel will be from her best friend Alana’s POV. The second book will be a re-write of On the Edge from the villain’s POV. I’m looking forward to diving deeper into the minds and souls of these two compelling characters.
Sounds compelling. You have a great list of writing books that I’ve often heard touted by other authors. I would suggest my readers look them up.
That’s all for today’s interview. If you would like to learn more about Theresa’s books, here are two links to get started.
theresasanty.com Amazon Page: http://amzn.to/2ur81Ta