Writer Q&A #1

What’s the best way to beat writer’s block? Write! 

I guess when people tell you that they mean you should write an actual story… but I decided to play a little fun game and answer these questions I found on tumblr!


 

1 :   What age-group do you write?

YA (mostly upper-grade)  

2 :   What genre do you write?

Fantasy (and some Sci-fi, though that’s still in its baby shoes)

3 :   Do you outline according to big ideas or small details?

Big ideas. But sometimes I like to focus on small details as well. 

4 :   Which do you prefer–line-editing or plot-revisions?

I like to look at the bigger picture, so plot-revisions. 

5 :   Do you write better with or without deadlines?

With deadlines, but if they’re unreasonably close they’re too much of a stress factor. I like to give myself deadlines that make sense for my project.

6 :   What would be the biggest compliment you could hope to receive on your current WIP?

“Your world-building is fantastic! I could see myself living in your world!” 

7 :   How long is your current WIP?

About 88.000 words. 

8 :   What author would you be most excited to be compared to?

Cassandra Clare or Holly Black

9 :   What do you struggle most with as a writer?

Self-doubt and fear. 

10 :   Do you brain-storm story ideas alone or with others?

Mostly alone. (Preferred places of brain-storming are the shower and my bed whenever I’m trying to fall asleep.)

11 :   Do you base your characters off of real people?

Yes, but most of the time I do it subconsciously. 

12 :   Is your writing space clean or cluttered?

I try to keep it clean, but it always ends up cluttered with loose paper sheets. 

13 :   Do you write character-driven or plot-driven stories?

Character-driven. 

14 :   Do you have a favorite writing-related quote?

I’ve got one hung up on the wall above my desk: “Write Drunk, Edit Sober”. Though that’s not a rule I follow! 

15 :   If you transport your original characters into another author’s world, which world would you choose?

Hogwarts or Panem, I think both would be fun to watch/read. 

16 :   Would your story work better as a movie or TV show? Why?

Movie. The story would need to be needlessly stretched in order to be made into a TV show. 

17 :   Do you make soundtracks for each story?

…no… I made a playlist for my NaNoWriMO18 novel

18 :   If you could assign your story one song, what would it be?

Eye of the Needle by Sia. I used to listen to it a lot while I was plotting my first draft. I think the lyrics also fit what my protagonist is going through. 

19 :   Would you rather live in your characters’ world, or have your characters come live in our world?

Live in their world. My story is a portal fantasy, so their world is basically ours PLUS a magical faerie land. WIN-WIN! 

20 :   What book would you love to see adapted for the big or small screen?

Carry On by Rainbow Rowell

21 :   Do you finish most of the stories you start?

I finish the first draft, but I often get stuck when editing/revising. 

22 :   Has your own writing ever made you cry?

Yes, I was also close to tears once while I was plotting. 

23 :   Are you proud or anxious to show off your writing?

It depends. If I feel like the story is in a good shape, I love to share it.

24 :   When did you start considering yourself a writer?

On some days I still doubt that I am a writer! But I think I started considering myself a writer once I took it more seriously and tried to write as often as possible. 

25 :   What books are must-reads in your genre?

Must-reads are tricky. They set high expectations in readers and I don’t like that, personally. Read what you love and what brings you joy. 

 

Advertisements

Happy New Year!

It’s the first week of 2019 and the internet is filled with everyone’s new year’s resolutions. And so I have to ask myself: Should I set some resolutions for myself? Is it really worth the pressure? I’ve decided that instead I will start off by looking back at 2018!

Accomplishments of 2018

I might not have published something, but it was a very successful year for me as a writer. I..

  1. wrote 8 flash fiction pieces (as part of my writers group challenge that you can find here)
  2. edited my first novel The Seelie Princess and received tons of great feedback
  3. entered both PitchWars and AuthorMentorMatch with that novel (and even though I did not get picked, I learned how to write a query letter and a synopsis)
  4. queried several agents
  5. tried NaNoWriMo and wrote 22,000 words in 15 days! I could not finish my project, but it was a valuable lesson to learn (read more about that here)
  6. outlined the sequel to The Seelie Princess and wrote approximately 40,000 words
  7. participated in two local writing workshops
  8. went to several Open Mic nights
  9. enjoyed at least one meeting a month with the most wonderful writers group (plus several fun evenings)
  10. read a few good books on writing and editing, including the very helpful Self-editing for Fiction Writers by Browne & King (available on Amazon)

Looking at this list now, I’m realizing how much I’ve accomplished! I’m going to be honest here and tell you that during the last year, at the end of most days, I felt as though I’d done nothing worthwhile. As though I was standing still and hadn’t progressed in my journey as a writer (and life in general) at all. But things look a bit different if I consider the sum of all those days. At the end of 2018, it didn’t matter that there were some days when I couldn’t get any work done (for whatever reason). There were plenty of other days when I was productive and creative, and those days all accumulated to that amazing list of accomplishments.

Goals for 2019

Since I can’t entirely resist the urge of planning this new year, I’m going to go ahead and make a short list of goals for 2019. This year I want to…

  1. revise The Seelie Princess and get it into the best shape possible
  2. learn more about traditional and self-publishing and see what works best for my novel
  3. finish writing the sequel
  4. participate in more writing workshops
  5. continue to meet with my writers group

To finish things up, I want to share a quote that is hanging on the wall right above my computer screen. It has guided me through difficult times in 2018 and it will continue to guide me through 2019. Sometimes we are so harsh on ourselves that we fail to see all the good that we’ve accomplished and that whatever we do is enough. HAVE A GOOD YEAR EVERYONE!

THE SEELIE PRINCESS – What’s it about?

I’ve briefly talked about this before here – but I want to tell you a bit more today. THE SEELIE PRINCESS is my first full-length novel, which I finished revising back in August. As of now, it has not been published, but I’m querying and excited to share this story with you. So today I want to rave about my book baby. 

A quick recap of what to expect:

  • YA Fantasy with LGBTQ rep
  • faeries! lot’s of them
  • f/f romance
  • strong female characters
  • a magical realm 
  • elements of Celtic mythology
  • names that are pretty on the eye but you won’t be able to pronounce them (sorry, not sorry)

Meet the MC – Kayla Whittemore

Everyone knows that faeries only exist in stories, but Kayla is certain that they are real and the reason why her father vanished when she was little. Even almost 10 years after his ‘death’, she holds on to the hope of finding him. When she finally receives word from the faeries, she doesn’t hesitate to strike a bargain with their queen. But finding her father is not as easy as she’s hoped and Kayla has to face treacherous faeries, hidden family heirlooms, and her first heartbreak. How far is she willing to go? 

Kayla was born in 1998 in a small down in Illinois. After her father disappeared, they moved to the bustling city of Chicago. When Kayla isn’t researching how to find faeries, she spends her time cuddled up with a good book or drinking way too much coffee with her best friend Abby. 

What inspired it? 

1 – Celtic Fairy Faith

In the summer of 2014, I was obsessed with Cassandra Clare’s Shadowhunter Chronicles. And even though I was a huge fan of all the badass Shadowhunters in the books, what fascinated me even more was her portrayal of the faeries as beautiful, cunning, and complicated creatures. So I began to research how she’d come about that idea and I soon learned she’d taken a lot of her inspiration from the Celtic Fairy Faith (as did her wonderful writer-friend Holly Black).

The Celtic mythology is filled to the brim with magical creatures and fantastic folktales. I could write for hours about this topic! But I don’t want to digress, so I’ll give you a little overview of characters that found their way into my story: 

  • faeries: also known as Daoine Sidhe, inhabitants of the magical Tír na nÓg, divided into the Seelie Court and the Unseelie Court
  • pookas: the underdogs of the faerie realm, shapeshifters and forest creatures
  • pixies: smallest inhabitants of Tír na nÓg, also the friendliest of the Fair Folk
  • merrows: merfolk living on a small island off the mainland, telepaths and constantly suspicious of the faeries
  • faerie cats: an ancient type of faeries who can perform magic and shares both a cat’s furry ears and its heightened senses 

2 – Diverse Storytelling

When I began this journey of writing THE SEELIE PRINCESS, I had decided on two aspects early on: there would be faeries (plenty of them!) and my main character would be a girl falling in love with another girl. Throughout my writing process, many ideas appeared, shifted, manifested, or disappeared again, but these two facts persisted until the very end. 

There has been an abundance of great stories where girls were whisked away to far lands by incredibly handsome boys (I’m looking at you, Jace Herondale!). I believe it’s time for girls to get whisked away by gorgeous girls, too. Or boys being seduced by other boys. Or just generally people falling in love. All mixed with a fair amount of faerie dust! 

So who’s the Seelie Princess? 

I can’t tell you just yet… but keep your eyes open for little excerpts and sneak peeks! If you’re interested in reading more about faeries and Tír na nÓg, please check out my two short stories: The King’s Daughters and Broken Bonds. Feel free to talk to me on twitter @sarah_tanzmann or leave a comment below! 

My NaNoWriMo18 experience

-How I defied my inner demons-

On November 1st, I set out for my newest adventure as a writer. For years I had dreamed of participating in NaNoWriMo, but it never worked out due to other responsibilities. But this year, my schedule for November was clear – finally! So with a rough outline in my head, I put pen to paper and began to write. Soon, however, doubt settled in. 

Can I do this? Am I really able to write a WHOLE BOOK in just a month? Of course I’d written a book before, but that had been a long process. Months of research followed by months of planning, writing, and ultimately revising. The prospect of going through most of this process within just a month seemed daunting. And then another question settled in my mind like a parasite: What if I can’t write another book? What if I’m really an impostor, a fraud? What if I’m not really a writer? Maybe I had placed all my cards on this dream of being a writer, only to realize that I’d never make it. 

So on November 15th, halfway through NaNoWriMo18, I stopped writing. I just couldn’t continue. The thought of returning to my project was too much to handle and I turned the other way. The remainder of the month I spent licking the wounds of my bruised ego. One sentence ran through my head on constant repeat: I HAD FAILED. I had failed NaNoWriMo. I had failed writing another book. I had failed building up a writing habit. I had failed as a writer. I had failed as a human being. That was the only thing I could think of, until a friend of mine opened my eyes. It was true, I had not completed NaNoWriMo. “But you wrote 22.000 words in 15 days,” my friend said. “And even if you choose not to continue with this particular novel, you still did something! In the very least, you can consider it as practice.” Huh. I sat back in my chair. Others had told me similar things and somehow deep down I had always known that you could not fail NaNoWriMo. But this particular friend had highlighted all the things that I had accomplished and slowly the doubtful demon trying to tear me down from the inside started to subside. 

Yesterday, for the first time since November 15th, I sat back down to write. I did not continue my NaNoWriMo18 project (at least not now), but I tried to write something different. And I wrote this blog post as well. I’m not going to lie, it was hard to get back to writing, but it felt like the first sip of water after a long drought. So maybe NaNoWriMo just isn’t for me or maybe I try again next year and write even more than 50.000 words in a month. Or maybe I really needed to “fail” this year to realize that every single word I write is an achievement. Every written word can be the start of something new – or maybe it doesn’t amount to anything. Whichever it is, every second spend following my dream is an accomplishment in itself. 

So, to wrap this up, whether you finished NaNoWriMo or not, even if you wrote only a couple of words, YOU ACHIEVED SOMETHING! Be proud of what you did rather than mourn all that you could’ve done. Every single word you write is worth it!