How I got started in writing:
When I was thirty I had an idea for a story. It became a strange process since I never considered writing a novel before. I was an avid reader and held authors in high esteem. When I started writing that first story, it was like the floodgates had opened.

My writing process: 
      I create my own deadlines and set daily word count goals. This helps me see how I’m progressing, and can also be motivating when I see the word count stack up.

My first story:
I’m sure I wrote stories in elementary school, etc. for assignments, but I wasn’t necessarily writing stories on my own for fun. I was a huge reader and I’d devour multiple books a week during the summer. My first story I wrote independent of any class or assignment was a novel. I was 30. I had been helping my grandmother write her biography and an idea popped into my head—set during my grandmother’s era of WWII—and that’s when I dove in.

Percentage of time spent researching as opposed to writing:
I love to read historical and learn about anything in history, so that’s what I’ve focused on for the most part. Even when I’ve written contemporary, it’s usually been tied to something about history. In my earlier novels, I spent at least half of the time in research. Now, I probably spend about 10-20% of the time researching versus writing. I have a lot of the research books that I need now and the Internet also saves a lot of time.

Best part of being an author:
I love getting (positive) feedback from readers and hearing what they enjoyed about one of my books. Also very exciting is the chance to meet other authors at signings and conferences, and I’ve developed many close friends who are authors. As a reader, I’m a fan of many authors, and I’ve had a chance to meet some of my favorites.

My writing and educational background:
I graduated from BYU in Fashion Merchandising with a minor in Business Management. I had thought about majoring in English, but I decided that since I’d failed my AP English Essay exam, maybe I wasn’t cut out for it.

Why I love to write:
Reading has always been a huge love for me, and writing is very similar. I’m more of a discovery writer, which means that I don’t necessarily know in advance where a scene is going. I love stories, and I love the education that comes from reading about thought-provoking characters, interesting locations, or different eras in history.

How I got my first book published:
My first published novel was the 3rd manuscript I’d written. I had received many many rejections, but kept on writing and persevering. I attended writers conferences, joined a critique group, and served in a couple of different capacities in my local writing league. I viewed the road to getting published like going back to college. I was learning a whole new “major.”

How I deal with discouragement:
Discouragement is part of every path of life, and it seems to be greatly compounded in the world of writing. Just as every other vocation, there will always be someone who is a better wordsmith, has more books published, and makes more money. The important thing is to keep the measuring stick relative to what we want our quality of life to be. When I feel discouraged, it’s great to get together with other writer-friends, or to take some sort of a break—whether it’s seeing a movie, reading a few books, or doing something else creative like painting a room. Changing the pace can put the writing world into better perspective.

My writing schedule:
Whenever I can fit it in… I’ve spent many early mornings writing, some late nights, and squeezing in 15–20 minutes when possible. Recently, Harlan Coben, said that an unpublished writer waits for the muse to inspire, a published writer sits down and writes (Writers Digest, Jan 2011 issue).

How I decided if an idea is good enough to write a book about:
I have plenty of ideas—they come from reading other books, watching a show, chatting with friends, or sometimes when I’m doing mundane things like driving. Once I have a basic idea, I think of anything else I’ve read that might be similar—other books or movies it might be too close to. I’ll write down the character arc, which could be just a conversation between two characters that defines the conflict, or it might be a list of things the character goes through. My critique group also comes in handy. They might encourage, or discourage, when needed. As far as an idea being good enough to cover a whole book, it has to be compelling enough to ME in order to devote several months of writing time, and all the time it will take in editing, and (if it’s published) promoting.

My brainstorming process:
Before I officially type “Chapter 1,” I need to know the main character’s arc. My historical novels have a skeleton plot, so I already know plot points a, b, and c, although I need to find a way to connect them, and also decide when to stop the plot arc. The main characters are who the reader will connect with. Sometimes I’ll send an email or text to myself if I have a random idea, or I’ll quickly write it down—whether it’s a plot idea, a dialog excerpt, or just a character’s motivations.

What books have most influenced your writing most and why? One of the most inspirational books I’ve read is Kitchen Privileges by Mary Higgins Clark. I’ve long been a mystery fan and when I read this memoir, I realized that it was possible to be a writer and a mother at the same time. Ms. Clark inspired me when she said she’d write from 5:00-7:00 a.m. every morning so as not to interfere with her job and her kids (she was a widow at the time). I thought, “I can do that.” And I did—it took three novels before I finally got one published, but Clark’s story inspired me not to give up.

How I Became a USA Today Bestselling Author:
Visit my tell-all blog post for all the crazy details.

Advice for writers: 
The journey is long and won’t happen quickly. Every author pays his/her due diligence in one way or another. Plan to write, rewrite, learn the craft, and continually grow as a writer. If you persevere and remain teachable, you will become published. Some of the best advice I’ve heard is to set daily writing goals. Mine is between 1,000–2,000/day (5 days a week) depending on the book and depending on the deadline. It does take a lot of dedication, but if it’s important to you, it will be one of your priorities. Also, take the time to edit and to send your manuscript to alpha readers before submitting so that you’re turning in your very best work.

In Steven Pressfield’s book, The War of Art, he says: “Most of us have two lives. The life we live, and the unlived life within us. Between the two stands Resistance.” This really touched me as I think about my writing and my goals in life—how to get there and how to overcome obstacles that stand in the way.


Thomas Packer said...

Thanks for your advice and insights and encouragement.

Heather Moore said...

Thanks for visiting my blog, Thomas.