Mother Who Writes, Repeats, and Graciously Answers My Burning Questions

I snared KristaV, (or KristaG to QueryTracker users) for a guest interview today. Krista runs an excellent site for aspiring writers over at Mother. Write. (Repeat) where she posts periodic Interactive Agent Interviews that you do not want to miss. Krista provides this incredible resource in her spare time, and donates so much of her own blog space to help out others, that I wanted to give her a chance to talk about something else she does – write!

So you run an excellent blog for aspiring writers over at Mother. Write. (Repeat). What made you decide to take this approach on your blog, and how do you get all these awesome agents to agree to the interviews you do there?

I knew I wanted to blog about mothering and writing, since that’s pretty much what my life is about. I tend to blog a lot more about writing than I do about mothering, but I figure the writing stuff is (marginally) more interesting than the mothering stuff. I mean, how many times can you tell people your potty-training son peed on the floor AGAIN before it starts getting a little old?

As for the interviews, a blogging friend, Bailey Clement, once interviewed Lisa McMann on her blog, which, obviously, I found quite cool. I asked Bailey how she’d gotten the interview, if she happened to know Ms. McMann, and she said something like, “Heavens, no! I just e-mailed her publicist and asked if she wanted to answer my questions.” At which point I thought, “Hmm, I could be brazen bold enough to pull that off. But who would I interview …?” It took me all of ten seconds to come up with my answer: agents!

What other websites / resources can you recommend for writers out on the agent hunt?

I’ve found QueryTracker and Agent Query to be extremely useful in generating large lists of agents. I also frequent Absolute Write’s Bewares, Recommendations, and Background Checks forum to see what other writers have to say about response times--and to make sure the agents I plan to query haven’t been behaving badly.

Let's talk about your writing for a little bit. I see that you name your WIPS and MS's - now that's an interesting thought - what brought that on, and why those names?

I started calling my current manuscript Bob when I couldn’t come up with a title for him. (I actually held a “Help! Bob Needs a Title” blog contest last August because I couldn’t come up with anything I liked. The winning entry from that contest, WHOSE TEETH ARE AS SWORDS, is now Bob’s official title.)
The nicknames themselves are pretty arbitrary. Bob is easy to say, easy to type, and easy to remember. I’m all for easy.

What genre do you write, and is there any one particular thing that led you to it?

I write YA and MG, and I tend to gravitate toward more plot-driven genres, like urban fantasy, science fiction, and thriller. I’m definitely a commercial girl, and not ashamed to say it:)

Where do you find your inspiration, typically?

Anywhere. Everywhere. Bob’s first seed of inspiration came when I was walking across my college campus one day and noticed someone talking on a Bluetooth headset. “What would happen if communication technology became even more invasive?” I wondered. “What if we actually started getting implants?”

This was before I’d ever heard of M.T. Anderson’s FEED, mind you (and maybe even before FEED was originally published), so it seemed like an original idea at the time:) And like I said, since my tastes run more commercial, Bob takes the idea in a completely different direction.

Do you use beta readers, and if so, where do you find them?

Yes, yes, YES! Bob is actually the first manuscript I’ve written that I’ve exchanged with beta readers, and I think that’s one of the major reasons he’s done so well in the querying arena.
I found all my beta readers by networking through the blogsophere. That was one of the main reasons I started blogging: to find a few like-minded writers I’d feel comfortable exchanging manuscripts with. The other writers I’ve found have been terrific!

Between raising your children, taking care of the dog, managing your blog and writing, do you ever get time to read? What are you reading now? What books coming out are you most looking forward to?

I love to read. In fact, in many ways, I think of myself as a reader first, a writer second. (I was a reader before I was a writer, after all.) At the moment, I’m reading Robin McKinley’s PEGASUS, and I’m finding that it walks that thin line between literary and commercial fiction quite well.

Hey, how DO you have time to write?

Writing is important to me—really important to me—so important that I carve out several hours almost every day to write. I typically write while my kids are sleeping, so from about two to four in the afternoon and eight to ten at night.

Any words of inspiration for aspiring writers that aren't cliched like the ones I give?

I had a thought the other day that I’ve kind of latched on to. One of my biggest vices is comparing myself to others, seeing what they have and wishing it were mine. But my journey is my journey, and I need to learn to own that. It’s so much easier to be happy for people who have good news and sad for people who have bad news when I’m not worried about what I have or don’t have and how they compare to me. And isn’t that what life is all about, learning to love and serve each other?

*steps down off her soapbox*

Sorry to get all preachy on you, but I do feel pretty strongly about this subject. This big, bad publishing race isn’t against each other, but ourselves. As long as we’re steadily improving, that’s all that really matters.