Seven Shades of Mandi

Recently I did a Reddit interview for a college course, a young woman interviewing someone in the field she wanted to go into. I thought you guys would enjoy the read! (And yes, that is my cute lil Reddit avatar... ain't she adorkable??)

1) What are deadlines like (personal one’s included) for you and how do you deal with them?

I really thrive on deadlines because I tend to get distracted very easily. I’m the type that will go to look up something random and resurface hours later lost on a completely unrelated subject. I started doing NaNoWriMo which is a type of contest to write a 50k novel in 30 days, and it really helped me to stay focused, so I try to do similar to that two or three times a year now on my own. I prep meals in advance, gather snacks, make sure my headphones are charged, things like that. Then I park myself at my computer and ensure I write at least 2,000 words per day for 30 days straight.

2) How much control do you have when it comes to changes in your work? Are there ever things you feel are out of your control due to editors or audience perception?

Because I have my own publishing company, I maintain a lot of control. I chose to do that because I’m kind of OCD and didn’t want to lose control over my own work, honestly. I figured I’d rather fail on my own merits than to have someone make decisions I didn’t want or like, and fail because I didn’t stand up for myself. There are some times where I’ve changed things because editors said they should be changed even though I didn’t think there was anything wrong with them. I figure I’m paying them to do what they’re best at, so it pays to listen to their suggestions most of the time. With audience perception, that is a bit more iffy. There are definitely some things I feel I shouldn’t write or have to ‘tone down’ because it wouldn’t be viewed favorably. I think that’s just part of the industry though… you can write what you want to, within reason, but you still have to remember that you need to appeal to readers or you don’t have an audience.

3) How long does it usually take to get a new story/book to an editor and do you send a whole book or chapters at a time?

Generally I’ll write my novel in 30-40 days, since I do my 30 day sessions. I then sit it aside for a month or two so I can go back and do my first round of edits with fresh eyes. I’ll do two rounds of edits myself, first on my laptop and then one on my Kindle… switching devices is kind of a reset for my brain and lets me catch things I didn’t before because I was so used to reading it on the laptop. After that, I’ll send it to the editor as a full manuscript. I’d say from start to finish, my editor will usually get a book three months after I’ve written the first page.

4) Do you decide to let some ideas sit for a while because of workload or do you work on more than 1 project at a time?

You know, some authors can work on multiple projects at a time. I really can’t. I’m single-minded. Once I start a story, I work on it until it’s finished. I can’t even hop around chapters like some do… I just sit and type until it’s done. So what I do is, if I get an idea while I’m currently writing something else, I’ll save it in a notepad doc. I have them all stashed in a folder labeled “Future Project Ideas”. I write out as much as I can about the idea and what I was thinking to purge it from my head, and then set it aside. Once I’m done with a current project, I’ll go back to that folder, re-read all my little notes, and see which idea calls to me the loudest to pick my next one.

5) How do you deal with writers block or moments of uncreativity?

For writer’s block, I don’t force it. If I’m truly stuck, I take a step back and relax. I have anxiety and depression, and several chronic health issues that come in and out of remission. They’re sometimes triggered by stress. I know I can only push myself so far before it affects my health, so if my mind and body are telling me to take a break, I take one. I re-watch my favorite TV shows, listen to music, spend time in nature or people-watch. Anything that I can do to spark creativity and reduce stress helps so I can get back in the mindframe of where I was going with the story. People-watching is great, because you can make up little stories in your head about the people walking by and their lives. It’s a good way to learn to flesh out characters as normal people with normal daily interactions. That always helps me with seeing my characters more clearly and makes it easier to overcome being stuck temporarily.

6) If you get halfway through a project and start to dislike it, do you continue with it, put it aside or restart it completely?

I do a lot of plotting beforehand so I know where I’m going with my story ahead of time, which means this hasn’t happened as much lately. When I first started, I didn’t plot at all, so there were definitely times I had issues. It took me years to write my first book because I kept having to put it aside due to just not knowing where to take things. I did end up backtracking to find out where I’d veered off and re-wrote portions of it. Once I did that, I was able to start working on it again. I’d just allowed myself to get a little bit lost and had to re-find the story I wanted to tell.

7) Now that you’re working professionally, do you feel you have lost the creativity/“spark” you used to have or is about the same? Is it better now than ever?

Honestly, I feel like it’s better than ever. Before, I had vague ideas about wanting to be a writer, but didn’t really feel I could ever make a career out of it. After my first book was published, people started leaving reviews and following my fan page. I started getting requests for signed books and things. It really validated for me that I had found something I enjoyed… and that other people liked my writing too. Now that I know I have readers waiting for every new release, it makes me more excited to be able to tell them that something is coming, to share teasers, etc. They push me to keep going and to get better with every new story. I do big book signing events with other authors now, and have been asked to join in for huge charity anthologies. It’s crazy and humbling but so much fun. Every time I get asked to do something like that, I’m still shocked. Like… me? You want me? But I’m a nobody. It really is amazing and makes what I do so worthwhile, to know I’m following my dreams.

Thank you so much for the interview, I was already passionate about writing but now I feel a surge of excitement that it’s truly possible!

A Liliom Press Independent Author
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