Sunday, March 23, 2008

Flights of Fantasy

I am one of the very lucky thirty people who was able to score a mentorship with a real live author through the Romance Divas. It's one of the coolest things they offer through their forum and I am super-duper-excited!! My Diva Mentor is none other than fantasy/paranormal author Debbie Mumford (she also writes YA under the name Deb Logan).

Debbie works by day as a technical writer and has published 2 novels, an anthology and a novella with Freya's Bower, with another two novels on contract. Her dragon series, Sorcha's Heart, Sorcha's Children: Dragon's Choice have received several honors and rave reviews. Debbie has also published several short stories. I'm currently reading her paranormal romance novel, Second Sight, available from Freya's Bower - and I'm thoroughly enjoying it. I'll post a review when I'm finished.

In the meantime, I decided to interview my new mentor, and here's what she had to say.

Interview with Debbie Mumford

How long have you been writing, and what is the one thing that keeps you coming back to it?

I started writing with the intention of being published in late-June, 2003. I had no clue what I was doing, but I had an idea and spent the next seven months writing a 100,000 word contemporary fantasy novel. When I start something, I finish it. *lol*

What keeps me coming back? New ideas. New characters with stories to tell, and the knowledge that if I don’t tell them, no one will,
because I’m the only one who knows these particular stories.

What are three books you could read over and over, and what is it about them?

I listen to books on tape as I drive to and from the office. I add to my collection when I can, but I have a few that I listen to over and over again. I have the entire Harry Potter series and I’ve listened to it, from beginning to end, quite a few times. I love it for the story, for the world Jo created, but I also enjoy listening to it as a writer. I know the story intimately now, so I’m able to hear things that she’s doing in the plotting and pacing of the book. I remember the “ah-ha” moment when I realized that the whole reason an intricately woven scene had been included in the book was to deliver a single sentence; a single piece of necessary knowledge. Wow! It’s
almost like having Jo mentor me *lol*

Plotter, pantster, or in between?

In between, but leaning heavily toward the pantster. I have a rough idea of where my story is going before I start, but discovering the details is a major part of the fun for me! I typically write my first draft very quickly, not allowing myself to go back and fix errors or pick the perfect word. Once the story is out of my head, I turn my editor loose and rearrange scenes, make decisions about plotting and pacing and generally polish the manuscript on a macro level. I avoid getting caught up in line edits until I’m sure the plot flows the was I want it to…no sense wasting time perfecting a
scene I’m going to cut!

In your eyes, what's your biggest strength in your writing? Your biggest weakness?

I’m good with characters and emotions, but I have a hard time remembering to place them in a physical surrounding. Setting is NOT my strength. I have to remember to go back through and describe where they are so
that my readers can properly experience the scenes.

What's your weirdest writing habit?

Hmmm…I have so many weirdnesses…Probably my most unusual
writing habit is my lack of a desk. I have a laptop and a lapboard and that’s my desk. I sit in my recliner, with my feet up and type away. Which is very transportable. When we’re away from home, I can recreate my space very easily.

Drink of choice?

Green tea or chai.

When did you decide that you wanted to make writing a career?

When I wrote that first novel. I sent that puppy out to countless agents and publishers and received an equal number of form-letter rejections. Now I know why, but at the time, I was clueless.

Now, for many people, such universal rejection would’ve buried their desire to write. Not me. I’m a bulldog personality. Tell me I can’t do something and my automatic reaction is, “Watch me!” Does the word “defiant”
ring any bells? *snort*

Any choice tidbits of advice to share with people just starting the journey?

Learn to celebrate rejection. You’re going to get a lot of it and if you don’t make your peace with it, it’ll eat you alive. I don’t like being rejected any better than anyone else does, but I accept it as part of the business. They are not rejecting *me*, they are rejecting a specific example of my writing. That’s all.

As to the celebration part…well, rejections are proof positive that you’re doing your part in this business. You can’t garner rejections on a story you haven’t written (unless you’re trying to sell on proposal and that’s another matter); you can’t be rejected if you never submit. If you’re writing and submitting, you’re doing the work of a professional
writer. Celebrate your commitment!

Are there any other genres/sub-genres out there you hope to explore, or any boundaries you plan to push?

Science fiction. I’m working my way from fantasy and speculative fiction to science fiction.

If you had to choose only one word to describe your writing, what would it be?

Wonder. Yes. That works on several levels, but you’ll have to discover them for yourself!

Thank you Debbie, for answering my questions, and for volunteering your time and wealth of knowledge to helping me navigate this new world. I'm really looking forward to working with you!



Debbie Mumford said...

You're very welcome, Gwen. Besides, I'm planning to learn as much from you as you do from me.

Gwen Mitchell said...

Uh... that part wasn't stipulated in the contract. *looks around suspiciously*

the other gwen said...

You two are going to have a blast together...I can tell already.

Unhinged said...

Great interview, Gwennie.

And wonderful answers, Debbie.

You two are going to be an inspiration.

(Can I steal this idea if Diana agrees?)

Debbie Mumford said...

Ohhh! Do it, Andi! You and Diana will have great fun with it.

I love it..."the other gwen"...*snicker*

Gwen M. said...

Yes - you totally should! =P

Kathleen Oxley said...

Excellent interview, Gwen & Debbie. Sounds like you guys are going to work well together and have a lot of fun. Best of luck to you both!!

Shelley Munro said...

Great interview. I was a bit like you, Debbie, when I started out. Clueless. I sat down and wrote, gradually improving until I started receiving a few contract offers amongst the rejections. ;)


Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Unhinged said...

Geesh, isn't doolittle going to give the frick UP?


Gwen Mitchell said...

Srsly. I've never been spammed before. I feel violated.

Terena said...

This is great info to know.