Thursday, March 22, 2012

Thursday TAG! - Jean Oram

This week's TAG! is coming at you from Jean Oram. You can find Jean on her site (where she blogs), on twitter @jeanoram & @KidsPlay, on AQC being Super Moderator, she has a site for kids stuff, a blog about kids stuff here, Facebook for writer stuff and parenting stuff, and she's on Pinterest.

Whew, she's a very busy woman! Yet she still found time for my Q&A. (Thanks Jean!)

1. When did you start writing?
About 5 years ago I sat down, and giggling, decided I wanted to write a novel. And I did. It really sucked but it was a TON of fun to write.

2. What made you want to write?
I have no idea. It was like a recessive gene that suddenly kicked in one day. I haven't looked back.

3. When did you decide you wanted to write to be published? (As opposed to writing just to write)
Pretty much when I started writing. I figured if I was going to write a novel I should try to get it published. I mean, why not?

4. What genre(s) do you write?
I started in chick lit, then started doing some women's fiction which lead to commercial fiction and finally some middle grade children's fiction. I also write nonfiction.

5. Why that(those) genre(s)?
I'm all over the place. I write what strikes me, evidently.

6. Do you have any particular ritual when you write? (A specific way things are done during the process)
Nope. None whatsoever. Every book I've written has been different. The only thing similar is a computer, the couch and some tea. But that has all varied too. So nothing I could tag as a ritual.

7. Do you use an outline, or do you just start writing?
I've done both. I'm starting to settle into having a rough idea before I write as sort of a plotster/pantster hybrid. The more I write, the more I add to the outline/idea. I try to stay ahead of myself although sometimes I have to work backwards. I'm not much good at being strictly one or the other.

8. Is there something you MUST have when you're writing? (Aside from the typical writer tools-computer, pen, paper, etc.)
Nope. Although having no distractions really helps. I get frustrated when I get interrupted all the time. It doesn't exactly bring out the best in me.

9. Do you write out your story on paper and then transfer to a computer, or straight to the computer?
Computer all the way. I do some brainstorming and note taking on paper sometimes. Paper is good for working through what-next, ideas, confusions, etc.

10. How many books/short stories have you written? (Published or not, even those you wrote and then thought-what the hell?)
I've got three stories in progress (a commercial fiction, children's fiction and a short story). It's driving me nuts but my writing time is sort of weird and hit or miss at the moment. I've got a first draft waiting for me that I wrote during NaNo a few years ago--it's chick lit and since I kept getting chick lit rejections despite compliments on my writing because chick lit is hard to sell… it sits there. :(

I've three finished chick lit novels (2 of which really suck--I call them finished because I don't think I will ever go back to them) and a women's fiction story sitting there and finally, the nonfiction children's book out on submission. So, I think that's something like 9 or something. I just did my taxes so my math is used up for a few days.

11. Is there, or has there been, anyone in your life (real or online) who thought you being a writer is/was just another hobby? Or that you are/were wasting your time as a writer?
I don't tell people in my real life that I write and the folks I hang out with online (and know I write) are serious writers. So, no. I avoid situations where I might have to defend myself and what I do.

12. Do you do Social Media sites? If so, which ones? If not, why don't you?
Yep. I have been addicted to AgentQueryConnect since 2007. I've learned a TON from the people there, met my critique partners, and got a tip/in from a friend/critique partner which led to gaining an agent.

I love Twitter. I love to learn what's out there and learn new things (one of things I love most about writing) so social media is awesome for connecting with other like-minded individuals.

I also blog both on my own site and with other AQCers on From The Write Angle. I'm working on getting into Facebook and finding the fun there as I think that might be where my audience is for one of my projects.

13. Any advice for writers that makes you cringe every time you hear it? (I know there is some cringe-worthy advice still worth following, so only advice you don't follow.)
I can't think of any offhand. I'm sure there is a ton. The thing with advice is what might be the best advice ever for one person might be the worst advice ever for another.

14. How do you find the time to write, tweet, blog at your personal blog and From The Write Angle, be a Super Mod over at AQC, manage your awesome Kids Play site, AND be a mom to two little ones (especially since I know a one year old must keep you very, very busy)?
Did I mention I also do some freelance editing? (I think I might be trying to achieve too much.)

When you list it all... um, I'm not sure how I manage it! I definitely don't do as much as I did a year ago. But basically, I don't spend a lot of time on my hair or making my house perfect. And I sort of focus on one thing at a time. Efficiency is key. I'm also pretty protective over nap time. That is my time to spend at my computer either writing or doing that other stuff you mentioned. (During the week only as weekends are family time.) I also don't watch much in the way of tv or movies. (0-3 hours a week.) I do read a lot though! I like to average about 3-4 books a month.

As for moderating over at my cyber home-away-from-home, AgentQueryConnect, there is a fantastic group of moderators now and that really helps. Plus, the people who participate on AQC are so great that usually all that's needed is simply helping others and I love doing that. I wish I had more time for that. I could spend all day helping other writers--and before my son was born, sometimes I did!

Honestly, right now I feel like I am not doing a very good job on any of the above (except parenting--that always comes first). I'm doing the minimum, but trying to do it with quality. Sometimes it's frustrating trying to do all that I want to do and not having the time and triaging everything. For example, this month my afternoon writing time has been usurped by getting my site revamped. But it needs to be done. So, what can you do?

15. Being so busy, is there ever a time when a great idea pops into your head but by the time you are able to jot it down, it's gone?
No, usually they nag at me and drive me crazy because I can't act on them all. (Really driving me nuts!!) Plus, I've learned over time to always write ideas down. I have notes and notebooks all over the place. That helps.

16. Did your kids inspire you to want to write middle grade (well, at least one of your kids) or did the desire come from somewhere else?
Several things started that one. One was seeing an agent keep asking for it on her blog. Another was the fact that those stories are blessedly shorter which means I feel like I am actually getting somewhere when I write in the snippets of time I manage to snag. Plus, I can keep focussed on the plot--I haven't forgotten it and half the characters by the time I've written for a month or two. And, as I have discovered, it is a TON of fun to write.

17. Where do you get the ideas for your Kids Play site? started when I saw a cool teepee in a magazine. Since my eldest wasn't big enough at the time to appreciate it, I wrote the idea down. That opened a door in my mind and by the end of the week I had several hundred ideas. Now I have hundreds and hundreds! I think having a fun and free childhood helps with finding creative things to do. Right now I am working on revamping the website. I hope to make it even better!

18. I read chick lit, and know a couple of fabulous chick lit writers. Do you have any thoughts on why chick lit is so hard to sell?
The market got flooded a few years ago (or so I hear) to the point where publishers were cancelling contracts. I think it will take awhile for that to cool down. I hope it will become easier for agents to sell again in the future. But, if you have the right story, it doesn't matter that the market is full, there is always room for someone who is awesome.

19. What do you do when you aren't writing?
I hang out with my family, play outdoors, read, try to get the house back in order.

20. Any words of wisdom for anyone who is thinking of becoming a writer, or just something you think all writers should know?
Enjoy it.  Always learn. Don't be afraid to fail. You can't know everything about writing right out of the gate. Look at failure as a way to learn and improve. And again, enjoy it.


Jean Oram said...

Hey, thanks for having me, Kela!

Time is a big issue for me and finding time for writing, how about you and your readers? Any tips on how to make the most of your writing time?


Kela McClelland said...

Jean- You're welcome, thanks for doing it! :)

I don't have any good tips for writing time. I've been known to stay up late, very late just to write. Sometimes I stay up all night writing. I made my to do list said how to fit it in, but really-with kids it's hard. I don't usually get to write until after they're in bed which is usually after 10. If I wasn't such a night owl, time would be very hard for me. I don't mind being up late writing though. I used to stay up late to do school work. Over the years I've adjusted and whether a good thing or not-I function fine with little or no sleep.

Jean Oram said...

Darn. I just can't give up the sleep thing. It would be so easy if I didn't need it. ;)

Jemi Fraser said...

It would be GREAT to be able to sleep less, but that just doens't work - or at least, not for long!

Great interview, ladies!! :)

Jean Oram said...

I get a little strange when I don't get enough sleep. And then goofy turns to scary. Look out! :O Eep!

You know... it seems whenever I get a handle on some resemblance of schedule or plan, something comes up. I think I just need to go with the flow and chill. Ambition. Passion. Drive. Type A personality. How long do you think that will last? ;)