Nicolette Elzie of A Little Bookish, A Little Writerly created this 20-question Tag to get to know more about the different writers out here in the world of blogging. For her original post on the tag and the participation guidelines, go here.
I was tagged by Breeanna Pierce (Thanks, Breeanna! This is fun!).
When did you first start writing? Was being a writer something you always aspired to be?
I wrote short, strange little stories and did my own “bookbinding” as early as the first grade. I also wrote a strange sort of fanfiction about my friends and I in a very Xanth-influenced fantasy world, during my middle and high school years. I planned out several novels during that time, too, one of which I still think is salvageable!
I guess, if anything, this tells me that I always intended to be a writer, whether I meant it or not. I’ve pursued publication on and off since a short story contest in third grade, so maybe we’ll call me a “lifer.”
What genre do you write?
Adult urban fantasy and other speculative fiction.
Can you tell us a little about your current work in progress? When did you start working on this project?
My current project is Book 2 in a series with no name (it’s hard to name a story arc/series!!) about a pair of demon Hunters, Red and her Hellhound-bound-to-human-form, Caleb. I’m presently shopping Book 1, Dark of the Wood, around to agents. The first book is a tale of a the two inexperienced Hunters trying to solve a suspicious kidnapping case and turns into them accidentally saving the world. Funny how these things pan out.
I started working on this series about two years ago, and finally finished the final draft of the first book about two months before now. Once I sent that off, I rolled right into Book 2, Blood from a Stone – no rest for the wicked!
What was your first piece that you can remember writing? What was it about?
I remember writing and illustrating Little Neon Riding Hoot at roughly age 7 – it featured a young owlet in a bright cape and a Big Bad Wolf on a motorcycle – and turning the finished product into a hand-sewn book. If I recall correctly, Riding Hoot had a slingshot and took out the Big Bad Wolf herself because she didn’t need saving, thank you very much.
What’s the best part about writing?
I love learning about my characters and my world through letting them tumble around with one another. I plan things out fairly loosely in my outlines and leave plenty of room for evolving or changing setting, action, and character development. A secondary character in Dark of the Wood turned out to be a lot more interesting than I initially imagined and had rather a lot more to do and say in the story than I had had planned out for her. I like letting my stories evolve organically within a frame of a 3- or 5-act story structure.
What’s the worst part about writing? Making the time! I work several freelance and part time jobs and juggling work, housework, errands, medical appointments, and the patches of free time that I have is hard enough without needing to get a few hundred words out almost every day!.
What’s the name of your favorite character and why?
As much as I love writing my protagonist, Red, because she can be a fun way to say what I won’t and do what I can’t, she isn’t my number one super ultra favorite. I prefer her more Laconic partner, Caleb. He’s got some great character “flaws” that make his actions and dialogue fun to create. His formal speech, his dog-like gestures, and his blunt questions all make him smile-worthy while I’m typing.
How much time a day/week do you get to write? When is the best time for you to write (morning or night)?
I try to write by word count rather than time – though I tend to take up all of the time I let myself have to write when I can find it. Most sessions when I sit down to write, I hit at least 600 words but I’ve done upwards of 2000 in about two and a half hours the other week. It just depends on what else in life is going on
Did you go to college for writing? Or if you haven’t been to college yet, do you plan to?
I did. And I didn’t. Kind of. I applied to undergrad for English and was likely accepted and given a scholarship based on that – but then switched to Psych for my freshman year, as I was interested in behaviorism, focusing on birds and parrots. But I found myself unmoved by the classes and loving my English comp course and realized that I’d been right all along – I was an English major, after all.
I have to just put this out there: I’m all about learning for learning’s sake I say, if you can go to school for something, do it. Make it happen. But, no, no one needs to go to school to be a good writer. You either are a storyteller or you are not. You can learn grammar and publishing and technicalities, but storytelling, I think, is something you have to be born with.
What bothers you more: spelling errors, punctuation errors, or grammar errors?
Grammar errors rub me the wrong way the hardest, but I’m also the most forgiving of them because my own exposure to some more complicated grammar in high school was all self-taught. My English classes didn’t address things like it’s/its at all! I bet there are plenty of people out there who were similarly failed by the education system.
What is the best writing advice that anyone has given you?
Treat it like a job because it is one. Sit down, set hours, have goals, and meet them. Take it seriously and do it every single day.
What advice would you give to another writer?
I agree with Breeanna! Write the story that you want would to read/buy.
What are your favorite writing sites or blogs that you turn to for help, tips or encouragement?
I’m a fan of Kristen Lamb’s blog/movement We Are Not Alone.
Besides writing, what else do you enjoy doing? What are your hobbies?
Video games, tabletop games, caring for my parrots, cooking, baking, and sewing.
What is the best book you’ve read this year?
Surprisingly, it was a military-procedural-heavy urban fantasy novel. Shadow Ops: Control Point by Myke Cole. I never thought I’d like so many initials and jargon thrown at me, but I highly enjoyed the world he built and the lightning-fast pacing of the book. I’m in the process of reading Andy Weir’s The Martian, but not finished with it, so it can’t count as the best book this year… yet.
What is the best movie you’ve seen this year?
The two movies that stick out to me are polar opposites: impressively feminist action flick Mad Max: Fury Road and heart-wrenchingly beautiful biopic Still Alice.
What is your favorite book or series of all time?
It might well be Good Omens, honestly, as I’ve read it probably once every year for well over ten years. Although Sir Terry Pratchett’s Discworld series has a special place in my heart.
Who is your favorite author?
I’m guilty of being fickle, so my “favorite” changes a lot, but right now I’m in love with just about everything by Kameron Hurley.
What are your plans for the rest of the year in terms of your writing?
Priority One is to get an agent! I’ve sent out five queries so far (with two rejections and one full ms request followed by radio silence) and am at the Sit and Wait part of the process, which is driving me crazy.
Next is to work on Book 2 via Columbia Writers Novel in 6 Months project (which is running October through April for me).
I also have a few non-fiction articles I’m working on as well as weekly blog posts. I’d also like to get my short story, Widowmaker, published.
Where else can we find you online?
Instagram: deidredykes (I hope you like pictures of birds!)