Tuesday, January 24, 2012


Today, I have the pleasure of sharing the answers to some questions I sent to Heather Wardell.  I have reviewed two of her books here on Kritters Ramblings - Live Out Loud and Blank Slate Kate.  I am definitely a fan of hers and loved sending questions her way.  Without further ado . . . 

1.  What do you find yourself rambling about?

Crocheting, which I love and do constantly. I'm nearly always wearing something I've made (currently I have on fingerless mitts and a shawl) (and other clothes :). I play clarinet and two years ago took up drumming, so I talk about music a lot. I run half-marathons and talk/complain about running with my sister, my main running buddy. My cat Trinity, who is gorgeous and elegant in a chunky way. :) My books, to anyone who'll listen and when they've all run away to anyone who can't escape me. :)

That was a free-form rambling session. This explains why I edit out any ramblings from my books. :)

2. You have written quite a few books that I would categorize in the chick lit genre, would you ever consider writing in another genre?

I would consider it if the right idea came along, but at this point my ideas just seem to come out in my usual genre. Someone once asked Stephen King why he writes horror novels and he said, "What makes you think I have a choice?" I feel rather the same way: the ideas that catch my attention have all been under the chick lit/women's fiction umbrella.

3. When becoming an author, did you have any speedbumps along the way?  If so, how did you overcome them?

I'm unusual in that only months after finishing my first book in 2005 (which is now my free-to-download book "Life, Love, and a Polar Bear Tattoo") I became a full-time writer by the grace of my husband. I had no idea how difficult it can be to sit down at the desk every morning and go to work inventing people and a world for them. Over the years I've gotten better at shaking off the "what if today's the day I learn I have no idea what I'm doing?" feelings, and I have worked hard to get myself into that desk chair nearly every day (Monday to Friday, I take weekends off) but there are days when I just can't do it. On those days I go to Starbucks - something about being out of the house makes it easier for me to work (or maybe it's the caffeine!)

Other than that, I had a lot to learn about how to plot a book, effective editing, and character development, and once I began self-publishing there were all those "little" things like creating book covers and formatting text for ereaders. I read at least one writing-related book a month to keep developing my skills, because I want each book to be better than the one before it.

4. When looking at your female leads, do you put a piece of your own personality into the characters?

Most definitely, even when I try not to. :) Writing in the first person, I really feel what's happening to my lead character, and I think because of that we end up connected enough that part of me ends up in her. It's only part, though; each of the lead characters is (I hope) her own woman.

5.  Which book do you hold near?  Which one was the hardest to complete?

Will it surprise you to know that the answer is the same book? "Planning to Live", in which the main character Rhiannon is trapped in a car in a blizzard, is probably the book with the most like-me lead character. She is goal-oriented to a fault and obsessed with her weight, and while writing that book I toned down both of those things in myself. That book literally changed my life, and so I will always have a deep connection to it. But oh, was it ever hard to write. I had to look at what Rhiannon did, at what I also did, and articulate why it wasn't right for her. It wasn't right for me either and I came to learn that, but it was a struggle just as it is for Rhiannon. Interestingly, "Planning to Live" has the most mixed of my reviews. The people who love it, LOVE it, but its haters are equally vehement. I still love it, though, and I always will.

6.  What is your favorite part of the writing process?  And why?

I love the brainstorming and outlining stage. It's like a big puzzle with the pieces spread all around the room and no picture on the box, and I have to dig through all the bits and somehow form a coherent plot out of it. It's occasionally wildly frustrating but overall it's a crazy and fun ride.

My least favorite part is actually the first draft, I think because the translation of what I see in my head to words is not always easy or perfect. Once the words are written, though, I can edit and polish and tweak them, and I greatly enjoy that.

7. What is next on your plate?

My plate has three sections, like one of those little-kid plastic plates. Since I work on multiple books at once, I give them codenames so I don't get confused. Flying Squirrel, in second draft at the moment, features a doormat of a woman who finds her inner and outer strength while training for a marathon. Gemstone, done in first draft and waiting to be edited, focuses on an Internet columnist who takes on a project to be "good to herself" for thirty days and soon realizes that "good to yourself" is a much deeper concept than she'd thought. Finally, in early January I started the first draft of Hippo, in which a woman arrives on what's to be her wedding cruise only to realize she's dated both her fiance's brothers and still has feelings for them both.

Thank you so much for letting me share my ramblings with your readers! My book "Life, Love, and a Polar Bear Tattoo" is always a free download, and "Seven Exes Are Eight Too Many" is available for free this week (Jan 23-27) exclusively on Kindle. I'm happy to answer any questions or comments your readers have, so I'll pop back in between writing sessions.

Thank you again to Heather Wardell for answering questions.  



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