Teralyn : Aw, you’re so sweet! Blogging comes easily to me because I’ve kept journals and notebooks since I was a kid. I’ve always enjoyed writing 500 words or so of my thoughts. My blog is especially helpful because it causes me to put conscious thought into what I’m doing as a writer, which helps me learn faster.
Omonaikee: Your blog shows your struggles with your inner critic and how you attack that critical voice in your head. Where does that positivity come from that makes you try to turn things around when you feel discouraged and are justifiably so?
Teralyn: Over the years, I’ve been through enough ups and downs to recognize patterns. I know my down days only last between one and seven days. I know I always get back up again. I know there’s an answer to every question, a solution to every problem, and a cure to every weakness. Once I realized that, I stopped taking doubt so seriously.
Omonaikee: Why historical fiction?
Teralyn: I love good stories, and history is full of them. I never thought I would write historical fiction, but every now and then I’d hear about a person or event and think, “That story has to be told.” Eventually, I had more historical fiction ideas than fiction.
Omonaikee: Writers are plagued by melodramatic moods that lift them to the heights of euphoria with inspiration or plunge them into the depths of despair with disappointment. Then there are the deadlines, the blank pages, the badly behaved characters (who make themselves so difficult to create!) and of course, the other aspects of your life! How do you maintain a relaxed attitude to it all?
Teralyn: I’m relaxed because I made friends with other melodramatic authors. Those people are so boring. After hearing them complain, brag, share their plethora of ideas with people who don’t care, and otherwise only talk about themselves, I realized we often put ourselves on a pedestal for being artistic. I got over myself, and now I feel like a normal person (which I am).
Omonaikee: Is there that character you have created that was based on yourself howbeit remotely?
Teralyn: Actually, last year I wrote a book about two lovers who are my ying and yang: Savvy is everything happy and positive about me, whereas Eric is my dark side. Creating them was easy because I’m already familiar with their characteristics.
Omonaikee: You develop your stories painstakingly and put in a lot of research- I actually had no idea how intense it can get doing a novel based on ancient history! Does it get easier with the second novel? Is there a learning curve? Have you found better ways to do the required work faster?
Teralyn: Goodness, yes. I made so many mistakes while researching for my novel about the Vestal Virgins. I wasted more time than I care to think about. Now I print every web page and article, buy the books I read, highlight everything, organize my notes, keep track of the sources, etc. Writing in general gets easier with your second novel, too.
Omonaikee: I see a collaborative approach in your writing; from getting feedback from groups, your online community and your blog followers to the creativity you employ to keep your blog interactive and fresh (blogfests, funny stories and games). Is this a strategy and how much further have you gotten using your blog this way?
Teralyn: I owe everything to the writers who have helped me along the way. Sacred Fire went through two critique groups and ten beta readers, and I’m not done with it yet. If it takes a village to raise a child, it takes a city to publish a book! I have learned more from the writers I interact with than I imagined I could.
Omonaikee: I hadn’t heard of Nanowrimo (competition where writers write an entire novel of 50,000 words in just 30days) until your blog! What has participating twice in a row, in this annual competition taught you about your writing ability, your resilience, your inner editor/critic … how has it helped you generally?
Teralyn: This was one of the best things I’ve done for my writing career. The first year, I was working out of a two-year writer’s block. NaNoWriMo got me out of it. The program changed all my ideas about writing; that I can be fast and flexible, that I can write every day, that not everything has to be perfect. The second year, I could see how much I improved from the last, and it was a thrilling feeling.
THE TOP TEN
Teralyn Pilgrims Top Ten action steps that can move you closer from being a published-author hopeful turned blogger to being a writer with at least a complete manuscript are…
1. Doubts waste time. You’re going to write the book anyway, whether you make yourself suffer or not.
2. Take yourself seriously, but not too seriously.
3. Read about other writers; how they work, the struggles they go through, and what kind of triumphs are in store for you. They can be a tremendous resource.
4. Make writing friends. You need their support, experience, and advice.
5. Make outlines! If I start a book without a good outline, it screws everything up. I like to write my query letter before my novel to help me focus on what’s important in the story.
6. Read as many books as you can. You’ll be shocked how much you can learn by seeing other authors at work.
7. Read your genre. If you read books outside your genre, you’ll pick up methods that aren’t appropriate for your book and you’ll miss out on learning how to write in your style.
8. Don’t be afraid to make changes in your novel. I’ve gutted my book, re-stuffed it, turned it upside down and inside out, but the important parts are the same.
9. Remember why you write. You don’t have to do this. No one will frown on you if you walk away. You’re doing it because you love it.
10. Have fun! If you’re not having fun, something needs to change.
Read my feature on her blog here