Here is an interview I did by email of Linda Ulleseit. I sent the questions to the coordinator of Linda's blog tour and received these answers back.
1. How long did it take you to write this book?
I worked on my first novel (as yet unpublished) for seven years. My first published novel, On a Wing and a Dare, took four years. I spent one year writing In the Winds of Danger. I don’t know if I now have more confidence in my writing, or if I should have revised it a couple of more times. As any author will tell you, the novel is never done. I could have spent three more years on it, but I’m not sure it would have been better.
2. Which parts of the writing process are the easiest for you? The most difficult?
The hardest part is to get started. Once I get over that hurdle, the words usually flow pretty well. I spend a lot of time running scenes through my head while I’m in the shower, weeding the garden, or cooking dinner. By the time I sit down to write it, I am ready to let it pour forth. Sometimes, of course, a scene is necessary but doesn’t fire my imagination. Then it’s easier to put off writing it.
3. Do you write every day?
Absolutely! I have two blogs and two Facebook accounts, two email accounts, and I sometimes tweet. I post on Goodreads and TheNextBigWriter.com. Oh! Did you mean write on my novel every day? No. During the summer I write almost every day, but during the school year I’m busy teaching elementary school students how to write. I think if I actually managed to write every day that I would generate a lot more words. Revision would be different, depending on the quality of those words!
4. What do you use to write? (Pen and paper, laptop, what type of software, etc).
I outline very basically in a spiral notebook. I use the notebook to jot ideas and research data. All of my writing is done on my laptop, a MacBook Pro. I use Scrivener, a software program for writers. It is a tremendous organizing tool and helps me keep track of character descriptions and scenery details that I’ve used.
5. Have you participated in NaNoWriMo? If you have, how would you describe your experience?
NaNoWriMo is the most wonderful inspiration I have ever encountered. I first discovered it in September of 2009 and immediately decided to sign up my class. They set their own word count goals, and I challenged them, as a class, to beat my own 50,000 words. I worked through the entire process with them as they developed characters and plot. Ongoing progress was marked on a chart, mine alongside theirs. I published a student anthology of their novels and created an empowered set of authors. My own book went on to be On a Wing and a Dare. In 2010 I again completed NaNoWriMo with my class. I cheated a bit by counted a major revision of On a Wing and a Dare as my novel, but I did add 50,000 words! With two successful years under my belt, the expectation was set. In 2011 I completed In the Winds of Danger, and in 2012 I started Under the Almond Trees, a historical fiction novel for adults. NaNoWriMo inspires and motivates my students, and the shared experience of writing together sets the tone for the entire year. It also helps me get a lot of writing done during the school year!
6. What are your goals for yourself as a writer? Do you have a book you dream of one day writing?
I know I have more flying horse books inside of me. I am currently working on a novella that is a prequel to the series. I intend it to be a free ebook that will entice new readers into my world. The third book in the trilogy, Under a Wild and Darkening Sky, will be drafted this fall for NaNoWriMo. I enjoyed writing Under the Almond Trees, which features three women in my family who were pioneers in California. After that, I would like to write more historical fiction about some of the other women in my family. Family history is near and dear to my heart (as are my flying horses) and it would be a wonderful legacy to my children.
7. Who are your influences? Why do you think you are influenced by these authors?
My favorite authors are Anne McCaffrey and Diana Gabaldon. My copies of McCaffrey’s dragon books and Gabaldon’s Outlander series are dog-eared but still in a prominent place on my bookshelf. The characters are so alive that they live with me in my world long after I put the books down. The settings are so rich that I live in their world during and after reading.
8. What advice would you offer novice writers? Who offered you advice?
It seems obvious to me, but you should read the type of book you want to write. I have read young adult fantasy and historical fiction my entire life. Even so, I encounter aspiring authors who have never read a young adult book but want to write them. It won’t work. My most wonderful advisers were the reviewers on TheNextBigWriter.com. Some members are authors themselves, but many sign up just to review new work. From this wide assortment of people—different ages, countries, tastes in literature, and writing skills—I learned a lot about story arc and working details into a scene. From reading their work, I learned by example, too.
9. Describe your ideal relationship with your readers.
One of the most wonderful things about the Harry Potter phenomenon is the way J.K. Rowling connects with her readers. She has her own website, fan sites, interactive online experiences, and books written about
analyzing her books. Someday I see High Meadow as that sort of world, a place that readers don’t want to leave, and my characters so compelling that arguments appear on websites about whether Emma should choose Evan or Davyd (On a Wing and a Dare), and who Nia should choose to back her as leader of Third Barn (In the Winds of Danger).
10. What is your experience with reviews and reviewers?
I love all my reviewers! It is so important it is for readers to leave reviews on Amazon and Goodreads. Writers are solitary. We live in worlds of our own creation, and we really don’t know if readers are along for the ride or not unless you leave us a review. I am always excited when I see a new review pop up, especially if it’s a good one. Bad reviews don’t bother me, though. If someone didn’t enjoy part of the book then that is a perfect opening for discussion if someone else loved it. If you just give a book five stars, or one star, that is more disappointing. My ego wants to know what part you loved or hated.