Fair warning: if you aren’t interested in my life as a writer, then I’m afraid today’s post will disappoint you. Please click on to the next blog on your round, forgive me if you can, and come back tomorrow for one of my crime-fictional posts.
…Still here? Oh, that’s awfully kind of you – thanks! I’m honoured and flattered to have been nominated for this lovely Liebster Blog Award by Virginia Gruver at Adventures in Writing. Thank you, Virginia; you’ve made my day/week/month…
This award asks me to answer a few questions about what I do as a writer; I’ll get to those in a moment. But first, a little about Virginia. She’s a romance and crime writer whose work has appeared in a John Gaps III magazine and in Women’s Edition magazine. She’s also written a regular ‘slice of life’ column in her local newspaper. Her blog is dedicated to supporting writers and writing. No matter where you are in your journey as an author, you’ll find something interesting on her blog.
Now to the questions I was asked:
1. If you write novels, are you a plotter or a pantzer?
I’m a plotter. I like to outline what’ll happen in a story before I get started. Otherwise I find myself mired in ‘side roads’ instead of sticking to the story. But I don’t plan every detail. The best flashes of creativity come when you haven’t planned them…
2. Do you start with character or plot?
No question: character. I write crime fiction, so I always begin with the victim. Who is that person and why would anyone want to kill her or him? That leads me to the other characters in the novel and their interactions.
3. Do you outline?
I do outline, but not in a formal traditional way. I find that can be limiting. I make a sketchy kind of outline of characters, major story events, and so on. Then I add in major scenes I think might be interesting. Then as I write I add in the details. Outlining keeps me grounded I think.
4. What is your writing day like?
I honestly wish I could say that I had a ‘typical’ kind of writing day. I have a ‘day job’ which means that I have to make time for writing when I can. But in general I get up insanely, certifiably early and do things like my blog rounds, email checks and so on. I try to write then too although I can’t always. When I can’t, I work on my writing later in the morning when my schedule permits, and then again in small ‘doses’ in the late afternoon and after dinner. It gets a bit chaotic at times but I figure even fitting in a few sentences a day is progress.
5. What is your favorite writer’s conference?
Okay, time for true confessions here. I’ve not been to a lot of writer’s conferences, chiefly because of financial and time constraints. As I say, I’ve got a ‘day job’ that isn’t closely enough related to crime fiction writing to make attending writer’s conferences a part of my ‘official’ work. So attending them isn’t really feasible much of the time. That said though, my favourite conference is the Language, Education and Diversity conference that’s held every four years in New Zealand (twice now at the University of the Waikato and once in Auckland). I’m able to attend because the conference focuses on education, and that’s my ‘day job’ profession. There’s a wonderful literacy strand there where the focus is on reading and writing. I gain so much from that conference.
6. What writer’s organizations do you belong to?
I am proud to be associated with Savvy Authors, an online organisation that brings together writers from all over the world. It’s a rich resource for published and unpublished authors, offering workshops, advice, mentoring and more. If you’re a writer, it’s worth checking out Savvy Authors. There are a few other organisations that interest me greatly, such as Mystery Writers of America (MWA) and Sisters in Crime (SinC). More than anything else it’s a matter of time, finances, traveling and so on.
7. How long have you been writing?
Oh, writing has been a part of my life for a very long time. I wrote my first short story when I was, I think, eleven years old. I’ve been writing off and on ever since really. I wrote my first published novel in 2007/2008.
8. What was the last book that you read?
The book I’ve read most recently is Hard Labour, a collection of very noir, very gritty short stories by a group of talented Australian writers.
9. What is your favorite genre?
No question about it: crime and mystery fiction. There is so much variety within the genre that I feel that I’m always learning and exploring something new.
10. How many rejections have you collected so far?
More than I’m willing to admit publicly. I try hard not to think about it and just keep writing and trying hard to stay positive.
11. Who is your favorite author?
That’s a difficult question because there are far too many authors whose work I admire. I couldn’t really name them all. But if you ask me, ‘Which author’s work have you admired for the longest time?’ I’d say Agatha Christie. A genius at plotting, ‘red herrings’ and so much more. I learn a little every time I re-read one of her books.
Thanks again, Virginia, for this award. Now, I’m supposed to create questions of my own and pass them off to other writer/bloggers. But I honestly don’t want anyone to feel obligated to answer. So what I’m going to do is this. See that blog roll on my sidebar? Yup, that one. There are a number of excellent writer blogs there. Please choose a few of them. Go visit them. Say ‘hello’ and tell ‘em Margot sent you. Writers need all of the support and camaraderie we can get.
*NOTE: The title of this post is a line from The Beatles’ Paperback Writer.