"Wherever men have lived there is a story to be told." Henry David Thoreau

Sunday, December 7, 2014

Doin’ the Hop (a.k.a. The Liebster Award 10 Question Blog Hop)

Fellow writer and critique partner, Amanda Gaumé, has roped me into answering 10 questions in a blog hop known more specifically as The Liebster Award 10 Question Blog Hop.  I’ve never done a blog hop before, but as long as it doesn’t involve public speaking, I’m okay with it. And if you think it might be fun and challenging to hop backward, you can check out Amanda’s blog, So Many Story Ideas, So Little Time, to see how those questions led to this post.

Now, onto my answers to Amanda’s questions:

1. What genre do you write and why?

I’ve written 11 western romances, an historical saga, and a contemporary novel. All of my books are set in the American West because it’s what I’m most familiar with and it seems to suit my voice. I love the West and its history and the stories of the strong, brave people who faced tremendous hardships to make a life for themselves in an untamed land.

2. What is the best book you’ve read in the last year and why did you enjoy it?

There are actually three books I’ve read this year that I really enjoyed: The Orchid House by Lucinda Riley, The Blackbird House by Alice Hoffman, and The Winter Sea by Susanna Kearsley. Each book was different in its own way. Riley's was big and lush. Hoffman's was strange and unique with supernatural elements. Kearsley took on ancestral memory and wove past and present love stories side by side.

3. What is the most valuable thing you’ve learned as a writer?

That’s a hard one. There have been so many lessons learned about the craft and the publishing industry. I suppose one of the most valuable, early on, was acting as my own agent. I sold my first three books without an agent (yes, it was still possible to do that in 1985!), and I handled my own negotiations and worked directly with the editor at Avon Books. It taught me what an agent does, what they can and cannot do. It forced me to learn about contracts. It taught me what to look for in an agent. It taught me a lot about the nuts and bolts of what goes on behind the scenes–things I might not have been privy to if I’d had an agent acting as a buffer.

4. Who is your favorite author and why?

I don’t have a favorite. I read so many different types of books. I’m always in search of a good story. I don’t care if a book is character driven or plot driven, just as long as the story appeals to me on some level, and as long as I can connect to the author’s style and voice. My only criteria is that the author has the talent to move the story forward. Every word has to count. Conflict, motivation, what’s at stake – it all has to be there on every page. Don’t bore me with stuff that isn’t going to matter in the end.

5. Where and when do you prefer to write?

I prefer my office with complete silence. Over the years my schedule has changed depending on my circumstances. Now that my children are grown, I prefer to write mid-morning to mid-afternoon. I like to break in the afternoon for a walk or some exercise of some sort. And maybe a cup of caffeine!

6. What’s your bad writing habit?

Ha! Just one? But, for starters, I will admit I’ve been accused of being wordy and over-explaining. Ironically, I’ve also had critique partners ask me to explain more when it has to do with “all things western” like branding cattle for instance. There are things so much a part of my life on a ranch/farm that I forget to add the detail others might need or want. And like most writers, I do a search and destroy for words like “just” and “finally,” which I tend to use too freely on the first draft. Does a writer ever reach perfection? No. We can only keep trying.

7. Christmas is coming up.  What is the one thing your main character would ask for?

The main character in my WIP is not materialistic. I think he’d get more enjoyment out of what he gives to his wife and son, rather than what they give him. But he does love to read, so I can see his wife searching for the perfect book for him, even if he doesn’t ask.

8. Is there any genre or book that you would love to write but are too intimidated to?

I enjoy reading women’s fiction novels like those I mentioned earlier. I’ve always enjoyed books set in the British Isles with suspense or “gothic” elements. I have my doubts, however, that my western voice and my gritty writing style would work in that genre. Ultimately, we write a lot of ourselves into our stories. I believe I would have to step completely out of myself to write that type of fiction, and I’m not sure it’s possible. To quote Popeye: “I yam what I yam.” You have to recognize your voice and your style and stay true to yourself.

9. How did you get started writing?

I wanted to be a writer by the time I was twelve. I enjoyed reading and learning about other places and cultures. I think it was specifically stories dealing with the human condition that drew me to write fiction.

10. Are you able to write during the holiday season?

I usually try to keep writing in some capacity. Creating is always hard with so many other things going on, but if a writer can do nothing else, I would suggest brainstorming your next few chapters or edit the ones you’ve written. If you have a deadline, then you have no choice but to write and let nonessential busyness fall by the wayside. When it all boils down, you really don’t need to bake 40 dozen cookies!

Now, I’m tossing out the lariat and roping--er, tagging--historical romance author, Cindy Nord, to answer these 10 questions:

1.  What genre do you write and why?
2.  How has your background influenced the stories you write?
3.  What is the most valuable thing you’ve learned as a writer?
4.  What’s your bad writing habit?
5.  Christmas is coming up.  What is the one thing your current hero and heroine would ask for?
6.  Is there any genre or book that you would love to write but are too intimidated to?
7.  In your opinion, and in your experience, what aspect of the writing/marketing process presents the biggest challenge for writers in today's changing publishing atmosphere?
8.  Every book, whether historical or contemporary, involves a lot of research. What do you like most about the process? And how can an author know when he/she has done enough to start writing?
9.  Writers are told not to follow trends, but to follow their heart. How do you decide which ideas to pursue and which ones to shelve?
10.  There are lots of tips out there for writers. If you could boil it down to one or two, what would they be?

Cindy’s Blog: True Love Awaits                  


Amanda Gaume said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Amanda Gaume said...

Great post! I find it interesting how much the writing business has changed over the years: from the days when you had to wing it yourself (agentless) to the days when you can't get a traditional publisher without an agent. And now seeing a push toward independent and self publishing. It's going to be interesting to see where we all end up!

Cindy Nord said...

WONDERFUL answers, Linda. And I'm delighted to be roped into the blog hopping adventure!! I will post answers to the questions over on my blog spot tomorrow & then tag another to keep this blog/ball rolling right along.

Warmest regards,

~ Cindy

Linda Sandifer said...

Yes, Amanda, it will be interesting to see where things go from here.

Cindy, thanks for keeping the blog hop going. I'll forward to reading your answers.

Eunice Boeve said...

I've done the blog hop before. It can acquaint you with writers you don't know as you follow the blogs and that's a good thing. About being my own agent. I don't think I could. I'm sure I'd soon get bogged now and I doubt if there would be anyone around to throw me a rope and pull me out of the quagmire of my own making. :-)