Why/how did you start writing?
I had graduated from college, and stopped working to be home with my baby girl. My mother, who always wanted to write a book, suggested we do it together. The accountability—and the fun—got us through the first draft … eight years ago. We’ve been writers ever since.
How did you select your genre?
It selected me, I think. I don’t have the patience a historical takes to research, so I definitely wanted to write a contemporary. The issues of infidelity and marriage story of The Familiar Stranger might have lent the story to a Women’s Fiction novel, but I felt from the beginning the story should be equally accessible to men, thus the “General/Contemporary” designation.
What is your writing day like?
For one short year after my youngest was in school and before becoming a foster parent, I would write or market from 9-2:45 with a short lunch break. This last year has been more sporadic, with email and online marketing in the morning along with frequent breaks to play with or get snacks for the child in my care. Lunch with her, then phone marketing, editing, and writing while she naps. After dinner and once the kids are in bed, I usually log 1-3 more hours of work time.
I’ve found I’m most productive at actually writing when I play games with myself. For instance, I might write down all the chores I have to do on one side of a paper and my word count in hundred word increments on the other. For every hundred words I write, I complete any chore. In a few hours, I’ve made good progress on both lists. Many writers hate to “interrupt” their writing time like that, but my brain seems to process better with frequent breaks and words spill out when I set back down at the keyboard.
Of course, if I get a call to substitute teach, I don’t get much done that day!
How do your organize your writing? (outlines/note cards/post-its)
When my mother and I are working on a book together, we use 3 x 5 cards. Each has the objective of the scene and whose is the point of view character. We tack all of them to a corkboard and check the scenes off as we write them
Writing on my own, I don’t need more than 2 or 3 pages of notes, with each plot point roughly listed in order. As I write, though, I keep track of the timeline, character eye color, and other such details.
What’s the most surprising thing a character has “told you”?
One of my characters is an orphan with cancer. I guess I thought she might be extremely depressed or melodramatic, but she turned out to be joyful and optimistic.
Do you have a list of characters that you’re saving for future use? What kind of information do you keep on these characters?
Yeah, I call them “family” and “friends” 🙂 I watch them like a hawk and anything is game to end up in a book sometime.
What does your work space/office look like?
My office is attached to my master bedroom, so I can conveniently feel guilty about all the work I haven’t gotten done as I fall asleep. An entire wall of the office is corkboard to pin character sketches and plot cards on, but right now it’s showcasing my kiddo’s art. The cheap particleboard desk is covered with paperwork. I lived in a perpetually clean house before I was a writer, but I had to let that go a little bit.
Lately, though, I’ve been doing most of my writing, marketing, and networking on my laptop. Currently, I’m at the kitchen counter. Next might come the living room couch, or the comfy chair, or my bed.
What is your go-to snack when writing?
I have a sweet tooth, so M&Ms or Smarties or Skittles. But then I feel like I’m eating pure sugar—which I am—so I’ll grab an apple or carrots. My latest yummy treat is a bowl of dry Life cereal. It keeps my mouth occupied while my brain works.
If you could only recommend on NOVEL, what would it be? Why?
I saw a recent interviewee said Peace Like a River by Leif Enger, so I can’t say that now, can I?
I’ll go with Randy Alcorn’s Deception. The protagonist is a homicide detective in Portland, OR. (I live about 45 minutes away.) It is the most hilarious book, with tons of plot twists, fast pacing, and vibrant and strange characters. I was thoroughly entertained and marveled at the talent God has given him.
If you could only recommend on CRAFT book (writing, not crocheting), what would it be? Why?
James Scott Bell’s Plot & Structure. I think editing books are hugely important as well, but you can usually find someone in real life or online to explain Point of View, or Character Development, or Grammar Issues. However, finding someone who can give you tools to ramp up your pacing is pretty rare. Jim does a fabulous job of giving ways to jumpstart ideas and various tools for coming up with a great plot.
Is there anything else you’d like to add?
It’s been great being with you! Don’t forget to leave a comment for your chance to win a copy of The Familiar Stranger, and sign up for the infrequent, humorous newsletter at www.ashberrylane.net/update.aspx Thanks, Karin!
When you leave a comment this weekend you are going to be entered in TWO giveaways! The first is Christina’s chance to win a copy of her book (she’ll be picking a winner at the end of the month).
But since it’s my tradition to give something away with each author interview I’m going to give a FREE pen and journal to some lucky winner [this is a silly prize – you’ll understand when you get it in the mail] 🙂 I’ll announce the winner Sunday night (after 8pm EST). Please don’t forget to leave you email addy so I can contact you.
You can follow Christina’s tour tomorrow over at Glynn Young’s blog, http://faithfictionfriends.blogspot.com.
Have a great weekend!