January 24th, 2011 by Teresa
In my “travels” online I came across a great website for writers, Wordplay by blogger Kathryn Weiland and while I took a look around (she has some great stuff on there), I noticed she is also an author. So I requested a bit of her time for a quick interview to share some of her writing tips and journey with social media.
Here is my conversation with Kathryn (aka K.M. Weiland):
1. When did you begin your writing?
I was eleven or twelve I think. I’ve always made up stories, but I didn’t start writing them down until my siblings and I decided to form a family newspaper. They lost interest pretty quickly, but I was hooked! Eventually, I moved on to edit and publish Horse Tails, a small newsletter for youth, which I continued throughout high school. I wrote hundreds of short stories during that time. Progressing to novels was a natural expansion
2. How long did it take you to write your book(s)?
From the beginning outline sketches to publication is generally a journey of almost six years for each book. On average, I spend a year outlining and researching, a year writing the first draft, a year editing and receiving critiques from my fabulous crit partners—and then I throw it into the back of the closet while I move on to the next story. For whatever reason, I never seem to be able to see a story clearly until I’ve set it aside long enough to write another one. Then, I return to the first story with a clear eye for its problems and start rewriting. I don’t like rushing the writing process. A story needs time to grow and mature—and so does the author.
3. Some writers have a preferred writing schedule. Do you?
Definitely. I’m a bit of a schedule nut, actually. I set aside two hours every day for my writing, usually between four and six in the afternoon. I start out with thirty minutes of “warm-ups,” which allow me to ease my mind away from the busyness of the day and into a creative place. I start out with a quick prayer, asking God to bless and direct my work, then scribble an entry in my writing journal, noting my thoughts about my current scene and planning what needs to be written that day. I read a short article about the craft, go over research and character notes, and read over what I wrote the day before. Then I choose a soundtrack to listen to and start writing.
4. What tips would you offer beginning writers to help them?
Write every day. If you don’t make your writing a priority, no one else will. It can be difficult not to feel guilty about spending time writing, when you could be spending it doing something more “productive” (like vacuuming the house). But don’t allow yourself to use guilt as an excuse. If your writing is important to you, don’t let anything stand in its way. Set aside a specific amount of time every day (whether it’s twenty minutes or five hours) and make sure you’re at your desk at that time, no matter what.
5. Are there some books on writing you recommend that helped you?
My latest favorite is John Truby’s fabulous The Anatomy of Story. He does an amazing job explaining the components that make stories work, without reducing the process to a dot-to-dot puzzle. I’m also very fond of Nancy Kress’s Beginnings, Middles & Ends and Elizabeth George’s Write Away. I have a complete list of my favorite writing books on my website.
6. Please share with us more about your latest book, Behold the Dawn.
Behold the Dawn is a medieval epic, set against the backdrop of the Third Crusade, at the end of the 12th century. It tells the story of Marcus Annan, a renowned competitor in the brutal tourneys—the huge mock battles that remained wildly popular despite being banned by more than one pope. Annan, haunted by the secrets of his past, is confronted by a mysterious monk who demands Annan help him seek vengeance for a wrong committed sixteen years earlier. Against his will, Annan is drawn into the conflict, and he journeys to the Crusade in the Holy Land, where he rescues the widow of an old friend and attempts to deliver her to safety in Constantinople. But he soon discovers that the past he’s been running from is finally catching up, and if he hopes to survive, he has no chance but to face it.
7. Why did you choose to write this book?
I happened to pick up a children’s picture book about William Marshall, the “greatest knight who ever lived.” He was a second-born son who had to make his fortune by competing in the tourneys. Despite being repeatedly banned by the popes, tourneys remained popular until high mortality rates forced the sport to evolve into the more familiar (and much safer) jousting tournaments. After a long career as one of the most renowned tourneyers of the age, Marshall finally hung up his spurs and headed for the Holy Land to seek absolution. I’ve always been drawn to the Middle Ages, and I was instantly intrigued by these gladiatorial battles and their juxtaposition with the Crusades. From there, my imagination just took off!
8. Who is your book geared towards?
Adults who enjoy historical adventures and who feel that any story is better with a sword in it!
9. Do you incorporate blogging into the marketing for your writing and/or your book?
I began blogging because all the experts talked about the necessity of an online presence. Writing, obviously, was what interested me, so I started sharing things I had already learned and was (and am) still learning during my writing journey. Helping other authors better their craft has become one of the biggest blessings in my life.
10. How long have you been blogging?
A little over three years.
11. What subjects do you cover with your blog?
Wordplay focuses on the basics of the craft and perfecting the tools at a writer’s disposal, as well as digressions on the writing life in general and the nature and importance of art.
12. Why do you blog?
To connect with readers, writers—and because I just plain enjoy it.
13. Please share one (or more) blogging tip you have to share with others?
Consistency is key, I think. Come up with a topic you’re passionate about and post on a regularly basis, at least once a week. Interact widely with the blogging community, and go out of your way to be kind to others. Also, I highly recommend studying the awesome sites ProBlogger and Copyblogger for tips on taking your blog to the next level.
14. Do you incorporate social media (twitter, facebook, linkedin) for your writing and/or book?
Only in the sense that social sites allow me to connect with readers. I’m active on Twitter and Facebook, and I encourage readers to follow and friend me on both sites.
15. When it comes to social media— do you prefer one platform over the others?( facebook, twitter or linked in) Why?
Twitter’s definitely my favorite. I love the informality, the ease of use, and the wide world of people available with whom to converse.
16. What is one social media tip you have to share with others?
Put the emphasis on others, rather than yourself. If all of your social interaction is me, me, me (I have a new blog post, I have a new book, etc.), friends and followers are eventually going to grow weary and look elsewhere for interaction. Pay attention to people, ask questions, and make friends. I can’t count the number of meaningful relationships I’ve been privileged to development thanks to social media.
17. What else do you have planned going into 2011?
I’m a few chapters away from finishing the first draft of my historical work-in-progress The Deepest Breath. After I finish initial edits on that and send it off to my beta readers, I plan to start work in earnest on my first non-fiction book Outlining Your Novel: Plan Your Way to Success. Also, I’ll be continuing edits on my fantasy Dreamers in preparation for its publication date in 2012.
18. Where can people purchase your books?
You can purchase my books from my website, or via Amazon.
19. How can others contact you?
You can email me directly using the contact page on my website, or get in touch with me via my social accounts with Facebook and Twitter.