Confessions of a Writer Tag

Alrighty then. I was tagged by the lovely Nicole Wilson, so here you go…

 

When did you first start writing? Was being a writer something you always aspired to be?

I started writing when I was five. All of my elementary school teachers thought that writing stories was a good project (it was), so starting in kindergarden we would make these little story books. As I got older, the stories kind of got longer and longer. And by the time I was in high school, I decided that being a writer was what I wanted. Though it wasn’t until 2013 that I started to realize that it was what I really wanted. And I have Bethany Morrow to thank for shoving me off the deep end. 😀

 

What genre do you write?

I write high fantasy and sci-fi, generally. Though the fantasy may end up with touches of the gothic and/or horror. I occasionally write historical, but only short and not often. SFF is my happy place.

 

Can you tell us a little about your current work in progress? When did you start working on this project?

Oook. I have two that are WiPs (ish). The first one is entitled In Secret Kept and this one has an…interesting and slightly convoluted genesis.

Back when I was 9 or 10 (or something), Darby O’Gill and the Little People aired on Disney around Halloween. There’s one scene where the old man’s daughter has fallen off a cliff and the Banshee is coming to collect her, because the girl is nearly dead. The father stands over her, shouting “Take me instead”. In my head, I flipped this and I saw, instead, a man who had once been cold and cruel standing over the body of the woman he’d come to love. Fast forward to me at age 16 and I wrote the novel. And it was a blatant homage to Disney’s Beauty and the Beast (my fave Disney movie OF ALL TIME and fave fairy tale, to boot). And that was fine. Then.

Fast forward to me now, at 32. After a trip to Scotland which inspired me to finish the novella I was writing at the time (Rheda), I realized where I wanted to take Secret. So I started plotting it out again, changing things, and then I realized it was set in a world I’ve been slowly building since I was 14. A world that has been (recently) very influenced by my graduate research in Anglo-Saxon and Old Norse.

And the thing exploded. It’s taken on a life of its own and it is so much better than it ever was before. And that makes me happy 🙂

The second WiP is still in development, but it currently titled Haven and is a fantasy-steampunk-horror about brothers, family, friends and lovers, and the criminal underbelly of a prosperous city. I started working on this one over the summer while I was letting the draft of Secret rest. And this time, all it took was a single pin on Pinterest to make me wonder…

 

What was your first piece that you can remember writing? What was it about?

My first piece was a story about a lost cat. I wrote when I was five, for school.

 

What’s the best part about writing?

Seeing my stories take shape and grow wings.

 

What’s the worst part about writing?

The writing. Seriously. It’s HARD. But the end result is so worth it.

 

What’s the name of your favorite character and why?

Wait. What. I CAN’T DO THIS. But if I had to pick one, I’d pick Alodia from In Secret Kept. I love the way she’s evolved over the years. *resists the urge to name more*

 

How much time a day/week do you get to write? When is the best time for you to write (morning or night)?

Ha. Hahahaha. *cough* Sorry. This question is just really ironic since I’m supposed to be thesising right now. Whoops.

That being said…three times a week, ish. It depends on my school work load and how tired I am. As to what time…it depends on the state of my brain, though night is usually best. By that point I’ve finished with the day and can just work uninterrupted.

 

Did you go to college for writing?

Nope. I’ve learned a lot from hanging out on Absolute Write and chatting on twitter and/or skype with other authors. And by reading.

 

What bothers you more: spelling errors, punctuation errors or grammar errors?

All of it. Next question?

threatenproperly

 

What is the best writing advice that anyone has given you?

Stop agonizing. It will come. (you know who you are <3)

 

What advice would you give to another writer?

Give yourself permission to suck. That’s what drafts are for. Write. Edit. Repeat. OH. And find a beta reader who is NOT a family member. Someone you trust for solid crit.

 

What are your favorite writing sites or blogs that you turn to for help, tips or encouragement?

Absolute Write. Fabulous community.

Cathleen Townsend posts a lot of really helpful writing tips.

Nathan Bransford is fabulous, and has really great advice on query letters (*shudder*)

 

Besides writing, what else do you enjoy doing? What are your hobbies?

Reading. D’oh. Playing piano. Gym. Tearing my hair out over 2000 piece puzzles. Being in as much sunshine as humanly possible.

 

What’s the best thing you’re watching on television?

I’m going to go with Agents of SHIELD and Agent Carter. Also watching Castle Season 8, and while the episodes are solid and the characters are more center-stage this season, I’m not quite buying this whole “separation” between Beckett and Castle.

 

What’s the best book you’ve read this year?

Sorry, can’t pick just one. Also, since I’ve read a lot this year I’m going to limit this to those I’ve read for the first time:

Vicious by Victoria Schwab. Creation of supervillains.

Crimson Bound by Rosamund Hodge. High fantasy.

Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo. Tsar-punk heist novel. GAH.

A Desperate Fortune by Susanna Kearsley. Historical suspense/romance.

A Thousand Nights by E.K. Johnston. Shimmering retelling of Sheherazade.

All five of these are fantastic and have stayed with me long after I closed the cover.

 

What is the best movie you’ve seen this year?

I’m going to say…Age of Ultron.

 

What is your favorite book or series of all time?

LORD OF THE RINGS. AND YES ALL CAPS IS NECESSARY.

 

Who is your favorite author?

Tolkien.

C.S. Lewis

Rosamund Hodge.

Leigh Bardugo.

Robin McKinley.

Samuel Taylor Coleridge.

Alfred, Lord Tennyson.

(yes, I cheated. Sue me. 😛 )

 

What are your plans for the rest of the year in terms of your writing?

Finishing this draft of Secret and beginning to write Haven while my lovely beta readers read and crit Secret.

 

Where else can we find you online?

You can tweet me here: @afhumphrey

Still working on the rest!

 

Tagging:

@CathleenTowns

@wanderingquille

@abnersenires

@ShunterNi

@out_ofthe_fog

 

To make life easier, here are the questions:

When did you first start writing? Was being a writer something you always aspired to be?
What genre do you write?
Can you tell us a little about your current work in progress? When did you start working on this project?
What was your first piece that you can remember writing? What was it about?
What’s the best part about writing?
What’s the worst part about writing?
What’s the name of your favorite character and why?
How much time a day/week do you get to write? When is the best time for you to write (morning or night)?
Did you go to college for writing?
What bothers you more: spelling errors, punctuation errors or grammar errors?
What is the best writing advice that anyone has given you?
What advice would you give to another writer?
What are your favorite writing sites or blogs that you turn to for help, tips or encouragement?
Besides writing, what else do you enjoy doing? What are your hobbies?
What’s the best thing you’re watching on television?
What’s the best book you’ve read this year?
What is the best movie you’ve seen this year?
What is your favorite book or series of all time?
Who is your favorite author?
What are your plans for the rest of the year in terms of your writing?
Where else can we find you online?

Far vel!

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A whole new world!

So while IN SECRET KEPT is simmering in the lockbox and guarded by dwarves and dragons, I’ve been attempting to wrench my mind onto the next project. The effort has been Herculean because my fingers are itching to get back to SECRET and start working on the three pages of notes I have for revision.

BUT I MUST CULTIVATE PATIENCE.

doctor
And then comes the Doctor, and whispers words of wisdom…

 

Yeah…

ANYHOW.

So I’ve been working on the new novel, of the steampunk variety. Originally it was set in the same world as SECRET, just at a later point in history. But the more I thought about it, the more I realized it wasn’t. There were things I wanted to do with the story that I couldn’t do if it was set in that world. So I pulled it out.

And that’s when everything EXPLODED.

 

With this newfound freedom (if you will), the project definitely became a novel (huzzah! I was never happy with it just as a short) and I started seeing new characters and relationships and possibilities, oh my!

It’s also terrifying because it’s a whole new world (sing with me! You know you want to!). This is not something I’ve been living with for years, this is something brand-spanking new.

So once more into breach and boldly going where I’ve not gone before, and all that jazz.

See you on the other side.

Revisions & neon signs

Aaaaand, that’s a draft!

Again.

‘Scuse me while I fill my wine glass in celebration.

So. Yes. This is the second complete draft of the novel In Secret Kept. The entire second half has been rewritten because I stared at what I’d written originally and realized there was no way the characters would act that way. So I rewrote it.

Funny thing about revisions? They get you closer to the truth. Closer to what the story’s about. This is the second revision (not counting those that came, literally, well over a decade ago. Yes, this novel has been with me for that long), and the more I work on it, the more I start to feel like this:

Mushu nails it.

And one of my plot twists took a plot twist I DID. NOT. SEE. COMING.  And I fought it. Which was my first clue that it was what was supposed to happen. Second clue was when the thing proceeded to map itself out for me. Third clue was when I woke up the next morning it was all still there despite the fact that I hadn’t written it down.

Yeah. Ok. Neon sign. Gotcha.

So I wrote. And now it’s finished. And now it has to sit and simmer for a few weeks while I attempt to distract myself with academia and other fiction writing. And when it’s been a few weeks, or a month, I’ll pull it out again and get to work.

In the meantime, I’m gonna raise my glass of lovely French wine and give a Scottish toast, ’cause that’s how I roll.

Slàinte!