MJ. Nine years. I spent a lot of time working on my career and improving my craft. By 2009 I was a part of a great writers’ critique group and I started reworking my novel with them. Over the course of two years I remained with that group until it disbanded and then started my own group with a few of the interested members of the original group. That lasted another year and then I joined two larger regional writers’ groups and began attending not only workshops but writing conferences. Come 2012 I was trying to get a fledgling freelance writing and editing business started (that was a year after my son was born and I was in desperate need of some “me” time). I hired a couple of substantive editors to give the manuscript another go over, integrated a lot of those suggestions and then dove back into finding an agent with a much better understanding of the industry (although still not 100%). Just as I was seriously looking into self-publishing this series, a colleague from a small press in the UK mentioned that her publishing company was branching out into new genres and were now accepting manuscripts. I took a chance and sent her a copy of my magnum opus – she said yes. I’ve been officially published in print since 2014 (non-fic e-book since 2013).
Q. What makes a writer great?
MJ. Perseverance, a passion toward personal betterment, a willingness to keep learning, and above all the ability to recognize good advice/feedback when you get it 😉 If we can’t write believably and without error, we will lose our audience in a heartbeat!
Q. and the all important: What does the process of going from “no book” to “finished book” look like for you?
MJ. Book 2 in The Chronicles of Xannia, Cadence of Consequences, took just over a year to write, but because I gave birth to my son in the intervening time that was more realistically spread out over 3 years. Then, substantive editing and revisions took another 4 months before I could get a line and copy editor to check over things for me while I started on the logistics of cover design and interior formatting. Book 2 is now published one year after book 1’s release. Book 3 will look much the same (without the birth of a child to spread one year into three), although I have been working on two novels at the same time and will be able to start querying agents for the new series just as book 3, Rebel’s Rein/Rain, comes out. My goal is to work up to three novels a year. Seeing as I’m already publishing one e-book and one fiction book per year, this shouldn’t be too difficult – just need to find my stride!
MJ. My life experiences are littered in large and small ways throughout all of my stories. The biggest impact usually has an emotional edge, but I’ll take something like the idea of being ostracized and magnify it 150 times in order to look at the big picture and emotional equivalency impact. Every main character (and many minor ones) have some aspect of my personality imprinted on them – it helps me love even the jerks and the ‘bad guys.’
Q. Have you? Or do you want to write in another genre?
MJ. While I enjoy the overriding genre of Speculative Fiction best, I will write general fiction as long as there is a strong inner and outer quest/journey. I’ve dabbled in historical fiction in short stories, contemporary New Adult, sci-fi and fantasy. And in 90% of my writing I find a way to include an element of romance – I’m a bit of a sucker for the innocent stuff.
Q. Is there anything else you’d like our readers to know?
M.J. If you’re a writer struggling to find representation, don’t lose sight of your goal. The road may be long, hard and crazy-frustrating but don’t let that get you down – don’t start cutting corners. If you have to yell at the wall and chuck a beloved object across the room, do it. Let yourself give up, but also give yourself permission to start over again with learned expectations.
If you’re a reader, keep trying indie works that aren’t free. The reason we charge for our wares is to attempt to make back some of the money that went into the publishing of our manuscript – and so many more of us are ‘doing it right’ these days – so keep trying, keep checking us out!
Click here for Part I & II
DON’T MISS UPCOMING BLOGS featuring INTERVIEWS with best-selling AUTHORS! Julia London, Matt Jorgenson, Mark Koning, and actor/narrator Tavia Gilbert.
To receive my sign up on the home page and enter your email address. I love comments! Take the time to write one at the bottom of the post.