1. What is the book you are writing about?
I actually have four books in process at the moment, in various stages of development. This is the cure for writer’s block: have more projects going than you have time for, so there’s always something else to work on when one thing feels stalled! The first is an e-book launching this summer, entitled Finis. Here’s the blurb that would be on the back cover (if e-books had back covers):
“Elsa’s family grows more unkind by the week. Her boss, a seven-foot-tall rage demon, has control of everything but his anger. And her cat wants to eat her. Things could be better. In a world where one’s Animal Affinity is a sign of maturity and worth, Elsa’s inability to demonstrate hers is becoming more than a disappointing nuisance; it’s becoming a danger. She has no confidence she’ll ever conquer her Plainness by “blossoming.” She also fears both the wolf packs that prowl her neighborhood and being stuck in a life plummeting rapidly from lackluster to perilous. Fortunately, she has a cousin and a co-worker who know her better than she knows herself and can see through to what society won’t. Finis. is the magic realism of our time, a story of finding one’s way to the end of things, of persevering through the dregs of life to discover something more.” (I haven’t yet announced the launch date for Finis. Be looking for it soon, though, on my social media, as well as information about the release party in Houston!)
Other projects in the works right now are a collection of poems entitled Gypsies (currently in revisions), another collection of poems entitled Playing House (on their way to my editor this week), and a novel tentatively entitled Forest of Diamonds, a literary fantasy and the first in a series (currently in rewrites).
2. When did you know that you wanted to write?
I think the first time I ever read one of my short stories to an audience was fourth grade. I’m pretty sure I’ve been writing poems and stories since I could physically write. But by seventh grade I had begun my first novel (which was never finished, predictably), and by eleventh grade I knew Creative Writing was my career path. In much the same way I don’t have any clear memories of being unable to read, I don’t remember a time when I wasn’t fascinated by and enamored of Story.
3. What advice would you give a newbie writer who wants to be published?
Write every day. I know this is a platitude, but it’s true. Even if all you do is scribble three sentences into a notebook when you first wake up in the morning or reflect in that notebook for five minutes every night, do it. Reflecting and writing every day improves the way our brains work. Cultivate the discipline to get the work done. It’s lovely when the Muse descends and you create a first draft that sparkles, but this is simply not how it happens most of the time. Persistence and perseverance are incredibly important and will help you develop a thick skin, which is absolutely essential for all writers who intend to share their writing with anyone other than their spouses or parents. And I wish I could say my skin is like armored hide, but it’s not; this is something we fragile egos work on all throughout our careers.
But find a good critique group populated by smart people who love to read and whom you can trust to be honest with you; it’s best if many of the writers in it are even farther along than you are, because you want to be with people who will help you get better. And in return, give them your very best honest critiques, too, because they deserve that for helping you.
Finally, increase your vocabulary and your depth of understanding of language. Words are your tools, and you want to make sure you know and can work with as many of them as possible.
Will all of these things lead to publication? Not necessarily, in and of themselves. But they will make you better at writing, and that will help you along the path to publication. So will gaining knowledge about the industry. Know your audience, know your craft, know your field.
4. What was the most beneficial thing you learned at DFWCON?
DFWCon is such a fantastic conference, and I don’t know if I could isolate just one thing that was better than everything else. This year, I attended quite a few classes or seminars that helped me with different aspects of my current projects. I wrote a debrief about it here. I loved
Jonathan Maberry’s tips for managing the writing life and Donald Maass’ workshop on the 21st-Century novel. Kay Honeyman and Suzanne Frank’s class on designing characters with built-in conflict potential was fantastic, as well as Julie Kibler and Natalia Sylvester’s workshop on tackling major novel revisions. There were more, too - in fact, so many great offerings that I had to split up from my colleagues and compare notes on all the different classes afterward, because there were just too many good things going on at the same time. Oh, or a time turner!
5. Why should writers attend conferences?
Even if you’ve been writing for a long time, even if you’re well established and feel like you have a good handle on how to do this writing stuff, go to conferences. Meet other people who work in your genre, in your field. Network with other writers. Make friends. Writing can become solitary most of the time, and you can become your own echo chamber if you don’t get out there and mingle with others going along on this harrowing, exciting journey, too. A writing conference is also one of the best places to learn about the industry. And if you’re finally ready to query a manuscript, conferences can be a great place to meet agents and editors to pitch to or consult with, to potentially elevate yourself above the nameless, faceless
slush pile. The bottom line? Conferences are a professional development opportunity as well as being fun.
Thanks so much Angelique for the chance to interview you! I know we all wish you luck with your e-book launching and I'm really looking forward to Forest of Diamonds. Thanks so much for your support at DFWCON and it was fun stalking agents with you at the Saturday night dinner!!
If you would like more information on our Spotlight Writer, you can check out her website here!!
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