Quills & Inkblotts is growing! As mentioned a few months ago, Lani Forbes and Nicki Bishop joined us and now contribute to our blog. We’re introducing them this month, and we’re sure you will love them as much as we do.
Lani is up first. Jebraun interviewed her and found out some amazing information.
Jeb: Hi Lani! Really excited you and Nicki have joined the team. We all interviewed one another when we first started Q & I, and now it’s your turn. To jump right in, when did you know you first wanted to be a writer?
Lani: In 4th grade, my teacher did a creative writing contest based on a prompt. I wrote a silly little story about a bird named Pete. I had a funny twist at the end and the whole class loved it, which was a big deal to young introvert. I won my first ever writing contest (hey, it was really exciting at the time) and I knew that I was hooked on writing. My 4th grade teacher even put on my report card that I “excelled at creative writing”.
I fell in love with the Harry Potter series a few years later and learned to devour books at an almost frightening speed. Life was a bit chaotic for me as a teenager and reading became my escape when the real world got too painful to bear.
In college, I kept getting fun story ideas, and I would take notes and write chapters for various projects, but I never thought I could actually do anything with my unusual hobby.
After my son was born, I was wrestling with post-partum depression and my husband suggested I check out a writing conference. I am so glad I listened to him because I felt as though I walked through a portal into a world that I always belonged to and just didn’t know it yet.
J: Love the portal description! So, tell us a little about your current WIP.
L: I actually have several! I have a really bad habit of getting tons of ideas and getting too excited about all of them to really focus on one for very long. I do force myself from time to time and actually manage to finish something.
I finished my current YA historical fantasy, “The Seventh Sun”, and am currently querying agents with it. It is based on Aztec mythology and tells the story of a young emperor trying to save his people from an impending apocalypse and a descendant of the water goddess that must win his heart or quite literally lose her own. My family actually lives in Mexico, so it is a culture and story I care about very deeply. It is finalist in several major contests, so my fingers are crossed I can take it somewhere!
After this, I have a fun retelling of “Jack and Jill” based on Swiss folklore and set in the Alps that I can’t wait to finish.
J: Wow! Sounds like your portal takes you all over the world! Do you have a writing routine?
L: As the mom of two kids under the age of four, my writing routine consists of this: whenever I have a moment to myself. Haha! I write on my phone whenever I have the time (waiting in line mostly) or after the kids go to bed. In an ideal world, I would love to write at a coffee shop, specifically a tiny shabby-chic coffee shop that serves milkshakes because I don’t like coffee!
J: I hear you. Sometimes you’ve just got to grab the moments when they’re available. What about how you write? Are you a plotter or a pantser?
L: I am both. I like having a general plot in mind, but it is a very fluid thing. I usually brainstorm tons of ideas for plot points or scenes and jot them down so I don’t forget them. I have a rough outline in mind of my first plot point, the midpoint, the black moment of the soul, and a conclusion.
I love structure and think that the best stories have defined structure. Sometimes I write my structure down, but I often find I write the best when I just let my mind take the story where it wants. Basically, I have one foot firmly in both camps.
J: Oooh, the black moment of the soul. I’m going to steal that phrase sometime 😉 Any advice for writers who are just starting out?
L: Don’t give up. Sometimes the whole endeavor can seem incredibly overwhelming and you just want to crawl in a whole and never come out. There are days when I get a rejection or a comment that really upsets me. I give myself one day to wallow and tell myself I’ll never write again, and then I shake it off and keep going.
I think what truly makes a writer is someone who HAS to write. I once heard it said, “If you can quit, then quit. But if you can’t, you’re a writer.” The only true way to fail is to give up, and I think you have to have that stubbornness and tenacity to keep fighting when you hit brick wall after brick wall. After all, anything in this life worth having usually doesn’t come easy.
I recommend getting involved in the writing community, whether through critique groups, professional organizations like RWA, SCBWI, or ACFW, or even just through twitter. I find it so fascinating that writers tend to be introverted and yet it is one of the most loving and supportive communities I have ever been a part of. I don’t think you can do anything difficult in life without community around you.
J: Awesome advice! What about the craziest thing you’ve ever done in the name of ‘research.’
L: As anyone with young kids will tell you, free time is a precious resource that should not be squandered. So one of the craziest things I have ever done is spend a perfectly good Friday night watching a documentary instead of napping, doing laundry, or enjoying the quiet!
J: Documentaries. Wow. You know how to live the wild life 😉 If you could eat only one dessert for the rest of your life, what would it be?
Cheesecake. It doesn’t matter what kind. All the cheesecake.