This blog is about emerging author Melissa Wray and her journey into publication. It also includes some writing tips and useful links.
Melissa hopes there is enough time in her life to write all the stories she wants to write and read all the books she wants to read. Both lists are long!
Today we welcome the lovely and talented C. Lee McKenzie! She is going to share with us some of her experiences and insights into the writing world.
Tell us a little about your writing journey.
Wild and wonderful. Sometimes a little too wild. You can see I'm now writing in fragments, something my English teacher told me never to do. That's one thing this journey has taught me, learn those rules and break 'em to the best of your ability.
I started with a goal of writing an article about cutting and ended by writing a novel. I'm still scratching my head over that, but I'm glad I did it the way I did. I've learned a lot. I've learned that writing is a business, that it's tough and if you're sensitive you'd better buy some armor or take up golf.
What do you enjoy most about being a writer?
Writing. Getting a spark, then setting the words down before that spark dies. That's the most exciting part for me. The second (nobody I tell this to believes me) is rewriting. Somehow that is so satisfying, and it really gives me the chance to deepen my stories.
What is the hardest aspect of being a writer?
Writing. Does this seem contradictory? Yes, but true. I hate sitting. I prefer being outside, hiking, so to do both I've learned to carry a notebook or my cell or anything that will allow me to jot down ideas or quick scene outlines when I'm not hunched over my desk. So far that's worked fairly well, but there's still too much sitting for my taste.
How much research goes into you story?
It depends on my topic. For Sliding on the Edge I did tons of research because I didn't understand self-abuse. I read several books, lots of articles and I scanned the Internet for videos etc. For The Princess of Las Pulgas, there wasn't much I didn't know about the topic, so I did very little research.
Writers are sometimes influenced by things that happen in their own lives. Are you?
I'm sure I am. Readers have pointed out that the houses in my books are kind of important to me. When I reread some of my descriptions of those houses I realized they were right. I moved around a lot when I was a kid, so I was always having to get used to new places. Some of those times are reflected in my stories, especially in how my characters relate to the spaces they move into or leave.
Tell us about your publications?
I have two stand alone YA's: Sliding on the Edge and The Princess of Las Pulgas. The first book is about cutting, the second about a family that has everything, then loses almost all of it. They're very different. I also have YA stories out in two anthologies. Premeditated Cat appears in The First Time and Into The Sea of Dew is in Two and Twenty Dark Tales. I was pleased to read some good reviews on both those stories.
I took a leap of faith when I wrote and published my first Middle Grade novel, Alligators Overhead, but it turned out to be exactly what I needed to write--kind of a sorbet between Young Adult stories. I've just wrapped up a fairly decent sequel for this one as well as a new YA, so I hope to get those out there this year. Fingers crossed. Toes as well.
What is the most surprising thing about writing/publishing you have learnt?
Never count on it being the same for very long. Your writing changes, your publisher changes, your attitude toward writing changes and a lot of people come and go quickly. Most importantly, the business is changing as fast as technology. It takes a lot to keep up.
Top tip/s for writers.
Learn how to promote your book before you ever sell it. I know that's cart before the horse, but scrambling to understand what works to get your book noticed and what doesn't is really important, and it takes a lot of time.
Don't rush. Write the best book you can before you send it out. Find good readers who will tell you the truth. Be sure they write better than you do.
Other than writing what else do you love?
Hiking is my favorite past time, but I created a garden that I really enjoy because it has taught me patience and how to make something beautiful out of nothing. If I didn't have Yoga, I'd go bonkers, so that's up there with things I love, too.
Who is your favourite author and why?
I can never answer that question because I love so many authors and each is unique. I love S. E. Hinton for her early teen books with bite. I love Steinbeck for his realism and vivid images. I love Fitzgerald for Gatsby. I love Schulberg for his quick characterization. I can go on, but you get the idea.
If you had a premonition you would be stranded on a desert island what 5 books would you take?
Fortunately, I have my Kindle, so I would just load that up to the max, buy a solar charger and head for a life boat to be sure I had space. Does that count? I think the question points out how much writing/publishing has already changed, right? We no longer need to make that kind of choice. Yay, technology. :-)