Today we have Annie Bellet with her new book A Heart In Sun And Shadow. Here's what she has to say about the craft of writing.
What is your earliest memory of writing?
My earliest memory of writing fiction at least was when I was eight. We had a substitute teacher in our class that day and she asked us to write a short story on whatever we wanted to write about. I panicked because I didn't know what to write about and she noticed and came over. I told her I didn't know any stories well enough to feel comfortable writing them down. She looked at me for a moment and then said, "so make something up." That pretty much sealed my fate.
How does it feel being published?
It feels good, I guess. Nerve-wracking sometimes. The first acceptance letter I got for a piece of fiction (non-self-published) threw me. It came after so many rejections that I started to auto-file it as a rejection and then noticed they were offering me money.
As for indie publishing, it feels very freeing to have this avenue open. I know now that anything I write can find readers and that's a very fun thought.
When did you decide to be a writer?
When I was eight, I guess. I "got serious" about trying to make a living at it on Feb. 4th, 2009. I'd been writing for years and years before that (about 20) and been in an MFA program that wasn't quite what I wanted (it was more geared toward literary work and I wanted to write fantasy and science fiction). So I decided that in order to get good, to really focus and start selling my stories, I needed to take it seriously and treat writing as a job. So I quit my job and started a new one. It's been a bit of a roller-coaster, but it's fun and I wouldn't trade writing for any job in the world (unless I could figure out how to get paid to just sit around and read good books, and maybe not even then).
Do you get writer's block? How do you combat it?
I don't get the traditional form of writer's block meaning I never, ever run out of ideas. I do get stuck sometimes in a particular story and I have to step away from it and either take a walk or work on something else. I just push through it after letting whatever is bugging me sit on my brain for a little while. I've found that just getting the work done helps and I can train my mind into problem-solving such blocks on the go. Sometimes I get too many ideas and don't know which to write immediately, and that's a different sort of writer's block I guess. Mostly, any issues that crop up, I just keep going and try not to second-guess myself too much.
Where do you write? Do you write longhand, typewriter or computer?
I write on the computer in my office. It's nice to have a private space full of books where I can turn on music and focus and get to work. I take notes and jot down ideas long-hand though. I have notebooks full of ideas and research notes.
Tell us about your Latest Book.
The one that I just put up (my first indie novel!) is a fairytale fantasy set in a sort of re-imagined ancient Wales. I love Welsh fairytales and was lucky enough to be able to study the language and culture of medieval Wales while I was in college. So I decided to put that to good use and invent my own fairytale.
What advice do you have for aspiring writers?
Write. Don't stop. Read everything. Read the best-sellers in your genre and look at what they have in common. Then keep writing. Practice and persistence are what make it in this business. If your first book sucks, that's okay. You'll write more books. Don't get too attached to one story. You can always re-draft it later when your skills catch up to your imagination. If you study good stories (books that sell!) and keep writing new, better fiction, you will improve and you will learn to write stories people want to read. Follow your dreams and don't let anyone tell you they aren't possible.
The twin brothers Emyr and Idrys are cursed to live as hounds; Emyr by night, and Idrys by day. The twins believe they will be trapped this way forever until they meet the fierce and curious Áine, a changeling woman born with fey blood and gifts struggling to fit into a suspicious human world.
Áine unravels the fate of Emyr and his twin as all three of them fall in love. To free her lovers from the curse, she embarks on a journey to the realm of the fey where she confronts her own unique gifts and heritage. Ultimately, she must decide where her heart truly lies and what she’s willing to risk to get what she desires most.
I also have a science fiction short story collection available as well as a near future, hard science fiction novella. Links to those plus traditionally published stories available online for free are listed here: http://overactive.wordpress.com/read-my-fiction/